Article by Dennis Moore
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” --Frederick Douglass
March 6, 2013 (San Diego)--Thousands of federal employees in the San Diego area are soon to be impacted by sequestration, automatic budget cuts mandated by the federal government. These cuts may have a larger impact on San Diego County than anywhere else in the U.S., since our region is home to wide-ranging naval operations, a bustling border and vibrant biotech and drone sectors. About $37 billion flows into the County each year, including billions of dollars for defense contracts and millions more for research efforts.
The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) is a Washington, DC based organization that promotes equality as well as exposes retaliation and racism in the federal government. “Civil servants (i.e., agents, air marshals, food inspectors, investigators, corrections officers, firefighters) function as America’s first line of defense against domestic threats. Therefore, we must protect our federal workforce against managerial abuse and reprisal in order to better protect our citizens.” That is what Tanya Ward Jordan, the founder of C4C, believes and espouses in her daily activities and advocacy on behalf of this organization. Now C4C is ramping up to strengthen its fight for federal workers.
Jordan, a native Washingtonian, began a career in civil service with the U.S. Department of Treasury in 1978. After serving with Treasury, she later worked for the U.S. Department of Interior, the Government Accountability office and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Her encounters and observations of inequity within these federal agencies, especially the Commerce Department, led to her activism, prompted her volunteerism, and fueled her desire to help others subjected to unfair treatment and retaliation in the workplace.
In 2009, an employment complaint Jordan filed was settled after a decade of administrative proceedings and litigation. Consequently, Ms. Jordan decided to give the immense pain she endured from several years of workplace injustice – “a purpose.” She formed The Coalition For Change, Inc., (C4C). The volunteer civil rights advocacy group serves primarily as a “support network” for federal workers who face race discrimination and reprisal. However, a key objective of the group is to expose ill-treatment within the federal sector that impacts government’s ability to efficiently render services to the American public and that also jeopardizes the livelihood of U.S. citizens.
See the No Fear video here: http://youtu.be/Cq4A6i09uhw
A key aspect of The Coalition For Change is the identifying and exposing Responsible Management Officials, or “RMO” within the government. Within its website, www.coalition4change.org, the organization profiles and exposes these RMO’s that have made life miserable for honest and hard working government employees. Two of the most prominent RMO’s on this list are Craig Littlejohn, the white Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office, and Anne M. Wagner, the white Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), among many others.
Richard W. Furcolo, the administrative judge in the racial discrimination case against Littlejohn, the (CIO) in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office, said that Littlejohn called black staffers “monkeys” and improperly interfered with the selection process for a job sought by Adam Pierre, a black man. The judge said Pierre was significantly better qualified than the person given the job.
Furcolo ordered the Department of Interior to retroactively place Pierre in the position of Supervisory IT Specialist and pay him $100,000.00 in damages, plus legal fees. The Judge said Littlejohn’s admitted monkey comment “was intentional, deliberate and simply deplorable.” According to Furcolo, “Littlejohn’s discriminatory animus toward the African-American employees he supervised is palpable. He is on record as commenting that, in his opinion, they – as a group – were not skillful and incompetent.”
Incredulously, the Department of Interior appealed the judge’s order and has refused to implement it. Moreover, sources report that Littlejohn has not been disciplined for the alleged racist behavior. C4C did a FOIA request and learned that Littlejohn received a pay increase roughly two weeks after being found guilty by the EEOC. Clearly, there is a need for C4C. If a government worker or department can flaunt the rule of law and the courts, our country will be in chaos. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said it best in her written Opinion recently in Kloeckner v. Solis, Secretary of Labor, No. 11-184, when she referred to and characterized the “Alternate Universe” of the Government.
Anne M. Wagner, Vice-Chairman of the MSPB was put on the Coalition For Change (C4C) Responsible Management Official’s (RMO) list after she allegedly kept from the Senate Committee that was considering her confirmation to the MSPB the fact that she was at the time involved in a federal lawsuit of racial and employment discrimination, in which she was the named discriminator. It makes one wonder if President Obama had known that about her at the time would he have nominated her for this crucial and important government agency? When C4C found out about this, the watchdog group questioned the Department of Justice and other entities, as well as legislators. Wagner is still with the MSPB some three years later, making life-changing opinions and decisions on current and former federal employees' lives. Again, this is the “Alternate Universe” to which Justice Ellen Kagan referred.
One of those legislators contacted by C4C in regard to exposing and eradicating racism in the federal government was the Honorable Darrell Issa, Chairperson of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Issa, who is based in Vista, California and represents much of the San Diego region, was sent a letter in April of 2011 by the President of C4C, complaining of the disparate treatment of African-Americans in the federal government who were engaging in so-called “protected activity.”
Specifically, the letter contrasted how a white managing director in the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Greg Kutz, was favorably treated for something that blacks would have been fired for. (See link to C4C letter to Issa). Incidentally, the GAO is the office that the aforementioned Anne M. Wagner of the MSPB worked when she was alleged to have discriminated against a black female attorney.
The Coalition For Change, C4C formally introduces its Unleash NO FEAR campaign this week. The campaign serves to educate the public that despite the passage of the Notification and Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act), reprisal in the federal workplace continues to negatively impact government’s ability to render its programs and services effective. This certainly would have been effective in the aforementioned Craig Littlejohn case.
The campaign also seeks “mandatory discipline” for managers who are guilty of discrimination and retaliation. (A social media group has been formed to distribute information regarding this initiative to the public). There is presently no “mandatory discipline” provision in the No FEAR Act, and after recognizing that glitch a.k.a (loophole), Ms. Jordan along with Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and others, approached Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee to introduce NO FEAR ACT 2008/2009, but unfortunately the “mandatory discipline” aspect was voted down. Back to the drawing board!
In further regard to the No FEAR Act, it should be mentioned that Ms. Jordan, along with Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, was very instrumental in the passing of the Act. As a matter of fact, I was honored to have written the review of Dr. Adebayo’s book; No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption And Retaliation At The EPA. Ms. Jordan actually received a No FEAR Award from Congressman Sensenbrunner and Dr. Adebayo for her efforts on behalf of other federal employees.
In a recent communication with this humble servant, I referred to Ms. Jordan as the “Rosa Parks” of the federal government, and she responded; “I guess I always saw myself more like --- Harriet Tubman – that is I view myself as an African-American humanitarian who has been subjected to oppression, challenged it, and subsequently made it my mission to ‘rescue’ others by offering a vehicle to transmit useful information and to offer spiritual support via the ‘virtual’ network, a.k.a. INTERNET RAILROAD.” That is essentially how C4C came about, additionally through her trials and challenges with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
These are challenging times for our country, particularly as it regards an upcoming issue regarding our federal government; Sequestration. You can bet that the Coalition of Change, C4C, will be in the forefront of this issue, fighting for federal employees.
In a historic time and setting, Tanya Ward Jordan appears in this photo at the Supreme Court alongside Anthony Perry, in Perry's potentially groundbreaking case of Anthony W. Perry vs. Merit Systems Protection Board (No. 16 - 399) on April 17, 2017. This case before the Supreme Court has far reaching implications for many past and present federal goverment employees. Ironically, it was the heard before Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on his first day after his contentious nomination process. What is most interesting and encouraging is what Chief Justice Roberts says or indications at the end of the Supreme Court transcript here.
Also pictured here are photos of the attorneys representing Anthony (Tony) Perry. From the way I read the aforementioned transcript I see the Supreme Court remanding this case back to a lower court for further instructions as to how they should rule. Tony should be thanked for his courage and perserverance.
Dennis Moore is a writer and book reviewer with the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics: “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago.” Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.