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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.

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.