Tag Archives: Frank Palazzolo

How Can Future Palazzolos Be Stopped? City Limits Investigation Subject of Lehrer Show This Morning

30 Mar

The City Limits investigation into “Phantom Landlord” Frank Palazzolo is the subject of the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC this morning at 10 a.m. (93.9 FM and 820 AM). As I’ve previously written on Bronx Matters, this investigation began in 2002 when 8-year-old Jashawn Parker died in a building fire on DeKalb Avenue in Norwood. While the Norwood News (where I was editor) covered that and many related stories for almost 2 years back then, we only scratched the surface of Palazzolo’s impact on almost 100 buildings throughout the borough, not to mention his stifling of Bronx housing organizing via a lawsuit. I always kept the files on my shelf hoping that we’d have the time and staff to get back to it. Fast forward to last fall when Tom Robbins, his students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and I embarked on the City Limits investigation. Tune in if you can. These are critical issues affecting hundreds of thousands of Bronxites who rent apartments, not to mention the rest of the city. If you have thoughts, questions, or concerns about your own building, please comment here. Thanks.

UPDATE: Here’s the link for the segment.

-Jordan Moss


Housing Issues Raised in City Limits the Focus of ‘Inside City Hall’ Tonight

23 Mar

Norwood News coverage of the death of Jashawn Parker, 8, in his DeKalb Ave. building in 2002, and other reporting related to the property's owners, led to the investigation in the current issue of City Limits magazine.

The housing issues raised in the current edition of City Limits, which I worked on with veteran investigative reporter Tom Robbins and his class at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, will be discussed on Inside City Hall tonight. Robbins, along with former HPD official Harold Shultz and two students will appear on the show, which airs at 7 p.m. and is repeated at 10 p.m.

The package of stories stemmed from a series of articles that ran in the Norwood News beginning in 2002, while I was editor, when eight-year-old Jashawn Parker died in an electrical fire in his building on DeKalb Avenue. The tenants there had been in housing court for two years trying to get an outside administrator appointed because of dangerous conditions in the building. But that didn’t happen until after Jashawn died.

The investigation explores how the man most associated with 3569 DeKalb and dozens of other problem-plagued Bronx buildings,  Frank Palazzolo, managed to escape scrutiny or punishment.

The story about the fire can be read here, and click here for links to the entire investigation.

I’m pleased that the project has begun to spur discussion about how the city, along with Housing Court, and banks who too often make loans without looking, can reform the system so that preventative action can be taken against landlords who let their properties disintegrate into danger zones.

If you watch the show on NY1 tonight, and you have any thoughts, please comment here. Thanks!

-Jordan Moss

An Investigation on My Mind Since 2002 — Now in Print

14 Mar

In 2002, 8-year-old Jashawn Parker died in an electrical fire at  3569 DeKalb Ave. His older brother was badly burned. I, and a stellar intern named William Wichert, spent more than a year at the Norwood News looking into the dealings of a Westchester real estate operator connected to the building, Frank Palazzolo, who considered himself a “lender” rather than a landlord. We ran a lot of in-depth articles and hard-hitting editorials on Palazzolo and his associates. But there was so much going on in dozens of buildings linked to them that we only scratched the surface of what was really going on.

Last summer, nine years after the deadly fire, Tom Robbins, the great investigative reporter who is now teaching his trade at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, put out the word that he was looking for a project that his students could tackle. I pulled out a foot-high pile of documents that I kept on a shelf next to my desk, hoping to some day get back to them, and shared them with Tom. He decided to take it on and I worked with his class over the last several months on the project. The students, who spread out across the Bronx and Westchester, and buried themselves in court documents and property records, did a tremendous job reporting. The project would not have been possible without their hard work. I learned a lot myself from working with them and Tom.

There are several articles in this package, published by the great urban policy magazine City Limits, so it’s no small amount of reading. But I promise you this: It’s a great read and if you delve in, you will learn a tremendous amount about how the worst landlords often manage to get away with neglect that endangers the health and safety of tenants. Despite all the rules and regulations on the books, landlords that wish to ignore them are given an incredibly long leash by the banks that finance them, the Housing Court judges that have the power to appoint outside administrators but rarely do, and a housing code enforcement system that needs much more stringent tools than it currently has in its possession.

I’m grateful to Tom Robbins for giving this story new life, welcoming me into his class, and teaching me so much more than I knew about investigative reporting. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, Jarrett Murphy, the editor of City Limits, for believing in this project and doing a phenomenal job of editing it and asking us all the right questions along the way. It also would not have been possible if it were not for the vision of Sarah Bartlett, the director of the urban reporting program at the CUNY J-School. She created the investigative program and has been a great colleague to work with on this and other journalism projects close to my heart.

When you read the story in City Limits, I’d love to know what you think. Looking forward to the discussion.

—Jordan Moss