NYRising: Closing 911. 2-17-15
You can only push people who are being oppressed by an unreasonable aggressor so far. Then, they either retreat or fight back. We fight back with the means closest to our nature: some resort to violence, I resort to words and the law. That does not necessarily mean lawyers: who often operate by negotiating compromise. Sometimes the only way to follow the letter of the law, is to seek it yourself: with knowledge, respect and perseverance.
I had a NYRecreate Closing on my Substantially Damaged house on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. It was a forced proceeding, not a voluntary one.
I had been relentlessly threatened since December 14, 2014, with daily deadlines of being thrown out of the NYRising Program if I did not comply immediately with demands for them to Breach the signed and verified New York State Contract of Sale on my house and me take a reduction of $45,000 in the purchase price. On December 15, 2014, I got a phone call from my caseworker saying there was a Closing on my house the next morning. I was shocked. When I refused to sign papers terminating all my legal rights to Due Process, to executing my legal Contract of Sale, she began threatening me. I was crying. She claimed that I had signed a “Rider” that they could cancel my Contract of Sale at any time without cause. It never happened! I told her to send it to me, along with an email stating all she just now told me. She said she would do no such thing, that I was only entitled to the paper she sent my lawyer. I told her that paper said nothing.
I spent the rest of of December and all of January trying to get help, to stop NYRecreate from illegally Breaching my Contract of Sale, verified and signed by two N.Y.S. Review Boards. I went to private Contract Attorneys, who said I had no money; the Attorney General, who said he is NYRising’s Attorney so a conflict of interest; Law School Clinics, that said it is over their head; the ACLU, that said it is absolutely illegal for the State to Breach my Contract; Assemblymen and Senators, who said they work for the Governor and would not oppose his program; and many state and federal agencies, that told me nobody has any jurisdiction over NYRising or the Governor. I was told I exhausted all internal Appeals at NYRising and would have to take the case to court. The media offered publicity, too late. By January, I was under a gag order, or NYRising would walk away. I contacted the office of Darryl Towns dozens of times and Governor Cuomo hundreds of times with urgent pleas, right up until the last day. Darryl Towns’ office told me he had nothing to do with NYRising, repeatedly. I said his name is on the Cover Sheet for these Programs.
The Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office implemented a charade lasting several weeks, claiming my complaint was “being processed with the highest priority.” It turns out, all that time they were forwarding my calls to a worker at NYRising, who answered my question “Do you work in the Executive Chamber or for NYRising,” repeatedly, with ” I work in the Executive Chamber.” For weeks she claimed to be processing my complaint with “the utmost urgency” as I held off the Closing, waiting for the Governor’s help. It turns out she did not work in the Executive Chamber, and complaints are only accepted by mail
By January, I was told if I signed a Rider accepting the reduction in price and stating that I “was not doing this under duress,” I would be given an immediate Closing. I was told I had no alternatives. I believed it, because no one would help me, NYRising had villainized me so! I was paying a hotel bill since April with borrowed funds. I had no money left, and the hotel wanted its money now. My physical condition had deteriorated without my needed medical equipment, probably to the point of no return. I was living packed in ice for the spinal pain and swelling for two years. I had multiple life-threatening consequences. I had no options: no hope! I was being demonized and vilified at every turn by Jon Kaiman.
I spent the weeks leading up to the Closing weeping constantly, withdrawn even from my family. I was ashamed of myself for giving up, that NYRecreate had made a fool of me by pretending an Appeal that never had any chance of outcome because they had capped the Appraisal price before the Appeal began: that they were making me lie on legal documents that I was not being coerced. I could not stand the injustice. I went to the beach and screamed into the sea until I was hoarse. I was exhausted: shabby, bedraggled, lost and alone. I could not be perceived as weak: after all I was already disabled, homeless and destitute from Sandy. I must be strong! I knew beyond a doubt that NYRising would rather see me dead than HOME. I thought often during that period of killing myself. It would be so easy not to go on . . . I was so tired. But, then, I would go to Hell, and I would have to meet the demons from NYRising all over again. I was too angry to give these ogres the satisfaction of Closing my case so easily: one more notch in their belts.
