Do you know who we are? Do you know what we were hiding from
.....In this segment we reported on the actions of the CCLP, or "Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals" during a recent event they held at the Brooklyn Public Library on Monday, March 12 in the evening, the same day as the Met Council event at City Hall. The event was entitled, "Know Your Law: Landlords, Tenants and the Law" (the flyer misspelled the attorney's name). Our reporter asked if the speaker would be willing to give an on-camera interview after the presentation.
.....After learning that our reporter was from Rent Wars, and determining that Rent Wars reported tenant issues, the CCLP hosts tried to forcibly eject the reporter and block all coverage of the event. They objected to his camera, and they objected to his presence on the basis that "he's a reporter. We don't want any reporters in here. The attorney says he's not allowed."
.....Several guards rushed to do their bidding while the camera was rolling. Sergeant Masters arrived and took over and diffused the situation after viewing our reporter's press credentials. The reporter convinced him that as a member of the press he is entitled to cover public meetings held on public property. The Sergeant agreed but only on the condition that the camera be checked into the security desk but that he could carry his reporter's notebook. This entire process caused our reporter to miss over half of the presentation. But what he heard when he got in was shocking!
.....In the meeting attorney Richard Neubarth discussed ways to evict tenants on welfare and advised Rent Stabilized tenants to give up their protection from rent hikes. The format of the question and answer segment was that each person in the room was given a single piece of paper on which to write their questions. Despite this supposedly egalitarian format, at least two people who identified themselves as a real estate agent and a landlord had multiple written questions answered, including "how to evict tenants on welfare".
.....Tenant questioners were given glancing attention from Neubarth and at least one certifiably wrong answer. When asked what a rent stabilized tenant should do if the landlord refuses to give a lease, Neubarth forcefully stated that the tenant should file with the DHCR to force a lease. When asked by our reporter why a rent stabilized tenant would want to force a lease when the stabilization acted as a lease without a rent increase Neubarth stated, "Oh, yeah, I guess that's a point."
.....After the meeting Neubarth admitted that ejecting the reporter from a public event on a public property was illegal and against the First Amendment. But he claimed that he was only a volunteer and had no control over the two women who attempted the ejection of our reporter. While our reporter was retrieving his camera, witnesses said that they saw Neubarth leave with the landlord and real estate agent.
.....In attempting to contact someone from the CCLP for comment, our reporter noticed that the group's Manhattan phone number and address matched Neubarth's official address filed with the bar. In the CCLP magazine, Verdict, on page five is Neuibarth's name over the following, "Congratulations on publishing this issue of Verdict magazine."
.....Undaunted, we tried calling their Los Angeles number and got through to a man who wouldn't give his name or discuss the events. "I don't know anything about what happens in New York", he said and took a message. Rent Wars received no response to any of our inquiries. None of our other sources had ever heard of the group.
.....According to the CCLP magazine, Verdict, the CCLP is an organization dedicated to issues of free speech and prison reform. To give information on evicting welfare tenants and on how to lose a rock solid protection from rent increases would appear to go against the groups goals as stated in their magazine: "Verdict is a forum promoting involvement by legal professionals and others active in or searching for legal and organizational solutions to the problems facing our low-income communities."
.....To exclude a member of the press also appears to conflict with the following statement from their magazine: "The principle of an independent press must be organized and fought for by all those who can see the handwriting on the wall."
.....While this group has been unwilling to explain their actions and the apparent contradictions, they have been active in luring tenants to Neubarth. On the April 30th edition of "Housing Notebook" on WBAI, an unidentified caller gave out the group's name, address and telephone number extolling another caller to contact them regarding an Article 78 filing with a close deadline.. "They can help you."
.....The show's host, Scott Sommer, noted that he had never heard of the CCLP.
.....Why is the CCLP giving out information harmful to tenants and harmful to people on welfare when they claim to help the "low-income community"? Why are they hostile to the independent press when they claim to support it? Is Neubarth a shyster using the CCLP as a front to harm tenants? Make secret deals with landlords behind his tenant clients backs? Or is the entire CCLP a front?
.....We don't know the answer to the above questions, but Rent Wars has a continuing interest in this story. If you have any information about what happened during the first half of the meeting, or information about this group, or attorney Neubarth, or any group falsely advocating for tenants, please share it with us.
NEW 11/16/02! More information about this group is now available on the RWN Forum.
"I don't want it on the air."
Sergeant Masters takes charge