The Destruction of The Veterans Group at California State

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The Destruction of The Veterans Group at California State Powered By Docstoc
					The Destruction of The Veterans Group at California State University, Long Beach


Prior to December 14, 1999, The Veterans Group at California State University, Long Beach
became aware that California State Laws were also being violated in concert with the ongoing
violation of The Vietnam Era Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). Discovery of
VEVRAA during the period of the abusive layoffs in 1992 had inspired a group of veterans to
fight against discrimination and for compliance with the law. VEVRAA requires Federal
Contractors to not discriminate against Vietnam Era veterans in hiring and employment practices,
and to provide those veterans access to the same affirmative action rights, privileges and benefits
enjoyed by other “protected classes”. A veteran must “self-identify” to the Contractor in order to
qualify for the affirmative action benefits.

A petition for redress from the violations of State Law was sent to Governor Davis of California
and contacts were made with the California Department of Veterans’ Affairs (CDVA). The
Governor responded by way of the CDVA and on December 14, 2001 President Maxson of
CSULB named a “Special Advisor to the President for Veterans’ Issues”. More importantly, on
that date began a series of state government sponsored negotiations between the University (a
state entity) and The Veterans Group for the creation of a VEVRAA Affirmative Action Program
(AAP) for the qualified veterans at the University.

This highly unusual intervention by one state agency with another to gain enforcement of a
Federal Law came to a bad end during the forth and final negotiation meeting on March 20,
2001. At the end of the meeting the CDVA representative monitoring the negotiations declared
an impasse in the negotiations. The University’s delaying tactics; refusal distribute draft copies
of the proposed AAP documents in a timely fashion; the problem of gaining adherence to the
language of the regulations; and, the refusal to discuss implementation procedures and time lines
led to the impasse.

The destruction of The Veterans Group was caused by two organizations, the Department of
Labor’s investigating agency, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and
the University itself.

On December 14, 2000, the “Divide and Conquer” strategy of the OFCCP was in full force
against The Veterans Group. There were two fronts of assault. Secret negotiations between an
OFCCP investigator and two of the veterans with discrimination complaints for impossible
‘special settlements’ from the University; and, grievous violation of The Freedom of Information
(FOIA) and Privacy Acts in selective and discriminatory disbursements of or access to the
personal case file documents between the veterans and also the University. The University was
given unlawful access to personal case file documents alleging criminal activity by the University
against a veteran. It has been documented in the remanded investigation of 1999, that the veteran
suffered direct retaliation from the University during the ‘investigation’ by the OFCCP in 1996.

Upon inquiry to the Inspector General of the Department of Labor, Gary D. Thayer, Chief,
Division of Financial Management (?), Employment Standards Administration responded on
August 16, 2000 as follows:

       “5) The “Divide and Conquer” tactics – OFCCP denies this assertion and
       states that it has not participated in any attempts to defuse your complaint
       by pitting the complainants against each other. OFCCP acknowledges that
       one of the investigating Compliance Officers (CO) did approach one of the
       complainants with an offer from the university to settle his complaint. Once
       OFCCP was made aware of this incident, the CO was reprimanded and
       informed that this was inappropriate action.”

Chief Thayer dealt with the potentially more serious violations of the Freedom of Information
and Privacy Acts as follows:

       “1) California Bureau of State Audits – Information collected by OFCCP
       during the 1996 investigation has not been purged. Documentation gathered
       during the investigation cannot be provided because the case remains open.
       However, you may request data that you submitted to OFCCP under the
       FOIA.”

       “4) FOIA concerns – OFCCP can only provide the information you
       submitted while the cases remain under active investigation.”

The Director of Staff Personnel Office at CSULB authored a letter to the principal of Renaud, et.
al. CAS#I960029 stating that he had been given complete access to the personal case files of the
veterans at the Los Angeles District OFCCP office during July 1997. That was in the middle of
the sham ‘appeal phase’ of the investigation. Apparently in recognition of the violation of law,
the OFCCP then delivered to that same principal the ostensible entire case file of all personal
documents submitted by veterans to investigators as under Chief Thayer’s section 1 above.

