Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another ARPS Racial Lawsuit Threatened

Lawrence O'Brien (center) Darius Modesto (left), Katherine Appy (right)


The offending memo:


click to enlarge/read

57 comments:

Jason Perry said...

I am going to go out on a limb and state that the "legal risk" of a lawsuit may be not quite so great.

DaveMB said...

I am not a lawyer, and Mr. Seigars has apparently been one for many years, but this letter seems awfully unprofessional to me. He asks that an elected governmental body change its chairperson, or even remove two of its elected measures, due to violations of law he does not articulate in any way I can understand.

I would think the School Committee would have procedures, other than Robert's Rules, for changing the chair between elections should the members wish to do so.

I can't imagine the resulting litigation getting very far, particularly as the governmental body in question has already had a meeting where the members expressed their positions about the chair's actions. Am I misreading something?

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, I get better worded legal threats almost monthly these days.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess who's behind this: Kathleen Anderson of course. Ummmhh, Russ Vernon-Jones. Let's see now, hmmmm- Oh! Vira Douangmany.

Couldn't get Vira elected so "we want these duly elected white members to leave or we will sue the schools." Pathetic.

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks for reminding me. I just added the anonymous cover letter.

Anonymous said...

Is that a list of people who are threatening the lawsuit? Is Rick Hood one of them? Or is that just a list of some of the Stair2Stair members?

Anonymous said...

I think this post is better without the anon cover letter, which seems to suggest that the listed Stair2Stair members are beyond the lawsuit.

Is there any evidence that the suit was initiated by any of the people listed? If not, I would leave them off the post.

Larry Kelley said...

I think it's a combination of both, but hard to say exactly.

And since it was snail mailed to me anonymously kind of hard to do any follow up interview.

Anonymous said...

The question is did this group hire the lawyer to send the letter? If they did then the members of the group are the ones responsible for the threatened suit. And that makes Rick Hood one of those responsible for the threatened suit.

Anonymous said...

WHO is making "threats designed to raise racial tensions"??

A memo reminding ETF members not to lie or relay unfounded "rumors they heard in the community" that a white kid who got beat up by black kids is a "racist" is a threat designed to raise racial tensions?

They're playing the Karl Rove game of "I know you are but what am I?"

Oh *yes* indeed said...

Oh come on now people.

Just let it spiral outta control.

It'll all work out, right?


RIGHT???



Yours in crime and punishment,

-Squeaky "loving this to death" Squeaks


p.s. Don't forget, solid bronze plaque on the common. Nothing hollow.

DaveMB said...

Apologies for misspelling Mr. Siegars' name above.

We can probably assume that the letter to the SC is authentic, but the assertion that those people are behind it has to be treated as only anonymously sourced (by the leaker).

Looks like a potentially interesting election next March or April, when O'Brien and Shabazz are up in a vote-for-two, top-two-win contest.

Also note that O'Brien chaired the last meeting of the full committee as vice chair -- it's not clear to me from the minutes that are posted that the APRS committee has chosen a chair yet, making the letter's demands possibly moot.

Anonymous said...

this is all innuendo. I doubt very much that Rick Hood is in any way involved with the potential lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

who is Mark Siegars?
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mark-siegars/10/ba2/390

Anonymous said...

Lawrence O'Brien is the current chair of the Regional SC and he chaired the last meeting in that capacity. He is the chair and is doing a good job.

DaveMB said...

Anon 7:08 -- I know that Larry has been acting as chair of the regional committee through the summer, but the web site lists no chair, with both he and Rick Hood listed as Vice Chairs. In the first item on the minutes of the 10 June meeting (the latest one on the web site), they appear to agree to postpone the choice of a chair until after their retreat in August.

Larry is my neighbor, and I agree that he is handling a difficult situation very well.

Anonymous said...

O'Brien's two main actions so far:
1) chairing the last School Committee of the school year & only allowing a few members of the public to speak at that meeting
2) the memo to the School Equity Task Force with accusations against its chair, his defense of that memo, & his refusing to call a school committee meeting to followup on that memo & trying to stop other members of the school committee and regional SC from meeting on this topic without him.

Is he doing a good job? this is not so clear.....

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with DaveMB's judgment about the letter from Mr. Siegars. Could it be that the clients here simply drove west, knocking on lawyers' doors, and just before they hit the New York state line, they found Mr. Siegars?

