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
Jeremiah 22.16
May 9, 2010

At Atlanta’s prestigeous Commerce Club on Thursday night, April 8, 2010,  Attorney Horace Sibley was given The Public Service Award for 2009, having served as chair of  THE UNITED WAY’S  REGIONAL COMMISSION ON HOMELESSNESS.*  This high award is given by the Georgia State University College of Law.  Sibley has ended homelessness as he defines it. 

The only “chronically” homeless people left in Atlanta, according to Sibley and his “Regional Commission*” are the 750 men “warehoused” at the “poorly operated” Peachtree Pine shelter, the Atlanta Task Force’s blight at 475 Peachtree Street.  Sibley was deposed by Baker Donelson attorneys on January 13, 2010 where he said under oath that the “chronically” homeless men at Peachtree Pine could all be housed by United Way in one day if his bunch could just get their hands on them.  Milton ($500,000) Little, President of United Way, wrote the same thing in a letter to Bob Cramer, Task Force Chair.  

Sibley and Starnes moan and bitch that Task Force members of the staff vehemently refuse to provide them the daily sign-in sheets of the residents.  This twin team of experts wants names and social security numbers so that they can jail any who have outstanding warrants. Anything to close the Pine and anything to get “those people” out of hallowed downtown!!  Perhaps Attorney Sibley and Czar Starnes don’t know that the Task Force would be breaking a law if that information were furnished to them or to anyone else. 

Whlie Sibley was being AWARDED at the Commerce Club for a job well done for the homeless for the last 8 years, Debi Mae Starnes was being REWARDED for all she has done for more years than we want to know.  She has done so much that the City of Atlanta’s Board of Ethics is investigating 7 counts of possible conflicts of interest. 

Her $100,000 salary is paid by Jack “train wreck” Hardin at United Way.  Wait a minute.  The check is written by United Way.  Wait another minute!  Ninety-thousand ($90,000) comes from ADID (Atlanta Downtown Improvement Development), the in-house leach attached to CAP.  Just a minute!  Hold everything!  Is that correct?   Yes, that is right; the ninety grand comes from ADID and is laundered to and through CAP who gets the $90,000 over to Jack Hardin, the Chairman of the United Way Board.  Then Starnes is paid by UW.  It’s no wonder that “Debi Does Atlanta” can’t  remember which downtown hotel or hotels pay the remaining $10,000. 

I don’t see any problem other than money laundering and racketeering.  The fact that Debi’s Tri-Jurisdictional Continuum of Care rigs and manipulates applications shouldn’t bother a board of ethics, surely not one associated with this city hall.  After she decides who gets and does not get funding, her consulting business, EMSTAR, is paid by some of those she has approved for funding.  Oh, yes.  United Way pays EMSTAR a consulting fee.  How could that be wrong?  The Mayor and City Council have known about these shady shenanigans for years.  Don’t forget we are in Bill Campbell’s ATLANTA.  

 Explaining the name EMSTAR, “Debi Does Atlanta” said in her deposition, “I’m the STAR.”  And she is the STAR without question!!  Being paid with United Way checks and working for the Mayor and A. J. Robinson at CAP should not upset any Atlanta “ethics” body.  I read just last night in one of the 500 emails confiscated from our business nerve downtown that” Debi was supposed to have gotten to me (A. J. Robinson) the names of Anita’s lawyers and their clients.” 

That email was sent by A. J. “we’re all kind of mystified” Robinson to Richard “We’re in” Orr.  “We’re in” said he would get right on it.  He did.  The long list of cities where Baker Donelson has law firms was confiscated with all other discovery.  Did A. J. “We’re all kind of mystified” Robinson not know that the “Baker” of Baker Donelson is Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee?  When A. J. called Sam Williams at The Chamber Pot, Robinson complained bitterly that Baker Donelson was on the wrong side of this lawsuit, against The City and against business interests and against I don’t know what all.  We need to get to their clients. 

I won’t bore you with any of the other accusations leveled against the STAR since they could not possibly matter.  Little Miss Debi is one of the safe ones.  Like Richard Orr, “She’s in.”  Remember Captain Bingham.  Clubs do not club their own.

*  I try to remember to (*) The United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness.*  Starnes and Sibley throughout their depositions used this name.  A. J. used it a time or two.  I don’t know if Orr knows it.  An organization of this appellation has never existed.  Each time that they use it is really more than inaccurate; it’s untrue and deliberately misleading.  I have stated before that Starnes and Sibley went to their cronies in the Georgia Legislature hoping the Legislature would make this monster an authority.  With the help of people like Nan Orrock, the idiot proposal passed the legislature, probably unanimously.  But the Governor vetoed the bill saying that homelessness is a City of Atlanta problem, not a regional problem.  The Governor knows Authorities get State funding. 

