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December 19, 2006
Annans Ace Out Low-Income New Yorkers

One runs the United Nations and has a spouse from a wealthy Swedish family. Another serves as the Ghanian ambassador to Morocco and holds gala parties at their residence there of the last several years. Claudia Rosett wonders, then, why brothers Kofi and Kobina Annan have managed to hold onto a Roosevelt Island flat for more than a decade despite its being intended for low-to-middle-income New Yorkers on a list with a four-year waiting period:

As Secretary-General Annan prepares to leave his post at the United Nations, a mystery is surfacing surrounding his apartment on Roosevelt Island, subsidized by New York taxpayers, which is still in use by the family of his brother, Kobina Annan.

The apartment was where Mr. Annan and his wife lived before 1997, when he became secretary-general. The Roosevelt Island home is part of an estate of low-rent state-regulated housing. For years, the Annans saved considerable sums by occupying an apartment meant to help financially strapped low- to moderate-income New York families.

One question Mr. Annan has never addressed is why he and his wife felt comfortable availing themselves of this generous arrangement. Another is how it is that, since Mr. Annan and his wife left that Roosevelt Island apartment 10 years ago to move into the rent-free residence on Sutton Place supplied to the secretary-general, their former low-rent apartment was handed over to be occupied by the family of Mr. Annan's brother.

For a man who just finished lecturing Americans on his retirement from the position of UN Secretary-General on the need to help the poor and downtrodden, this seems incongruous at the least. The Mitchell-Lama housing has requirements that obviously have not been met by the Annan family, most clearly that the apartment be used as a primary residence by the lessee. Since Kofi has also availed himself of the S-G residence in Sutton Place and has not lived on Roosevelt Island for a decade -- and his brother hasn't lived there for several years -- it means that the Annans have forced strapped New Yorkers to wait longer for affordable housing.

And this is no small discount involved in this case, either. The market rate for a Roosevelt Island residence would be around $4500, but the state-subsidized rate paid by the Annans for their second home amounts to less than $2,000 per month. That amounts to a subsidy of $30,000 per year, which certainly would be a boon to low- and middle-income families in New York -- but would be wasted on a man who has a free apartment in tony Sutton Place, and certainly wasted on the Ghanian Ambassador to Morocco, neither of which come within two time zones of Roosevelt Island.

Rosett, of course, makes the investigation rather entertaining. She got no cooperation from Kofi, so she decided to let her fingers do the walking through archived New York telephone books. Kofi maintained a listing showing his occupancy of the apartment from 1978 right up to the time when he became Undersecretary General in 1993, the #2 slot at the UN. Of course, in the intervening period, he was working in Geneva for a few years, once again apparently violating the terms of the program. His son Kojo then used the same address and phone number in some correspondence during his featherbed job at Cotecna, a key issue in the Oil-For-Food scandal.

After Kofi rose to the top of the UN, Rosett finds records tying Kobina and his wife Ekua to the apartment, both in telephone books and in business cards. Like any good reporter, she contacted Kobina and Ekua, both of whom confirmed their residence at the Roosevelt Island flat -- but then grew much less cooperative when asked about how they managed to secure the lease. Ekua told Rosett that their sons use the apartment now.

It's a remarkable story of hypocrisy and greed from the man who set himself up over the last week as the global scold for rich nations. Instead of modeling the behavior he demanded of us, he abused the programs we set up to assist the working-class families of New York just so he and his family could maintain a second residence at a discount rate, even while none of them paid no rent for their own primary residences. What a fraud.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 19, 2006 5:11 AM

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» Kofi Annan - kleptocrat, from Darleen's Place
enabler of rape, hypocritical public scold and now you can add rent-control cheat to his list of dubious accomplishments, As Secretary-General Annan prepares to leave his post at the United Nations, a mystery is surfacing surrounding his apartment on R... [Read More]

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» Do As I Say, Not As I Do! from Stubborn Facts
Just last week outgoing UN Secretary Kofi Annan was lecturing America on how we should do more to help the poor and downtrodden of the world. Apparently the poor of America aren't on his list. [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2006 4:43 PM


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