Sunday, November 24, 2013

Colman Genn and the Corruption of the NYC Department of Education

re-posted from NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Colman Genn, The Gill Commission, And School Corruption In NYC - Let's Never Forget
Many people remember Colman Genn, a man who courageously exposed the corruption of the NYC Board of Education.

Colman Genn
July 17, 2004
New York Times


Colman Genn Is Dead at 68; Exposed School Corruption


Colman Genn, a career educator who exposed corruption in New York City schools by secretly recording conversations about political and ethnic considerations in filling jobs, died on Thursday night at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 68.

The cause was respiratory failure, said his son, David.

Mr. Genn was the superintendent of Community School Board 27 in southeastern Queens when, in the fall of 1989, he became the star witness in hearings to investigate allegations that elected school board members had awarded dozens of unnecessary jobs to friends and political supporters at a cost of more than $1 million a year.

Mr. Genn became celebrated as the Serpico of the public school system after volunteering to wear a recording device and tape hours of conversations over a period of eight months in his office, at board meetings, in cars and restaurants and on the phone for the Joint Commission on Integrity in thePublic Schools, informally known as the Gill Commission, appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch in 1988.

''I'm a political leader; that's why I'm here,'' James C. Sullivan, a member of the community school board and former Republican district leader, was heard telling Mr. Genn on one such recording. At another point, discussing jobs ranging from assistant principal to school aide, Mr. Sullivan complained that Mr. Genn's predecessor had ''hired out of the synagogue,'' to the detriment of Irish-Americans, and instructed that any black person hired had to be ''pliable,'' and not ''a Mau-Mau.''

The city's 32 community school boards grew out of a 1969 state law aimed at giving community leaders and parents, especially in minority neighborhoods, a voice in the running of public schools. The conversations recorded by Mr. Genn, who became the highest-ranking official willing to discuss corruption publicly, led gradually to state legislation recentralizing the school system over the last few years.

In January 1991, Mr. Genn, then 56, retired from his superintendent's job with two and a half years remaining in his contract. He said he was smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, his asthma had worsened, his weight was fluctuating and he was under police guard for fear of retribution.

''I'm tense and worried that I've made a lot of enemies, that people whose toes have been stepped on will come at me in one way or another,'' he said at the time.

He said he found comfort in riding his motorcycle on the beach.

He found a sanctuary of sorts with a friend and former colleague, Seymour Fliegel, who had helped create small, experimental public schools in East Harlem and who invited him to become a senior fellow at a research institute supporting public education, now known as the Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association. The group was initially part of the Manhattan Institute, the conservative research center, but later split to become independent.

Mr. Genn was born on Dec. 11, 1935, in the Bronx. His father, Bernard, was a ritual slaughterer preparing kosher meat, a diamond cutter and later the director of a children's camp. His mother, Fannie, was a homemaker who never finished high school but was well-read in Talmud. Mr. Genn, one of five children, was educated at Yeshiva Etzchaim and Yeshiva University High School in Brooklyn, where he recalled spending a lot of time on the street looking for fights with a gang of youths in Bensonhurst, and being a ''very poor'' student.

He earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Brooklyn College, then a master's degree in the same fields from Michigan State. He got his first job, teaching math at Brownsville Junior High, in 1958, then went on to teach physical education and social studies in East Harlem. During the 1970's and 80's, working with the local superintendents, Anthony Alvorado and Carlos Medina, and the deputy superintendent, Mr. Fliegel, he helped start three alternative schools in East Harlem: the Academy of Environmental Sciences, the Harbor School for the Performing Arts and the Manhattan Center for Science and Math.

Mr. Genn became the superintendent of District 27 in July 1987, and realized from his first months on the job that something was amiss, as board members inquired about hiring and promoting friends and cronies.

Just two weeks before Mr. Genn died, he traveled to Israel to help create a school for immigrant children, Mr. Fliegel said.

In addition to his son, David, of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., Mr. Genn is survived by his wife, Brenda, of Hewlett; a daughter, Shari Shapiro of Lawrence; three brothers, Reuven, of Israel; Mordechai, of Mount Vernon, N.Y.; and Manny, of Tenafly, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

SCHOOLS AND POLITICS: CHANNELS OF POWER - A SPECIAL REPORT: New York Schools and Patronage: Experience Teaches Hard Lessons
By JOSEPH BERGER with ELIZABETH KOLBERT, Special to The New York Times
Published: December 11, 1989


Guy Velella

Two decades after the New York City school system was decentralized to encourage local participation, many school boards are allied with neighborhood political clubs and exploited by politicians seeking power and patronage.

Many teachers and administrators say their colleagues, eager to get ahead, are compelled to join the clubs and give their time and money to election campaigns because politicians' allies on the school boards have the power to grant promotions.

And despite recent efforts in Albany to build barriers between education and politics, a seat on a local school board is often seen as a stepping stone for budding politicians.

In dozens of interviews, politicians, school board members and educators agreed that they are creatures, and sometimes victims, of the elective system created by decentralization.
The lessons that New York is learning about this perilous mixture of education and politics are of national significance because cities like Chicago and Miami have begun experimenting with various forms of decentralized schooling.

