“Inspectors can write violations, but they can’t enforce them,” he said. “The courts don’t care.”
As a result, countless illegal apartments have sprung up across the city in areas such as Coticchio’s native Maspeth, and hapless individuals are being exploited by ruthless landlords.
“Why should you pay $1,000 a month if you’ve got holes in your ceiling, you don’t have hot water in the winter, and you’ve got roaches and rats?” asked Coticchio. “People are not getting their services, and some have even died because nobody’s following up.”
He also spent a number of years serving on Community Education Councils 24 and 30, fighting for more schools, classrooms, and gyms.
Along with other CEC members, he went to City Hall to fight for P.S. 58 in Maspeth at a time when many residents were opposed to the construction of a new school. He went to Albany three times to demand money for schools.
One thing he is encouraged by, however, is the continual addition of new school seats, whether they be in the form of public schools or charter schools.
“We need more schools, number one, and charter schools do the job,” said Coticchio. “That’s all I care about. And I hate to say it, because I’m a union man.”
With that being said, he doesn’t believe in tenure for unionized teachers, and it angers him when he reads that there are teachers sitting in “rubber rooms” all day doing absolutely nothing.
“There is always going to be trouble in the schools if you don’t get the right people to run them,” he said.
Coticchio is not shy about his distrust of government, but his aforementioned reasons illustrate why he remains skeptical.
“City government, state government - don’t even get me started on federal, we’ll be here three days,” he said. “Not in my time, anyway, you’re not going to fix the system.”