There are so many lawyers in this state that, if you drive far enough, and knock on doors long enough, you can find one to do just about anything.

Anonymous said...

Memo

Date: August 6, 2014

To: Custodial Staff at ARPS

From: Maria Geryk

Re: Ending Racism Once and For All

All custodians, please remember to take out the racism from the school at the end of the day, and end it once and for all. This is to comply with instructions we've gotten from some guy in Stockbridge who says he's a lawyer.

(That oughta do it.)

Anonymous said...

I think that lawyer could use some remedial writing instruction. I hope they did not pay too much for that letter.

--Mig

Anonymous said...

I vote: the letter is a hoax.

I saw Gregory Peck play Atticus Finch in the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" in the new recently restored edition in Blu-ray (based on the novel by Harper Lee) and, you, Mr. Siegars, I say, you sah, are NO ATTICUS FINCH!

Rick said...

I do attend Stair 2 Stair meetings. The letter does not represent my view.

Anonymous said...

It is not true that they postponed the election of chair. Lawrence was elected chair at the final regular meeting of the SC.

Anonymous said...

Maintain controversy at an even boil, even during school vacations.

Stir occasionally, using whatever lawyers are available.

If possible, try to involve the town's children, whether they want to participate or not.

Serve in uneven portions to adults at public meetings, making sure that some issues remain unresolved, still in the frying pan. Resume stirring and boiling. Maintain maximum misunderstanding, if necessary, utilizing executive sessions.

Anonymous said...

I remember Rick when he was a down-to-earth reasonable guy, occasionally commenting on Catherine Sanderson's blog, not one to get swept up in demagoguery.

Then someone gave him a broad brush.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much the same stunt that the mASSgop pulled with the UM Republican club -- we told them to go to hell.

Anonymous said...

...the memo to the School Equity Task Force with accusations against its chair...

"accusations" against the chair? I thought he admitted to relaying the false "rumour" he heard "in the communtiy" that the student who was beat up was "the greatest student racist they could find". He apologized for the thing he was reprimanded for, didn't he?

Anonymous said...

O'Brien's two main actions so far:
1) chairing the last School Committee of the school year & restoring the already on the books School Committee Policy of allowing 15 minutes of public comment, and by doing so disallowing time-wasters from hijacking all the time we've allotted for doing the legitimate business of our schools;
2) the memo to the School Equity Task Force reminding members to not share lies or unfounded "rumors heard in the community" about 8th grade students and their alleged social philosophies.

Is he doing a good job?

Anonymous said...

Rick,

Too your knowledge, was the letter or the engagement of a lawyer to demand the removal of School Committee members discussed at the Stair2Stair meetings?

--Mig

Hood, this is *your* disaster! said...

"I do attend Stair 2 Stair meetings. The letter does not represent my view."



Where ya sailing off ta,


Cap'n?


-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yW7s0IUwv4

Anonymous said...

WHo cares about the content when it looks like it was printed in a font similar to Comic Sans at a point size of about 14pt and other formatting nightmares. None too professional, I say.

Anonymous said...

"Another" racial lawsuit? What is the other one?

Larry Kelley said...

MCAD complaint filed against ARPS recently.

Anonymous said...

How do you know the other MCAD complaint is race based? There's other forms of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:01 am --
The memo to the Equity Task Force didn't indicate which grade the MS students the rumors were about, were in .... and none of the news articles I have seen have either...

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, a MCAD complaint is not a lawsuit -- a lawsuit is a formal proceeding filed in a court with formalized proceedings on both sides.

A MCAD Complaint is an administrative procedure more akin to filing a complaint with the building commissioner or someone like the DEP or OSHA.

And as to the lawyer who wrote that sophomoricly asinine letter, one could argue that he not only created grounds to loose his bar card but into things like "conspiracy to deny civil rights" and potentially even RICO.

NB: The relevant precedent on RICO would be that it does NOT apply to the Operation Rescue folk and the "economic gain" requirement -- but here, there is that as part of the motive.

Look at who is getting money, in some cases, significant amounts of money -- that's definitely "economic gain." If it can be argued that their motive is to get it, continue getting it, and to get more of it -- and if the other aspects of RICO exist, then there could be RICO liability.

Civil & Criminal, I believe as in "Go-To-Jail" Criminal and that is when things could really get interesting. I have long said that Maria G is going to crash & burn and that it will be spectacular.

