Contempt Of Court against Community Board 9 and Members!
Please note that the evidence mentioned in the below Motion papers are not enclosed on this website. If you want to see the evidence, then you must go to the Brooklyn Supreme Court and request a review of them.
A Contempt of Court Hearing is Scheduled for
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 9:30 am
Location: Brooklyn Supreme Court
Judge Siatta, Rm 724
The Motion Papers
In the Matter of The Application of
ALICIA BOYD and LORRAINE THOMAS
CARMAN MARTINEZ, DEMETRIUS LAWRENCE, DR ZORINA FEDERICK,
and BROOKLYN COMMUNITY BOARD 9,
Index No: 4985/16
Alicia Boyd being sworn set forth as follows:
I am one of the Petitioner’s in the above captioned case and I have submitted this affidavit in support of my motion to hold respondents, Carmen Martinez, Demetrius Lawrence and Community Board 9 in contempt of court, a request for a preliminary injunction against respondent Martinez and an order for respondents to hire a full time staff person at CB9 District Office.
As set forth in more detail below, respondents Carmen Martinez “Martinez”, Demetrius Lawrence “Lawrence “and Community Board 9 “CB9” have ignored and disobeyed the TRO granted by the court on August 2, 2016 and extended on August 18, 2016, by respondents CB9 and Lawrence allowing respondent Martinez to continue to “act” like a District Manager by signing her name to emails on CB9’s District Manager’s “Legal Signature Block”, allowing herself to be called District Manager in public meetings by board members and others without contradicting them, performing District Manager’s functions including unlocking the office in the mornings, providing organizational and administrative support at CB9 meetings, enforcing policies of the CB9 board, requesting police presence at CB9 meetings, organizing the training of respondent CB9 members and continuing the duties that she began at the District Office on April 6, 2016, which she describes as behaviors in the “making” and “running” of the CB9 Office.
Additionally, respondents Lawrence and CB9, despite having a $200,000 personnel budget to hire four full time staff people to conduct the business of CB9, have refused to hire any full time staff for over ten months, but have instead allowed and continues to allow respondent Martinez to perform all the duties of a District Manager under the guise of “volunteering”.
On August 3, 2016, an Order to Show Cause and Interim Order Index # 4985/16, was signed by Hon. Richard Velasquez, which stated “Pending a hearing Petitioners are requesting a stay of the hiring of Carmen Martinez as District Manager”. On the same day, this order to show caused was served personally upon Respondents Carmen Martinez and CB9 by Maxine Barnes at the Carroll Gardens Community Center. (Attached as Exhibit A and Aff. Barnes)
On August 18, 2016, at the Brooklyn Supreme Court, where respondent Carmen Martinez and Treasurer of CB9, Francisca Leopold were present, Judge Saitta signed an order, stating that the “Temporary Restraining Order “TRO” shall remain in effect pending a hearing on the Order to Show Cause and where he stated that the “acting” like a District Manager would be a violation of the TRO.” (Attached as Exhibit B)
Statement of Facts
On October 27, 2015, the Respondent CB9 removed Pearl Miles “Miles” from her position as District Manger. This left one person working at the District Office, Community Associate, Ms. Witherspoon.
Part of Ms. Miles job was to distribute emails to the community concerning activities and events that occur in the community, attend meetings, open and close the District office, represent the community at public agency meetings, answer the phones, provide support and advice on procedures and protocol and to run the District Office.
Ms. Miles always signed her name on the “legal signature block” that were sent out to the CB9 community, which contains the contact information of CB9. (Attached as Exhibit C)
Upon Ms. Miles’s removal, Ms. Witherspoon took over some of the aforementioned duties, but never placed her name above the “legal signature block” for CB9 for emails that went out to the general public, for it is a known fact that this space belongs to the District Manager. (Attached as Exhibit D)
However, when Ms. Witherspoon was responding directly to requests made of her, she signed her name and her title right above the “legal signature block”. This showed that she was not acting as the District Manager, but as the Community Assistant. (Attached as Exhibit E)
After Ms. Witherspoon’s removal, in the first week of April 2016, from the CB9 office, without the consent or approval of the CB9’s board, all emails sent out to the general public, from CB9, remained unsigned. (Attached as Exhibit F)
On April 7, 2016, a neighbor and I went to CB9 District Office and we were told that Ms. Witherspoon was on vacation and respondent Martinez was “volunteering” in her place. Later I was told by respondent Lawrence that Ms. Witherspoon was sick and finally she was on FMLA leave. Ms. Witherspoon never came back to work at CB9’s District Office.