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
Jeremiah 22.16
April 9, 2010 

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The letter from the City’s Board of Ethics is dated APPROPRIATELY, April Fool’s Day.  I’m taking bets on how large the plaque will be that they’ll give little Miss Debi.  Or will it be a dozen roses thanking her for barring women and children from her model shelter, The Gateway.  Debi Starnes for years has decided which agencies will and will not get funding.  And then she turns right around and bills some of them consulting fees.  We know United Way writes her check  and pays EMSTAR a consulting fee.  What’s wrong with that?  That’s Atlanta City Hall.

  The Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless met 100% qualifications from the City’s Grants Management Office but did not get Starnes’ rubber stamp of approval.  In fact she sent Greg Pridgeon’s letter of denial to DCA 3 three years running, the state’s Department of Community Affairs that blocked the possibility of city, state or federal funding for Peachtree Pine.  That’s TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE, breaking the law.  Fortunately for Starnes and Sibley and Franklin and A. J. Robinson and Richard Orr, TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE is not a criminal offense, no jail time.  Fortunately, for the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE is a CIVIL WRONG, no jail time, only PAY BACK time.  HUD will scrutinize TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE and the City’s 14 years of CDBG violations far more closely than Starne’s and United Way’s and CAP’s and ADID’s double dipping and money laundering and racketeering.

Can you imagine what’s going through the minds of those City of Atlanta attorneys?  I was deposed by two of them who brought along a nice young man, an intern, I think.  These are decent people, totally different from those they must defend.  That’s a given for most defense attorneys.  In my deposition, Attorney Laura Sauriol asked me if I considered the City attorneys to be a part of TEAM GOLIATH.  I wanted to say that you are “armor bearers” for the doomed giant, but I wouldn’t dare.  I told her, a little tongue in cheek, “No.” 

But the City’s lawyers have their work cut out.  Robinson and Orr have Troutman Sanders at their sides, for now.  I assume this ethics thing with Starnes comes under the City”s umbrella.  What if EMSTAR has to pay its way.  All that, we can discuss another time around the old prayer-breakfast table.

The Board of Ethics is composed of the following seven, “The Ethics Seven” I like to dream:  John Lewis, Jr., Chair: MaryAnne F. Gaunt, Vice-Chair; Carol Snype Crawford; Charles B. Crawford, Jr., Cathy R. Daniels, Caroline Johnson Tanner and Charmaine Ward.  The complaint alleges that Starnes violated Code of Ethics sections 2-808, 2-809, 2-811, 2-812, 2-813, 2-814 and 2-820.  I tell you this is mild; the rack comes a bit later.  Does a worm squirm?

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
Jeremiah 22.16
April 7, 2010

History was made on Tuesday, March 29, 2010, when Atlanta citizens cited seven ethics codes accusing Debi Mae
Starnes of ethical violations.  Several of the alledged violations go back to when she was member of City Council under Mayor Bill Campbell.  Following her stint on City Council, she has served as Mayor Shirley Franklin’s Senior Advisor on Homelessness since 2007.  She was paid by the city for a time; however, budget retraints forced her to be paid by United Way via ADID via Central Atlanta Progress.  Her failure to disclose the $100,000 salary paid by CAP and a downtown “hotel” has created a minor problem under the umbrella of “ethics.”  Other problems with her auditings have arisen as her company, EMSTAR is paid as a consultant by agencies contracted by the city.  Some of these same agencies are funded by city and state money which Starnes controls absolutely.

I asked an Atlanta attorney what are the chances of Starnes being punished, yea investigate, by this City Council committee called The Community Development/Human Resources ommittee.  He laughed out loud.  He asked me to remember that this is Atlanta City Council and that Atlanta City Council is a club.  And club members don’t do anything to each other, other than scratch each other’s whatever.  “Ethics” he cried, “not on your life!”  And Debi Mae Starnes is an honorary member of that club.

HOWEVER, this so-called “committee” oversees CDBG money and that’s HUD money.  Who knows, HUD might want to come calling to take a look at the charges when they look at other questionable accountant issues, involving multimillions of dollars for a decade or so.  My little ones, the plot thickens.  Asking a City Council Committee to investigate ethics charges against one of its own would be like asking Sam Williams’ Chamber Pot to investigate A. J. Robinson’s Central Atlanta Progress.  The hand doesn’t investigate the glove that warms it.  Visit me tomorrow for my April 1 Tribute to Public Servant Man of the Year, Horace “Sinon” Sibley. 

Note:  Please read my March 26, 2010 blog entitled, “Please Read Matthew Cardinale’s…Starnes.”  

James Wilson Beaty, PhD
Jeremiah 22.16
March 31, 2010