Friday, November 2, 2007

An invitation to Barbara Bowen and Susan O'Malley of the Professional Staff Congress


Dear Professor Karkhanis, President Bowen and Community College Officer O'Malley:

I have contacted the Judge Judy television show at http://www.judgejudy.com/home/home.asp. I have suggested that they contact President Bowen and Community College Officer O'Malley as co-complainants and Professor Karkhanis as defendant in an arbitration of O'Malley v Karkhanis on Judge Judy. I urge you to contact the show independently via the Judge Judy website, as this would provide an appropriate venue for the activities of the Professional Staff Congress and, as well, help the PSC to work on and improve its dispute resolution ability.

Sincerely,

Mitchell Langbert

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Professor David Arnow and Collegiality in the Professional Staff Congress



The Emerson Inn and Spa is more collegial than the Professional Staff Congress.

My wife and I having just returned from a lovely dinner with my in laws, who are visiting us and staying at the Emerson Inn and Spa in Mount Pleasant, New York, received an e-mail fromProfessor David Arnow, whom I do not know and I have never previously contacted. Professor Arnow wrote:

>"You bloggeth:

>"> Dear President Bowen: I am working on a blog about the O'Malley v. Karkhanis law suit. I was wondering if you would care to comment on it. In particular, what is the role of "collegiality" in O'Malley's decision to sue; and do you believe that law suits are an integral part of collegiality?"

>"My first question for you is: Have you stopped molesting small children yet?

>"And my second question is: Supposed I posed this question everywhere. Would you sue? Or would you take it in the collegial, satirical sense that it was perhaps intended?"

I had not heard of Arnow before, but have since done a web search and learned that he is my colleague at Brooklyn College.

A number of years ago, my ex-wife, Enid Wolfe Langbert, who is an attorney who has been involved in commercial litigation and published a book entitled "The Bill of Rights--the Right to a Fair Trial", was thinking of writing a book called "The Bleak House Syndrome". The idea of the bleak house syndrome is similar to Pareto's law, i.e., 20 percent of inputs are responsible for 80 percent of outputs. The bleak house syndrome is that two percent of the population is responsible for ninety percent of the litigation and that a certain psychological pattern is associated with litigation. Subsequently, I studied a bit about the economics of litigation in graduate school and learned that rational players do not litigate unless the benefits of litigation outweigh the sum of the two sides' trial costs since it makes more sense to settle a dispute otherwise.

Moreover, transactions costs are relevant. One management aim is to reduce the costs of doing business. Managers aim to reduce the costs of transactions such as attorney costs as far as possible. Ouchi, in his book Theory Z, has argued that high-trust personnel systems, which the Japanese firms exemplified in the 1980s, are more cost effective than bureaucratic or regulated ones.

Collegiality has a similar justification. Academics argue that they are best qualified to evaluate each other and so can do so more efficiently than outsiders. Part of this argument must hinge on academics' ability to resolve disputes without intervention from outsiders. If outsiders and the court system are best able to resolve disputes among academics, then the system of collegiality need not exist. Indeed, there are far cheaper methods available for dispute resolution even in bureaucratic firms. These include mediation, arbitration, interpersonal skills training and supervision. Hence, academics' resort to litigation suggests that collegial processes have failed. Susan O'Malley's law suit is an excellent argument for the Academic Bill of Rights.

I responded to Professor Arnow simply as follows:

"Tell me, Dave. Do you think that suing is the collegial course?"

Professor Arnow responded as follows:

>"Defenders of Karkhanis just don't have the moral high ground to invoke 'collegiality'.

>"As for law suits: for all its faults, the U.S. system of law towers over that of any other country I know. Law suits that redress wrongs are part of that system. If there really is a wrong, it ought to be redressed, shouldn't it? How would you right a wrong? Fisticuffs?

>"I don't know the details of Libel law, but I know that it is happily fairly limited, compared say to the U.K., and so the absurd lies you spin for the Sun are protected-- as they should be. Still, repeated false public accusations of specific criminal acts might satisfy the definition of libel. Your buddy may have crossed the line. Not to worry, I'm sure that the people you and he work for have very deep pockets.

>"Now, answer the questions that I posed below. Don't try to wriggle out of them:

>>" My first question for you is: Have you stopped molesting small children yet?
>>
>>" And my second question is: Supposed I posed this question everywhere. Would you sue? Or would you take it in the collegial, satirical sense that it was perhaps intended?"