Decentralization gave control over the hiring of administrators in the city's elementary and junior high schools to 32 local school boards. It was prompted by concerns in the 1960's that the central adminstrative staff was not responsive enough to teachers, students and parents. Self-Interest and Reluctance
There is wide agreement that the local boards have failed the city's 940,000 schoolchildren. More than a third of these bodies have been shaken by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Seven board members have been indicted in roughly a year. But the boards have become so enmeshed in the city's political web that many educators say they are skeptical that the 83 state legislators who represent parts of New York City can make dispassionate decisions about reform.
''Political self-interest,'' said Robert F. Wagner Jr., president of the Board of Education, has made many legislators ''reluctant to deal with the issue.''
The injection of politics into running the schools, he added, ''shifts the focus away from kids to the political agenda of individual politicians and there are times that decisions, rather than being made on merit, are made on political connections.'' Other critics note that teachers who refuse to get involved in politics are passed over for promotions and can grow demoralized.
Dr. Fred Goldberg, superintendent of District 10 in the northwest Bronx, said that among teachers and administrators, ''there was a perception that it was an asset to be a member of a political group to enhance the probability of being considered'' for promotion.
Political affiliation has become so important in advancing an educational career that in certain parts of the city, teachers and school administrators are as common as lawyers at meetings of local political clubs. Teachers and administrators are considered intelligent campaigners who have afternoons and summers off to do political work.
Voters decide who the nine members of a school board will be; political clubs may field or back candidates. But because turnout is low, the number of votes needed to win is sometimes no more than several hundred. So the influence of political clubs on the contests can be significant. Buying 'Insurance'
During the mid-1980's, the board of District 10 was divided between factions connected to Stanley Simon, then the Bronx borough president, and G. Oliver Koppell, a Democrat State Assemblyman from the Bronx.
At least eight people appointed assistant principals in District 10 were affiliated with one of two political clubs. A community newspaper, The Riverdale Press, found that 25 of the 48 principals and assistant principals who were appointed between 1982 and 1986 were affiliated with political clubs or were relatives of politicians.
In almost every case, the administrators were regarded as highly qualified. But, district officials say, the administrators believed they needed to ''buy insurance'' for their promotions through political club support.
In an interview, Mr. Koppell said he had been compelled, as a matter of political survival, to ''support a few people for assistant principals and principals.''
''The whole school establishment was being used to try and defeat me,'' he said. ''There were people on the streets campaigning against me. They carried petitions. They were standing on street corners handing out fliers at polls urging people to vote on primary days. Many of these were teachers and assistant principals.'' How It Works 'How You Build Loyal Troops'
The widespread impact of politics on the school system has been documented by a survey of school personnel conducted by the Gill Commission, headed by James F. Gill, a lawyer. The commission was appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch to investigate school board corruption. In what commission officials believe are understated results, 41 percent of the 1,099 respondents said that political affiliation is a factor in the hiring of principals.
A major focus of the commission was District 27 in southwest Queens. At the commission's request, Coleman Genn, the district's superintendent, wore a concealed tape recorder and recorded the school board's treasurer, James C. Sullivan, asking him to hire 11 friends and political supporters to unnecessary jobs as paraprofessionals. This was at a time Mr. Genn was seeking a one-year extension of his contract from the board.
In a recent interview, Mr. Genn asserted that one principal and three assistant principals in his district were active in a local Republican club and had been promoted to their positions through Mr. Sullivan's influence.
''He built an entourage,'' Mr. Genn said of Mr. Sullivan. ''That's how you build loyal troops.'' When Mr. Sullivan ran an election or a fund-raiser for a candidate, Mr. Genn said, ''these people responded. If he had to get signatures on petitions or campaign literature, they responded.''
Mr. Sullivan and Samuel Granirer, the board's vice president, were indicted on Dec. 1 and accused of improperly using their influence to force Mr. Genn to hire their choices. Mr. Sullivan pleaded guilty to mail fraud and coercion. Mr. Granirer pleaded not guilty. 'On My Own Time'
In District 4 in East Harlem, according to a confidential 1988 report by the Board of Education's Inspector General, most of the district's 20 principals and several top-level district officials attended a fund-raising party in 1985 for Robert Rodriguez, then the school board president, who was trying to regain the seat he once held as City Councilman. The report also said Carlos Medina, the district superintendent, had been seen at the Board of Elections helping Mr. Rodriguez fend off challenges to his City Council petitions. The report said that created a conflict of interest because Mr. Rodriguez would be voting on Mr. Medina's contract.
In an interview, Mr. Medina said he admired Mr. Rodriguez for his support of district programs, which have been widely praised for their innovation and, in some schools, notable success. He acknowledged having appeared at the Board of Elections, but said he did so ''on my own time'' because ''as superintendent it was important for me to know who was winning and who would be the people in my district.''
Mr. Medina was discharged as superintendent on Nov. 8 by the District 4 school board after an arbitrator found that he had created an improper ''special projects fund'' from district money, and used it in part to lend $6,788 to subordinates and to contribute small amounts of money to political fund-raisers.
Mr. Rodriguez, 38 years old, argued that principals should be involved in a variety of community activities, including council races.
In District 9, a veteran social studies teacher said that when he applied for a much-coveted summer-school job in 1988, a district official asked him to spend several days helping collect petitions for candidates in local races. The teacher, who agreed to perform those chores, asked not to be identified because he is now seeking a job as an assistant principal.
In District 19 in the East New York and Bushwick sections of Brooklyn, political factionalism stalled the selection of a superintendent and seven principals and assistant principals for several months and delayed the approval of the budget. When Politics Divides A District In Trouble District 10 is the largest in New York City, roughly equivalent to Buffalo in student population. Taking in both the elegant homes of Riverdale and the burned-out tenements south of Fordham Road, it has 36,050 children in 35 schools.
From 1980 to 1986, two successive boards were divided into factions -one connected to the Riverdale Democratic Club, led by Mr. Simon, the Borough President, and the other to the Benjamin Franklin Democratic Club, whose founder was Mr. Koppell.
The Simon loyalists, board members said, were: Jeffrey Litt, who was director of community boards in the Borough President's office; Arnold Kideckel, then executive director of the State Insurance Fund and a close Simon adviser, and Robert Shaw, then a counsel to the city's Transportation Commissioner.

