We haven’t updated in a while, but tricks and evasions rolling out of Albany suddenly lit up Susan Rosenthal’s RIOC lawsuits, last week. RIOC execs and board seem frantic over keeping their secrets and invest in extraordinary tactics for the task.
By David Stone
On June 16th, 2019 — Juneteenth — Governor Cuomo’s Albany insiders fired RIOC president/CEO Susan Rosenthal, terminating a three year tenure in mid-flight. Top advisor Richard Azzopardi fired off a missive, exclusive to the New York Post, accusing her or sexual and racial misconduct.
Azzopardi omitted any details, and the Post ate it up like a scoop. Which it wasn’t, and the Trump-loving newspaper played more tool than media.
“Rosenthal’s firing took place hurriedly and harshly on Juneteenth, a day celebrating the end of slavery in America. The termination of Rosenthal, a white woman, was nothing more than a misguided effort by respondents to publicly and deliberately highlight the importance of that day,”Susan Rosenthal lawsuit contesting her dismissal.
But it was worse than that.
First, releasing details in that way violates policies set up by the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER), and it presaged others exposed in charges pending against the governor himself.
As bad as that was, other misconduct eclipsed it.
“Any member of the corporation may be removed by the governor for cause, but not without anRIOC enabling legislation, as amended on January 13, 2006.
opportunity to be heard, in person or by counsel, in his defense, upon not less than ten days’ written notice.”
Rushing toward Juneteenth, Cuomo rolled right over Rosenthal’s “opportunity.”
Her defense waited until filing her first lawsuit.
RIOC’s tricks and evasions, step one
Rosenthal’s lawsuit was a withering attack on Albany chicanery. Team Cuomo finessed a racist attack, solidifying support from a Harlem-based coalition of his most devoted backers.
The legal filing proved the initial charges against her as flimsy as papier mâché in a thunderstorm.
Surprisingly, Team Cuomo agreed, but that’s when tricks and evasions first blew up the game.
Like manna from heaven, a whole new slate of charges tumbled into Albany’s headset. They accused Rosenthal of the grossest misconduct, but where did these all come from?
At best, the charges circulated around 591 Main Street implicate multiple managers as derelict, never having reported them as GOER requires.
But where did they come from? And why did they instantly appear only after the initial accusations failed?
Albany, unsurprisingly, never says.
And now, with more feverish tricks and evasions in play, they may never have to.
Susan Rosenthal says, “Show me.”
Denying the accusations vigorously, Rosenthal demanded that RIOC’s lawyers show their evidence.
Discovery is the phase in a civil lawsuit where litigants share their evidence with each other. It creates a level playing field, sets the stage for trial and avoids gotchas later on.
Rosenthal’s attorneys at Storch Byrne moved for “limited discovery,” letting her see what’s stacked up against her. A judge approved that motion in May, and secrets behind her firing came due for exposure in June.
But, in yet another surprise, that didn’t happen.
Instead, tricks and evasions electrified, the state moved for dismissing the whole case. None of the discovery items saw the light of day.
What was so awful they scrambled to keep everything under wraps?
In fact, Rosenthal attorney Steven Storch was shocked. He’d been working on a call for sanctioning RIOC and the state for ignoring the call for limited discovery.
Now, he went back to work, clearing the smoke blowing out of 591 Main Street and the Second Floor in Albany.
“Respondents’ failure to produce the items order by the Discovery Order was not
inadvertent,” Storch wrote.
He called for a halt to the tricks and evasions fouling the lawsuit.
Conclusion: What the tricks and evasions try hiding
Considering the consequences of their actions, it’s strange that neither the state nor RIOC ever presented a single piece of evidence. Not one since firing their chief executive, even after claiming a thorough and fair investigation.
A single investigator handled telephone only interviews with a half-dozen employees but is never clear about who said what. Call notes were never produced, and there’s not a single sworn statement by any witness.
And so, in fact, there is no tangible evidence against her.
So, how can she defend herself or try restoring a reputation build over decades in legal practice?
But there’s one glaring absence floating like a fantasy above all the others.
The state’s investigator says she heard a tape on which Rosenthal committed some abuses used against her. An unnamed (of course) employee made the recording without her knowledge, the state alleges.
But now, they can’t find it.
Made by an employee on the job, the tape is RIOC’s property, if it exists at all or ever did. And it’s possible someone tampered with it. Otherwise, why all the tricks and evasions at avoiding discovery?
If you’ve got conclusive evidence, show it and be done with it.
If it’s open and shut, why not open it?
Arguments are set for September.
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