No member of the community board signed any emails above the “legal signature block”, despite several “volunteering” at the community. Not even the Chairman of CB9 Board respondent Lawrence signed his name above the “legal signature block” when responding officially to inquires made of him. (Attached as Exhibit G)
On June 9, 2016 I attended a Sullivan-Ludlum-Stoddard Neighborhood Assn meeting, where residents complained about the fact that their complaints to CB9 were not being addressed or processed.
On June 28, 2016, during a CB9’s executive session, during respondent Martinez interview by the CB9 board members, she stated that she had been carrying on the duties of the District Manager by her volunteering at the District Office for three months, since April 6, 2016.
”For the past three months I have been volunteering at the board office and during that time I have learned every aspect of CB9 office. For the past of three months I have had hands on experience in the making and running of the board office. Every data base, every procedure, every aspect of keeping that office running on a daily basis. I have been attending and getting training from the office of budget and management. So I know every aspect of putting a budget together. I need no training on how to run Community Board 9 office, because I have been doing it for the past three months as a volunteer.” (attached as exhibit R.2 25,26,28 and 30) CB9 voted, via secret ballot to hire respondent Martinez, as District Manger.
On July 8, 2016, the very next email that was sent out from respondent CB9 to the general public contained Carmen Martinez name above the “legal signature block”. This was also the first time that a name had been placed on this line since the removal of former District Manager, Ms. Miles on October 27, 2016. (Attached as G.1)
On July 18, 2016, at a CB9 special general board meeting, to vote for respondent’s Martinez salary, respondent Lawrence directed respondent Martinez to resign from the CB9 board immediately, because she was being offered the job of District Manager and she could not be a board member. Respondent Martinez stated that she would resign.
On July 29, 2016, respondent Martinez sent around a “District Manager Elect” report, which was attached to an email, where again her name was signed above the “legal signature block”. This report described in details all of the District Manager’s duties that she had been performing as a “volunteer”. Within this report it states that respondent Martinez attended several meetings, (July 8, 2016) the Borough Hall Board monthly meeting and (July 7, 2016) the District Managers’ meeting. (Attached as Exhibit H and H.1)
On August 2, 2016 at CB9’s special general board meeting to vote on respondent’s salary, respondent Lawrence refused to tell the public what salary had been voted upon. I had stated that we were going to be going to court the following day and thus they should be abiding by the law. One board member, Warren Berke, made a joke about the board renting a bus so the board members can attend the meeting and in response the board members laughter. (Attached as Exhibit R.316 and 17 also on youtube at https://youtu.be/pJmwCTRMjbY)
On August 3, 2016, Maxine Barnes, who is not a party to this case, served respondents CB9 and respondent “Martinez” with the Order To Show Cause, granting a stay of the hiring of respondent Martinez as District Manager. (Aff. of Service Barnes)
On August 5, 10, 11 and 12, 2016, Ms. Martinez continued to sign her name above the “legal signature block”. (Attached as Exhibit I)
On August 5, 2016, respondent Lawrence spoke with a local reporter stating that “the District Manager position has not yet been formally offered to Martinez, but will be soon” and that the stay that has been granted by the courts “he does not expect it to affect the hiring process.” (Attached as Exhibit J)
On August 10, 2016 Fred Baptist, respondent CB9’s board member sent an email addressed to BK09 email and “cc” to all of the board members, concerning the Open Meetings Law training, which CB9 board members wanted to be closed to the public. Respondent Martinez responded to this email, again from the CB9 email, with her name on the “legal signature block”, stating that “The training is for board members only and that will be made clear from the beginning.” (emphasis added) (Attached as Exhibit I)
On August 10, 2016, respondent CB9 conducted a training of the Board in the Open Meetings Law at the District Office, facilitated by respondent Martinez. During the training sessions, respondent Martinez was the only person who did not sit down and attend the meeting. She continued to move about the District Office taking care of clerical issues, such as filing papers, answering phones and even spent a large time speaking with the Police who had been called to be present at the meeting.
