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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kirk Swanson, VP of Administration at the Battery Park City Authority, Fired For Whistleblowing the Corruption There

 A stunning story from Carl Campanile at the NY POST:

Whistleblower claims he was fired for doing his job

Kirk Swanson, former vice president of administration at the Battery Park City Authority.

A former vice president of the Battery Park City Authority has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was fired for exposing corruption in the awarding of contracts, The Post has learned.

Kirk Swanson, a former VP and chief contracts officer at the state agency, alleges he “discovered that high-level BPCA employees were making false statements in an effort to bypass the BPCA’s contract approval process.”

Swanson sent a memo to Gov. Cuomo’s office outlining his accusations in May 2014 — just days after his ouster. The governor appoints the agency’s three-member board.

It was Mr. Swanson’s job to ensure that the BPCA followed anti-corruption guidelines,” said Swanson’s lawyer, Jason Solotaroff. “It’s outrageous he was terminated for doing just that.”

Swanson alleges that agency president Shari Hyman selected a favored vendor, Revolver Studios, to redesign two online sites without aggressively seeking other bids.

“Work on the Web site projects had begun prior to the contract being approved, again in violation of BPCA procedures,” the suit said.

Swanson said he was told Hyman sought to bypass normal contracting procedures, which would have required three competitive bids. Instead, the agency labeled the contract a “discretionary procurement” and split it into two parts for less than $50,000 each — one for BPCA and the other for Battery Park Conservancy, its not-for-profit arm.

Swanson called the outcome “utterly bogus.”

He subsequently found out that agency officials in February 2014 had approved a new contract with a law firm, Liddle & Robinson, to handle $1 billion in bond transactions. But the legal work had not been presented to or approved by the BPCA’s contract-selection committee.

The former executive said the contract was approved by his deputy behind his back, when he was on vacation.

Swanson was fired three days after he sent an e-mail to legal counsel questioning the transaction.

He says he also complained that a subordinate, Elizabeth Papanicolaou, had been harassed by officials about her office attire.

Swanson had raised all these issues in a May 15, 2014, memo to Alphonso David, who was then Cuomo’s deputy secretary for civil rights and is currently the governor’s top legal counsel.

A BPCA spokesperson responded, “Mr. Swanson’s lawsuit is without merit.”