There were four Koppell loyalists at various times. They included James P. Sullivan and Evelyn Karfiol. Mr. Sullivan, who is no relation to James C. Sullivan in District 27, was the brother of Timothy Sullivan, Mr. Koppell's administrative assistant. Mrs. Karfiol is an aide to Mr. Koppell. Target of 'a Cabal'
The political division was reflected in the choice of school administrators, district officials said. Mr. Kideckel said that he never favored an administrator because ''they came out of Simon's club per se, but if they came out of Simon's club and I may have known them and known their character, that may have been a factor.''
Under the decentralization law, school board members must appoint principals and assistant principals from among candidates recommended by the superintendent. Dr. Goldberg, the superintendent, said that in the early 1980's he was generally able, because of the split in the board and his popularity with independents, to gain support for almost all of his choices. But in 1982, when he refused to recommend as an assistant principal Alexander Castillo, a teacher in District 9 backed by Mr. Litt and Mr. Simon, he suddenly found himself the target of what he called ''a cabal.''
Dr. Goldberg said the Simon faction responded by joining the Koppell faction in closed session and voting to strip him of his powers to hire or transfer personnel, modify the budget or even talk to the press.

''The district could not function,'' said Sandra Lerner, Dr. Goldberg's deputy. Appealing to Parents
A 1987 report by a Bronx grand jury that inquired into school board politics said the District 10 factions agreed to allow each member to choose one assistant principal.
But Mr. Litt said the factions united because they believed the superintendent was not giving members enough information to make decisions. He has never once, he added, ''been pressured by a political club or its leadership to make an appointment.'' Mrs. Karfiol and Mr. Kideckel were not members of the board at the time.
In response to the district paralysis, Dr. Goldberg, widely considered one of the system's best superintendents, said he was forced ''to consider a strategy that would enable me to run the district for the benefit of the children.'' He continued to recommend people he thought were best qualified to be administrators. He also included candidates whom board members might favor, but he worked to rally parents in support of his choices, and the board members heard from those parents.
''I became more sensitive to the dynamics of the board,'' he said. Winning Almost All of Them
In almost every case, Mr. Goldberg said, the people he preferred were selected. Still, he added, many teachers and administrators interested in promotions continue to believe membership in a political club could bolster their efforts.
Among those who received appointments as assistant principals in District 10 were four officers or members of the Benjamin Franklin club: Michael Spivak, Emanuele Fontana, Alex Fermanis and Nadia Pagan.
Among those who worked in Mr. Simon's campaign in 1985 or were active in the Riverdale Democratic Club were Barbara Lofthouse, Robert Levy and Candido deJesus, who were named assistant principals; and David Parker, named a principal.
In interviews, Mr. Fermanis, Mrs. Lofthouse and Mrs. Pagan said they joined their clubs not to advance their careers, but because of their interest in community activities. Several agreed, though, that many of their colleagues believed political affiliation was needed for advancement. Coming to People's Attention
''You had to be more politically involved with certain individuals,'' said Mr. deJesus, now the principal of P.S. 85. ''You wanted to come to people's attention. But I didn't like the climate and decided to get out.''
By the time of the next school board election in 1986, Mr. Simon came under investigation by the United States Attorney's office and, district officials say, he refrained from actively supporting school board candidates. In 1988, he was found guilty of racketeering and conspiracy in the Wedtech scandal and sentenced to five years in prison. The Riverdale club dissolved. Mr. Koppel said that with Mr. Simon's removal he, too, pulled out of school politics.
The Benjamin Franklin Club, which took over the Riverdale club's headquarters at 231st Street near Broadway, decided four years ago not to endorse candidates, but two club members are school board members. They are Richard Sanz Gonzalez and Sandra Ramos-Alamo, who made an unsuccessful bid for the State Assembly last year.
In many cases, the connections between school boards and New York City politicians are direct. Several school board members, for example, work in the offices of city and state legislators. In other cases, the ties are more subtle. Some board members often serve as unofficial proxies for political leaders on school boards, casting the votes that allow supporters to be hired. Conflicts of Interest
Politicians defend these connections as inevitable, even desirable. It makes sense, they say, that people who are politically minded participate both in school board business and in local government.
In most cases the connections are within the law, but in many cases, they create the potential for significant conflicts of interest.
A law passed last year in Albany has eliminated some of the most obvious conflicts. The law makes it illegal for school board members to serve as political district leaders or to hold other elective office.
But the spirit of the law has proved easy to evade. Brothers and Husbands in Posts
In District 27 in Queens, the district investigated by the Gill Commission, Mr. Sullivan relinquished his Republican district leadership but arranged to have his brother succeed him. And in District 32 in Brooklyn, a Democratic district leader, Elba Roman, gave up her seat on the board but was succeeded by her husband.
The law does not prohibit spouses of political officeholders from serving on school boards. In the spring, Elizabeth Miller, the wife of the Assembly Speaker, Mel Miller, was elected to the board of District 22 in the Flatbush and Flatlands sections of Brooklyn. Campaign finance records show that Mr. Miller's Assembly campaign committee contributed $2,000 to his wife's campaign, and members of Mr. Miller's Assembly staff took off time from work to campaign for her.
Both actions were legal. Mr. Miller, Democrat of Brooklyn, said his wife had no political motive for running, and that he would have no influence over her decisions.
''My wife, this is her life,'' he said. ''She was a teacher in a district. Our two children went through public schools. It doesn't help me; she'll do what she wants.'' 'I Financed Her Campaign'
The law does not prevent politicians' staff members from serving on local school boards, and several do. They include Ernestine Washington, a member of school board 29, who is office director for Assemblywoman Cynthia Jenkins, a Queens Democrat; Maria Irizarry, a member of school board 19, who until recently served as a city liaison to Assemblyman Thomas F. Catapano, Democrat of Brooklyn, and Elinore Mandell, also a member of board 19, who is an administrative assistant to Assemblyman Anthony Genovesi, Democrat of Brooklyn.
Mr. Genovesi said he ''unabashedly'' supported Ms. Mandell's school board candidacy to prevent other politicians like Con gressman Towns from wielding control over the schools within Mr. Genovesi's partly overlapping assembly district.
''She wanted to quit this year,'' said Mr. Genovesi of Ms. Mandell. ''I financed her campaign. It's the only way I know what's going on. It's not a coincidence that she's there. That's why she runs. Ellie is the way I take them on,'' he said, referring to rival politicians. Political Careers School Boards As Stepping Stones By virtue of being elected, school board members are political officials, and it is not surprising that they frequently run for higher office.
Politicians who began their careers as school board members include Assemblyman Al Vann, State Senator Howard E. Babbush, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblyman William F. Boyland. All four are Brooklyn Democrats. Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, Democrat of the Bronx, is a former member of school board 9, and was indicted earlier this year on felony charges springing from her involvement in the board.
City Council members Sal F. Albanese, Priscilla Wooten and Ruth W. Messinger are also former board members.
At least five former assemblymen and councilmen were once school board members. Three of these, Sam Wright, Israel Ruiz Jr. and Vander Beatty, were later convicted on charges of corruption -Mr. Wright for soliciting a $5,000 payment from a educational materials company, Mr. Ruiz for falsifying a bank loan application and Mr. Beatty for tax evasion.
Politicians who have served on school boards say that, far from being a disservice to the district, the desire for higher office insures that school board members will respond to their constituents' concerns.
''If anything, I see it as a positive sign,'' said State Senator Guy J. Velella, Republican of the Bronx, who was president of School Board 11 in between serving in the State Assembly and the State Senate.
''You don't want to destroy somebody's ambition,'' Mr. Velella added. ''If you do a good job, you'll be qualified for higher office.''

