Former president/CEO Susan Rosenthal’s new motion accuses RIOC of “improper termination, but that’s not all. In a motion filed this week, she pokes holes in the state’s case and opens up on why she thinks they ambushed her.
By David Stone
RIOC “tars” Rosenthal as a racist…
Her “termination was arbitrary and capricious because Respondents’ ‘investigation’ was a sham,” she says. And she frames the attack as a premeditated effort to “destroy her hard-earned reputation in the legal and business community.”
“…standing up for the safety of the residents of Roosevelt Island and not playing politics as demanded from the Governor’s office.”
That’s new. Previously, Rosenthal’s lawsuit fingered a “cabal” of longterm malcontents with a years’ long reputation for trying to overthrow management. And with her new motion for “limited discovery” and the state’s scrambled response, the broader image of a snake pit emerges.
Defying the governor over a steam tunnel…
Petitioner has repeatedly warned the Governor that engineering reports indicate a steam tunnel running alongside Roosevelt Island, and which acts a buffer in storms, is in danger of imminent failure. Such failure could bring devastating flooding to the island. That danger is present because of the government’s long tern refusal to make the infrastructure improvements that are required.Rosenthal motion in RIOC lawsuit
Rosenthal’s new motion, then, says a memo she wrote about it “rankled the higher ranks of the executive branch.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inner circle reacted by tarring her as “a racist” as a pretext for firing her. Implied was cooperation between the “cabal” and Cuomo’s Albany handlers, and in the state’s response, troubling facts bubble up.
We learned, in fact, that someone inside the bunker at 591 claims he or she secretly taped meetings with Rosenthal. And information on the tapes lead to the most scurrilous accusations against her.
But suggestions arise about other RIOC execs violating state harassment reporting rules and getting away with it. The state crafts a jumbled response, leaving huge gaps on its surface.
But the real error disclosed is that, not only was Rosenthal never allowed to hear the tapes used to crush her, the state now admits that they don’t have them. Who taped her and when remain mysteries.
And the state relies on one investigator’s singular interpretation of them for taking the severest actions.
Rosenthal’s new motion asks: Are the tapes real, and if so, how come nobody has them?
Rosenthal’s motion in the RIOC lawsuit wonders how she can defend herself without seeing the evidence on which the state’s case rests.
A state investigator swears she heard the tapes and can identify Rosenthal’s voice, after handling at least four prior investigations at RIOC.
Technical experts may have a field day with that one, especially since they can’t prove the tapes even exist. And everything about them buttresses claims of a festering snake pit of sickening mutiny at 591 Main.
And then, there’s the question of whether, if ever produced, the tapes clearly condemn the fired CEO as the state claims.
The state says an employee initiated taping because he or she was alarmed about Rosenthal’s speech, but there is no verifying affidavit. Nor any tape.
“…an inept, unfair investigation,” she calls it, and it looks that way. In fact, it’s almost as if it was cobbled together in a rush, weirdly expecting not to be challenged.
But when the state responded to Rosenthal’s new motion, trouble popped out…
Georgiana Martin, an affirmative action officer in the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) got the assignment, she says, on June 12th.
That day, she called the “complaining employee” whose email to dozens of higher ups set the ambush in motion. But here’s the thing, her own bosses had already concluded that her complaints did not warrant action of any kind.
And here’s the other thing…
In that call, the “complaining employee” pops up additional allegations. They were not in her recent email, even though they are much worse. Wouldn’t that raise an eyebrow? Not according to anything in Martin’s statement.
So, from there, she completes her assignment in only five days, including the weekend and reports just in time for firing Rosenthal on Juneteenth.
The multiple interviews she conducted raise eyebrows, as much for what they suggest as what they ignore.
Reacting to Rosenthal’s new motion and RIOC noncompliance
The interviewed, apart from the “complaining employee,” who appears to escape punishment for raising hell outside approved state guidelines…
- Vice president/COO Shelton Haynes, multiple times
- Vice president and general counsel Gretchen Robinson
- Director of Human Resources Tajuna Sharpe
- Associate General Counsel Arthur Eliav, multiple times
- Senior Project Manager Prince Shah
If a supervisor “observes or otherwise becomes aware of conduct of a sexually harassing nature,” they must make a report…”New York State Equal Opportunity Employment Rights and Responsibilities
All of those listed above, with the possible exception of Eliav, are supervisors. So, if any of them were aware of “conduct of a sexually harassing nature,” why didn’t any of them report it earlier?
A gap of misconduct is unmistakable, although Martin’s report is not clear enough on specific individuals. But whoever failed in compliance, if the allegations against Rosenthal are true, is guilty of letting sexual harassment continue unabated.
Where are those charges?
And one more thing…
As Rosenthal’s new motion points out, not one of those interviewed filed a sworn affidavit attesting to whatever they told investigator Martin. Nor is there any expert testimony that identifying Rosenthal’s voice from a tape is credible evidence.
All this suggests a rush, a conspiracy set to a timer. And that timer ran out on June 19th — Juneteenth — a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in Texas.
RuthAnne Visnauskas was in such a hurry, she failed to tell Rosenthal why she was being fired immediately.
Without involving RIOC’s board, Cuomo’s henchmen did find time for sending a press release, exclusively to the New York Post. In that, at least, the terminated CEO discovered why she got the axe.
This is the state of New York and of RIOC, and in their similar styles, neither tried explaining how, what and why they did it. Fast.
Rosenthal’s new motion calls it racism, a white woman sacrificed, and she will file that discrimination complaint too.