Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seduced and Abandoned from Philip Nobile

Seduced and Abandoned
A character analysis of Randi Weingarten
and the Unity leadership she left behind
as recounted in an email that none of the above
cared (or dared) to answer and whose contents
are thus presumed to be true and confirmed
“The character of a union is [revealed in] how we deal with our most vulnerable members.” 

Randi Weingarten at May ’08 Delegates Assembly
UFT Members do not come more vulnerable than I. In the DOE’s view I am the lowest of the low: a three-year rubber roomer with four substantiated complaints on top of a 67-page report by the Mayor’s Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation portraying me as a false and vengeful accuser in a Regents cheating and cover-up scandal at the Cobble Hill School of American Studies in Brooklyn.
On the other hand, the DOE has not formally charged me since my reassignment in June ’07 and SCI recommended no penalty for my supposed false allegations. Ironically, my whistleblower cred is supported by DOE Deputy Counsel Theresa Europe, now Director of the Administrative Trials Unit but once simultaneously Director of the Chancellor’s Office of Special Investigations. It was on her watch that OSI Investigator Louis Scarcella substantiated the Cobble Hill case.
Europe was questioned under oath by SCI skeptics seeking to demolish OSI’s verdict. Even though [the] Principal, a very lucky man, was acquitted of cover-up in his 3020a hearing, she had my back in SCI’s rival report.
Europe believed that the DOE had proven the case against George, she disagreed with the decision rendered in the George proceeding which dismissed all charges against George, and she blamed the finding on the hearing officer’s dislike of Nobile. Asked whether [the Asst Princ] might
be removed from the ineligible inquiry list in light of the George decision, Europe said that former Assistant Principal would remain on it because there was “no doubt there was Regents cheating going on.”
Without explanation the Chancellor accepted SCI’s exoneration of OSI’s guilty parties. As a consequence of their association with me, Europe lost her OSI job, her deputy was fired, and Scarcella was forced to resign. I, the putative Professor Moriarity of the plot, escaped unpunished … unless you believe it was no coincidence that my reassignment via trumped-up corporal punishment complaints went down the day before SCI released its report.
Back to Randi: in the glow of OSI’s 2005 substantiation and the lavish New York Times treatment of my risky, uphill battle to bust the Cobble Hill cover-up, she toasted me as a UFT hero. I became the poster boy of her successful campaign to extend the city’s whistleblower law to educators. “By passing this legislation, you can help the next Philip Nobile or Frances Strutt when they step forward to blow the whistle on behalf of their students,” she testified before the City Council in 2006.
But a year later, on June 27, 2007, the Times reversed history with a story headlined misleadingly “New Report Clears School of Cheating.” Actually, Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon did not clear anybody of cheating. “I can’t say that there wasn’t cheating,” he told the Times. “What I say is that the investigation showed no credible evidence that there was cheating. And certainly no evidence that this principal covered up evidence that there was cheating.”
Had the Times shared the Commissioner’s quote with me, I would have commented: “Of course the Commissioner couldn’t say there wasn’t cheating, but not because the evidence wasn’t credible, rather because SCI ignored the best and most credible evidence in the case, in any tampering case—the exams booklets themselves. SCI recklessly neglected to audit the booklets and scoring sheets seized from OSI, disappeared my informal handwritten audit identifying 51 inflated scores, and gave no credit to the detailed, slamdunk confessions of three teachers, including the AP’s loquacious boyfriend and future husband who said, “She was our supervisor, she knew everything we did.”
Before the Times called I did not know that the SCI report existed. My rapid comment on the news was inevitably general: “I was an eye and ear witness to the tampering by [the Assistant Principal] and the cover-up by [the Principal]. I know what I saw, I know what I heard, and I know tampering when I see it.” Since George did not report my written allegations of cheating to SCI as required by the city’s anti-corruption law, his silence equaled cover-up.
Regarding my perfectly timed reassignment, which SCI hastened to cite, I said: “There are two Mickey Mouse allegations of corporal punishment. In the first case, the boy retracted his complaint because he realized he was being manipulated. Case No. 2 was when I tried to break up a fight and the boy jumped me.”
Randi was likewise caught by surprise, but had an obvious suggestion. The Times stated “that she planned to call for an independent investigation. ‘I have never seen one investigative arm of the school system spend time, money and resources to refute a report done by another investigator years earlier,’ she said.
But there was no such call. Nor could I get Randi on the phone after the Times broke the SCI-bites-OSI story. Overnight I became an invisible UFT member on the basis of a dubious-to-the-point-of-corrupt report signed and publicly endorsed by Special Commissioner Condon. Only later did I learn that Condon was Randi’s special friend as well.
