Possible Fossella Replacement Needs to Answer for Deadly Patronage


The talk yesterday was that the Staten Island Republican Party—desperate to find a candidate for Vito Fossella’s Congressional seat following the sudden death of would-be successor Frank Powers—is giving a second close look at Paul Atanasio, a Brooklyn Conservative. Atanasio, an investment banker, was nominated by the Brooklyn GOP (a slice of southwest Brooklyn including Bay Ridge is contained in the district) but declined the nod after Powers was selected by the Staten Island wing of the party.

We can only hope Atanasio this time gets the go-ahead. If so, he might finally have to answer some of the questions raised in a devastating Wayne Barrett piece published in the Voice in 1998.

The story traced how political patronage and inept contractors led to a deadly accident at a Bay Ridge school in which a 15-year old student was killed by a falling brick.

In classic Barrett fashion, the article connected the dots between Atanasio—a Conservative party bigshot appointed by Governor Pataki to the School Construction Authority—to the bumbling SCA supervisor responsible for work at the school where the accident occurred. The supervisor, who was hired by the agency despite his lengthy rap sheet, just happened to be married to a Conservative party district leader who was also Atanasio’s special assistant.

Along the way, Barrett reported how Atanasio made a killing in state bond issues under Pataki.