by Tina Moore and Greg B. Smith for The New York Daily News

August 3, 2012

The city's public housing honcho has thrown it in reverse — again.

NYCHA Chairman John Rhea renewed a promise Friday to install cameras in 80-plus developments by the end of next year. Two days earlier, Rhea told the Daily News there would be security enhancements at the selected housing projects, not necessarily cameras.

That, of course, contradicted a statement from the housing authority two weeks ago that said "approximately 85 developments will receive security camera installations by the end of 2013." The mayor's office — acknowledging Rhea's flip-flop — released the latest version of Rhea's intentions on Friday.

"The Chairman is absolutely firm in his commitment that all 80-plus developments will receive security cameras," the statement read. "There will be additional security enhancements at some developments."

Rhea told the News his agency has a precise plan for cameras and upgraded door locks called "layered access" at 20 of the 80 or so developments. He promised specific plans for the other 60 by year's end.

Mayoral spokeswoman Julie Woods promised the agency would soon release a list "showing where each development is in the (security upgrade) process."

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg admitted blowing off a nonprofit agency that warned him about NYCHA's problems last year and complained that the agency had failed to apply for $600,000 in available federal funds.

"It's all ginned up by some group," Bloomberg said Friday on WOR-AM radio's John Gambling show. "They wrote us a letter. And, yes, it's true, they did not get a written response."

Bloomberg went on to say it's hard to attract good people like Rhea to government "if there's this character assassination."

"Oh and they had a picture of him running. That's not good either," Bloomberg said of The News' coverage.

He chided the charitable Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, which last year wrote to Bloomberg alleging that NYCHA was hampered by "delay, confusion and complaints."

Bloomberg said the group had a meeting with "three of our top people in the city" and that its members "didn't like what they heard."

"I can just tell you the bottom line is, we are not giving up on NYCHA, and we're not walking away from the residents. And I'm not losing faith in John Rhea and his team," Bloomberg said.

Also on Friday, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) who is already investigating a $10 million consultant report that NYCHA won't release to the public, demanded information on the six-figure salaries of Rhea and two NYCHA board members.

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