WASHINGTON INFORMER: No FEAR Whistleblowers Receive Awards

WASHINGTON INFORMER

No FEAR Whistleblowers Receive Awards

By Bruce Branch
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Awardees accept Whistle Awards from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee,   former D.C. Congressman Walter Fauntroy and Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo (far right). Photo by Roy Lewis

They are official badges of shame given to government agencies for what No Fear Institute officials call “egregious” violations of civil and human rights against government officials and the general public.

Government agencies cited at the first No Fear Whistle Awards press conference held on September 14 at the Rayburn House Office Building at the U.S. Capitol included the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and Office of Personnel Management.

Civil rights stalwarts Congressman John Conyers (ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus), former D.C. Congressman Walter Fauntroy and the original whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, president of the No Fear Institute and mother of the No FEAR law that protects public and private employees in the workplace.

The awards are given in categories that include race discrimination, color discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and whistleblower discrimination. Each of the agencies cited were invited to attend the press conference and respond to the charges and announced corrective changes, but none did.

“Human rights violations by our government damage our government’s credibility both at home and abroad,” Coleman-Adebayo said. “The No Fear Institute will continue to blow the whistle and expose the racism in the federal government until the federal government lives up to its promise of providing civil rights and protection for all people.”

Among those cited for 2004 awards:

Race Discrimination. Black Farmers John Boyd and Tom Burrell and minority employees Lawrence Lucas of the Department of Agriculture, who protested that Black farmers failed to benefit from a consent decree that was supposed to remedy years of a “sophisticated, race-based system of intentional discrimination” that encouraged government officials to discriminate against Black farmers by obstructing, then denying the efforts of Black farmers to obtain loans and other programmatic assistance.

Color Discrimination. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall Matthew Fogg. In 1991, Fogg, as the United States Marshals Service’s supervisory inspector, confronted two of ‘Americas Most Wanted’ fugitives, heavily armed and ready to kill. When Fogg turned and looked for his White colleagues to help him in the planned arrest, they had conveniently left, intentionally placing Fogg and the lives of his remaining back-up in grave danger. Fogg was later awarded $4 million landmark civil rights verdict and judgment.

Sex Discrimination. Cathy Harris and women travelers by the Customs Department. In 1998, Harris bravely reported the denigration inflicted against African-American and Hispanic travelers especially African-American women to the American public and Congress. She vividly described the violations carried out by corrupt Customs, officials such as the demoralizing pat-downs and strip searches, intrusive cavity searches, improper detentions, monitored defecation and targeted intimidation by drug-sniffing dogs. Governmental reports and investigations by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the media validated Harris’ allegations. As a result of her bravery, new legislation and enhanced reform has been introduced to protect the American public.

Disability Discrimination. Carin Memmer, a blind woman denied accommodations by EPA. In compliance with Executive Order 13164, the EPA Intern Program actively recruits candidates with certified disabilities. As a result, in 2001 Carin Memmer, who was over the age of forty, was hired by the EPA with a known severe “targeted” disability of legal blindness. Under the Rehabilitation Act, federal agencies are to provide appropriate access technology, which makes it possible for employees with disabilities to perform their jobs.

Whistleblower Discrimination. Richard Levernier by the Department of Energy and Robert J. Martin, the national ombudsman for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Richard Levernier is a nuclear security specialist who worked for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for 25 years. In June 2000, Levernier sent an unclassified DOE Office of the Inspector General Report to a newspaper that disclosed DOE and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) had inflated security ratings for two years and pressured inspectors to overlook serious problems, failed to investigate cheating on critical performance tests;and then destroyed inspection records attempting to cover-up the inflated rating.

When DOE learned of Levenier’s actions, they unlawfully reassigned him to administrative duties and stripped him of his security clearance. Levernier filed a Whistleblower Disclosure and Reprisal Complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Levernier was ultimately vindicated by OSC and his Whistleblower Disclosure sent to the Secretary of Energy for investigation. Despite his legal vindication, Levernier’s security clearance was never reinstated because of a judicially-created loophole in the Whistleblower Protection Act and his 25 year security career is ruined.

Robert J. Martin served as the National Ombudsman for the United States Environmental Protection Agency for nearly ten years. His independent Ombudsman position was eliminated by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman in 2002. Following a court battle to preserve his ability to speak directly with Congress, his office was entered by two dozen agents of the EPA Inspector General and his files confiscated, locks changed and independent position description eliminated.

Agencies Obstructing and Hindering The Implmentation of No Fear. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and Office of Personnel Management because they have attempted to obstruct and hinder the intent of Congress regarding the implementation of No FEAR. Both Agencies have refused to allow public participation or provide transparency in the No FEAR regulatory process. The EEOC refused the request to convene town hall meetings in selected sites in order to encourage public dialogue on No FEAR regulations. Similarly, OPM has missed all deadlines regarding No FEAR regulations and refused to issue regulations regarding disciplinary actions against managers who violate Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act and the No FEAR Act of 2002.

Burrell said the No Fear Award is important in the public campaign to eradicate injustice by government officials. “Warriors do not wear awards or metals, they wear scars,” he said. “Even more, the war has just begun and our enemies, the Bush Administration, USDA, Veneman, Parker, Bryson and other top USDA officials are determined to steal our land and break our resolve toward victory. We will no longer be depressed, suppressed, oppressed, ignored and denied.”

The No Fear Institute Whistle Awards will be used to educate the American public about civil and human rights violations committed by federal agencies against government employees and the general public. The “Award” will highlight the importance of implementing the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act (NO FEAR) of 2002. The No FEAR Act of 2002 was the first civil rights act of the 21st century. The No FEAR law was signed by President George W. Bush on May 15, 2002. The NFI acts serve as a government “watchdog” for the No FEAR Act.

Jackson said the awards will be an annual means to educate America on civil and human rights violations suffered by millions of employees on a daily basis. “Transparency, accountability, and responsibility must be our priorities in implementing No FEAR,” she said.

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