My obvious answer is no, unless there is some significant economic reason for me to sue. I do not suffer from the "bleak house syndrome". However, if I am financially damaged, then a law suit would be logical. Very few private firms see employees sue each other. An employee who sues a fellow employee would be viewed as odd in most firms, and would certainly damage their career. Employees in private industry have sufficient interpersonal skills to resolve workplace disputes without costly litigation. This seems not to be the case with the associates of the Professional Staff Congress.

Professor Arnow feels that anyone who is associated with Sharad Karkhanis doesn't "have the moral high ground to invoke 'collegiality'". This suggests to me defamation of Professor Karkhanis's reputation.

I have always puzzled over the claims of academics (with reference to KC Johnson, for example) that "collegiality", defined as interpersonal skills, ought to be a criterion for personnel and tenure decisions. Arnow's e-mail suggests that some senior professors at Brooklyn College lack these, so requiring them for tenure in special cases is at best tenuous and certainly hypocritical.

Arnow goes on to make the less-than-collegial claim that my comments to the Sun yesterday are "absurd lies" that I "spin for the Sun".

He also makes the rather odd statement "I'm sure that the people you and he (Karkhanis) work for have very deep pockets." This statement is especially odd because Karkhanis, Arnow and I work(ed) for the City University of New York, the same employer. Is Arnow suggesting that Brooklyn College will finance Karkhanis's lawsuit? I am having trouble with this. Does Arnow believe I'm paid by one of George Soros's institutes?

My response to Arnow was as follows:

> "I'm going to put your e-mail on my blog. (1) Who are you? (2) What is the moral high ground to which you're referring? Do you have an ethical model or standard? If so, please clarify.

>"(3) Your belief that engaging in litigation as part of the collegial process is based on what definition of collegiality? Please define collegiality.

>"(4)Any concept of collegiality would involve methods of resolving conflicts. For instance, if you know about labor relations you know that arbitration has been favored by the United States Supreme Court over civil litigation in the context of labor disputes. In recent years, even more flexible approaches of resolving conflicts, such as living agreements, have been part of labor relations in some plants. The concept of collegiality involves shared governance. Such a definition would imply dispute resolution methods that are less formal than arbitration and are based on trust and shared values, i;.e., are more like living agreements. Are you claiming that civil litigation is included in the definition of collegiality? If so, do you think than an intensified degree of government regulation might be valuable to reduce conflict costs? Litigation is among the most costly methods of dispute resolution. Less expensive ones would include face to face meetings, mediation, arbitration, collective bargaining, grievances and the like.

>"If collegiality is so inflexible and inept as to require the legal system as a preferred dispute resolution method, should government look for lower cost dispute resolution methods than litigation, as it has done in the labor context, to regulate academics? In that case, you seem to be suggesting that the Academic Bill of Rights would be a wise improvement over current academic collegial processes, which are high cost. Please do tell. Are you arguing for the Academic Bill of Rights?"

David Arnow's collegial response to me was:

>"You can put my email anywhere you like, but the gibberish above) again evades my questions about whether you've stopped molesting small children and I am not going to waste any more time writing to you. I'm adding you to my spam filter."

Yes, the Professional Staff Congress is collegial. Collegial indeed.

Candace de Russy Blogs about O'Malley v. Karkhanis Law Suit

The controversy concerning the Professional Staff Congress's collegiality in light of one of its officers, Susan O'Malley's, law suit against another union member, Sharad Karkhanis, is heating up. Candace de Russy blogs it here.

De Russy writes:

>"CUNY Professor Sued for Libel [Candace de Russy]

A former head of the faculty senate at the City University of New York...Susan O’Malley, has filed a $ 2 million libel suit against her most biting critic, Emeritus Professor Sharad Karkhanis. The latter has accused her of recruiting terrorists to teach at the university and campaigning for administrative positions to avoid teaching classes herself.

Karkhanis made the accusation after O'Malley proposed to rehire Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic-language translator convicted of supporting terrorist activities. He was fired from York College.

Karkhanis also criticized O'Malley for defending the right of an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College, Susan Rosenberg, to teach at the school. Rosenberg was a member of a radical group, the Weather Underground, and had served 16 years in prison for keeping explosives in her apartment.

A professor of business and economics at Brooklyn College, Mitchell Langbert, maintains Karkhanis was acting within his rights. "Sharad is an extremely influential force," Langbert comments in The New York Sun. "The union, an ingrown left-wing group, has every motivation to try to silence him. Getting him embroiled in a lawsuit like this would be advantageous to the union leadership."

Robert KC Johnson, a professor of history at Brooklyn College cites the defamation suit as yet another example of the academic left’s lack of commitment to free speech.

Professor David Arnow and Collegiality in the Professional Staff Congress


The Emerson Inn and Spa is more collegial than the Professional Staff Congress.