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Moreland Commission Exposed

By Will Galison

Introduction: TheCommission to Investigate Public Corruption has been tasked with exposing, investigating and prosecuting corruption in every branch and at every level of New York's Government. But it is evident that it is using its vast powers to pursue only selected political “targets”, while taking extraordinary (and illegal) measures to protect other wrongdoers from prosecution; particularly those with personal, professional and political ties to the Commission and it's founders, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. To these ends, the Commission is employing three basic strategies:

1) Illegally limiting the scope of their investigation to the issue of Election Law, at the expense of all other matters of public corruption

2) Illegally banning the public from testifying about matters of public corruption other than election fraud- by banning public testimony completely.
3) Illegally altering and suppressing the official record of existent public testimony, so as to remove references of corruption by favored parties and institutions.

Part one of this series will address the last of these strategies, the “sanitization” and suppression of testimony submitted by public witnesses at the Commission's public hearing of September 17th 2013.

(Editors Note: On 10/3013 and again on 11/21/13, the Moreland Commission was asked to explain and correct  the alterations of the transcript as described below.  They have declined to respond)

Part 1:  How Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, illegally  tampered with witness testimony transcripts to protect their friends, colleagues, employers and themselves from criminal prosecution.

It’s About Trust”

When New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the “Commission To Investigate Public Corruption” (aka “The Moreland Commission”) last July, he summed up his motivation succinctly: “it’s about trust… its about people’s trust of government… we want to restore the trust”.

The Commission was Governor Cuomo's direct response to the legislature’s rejection of his anti-corruption “Clean Up Albany” bill, and he vowed that it would be even tougher than the bill in routing out corruption in every corner of New York Government:
I said to the legislature right up front... if you don't pass the Clean up Albany legislation...I'm going to appoint a Moreland Commission… and THEY are going to clean up Albany”

Government Corruption a “Double Crime”

Governor Cuomo also spoke of his particular disgust with crimes involving public corruption, even in comparison to other crimes. public corruption is a double crime. Its the underlying crime and then it's the crime of breaching the public trust, because when you're an elected official…you say trust me, I'm here to serve you... so breaching that trust violating that trust to me is a separate and inexcusable offense.

Finally, the Governor stressed that the sterling integrity and efficacy of the Commission members would be a shining example to the public and politicians alike. As he spoke, the official motto of the Commission was emblazoned on an enormous banner behind him: “Restoring Public Trust in Government”:
[the Commission will vindicate good elected officials to the extent that they are now being tarnished by the implication of the wrongdoing of the few… I believe there has never been a more credible group of law enforcement officials assembled in this state.”

 “The Best and the Brightest”

Governor Cuomo could not have been more effusive in his praise of the Commission members; “I’m going to put together a group of the best and brightest law enforcements officials you have ever seen assembled, period, in the state of New York. “The blue ribbon commission …the all  stars,… a roster of who’s who in the law enforcement community. … If this government has something to hide this group of people is going to find it and they're going to expose it and that's what this is all about”. These are the “Untouchables” of the New York Law Enforcement, and their integrity, perceived and actual, is the cornerstone of Cuomo's plan to clean up NY Government.