That last weekend, everything made me cry. I was oblivious to people: engulfed in the horror of being forced to give up my rights to an overbearing tyrant, to act against my will, against everything I believed in, or be homeless forever. I was engulfed in freedom and justice gone rancid. The intractable spinal pain was almost irrelevant, next to the pain in my soul. I told everyone, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
But, it was a snowy frigid morning, and my electric wheelchair bogged down through 6 inches of snow all the way to my car. The wheelchair skidded out of control up the ramp. Someone cut me off on the road and the wheelchair footplate went through the slots in the lift. So, when I tried to open the ramp, it jammed closed. There was no place for me to park at NYRising, so I had to park horizontal in three vertical spaces. My paperwork cascaded down the side of the lift into the snow and fell under the car. And there is no automatic door at NYRising, lobby or office. So, by the time I got into the Closing room, I was impacted by the challenges of my environment, intimidated by how crisp and impersonal everything was in that room, and aware that not one single person from NYRising was present. They had done the deed!
I had already signed the paper saying I was not signing under duress, signed it under threat, two weeks before, because they would not request a check without it. But they immediately broke the promise of an immediate Closing and left me in arrears at the hotel. The first thing the lawyer for NYRising said in this room was, she has to sign everything seven times. Shocked, I exclaimed, I have to sign twelve papers seven times! It’s not going to happen!” (I have paralysis in my arms as well as my legs, and since I lost my equipment, I lost grip in both of my hands.) There was a woman from the title company, a lawyer for the State, and my lawyer present. I spoke to no one but my attorney, did what I was told, and was handed a check that he looked at briefly and all had agreed would be a Bank Check.
I quickly put the check away. I just wanted to get to the bank. As I exited the conference room, there were two couples sitting right outside the door in the waiting room. They looked shabby and bedraggled, with mismatched rumpled clothes, clutching papers. Their faces were frozen between shock, depression, and destitution. They stared at the floor. One man looked up at me, imploringly. I mouthed, “God bless.” I saw myself.
I told the bank manager I needed a check for this month’s hotel. She said, “This is not a Bank Check. I looked at the check: written on it was the name of the Title Company, an Insurance Company, and a bank. This check would take a minimum of nine business days to clear and could be stopped at any time by each party. I had clearly stipulated to NYRising, “You get my deed, I walk out with a Bank Check.” All agreed it would be so. My bank told me not to deposit the check, to go back to NYRising and they could take it to their bank and turn it into a Bank Check or Wire Transfer before 3 p.m. It was a simple matter. I was not concerned.
I drove back to the Melville NYRising’s office. By this time, the pain in my spine was excruciating. I was very dizzy. I needed to lie down.
I entered an empty NYRising waiting room. It was 1:45 p.m. The receptionist was pleasant. I asked to see the State’s Attorney. “She’s gone,” was the response.”
“Then may I see the Supervisor.” I said.
“I think they are all gone,” was the reply.
I said, “It’s only 1:45. Please call someone. They gave me the wrong check and I need someone to fix it. I have to pay my hotel today.” She said there was no one to call: no one who could help. I quietly said, “Then call the police.” I was just matching her flip attitude. I did not think it would be a problem. After all, I had a written agreement for the check.
I noticed she looked over at the guard in the hallway. Immediately, he came into the waiting room. He never left! I wondered if he had a gun. He never took his eyes off me. I was scared because they told me in the Seaford office they had to bring armed guards in to handle angry Sandy people. The receptionist went inside the privacy doors and no one exited for 55 minutes. It was stiflingly hot in the waiting room. I felt faint.
Finally, at 2:40 p.m., a thin man, the Director of Operations, and a Supervisor, walked out the door to me. The woman avoided eye contact and spoke not a word. Obviously, she was there to witness.
He was a smug, smirking arrogant man, reeking of attitude, a stone NYRising wall. I explained that this check was given to me in error. “Here.” I put the folded check on the counter. I need someone to rectify this. I felt my face swelling from the pain. I knew I must be all red. I hated that!
He said no one was going to fix it. “You have a check. You accepted it.”
“I don’t know what a Bank Check looks like. You were supposed to give it to me.”
He said, “ME?”
I corrected myself.
He said in a slow patronizing droll, “So, you believe you had an agreement,” It was not a question, but a Rogerian statement.
“I said quite definitely, “We had an agreement!”
He continued in that creepy monotone, “You say you had an agreement to get a Bank Check.”
