Friday, October 21, 2005


UP FRONT News August 30, 2005
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”


I first met Betsy Gotbaum in 1979, when we both attended the funeral of my maternal aunt, Dolly Perutz, a prominent and respected painter and sculptor, who lived in Great Neck and whose work was often shown at Manhattan galleries. Until Ms. Gotbaum and I met, I had been unaware that she had been a very close friend of Dolly’s daughter, my cousin, Kathy.

Betsy Gotbaum`s path intersected with mine again in the late summer of pre-9/11 2001 when I attended a campaign forum in Greenwich Village featuring all the Democratic candidates for New York City Public Advocate. Candidate Gotbaum, during the forum, responded to my UP FRONT News reporter`s question about what she would do to stop staff-perpetrated abuse of homeless people in shelters and drop-in centers, (a staple in soft-core concentration camps like the Partnership for the Homeless-operated cash cow drop-in center known as Peter`s Place) by publically asking me if I would accompany her on some inspection visits. I said, “Sure!” (It never happened.)

At the end of the forum, I approached Ms. Gotbaum privately and, within moments of my re-introduction, she remembered our meeting at the funeral 22 years earlier. “Oh, you’re Tom”! Etc., etc…..And you can call me any time,” she said, giving me a bunch of phone numbers for her. I subsequently called her twice at her then office as CEO of the Museum of Natural History. On both occasions, the phone was answered by a very, very, very rude receptionist. A few weeks later, while I was doing some volunteer work for Norman Siegel, the well-known civil rights attorney, who was her most formidable opponent, Mr. Siegel motioned to me to speak with him privately. Siegel told me in a whisper that he had received a call from the Gotbaum campaign advising him that Ms. Gotbaum had complained that I was “stalking” her. I provided him with a summary of the family-related history and of the two phone calls, So much for the allegation of “stalking.” Despite the low blow, and because of it, I wrote a strong UP FRONT News editorial endorsing Siegel. While the endorsement – which exposed the real estate developer-connected shortcomings of another candidate, Kathy Freed – probably helped him get into a run-off, Gotbaum, benefiting from tons of money, beat Siegel in the run-off.

My effort to induce some action from Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum on investigating abuse of homeless people ended abruptly after I got an scheduled appointment with Gotbaum`s Chief of Staff Scott Coccaro. After Coccaro kept me waiting in the reception area for about an hour, I was greeted by two N.Y.P.D. detectives, who told me that Coccaro had summoned them because I had allegedly made a “threat” against Linda Gibbs, the Commissioner of the N.Y.C. Department of Homeless Services. While I most certainly never made any kind of threat against the insecure Gibbs, I did criticize her energetically in UP FRONT News. Gibbs has, among other transgressions, ignored evidence of widespread, sometimes life-threatening abuse of homeless people in shelters and drop-in centers. She is, in my opinion, one of Michael Bloomberg`s worst appointments. While I didn`t much care for Rudolph Giuliani, I give him credit for his appointment of the competent and compassionate Staten Islander Marty Oestreicher (sp?) as D.H.S. Commissioner. The detectives interviewed me for awhile and soon concluded that I was no threat at all, but suggested that I stay away from Betsy Gotbaum`s office for awhile. I most certainly did.

At around that time, during a long lunch I had with my cousin Kathy, she revealed that Betsy Gotbaum had abruptly cut off what had been a 40 year friendship, dating back to their respective childhoods as kids of the very well off in private school. I hypothesized that there must have been a relationship between Ms. Gotbaum`s disrespect to Kathy and the Public Advocate’s paranoia with respect to me. Perhaps it was at that moment that my cousin revealed to me that Betsy had been previously (before Victor, the former labor boss) married to a C.I.A. agent. (That marriage, by the way, reportedly went down the tubes as the frisky Betsy got into an adulterous affair, some of whose trysts were conducted at the Perutz family mansion in Great Neck.) Although I confess that I was somewhat stunned to learn that the Public Advocate had been married to a spy, my view is that she can marry anyone she wants. She cannot, however, withhold that kind of potentially highly compromising relationship from the public.

Since then, I’ve seen Betsy Gotbaum twice. The first time was at the December 16, 2004 public hearing on the Jets Stadium matter held at the Jacob K. Javit Center. Each of us had come to testify – against the Stadium. I went over to say “hello” and was instantly set upon by a secret service type who told me that I could not speak with her. I remind Ed the over-eager bodyguard that I happen to be acquainted with the lady and told him to leave me alone. He skulked off. The second time I saw Betsy was about two weeks ago as I was walking north on Allen Street on Manhattan`s Lower East Side, when I passed a Betsy Gotbaum news conference. As I passed, I suggested, loudly enough for the gathering to hear, that the reporters present might want to ask Ms. Gotbaum about her undisclosed C.I.A. tie. I went on my way and was soon overtaken by two folks who turned out to be from the N.Y.P.D. unit that provides protection for Ms. Gotbaum. Officer Curran immediately indicated her awareness of me and said that, as part of the same unit that had interviewed me at Betsy Gotbaum`s office, she had long ago concluded that I was no threat at all.

And so, when I read the Daily news on the day after a televised debate among several Public Advocate candidates in the Democratic primary, which included a report that Ms. Gotbaum had, in rationalizing her refusal to make her appointments history public, cited her feeling threatened by a homeless “stalker.” Not too long after my call to the News, I was sitting in the Raccoon Lodge, a tavern on Warren Street with a great juke box, a few blocks from City Hall, sipping a ginger ale, being interviewed by a Daily News reporter. The News actually got “scooped” mainstream-wise, by Newsday, which published its story on Gotbaum vs. Weiss on August 26. There have also been stories in the Staten Island Advance (which, presumably mistakenly, reported that I had said that Victor Gotbaum was the C.I.A. guy, and also neglected to put quotation marks around allegations such as “stalker”, “harassed”, and “irrational”, all terms used by public officials who feel – and I emphasize the word “feel” – threatened by me and The New York Times.

This is in my perhaps not entirely humble opinion, a potentially large story because it involves, among other realities, major cover-up behavior by a powerful elected official, who is next in line to become mayor if the incumbent becomes incapacitated or dies in office. And, in light of various inclusions in the news stories, it has heavy implications for another major corrupt elected official, named Hillary Clinton.

The stories properly identified me as an activist-journalist –publisher of UP FRONT News, who, among other activities, is running in the 2006 Democratic primary against de facto right winger Hillary Clinton and who has accused her of, among other very bad things, being involved in the cover-up of the Chinese Communist Genocide in Occupied Tibet.

I thank Betsy Gotbaum for, with malice aforethought, helping me get this much needed publicity – and now I feel she should resign.

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