Middleton, the former board member, said it is hard to interest the city in what is a largely immigrant problem. (Some of the residents only speak Spanish or Vietnamese.) “When you ask the question, Why doesn’t anybody know [about the contamination]? . . . Jesus, I’ve been an attorney for 30 years, and was the commissioner and chair of the operations committee that has 80 percent of the Housing Authority’s business going through it. And I asked a lot of questions. And it was murder getting answers,” Middleton said.
“I did a detailed letter to Cuomo, Riordan and everybody else, and they [the Housing Authority] were able to say, ‘Nah! You don’t want to listen to her,’” Middleton said. If she had trouble getting attention from the authorities, she added, what would be their attitude toward an immigrant public-housing resident?
No, Esquivel said, she can’t offer any scientific proof that the contaminated areas have caused her or other residents to develop cancer, and then — pausing frequently, as if every syllable caused pain — she added, “But deep in my heart I know that that is what caused it.”