by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
Thanks to recent legislation, there is sometimes a reward for whistleblowers. But the megabucks still go to those who get away with corruption of industry and government on a massive scale. The Environmental Protection Agency is where the latest chapter of whistleblower rebellion began – and it’s ripe for Occupation, this Friday.
Occupy the EPA – March 30 Launching of the American Spring
by BAR editor and columnist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
“Too many bosses and corrupt federal managers believe they can bully and destroy whistleblowers.”
Finally banks are starting to pay for the devastation they have caused home-owners with the federal government's $25 billion landmark mortgage settlement against Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co, Citigroup, Inc. and Ally Financial.
The five banks acknowledged allegations that they participated in a nationwide practice of failing to obtain the required mortgage assignments, documents used to transfer ownership of loans. Will it help the millions who have lost houses or those still treading water as they try to hold onto their homes? No.
But, it did help the people who came forward and filed whistleblower suits against the banks and lenders. Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly, two Georgia mortgage brokers who worked for U.S. Financial Services Inc, a firm in Alpharetta, Georgia, said they became suspicious when lenders told them not to show an amount charged for attorneys fees on loan documents, but instead add the sum to the charge shown for "title examination fee.”
After lenders ignored their concerns, Bibby and Donnelly hired an attorney and filed a whistleblower suit. This week, Bibby and Donnelly settled for $227 million, and their attorneys received $11.7 million. Out of four other settlements, the largest was for $95 million and Lynn Szymoniak will receive $18 million for revealing the robo-signing of foreclosure documents by large lenders.
“FDA intercepted personal communications to Congress, including emails to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”
Good news is rare among whistleblowers. There are tens of thousands more who lose their jobs and struggle to survive. There are ongoing investigations into the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) illegal targeting of whistleblowers for highly-intrusive monitoring following a lawsuit filed by six FDA whistleblowers and documents released by the National Whistleblowers Center. The documents show the FDA intercepted personal communications to Congress, including emails to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
What is clear is that too many bosses and corrupt federal managers believe they can bully and destroy whistleblowers; they can fire them; they can silence them; and they can personally and professionally blackball them. It is an emotionally turbulent time for those who decide to speak out. And, the first place it hits, and hardest, is in the pocketbook.
We dare not remain silent. In this election year, we need to make our voices heard. Join us on Friday, March 30 at noon as OccupyEPA, civil rights, environmental, and community groups from around the country launch the American Spring. We will march from Franklin Square Park (13th and I Sts NW, Washington, DC) down 13th Street across Pennsylvania Avenue to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Headquarters with a list of four demands.
“We should not stand idly by in the face of this assault on basic values and rights.”
The EPA has been notorious for retaliating against those who have tried to honor the mission of the agency to protect the environment and human health. Noam Chomsky, the "father of modern linguistics" and one of the most respected social critics of US domestic and foreign policy issued the following statement in support of OccupyEPA:
“It is a privilege to be able to endorse the launching of the 2012 US occupation movement called the American Spring. As with the civil rights struggle, and other genuine popular movements, the American Spring provides all of us with an opportunity to become involved at the grassroots level and to challenge the right of the 1% to destroy the earth, foreclose on our homes, and undermine the well-being of the poor and oppressed today and future generations. They are counting on our silence and apathy. We should not grant them that lethal gift.
“The Spring renewal of the Occupy Movement is being launched at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a sordid history of discrimination and retaliation against whistleblowers, and policies that harm the poor and communities of color, a record that led Congress to pass the No FEAR Act. The events are extensively documented by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, who spearheaded the struggle, in her book, No FEAR
“Over the past months, it has been impressive and heartening to see how people from all walks of life have joined the Occupy movement to engage in the struggle to free the country from corporate domination, government repression and subordination to private power. We should not stand idly by in the face of this assault on basic values and rights, and the renewed Occupy Movement provides a framework to resist and overcome, working in our own communities and beyond.
“We are the 99%. We have the chance to take our power back and to rescue the country, and the planet, from a grim fate.”
(See Noam Chomsky on youtube)
“The struggle of the 99% is a struggle for justice and for the very existence of human life on the planet.”
OccupyEPA speakers will include: former US presidential candidate, Ralph Nader; Susan M. Morris, civil rights leader and EPA whistleblower; pediatricians, Drs. Helen Caldicott and Margaret Flowers; Lawrence Lucas, U.S. Department of Agriculture Coalition of Minority Employees; Alexis Baden-Mayer of Organic Consumers Association; activist Lisa Longo; Joe Carson, Department of Energy Whistleblower; a Gray Panthers representative; King Downing, anti-racial profiling attorney; Patrick McCann, a member of Veteran’s for Peace; Michael Stovall, an Alabama Black farmer, Richard Cizik; Evelynn Brown, CEO Whistlewatch, and representatives from civil rights and occupy groups.
The presence of hundreds of people at the EPA on March 30th will send a clear message that the 99% are watching and are demanding that the EPA do it's job to protect people and the planet instead of corporate profits. Participants will carry signs telling the EPA why a sustainable future is important to them - for the lives of their children and future generations, for the beauty and diversity of plant and animal life, for clean air and water. The struggle of the 99% is a struggle for justice and for the very existence of human life on the planet. The EPA represents some of the worst policies put forth by the 1% - those that exploit people and the planet for greed and profit. We will not allow this practice to continue.
For more information: www.occupyepa.com,marshacoleman-adebayo.com,www.nowDC.org.