2007_06_siwallcoll.jpgFive families are homeless after a 50 foot by 50 foot part of a retaining wall collapsed late Monday in the Dongan Hills section of Staten Island It turns out that the wall, which is 200 feet long, was built without a permit and that the owner of the wall happens to be John D'Amato, lobbying partner of Guy Molinari and the head of Rudy Giuliani's NYC campaign. Nice one, D'Amato!

It's believed that the recent storms caused the wall to give way. Boulders, concrete and dirt fell towards four homes and a car; luckily no one was hurt. There is still some concern that other homes could be at risk, hence the evacuation.

There's been previous controversy about D'Amato's home: Neighbors have called it a McMansion, though the Times describes it as a "four-story brick colonial with a lushly landscaped yard and gracefully curving stairs down to a grand front entrance." The Post reports that in 2002, a neighbor sued D'Amato because construction to "posed a threat to her home." (D'Amato settled by buying her home.) And the Times notes a weird history of negligence and getting-permits-after-the-fact during the construction - D'Amato's engineer was actually suspended for "grossly negligent failure to comply with a substantial provision of local laws governing the practice of the profession of architecture." That's really not what you want to hear. It's especially weird, given that Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro told WABC 7, "There has been no hint in this situation by any of the departments that the was wasn't properly built."

Molinari, himself a former SI Beep, told the Post that D'Amato was all right, but "it's a tough experience for anybody to go through." Uh, how about his neighbors?