Past-Regional Director Helene Haase, OFCCP, has written that the access to the case file by
CSULB’s Mr. Angell would have been a violation of law, and that the Mr. Angell was never
given access to the records, despite the existence of Mr. Angell’s letter bragging of such access.
Current Regional Director Woody Gilliland, OFCCP, has written in apology for the violations of
the FOIA and Privacy against the veterans; and, indeed, shortly after Chief Thayer’s letter the
case file in contention was released to the veteran requesting it.

This is where the fascination about the purging of criminal allegations begins. The ‘case file’
received by the principal in 1997 contains criminal allegations that the ‘case file’ released in late
in 2000 does not contain. The criminal allegations from the 1997 release actually bear the
“Received by OFCCP” stamp thereon.

In a completely unrelated sequence of FOIA violations by the OFCCP and their National
Omsbud office, again related to Chief Thayer’s section 1 above, occurred during the period


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March 1999 through September 1999. Indications are that Director Haase, OFCCP, was forced
into early retirement at least in part due to the willfulness of her repeated violation of FOIA. Her
boss, Mr. Harold Busch, Division Director, Program Operations, OFCCP, had advised the
veterans to seek confirmation that their appeals had been reviewed by use of FOIA to the
Regional OFCCP office in San Francisco. This effort was to be assisted by the OFCCP National
Omsbud.

Regional Director Haase denied multiple FOIA requests for access to the actual appeal letters of
the veterans. As it turned out, she truly had a motivation for the denials - the appeals had never
been reviewed, and indeed, her office did not even have copies of the appeals. Yet she signed an
appeal denial in November 1997 without ever having reviewed the appeals!

This context, plus the unusual stance of the principal of the 1996 that the personal documents of
the other veterans that had been obtained in gross violation of law were his personal property, led
to unending problems and strife. Strife which the OFCCP was completely aware of, and which
they encouraged through continuing discrimination in FOIA access to personal case file
materials. Ultimately, that strife partially backfired on the OFCCP, since the principal ultimately
released some of the personal documents just prior to the start of the remanded investigations in
November 1999. Those documents ultimately proved that the case file had been purged of
criminal allegations and criminal evidence collected on April 11, 1996 by the OFCCP
investigator.

The OFCCP seemed to begin to take the issue of evidence much more seriously after the
California State Audit inspected the OFCCP case file materials and removed some of the
material which had not been purged.

The consequences of these Divide and Conquer tactics by the OFCCP were in full bloom by the
time of the second negotiation meeting sponsored by the California Department of Veterans’
Affairs. Imagine the two questions with no answers:

       How come you can get my personal stuff by FOIA, and I can’t get it by FOIA?

       How come they’re offering you early retirement ‘as if you were 62', and they’re
       not offering it to me?

The offers of early retirement came in December 1999, the Conciliation Agreement between the
OFCCP and CSULB of January 26, 2001, contained no mention of early retirements. The
Veterans Group was reeling from the contentions brought about by the OFCCP actions, and then
the University’s Special Advisor to the President for Veterans’ Issues started in on the process,
using elements of the above issues to drive further wedges between members.

What with all the talk of spies in the media recently, our imagination is sparked by the
astonishing status of an original member of the class action from 1996. In October 1996 that


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individual was identified in the findings of that “sham” investigation as follows:

               “Mr. [redacted] has self-identified as a Vietnam Era Veteran, but
               his dates of service do not fall within the Act’s coverage.”

Given the overall understanding that a sham investigation had occurred in 1996, this individual
was believed when he continued to protest his status as a Vietnam Era Veteran. Once again, in
August 2000, the OFCCP identified this individual as being “not VEV” [not Vietnam Era
Veteran] in the official findings of the investigation.

