Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, March 27, 2010


That's how the Daily News described Judge Lobis's ruling that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein broke the law by closing 19 NYC public schools without following proper procedures as required by the 2009 re-write of the mayoral control law.

Here's how the Times described the judge's ruling:

Justice Lobis, who voided the panel’s decision, said the new law “created a public process with meaningful community involvement regarding the chancellor’s proposals.” The entire mayoral control law, she wrote, “must be enforced, not merely the portion extending mayoral control of the schools.”

Following the law - what a concept! Certainly not a concept Mayor Moneybags is used to, of course, as I will get to in a minute, but it surely is nice to see a court enforce it on a billionaire politician/bully and his corporate minion every once in a while.

The Times says the city argued that yes, they knew they might have not followed the letter of the law, but these schools are "failing" and therefore for the good of the kids and the city they must be closed, law be damned.

The judge did not agree, though the city says they will appeal and we'll have to see where this goes from here.

But even as Bloomberg and Klein were being beaten in the UFT and the NAACP lawsuit against school closures, Klein was going ahead to circumvent the ruling, as noted in this comment thread at Gotham Schools by Leonie Haimson:

Klein appears about to defy the court order by sending out the acceptance letters with none of the closing schools on them, as though the decision never happened; not only should this be barred, but the court ought to throw him in jail for contempt of court.

So even if the city loses an appeal of this decision (or fails to appeal) and these 19 schools remain open, they will die next year because the Klein and the DOE will have made sure no new students apply.

This is of course the m.o. of Bloomberg and Klein - to break the law - both letter and spirit - and not give a shit about the consequences. I think Leonie is right - Klein ought to be tossed in jail for contempt for violating the court order by sending out acceptance letters without the 19 schools that had been slated for enclosure being included.

As for Bloomberg, he's got lawsuit troubles all around. Even as he and Klein were losing the school closures lawsuit, three more women joined a discrimination lawsuit against Bloomberg LP, bringing the total number of women in the lawsuit to 79.

Moneybags himself has been named as a defendant in the case and will have to testify about the "culture of discrimination" he and other top management at Bloomberg LP created against women.

That culture of discrimination includes firing female employees seeking maternity leave with management making comments like "I'm not having any pregnant bitches working for me" or Bloomberg himself telling a top saleswoman who alerted him to her pregnancy that she should "Kill it!" if she wanted to continue working at Bloomberg LP.

This culture of discrimination and misogyny at Bloomberg LP is not new, of course. Nor is Bloomberg's own contempt for the law.

Bloomberg and his company had been hit with numerous discrimination complaints even before Moneybags bought his first mayoral term.

Here is how Wayne Barrett wrote that story up in October 2001:

In a 1998, 272-page deposition never before made public, Michael Bloomberg said he would believe a rape charge only if it was supported by "an unimpeachable third-party" witness, and accused an ex-employee who said she'd been raped by a Bloomberg executive of "extortion." Asked if he believed "false claims of rape are common," the GOP mayoral contender and CEO of a vast financial-information empire replied: "I don't have an opinion." [Read excerpts.]

Bloomberg's comments are drawn from one of three sexual harassment lawsuits that have dogged him since 1996, all of which contended that "a hostile environment of persistent sexual harassment and the general degradation of women" existed at the 8000-employee company of the same name that Bloomberg founded and ran. In addition to his uninformed testimony about rape, Bloomberg also displayed a chilly indifference to sexual harassment laws and guidelines during the deposition. Bloomberg declined to discuss these issues with the Voice,though a company spokeswoman insisted it has "zero tolerance" for harassment or rape. While the rape case of sales representative Mary Ann Olszewski has been mentioned in occasional news accounts, it has not attracted as much attention as a companion case filed by Sekiko Garrison, another member of the predominantly female, and usually young, attractive, and short-skirted sales force.


The company settled the Garrison case, without admitting wrongdoing, for what the Voicehas learned was "a very high six-figure" amount, making it appear more credible than Olszewski's, which was dismissed by a federal judge in 1999. But a closer examination of the Olszewski record reveals that the dismissal had nothing to do with the merits of the case—her lawyer had ignored repeated deadlines to submit a response to a motion to end the case. Indeed, a new lawyer revived the case in 2000, allowing it to mysteriously disappear from the court docket just as Bloomberg's mayoral candidacy emerged earlier this year.

While Olszewski, then 28, claimed she was forced out of her job shortly after making the rape charge in a May 25, 1995, meeting, the accused rapist, Bryan Lewis, who was Olszewski's immediate supervisor, remained in a top position throughout the litigation. Court records also indicate that the company conducted a wide-ranging investigation of Olszewski, attempting to get coworkers to portray her as "flirtatious" or a "sex hound." On the other hand, attorneys for Lewis and the company successfully thwarted repeated attempts by Olszewski to determine if the company was paying Lewis's personal legal bills, and the company declined the question now.


Though Bloomberg testified that he "became aware" of the allegation "instantly" after she told Louis Eccleston, the head of the company's 500-member sales force, he said all he did about it was "ascertain that we had commenced the appropriate investigative process and were treating all parties appropriately." The investigation eventually resulted in a 60-page report on Olszewski that company attorneys refused to turn over in the litigation. But one sales staffer questioned during the probe, Michael Medd, said in a phone conversation secretly taped by an Olszewski ally that he'd been asked three times to provide "reputation" information about her.

