Thursday, October 19, 2006

UNITY AGAIN MAKES A MOCKERY OF DEMOCRACY AT CHAPTER ELECTION APPEALS & FIRST DA

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.

31 comments:

Norm said...

MESSAGE TO NEW DELEGATES AND CHAPTER LEADERS: DON'T BOTHER COMING BACK

Jeff's summary and analysis cannot be more perfect in describing what happened at the Exec bd meeting Tues. night where Unity showed how they could steal 2 elections.

As for Weds. DA I remained downstairs giving out Ed Notes, (which I will post as a pdf) but I have a point about the meeting.

The October DA is usually the most crowded because it is the first one of the year. This one in particular was crowded because so many new CL and Del who were elected last spring were attending for the first time.

The message from Randi was: DON'T BOTHER COMING BACK

With probably 2800 or more delegates, instead of holding the meeting at the Marriott or in a school that could hold what is usually around 1200 people for these first meetings, they held it at the UFT in a room that legally holds around 850 people. It was reportedly so uncomfortable in there that one CL told me he went wild saying that it was a major fire trap and if the fire dept has been called they would have shut down the meeting.

Many people will not come back. But Unity people will. Exactly what Randi and crew want.

Anonymous said...

Amazing that she couldn't negotiate a fair contract but can think of ways to stop democratic process.

My question though is if Barbara was a strong leader then why was the vote so close and why was the school divided???

JustdaTruth said...

Union Democracy Forever. The Truth will purify UNITY. Union Democracy will keep the UFT strong. Yee Hah!

jameseterno said...

To Anon 4:41 p.m.-

Strong chapter leaders often face a difficult situation because certain administrators know how to play divide and conquer.

Add a few Unity people in a building and non Unity chapter leaders carry an extra burden.

Anonymous said...

JEFF KAUFMAN'S BIG LIE

What Kaufman doesn't say is that Randi asked Barbara Kaplan-Halper, who had made the appeal, if she would like the question she was appealing to be investigated by a three person committee, and Barbara said yes. This was what the Executive Board voted to do.

But that is not good enough for Kaufman, who would rather slander everybody within sight for political gain, even if it means going against someone from his own caucus.

This is the same sort of "honesty" and "openness" that one sees all the time from Kaufman. No one has done so much to besmirch the legal profession since Roy Cohn. It's time to say: Have you no decency, at long last, have you no decency, Kaufman?

Norm said...

UNITY'S BIGGER LIE
(Anon is really one of the top Unity officials who said pretty much the same thing at the meeting and has a consistent style of "phony" outrage.)

What did Mulgrew know and when did he know it?

Decency? Ignore the dishonesty of having 2 illegal delegates for years because they were Unity but when 2 non-Unity were left standing after these two were eliminated because Mulgrew was no longer able to keep this lie going the UFT threw out the election committee certification and created a new election to assure Unity would win.

Mulgrew should be impeached as VP.

When Jeff brought that up, Mulgrew had to let Randi call a Pt. of Pers. Priv. which she used to attack Jeff over his being elected CL at Rikers, which had nothing to do with Mulgrew's BIGGER LIE that was perpretrated on the staff of Grady for years.

As for Barabra's case, the Queens Borough Office supported the principal against a strong chapter leader who has stood up. So did the usual Unity suspects in Forest Hills HS that have supported collaborators for years. The science dept AP campaigned for Barbara's opponent on the morning of the election. You guys are on the "right" side, as usual.

People oftten say that Unity and the DOE are in cahoots. The fact that Unity people at Forest Hills would align themselves with the admin. in their own interests is just part of the pattern of Unity collaborators.

You must have had to look up how to spell the word decency.

Anonymous said...

Re: Decency.

People who live it don't need to look it up. You are thus entitled to their dictionary.

jameseterno said...

To the Unity Folks Accusing us of a Big Lie-

Please give a citation as to where we lied.

What choice did Barbara have on Tuesday? She could have accepted the committee to investigate what the union already investigated (or should have looked into) or she could have forced a vote on the second election that was clearly stolen.

Randi did not allow the Executive Board to evaluate the overwhelming evidence that Barbara and the two people from the Election Committee from Forest Hills were presenting that election two was valid and stolen.

Barbara acted with class by giving Randi the face saver and we supported Barbara. Where is our big lie? I stand by every word of the story which I wrote, not Jeff Kaufman. I just didn't bother to sign it when I sent it to Jeff and he didn't put in a byline. Jeff exclusively has the codes to post on the blog. When Jeff reads this, he can put my name on the original post as the author so you Unity folks can attack me.