The misrepresentation by this individual of his qualifying status was complete. In August 2000,
he was publicly asked to explain his apparently deceptive actions and the purpose for them. Of
course, there was no response. In 1998 Congress passed a new law modifying VEVRAA, The
Veterans’ Employment Assistance Act of 1998 extends VEVRAA rights, privileges and benefits
to all veterans outside the qualifying Vietnam Era if they have acquired a campaign ribbon
involving military action by the United States. Mr. [redacted] is apparently also not a qualified
veteran under the new 1998 extension of VEVRAA. His expressed motivation to protect
veterans’ rights is now seen as entirely suspect by the actual class action veterans at CSULB, as
described below.

Mr. [Redacted] and the Special Advisor for Veterans’ Issues at CSULB did something
astonishing on May 12, 2000. The meeting they called was the official ending of the public
group action by The Veterans Group. They called for a meeting of The Veterans Group under
the ostensible authority of the California Department of Veterans’ Affairs to further the process
of negotiation towards a VEVRAA-based affirmative action program. Despite no confirmation
of this from the CDVA, a meeting was held. The veteran principal of the 1999 Compliance
investigation would not attend the meeting out of principle - there was no clear authority calling
the meeting, and there would be no monitoring for bad faith by an outside agency.

Bad Faith by the University has been the emblem of the investigations, this fact is cited in the
August 2000 findings for the enjoined discrimination and compliance investigations. At the
final negotiation meeting sponsored by the CDVA draft materials of AAP documents were
distributed, in particular part of the primal “Self-Identification” package of documents was
distributed. If a veteran does not Self-Identify to the Federal Contractor as a qualified veteran
under the law, then no rights, protections, and benefits are due the veteran under law.

Gross fraud against CSULB veterans was proved by them to the OFCCP by use of the California
Information Practices Act to obtain personal hiring records of veterans identified in the 1996
findings as having “not self-identified”. The OFCCP had refused to investigate this matter. In
all cases it was demonstrated that the veterans had self-identified to the University at the time of
their hiring, and that the University had refused to even update their records after the class action
veterans proved their qualifying status to the OFCCP by submission of their DD 214 military
separation document. Mr. [Redacted] had self-identified as a Vietnam Era Veteran which the


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University accepted, and actual qualifying veterans were kept off the list.

There has never been an explanation of what authority the Special Advisor and Mr. [Redacted]
called the meeting to continue work on Self-Identification documents. Prior to the meeting they
had distributed a touted first draft of the critical “Invitation to Self-Identify” document in which
the veteran hire is first informed of his/her potential status and employment benefits under the
VEVRAA.

After the preliminary argument at the beginning of the May 12, 2000 meeting as to the question
of under what authority the meeting was being called, and who was to be the external monitor in
the absence of the CDVA, the first major act of bad faith became apparent. A substantially
longer, more informative and more compliant version of the “Invitation to Self-Identify” had
been distributed at the March 20, 2000 meeting monitored by the CDVA. The version
distributed prior to the May 12th meeting was significantly shorter and less compliant with the
version contained in the Appendix to the Regulations [41 C.F.R. 6-250].

Mr. [Redacted] and the Special Advisor expressed shock, complete shock when confronted by
the draft “Invitation” from the March 20th meeting. They had never seen it! They had no
knowledge of it! Yet they had been at the same meeting with the rest of the veterans and the
representatives of the CDVA and the Los Angeles County Department of Military and Veterans’
Affairs who were monitoring. The Special Advisor has direct contact with the President’s
management team and consulted with them regularly, yet he had no knowledge of the extent of
the draft materials distributed by his management contacts?

The veteran principal of the 1996 discrimination investigation reports that the Special Advisor
had been lobbied during that period of time for support, moral or otherwise. He had refused
then, and yet he purports to represent the class action veterans as Special Advisor?

As is common in human affairs, egg on one’s face sometimes leads to the desire for revenge and
confrontation. One thing led to another, and Mr. [Redacted] physically confronted another
veteran over the matter of the illegal FOIA distribution and access to those documents by all
class action veterans. This is observed by the Special Advisor.

