12/22/11

New York Judge Bench-Slaps Brooklyn Public Library and Wilson Elser Lawyers

photo [cc] shootingbrooklyn
Big tip-o-the-hat to Out of the Jungle blogger Marie S. Newman for pointing out an interesting decision against the Brooklyn Public library in her post "Judge Throws book at Brooklyn Public Library." I'll try not to re-hash what Marie pointed out, but there were some very interesting parts within the decision, one in which it seems that Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack took personal offense. Justice Schack blasted the defense counsel from Wilson Elser argument as being "disingenuous" and went on to say that the argument "borders upon being frivolous, because it is completely without merit in law." He even puts in a final punch toward the end of the opinion by saying, "The Court finds it interesting that defendants BPL and WHITTAKER did not make their disingenuous lack of a notice of claim argument until they were represented by their new counsel, Wilson, Elser." Ouch…

But wait. It gets better.

Justice Schack gives a history of the public library system in New York and how that "prior to 1901, robber baron-turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie offered more than $5,000,000 to the City of New York to erect public libraries." Perhaps that is how New Yorkers refer to Andrew Carnegie… "robber baron-turned philanthropist," or perhaps Justice Schack's Grandfather lost some money to Carnegie in the 19th Century??

Justice Schack continues his history lesson and points out that the argument that the Brooklyn Public Library is neither a Municipal Corporation, nor are its employees employed by the city.

But wait. It gets nastier.

Justice Schack then starts in on the finances of the Brooklyn Public Library. I'm not sure of the relevance of this part of the decision to the municipal corporation claim… which the Justice has already rejected… but, it sure makes for some interesting reading.

Apparently, Brooklyn Public Library is running a $1.1 million deficit, and the judge immediately points to nine reasons that he thinks are behind the deficit. And he names each of them along with their salaries that add up to over $1.7 million dollars:
$254,959 to Dionne Mack–Harvin, then Executive Director; $228,757 to John Vitali, Deputy Director of Business Administration; $221,258 to Judith Nichols, Deputy Director of External Affairs [a euphemism for a lobbyist]; $214,858 to Mary Graham, Deputy Director of Public Service; $196,086 to Lawrence Jennings, Director of Human Resources; $172,033 to Selvon Smith, Director of Information Technology; $166,672 to Lay Cheng Lee, Director of Information Technology; $164,788 to Aron Bukspan, Director of Major & Capital Giving [a professional fundraiser]; and, $162,275 to Vintress Brown, Director of Finance.
But wait. Then it gets personal.

Justice Schack apparently doesn't care for the fact that, despite running a huge deficit, the Brooklyn Public Library has a "professional fundraiser, who receives more in compensation that every New York State judge, including the Chief Judge of the State of New York." At this point it just seems that Justice Schack is just piling on.

But wait. Then comes the pièce de résistance… a quote from Mel Brooks:
To paraphrase Mel Brooks' famous quote, “It's good to be the king!”, when he played King Louis XVI of France prior to the French Revolution, in the 1981 film satire, History of the World: Part I, “It's good to be operating a deficit running non-profit, receiving 62% of its revenue from the financially challenged City of New York!”
Here's the link to the full opinion from Justice Schack, who may want to paraphrase Woody Allen on its impact:
If my decisions make one more person miserable, I'll feel I have done my job.
I think he's accomplished that here.



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