Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The UFT Solidarity Brand is Not What UFT Members Need

When Francesco Portelos found out that I do not agree with his vindictive retaliation of anyone who is rumored to be "bad" or who does not agree with him, and he decided to defame my name and my work as a teacher advocate by creating a video lying about how I am a "homophobe", I looked more carefully at the UFT Solidarity brand.

Francesco Portelos and UFT Solidarity logo
I do not like what I see. My opinion, folks. And this is my blog and my opinion.

I am an advocate for justice since at least 1994, (leaving out my 5 years living in Egypt to help rural Egyptian villagers use solar-powered video, 1978-1984), when I went with the African-American and hispanic porters at my Church to their Local 32 B&J arbitration and faced the Presbyterian mafia without fear. My mom was Jewish, but that is a very long story. My dad was P. Hodges Combier, Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York under Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz. My mom was a producer/ funder of Broadway theater. My life work is to give people who have been wronged in some way a resolution to the wrong(s) done, to give hope that they will be able to complete this life in a safe, healthy and content manner. I never go after someone in a vindictive way, nor do I stop investigating truth because of a bully. My company Theater Kids, Inc. now has the DBA ADVOCATZ. I help people work with a lawyer, and I am not a lawyer, never pretend to be a lawyer, or represent anyone in Court before a judge. I will give my opinion, and I'm pretty good at legal research online or off. (So I've heard). The lawyers with whom I work at 3020-a have a long-term record of winning our cases. I stand tall on our record.

Back to UFT Solidarity. Immediately after Francesco was found guilty of many of his charges which brought him to a 3020-a and fined $10,000, he began chanting:

"Tell the new principal "tough".
I'm waiting for the first administrator to look at me the wrong way here in Staten Island. That's when I would whisper the words in the attached picture:

Similarly, he started building his new empire, ready to attack anyone who got in his/their way. The growth of the online UFT Solidarity has been fascinating/depressing. No one is given a chance to contradict anything they say, write, and/or post on their websites.

I was not even at the September 20 2015 meeting at which Jim Callaghan gleefully included me in his pile of c***. I believe he has been stewing with fury over my hiring for the position of Special Representative at the UFT by Randi Weingarten in 2007 all these years. This is depressing. Get a life, Jim.

Johnathan Hinesley, (pictured at left) one of Francesco's group members, told me that he did not hear anything about me at the September 20 meeting, and anyway, Jim can say anything he wants about anybody. That's what UFT Solidarity stands for. Truth be damned.

Here is what Francesco sent me on May 8, 2014, marked up with yellow highlighting and red ink by him, (I guess):

Francesco Portelos' guilty verdict for harassment, workplace assaults, and internet misconduct (sent to me by Francesco in May, 2014)

I put this decision on my website, in one of the many articles I wrote about Francesco glorifying his work to undermine Linda Hill who seemed at the time to have charged Francesco after he found out she was not handling money correctly. Blowing the whistle on an administrator, or any public employee is complicated. The case decided by the US Supreme Court, Garcetti v Ceballos
(see here, here and here). Teachers are public employees and their First Amendment rights were, it seems to me, limited to "a citizen speaking on matters of public concern".

I am not a public employee and not limited by this law. I still am not able to put on the internet lies about someone, and I do not do it. I never write about anyone or any case unless the person violates my rights, defames me or libels/slanders me and/or asks me to post their case or name on any of my 6 blogs and website. I respect confidentiality.

Looking at Francesco's arbitration decision now, I am frightened by the implications of the sustained charges (p. 107) and his promotion of activities under the umbrella of UFT Solidarity. There are many similarities, and I fear that Francesco is deliberately putting other teachers in danger to mitigate his punishment of $10,000.

Here are the sustained charges for which Arbitrator Felice Busto found Francesco guilty, on pp.7-13 of the Opinion and Award :


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent disclosed confidential Department information, including, but not limited to, witness statements, on a  non-Department  website,  including, but not limited to,


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent  inappropriately  accessed  and/or  retrieved Department information, including, but not limited to,  a  Department  email account  and/or email  messages  of another  Department employee.


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent inappropriately accessed a Department email account and/or email  messages of  another  Department employee.


On or about January 28, 2012, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking authorization from Principal Hill or the I.S 49 administration, accessed the school website,, as a site administrator and manipulated the settings to revoke the administrative rights and/or privileges of all individuals previously granted such administrative access.


On or about February 2012, Respondent refused to transfer control and/or  ownership  of the school website,, to  Principal  Hill,  I.S.  49,  and/or  the  Department after agreeing to do so at a meeting with Principal Hill and Superintendent Erminia Claudio.


On or about November 2012, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking approval from Principal Hill or the I.S 49 administration, altered the website, which Respondent had created for the school with Principal Hill's approval, to automatically transfer visitors to his alternative website,,  which   contained   derogatory information about  I.S. 49,  Principal  Hill, and/or the Department.


During the 2012-2013 school year, Respondent, without consulting, notifying, and/or seeking approval from Principal Hill and/or the Department, altered the school website,, to  automatically  redirect  visitors  to  his  website,, which chronicled his issues with  various  groups  including  Principal Hill, I.S. 49, and the  Department.


During the 2011-2012 school year, Respondent recorded a video in a school facility, namely, I.S. 49, of a student during school hours, without permission or authority.


On or about December 12, 2012, Respondent notified I.S. 49 Superintendent Erminia Claudio that he showed the video referenced in Specification 33 to parents, without permission or authority.


On or about and in the month of September 2012, Respondent:

A.     Sent an email message to a parent without permission or authority stating, in  sum and substance, that the teacher who sent their son to summer school was not certified to teach and that this message identified the teacher and indicated that her teaching certification had expired.

B.     Failed to notify and/or confirm with I.S. 49 administration that the teacher referenced above lacked certification prior to contacting the parent.


By committing one, some, or all of the actions described in the above Specifications, Respondent's actions:

A.      Had a disruptive and/or negative impact on students, staff, and/or administration at I.S. 49 and the Department.

B.     Caused  negative publicity, ridicule, and notoriety to  I.S. 49 and the   Department."


Francesco filed an Appeal (Article 75) of the decision, but missed the 10-day rule by one day. The Judge in Richmond County wrote that he would not have overturned Arbitrator Busto, anyway. (read Judge Troia's decision).

The UFT Solidarity brand stands for all of the above, in my opinion. This is frightening. 

Look at Specification #36. This seems to be the sustained charge that Francesco Portelos actually went after another teacher, and created a problem for her/him. Does anyone have any confirmation that this charge relates to the fiance of the IS 49 Chapter Leader,  Dr. Richard Candia? The allegation rumored to be this specification was that Francesco wanted to retaliate against Dr. Candia for not helping him destroy IS 49 Principal Linda Hill, so Francesco went after Candia's girlfriend.

If anyone has any further information about this specific sustained charge, please send me an email at

In any case, to wear the brand of UFT Solidarity proudly showing support for someone who would and could be so vindictive as these sustained charges show is, in my opinion, a badge of shame.

Betsy Combier, Editor of NYC Rubber Room Reporter
President, ADVOCATZ

The Paris Terror

My sincere condolences to all those who lost someone in Paris yesterday. Terrorism anywhere is destructive and gains nothing.

My twin sister and her children live in Paris. My daughter Lani was visiting Paris and staying yesterday near the explosion.

Take care everyone.

Betsy Combier