There are people at UMass lucky not to have gone to jail because of what they did to me -- a point vocally made to them by a high ranking female UM administrator who is also an attorney.

I suspect that there are people lucky not to have gone to jail for things in the Dylan Matter. (I really doubt the MSP would have responded with that intensity for *just* a facebook posting.)

Assault is a crime -- at what point do concepts such as "accessory before/after the fact" come to play, not to mention "conspiracy to commit"?

Take the case of the infamous Dr. Mudd -- all he really did was provide medical care to an injured man, which the standards of his profession *required* him to do (Hippocratic Oath and such) -- and back then, in an era before things like AFD & CDH, injured people routinely showed up at doctor's homes at all hours, much as the doctor himself would be asked to make house calls at all hours.

All Mudd did was what AFD would do now, did it pursuant to the protocols of his time, much as AFD would do it pursuant to the (quite different) protocols of today -- and that made him a conspirator to murder President Lincoln. Something to think about boys 'n' girls when you realize that (a) we already have at least assaults if not assaults & batteries, (b) people can (and do) die in a battery even though the perp didn't intend that, and (c) if someone dies (i.e. suicide or student starts shooting), you know that everything that led up to that will be investigated.

Remember the criminal charges that came out of the Phobee Prince suicide? The charges for *other* stuff including the statutory rape charge against the kid who was only a couple years older than her (and probably was one of the few students who was decent to her) -- and remember that those were all minors.

There were a lot of people in Springfield who never thought they'd go to jail, and two lawyers in the Market Basket Mess who never thought that they'd be disbarred.

Dr. Ed said...

This letter is a threat of violence -- and should be treated as such.

First, by the standards that such things are defined at UMass, the letter constitutes a threat of violence. I say that objectively and on a content-neutral basis, and I use UMass because (a) it's a known entity and (b) I know more about the relevant UM practices & protocols than I wish I did.

I got into a shite-load of trouble for a hell of a lot less than this! All I did was quote the King James Bible and request the university to protect me from a criminal who had already assaulted me once.

Second, there is the irony of how the letter ends -- I would say that the letter is "tantamount to a threat to raise racial tensions" -- instead of mentioning what law or laws were violated here, the next paragraph jumps to discussing the turmoil of the 1960's -- i.e. race riots.

Furthermore, the only explicit facts given are the races of the people involved which (absent other information) is irrelevant. It concludes with the mention of "racial tensions" and was authored by a member of the bar -- someone trained to know what constitutes "criminal threatening" and hence trained to know how to avoid unintentionally making one.

QED, he knew what he was doing. He intended to make a threat of violence and/or represent that his client intended to do so. That means that, at the very minimum, the APD ought to be interrogating each and every member of the organization that hired said lawyer.

And as to the issue of race, if Cahterine Sanderson had done exactly the same thing, would that memo not have been written? Would it have been considered acceptable if Catherine had done it?

She'd never do it -- but if Catherine Sanderson had publicly defamed a Black student who was the victim of a violent crime, does anyone honestly believe that all hell wouldn't have broken loose? Does anyone honestly believe that the specific White persons mentioned in this letter wouldn't have at least have written a memo like this?!?!?

It's only "racism" if they'd ignored Catherine doing it -- and they wouldn't have.

Anonymous said...

The memo to the Equity Task Force didn't indicate which grade the MS students the rumors were about, were in .... and none of the news articles I have seen have either...

But Shabazz knew, didn't he? He heard a "rumor in the community" about the boy. Even though apparently knowledge of the incident and the identity of the victim "were not well known throughout the community", he decided to share the "rumor" he heard that the attackers went looking for "the greatest student racist they could find". Not Shabazz's words of course, words he heard "out in the community".

Yeah right. But of course he apologized on our behalf for not understanding what he meant.

Dr. Ed said...

Two other things -- and these are grounds for that lawyer to be disbarred.

First, a lawyer is not allowed to threaten legal action he/she/it isn't prepared and able to bring, that he/she/it doesn't intend to bring. There is an explicit rule to this effect and I don't remember exactly what it says, but this is prohibited.

Second, lawyers are considered "Officers of the Court" and removing elected officials from office is a very serous thing. There are a lot of civil rights and voting rights issues involved because people voted for them and hence you are violating the rights of the voters.

I would suspect that the Board of Bar Overseers wouldn't look kindly toward an attorney advocating the extra-legal removal of elected public officials lest he bring legal action he neither intends to bring nor would be able to should he wish to do so.