At about 7:45 the police arrived at the meeting. There were four officers who came and respondent Martinez went up to the front and spent time speaking with them. The officers and respondent Martinez continued to look at me and point at me. I knew they had been called because I was attending the meeting and this brought anxiety and fear to me. I have already had several situations where I have been arrested and removed from a community board meeting simply because I was attending the meeting. I knew that respondent Martinez didn’t want me to attend this meeting along with other members of CB9.
After Bob Freeman did his presentation on the Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law and left, my fears were validated, as respondent Lawrence requested that all community residents who were not board members leave because the second half of the meeting covering parliamentary procedures was closed to the public. I stated that I was not going and several times looks were given to the police officers to intervene, but eventually, due to “time” constraints CB9 decided not to enforce this closed door policy, which hadn’t been discussed, voted upon or even told to the community or CB9 board members.
Several times during this training session, respondent Martinez was called the District Manager, by the trainers of the workshops; Bob Freeman, from the New York State Committee on Open Government and two other women who were instructing the members on Parliamentary Procedures. It was told to the respondent CB9’s board members and the public that information and questions needed to be directed to the District Manager as they pointed to respondent Martinez. At no point in time did respondent Martinez correct their assumption.
Also during this training, Bob Freeman, the head of the Committee on Open Government of New York State, stated to the officers of CB9 and board members that Family Medical Leave Act “FMLA” and sick leave were to be made available to the public via Freedom of Information “FOIL” request, of a public employee. This information was to ensure that abuse of sick leave could be detected and prevented.
On August 11, 2016 I sent in a FOIL request to obtain the sick leave information for Ms. Witherspoon. (Attached as Exhibit Q)
On August 18, 2016, respondent Martinez and several CB9 Board members attended the scheduled hearing at the Brooklyn Supreme Court in rm. 724 in front of Judge Saitta. During this brief hearing, which was adjourned until September 22, 2016, I presented to the Judge the fact that respondent Martinez was continuing to perform duties as a District Manager, which included signing her name on respondent’s CB9 “legal signature block” and being called District Manager during a meeting, after the TRO had been served on her. And that this behavior was interpreted as a violation of the TRO.
Judge Siatta stated that he considered the acting like a District Manager by respondent to be a violation of the TRO and stated however, if I wanted to address this matter I would have to place a motion in front of the court.
After court at 6:05 pm on the same day as the above court appearance, respondent Martinez sent around another email, with again her signature name on the bottom of the email. (Attached as Exhibit K)
On August 19, 2016, the next day after court, I witnessed respondent Martinez coming to the CB9’s District Office at 10:45 and opening of the gate to the office. (Attached a Exhibit L and L.1) Within one hour Ms. Martinez had again sent around emails with her signature on the “legal signature block”. (Attached as Exhibit M).
On August 19, 2016 I sent a 2nd notice of the FOIL request to obtain the information regarding Ms. Witherspoon’s sick leave because respondent CB9 had not complied with the request and was in violation. As of September 13, 2016 I have not gotten this information. (Attached as exhibit Q)
On August 23, 2016, Maxine Barnes and I waited for two and half hours for the CB9 office to open. At 11:30 am we left because it still was not open.
On August 30, 2016, I went to the CB9 District office and requested the minutes of the CB board general meeting. Ada Terry, a CB9 board member stated that she didn’t know where the minutes were and thus could not give it to me. She also stated that despite having a $200,000 personnel line, that CB9 had no intention of hiring any personnel until a District Manager was hired.
On September 1, 2016, respondent signed her name on the Affidavit in support of Respondent’s verified answer and stated that, “I have continued to volunteer in the CB9 office, and to perform the same tasks that I had been performing since April 6, 2016 including sending emails to the community and scheduling meetings.” (Aff. Martinez )(emphasis added)
Signing of Official Communications of CB9
From the evidence that was presented, it is clear that a signature on the “legal signature block” dealing with communications sent out to the public belongs to the District Manager. Not even when there was staff in place at the district office (Ms. Witherspoon) was this “legal signature block” allowed to be filled by other office staff. This includes not only the staff members and officers of the board but other volunteers as well.