My wife and I having just returned from a lovely dinner with my in laws, who are visiting us and staying at the Emerson Inn and Spa in Mount Pleasant, New York, received an e-mail fromProfessor David Arnow, whom I do not know and I have never previously contacted. Professor Arnow wrote:

>"You bloggeth:

>"> Dear President Bowen: I am working on a blog about the O'Malley v. Karkhanis law suit. I was wondering if you would care to comment on it. In particular, what is the role of "collegiality" in O'Malley's decision to sue; and do you believe that law suits are an integral part of collegiality?"

>"My first question for you is: Have you stopped molesting small children yet?

>"And my second question is: Supposed I posed this question everywhere. Would you sue? Or would you take it in the collegial, satirical sense that it was perhaps intended?"

I had not heard of Arnow before, but have since done a web search and learned that he is my colleague at Brooklyn College.

A number of years ago, my ex-wife, Enid Wolfe Langbert, who is an attorney who has been involved in commercial litigation and published a book entitled "The Bill of Rights--the Right to a Fair Trial", was thinking of writing a book that she thought of calling "The Bleak House Syndrome". The idea of the bleak house syndrome is similar to Pareto's law, i.e., 20 percent of inputs are responsible for 80 percent of outputs. The bleak house syndrome is that two percent of the population is responsible for ninety percent of the litigation and that a certain psychological pattern is associated with litigation. Subsequently, I studied a bit about the economics of litigation in graduate school and learned that rational players do not litigate unless the benefits of litigation outweigh the sum of the two sides' trial costs since it makes more sense to settle a dispute otherwise.

Moreover, transactions costs are relevant. One management aim is to reduce the costs of doing business. Managers aim to reduce the costs of transactions such as attorney costs as far as possible. Ouchi, in his book Theory Z, has argued that high-trust personnel systems, which the Japanese firms exemplified in the 1980s, are more cost effective than bureaucratic or regulated ones.

Collegiality has a similar justification. Academics argue that they are best qualified to evaluate each other and so can do so more efficiently than outsiders. Part of this argument must hinge on academics' ability to resolve disputes without intervention from outsiders. If outsiders and the court system are best able to resolve disputes among academics, then the system of collegiality need not exist. Indeed, there are far cheaper methods available for dispute resolution even in bureaucratic firms. These include mediation, arbitration, interpersonal skills training and supervision. Hence, academics' resort to litigation suggests that collegial processes have failed. Susan O'Malley's law suit is an excellent argument for the Academic Bill of Rights.

I responded to Professor Arnow simply as follows:

"Tell me, Dave. Do you think that suing is the collegial course?"

Professor Arnow responded as follows:

>"Defenders of Karkhanis just don't have the moral high ground to invoke 'collegiality'.

>"As for law suits: for all its faults, the U.S. system of law towers over that of any other country I know. Law suits that redress wrongs are part of that system. If there really is a wrong, it ought to be redressed, shouldn't it? How would you right a wrong? Fisticuffs?

>"I don't know the details of Libel law, but I know that it is happily fairly limited, compared say to the U.K., and so the absurd lies you spin for the Sun are protected-- as they should be. Still, repeated false public accusations of specific criminal acts might satisfy the definition of libel. Your buddy may have crossed the line. Not to worry, I'm sure that the people you and he work for have very deep pockets.

>"Now, answer the questions that I posed below. Don't try to wriggle out of them:

>>" My first question for you is: Have you stopped molesting small children yet?
>>
>>" And my second question is: Supposed I posed this question everywhere. Would you sue? Or would you take it in the collegial, satirical sense that it was perhaps intended?"

My obvious answer is no, unless there is some significant economic reason for me to sue. I do not suffer from the "bleak house syndrome". However, if I am financially damaged, then a law suit would be logical. Very few private firms see employees sue each other. An employee who sues a fellow employee would be viewed as odd in most firms, and would certainly damage their career. Employees in private industry have sufficient interpersonal skills to resolve workplace disputes without costly litigation. This seems not to be the case with the associates of the Professional Staff Congress.

Professor Arnow feels that anyone who is associated with Sharad Karkhanis doesn't "have the moral high ground to invoke 'collegiality'". This suggests to me defamation of Professor Karkhanis's reputation.

I have always puzzled over the claims of academics (with reference to KC Johnson, for example) that "collegiality", defined as interpersonal skills, ought to be a criterion for personnel and tenure decisions. Arnow's e-mail suggests that some senior professors at Brooklyn College lack these, so requiring them for tenure in special cases is at best tenuous and certainly hypocritical.

Arnow goes on to make the less-than-collegial claim that my comments to the Sun yesterday are "absurd lies" that I "spin for the Sun".

