When J.P. Patafio, the vice president of Transport Workers Union Local 100's TA Surface Division, filed charges alleging ballot-harvesting and voter fraud by the Progressive Change slate for at least 10 contests within the division, the claim was a bit of a head-scratcher.
 
Among the races he suggested had been tampered with was his own re-election contest, in which he held off a challenge by Roberto Martinez by a 28-vote margin.
 
It was hard to understand why, if the opposing slate had decided to cheat to improve its representation among Local 100 officers, it wouldn't have ensured that the chicanery was extensive enough to capture the top position in the division. Either the alleged scheme had a big hole in it, or Mr. Patafio was taking the loss of power further down the division to an unfair level.
 
One Progressive Change leader, Joe Campbell, initially rebutted Mr. Patafio's argument that dishonesty had to be behind his slender margin of victory being so far behind that of LaTonya Crisp—who retained her position as the union's recording secretary by defeating Mr. Campbell—by contending that it could be explained by Mr. Patafio's style having alienated many voters.
 
But Barbara Deinhardt, the independent election monitor for Local 100, ruled Dec. 20 that in fact ballot-harvesting and fraud had marred the vote within the division. As evidence, she cited "a large number of two distinct and unusual patterns of voting and the large number of those ballots that were distinctly marked, combined with the testimony of several witnesses about ballot solicitation, collection and/or marking of another member's ballot," by people from the dissident faction.
 
She added that witnesses Mr. Patafio produced "described seeing union members passing their unsealed ballots, as well as improper assistance in filling out another member's ballot at the East New York Depot and the Flatbush Depot."
 
There were enough tainted ballots cast in eight of the nine TA Surface races that Ms. Deinhardt ordered new elections for them; in the ninth, she said, Progressive Change's Alexander Kemp's victory for an executive-board position was upheld because he won by more than the 246 ballots she found were part of the rigging scheme.
 
Mr. Campbell said the slate would appeal her ruling to the national TWU's International Appeals Committee. Anticipating it would deny the appeal, he said the challengers would then bring their case to the U.S. Department of Labor.
 
It's a perfectly appropriate response. The same can't be said for the reaction by Mr. Martinez, who told this newspaper's Bob Hennelly, "This is a perfect example of how they are trying to steal the election from the winners and how they don't respect members' vote."
 
They? Ms. Deinhardt over the years as an outside arbiter for both Local 100 and District Council 37 has shown her willingness to make rulings against those unions' leaders when she found evidence of wrongdoing. Arbitrators depend on reputations for honesty, and hers is impeccable.
 
And so Mr. Martinez, in essentially accusing her of being in on a fix, is either trying to throw shade on a finding that his slate was the one doing the fixing (and did a clumsy job of it), or is simply being a sore loser. Either way, his irresponsible charge hurts his credibility, and that of his slate.

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(1) comment

robmar52070

To the Editor. Before you start questioning my reputation, which is impeccable and completely intact, maybe you need to do more research and this bias, tainted, corrupt and erratic so-called “neutral” monitor, Barbara Deinhardt. Ms. Deinhardt’s decisions are so incoherent and inconsistent, that they add up to incompetence. On the same subject matters, she rules against her previous own decisions. Her and the equally corrupt Arthur Schwartz should recuse themselves from anything TWU LOCAL 100 related. Evidently Mr. Editor, you don’t know a damn thing about how corrupt TWU LOCAL 100 has become under the Samuelson/Utano regime. So before you carelessly and recklessly put my reputation in question, due your due diligence or just keep your opinion piece to yourself. Maybe the Chief should go with a new Editor and maybe the sales will go up and this once proud paper can reclaim its credibility.

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