However, what is clear is that once respondent Martinez was officially offered the job, by the vote of the respondent CB9, she considered herself “District Manager “. She continued to fulfill the duties of a District Manager, which she documents in the District Manager’s Report, and to sign her name on the “legal signature block” reserved for the District Manager of CB9.
Not only did respondent Martinez continue to sign her name on the signature block but these emails tripled. Before the TRO was issued she sent out 5 emails, after the TRO she sent out 19 emails; 7 after the TRO was served upon her, 6 after she was present in the court room and the Judge stated that “acting” like a District Manager is a violation of the TRO and 6 after Contempt of Court papers were served. Respondent Martinez behavior clearly shows the open defiance of the TRO and the Judge’s interpretation of the TRO. (Attached as Exhibit O)
With respondent Martinez signature on official documents and notices coming from the CB9, she continues to establish herself as an official representative and employee of the board. It would be the natural assumption of anyone receiving these emails, which is the entire community, that respondent Martinez now works for the CB9 as its District Manager.
Secondly, it is unheard of for any governmental agency allowing “volunteers” to send out official communications with their names on the “legal signature block”. This line is clearly for people who are representing the agency in an official capacity. Thus to the wider public she is working for the board as its District Manager.
Performing Duties of a District Manager
Respondent Martinez already stated during her interview in front of the board on June 28, 2016, that since the time that Ms. Witherspoon either was removed/or out on sick leave (April 6, 2016), she has been performing the duties of the District Manager by “running of the Board’s office”. She also stated in her affidavit of her intention to continue to perform the “same tasks” that she had been performing since April 6, 2016. (Aff. Martinez)(emphasis added) . Thus by her own admittance she is continuing her role as District Manager, which is the “running” of the CB9 office.
There are several jobs of the District Manager that respondent Martinez is engaging in, since the TRO had been served upon her; (1)on August 10, 2016, she organized a training of CB9 staff; (2) she called the cops and requested them to attend and be present during the training session on August 10, 2016; (3)during the training session, she continued to conduct herself not as a board member but as a District Manager, for she did not sit down during the training session, but continue to perform office duties, while the training was taking place; (4)she allowed herself to be addressed as District Manager from all three presenters who were conducting the training sessions and never once corrected their impression of her as the District Manager; (5) she continues to have keys to the District Office and open and closes the office; (6)she answers the phones and sends out communication both to the board members and the general public and signs her name on the “legal signature block”; (7) she continues to have access to all records, documents, communications, budget and data bases etc.; (8) and when communication came from a board member to the CB9 office that was not addressed to her, on August 10, 2016, she responded as the addressee, giving the impression to the entire CB9 board, that she is representing the CB9 office in an official capacity as District Manager.
No hiring of Staff Members for the District Office.
Since Ms. Miles was removed from her position, on October 27, 2015, respondent CB9 has refused to hire another full time staff person, they simply gave Ms. Witherspoon a raise. In the meantime, there was a $200,000 personnel budget that was not being fully utilized, which allows for four full time staff to be employed at the District Office.
When Ms. Witherspoon was removed/or left her job, on April 5, 2016, it left CB9’s office without any staff person and instead of hiring a full time staff, respondent CB9 decided to allow board members to act as “volunteers”, until Ms. Witherspoon’s return.
This has allowed respondent Martinez to entrench herself into the District Manager position and to assure that all documents, emails, minutes, data bases info., budget requests etc.., are filtered through her and for her to continue to act like a District Manager.
The refusal of respondents to hire additional staff continues to be the excuse that is used to have respondent Martinez “volunteer” at the office, and maintain the duties, responsibilities and appearance of a District Manager.
Present at Court
Respondent Martinez and members and officers of CB 9 were sitting right in the court room, when I presented to Judge Siatta a copy of the emails that respondent Martinez has been sending out with her signature on the “legal signature block” as proof of her continued activities as District Manager. This evidence was also given to Corporation Counsel, who is representing her. Respondent Martinez heard when Judge Siatta stated that acting like a District Manager in his opinion is a violation of the TRO. However, in her arrogance and complete disregard for the law and the courts, she simply went back to CB9’s District Office and continued to conduct the duties and responsibilities of the District Manager.
