Howard tries to get an elevator fix for some stranded seniors

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HOWARD BEACH, Queens (PIX11) – This is a story you really ought to see on video.  That’s the only way you may believe what I had to go through…just trying to get a simple answer.

Some folks at the Dorchester II co-op in Howard Beach, Queens asked me for help because their elevator has been out of service for so long.

It’s being remodeled.  So it’s been out since January 6th. It was supposed to be back up and running on March 17th.  But that didn’t happen.

Linda Hamilton lives on the second floor with her mother, Louise. Linda has MS and is wheelchair-bound. So she hasn’t left her apartment in more than two months.

“I feel very victimized.” Linda says. “Suppose something happened.

HOWARD: “What’s your life been like during this time?”

LINDA: “Well, I been actually in here, my bedroom. Bedroom to living room every day. That’s it.”

Linda’s mom, 84-year-old Louise says she climbs the stairs up to the 5th floor every day to check on a friend, retired New York firefighter Lou Hendelman. He’s 99!

“I have cancer. So I have to go to doctors twice a week,” Lou tells me. Sometimes, Louise helps him navigate the stairs to get in and out of the building.

And heaven forbid there be an emergency.

Co-op board members told me the person to talk to about the repair schedule is the board vice president, Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore.

Angry woman

Howard tried to get an elevator fix for some seniors, but received a foul-mouthed earful instead.

Before I knew who she was, our conversation went this way:

Howard: “What’s your name?”

Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore: “None of your business.”


Ellen wouldn’t let me speak with some guys who seemed to be part of the work crew.  And between Ellen and the management office secretary, Joan something or other, I could see I wouldn’t get many answers.

Joan is a real piece of work.  She actually wasted the time of the NYPD by calling the cops on me. While she was on the phone, I walked by her on my way out the front door and said, “Hi, officer, Howard Thompson PIX 11News,” just so they knew who was really there.

Joan’s clever response to me, “Go f–k yourself.  Get out of my face, Get out of my face. Get out of my face.”

Outside, part of our conversation went like this:

HOWARD: “Listen to you. Look at the way you behave.”

JOAN: “Look at yourself. You’re a piece of garbage.”

HOWARD: “Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

It was even more unbelievable when we got a call from Ellen the next day. She claimed that I had used foul language to Joan!  And she said her critics are just upset because she’s a woman and does a good job.  She also told us that the elevator work was all finished and the only remaining obstacle was city inspection.

So, of course, we checked with the company doing the work and the New York City Department of Buildings.  It turns out the elevator isn’t ready yet.  But it should be good to go by next Monday. The city will then expedite the inspection as we suggested and try to do it next Tuesday.

So, with a little luck, the people in the Dorchester II will have their elevator back in another few days.  They’ll still have to deal with the delightful Joan.


  • rename42

    Joan and Ellen should rot in hell . Calling them garbage is an understatement. Howard did a great job of having them expose their classless act while remaining a gentleman.

  • Jamie Mazzanti

    I would like to thank Howard for exposing this travesty. I’m Lou Hendelman’s grandfather is a great man. A World War II vet as well as a retired NYC fireman. Also, he has a great grandson that shares his name. I write this so people can understand how deep this insult goes. To say that he and others who, for lack of better words, are trapped, and practically held prisoner in their own homes, is an understatement. On top of that, to have those… People… show a complete and utter lack of empathy and near contempt for the situation only further deepens the insult. My grandfather, and others like him, volunteered to fight for his country and then spent the following years saving the lives of his fellow New Yorkers by risking his own. He has more then earned the respect due to him.

  • Maxine Fick

    Well said Jamie! I would also like to thank Louise, other neighbors, and my cousin Maddie for helping my dad by bringing him food and other necessities. I travel in from NW New Jersey regularly, to bring him supplies of home cooked food as well. When my husband and I have to carry these things up to the fifth floor, it's not easy. I'm 67 and my dad is 99. What's hard for me is impossible for him. There are many other elderly and disabled residents in this building that have to deal with this as well. Kudos to Linda for bringing this to the attention of the press and to you Howard, for featuring this on your show. Maybe now things will start happening. Hopefully the residents of this co-op will vote this obnoxious, uncaring woman out.

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