By Bill Huston
Ebboni Gaspard has quite a story to tell.
She's a single mom, and lived in public housing
administered by Binghamton Housing Authority
for 8 years, and was president of the tenant's association
for 2 years.
She worked hard to improve the conditions
of life for the poor, elderly, and sick people who live
in the 641 units maintained by the BHA.
By her own account, her activism was probably
a bit of a nuisance for David Tanenhaus,
the executive director of BHA.
First some fun facts:
- In the last 6 years, ~1,100 families have been evicted from BHA units.
- This means that approximately 200 poor families, elderly,
and sick people are evicted on average each year.
- This means that ONE THIRD of these units are turned over each year.
They do to me!
And as soon as a unit vacates, there is another poor family,
elderly or disabled person to take their place.
This may indicate that the need for cheap, subsidized,
public housing is MUCH greater than is presently being met by the
existing 641 units.
So there is a requirement for community service to live in
BHA housing. Ebboni was pregnant, and fell behind in this
According to the NY State law, in such a case, Ebboni must be
given the chance to sign a commitment to make up this service
during the next lease cycle.
This is not the deal which was offered to her.
Earlier this year, BHA initiated eviction proceedings against her.
Now Ebboni is a smart lady! She looked up the law, and
filed papers with the court challenging the legal basis of her
eviction. Ebboni claimed the eviction was illegal.
I looked up the law, too. She's right!
So what happened in court?
Binghamton City Judge Mary Ann Lehmann IGNORED
this legal question, raised character issues, called Ebboni a
liar, and signed the order of eviction.
This is a clear case of judicial misconduct.
You see, I've seen this kind of judicial misconduct before.
Last year, I was evicted from my home on Catherine St.
by an NYC landlord who had just purchased the building.
My rent was fully paid up until that point.
I went to Opportunites for Broome, and met with Stan Gluck.
Stan is an amazing guy. He's in his 70's, and still working hard
fighting for the rights of the poorest of the poor.
Stan isn't a lawyer, but he knows eviction law -- from the
tenant's perspective-- better than any attorney in town.
Why should a private attorney take on such a case?
It's a big financial loser defending the rights of poor people,
and most attorneys (like Alex Luckanick, who represented
the NYC landlord in my case) have expensive car payments
Stan pointed me to the relavent law, and told me there
are two strategies which most are unaware:
1: If there is an open a case with Code Enforcement,
the judge loses jurisdiction to evict.
WOW! That's powerful! But it didn't help me.
2: Ask for a jury trial.
Now I found an additional law which was useful
in my case (unconscionable leases, such as rent
increases), which I decided to challenge.
I made a counter-claim, asking for triple-damages
as provided by law, and made my jury trial demand.
What happened? My demand seemed to really
rattle Judge Robert Murphy. He said he needed
some time to think it over.
After about 6 weeks, and with pressure from
the NYC landlord, HE SIGNED THE EVICTION
ORDER AND IGNORED MY JURY TRIAL DEMAND!
He published NO written decision.
Robert Murphy is no longer a judge, due to an ethics scandal.
WHEN WILL THE BINGHAMTON CORPORATE MEDIA
DECIDE TO INVESTIGATE AND REPORT THIS STORY!!!??
And when I say "report" I don't mean 300 words in the PSB
or a 90-second "news package"?
This is a big story, with many important details,
and many players.
This requires in-depth reporting, perhaps a series.
Who will cover it?
- WBNG Action News? Greg?
- WIVT News Channel 34? Jim?
- WICZ Fox 40? Suh?
- WNBF? Art? Bernie?
- Time Warner News-10?
- WSKG, our "PUBLIC" broadcasting station
with a charter to cover the needs of "underserved" communities? (e.g. poor people?)
- Our Gannett daily, the Press and Sun Bulletin? Calvin?
- The Bridge? Amy? Peg?
- Pipe Dream?
What professional journalist in town has a committment
to public service and the courage to take on these
heavyweights: BHA, BU, NDG, and the Mayor's office?
Or don't those 1,000 poor families,
being forced into homelessness by state actors,
Ebboni Gaspard: 607-771-7328
Stan Gluck: 607-723-6493
Andre Massena: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tarik Abdelazim: email@example.com 607-772-7001
David Tanenhaus: firstname.lastname@example.org 607-723-9491
Bill Huston: WilliamAHuston@gmail.com 607-321-7846
Be sure to also read:
Let's focus on Tarik Abdelazim:
And don't forget:
I'm also asking for help on on another matter,
my exclusion from WHRW:
- Watch this: http://www.vimeo.com/2057306
- Read this: http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/2008/09/great-letters-of-support-re-whrw.html
- And this "Let's Focus on the BU Ombudsman":
email: WilliamAHuston at gmail