Parks and Recreation Hits Back At Artists (UPDATE)
New court docs suggest that the City wants to prevent a key artist advocate from getting involved in a case that might decide the fate of New York's creatives.
So what's going on?
Recall that ARTIST President Robert Lederman sent Hon. Milton Tingling a "request to intervene" this week, claiming that the City falsified evidence in two current artist-vendor oriented cases.
Also recall that Tingling is not handling Lederman's federal case -- he's handling a different, parallel state lawsuit -- the "Dua" case.
The reason Lederman got involved with Tingling, however, is because that judge's decision might be used as legal precedent when U.S. Judge Richard Sullivan rules on his case.
Yes, this is as messy as it sounds.
Just stick with us a little bit more, though. We promise it will make sense!
Anyway, there are a couple of reasons Lederman got involved with Dua.
For starters, Lederman has said in court docs that he's not entirely happy with the lawyers fighting on behalf of the artists in the Dua case.
So, Lederman's legal move breaks down to this: even if he doesn't like what the lawyers are doing -- and worries that they're not making a solid case -- he can present the info himself, because he has a vested interest in the outcome.
And, as you might recall, that info would seem to support a lot of Lederman's claims that the City treats artists differently from vendors which, if true, would be un-Constitutional under New York and national law.
OK. You can exhale now. Good.
Now, take a nice, deep breath, because shit's about to get crazy again.
City Attorney Sheryl Neufeld, who's handling the Lederman case for New York, wrote Tingling a letter yesterday, claiming that he does not have a right to intervene.
In other words, this legal move sure seems to aim at keeping Lederman away from the "Dua" case, which would prevent the court from having to pay attention to his evidence.
In her letter, furnished to the Voice, Neufeld claims that Lederman shouldn't be allowed to intervene because he didn't use the appropriate legal language and waited too long to get involved.
Neufeld also says that he can't get involved in a state court case because of his federal case -- even if he doesn't think the Dua lawyers are doing an adequate job.
In other words, the city really doesn't seem to want Tingling to listen to Lederman or look at his evidence.
Lederman responded via letter to Tingling this morning, maintaining that he has a right to intervene as president of ARTIST, a group which reps 2,000 artist-vendors, and that his response was timely.
It's unclear what Tingling will ultimately decide.
We wanted to know more about the city's moves, though, so we reached out to them to hear more about their singling-out strategy.
UPDATE: Neufeld sent us this statement,
"As we have said before, we believe Mr. Lederman's claims are wrong, and we are not concerned that they would influence the outcome of the Dua case. Quite simply, Mr. Lederman has chosen the Federal Court as the court where he wants his claim resolved. A litigant cannot ask multiple courts to address a claim in the hope that one of the many will rule his or her way. Once a party has chosen where it wants a claim resolved, it is bound by that decision. We are simply asking that Mr. Lederman comply with the law in this regard."
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.
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