Okay, we happily celebrated our 2nd anniversary and ran a self-congratulatory Issue of the Spotlight. Now it's time to really turn up the heat to get at least one independent investigative body simmering to look into NYCHA's foibles.
As must be obvious to even our NYCHA critics, our total number of sources has grown. We've been carrying stories about NYCHA Departments that had felt "safe" from the Spotlight's prying beam. After our last issue (#58) on the capricious way NYCHA refused to abide by an arbiter's decision that would force NYCHA to pay employees whom NYCHA has working out-of-title, we gained more friends, which is followed by a like increase in stories. NYCHA employees from ALL departments are beginning to realize that while pointing out corruption is one aspect of the Spotlight, allowing others to see how the promotion and transfer policies at NYCHA have been warped in a manner that makes past abuses pale by comparison is another of our goals.
In the past, when an individual employee was unfairly treated due to cronyism, you had almost no recourse. The union would help, to a point. But if NYCHA held firm, the union folded. You'd be told "NYCHA isn't really a City Agency, so there's not much we could do." Of course, you know that the Mayor appoints the NYCHA Board, and that every top job is filled through City Hall, but "NYCHA is NOT a City Agency" would still be the excuse.
We've changed the equation, just a bit. And, with you helping, we're tweaking that equation even more. You see, this increase in info, while very welcome, is causing it's own problems. As most new people choose anonymity in their first few attempts to communicate with us (fax and/or email), we can't ask them to expand on the info they have sent. They may have given us a hint of a much bigger problem, but we need a bit more to show the whole story.
And that's the reason for this Issue.
We're going to give you a few tidbits from the info we've received. We won't include all the info we have on any of these subjects, as that could lead to NYCHA identifying some of the sources. What we are doing do is giving you one or more of the important elements of the story, and then we hope that some of you can expound on the story. Either fax some info to 718/745- 0170, or email it to us at Spotty@NYCHA-Spotlight.com. Faxing can be done from an office supply or candy store near where you work, near your home or anywhere else where you feel comfortable.
(DON'T FAX ANYTHING FROM YOUR NYCHA JOB! If you're seriously worried about anonymity, you can get a free email account at http://www.hotmail.com, http://www.juno.com, www.hushmail.com and many other sites on the Web. You can make up a name and address at these and most all the free email addresses on the 'Net and then send mail anonymously. DON'T EMAIL FROM A NYCHA COMPUTER! Use a computer at a public library, if necessary.)
So here's some tidbits from upcoming stories that we hope you can help to flesh out:
- Charles Aguavella's "close friend" Tara, was the person given the job of choosing the furniture for 90 Church. And there were complaints galore when the people moving in to 90 Church viewed the new spaces. (One example: Tara ordered Drafting Tables for the Design Dept. staff, apparently unaware that, for years, Design's work has been done on computer. Unfortunately, computers look out of place sitting on huge, slanted Drafting Tables!) If you have info on this or other cases of gene/hormone influenced job assignments, send them in!
- Now NYCHA, using the team of Charles Aguavella (one of Finkel's Friends and a BIG part of NYCHA's deal with Ruben Schron for that $100,000,000 lease) and Kenneth Martin, (whose name was once "Martinez", we're told), is trying to crucify two or three employees who dared to swap offices and move furniture around to make up for the huge mistakes in Tara's designs. (If we ever run a contest on "What is the number 1 complaint sent to Spotty in the year 2000 thus far", I can tell you that the layout and lack of Security/space/furnishings at 90 Church St. is by far in the lead!) If you have examples of NYCHA retaliation being directed at people just for doing their job, let us know. (Especially when the retaliation is being used to stifle justified complaints.)
- Any info on Facilities Planning and its nefarious deeds would be quite welcome. (If Barry Levine, Trish Spear and/or Raul Castro have a need to contact us, please do. As in many things in life, being first in line can have all sorts of advantages!)
- Boston Properties and it's many subsidiaries and Contracts and/or Payments? If those items ring a bell, let us know why!
- We hear that the union is again helping Deborah Oliver. (BRAVO!) NYCHA still hasn't paid the pay differential the arbiter awarded, and now there's rumbling that NYCHA will try to get out of the arbiter's ruling by going into court to fight it. If anything develops here, please let us know about it.
- Are contractors really told what suppliers they must use if they expect to ever win another NYCHA bid?
- Any info on Section 8 and the influence, major and minor, of Finkel's Friends Rabbi Pikus and Rabbi Niederman over Parness?
- We hear that Greg Kern Ed Glassman and Israel Reinhold are ruling over such a messy domain that lost case folders and many other problems are starting to surface. Included in these problems are approving Section 8 vouchers for a tenant who died over 3 years ago?
- Without Sole and Distefano handling Section 8 matters, we hear that Harold Sole's ex-secretary, Fran, is really running things now. True?
Psst! I've got a great proposition for you.
How would you like to be in a position where you can piss off NYCHA, make some unknown lawyer wealthy, and then get to go back to your job working for the same NYCHA that you've just gotten angry.