He also makes the rather odd statement "I'm sure that the people you and he (Karkhanis) work for have very deep pockets." This statement is especially odd because Karkhanis, Arnow and I work(ed) for the City University of New York, the same employer. Is Arnow suggesting that Brooklyn College will finance Karkhanis's lawsuit? I am having trouble with this. Does Arnow believe I'm paid by one of George Soros's institutes?

My response to Arnow was as follows:

> "I'm going to put your e-mail on my blog. (1) Who are you? (2) What is the moral high ground to which you're referring? Do you have an ethical model or standard? If so, please clarify.

>"(3) Your belief that engaging in litigation as part of the collegial process is based on what definition of collegiality? Please define collegiality.

>"(4)Any concept of collegiality would involve methods of resolving conflicts. For instance, if you know about labor relations you know that arbitration has been favored by the United States Supreme Court over civil litigation in the context of labor disputes. In recent years, even more flexible approaches of resolving conflicts, such as living agreements, have been part of labor relations in some plants. The concept of collegiality involves shared governance. Such a definition would imply dispute resolution methods that are less formal than arbitration and are based on trust and shared values, i;.e., are more like living agreements. Are you claiming that civil litigation is included in the definition of collegiality? If so, do you think than an intensified degree of government regulation might be valuable to reduce conflict costs? Litigation is among the most costly methods of dispute resolution. Less expensive ones would include face to face meetings, mediation, arbitration, collective bargaining, grievances and the like.

>"If collegiality is so inflexible and inept as to require the legal system as a preferred dispute resolution method, should government look for lower cost dispute resolution methods than litigation, as it has done in the labor context, to regulate academics? In that case, you seem to be suggesting that the Academic Bill of Rights would be a wise improvement over current academic collegial processes, which are high cost. Please do tell. Are you arguing for the Academic Bill of Rights?"

David Arnow's collegial response to me was:

>"You can put my email anywhere you like, but the gibberish above) again evades my questions about whether you've stopped molesting small children and I am not going to waste any more time writing to you. I'm adding you to my spam filter."

Yes, the Professional Staff Congress is collegial. Collegial indeed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Susan O'Malley and Barbara Bowen Should Take O'Malley v. Karkhanis to Judge Judy

Susan O'Malley, a former officer of the Professional Staff Congress and part of the inside clique that dominates CUNY's university faculty senate and the Professional Staff Congress, has filed a law suit that aims to suppress Karkhanis's speech and academic freedom. Karkhanis is the editor of a newsletter, Patriot Returns, that has been critical of O'Malley and of the PSC leadership.

On October 23 I contacted PSC president Barbara Bowen with the following question:

"Dear President Bowen: I am working on a blog about the O'Malley v. Karkhanis law suit. I was wondering if you would care to comment on it. In particular, what is the role of "collegiality" in O'Malley's decision to sue; and do you believe that law suits are an integral part of collegiality?"

"Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D."

However, President Bowen has not responded.

According to the Sun, O'Malley has described her own case as "very silly". I hope O'Malley's attorney is aware that "silly" or frivolous law suits are wrong.

I have contacted the American Association University Professors' interim general secretary Ernst Benjamin with the following inquiry:

>"Dear General Secretary Benjamin:

"Has the AAUP taken a position on Susan O'Malley's lawsuit against Sharad Karkhanis, a retired King's County Community College professor? (KCCC is a division of the City University of New York.) The New York Sun ran an article today about the case, which I have copied below. I understand that the Professional Staff Congress contributes to the AAUP. As well, Susan O'Malley is a former Professional Staff Congress officer. Moreover, Karkhanis has been critical of the PSC as well as of O'Malley in his newsletter, Patriot Returns. In addition, O'Malley is near retirement and is not likely to have suffered any financial or any other damage whatsoever from anything Karkhanis has said. There would seem to be little reason for this law suit other than to suppress Karkhanis's speech and academic freedom and to serve the personal interests of the Professional Staff Congress's leadership, notably Barbara Bowen and Steve London, who would benefit financially from the case if Karkhanis's speech is suppressed and he is no longer able financially or legally to criticize them, enabling their reelection to union office.

"My question is whether the AAUP would be willing to intervene or voice an opinion in this matter since the law suit seems to serve no important civil purpose and seems to be primarily a pretext to suppress Karkhanis's speech and academic freedom on behalf of the PSC leadership?

"Thanks for your thoughts. I am putting this inquiry and your response up on my blog."

Perhaps, given O'Malley's statement to the Sun that the case is silly * or frivolous anyway, she her attorney would be well advised to remove the matter to a more appropriate venue: Judge Judy. The venerable judge's entourage of deadbeats and back-rent-complainants would be suitably complemented with Professor O'Malley's claims.