This is my tenth year on the Executive Board. The theft of the election at Forest Hills was up there with the worst actions that I have seen. Unity has an 82-6 majority and still has to resort to tricks. The only way to resolve the Forest Hills HS dispute is to uphold the second election that Barbara won fair and square. No ineligible people voted and the disputed ballot clearly was a vote for Barbara and gave her the majority.

One more point about Tuesday: Randi said that it was the first time that she was hearing about irregularities in the third election at Forest Hills, the one that the Union ran. This statement was untrue as people from Forest Hills sent in complaints about the third election on the day it was held. Barbara invited me to Forest Hills that afternoon and I know members were sending stuff out to the UFT while I was there. I think they were sending it to Randi directly.

For Randi to claim on Tuesday that she had never heard about any problems with the third election is strange. Either her staff never showed her the letter or she didn't remember it or she lied. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say she forgot or never saw it. However, that material apparantly was not investigated by anyone at the UFT. Why not? My theory: when the Unity supported person wins, it's case closed. I wish I was wrong on this.

Norm said...

I want to focus on the fact that we hear so many stories of Unity collaborators with principals who use teachers to undermine the chapters.

The use of the principal's secretary to make the complaint (a common tactic when the principal is not happy with the election results) at Forest Hills and the fact that this had no bearing on the "investigation" the borough office made plus the campaigning for Barbara's opponent by other administrators tells you where Unity stands. I know of other schools where the principal did the same thing and the borough office ordered a new election.

I attended the meeting at the Queens borough office on the night before the 3rd FH election the night before the end of school. We comlained that the entire protest of the election and the announcement by the borough office of the 3rd election (whose wording made it seem that there had been some impropriety, thereby tainting Barbara enough the next day to cause a switch in a few votes to lose her the election the next day, plus the fact that most of the staff was at graduation and Barbara didn't even see it until that afternoon.) We asked that because of these facts to not hold a 3rd election until the ballot was examined. Barbara also pointed out that the chair of the election committee had certified her election. Fritz and Freiser ignored that and focused on the fact that the chair had called them - reason being she knew the admin would incite a protest and she wanted to alert them. But they completely misused this phone call as an excuse.


Harolyn Fritz and Rona Freiser had the nerve to say it was the policy to throw out ballots with extra marks on them (we should post a scan of the ballot for all to see.) James held up the election guide and said "Show us where it says that. If it did say something the voter would have known to ask for a clean ballot."

Freiser and Frtiz said nothing in response.

I should point out that Freiser (who was the Queens HS Dist. rep before taking over for Fritz) has been accused by teachers at John Adams HS of protecting a vicious principal (who is her friend) who has targeted older teachers. The NY Teacher had even planned a story on this but it got lost in the cracks and Freiser is being blamed.

We received complaints from teachers at Far Rockaway HS, one of whom invited me to the school and ended up with a letter in his file for inviting me to the union meeting - a letter that was used as fodder in a U-rating hearing. (I followed all precedures in signing in). What was Rona's position on this? Did the UFT protest the principal's actions and declare a teacher has the right to invite someone from outside to talk to the teachers? (How many outsiders float around a building with all kinds of bull?)

Unity will support the principal (behind the scenes of course) claiming they can send hordes of people into buildings while teachers who invite opposition people can be attacked by administrators - with Unity prodding.

Back to the actions of Mulgrew, the new VP for Vocational HS, who violated basic union procedures for years by having illegal delegates and is accused by teachers at Grady of masterminding the new election to assure Unity delegates.

My election as CL in the early 90's had a similar backdrop. The incumbent (Unity guy, not opposed to me, but I wasn't active politically at that time) pulled out when I was nominated at the last minute, leaving me the only candidate and the election committee declared me the winner since nominations were closed. (This is exacly what happened at Grady where the 2 non-Unity delegates were declared the winner by the election committee.)

My principal screamed bloody murder and had the AP go around with a petition for a new election that was signed by 20 people (who, shame on them, told me later they felt forced by admin pressure.) The election committee stuck to its guns. The principal punished the entire staff in various petty ways.

She just didn't think about getting one of her flunkies to officially protest the election. I can guarantee the union would have supported the principal because I was a known critic of Unity from years before.

The Unity dominated structure in my district, led by the former Unity Dist rep who used his power to become Supt. were very unhappy with my pricipal for allowing this to happen.

My presence over the next 3 years at the monthly CL meetings built up a lot of support for Ed Notes in my district when I started publishing them a few years later and even now I can drop them off for people I know in many schools (though the current DR bragged how he pulled them out of the boxes when he saw them.) So you see why Unity works so hard to keep critics out.

When you become active on the level James, Jeff and I and others have become, you really get to see the underbelly (and the power) of Unity up close and personnal. Many teachers are more afraid of the Unity machine than they are of the DOE. One outspoken teacher recently asked if a delayed license from Albany was somehow engineered by the union. I said "no" it doesn't go that far, but who knows?