The Role of the “Public” in the “Public Hearings”

One aspect of the hearings that Governor Cuomo did not address in his speeches introducing the Commission was the role of witnesses from the public, but that role is clearly stated in paragraph IX of his executive order106 that created the Commission: “The Commission shall conduct public hearings around the State to provide opportunities for members of the public and interested parties to comment on the issues within the scope of its work.”


At the first public hearing on Sept 17, 2013 Commission Chairman Fitzpatrick also emphasized the importance of input from the public hearings in his speech. “our first task is to issue a report on or about December first of this year...and the gist of this hearing today is to assist us in drafting and eventually writing that report”

The Attempt to Bar the “Public” From the “Public Hearing” of September 17th, 2013.

In practice, however, the public's role in the hearings, appeared to be a low priority to the Commission. The Commission made no effort to announce the hearings through media,  and news venues such as WNYC, New York One, and the Post, News, Times and Voice all failed to mention them in advance. The Commission's website itself didn't even set up an RSVP system for registrants until nearly a week before the first hearing.
Despite the media blackout, however, word spread among the community of corruption victims who had been denied redress by existing oversight agencies for years. Many heard about the hearings through
The Center for Judicial Accountability, which notified its list of members and followers. When the first Commission hearing was held on September 17th about a hundred people gathered at the entrance of Pace University to testify.

The excitement was palpable among the crowd that waited patiently behind police barricades before the opening of the hearings at 6:00 PM. But at about 5:45, Commission staffer Heather Green walked along the barricade with a clipboard in her hand. She asked the witnesses their names, glanced at her clipboard, then shook her head and told them,“I’m sorry, you’re not on the list”.  No explanation was given as to why dozens of people who had registered were “not on the list”, and the frustration of the witnesses gave way to anger and some near-altercations. Ominously, dozens of  NYPD officers were gathered at the scene, suggesting that the Commission expected public outrage at being excluded from the “public hearing”.


Ultimately, of the over one hundred witnesses that had gathered outside Pace University, fewer than 20 were allowed into hearing, and only 16 were ultimately allowed to testify. The majority of the seats in the patently undersized hearing room were filled by reporters, and the security details and staff of the invited speakers, who included Preet Bharara, Loretta Lynch and Cy Vance. When, after speaking, those luminaries left the room with their entourages, plenty of seats became available, but by that point the excluded witnesses waiting outside had long since given up and gone home.

The Politicians Speak; the Public Listens

Chairman William Fitzpatrick opened the hearing by lauding the credentials of each of the 25 Commissioners, followed by his statement of the Commission’s intent: “The public frustration and anger with corruption has reached the breaking point… We fully intend to complete [Cuomo’s] vision of restoring the trust of the people in its own government”, he declared.  Fitzpatrick’s rambling presentation was followed by equally longwinded speeches by Vance, Bharara and other invitees.

The “Public” Speaks Truth to Power

After the politicians had “run the clock” for over two hours, the members of the public were finally allowed to speak, but were granted a mere three minutes each to testify.  If the Commission strove to limit the public's participation because they feared it could expose corruption among their peers, their fears were well founded.  The witnesses named names, and cited specific cases of government corruption that had devastated their lives, and for which they could find no redress from any existing oversight agencies in New York State. To the Commission's obvious displeasure, nearly all of the witnesses complained of systemic  corruption in the Judiciary; the branch of Government that Attorney General Schneiderman claimed could “police itself”. Some complaints also implicated the architects of the Commission itself, Governor Cuomo, and AG Schneiderman:

Elena Sassower spoke of a pending lawsuit against NY State charging that the recent pay raises for Judges (and District Attorneys) were illegal and unconstitutional and naming Cuomo, Schniederman and Chef Judge Jonathan Lippman as defendants, among others . She also criticized the Commission for allowing conflicts of interest among its members.

Margarita Walters detailed how she lost custody of her only child and all of her assets through “a pretextual conspiratorial scheme of case fixing in the New York Court System”. She explained that she had taken her case to every appropriate authority, including Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman,  the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Governor Cuomo and Eric Schneiderman.

This writer, Will Galison, presented
evidence of corruption in the nomination and confirmation of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, including a recording of Judicial Nomination Commissioner Fred Brewington stating that he had “shredded” evidence submitted to the JNC. I also spoke of the coverup, by the NYPD and others of the murder of anti- corruption whistleblower Sunny Sheu. 

Several witnesses also submitted copious written documentation in support of their complaints. Ms Sassower submitted a stack of legal briefs seven inches high, documenting the Center for Judicial Accountability’s
lawsuit against Cuomo, Schneiderman and Lippman among others. I submitted the complaint against Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman filed with Preet Bharara, and the letter to Ray Kelly demanding an investigation into the death Sunny Sheu, neither of which had been responded to.


The Commission “Disappears” The Public's Written Testimony and Evidence

The Moreland Commission’s website, in it’s “Public Comments/ Testimony section, originally included the statement: “All written testimony submitted will be included on the record of the proceedings”, but immediately after the testimonies of September 17th, that extremely important provision has now been expunged from the website.

It was expunged presumably because it is being wantonly violated.  As of this writing, over two months after the hearing, not one word of the written testimony has yet been published. Effectively, all the written testimony and evidence that was submitted to the Commission is being withheld from the public. Is it part of some “secret record” for Commission eyes only? Will it be presented to Governor Cuomo and AG Schneiderman, or withheld from them as well? Or has it simply been shredded, like the JNC's evidence against Jonathan Lippman?

The only “record of the proceedings” available the public is the stenographic transcript of the public hearings.


The Commission Alters the Record.


