Earlier this week, the City Council met with Department of Buildings officials to discuss legislation that would increase the safety standards of NYC elevators. Spurred by the horrifying deaths of Midtown advertising executive Suzanne Hart in December and elevator mechanic Ed Bradley last month, Council Member Erik Martin Dilan's bill is a two part push to ensure safety through a tighter licensing standard and the modernization of technological equipment. It would call for elevator mechanics to have five plus years of work experience, an apprenticeship program, and certification examinations. Because as Councilman Peter Vallone pointed out, "Right now, my Cousin Vinny could be working on an elevator."
Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri says he fully supports the intent of the bill and believes it's a step in the right direction, but was reluctant to explicitly state the current MO of the Department of Buildings. Only after Councilman Robert Jackson howled, "You don't know if you can contract out? I want an answer!" could the Council confirm that, yes, the Department of Buildings does subcontract out. The DOB supplements its in-house elevator repairmen with out-of house contractors, which, in effect, makes it difficult to track specific individuals working on elevators—which turns out to be a major problem when something goes wrong.
A Union representative from Local 237 called for vernacular amendments to the bill, believing that the current proposal will disqualify certain people who do this type of work successfully everyday for a living. But rest assured, it appears all stakeholders are in favor of working together to rework the bill and keep safety at the forefront of the issue. And as Councilman Jimmy Vacca noted, even "
porn dealers pawn shops have licenses!"
[Update: An earlier version of this story inaccurately quoted Vacca as saying "Even porn dealers have licenses." His spokesperson tells us, "His Bronx accent apparently caused some confusion."]