Those of you who comment on this blog and say "just vote Unity out", have to get it clear that it is easier to clear out a nest of Vipers. If you stand up to their attemts to intimidate they are like any bully -- they back down. But unless this resistance starts building school by school, with people like Barbara and the people at Grady who protested the election, Unity will maintain its grip.

Wait till you see the dirty tricks in the upcoming election, starting with having a bogus "opposition" on the ballot with Unity support in an attempt to get Jeff and James out of the Exec Bd.

The Resistance to Unity said...

THE FRENCH RESISTANCE

The French Resistance movement grew in the wilds of the South and hid in the shadows of the North, fighting to remove every German from French soil. At first its numbers were comprised of isolated and disorganised groups of vengeful renegades, impassioned civilians, hungry farm–labourers and idealistic Communists. They strove against all odds to fight the twin spectres of the Nazi occupiers and the corrupt French collaborators. In the words of an English journalist writing in 1944:

There were two breeds of maggot crawling on the dead body of France—the obvious and ubiquitous one in field grey, and the not–so–obvious one who still wore a black suit and went to the office every morning. It was against both these breeds that the men and women of the Resistance movement directed their energies.
– From the Article, “France Resurgent” by Peter Irving for The Spectator, Nov 3rd 1944

http://charlottegraymovie.warnerbros.com/cmp/resistance.html

Anonymous said...

If you have the stomach to make your way through Scott's and Eterno's personal attacks, it becomes apparent that they have no choice but to admit that Randi and UNITY are accused of stealing an election for doing exactly what the ICE person who was making the appeal said she wanted done...

Scott just avoids discussing it altogether, and Eterno provides a convoluted discourse to explain it away. Eterno goes on great lengths about how he really wrote the slander, rather than Jeff Kaufman, as if anyone cares whether it was ICE's Leopold or ICE's Loeb which wrote it.

The reality here is that it didn't matter what Randi and UNITY did -- ICE was going to engage in their personal attacks and their slander no matter what happened.

jameseterno said...

To Anon-

Barbara asked that the second election be upheld. Read the letter she distributed to the Executive Board. After Randi would not let the Executive Board deal with the second election that Barbara clearly won, Barbara settled for Randi's tripartite committee only after Randi agreed to again look into the second election. As I said before, Barbara was polite enough to give Randi a face saver in the end.

If Unity would have done the right thing by examining the evidence and upholding the disputed ballot which the members of the Executive Board who were present were all given a copy of, I would have gladly complimented Randi as I have done when she has helped my school. However, when she uses obfuscation and attacks Jeff personally, I am not afraid to respond.

I have said it many times that on a personal level, I have no problem with Randi; she has done some good things for my school and me personally. However, when she does something as undemocratic as she did last Tuesday, I cannot be as kind as Barbara was.

JustdaTruth said...

To the People of ICE. The scintillating accuracy of the choice of the word sycophant, to describe many of Unity's followers in your August 31 flyer was great. Sycophantical behavior at the top levels of Union is definitely a sign of a Union that is in need of improvement.

Anonymous said...

Unity has done it again. They have once again shown how undemocratic they are and the lengths they will go to in order to keep their patronage system going. Also, the whole idea of having an executive board that represents the membership is a farce. They simply take Randi's lead and follow it verbatum.

Norm said...

But anon leader of Unity:
"If you have the stomach to make your way through Scott's and Eterno's personal attacks"

I watched what you ate at Tues. Exec bd meeting and no wonder you don't have the stomach for this.

Notice how you ignore all the points in my post about what Mulgrew knew and when he knew it. Plus the fact of Unity collaboration with the principal and ap at Forest Hills HS to get Barbara out as CL. I guess you really think the teachers at FHHS are better off with a a CL supported by the admin. But he is close or a member already of Unity so that should be the primary consideration.

You suffer from mental indigestion which results in selective memory- the result of all that crap you ate on Tues.

Norm said...

One more point to anon. Unity leader:

While I agree that you guys stole the election by ignoring the winning ballot in the 2nd election, I don't take the position that the 3rd election should be thrown out and the 2nd election affirmed. There were irregularities in procedure in how the 3rd election was run and announced and Randi acknowledged that and it is conceivable there will be a 4th election.

But from my point of view, the fact that the staff was split down the middle 50-50 is a fact and no matter how we cut it Barbara could easily have lost legitimately.

Barbara is someone who always tries to bend over backwards to be fair and give people the benefit of the doubt and possibly didn't take into account the way Unity works.

While she was sick (don't forget she was out for 7 months) she appointed 4 people to handle chapter affairs, one of them the person who defeated her and a known possible candidate against her. She did this for the best interests of her members, not thinking that Unity would take advantage of her illness.