The collection and suppression of the public's written testimony and evidence is violative of the Commission's mandate and would appear to constitute a deliberate cover-up of the crimes and corruption reported in those documents.

But even more sinister and illegal is the Moreland Commission's alteration of the transcript of the September 17th hearing, to reflect what they want it to say, rather than what the stenographer actually recorded in her notes. Moreover, the Commission posted the altered transcript on the website and misrepresented it as an unaltered transcript, inckuding this signed certification attached by the stenographer, Stefanie Krut, of Precise Court Reporting:

CERTIFICATION; I, STEFANIE KRUT, a Notary Public in and for the State of New York, do hereby certify: THAT the foregoing is a true and accurate transcript of my stenographic notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 30th day of

September 2013.

Stefanie Krut

--------------------------------- STEFANIE KRUT, PRECISE COURT REPORTING

Is Stephanie Krut The Worst Stenographer in the World? ...

In the transcript of the witness’s testimony, the sheer number of errors- including misspellings and omissions of key names and institutions - is shocking. But more alarming is the apparently deliberate pattern underlying the errors. Virtually all of the misspelled names of people and institutions associated with complaints against the judiciary, and many were of people with known ties to the Commission. For example:


    Chief Judge “Jonathan Lippman” is written “Jonathan Littman13 times, omitted 2 twice and never once spelled correctly.


    NY Administrative JudgeAnne T. Pfau”, is written: “Anne T. Fow”, twice

    Judge “Saralee Evans” is written: “Sarah Lee Evans


    Judge “Scarpino” is written: “Scarpiano

    Judge “Terrance McElrath” is written: “Terance Mukolrov

    Judge “Paula Hepner” is written: “Paula Hevner

    Attorney “Marc A Pergament” is written: “Marc A Pergamen

    Judge “Betty Elrin” (who is on the Commission) is spelled correctly in the Commissioner's portion and omitted in the Public portion.

    The “Judicial Nomination Committee” is written: “The Judicial Violations Committee

    The initials “JNC” are written: “JVC” three times

    The “Fund for Modern Courts” is written “The Funds for Modern Court”

    The “Committee on Judicial Conduct” is omitted twice.

    Judge “Jacqueline Silverman” is omitted

“CASE fixing” is written: “fixing”

    -And my name, “Galison”, is spelled “Galveston19 times, even though it was spoken nine times by the commissioners.

None of the proper names listed above (and many more) were ever spelled correctly in the transcript. It should be noted that despite
formal requests by several witnesses to correct the hundreds of errors in their respective portions of the transcript, the Commission has refused to make any corrections and has not responded to any of the witnesses.


… Or a “Spelling Savant”?


As stunning as are the number and nature of “errors”in the transcript of the public's testimony, even more incredible is the accuracy of the transcript of the testimony of the Commission members and invited guest speakers, including US Attorney Preet Bharara and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Whereas there are over 70 errors in the 122 lines of transcription of
my testimony, there are only five in the 152 lines of Mr. Bharara’s testimony.  In the nearly 500 lines of testimony of Chairman Fitzpatrick, there are zero substantive errors.

If the transcript was not altered, Ms. Krut is a speller with a nearly paranormal ability to discern between the various spelling of names that sound identical. For example,  

-Ms. Krut recorded the name of the law firm
Vladeck, Waldman, Elias and Engelhard with perfect spelling, despite the rare variations in the names’ spelling. According to a search the website, there are at least four different spellings of the name pronounced “vladuk” and the chance of it being spelled “Vladeck” spelling is about one in ten.

-The name “Engelhard” is seven times less common than its homonym “Engelhardt”, but Ms Krut made the distinction.

-The name that sounds like “Chamberlain” in the video is 20 times more likely to be spelled “Chamberlain” than “Chamberland”, but Ms. Krut nailed it.


- The name “Deringer”, as in “Freshfields, Bruckhaus & Deringer”, is three times more likely to be spelled with two “r”s than one, but Ms. Krut can apparently hear the difference.

In fact, Ms. Krut spelled perfectly every single proper name - approximately 50 different ones - uttered by Mr. Fitzpatrick in his introduction.

But does the discrepancy between the impeccable accuracy of the transcript of the government officials testimony and the butchering of the public witness’s testimony conclusively prove that the transcript was altered? Could it not be that after two and a half hours of carefully recording the politician’s speeches, the Stenographer suddenly became too exhausted to accurately transcribe? 
If true, the allegation that Commission tampered with the transcripts would mean that the “most credible, blue ribbon, who's who of New York law enforcement” is itself guilty of corruption, crimes and conspiracy. As Carl Sagan put it; “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” Is there proof?

The Smoking Gun

As it turns out, there is at least one feature of the transcript that proves beyond doubt that the transcript was altered after the stenographic notes were taken at the hearing. It occurred during Chairman Fitzgerald’s introduction of the Commission members and their accomplishments, as he introduced Commissioner Makau Mutua.


Here is what Fitzpatrick clearly says on the video at 7 minutes and 47 seconds:

Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law School. He is also the SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Floyd Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo. Dean Mutua came to us from Nairobi where he attended the University of

Dar-es-Salaam, and Nairobi's loss, believe me, was America's gain. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School”.

The transcript is a subtly different however. At line 4 of page 7
Fitzpatrick states:

Dean Makau Mutua is the Dean of the SUNY Buffalo Law

5 School. He is also the SUNY Distinguished Professor and the

6 Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo. Dean Mutua

7 came to us from Nairobi where he attended the University of

8 Dar-es-Salaam, and Nairobi's loss, believe me, was America's

9 gain. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Notice the differences? For one thing, Ms. Krut leaves out the name “Floyd”, from the phrase “Floyd and Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar”- which is spoken on the video. Of course, even the best Stenographers occasionally miss a word or two, and the omission of “Floyd” from “Floyd Hilda Hurst” would seem like a trivial error.