Leo Casey, Vice President for High Schools, agreed to see me in Randi’s stead, but not until late August. Clearly, the UFT was in no rush to defend me or even find out whether their once celebrated whistleblower was a phony. Still, I expected major solidarity. Leo was my designated union mentor following my election as Cobble Hill Chapter leader in 2003. But when we met at 52 Broadway, the breeze was chilly. All he would pledge was a NYSUT lawyer, if and when I was charged on the yet unsubstantiated corporal punishment cases behind my rendition. Apparently, Randi’s plan for “an independent investigation” was off the table.
During our meeting Leo kept getting calls from Randi and he kept excusing himself to consult with her. “Tell Randi I’m here,” I said more than once. Finally, she appeared, seeming surprised to see me. I told her that I felt abandoned. She assured me otherwise and promised to lobby the City Council and the Attorney General on my behalf. Wait, I said, until I finish my rebuttal that would serve as a guide to any future inquiry into SCI’s frame-up.
Flash forward to January 18, 2008, I hand-delivered copies of my 142-page dissent to Randi’s and Leo’s offices. I waited for a response, but heard nothing. I approached Randi at the February D.A. She promised to read the document over the upcoming break. Again no response. When Leo tried to avoid me at the March assembly, I grabbed his arm and said, “So?”
“I don’t see what we can do for you,” he said, expressionless.
“Why is that, Leo?” I said. “You mean you can’t do anything for the ‘brave’ whistleblower whose story Randi used to pass whistleblower law?”
You’re not in rubber room for that,” he said.
“What did you say you would do for me last August with Randi?”
“We said we’d read your report.”
“And you said you’d send it to City Council and the Attorney General.”
“If you want us to do that, we can do that.”
“But why am I telling you what you can do for me, why aren’t YOU telling me what you can do for me?”
Cornered but without sympathy, he said, “Send me an email and we’ll make appointment.”
Our March 18 rendezvous was a disaster. Leo did not buy my demolition job, but offered no specifics. So I did. What about the Principal’s illicit internal investigation that served as a cover-up? Ignoring the legal obligation to report cheating allegations to investigators,
Leo replied: “Principals conduct investigations all the time.”
“Not criminal investigations in their own schools,” I said. “They can’t even investigate corporal punishment without OSI’s okay.”
What about Condon's “no credible evidence” claim--despite the teacher confessions and a killer statistical analysis of Cobble Hill’s 104 suspect Social Studies Regents exams in the 60’s? The state’s Office of Assessment noted that the lopsided 97-7 grade distribution just above and below the passing score of 65 went “beyond any dispersion, magnitude or directionality that is likely to be attributable to chance,” a cite that SCI suppressed in its Report.
Leo tried to fuzz the issue by referring to scrubbing as a common practice rife with ambiguity. But he eventually conceded that the Assistant Principal "went over the line" in the correction process.
"That's tampering, isn't it, Leo, going over the line?"
He shook his head, sticking to his "over the line" euphemism lest he appear to support me over Condon. All he wanted to discuss was the corporal punishment charges, stating that the UFT was obliged only to protect my license. In the end, after more back-and-forth, he consented for a second time to ask the Council Education Committee to intercede.
Randi’s and Leo’s detachment was maddening. Hoping to bring them around, I began bashing them during the open-mike portion of Executive Committee meetings. They slowly got the message and jointly signed an April 14 letter to Council Education chair Robert Jackson urging a third probe to resolve the contradiction between OSI and SCI. Their high-minded but soft-pedaled request failed to endorse my credibility or hint that SCI had screwed up. The letter went nowhere. Nevertheless, I must have worn Randi down. She said the magic words in a sidebar exchange at a special June 9 Chapter Leaders meeting at the Brooklyn Marriott. Finally, she admitted that there was “cover-up and complicity” in the case, finally. But where was the action? The world knew exactly where Condon and Klein stood on the Cobble Hill case, but her opinion was a well guarded secret. I criticized her in a June 11 email for “remaining non-aligned and passing off judgment to a third party”:
Your silence on Condon’s fraud is deeply disturbing. How can you
possibly refrain from speaking out when the top teacher cop has smeared your members as liars and damaged or destroyed the careers of the OSI officials who proved their claims … ?
As I recall, you told us at the TRC gathering last October [‘07] that you became a lawyer because you were outraged as a kid by a case of false accusation. So where is your outrage with Condon’s false accusations? What’s stopping you from charging him with bad faith and a phony report on your constituents?
And what’s preventing you from meeting with me as promised? I spent four months preparing my rebuttal but I can’t get an appointment with you? I have to go to war to get you to keep your word to write the City Council and the Attorney General? [The letter to the latter never happened.]

