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The Cult of “Don’t Blame Others”

April 28, 2014

If there has one thing I have been seeing recently in articles promoted by LinkedIn, it’s that a top key of success is not blaming others.  The constant mantra is “take responsibility!”  This is an abdication of responsibility by those who are actually responsible for what happens in an individual’s life.

Take, for example, the fact that my public assistance case is currently in conciliation.  This is entirely the fault of my case manager at FEGS, Kashana Heath-Garcia, and the classroom instructor to whom I was assigned, Camille Molina.  It is also the fault of the system.  I am not the the slightest bit to blame for the “willful refusal” of which they have accused me.  Here is why:

On March 17, Ms. Heath-Garcia assigned me to Ms. Molina’s class.  She also assigned me to a WEP assignment at the FEGS office at Riverdale Manor, which is more than an hour away from my shelter, indeed, it is a ten minute walk from Yonkers, in Westchester County.  I was told that I was to attend the WEP assignment at Riverdale Manor on Tuesdays, and attend classes at FEGS from 9 AM to 12:30 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays, a total of twenty hours per week, for which I was to be compensated with a biweekly sum of $20.70, or $10.35 per week, or 51.7¢ per hour. Minimum wage in New York was raised to $8.00 per hour on December 31, 2013.

When I arrived at Riverdale Manor on Tuesday, March 18, I reported to my supervisor, Vera Burke.  I was quite a bit late, but when she saw my address, she understood why.  There was a fifteen minute wait when I transferred from the Bx6 bus to the 1 train, and the conductor of the one laughed at me as she closed the doors on me.  The work site is further north than the 1 train goes, requiring me to take another bus.  Ms. Burke thought that the commute was absurd.  she also looked at my physical accommodations and said that I would not be able to do the job.  They have five foot high file cabinets and the job would entail significant standing, walking, lifting, and bending.  She called Ms. Heath-Garcia to have me reassigned.

After a few days in Camille Molina’s class, she told me that black jeans are not acceptable attire for the classroom, although they are clearly presented as acceptable attire on the dress code sign posted next to Ms. Heath-Garcia’s desk.  She told me to call my case manager to get a clothing referral.  As previously documented on this blog, Ms. Heath-Garcia did not return my phone calls, although her supervisor, Noelle Robinson did call me and say that I was to be assigned to a new WEP.

With a clothing referral from social worker John Sheehan at the soup kitchen at All Souls Unitarian church, I went to Riverside Church, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Catholic Worker Joseph House, various thrift and discount stores, and eventually did make it to Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where they gave me a book called National Sunday Law that I put in the book donations at the Mid-Manhattan Library.  It was an anti-Catholic, pro-theocracy treatise that probably deserved worse than I gave it.  What I didn’t find there were pants in my size.

Because I was not even allowed to sign in at FEGS, I stopped showing up and returned to participating in my volunteer work at NYCCLI.  One participant, Edwin Mayorga, a Ph.D. candidate at CUNY Graduate Center, was able to supply me with pants in my size on Thursday of last week, free of charge.  A few days earlier, I received a notice that my case was in conciliation.  Last Monday, a few hours after the video in my previous post was shot, I attended a conciliation appointment, in which I learned little other than that my conciliation failed, and that I would have another chance by going to HRA on May 2.

On Friday, I received a notice from HRA:

This is to tell you that your public assistance will be DISCONTINUED.  You will no longer get public beginning May 4, 2014.

This is because we have determined that you willfully did not complete the following employment requirement(s):

You did not keep going to the employment or work activity assignment at FEGS WC BRONX LEBANON HOSP.   Your attendance at this assignment for the period March 17, 2014 to March 31, 2014 was unsatisfactory.

We have decided that you willfully and without good reason failed or refused to comply with the requirement failed or refused to comply with the requirement to keep participating in the assignment.

You answered our conciliation letter and gave us a reason for not completing the employment requirement(s) noted above.  We have decided that you did not have a good reason for not complying with the employment requirement(s) and that your actions were willful.

This was the first time I was ever informed that my new WEP assignment was at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.

In other words:

  • “It’s YOUR fault WE failed to notify you of your assignment.”
  • “It’s YOUR fault WE failed to let you into the classroom.”
  • “It’s YOUR fault WE failed provide you with the means to acquire proper attire for the assignment.”
  • “It’s YOUR fault WE failed to return your phone calls.”
  • “It’s YOUR fault WE failed to document our dress code policy in a consistent manner.”
  • “It’s not HRA’s fault that FEGS has a dress code.”

Clearly, this is an abdication of true responsibility.  I have been informed by attorneys and community organizers that it is extremely typical to to send such letters to HRA clients, penalizing them for things about which they were not provided with the proper information.

I attempted to wear the new pants to FEGS today, and my sign-in card no longer worked.  I was told to go home because my case is in conciliation.

On March 24, I started and abandoned the following blog entry:

My case manager, Kashana Heath-Garcia, seems to be making a concerted effort to FTC me.  First, she sent me to a WEP that I cannot do based on the stated accommodations.  She has yet to assign me another WEP.  My instructor, Camille Molina, would not allow me in the classroom wearing jeans and told me to get a clothing referral from my case manager.  Ms. Heath-Garcia has yet to pick up the phone when I have called her during business hours, nor has she responded to the voice mails I left.  Perhaps I have already been issued a failure to comply because she never got the message from Vera Burke that I was a bad match for the WEP assignment, and thus I never faxed in a time sheet.

I am to report again to HRA on May 2.  An example that I probably will not get to use in this situation is holding out two empty hands, then ordering my interviewer to take the coin from one of my hands, then claiming that she has failed to comply.  I think this is an excellent analogy for what they are attempting to do to me.

“It seems that the only people that are ever held accountable are the victims of the wrongdoing by the big guys that are stealing their money.

“I believe that this country has hit the tipping point where the big money buys the legalized victimization of the general population, those naive enough to place their trust in the system” (http://senseoncents.com/2012/08america-2012-justice-for-all-really/)

The above quote is from a victim of the Bernard Madoff scam, but is typical of news were are hearing regularly of abdication of responsibility by the have while the have-nots are forced into draconian punishments. Jerry Dewayne Williams gets 25 to life for stealing a slice of pizza, while Jamie Dimon and Ina Drew lie to Congress and get so small a fine that they rent out Buckingham Palace for a party on October 31, 2013, after they’ve already destroyed so many lives through fraud. Ryan Holle is getting life in prison for loaning out a car that was then used in a crime while Ethan Couch gets no charges four killing people in a drunk driving accident, citing “affluenza.” Robert H. Richards IV commits fourth degree child rape and is let off with no consequences for similar reasons. Notice the rich are never required to take responsibility for anything? And who is it that is telling us not to blame others? Whoever writes those articles is surely getting paid more than the $0 I got paid to write this.

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