Anonymous said...

Did you get all that, Larry?

Anonymous said...

I think Ed is being very articulate, I'm interested in what he's saying. I am actually reading with interest his recent shorter and more concise posts.

Anonymous said...

Mig:

I wonder if we are supposed to know who you are by your moniker or do you sign "Mig" just for consistency's sake, so we know it's the same person commenting again?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

I have to grab a pencil as soon as Ed posts, and take it all down.

Then I commit all of it to memory.

Dr. Ed said...

Unless Shabazz is being treated worse than Sanderson would have been had she done something equally stupid, there is no racism here.

As long as Shabazz is being treated the way he would be treated were he White, there inherently is no racism involved.

Racism would involve treating him differently because of the color of his skin. That's not what is happening here...

Anonymous said...

Just for consistency.

--mig

Anonymous said...

But wait - Shabazz IS being treated differently, don't you see?

He made a grossly unjust, harmful and actionable statement in public, was reprimanded by his peers, apologized, was martyred, and has benefited by (or even engineered?) a shaming of the peer letter-writers so that they are on the defensive.

If he were WHITE, ... he would have been LYNCHED !!!

Anonymous said...

One of the 18 signs you're dealing with a narcissist.

"Not every story a narcissist tells is one of victory. But even in the stories of tragedy or failure, there's an air of entitlement and victimization."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/signs-of-narcissism_n_4696772.html

Peter Vickery said...

Is that Comic Sans font that Attorney Siegars used? If so, how very appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/7, 1:43 pm
nothing that Shabazz said at the equity task force meeting indicated the grade(s) of students involved in that incident. I have heard the grades of the students (& not just the fact that there were MS students) mentioned only place: in the comments section of this blog ........

plus much more damage was done to the victim's family's privacy by the memo that was sent by the school committee chairs, and the resulting publicity and media attention, than by anything Shabazz said at the equity task force meeting that day in June.

Anonymous said...

This is one more indication that we have too many attorneys for the available legitimate workload.

The saturation has a distorting effect on our society.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to lie at a public meeting, or if you're going to relay "rumors you heard in the community" there, expect to be held accountable, it doesn't matter who you are--no one is "beyond reproach" as Baptiste claimed of Shabazz. He made a mistake, he should own it.

The internal memo to the members of the ETF, prompted by a complaint from 5 ETF members who heard his untrue statements, was intended to protect Shabazz, and by attending the illegal meeting and continuing to discuss the "rumors", he undid that protection, and everyone on the SC who attended are now also personally not protected from legal action. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Do you see that if Shabazz simply didn't advance the "rumors" about the middle school boy, NONE of us would be discussing this? Can you understand that?

Anonymous said...

Whomever the ETF member was that leaked the internal memo is the one who caused all the publicity around it. Not the SC.

Anonymous said...

I have heard the grades of the students (& not just the fact that there were MS students) mentioned only place: in the comments section of this blog ........

So then it's a rumor. Do not, under any circumstances--especially if you are a school official--repeat rumors, during a public meeting, that you read on the internet, about students.

Are you starting to get it?

Dr. Ed said...

I still say that lawyer's letter is a threat of violence -- and we don't know what is going on behind closed doors.

Remember how Justice for Jason played out -- threats of race riots if he came to trial, so he didn't. I'm wondering if this is an attempt to prevent the school from addressing what appear to be three rather violent young men who go out and "severely assault" other students.

I think this is an effort to silence or neuter someone -- and not over the memo issue.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/8 10:53 am wrote:
Whomever the ETF member was that leaked the internal memo is the one who caused all the publicity around it. Not the SC.
------------

The memo from the SC chairs went out via email to the 30+ people on the ETF member list. Nothing in the memo said this was an internal memo not intended to be shared publicly. Moreover, who can blame someone for sharing it, when the memo is reprimanding the chair of the ETF for his comments at a meeting that many ETF members recall differently.

The SC chairs should not have had the expectation that everything would be kept under wraps after sending such a memo to such a large audience.

How many illegals does it take to build a sailboat? said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/jury-awards-former-prince-georges-county-teacher-350000-over-retaliation-claim/2014/08/08/6e2d50f6-1e73-11e4-82f9-2cd6fa8da5c4_story.html?tid=hpModule_13097a0c-868e-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394&hpid=z13



Bah, couldn't happen here.


Not with Rick Hood on our side.


-Squeaky Squeaks