What made that meeting so special and resulted in the destruction of The Veterans Group was
only discovered the next morning, when a class action veteran was informed by the very high
ranking guest to the meeting, the Director of University Research Office, that recorded excerpts
of the meeting were left on his home answering machine as an apparent act of intimidation. The
culture changing aspect of modern email systems, as embodied by the University’s resources,
provided an astonishing record of the aftermath and disintegration of The Veterans Group.

The Special Advisor did deny in writing any involvement in the illegal audio recording of the
meeting. Mr. [Redacted] did not so honor his comrades with such a denial in the firestorm of
emails which followed. The OFCCP, the President of the University, the University Police, and


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the CDVA all refused to investigate the issue of an illegal audio recording being made for the
purpose of intimidation of the veterans at the meeting.

All prior meetings of The Veterans Group had been held behind closed doors for security
purposes. The four negotiation meetings were held in administration conference rooms. Yet
Mr. [Redacted] is understood to have specifically sited the May 12th meeting out-of-doors near
one of the food vending buildings on campus.

In April 2000, between the time of the last CDVA sponsored meeting and the May 12th meeting,
the Special Advisor had published misinformation, direct falsehoods, in “The Veteran”
newsletter as to the alleged fact that the University had forwarded the AAP document package to
the OFCCP and with a letter from the President indicating willingness to bring the University
into immediate compliance with VEVRAA.

Repeatedly, in public meetings and in writing, several OFCCP officials repudiated the assertion
of the Special Advisor that such documents had been sent to the OFCCP. As a result of his
refusal to issue a retraction of the falsehood told to the entire contingent of veterans on campus,
the newsletter, “The Veteran” died. His rigid requirements of “no attributions” and content
control of the newsletter, in context of publishing lies about compliance, cannot be seen as
supporting veteran rights under VEVRAA. The Special Advisor seems embarrassed that any
veteran would ever claim discrimination as a veteran.

Several months later the Special Advisor took to the President of the University a false assertion
that “the veterans” were asking for some special memorial to or for veterans on campus. There is
already on campus a significant large sculptural piece related to the Vietnam War titled
“Vietnam”. President Maxson seemed appalled and concerned when informed that “the
veterans” included only the Special Advisor and one other veteran. There had been no discussion
whatsoever of “The Flagpole” in any meeting of The Veterans Group, since the Special Advisor
was not able or willing to guarantee the privacy of any such meeting. As of the date of this
essay, April 30, 2001, there is still no compliance with VEVRAA at California State University,
Long Beach. There still has been no VEVRAA-based “Self-Identification” of veterans for
inclusion in the Affirmative Action Program. On or about March 10, 2001 the Conciliation
Agreement became “effective”, yet there is no compliance, and the Bad Faith continues.

The Conciliation Agreement, signed on January 26, 2001, requires the creation of a permanent
Veterans Advisory group to assist with the monitoring of compliance with VEVRAA. Although
not specified in the Agreement, the Special Advisor has taken it as his role to form the group.

On Thursday, April 26, 2001, the first meeting of the Advisory group met, with the Special
Advisor calling it a “Steering Committee” meeting. No formal notification of this fact occurred
to the class action veterans and no class action veteran was invited to attend the meeting. That is,
unless you still consider Mr. [Redacted] a class action member?



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Both the Special Advisor to the President for Veterans’ Issues and Mr. [Redacted] have been
queried as to why no class action member of the VEVRAA complaints is to be allowed to
participate in the creation of the Advisory group mandated by the Conciliation Agreement. In
both cases they have responded that there is no requirement for participation by any class action
member, nor in fact, is there any requirement that Vietnam Era veterans be allowed to participate.

At this time, the OFCCP, the CDVA, the LAC DMVA, local legislators and a growing number
of interested veterans are pondering the situation. Just how can the group of veterans who fought
the VEVRAA battle at CSULB be excluded from the campus Veterans’ Advisory Group that was
mandated by the Conciliation Agreement?

The answer is, of course, that we are not ‘tame veterans’ working for management.

The tale will continue....




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