I said, “Why are you talking like that?”
He smirked, “You feel I am talking to you in a certain way.”
I said, “Why are you talking to me like I am a moron?”
He said, “You think we talk like morons.”
I said, “No, I said you are talking to me like I am a moron. You are talking like you are stupid. We both know you are not stupid and that you know exactly what is going on.” He smothered a giggle. He was getting the reaction he solicited.
He continued, “You think something is going on.”
“I said, “I am not talking to you. I will talk to her.” He turned and went to walk back through the privacy door. I said, “Where are you going?” because the Supervisor did not speak.
He said, “You called me a moron. You will not talk to me.”
“No, I said you are talking to me like I am a moron. Please get someone to help me. I have an agreement for a Bank Check.”
He said, “Was that written down?” “Where is it written down?” “Do you have a copy in writing on you?” “Someone said it?” “There are many State attorneys.” “Exactly who do you think said that?” “Do you have a name?” “What is that name?”. And on, and on . . .
He was playing with me like a cat with a dead mouse.
I repeated, “I want my money.”
He said, “There is no way to do that. The checks come from Staten Island.”
I told him that my bank said all NYRising has to do is take this to their bank and issue a Bank Check or a Wire Transfer.
I said, “We had an agreement: You get my Deed. I walk out of here with a Bank Check.” I was really thinking, “You stole my house! I want my money.”
He was bobbing back and forth in my face like a cheap carnival doll on the dashboard, tight square mouth, twitching upward into a self assured smirk at my responses. I saw a Program gone awry: Sandy victims further away from home than they were on the day the hurricane hit. The room was full of malice: I was suffocating from the rancor.
I said calmly. “I got here at 1:45. You left me sitting here until 2:40 p.m. Now you tell me there is nothing you can do. There is still time for you to go to the bank.”
“It’s not going to happen.” He insisted. The checks are issued in Staten Island.”
I said, “You’re telling me you are going to do nothing.”
“I want my money.” I said. “You have my deed. I want my money.”
“You have a check,” he said, dismissing me.
“The agreement was I get a Bank Check. This is not a Bank Check.”
“That’s what you say. You think you had an agreement.” He hummed softly, hammering every word into a slow sing-song voice.
My lawyer was on the phone. He explained they were saying I had to take this check because I accepted it. I said, “We had an agreement!” That was all that mattered to me at this moment. My head was bloodied from hitting brick walls for 28 months, and dealing with awful people following scripts from the devil. I was done with governmental irrational decrees protected by immunity from an almighty intangible force accountable to terrestrial particles. Enough!
My lawyer said there was nothing he could do: they would not budge. He said it would take longer to get the check replaced than to clear it, because the State “believes” I took the check and made a copy of it and cashed it, so they have to wait until it clears. I was incredulous at these fiends making up more stories about me: putrid people puking on my life. I told him the name of who I went to at my bank, explaining the State could ask her if I cashed it. I explained, the check is in my hand unsigned: how did I cash it. They were accusing me of a serious crime!Jon Kaiman flashed through my mind with all his idiotic accusations against me that kept me isolated from any help from anyone: abandoned and alone by a shadow-of-doubt conspiracy designed by egomaniacs. I was hemorrhaging into the moment: wounded by new lies.
The Director chirped at me from a position of power, “Nothing is going to happen here”
I said to the voice on the phone, “You cannot do anything? I am calling the police.”
I said aloud, “Well then, I will call the police.” and dialed my phone several times. For some reason, it kept dropping the call.
He said very calmly, “No. You wont! You are not going to bring anybody here.”
I said, “Yes. I will!” I dialed my cell phone again. He moved slightly toward me. I was frightened, but he never touched me. The calls kept dropping: I could not
get a call out. I said, My phone wont work. He smirked. “MY signal’s fine,” I wanted to rip his face off and see if there was anything behind it.
I looked at the receptionist and said, “Please call 911.”
He instantly barked at her, “Don’t call anyone.”
I said to her again, “Please call 911. I need a policeman.”
He said, “No one is calling the police. No police are coming!”
I went into the lobby and made an emergency call. Just before the police arrived, the dispatcher called and asked me to meet him in the parking lot.