I interpreted Randi response--a meeting with Secretary Michael Mendel--as another delaying tactic: I emailed my growing impatience on June 16:

But why am I talking to Mike instead of you? Your aloofness is weird. You know we've got Klein and Condon nailed in a damaging cover-up, but you hesitate to pull the trigger. A simple press conference or call to the Times or appearance on NY1 would break the case wide open. You would rescue an honest whistleblower and help clean out corrupt supervisors. What's stopping you?

You are talking to michael because I am trying to get this done-phil-aloof Cmon Have you not noticed the budget cuts I have to make sure it is accurate, and I have to focus on budget now. This can be a summer issue-budget can not.

Mendel established a committee consisting of NYSUT attorney Chris Callagy and Teacher reporter Jim Callaghan. All three would vet my rebuttal and report back to Randi. The vetting over the summer and fall was unanimous: the SCI report was judged a dirty trick. Hard-headed counsel Callagy called my rebuttal “fantastic.” To strengthen Randi’s conviction I arranged for a Deep Throat with inside knowledge of Condon’s m.o. to clue her in. That was the tipping point. At a November meeting of the Mendel Committee, Randi promised the moon—a press conference on the steps of City Hall vouching for my credibility and zapping Condon’s. But the big revelation, unexpectedly frank but less than admirable, was why she resisted so long.

One last detail: Randi asked me to prepare a 7-page press release summarizing my rebuttal. Relieved but burnt out and resenting that I had to write her release, I dawdled until the following June 2, only eight weeks before her departure for Washington. On July 27, her last Monday as local UFT President, she met with Mendel, Callaghan, and me. Callagy, who had vetted the release, was on vacation in Maine

No surprise, the City Hall extravaganza was out. Apart from timing, Randi said that there was no guarantee that reporters would show up. Better to drop an exclusive on a columnist she could trust--like Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News. As long as she linked her authority and office to my grand OSI-substantiated, UFT-vetted j’accuse, the venue was unimportant to me. Before she phoned Gonzalez, she needed a one-page pitch letter, which I supplied on July 31. Acting as intermediary, Mendel asked me to transpose the letter text into factual bullets, which I sent on August 13.

And then I waited … and waited. Throughout last fall, Mendel made excuses: Randi was traveling or she had not returned his call or he would definitely talk to her and get back to me this week. During a brief break at the November DA, he dropped the pretense saying that it might be better to resolve my corporal punishment cases before Randi spoke out.

Without time to argue the sudden switcheroo—the bogus, sideshow CP complaints had never been an issue—I insisted on a sit-down. He scheduled it for Monday, December 14,

And there would be no committee—just us.

What do you say that we expand our private meeting to include Jim and Chris,” I emailed him on December 10. “Since we're going to discuss Randy's (a) long promised and inexplicably (and ominously) delayed endorsement of my whistleblower bona fides re Cobble Hill and (b) criticism of Condon's incredible report, we should convene the original committee, no?”

