Some more coverage on the Cathie Black emails, including Jim Dwyer’s “About New York” column in yesterday’s New York Times and an interview with CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas, in which the producer gets my last name wrong (oh well):
By Sergio Hernandez, Special to ProPublica
In November 2010, I was earning $300 a week for The Village Voice, blogging about unemployed actors who moonlit as bed bug exterminators and a city project to make biofuel out of toilet water. One afternoon, then-Schools Chancellor Joel Klein stunned the city by suddenly resigning his post of eight years for a job at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.
The bigger shock that day was who New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose as Klein’s successor: Cathie Black, the Hearst Magazines chairwoman who, as far as anybody could tell, had never stepped foot in a public school, let alone knew how to run one (or the city’s 1,700, for that matter).
The announcement sparked fierce criticism among parents, educators, politicians and the city’s press corps.
So I fired off a routine Freedom of Information request to the mayor’s office, seeking emails between Black, Bloomberg and their staffs. Continue reading
Looks like Donald Trump thinks the city made a mistake by “skipping” Ivanka Trump. This article didn’t appear online, for some reason, but ran on page 16 of the New York Daily News‘ May 4, 2013 issue.
Some other great write-ups from the past few days, including two articles (!) in The New York Times, an article and an editorial in the New York Post, an earlier piece in the Daily News, and stories by the Associated Press, WNYC the Village Voice, the New York Observer, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Gothamist, Metro, New York magazine, NY1, and The Wall Street Journal.
Full list of news coverage here.
|His Latest Black eye
Why Mike spent $25G to bury emails
By Jennifer Fermino, Ben Chapman and Corrine Lestch
“The concern is you’ll never get good people from the private sector to become public servants if even a quick email chat isn’t private,” said one former administration official who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity.
Because Black was a candidate to head the city’s public schools in November 2010, it constituted a “business relationship,” meaning it could keep her messages secret, the city said.
“We want to encourage public service, and releasing communications between a government employer and an appointee does just the opposite,” said Susan Paulson, senior counsel for the city’s Law Department.
The awkward exchanges showed that city officials tried to enlist female power brokers who would back Black, the mayor’s widely-panned pick for schools chancellor.
In one missive, Micah Lasher, former director of state legislative affairs, said he “would skip” recruiting Ivanka Trump—originally one of Black’s requests.
At least one dissenter thinks the gaffe-prone chancellor would have benefitted from Trump’s endorsement: her pucker-mouthed father.
“Anyone Ivanka speaks for, it’s a huge enhancement to that person,” Donald Trump crowed to The News. “Had (Ivanka) spoken, she would have been a great help for Cathie Black.”
Well, here they are. More soon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 2, 2013
NEW YORK—New York State’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, rejected today a motion by the Office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which sought leave to appeal a lower court’s ruling ordering the mayor to disclose emails concerning Cathie Black’s short-lived appointment as New York City Schools Chancellor under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
The Court’s decision marks the city’s latest defeat in a case that has spanned two years and cost taxpayers more than 168 hours and $25,461.42 in litigation time and costs as part of an effort to keep public records shielded from view.
“New York’s highest court has now confirmed, as the trial court and Appellate Division ruled, that the Mayor’s Office has no basis to withhold the Cathie Black emails, and we look forward to the Mayor’s Office finally complying with its obligations under FOIL,” said Elizabeth Wolstein, a partner at Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP, which represented the requester. Continue reading
Here’s one I’ve been sitting on for a while: Turns out my former high school district caught a water polo coach sexting with a student, and instead of firing him, agreed to pay out his salary, let him quit, and hush the whole thing up. Oh, and now he’s teaching social studies full time at an adjacent school district. Continue reading
By Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica
With reporting by Sergio Hernandez. This is Part 2 of a series. Read Part 1.
Among the thousands of prosecutors who have tried cases in the name of the people of New York City, Claude Stuart came to hold a handful of unfortunate distinctions:
- He was a serial abuser of his authority. State appellate courts reversed three convictions based on his wrongdoing.
- His misconduct actually led to disciplinary action by his superiors. He lost his job, and eventually his law license, after an appellate court determined he had lied to a judge about the whereabouts of a key witness.
- The particulars of his disciplinary proceedings became public, opening a window into the typically secretive panels that are supposed to police the state’s lawyers.
Stuart declined repeated requests for comment for this story.
It’s worth it, then, to appreciate the impact of Stuart’s career in greater detail, how the misconduct took place, how it has complicated the continuing pursuit of justice, and how the consequences of Stuart’s misconduct still linger, years after the man himself was exposed and disgraced.
The People v. Tyronne Johnson, Stuart’s last trial as a prosecutor in Queens, is a perfect case to trace those issues. Continue reading
This is Part 1 of a series. Read Part 2.
The murder case against Tony Bennett seemed pretty straightforward.
Shortly before midnight on May 7, 1994, police found a 26-year-old man in the foyer of an apartment building near Flushing, Queens. Jake Powell was near death, blood pouring from a gunshot wound, but he managed to speak the name of the man who had shot him: “Tony Bennett.”
Bennett, a two-time felon, was eventually captured, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
But Bennett never served anywhere near that sentence. He has, in fact, been free since 2008 because Claude Stuart, the former Queens assistant district attorney who handled his case, violated a basic rule of law by withholding critical evidence from Bennett’s attorney. A state appeals court overturned Bennett’s conviction and released him after 13 years in prison.
That early release has freed Bennett to describe his role in a crime he had insisted for two decades he did not commit.
“He was wrapped up in a shower curtain in the corner of the bathroom, shivering and shaking,” Bennett recalled of Powell, who Bennett said had terrorized his family for years. “He was saying all this, ‘Please, please, don’t hurt me, don’t shoot, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry, too.’ And I did what I had to do.”
By Sergio Hernandez
Legislators and gun rights advocates get really angry whenever nosy reporters try to use public records laws to find out who’s packing heat. When the WestchesterJournal News published an online map of local residents with handgun licenses last year, the paper was excoriated by the NRA and its allies; it eventually took the map down. When Gawker published a similar list—without addresses—of New York City handgun permit-holders last month, we were attacked by Fox News and received multiple death threats. And when the editor of the North Carolina Cherokee Scout dared to request—not publish, but merely request—similar data from his local sheriff, he was forced to apologize and resign; he plans to leave the state entirely.
All of which makes it more surprising that, according to a Gawker search of public records, gun-rights groups—including the National Rifle Association—have been accessing the same state gun-permit data for years to help their fundraising and recruitment efforts.