But look closer. Ms. Krut also added something to the transcript that was not spoken by Fitzpatrick at all. The transcript says “Hilda L. Hurst”, and Fitzpatrick never uttered the initial “L” or anything that sounded like it.

Could Ms. Krut have heard, between Fitzgerald’s words “Hilda” and “Hurst”, some random noise in the room that sounded to her like an “L”? If she did, it would be one of the most amazing coincidences in history, because Dean Makuta is, in fact, the “Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar at SUNY Buffalo”.

A stenographer may omit and misspell words that are spoken at a tribunal, but she cannot record information that she has no way of knowing, if it is not spoken at all. There is no possible way that Ms. Krut could have heard and typed the initial “L” because it was never uttered at the hearing. The initial “L” must have been placed in the transcript after the hearing, and that seemingly trivial fact has enormous ramifications.

The Significance of the Alterations

First of all, alteration of the transcript from her original notes means that Ms. Krut’s “certification” is fraudulent;  the transcript is not a “true and accurate transcript of [Krut’s] stenographic notes”.  It also means that the transcript was altered after the hearing and before the Moreland Commission posted it as the official record of the September 17th hearing.


Could the transcripts have been altered legallyt? The protocol for making corrections in the transcript is strict and well established. If the entity that ordered the transcript (in this case the Moreland Commission) wants corrections made in the transcript, it must send the desired corrections to the stenographic company that reported the hearing. If there is an electronic record (audio or audiovisual) of the hearing, the original Stenographer will check the transcript against the record and if the correction is warranted, will add the corrections as an addendum.


But according to Florence Seth, the owner of Precise Court Reporting, the Moreland Commission never contacted Precise Court Reporting or Ms Krut to request any changes in the transcripts. Ms. Krut’s supervisor, Kelly Iacobella, emphatically confirmed this, saying: “I can tell you straight up that they have not”.

And according to Ms. Seth, the Commission could not have altered the transcript either legally or technically; “The Moreland Commission cannot change [the transcript] on their own…you just can’t change things like that, this is a legal document that’s already been established…they don’t have the software to change the transcript” she said.

Harriet Ben Erdelman, the President of the New York Association of Court Reporters (NYACR) concurred: “the Court Reporter shouldn't have put the initial [“L”] in if it wasn't said... she would have written whatever was said verbatim.. corrections would not have been made except through the agency... they could not have sent [the corrections]  directly to the stenographer”.

Because the transcript was never sent to Precise Court Reporters for corrections, and because the Commission does not have the software to alter the transcript, the only possible conclusion is that Ms. Krut created the transcript not solely from her stenographic notes, as affirmed in her oath of certification, but with input from an outside source, which is illegal; all without the knowledge or authorization of her supervisor and employer. To knowingly alter a transcript that will be used in an official procedure is not only a violation of Court Reporter’s ethics; it is a felony under
NY Penal Code S 215.35 and to sign a false certification is perjury.


Ms. Krut did not illegally alter the transcript because she was irresistibly compelled to include Hilda Hurst’s middle initial (which she could not have known even existed).  Clearly, Ms. Krut altered the transcript, and broke the law, because someone bribed, threatened or otherwise coerced her into doing it, and the only party with a motivation to do so was the Commissioner or Commissioners fastidious enough to pour over the transcript, discover the missing “L” and order it replaced. That same fastidiousness is evident in the precisely correct orthography of rare and alternatively spelled names like Beinecke, Chamberland, Vladeck and Deringer.

Why the Commission altered the Transcript Secretly and Illegally

The Commissioners could have corrected the spelling mistakes easily and legally by simply asking Precise Court Reporting to make the requested changes, so why didn't they do that way? Because if they admitted to reviewing and correcting the transcript legally, how could they then explain the dozens of errors in the Public testimony? How could they explain not noticing the misspelling of Chief Judge Lippman's name 13 times?

The Commission altered the transcripts secretly, illegally, and selectively, and that process allowed then to introduce other changes that might suit their agenda, and if discovered, attribute them to Ms. Krut’s exhaustion or incompetence. This fact could explain why virtually all of the misspellings and omissions in the transcript were of the names of the Commission's friends and associates who were implicated in public complaints.

Conflicts of Interest Among the Commissioners

The glaring conflicts of interests of the Commissioners are too numerous to address in this article and will be he subject of separate article, but several were directly addressed  in t
he Center for Judicial Accountability’s August 5th, 2013 letter to the Commission: The letter, which has never been responded to,  asks the Commission to identify it’s protocol for dealing with obvious and potential conflicts of interest of Commission members, special advisors, or staff:


[Commission staffers]  Kelly Donovan and John Amodeo are part of Attorney General Schneiderman's senior staff, are they not? How then will they be handling complaints against Attorney General Schneiderman and the Attorney General's office for corrupting their duty to safeguard government integrity and constitutional governance?”

To expand on that point, how will Commissioner Special Advisor Ray Kelly handle the complaints already submitted against corruption in the NYPD? How will Milton Williams handle the numerous complaints against his old friend Judge Lippman, who Williams’ “Fund For Modern Courts” effectively put Lippman into power?

Moreover, how would any of Commissioners, as deputized “Little Attorney Generals”, handle complaints against the man who convened the Commission in the first place, Andrew Cuomo? The fact that the Commissioners are being asked to investigate their friends, colleagues employers  (and potentially themselves) is the very kind of situation for which conflict of interest rules exist.