”No need,” Mendel wrote. “I just want to talk to you one to one.“That's what I'm afraid of,” I replied. “You're going to tell me that Randi is reneging on her promise. That's something everyone who heard her promise should hear. Am I wrong?” Mendel did not answer the question. Instead on Sunday the 13th, he had a toothache and cancelled the meeting without further comment. That same night I wrote Randi a last-ditch email, the one in the title of this post, cataloguing my frustrations with her and her Unity crew--VP Casey, Staff Director LeRoy Barr, and from Brooklyn Borough Rep Howie Schoor, District Reps Charlie Friedman and Tony Sclafani, and Special Rep Arthur Solomon, all of whom were cc’ed. I did not delve into the motive behind Randi’s betrayal. Maybe it was connected to my series of recent feuds with the B-Team above. For example, I whacked Mulgrew and Barr pretty hard with Vichyite allusions on EdNotes Online for spoiling a Bill Thompson. endorsement at the Ocober DA. I confronted Barr at an Executive Committee meeting for refusing to lift a finger to help me reverse an OSI verdict that I sent “racist” XMAS cards to four colleagues at Cobble Hill in ’08. It’s a long, crazy tale. You need only know that (a) the illustration on the hand-made cards (my XMAS tradition as Chapter Leader) was a color copy of Barry Blitt’s witty New Yorker parody of the Obamas as the farmer and daughter in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and (b) the geniuses at OSI credited the complaint that the cards were “racial” because there was a pitchfork in the painting. I had solicited Barr’s help because he was the point man on a UFT SWAT team founded to fight for Chapter Leaders targeted by the DOE, Chapter Leaders like me. As they say, every brother’s not a brother.. Solomon, the nicest rep I’ve ever met, went rogue when he denied me a copy of his exculpatory interview notes with the OSI investigator on the Obama card case. Solomon claimed that the notes were his “property” and he would never give them up short of a 3020a hearing, even if they could help throw out the case before a hearing. According to Solomon’s boss, Borough Rep Schoor, it was UFT policy to keep rep notes away from clients, an act that is illegal for lawyers. When I asked Schoor for an explanation, he did not reply. I felt compelled to expose this secret policy on the blogs. I had a second round with Schoor regarding representation. The Chancellor’s Office of Equal Employment wanted to interview me on second “racist” complaint. Amazing but true, a black teacher reported me to OEO for using “Negro” in reference to a group of blacks sitting at a nearby table in the rubber room. But he forgot to mention that, according to two witnesses, black and white, he first asked me a question with “Negro” in it and I reflexively repeated his word in my answer. You should also know that (a) the teacher was reassigned himself for using the other n-word with students (in reclaimed fashion I have no doubt, but give me a break); (b) the OEO investigator, who happened to be black, never discussed “Negro” with me and concluded his substantiation with the immortal ruling tat M Nobile asserts that he was merely ‘repeating’ the comment is inc al”; and (c) the investigator refused to look at a scrapbook of race clippings by and about me in the black and white press indicating that the white guy who led the charge against Imus’s racist shtick on radio (PBS), television (The O’Reilly Factor), and Internet ( was unlikely to slur blacks himself. Putting Schoor and the UFT to the test, I demanded a new kind of advocacy for my OEO interview in a December 1 email: I am requesting vigorous, even agitated DuBois-style representation, no more sitting like a potted plant, letting me do all the strategy and defense, and a promise of notes, you know, full, timely, reputation-saving representation of falsely accused member, the kind of union advocacy you'd expect in my place.” But Schoor declined. When I put the rep question to him from the microphone at the subsequent Executive Board meeting, Mendel shout from the podium, “Don’t answer that question, Howie.” Clearly, I had distressed the Unity hierarchy in Randi’s absence, but always for good cause and only after they had committed treasons against basic solidarity. And now I am completely blackballed. How can I be sure? The other day my stalwart NYSUT counsel Callagy left a voicemail saying that he was informed by an unnamed party not to have lunch with me and not to communicate with me unless I was formally charged. Sweet. So it was in end stage discontent with the UFT’s several infidelities that I wrote Randi the unreserved email below with a golden bridge of retreat that neither she nor her adherents have had sufficient character to cross. I prefer to hear from your lips rather than Michael’s that a` propos the Cobble Hill Regents cheating case you are reneging on your often repeated promise that, following the example of DOE Deputy Counsel Theresa Europe and former OSI Investigator Lou Scarcella, you would vouch for my credibility and challenge Condon’s based on my 140-page, UFT-vetted refutation of his 2007 report to Chancellor Klein, the report that covered up an audit showing tampering on fifty-one Social Studies tests in June 2003, the audit that I sent to the Chancellor, his General Counsel Michael Best and Ms. Europe, now Director of the Administrative