If that sounds like your idea of heaven, then please don't "Op Out" of the rumored Class Action suit against NYCHA.
Let me give a brief nonprofessional's definition of what a Class Action represents. (Please contact a licensed attorney if you need information on any of this.)
A class action suit is a representative action wherein one or more plaintiffs actually named in the complaint, along with their counsel, pursue a case for themselves and the defined class against one or more defendants. The claims of the "class representatives" must arise from facts or law common to the class members. Most class actions are called "plaintiff class actions;" however, in limited circumstances a class action can be filed against one or more defendants representing a group of defendants, i.e., a "defendant class" action.
Therefore, someone can file a class action against a company, and not really need your express permission for them to add you to their client list. In many of these cases, the only way to disassociate yourself with the lawsuit is by writing to the attorneys pressing the suit and demanding that your name be removed.
If you do not demand removal, and the suit goes to a conclusion, you usually lose your right to sue the entity yourself, EVEN if you had a great case against that firm. An example of recent class action suits would be the actions filed by various states against tobacco companies. Billions of dollars changed hands in those cases. Ask a smoker you know just how large a check they received from the settlement.
Why is Spotty focusing on this subject? Well, there's a rumor running around 90 Church St. that some law firm is sniffing around to see if a class action suit against NYCHA would be lucrative enough for their lawyers. As NYCHA has so many problems that could fall into the Class Action area (Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, Illegal Retaliation etc.)
The problem is, from what I've been reading, the lawyers are often the only ones who would monetarily benefit from this type of lawsuit.
For example, let us say it turns out to be a sexual harassment class action suit against NYCHA. And let's assume that 2,000 women join in the complaint. Further, let us assume that NYCHA loses the lawsuit and is ordered to pay $2,000,000.
Those assumptions sound reasonable, don't they?
But wait. What if I told you that each woman only received $500 from that money? And then, of course, they each had to go back to their jobs at NYCHA.
"Hmm, that's not too good!" I hear you say.
How about if the woman received nothing, and the lawyers took the whole $2,000,000.
It sure can. For example, if a class action suit is filed against the company that makes the "xyz roadster". We will call the company xyz Corp. The suit claims that the xyz Roadster's air bag is defective. After a month long trial, the defendants win the lawsuit. The damages against xyz Corp. are $25,000,000! Yet the ENTIRE amount may well go to the lawyers, while all the owners of the unsafe vehicles are given appointments for a "Free Safety Check" of their Roadsters. If a defective airbag is then found, it is replaced.
That's it! End of lawsuit!
In NYCHA's case, it may be determined that NYCHA has to provide a 2 hour class on sexual harassment for all supervisors, and the law firm now sniffing around 90 Church St. gets to pocket a bundle of bucks.
Many of you might have seen the Julia Roberts movie, "Erin Brockovich". I hope some of you watched as both the evening news and some of the news magazine shows interviewed the members of the class action suit portrayed in that movie. Those members that I saw interviewed were FURIOUS, as they said the lawsuit ruined their lives. But, Erin and the attorney(s) she worked for were ecstatic, as they pocketed BIG BUCKS!
Now, please don't take this to mean that all Class Action lawsuits are rip-offs, as that's not true. The lawsuit against the cigarette manufacturers, for example, was a way to reimburse the government for all the health problems, from smoking, that caused medicare and other government programs so much money. Without getting bogged down in this, suffice it to say that we do not think that was only a scam. But many others are!
Our advice. If you truly have a sexual harassment claim (or any other actual reason to be suing NYCHA), choose to "opt out" of any Class Action group and go out and hire an attorney for yourself. Then you'll know that
- You've gotten to choose your own representation
- If you win, YOU really win!
If, however, there is something favorable for the average NYCHA employee in this Class Action talk that we missed, please let us know. We'll gladly run an apology if this whole thing isn't the scam it appears to be.
Finally, we need to clear up some confusion. We've heard that some employees have been passing info on to others, based on the belief that if someone received a good write-up in the Spotlight, they must be connected to the rag in some manner. NOTHING could be further from the truth.
In some cases, the people we helped would be the first to turn you in for any attempt to get info over to us. We do not choose our stories based on friendship. That would be a sure way to get friends fired.
In most cases, we have never met nor spoken to the employees who have had their stories appear here. To give the most recent example, whether Deborah Oliver is a brunette, redhead or a blond, tall or short, Black, Brown or white is all a mystery here. We've never met her or spoken with her.
So if you were to pass info to her, we'd have no idea what she might do with it. The same goes for all the women involved in the sexual harassment suits against NYCHA and any of the other people associated with stories you've read about in the Spotlight. If any of them tell you "I'll get your stuff to Spotty", they are lying. We don't want you passing info through anyone at NYCHA, just call, fax it or email it directly to us. A fax from some candy store is not going to give your identity away.
If you have info on any of the items above, please get it to us as soon as possible.
Email it to Spotty@NYCHA-Spotlight.com
Fax it to 718/745-0170
© MM Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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