The policeman was an ordinary man with absolutely no reason to be considerate to me. Yet he was extremely kind, and listened carefully with respect as I explained how I returned with an improperly issued check in plenty of time for them to replace it today, but they ignored me and delayed, then told me there was nothing anyone can do about the check: that I must accept it, there is no recourse, badgering me with a pointless sing-song theatrical charade. I was crying. I told him I just wanted to file a formal complaint. He took my report, looked at the check, and asked me if I had paperwork to prove there was a process involved, to protect myself. He said they could not take back the money, although I did not ask him that. He said he would go inside with me and try to get a replacement check. But, I told him they said everyone is gone and the checks are issued in Staten Island, and I think the lawyers are trying to work it out. He said if I had to come back tomorrow, to call him and he will accompany me into the NYRising office to make sure they give me no problem.
Then I told him how NYRising deliberately led me through a Fraudulent Appeal Process for 6 months that never had any possibility of outcome, and that they slandered me unmercifully so that no one would help me. I was weeping with the memory. He asked if I was going to follow through on the fraud. He said if there was anything at all he could do, to call him, and gave me the Police Report Number. I explained how many thousands of people are still homeless and suffering: and that NYRising is hurting so many people. He said he knew many stories related to NYRising. He asked if I was going right home. I knew my face was red from the pain and he was concerned. We had talked for over an hour, and we parted shaking hands: he to his squad car, me to re-enter the building for a timeline.
I entered the NYRising waiting room, only to find out what time the State’s Attorney would be in tomorrow morning, because I knew I would never get through to them by phone. The receptionist said, “Aren’t the police coming in?”
I said, “No, we concluded our business.”
She went inside. I started to leave. The awful man walked through the privacy door with a small pink post-it in his hand. He said several times that my lawyer’s office was trying to contact me: please call them. He thought the matter was resolved: all the lawyers are talking; he has nothing to do with this; he knows nothing, but the situation looks good. He sat down quietly beside me and started chatting pleasantly. I stared at his face. He was not smirking now. He opened the doors for me as I left, and walked me to my car on the other side of the parking lot in the snow, to make sure I got in. It was very cold and he had no coat on.
He said it was very nice to meet me and wished me luck now that I had money. I told him calmly that the check did me no good: it was not enough; they took back $45,000 (the access money awarded by the Appeal Board) at the last minute or they would not Close on my house; I can not get an accessible home with this, or modify an existing home to be accessible in this geographical area. I can not rent, because nobody would let me modify their property for my needs. There was no resolution for me . . . I closed the lift and he was gone.
I laid my head gently on the steering wheel: I was reeling. I was safe. The pressure in my spine was crushing me and tearing me apart at once. I was burning up and freezing, shaking. I held my service dog close, and slipped away into cottony oblivion. I woke up with Pollyanna vigorously licking my face. The phone was playing a melody. Amy at my lawyer’s office was telling me that I could pick up the Bank Check between 10 and 11 tomorrow morning in Melville. I had to make another trip. She was so pleasant, I felt like I had fallen asleep and awakened in another universe: a kinder place
The next morning I returned to the NYRising office in Melville expecting who knows what, unsure if I should call the Police Officer to come before, as he suggested, or after, trouble. A lawyer who helped me into the office the day before, came running out to open the heavy glass doors. I was in the waiting room from yesterday, surrounded by ugly memories. He watched me in the empty room, wondering what I was doing here again.
The privacy door abruptly opened: wide and sudden. A dark-haired woman did not identify herself in any way. She called my name, saying clear and pleasantly, “We are doing a barter.”
I said “Yes.”
She slapped a paper down on the chin-high counter next to me and asked me if I had a pen. She made me sign, a picture of the first check on it: written on the paper was, “I received.” It didn’t make sense to me that I should sign this, unless she signed it too, because I was not receiving the old check but the new. We exchanged checks. I asked her name as she ran back through the door. She said her first name and I knew she was the State’s attorney.
You do not walk away from abuse like NYRising has intentionally inflicted on homeless Sandy Survivors, dehumanizing and disrespecting people to control them, people who have lost everything through no fault of their own, and are vulnerable. You endure it. You struggle through it, because you have no choice. But it will always be imbedded in your flesh: part of the fabric of your life: an indelible imprint of the great natural event that tore your life apart and left you at the mercy of massive governmental recovery system failure.