Later that day respondent Martinez sent out an email, at 6:05 pm, and signed her name to the email on the “legal signature block”. The very next morning she arrived with keys in hand, opened up the office and within an hour sent off another email with her signature on the “legal signature block”.
Prejudice done to Petitioners
The Community Residents
The foremost purpose of a Community Board is to ensure that City services are accessible and responsive to the needs of all residents, organizations, businesses, and institutions. The New York City Charter mandates that all community boards advise and inform their respective constituencies on matters relevant to their immediate neighborhood.
The District Manager works as a liaison between the community and city agencies. During the almost one year period that CB9 has been without a District Manager, city agencies have been unable to share information with the residents of CD9. Residents are not being informed of funding being awarded by the Borough President's office, by our three City Council members, or by our State Assembly members.
The District Manager's role is to lead and organize the annual District Needs Statement, which includes budget, capital and expense priorities. The CB is obligated to hold a public hearing to determine these priorities. Without a District Manager, or any other staff, it will be impossible to conduct an adequate accounting of the district's needs.
The community does not have access to the following services that the CB District Manager usually provides; permit applications for block parties, street festival/fair or special events; citywide outreach, such as information about affordable housing applications, Section 8 vouchers, free housing related legal services, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, work training programs, youth summer programs, Medicaid renewal , and the obtaining of information regarding the functioning of the CB9 board, including budget allocations, minutes to meetings, information on committee membership etc..
The continued actions of respondent Carmen Martinez to act like the District Manager have already caused prejudice and harm to the community residents and Petitioner Boyd. Respondent Martinez has been wielding her power as if she is District Manager to enforce policies and procedures that have not been voted upon by CB9. She has misused her position and authority to call the police and have them be present during a meeting, in an act to scare and intimidate the community residents and Petitioner Boyd into not attending the meetings.
Respondent Martinez’s continued regular presence at CB9’s District Office has prevented community residents and Petitioner Boyd from being able to have access to public information, such as minutes to meetings and other documents depriving them of their rights, because the volunteers don’t know where the minutes are and CB9 is refusing to hire additional staff until a District Manager is hired and respondent Martinez is stating she doesn’t have the authority to give out this information.
The refusal to hire any personnel has prevented the District Office from operating according to its directives which is to respond to the community’s needs, such as processing complaints. The CB9 office is not open to the general public within the required time frames of 9am – 5pm, because CB9 continues to rely upon Carmen Martinez to run the board but because she is “volunteering” this service isn’t mandatory within the stated time frames that CB9 office should be open.
The community residents continue to lose faith and respect for the idea of community involvement, because CB9 is barely functioning. Illegal behavior continues to be blatantly exhibited by a public agency which is suppose to act as advocates for the people, but instead just outright lies, ignores the laws and continues to project itself as untouchable.
Harm Done To CB9 Board Members
As acting District Manager respondent Martinez has had access to the financial resources of the CB9 and is continuing to use these resources without the express approval of the board, in an act to “buy” off the CB9 board members with food for their cooperation and support of her. CB9 Board members are not entitled to have access to the funds of the board and respondent has stated that she is still a board member, thus she shouldn’t be using the funds of the board without the expressed approval of the board. These acts have created a culture of corruption, conflict of interest, misappropriation of funds and lack of accountability regarding public monies.
The City Charter Chapter 70, Article 2800 g states:
Each community board may employ such other assistants as it may require within budgeted appropriations for such purposes or funds contributed for such purpose. Any funds appropriated by the city to enable the community boards to conduct their duties and responsibilities pursuant to this chapter shall be allocated directly to each board subject to the terms and conditions of such appropriations.
