At the October 17 Executive Board and October 18 Delegate Assembly, Randi and Unity once again showed their clear biases. Randi created excuses nobody ever dreamed of to ensure that non Unity people cannot win Chapter elections on Tuesday and she stalled for so long on Wednesday that delegates were never allowed to vote on restoring union democracy in the hiring of District Representatives.
Two Chapters filed appeals of the Spring 2007 Chapter Elections to the Executive Board . Grady High School had a challenge to a Delegate election and Forest Hills High School had a Chapter Leader Election challenge. The UFT Constitutition empowers the Executive Board to settle such appeals.
At Grady the main question to be decided was how to proceed if candidates are disqualified from running for Teacher Delegate positions. For years Grady allowed two non teachers (a paraprofessional and a guidance counselor) to be Teacher Delegates. This obviously violated the UFT Constitution. What is very strange is that this obviously unconstitutional arrangement was condoned by then chapter leader Michael Mulgrew who was subsequently promoted to UFT Vice President for Vocational and Technical High Schools by the Unity machine. If a chapter leader didn't know that only teachers can serve as teacher delegates or blatantly chose to ignore the rules for years, it leads us to question his competence or his judgement. After Jeff Kaufman pointed out Mulgrew's obvious negligence, many of the members in the audience at the Executive Board were asking, "WHAT DID VP MULGREW KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?"
Interestingly, Weingarten took a Point of Personal Privilege and proceeded to shoot off a vicious personal attack against Jeff Kaufman instead of addressing Mulgrew's actions. When the body finally returned to the Grady issue, there was some interesting debate because the UFT Election Rules are silent about what to do if nominees are disqualified after an election takes place. Do the qualified nominees who had the next most votes win or is it proper to have new nominations and a new election? Unity decided to make up new rules and allow for a second election to take place. Would they have created a new rule to have a second election if the people who ended up winning election number one were members of the Unity Caucus? We doubt it. The Forest Hills High School fiasco proves our point that Unity actions have nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with pushing the Unity political agenda.
At Forest Hills, veteran Chapter Leader Barbara Kaplan-Halper ( also a member of the UFT Executive Board elected from ICE) was out sick for much of last year. Her temporary replacement was Eddie Mesadore who didn't bother to have some of the new teachers sign up to join the UFT. Mesadore was courted by Unity and had nothing to do with any opposition caucuses so the Union obviously had a favorite candidate when Mesadore decided to challenge Kaplan-Halper for Chapter Leader last spring. The first election resulted in a tie. The Forest Hills High School Election Committee on advisement from the UFT decided to run a second election on June 23. The second election was meticulously run by the Election Committee and it was another close vote (95-95) except that there was a disputed ballot that was set aside. After all the votes were counted, the Election Committee ruled that the person who had made a scribble in the Mesadore box and then a clear X in the Kaplan-Halper box had voted for Kaplan-Halper. The Committee declared Kaplan-Halper the winner 96 to 95. There were two challenges: one questioning the disputed ballot and the second questioning who was eligible to vote. The Election Committee scrupulously made sure that only union members could vote so they were not worried as they had been calling the UFT to make sure only proper UFT members were voting.
Instead of investigating if ineligible voters cast ballots and looking at the challenged ballot, Queens Borough Representative Harolyn Fritz overturned Kaplan-Halper's victory. She told Barbara, Jeff Kaufman, Norman Scott and James Eterno who met with her that she was following the election rules of the American Arbitration Association in voiding the disputed ballot that she never saw. We examined AAA election rules and there is nothing about voiding ballots that have scribble in a box. Fritz told us there were no other issues. She then ordered a third election to be run by the Queens Office and they put a notice in mailboxes while people were attending the school's graduation stating that there were irregularities in election two and there would be a third election the next day. This angered the Election Committee who had already certified the second election but it pleased the administration as Barbara is known as a strong chapter leader. One of the assistant principals gave an endorsement of Mesadore in a Department meeting. Mesadore won a close third election but many of Kaplan Halper's frustrated supporters had seen enough by then. Barbara challenged Fritz's decision to void election 2.
At the Executive Board, Randi did the best job of obfuscation that many eyes have ever seen. She talked about anything but the second election which Kaplan-Halper clearly won in order to try to make a motion for a fourth election if irregularities in election 3 could be proven. Once again she sparred with Kaufman who demanded that the disputed ballot in election 2 be counted and that Barbara's election be upheld. Two members of the Forest Hills Election Committee supported Jeff. Randi and the Unity disciples finally decided to set up a "Tripartite Committee" to examine all of the issues in the Forest Hills Elections.
What's next for Randi: Drinks with Catherine Harris to discuss stealing elections? As Barbara Kaplan-Halper is from ICE, it looks as though Unity will do whatever it takes to make sure she doesn't win.
Unfortunately, that's not all folks. At Wednesday's Delegate Assembly Meeting, Randi ran out the clock better than a football team with a small lead that wants to hold the ball until time runs out . Randi spent time allowing a number of speakers from outside to address the body and she even extended the question period. We spent about an hour discussing a resolution that had support from over 99% of the delegates. Ironically, we had two speakers tell us how important it is to vote in the November elections and another came in to plug his political party. All of this prevented the delegates from having a discussion on union democracy as the issue of electing UFT District Representatives or continuing top-down appointments from President Weingarten wasn't addressed because time ran out.