The Commission Must Act on Every Crime of Which it Obtains Evidence

But, according to ¶ IV of
Executive Order 106:If in the course of its inquiry the Commission obtains evidence of a violation of existing laws, such evidence shall promptly be communicated to the Office of the Attorney General and other appropriate law enforcement authorities, and the Commission shall take steps to facilitate jurisdictional referrals where appropriate.”

That includes violations of law by anyone; including friends, colleagues, employers, family and even fellow Commissioners.

Whistle-bower: ADA Mark Sacha Exposes Corruption in the Moreland Commission

In fact, it has already been proven that the Moreland Commission will violate its own rules to protect its friends and associates.  In his testimony at the September 24th hearing in Albany. Veteran Assistant DA Mark Sacha made allegations of criminal acts and corruption against one of the Commissioners; Frank Sedita III. Mr. Sasha had been fired after serving as Assistant District Attorney under 6 different DA's over 25 years, because, he alleges, he exposed egregious campaign corruption by Sedita. Did the Commission report Sedita to the proper authorities as mandated by ¶IV of Executive Order 106?

No. According to Mr. Sacha, not only was his September 24th testimony completely ignored-
his 8- page follow up letter to the Commission, which details and documents his complaint has also gone unanswered and unacknowledged for nearly two months.

And ominously if not surprisingly, it was immediately after Mr. Sasha's testimony that the Commission banned testimony from non-invited guests entirely and permanently.

The Moreland Commission Protocol on Conflicts of Interest

The Moreland Commission has refused to divulge its protocol involving matters of conflicts of interest. Center For Judicial Accountability's August 5th letter specifically requested this protocol, but has been ignored by the Commission. When this reporter asked Executive Director Regina Calcaterra about the issue, she directed a State Trooper to detain him while she fled in her car.

Whatever the Commission's protocol on conflicts of interest may be, they are certainly bound by Public Officer's law    : a Commissioner who is presented with evidence implicating his friend, colleague or employer, should disclose that potential conflict of interest and recuse himself from any investigation regarding anyone or any matter with which he has a relationship.  But that would require every member of the commission to recuse themselves regarding complaints against Schneiderman or Cuomo, and that might make things pretty complicated.

A much simpler solution is to change the names on the transcript, so that his friends are no longer even mentioned in the record.  He would want every mention of your favored government officials and favored institution’s names altered, so that they would not show up on an electronic search and were not part of the official record, and that is exactly what the transcript reflects.

A corrupt commission would ignore any requests to correct the obvious errors and omissions in the transcript, and that is exactly what the Commission has done.


A corrupt commission would also want to make the transcript so hard to find that nobody would ever know that you altered it, and that is exactly what the Commission has done. Nobody visiting the website of the Commission will find the transcript because there is no link to it.

A corrupt commission would also not respond to any emails or phone calls regarding the transcript or the procedures on conflict of interest. And that is exactly what the Commission has done.

It appears that the Commission's protocol for handling conflicts of interest is to illegally change th record so that their friends are not mentioned in it. How can they prosecute Chief Judge Jonathan “Littman” or Administrative Judge Anne “Fow”, when no such people exist? And how can they pursue a complaint by the mysterious Will Galveston, who also does not exist?

By Altering The Transcripts, Moreland Commissioners Committed Multiple Felonies

The alteration of the transcript is much more than a violation of Commission Rules; it may constitute commission of a number of of State and Federal felonies under state and federal law, including:

1) S 215.40  Tampering with physical evidence, both for the suppression of witness testimony and for the alteration of the transcript, which constitutes physical evidence under NY law.

2) S 215.00  Bribing a witness, for influencing Ms. Krut to alter the transcript.
Federal law 18 U.S.C. § 2541 for conspiracy to deprive the rights of the witnesses for redress of grievances, among other things.
Crimes under Color of Law, for all of the above in their official capacities as deputized Attorney Generals.
NYS Public Officers law §74, for using his or her official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others

Who is Guilty?

Certainly, any Commission members, advisors, or staff who were involved in the altering of the transcripts must be prosecuted by Federal law enforcement.


Stenographer Stefanie Krut is apparently also guilty of tampering with physical evidence, but could be given clemency for revealing who in the Commission requested the illegal changes, what changes were made, and who paid her for altering the transcript.

It is possible that not all of the Commission members, advisors and staff are complicit in the alteration of the transcripts. But according to section IV of Executive Order 106, every member of the Moreland Commission is compelled to report evidence of this crime to the appropriate authorities, and as this article is being sent to all of them at the time of publication, they will be aware of these crimes by the time you read these words. If they do not immediately communicate this evidence to the Office of the Attorney General and other appropriate law enforcement authorities”, including the Justice Department and the FBI, then they are as complicit and guilty as those that altered the transcript, and must be punished accordingly.

The Moreland Commission Is Not Merely a Sham; It is the Epitome of Corruption; a Disgrace and a Danger to the State of New York.

If, as Governor Cuomo claims to believe, official corruption is a “double crime” of particular heinousness, how can we describe the perversity of corruption in a Commission created for the sole purpose of fighting public corruption . Certainly it is a “triple crime”. It is the underlying, crime, the betrayal of the public trust, and ultimately the mechanism by which public corruption will be perpetuated and proliferated. Add to that the hypocrisy, the cynicism, and contempt for the rights and grievances of the New York citizenry, and it can be said that those Commissioners involved in this cover up are despicable criminals as any. If this group of felons represents, in Governor Cuomos' words, “
the best and brightest law enforcements officials you have ever seen assembled, period, in the state of New York”, we are in deep trouble.