"I don't think she was very provocative, and I keep telling them I'm not going to change my words," said Medd, who complained at the time that the company was pressing him for the name of a client who could provide a "bad character portrayal" of Olszewski. Said Medd: "I don't think she was a sleep-around person." Bloomberg said in his deposition that he recalls "some discussion as to her relationships with clients, but I don't remember the specific situation," adding that his knowledge of this was "nothing other than to ensure that we were making the appropriate investigations."

Bloomberg took the position that Olszewski's refusal to cooperate with the internal probe—combined with the fact that she didn't raise the issue until two years after the alleged incident—made him "skeptical" of her allegation. He never spoke to either Olszewski or Lewis about the charge—though he testified he "knew" Lewis and "could vaguely picture" the tall, statuesque Olszewski—and admitted he neither read anything about rape nor consulted rape experts when the charge surfaced. The company first published a handbook with a section about sexual harassment procedures in 1996, after both the Olszewski and Garrison charges surfaced.

In his deposition, Bloomberg conceded that the most the company offered to do was to transfer Olszewski out of Lewis's unit, meaning she would still be working on the same wide-open sales floor, without any offices or partitions, as Lewis, who was regarded as a powerful figure within the department. Asked why the company didn't offer to move Lewis, Bloomberg said: "He seemed content with where he was." Lewis was not Olszewski's supervisor at the time of the alleged rape in 1993, but became her boss shortly afterwards, a sequence that assumed great importance in Bloomberg's deposition. Though Lewis was a senior executive within Olszewski's department, Bloomberg said it was only a violation of company policy if supervisors had sex with subordinates who "reported" to them.

Barrett revisited the sexual harassment/discrimination story in 2005, reported on six separate sexual/racial discrimination cases against Bloomberg and noted that he threw lots of money around to buy silence. Barrett writes that we will never know the full stories in these cases because they have all been settled out of court and the ex-employees all have signed "confidentiality agreements," but that voters should know that there is a dark side to Bloomberg:

The six sagas here are both unsettling and incomplete. The confidentiality blanket that covers them gives each episode a powerfully suggestive aura short of definitive fact, but the cumulative picture that emerges is one of a corporate Bloomberg awash in unusual personnel problems either connected to his own unhinged repartee or his company's insensitive policies.

Why do I bring up the current E.E.O.C. discrimination case against Bloomberg LP and the past cases against both Bloomberg himself and his company in a post about the school closures lawsuit?

Because they show a pattern here of a very nasty and very powerful bully with a contempt for the law, a contempt for women, and a contempt for common decency. They also show his willingness to throw his money around to circumvent the law and destroy enemies. Notice how he had management try and portray the woman bringing the rape charge against one of his top managers as a "sex hound" and "flirtatious." Notice how they told employees to lie about her and change their stories so she could be sufficiently depicted as promiscuous. Also notice how Bloomberg bankrolled the legal fees of his accused manager and how the suit "mysteriously disappeared" right before Bloomberg began his mayoral run in 2001.

This is classic Bloomberg behavior and it is behavior he has brought from the private sector to the public.

Bloomberg's treatment of women at his company, the culture of discrimination and contempt he helped create and indeed even fostered is the very same contempt and discrimination he has for those of us in public education, both male and female. Perhaps it's because he sees education as a "feminine sphere," perhaps it's because he's just used to getting his way in all things, but the connection between telling an employee to "kill" her baby and telling Klein to "kill" a bunch of schools every year, no matter the circumstance, are connected.

You see, in Bloomberg's mind, whatever he wants is always "right" and anybody who doesn't see it that way must be destroyed. He's been getting his way with this for a very long time now, but that just may be coming to an end. As I wrote above, we'll have to see how the school closures lawsuit shakes out and we'll have to see how the E.E.O.C. lawsuit plays out, but lately Bloomberg is not getting his way 100% of the time in these matters. I do hope the schools remain open, that Klein and Bloomberg are not allowed to manipulate the finding of the case, keep students from applying to those schools and closing them next year anyway. I also hope the 79 women in the E.E.O.C. lawsuit against Bloomberg and his company get their day in court and beat him for millions. Bloomberg is wily enough to not have a Captain Queeg moment on the stand, but it still would be nice to get him up there and force him to address the "kill it!" remark and the other acts of misogyny he either took part in ("I'd do her!") or condoned at Bloomberg LP.

It would be nice if people outside of the public school system got to know Michael Bloomberg the way the women at Bloomberg LP and the teachers and administrators in the DOE know him.

That would be the most stunning thing of all.


  1. How right you are on all counts. I almost threw up when this week Bloomberg was quoted as saying it is a disgrace for the State Democrats to demand pay for play. This from the individual who payed millions to overturn the will of the people with term limits. Let us hope that the public becomes aware and comprehends the abuse of power exhibited by this autocrat.

  2. There is a tie-in with Bloomberg's treatment of women and the ed deforms, which require young, often unattached and childless teachers to make things go. Think of the willing abuse so many of these teachers accept "for the children."

    What happens when a teacher has a child and needs to rush home and can't stay 10 hour days? Or has to move to the burbs and has a long commute? If we think through the ed deform movement with its high turnover rates, there is an anti-woman element.

  3. Bloomberg is a hypocritical, nasty bully. I just want to see him exposed to the rest of the electorate as such. They still for the most part see him as a prickly but pragmatic get it done guy. But behind that mask lies a dark, dark, man...