* "Ms. O'Malley, reached at her home in Brooklyn, said she did not want to discuss the case. "It's all very, very silly," she said."

The Professional Staff Congress and O'Malley v. Karkhanis

Today's New York Sun carries an article about Sue O'Malley's law suit against Sharad Karkhanis. O'Malley had been an elected officer of the Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents CUNY faculty and is a crony of the Barbara Bowen/Steve London group that is up for reelection in a few years.

The Professional Staff Congress, led by Barbara Bowen, who made a speech at the Manhattan Institute a few years ago in which she vehemently insisted that Aristotle was a misogynist, has every reason to aim to silence Karkhanis. Karkhanis's widely read newsletter Patriot Returns has a circulation of 17,000 readers and has exposed incompetence among the PSC leadership. Given O'Malley's insider status, my speculation in the Sun article below that O'Malley is suing to help the PSC stands to reason although admittedly I have no direct evidence.

The PSC denies that it has anything to do with the law suit, much as they avoided disclosing that they had given a donation in honor of now-convicted terrorist Sami al Arian.

Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson has a blog on History News Network which raises an interesting question:

>"PSC president Barbara Bowen has suggested that “academic freedom” protected Shortell’s assertion (in a non-academic blog) that all religious people were “moral retards.” Will she now similarly apply her flexible definition of the concept, and rebuke O’Malley’s attempt to silence Karkhanis?

If O'Malley is suing Karkhanis to further the PSC leadership's reelection bid, as I claim, then we would expect the PSC leadership to remain hypocritically silent about O'Malley's aim to suppress Karkhanis's speech, even as the PSC leadership apologizes for terrorists like al-Arian.

>NEW YORK SUN

Emeritus Professor at CUNY Is Sued for Defamation, Libel
BY ANNIE KARNI - Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 30, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/65483

A former head of the faculty senate at the City University of New York is suing an emeritus professor for $2 million for accusing her of recruiting terrorists to teach at the university and campaigning for administrative positions to avoid teaching classes herself.
Susan O'Malley is accusing professor Sharad Karkhanis of libel and defamation for writing in a widely distributed anti-union newsletter that she was "obsessed" with finding jobs for terrorists at the university. Mr. Karkhanis, a former professor of political science at Kingsborough Community College, wrote that Ms. O'Malley was "recruiting na├»ve, innocent members of the KCC faculty into her Queda-Camp to infiltrate college and departmental Personnel and Budget Committees in her mission — to recruit terrorists in CUNY."
Mr. Karkhanis made the claim last spring after Ms. O'Malley, a professor of English at the Brooklyn college and an officer of the faculty union, proposed to rehire Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic-language translator convicted of supporting terrorist activities. He was fired from York College.
"Given the opportunity, she will bring in all her indicted, convicted, and freed-on-bail terrorist friends" to the university, Mr. Karkhanis wrote in the newsletter, the Patriot Returns.
Mr. Karkhanis also criticized Ms. O'Malley for defending the right of an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College, Susan Rosenberg, to teach at the school after press reports showed that she was a member of a radical group, the Weather Underground, and had served 16 years in prison for keeping explosives in her apartment. The Patriot Returns is a newsletter that has been distributed since 1992 to about 13,000 faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees at CUNY, and is available online. A lawyer for Ms. O'Malley, Joseph Carasso, said in a letter to Mr. Karkhanis that the statements were made with actual malice and intended to "inflict harm through their falsehood."
Mr. Karkhanis said he viewed the lawsuit, which was filed in state Supreme Court last month, as an attempt to infringe on his freedom of speech. He said he would rather serve time in jail than retract his statements.
The professor defended his use of the phrase "Queda-Camp," saying it was meant as satire, and he said it is his right to criticize a leader at CUNY.
"She's a public figure, and I have a right to say that, based on the evidence I have and the pattern I've seen of this woman," Mr. Karkhanis said. "Why would someone try to assist the terrorist people when you have good Americans who are looking for the job?"
A professor of business and economics at Brooklyn College, Mitchell Langbert, said Mr. Karkhanis was acting within his rights. "Sharad is an extremely influential force," Mr. Langbert said. "The union, an ingrown left-wing group, has every motivation to try to silence him. Getting him embroiled in a lawsuit like this would be advantageous to the union leadership."
A spokeswoman for the Professional Staff Congress, Dorothee Benz, said yesterday that the union had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Ms. O'Malley, reached at her home in Brooklyn, said she did not want to discuss the case. "It's all very, very silly," she said.
No trial date has been set.