Mayday City of Atlanta! Mayday CAP! Mayday ADID!
May 9, 2010
On the afternoon of May 6, 2010, Washington, D.C. lawyers from the law firm of Relman and Dane filed a Fair Housing Complaint against the City of Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress (“CAP”), and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (“ADID”). The complaint filed with Washington HUD names the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless as the aggrieved party. Washington HUD notifies Atlanta HUD. The City Lights, the CAP Lights and the ADID Lights will know soon if they don’t know now.
Before you say, “Ho-hum, just another complaint that will die on some bureaucrat’s desk,” please read the following paragraph that quotes a press release issued by the Relman and Dane law firm on August 10, 2009, (http://relman.com/civil-rights-litigation/cases/westchester.php.) describing the settlement between Westchester County, New York and the federal government. The press release begins,
“On Monday, August 10, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote approved an historic $62.5 million settlement agreement in U. S. ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v. Westchester County. This ground-breaking litigation is the first to employ False Claims Act (“FCA”) to enforce a County’s obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing.” The landmark settlement combines FCA remedies with those traditionally used in housing desegregation litigation. With close oversight by a federal monitor, Winchester will be required to appropriate and spend nearly $52 million in County funds to develop at least 750 affordable housing units in Westchester neighborhoods with very small African-American and Latino populations.”
The next paragraph of the August 10, 2009 press release states that Westchester County, New York, had alledgedly received over a six-year period, $52 milliom in HUD and other government funds under false pretenses. Westchester County had falsely certified that it had complied with its obligation under the federal Fair Housing Act to affirmatively further fair housing (“AFFH”) in order to obtain the funds.
The last paragraph of the press release shows that our country has a new HUD in Washington; little ones it’s a brand new game. That paragraph reads,
“Last April, following the summary judgement decision, the Obama Administration took a new look at the case and decided to intervene for the purpose of assisting the parties in negotiating a settlement. In addition to the $52 million in funds that the County must spend to develop new affordable housing in white municipalities of the County, the agreement requires the County to pay $7.5 million as a relator’s share under the FCA (“False Claims Act”) to the ADC (“Anti-Discrimination Center”), and $2.5 million in attorney’s fees.”
The Relman and Dane firm has within the last two month reached a settlement with a city in Texas. The amount of that settlement is reported to be in the range of one-half billion dollars. I’ll keep you posted.
I have said many times recently that GOD’S BURNING RAIN was coming. The following executive summary was written by Attorney Michael Allen who represents the Atlanta Task Force and who filed the Complaint with HUD on May 6, 2010. The following is Mr. Allen’s EXECUTIVE SUMMARY of the Complaint:
“On May 6, 2010, the Metro-Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless filed a civil rights Complaint against the City of Atlanta and two business-dominated “civic organizations” alleging a 15-year campaign of discrimination and retaliation against the Task Force and its homeless clients. The remedies requested include a cutoff of federal funds to the City until such time as it comes into compliance with its obligations under the Fair Housing Act and related laws, and ceases its discrimination on the basis of race, color and disability.
The Complaint alleges, among other things, that the City, Central Atlanta Progress (“CAP”) and Atlanta Downtown Development District (“ADID”) worked together to deprive the Task Force of funding from federal, state and private philanthropic sources, and to denigrate the reputation of the Task Force. The respondents took this action, the Complaint alleges, on account of the race, color and disability of the Task Force’s clients, and with the objective of pushing the Task Force and its clients out of its building at the intersection of Peachtree and Pine Streets in Atlanta’s central business district.
In order to receive more than $20 million per year in federal housing and community development funds, the City is required to sign a certification that it will comply with civil rights laws, and that it will “affirmatively further fair housing.” The affirmative obligation requires the City to identify its own policies and those of private parties that limit housing choice on the basis of race, color, disability and other protected classes. The Complaint alleges that the City failed to do this with respect to policies and actions taken against the Task Force and its clients, and that the annual certifications submitted to the federal government were, therefore, untrue. The Complaint echoes the allegations of recent litigation involving Westchester County, New York, in which a federal judge determined that Westchester had submitted false claims about it civil rights compliance in order to secure federal housing and community development funds. That case settled for $62.5 million and a requirement that the County develop 750 units of affordable housing.
In addition to the City’s actions and inactions, the Complaint alleges that CAP and ADID were active participants in efforts to undermine the Task Force, discredit it with private and public funders, deprive it of essential government services and denigrate it in the media, with the objective of running the Task Force out of business and forcing it to cease operations in the downtown business district. The Complaint further alleges that CAP and ADID, with the assistance of the City, have engaged in a pattern of assaults, batteries, threats and intimidation against homeless people in the downtown business district based on race, color and disability.
The Complaint alleges that CAP, ADID and their respective members provide most of the $96,000 salary for Debi Starnes, a former City Councilmember who serves as the Mayor’s policy advisor on homelessness, and has an active role in City review of applications for federal housing, community development and homelessness funds even as she serves as President of EMSTAR Research whose clients are among the entities applying for such funds.
The Task Force will seek unspecified monetary damages and injunctive relief against all three respondents.”
Beaty’s NOTE: In later blogs I’ll quote and comment on the 16-page Complaint. My redneck cousin from South Carolina upon reading Mr. Allen’s EXECUTIVE SUMMARY said to me, “Looks like to me them good ole boys downtown and the Miseries Starnes have SHIT and fell back in it.”
James Wilson Beaty, PhD
May 9, 2010