The borough Unity machine shut the other 3 out and only dealt with the guy they saw as able to defeat her, building him up in the school as a candidate against Barbara, despite his obvious collaboration with the administration. Barbara's illness also worked against her as people may have been worried about her health.

That Unity seized on the opportunity to turn a defeat into a victory by using the union machinery is just an affirmation of how absolute power works and a lesson to all those kiddies out there who challenge the machine.

Make sure to take care of business at home and be aware of the snakes in the grass.

jameseterno said...

The second election was fair and Barbara should be declared the winner; case closed.

Anonymous said...

I'm well aware of the workings of the union and the school. Bringing this to the attention of the executive board was a choice, not naivite as was stated in the letter that Jeff Kaufman and I wrote on June 27 and distributed to the officers and the executive board.

We said, "Fair elections are indispensible to democratic unionism. Elections that are set aside based upon misapplication or ignoring the rules have a devestating effect on democratic unionism and respect both collectively and individually for our union and our members."

Barbara Kaplan-Haplper as dictated to James Eterno

jameseterno said...

To the Unity Guy who thinks Barbara Wants Another Investigation-

What follows is from the letter Barbara Kaplan-Halper wrote back on June 27 that the executive board received: "It is respectfully requested that the challenge be overruled and the election committee's certification be affirmed in all respects."

Barbara won election 2 and asked for the victory to be affirmed.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

It's one school.

Get a life guys.

Anonymous said...

Sure.
You can't expect your union to care about all the schools....
So what the Leadership steals an election here or there? As long as it's a Unity gain, there's no harm no foul, right?

Anonymous said...

Two schools, not one. Oh yea and What did Mulgrew know and when did he know it?

Anonymous said...

Election stealing and all the other Unity misconduct will all go on forever unless the teachers wake up one day and stop it. We all know this but will they rise and take back the union? Not unless people are organized. Now is the time.

snakehead utp said...

I was hysterical laughing after reading a story in the latest NY Teacher. Randi Weingarten apparently went to a school to meet with an abusive principal, who allotted her half an hour to discuss the issues. Apparently the principal rambled on the whole time not allowing any time for discussion, then said time's up and left. The Delegate Assembly of our union works the same way, only its Randi and the Unity parade who filibuster so opposing viewpoints can never be heard. Oh look at the time, meeting adjourned till next month... oh well we can't discuss DR's being elected, what a shame.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. This is a large school, and could have as many as 250 UFT members. There is a tie vote -- let's say, half of the members voted, so its 62 to 62. There is one challenged ballot, with different marks next to both candidates name. It is ruled spoiled, and a new election is held.

You call that a stolen election, and demand that the UFT simply annoint your candidate.

Do you realize how stupid you sound?

jameseterno said...

The ballot wasn't spoiled and the election committee certified the election. I wish we could post a copy of the challenged ballot. I showed it to three people in my school who don't know Barbara and they all said without me saying anything that it was clearly a vote for her. She won and it was stolen from her. It's that simple

jameseterno said...

I spoke to Rona Freiser yesterday and she strongly disputes Norm's allegations.

I do not want to comment on events that occur in schools where I am not that familiar with the details of particular situations. However, I will say that just like with Randi, I have nothing against Rona personally.

Professionally, Rona and I have a good working relationship. My wife, other chapter leader friends and I supported Rona's election for District Representative for Queens High Schools back when there were elections. It is not a stretch to say that we were instrumental in electing her as the election was close.

Since then, Rona has worked with Jamaica High School members to resolve grievances and informal complaints on many occasions. Any disagreements have never been personal.

I did not put anything about Rona in the original post as she was not the Borough Representative at the time of the Forest Hills election last spring so the decision to void the chapter election was not hers to make.

Finally, I have no problem saying something positive about Unity people when they do the right thing and no problem criticizing them when they produce a lousy contract or fail to support the members.

JustdaTruth said...

To: snakehead utp 10/25/06,

Ain't that the truth!!!
When Randi and the Unity Machine manipulate and dominate the delegate assembly it's disgusting, and it happens on a regular basis. Norm's comments on dictatorships in EDnotes online is well worth reading and pondering. The more democracy in the UFT the better. Viva La Revolucion.

Anonymous said...

New Action is the phony opposition and they will be at it again this year. When are you guys going to expose this?

SNAKEHEAD UTP said...

The time for reform has passed, forget the reformers. New Action is an also ran, they are has beens. It's time for the membership to wake up, we don't need reform, we need a revolution. Justdatruth speaks the truth (it really is a fitting name isn't it). The time for debating piddling details is over, UFT ERWACHE. UNITY OUT!

Anonymous said...

Exactly why New Action must be exposed early and often as a phony opposition that is really a Unity subsidiary.