Board members including Petitioner Thomas, are being deprived of the necessary personnel that should be helping and supporting her and them in their roles as a board members. This includes but is not limited to data collection of community residents, attending and notification of meetings, writing of minutes, editing and drafting of proposals, resolution, requests, explaining rules and regulations of the board and other governmental bodies, handling complaints of the community that are given to board members, assisting in explaining and supporting board members roles on committees, organizing community events and forums etc…
Respondent Martinez continued presence as the District Manager has also hurt the integrity of the board and created a culture of cronyism, nepotism, favoritism and fear, where only a select few are allowed access to the information of CB9. Without objective personnel required to perform the duties of CB 9, a small hand full of CB9 members have access to all the financial and other records of CB9. Petitioner Thomas has been deprived of information regarding minutes to meetings, meetings themselves, explanation and information regarding the laws that govern community board etc..
Respondent Martinez continued behavior as District Manager demonstrates to the board members and community residents that the courts orders may be ignored just as the various other laws governing them. This continues to show her power and influence and continues to project to the community board and the public that the laws and orders of the courts have no effect upon board members and they do not have to comply with them.
This has continued to encourage select board members to break the law, with the community residents and other board members baring the blunt of the consequences. As a result this has now left the board members and respondent Thomas feeling powerless to address any wrong doings or outright illegal behavior that she/they see or experience. Without a board that follows the law, board members are merely bodies’ rubberstamping a process that they cannot influence or contribute to, despite that being their job.
Part of a District Manager’s job is to instruct the board members regarding illegal behavior or behavior that is lawful, however with“acting” district Manager herself not abiding by the law, there is no one that board members can turn to for guidance in adhering to the law.
As a result Petitioner Thomas has been unable to fulfill her job and duties that were assigned to her as a board member. Without information and guidance, support and direction she has been left in the dark, having to now resort to the filing of lawsuits to address the gross injustices that have and continued to be displayed by respondent CB9 and respondent Martinez.
Respondent Thomas has also placed her position as a Board member in great jeopardy. With Borough Hall havening no restraints placed upon it to justify the removal or non-renewal of board members on the board, respondent Thomas fears that her appointment renewal will not be granted because she has had the courage to come forward and demand that the courts intercede on behalf of the community and board members. Thus the respondent’s CB9’s unlawful behavior will have a negative effect upon her and eventually could cost her, her position on CB9’s board.
By reason of the foregoing I am requesting that the court consider the following reliefs;
(1) Finding respondents Carmen Martinez, Demetrius Lawrence and Community Board 9 are in contempt of court and issuing fines individually against them for the following reasons.
It is no surprise that respondents are flagrantly disregarding the orders of the court. For the past two years there has been complete contempt shown by respondents for the laws that govern them, despite the fact that during this time several cases have been under the Jurisdiction of the Court. Thus there has developed a belief amongst Respondents that the courts cannot intervene and force them to correct unlawful behavior.
It is clear respondent’s flagrant disregard and disrespect for the Court’s prior orders; shows their contempt for the law and the courts along with the belief that what the Court decides will not affect how they will perform, as was stated by respondent Lawrence in a press interview. However if personal sanctions are impose it will more than likely end the serious contempt that respondents have displayed for the law and the courts.
Secondly, placing sanctions against a New York City agency and then placing this money back into the coffers of the same municipality adds to a zero affect, thus personal sanctions will be more affective and have a much more powerful effect upon the respondents.
(2) The requesting for a temporary injunction to be placed against respondent Martinez not to appear at CB9’s District Office, and not to conduct any business of CB9 either at the office or at home. This will prevent respondent Martinez from continuing in her deception of “volunteering”, but in reality continuing to project herself to the entire community as the District Manager in open violation of the TRO.
(3) Sign an order for respondents to hire on a temporary contractual basis a full time staff immediately to work at the District Office. There has been no full time staff person at CB9 for almost 6 months, despite respondents having a budget to hire four full time staff people. Respondents’ barely veiled scam to place respondent Martinez as the District Manager has deprived the entire Community District and board members of staff that should be assisting in the effective running of a Community. This scam must stop.
The City Charter Article 2800 section F has not only empowered respondents CB9 to hire staff, for the running of the District Officer, but have supplied them with the money to do so. There is no reason for this board not to have paid staff working full time at the office, conducting the job and duties of running this office. The board members are being deprived of the support and assistance the City Charter has promised them, the community is being deprived of a functional board that can address its needs and the entire community now has to deal with a completely dysfunctional District Office.