Trials Unit, as well as to the Department of Investigation, to no avail last summer. The Cobble Hill affair is not the UFT’s finest hour. without blinking, Charlie Friedman and Tony Sclafani advised me to cover up the crime, even from you, in violation of city law. Second, Leo dismissed my irrefutable response to Condon without explanation and said the union would do nothing to undo the damage. I had to remind him of your and his previous pledge to refer the case to the City Council and Attorney General Cuomo for re-investigation.. But even then your joint letter to Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson lacked endorsement and contained embarrassing error and misspelling, all because Leo failed to send me his draft as agreed. Third, you stonewalled me for months. You said that people who read my rebuttal were not convinced, but you couldn’t recall their names. You said you'd read the rebuttal yourself during February break 2008. You never did. As I complained to the Executive Board, I went from the “brave” union hero of your whistleblower law campaign to a union zero in your eyes. Nobody who knew you could explain your indifference to my situation and Condon’s corruption. You said that you had no problem with him. Only after [Deep Throat briefed you on Condon’s history] and commended my bona fides did you drop your resistance and promise to go public in my favor ON THE STEPS OF CITY HALL! Suddenly, your past loyalty to Condon over your solidarity for me had a plausible rationale. In November 2008, during your first appearance at the Mendel Committee, you told Michael, Chris, Jim, and me the rest of the story. You owed the Godfather. You reached out to Condon to stop Klein’s swiftboat operation against you involving the leak of your unflattering, on the surface, DOE personnel file to the Village Voice. You said that you told Condon and his boss Rose Gill Hearn that you would blame Bloomberg if Klein did not desist. You said that Condon hated Klein and would protect the Mayor. You said that Condon told you how Klein could be squelched. And it happened. Naturally, you were grateful. Scarcella’s tales tipped you in the right direction … finally, and no thanks to my pleas for solidarity.Fourth, so far you have not kept last July’s promise to go public in the Daily News. I can’t get a straight answer from Michael. You have not shown the courtesy of an explanation for the delay. And the latest is a private meeting tomorrow with Michael (just postponed) who denied my request to bring along Jim and Chris. Even OSI allows me a witness.
Fifth, though unrelated to Cobble Hill, the UFT is having a similar breakdown over the Obama XMAS card case. (a) I persuaded the Superintendent who handed me OSI’s 4-page substantiation to open her own investigation into OSI’s alleged fraudulence, yet Charlie (Friedman) has refused to read, let alone endorse, my follow-up memo documenting OSI’s errors and demolishing the Principal’s and investigator’s credibility. (b) Worse, Arthur (Solomon), with Michael’s and Howie’s okay, is withholding exculpatory evidence—his interview notes with my investigator proving OSI tampering. (Imagine the nuttiness of calling Barry Blitt’s witty New Yorker rendering of the Obamas as “American Gothic" racist!!! The flustered investigator ran out of our interview before relaying the details in the complaint. He later listed them to Arthur out of my presence. Those are the notes I need.
(c) Despite leading a SWAT team to bodyguard targeted Chapter Leaders, LeRoy literally won’t give me the time of day on my planned card complaint to DOI. Told me to call him, but never called back.
(d) Howie (Schoor) has denied my request for an aggressive, note-sharing rep for an upcoming interview with OEO--without explanation. Actually, I can’t get an explanation about anything from anybody in the chain. It is as if an explain-nothing-to-Nobile order were issued (because there are no good explanations). Summing up, I wish you would not turn back on your promise and me. You know the discomfort of being smeared. Condon was your ace in the hole. You pledged that you would be mine. I would like to learn what is going on—from you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you ever consider that all of these people may be avoiding you because you've made a "simple" case of cheating and cover-up much too complicated with your other issues? Knowing your credibility was going to play a big part in the union's willingness to support you and your claim, why did you send such controversial cards? Why did you set yourself up for charges of corporal punishment by breaking up a fight? (I've broken up fights too but I'm always aware that it's a tricky situation to protect students while not using any inappropriate force to do so) Why did you use the word "negroes" ... I'm not buying that it's because it was used in the question, you could have used another less derogatory term. I knew very little about you but read everything you just wrote here and it seems obvious to me that you've damaged your case with your actions. Take responsibility and stop trying to blame everyone else for wanting to avoid you and your controversy.

I think you need to accept that although you had a strong case, your reputation has been damanged by these other incidents and caused the Union to want to distance themselves from you. Why not just let it go and enjoy your retirement.