order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: USDA Coalition Response

Monday, December 2, 2013

USDA Coalition Response

1 december 2013
ms. mazyck:
hopefully, you and family enjoyed fully your thanksgiving holiday.
attached are emails/letters sent to ms. adesina in 2013. i have sent her many emails in 2013 regarding the widespread abuses at usda. these emails address much of the personal & systemic discrimination, reported rape attempts, intimidation, assaults, reprisal, harassment, bullying and more. the treatment of Black farmers are equally if not more egregious as those of usda employees. if only those walls at usda could talk.
i will follow with additional details, some ms. adesina already has. we take these matters very seriously
we are still very interested in meeting congresswomen fudge....independent  Black farmers & the coalition.
i am looking forward to hearing from you soon.
lawrence lucas,19 year president
usda coalition of minority employees

From: LawrLCL@aol.com
To: kellie.adesina@mail.house.gov
CC: lawrlcl@aol.com
Sent: 2/1/2013 7:11:48 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Fwd: USDA Coalition Meeting Request to Secretary Tom Vilsack

 USDA Coalition of Minority Employees Demonstration, in Front of The White House, 2000

Another Request to Meet with Secretary Tom Vilsack

March 21, 2011
Mr. Secretary:
I am sending you this request, as per the orders I received from your office recently (phone call from an intern) stating that The Coalition must send any and all request to meet with you and others members of your leadership team through Dr. Joe Leonard.  Let me state, that as President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, I find this requirement an act of retaliation and desperate treatment. No other employee group is required to utilize this insensitive demeaning method to obtain an audience with you. The purpose of our meeting is to speak out for justice, dignity and respect, for minority farmers and a host of USDA employees in the Washington, DC area and around the country. Your continued refusal to meet with us sends a clear message that your administration is avoiding addressing our "issues and concerns" directly, or at all. This is an appearance of indifference and the beginning of an administrative melt down, on the part of USDA.
Dr. Leonard's physical demeanor and his words during our encounters were disrespectful and condescending to members of the Coalition. Under your leadership top Coalition board members and advisors have been subjected to investigations ("witch hunts"/"Reign of Terror") and or actions of reprisal (stemming from the Assistant Secretary for Management, Pearlie Reed) during your tenure. We find this behavior consistent with the way employees are treated under your administration, i.e., Shirley Sherrod, as a lead example.
Therefore, with much regret and trepidation, we are following your demands to request a meeting with you only after going to and through Dr. Joe Leonard. I must remind you that our numerous requests to meet with have fallen on deaf ears. This leads us to believe that the reason you have not meeting with The Coalition is that you are being ill advised by members of your leadership team. Mr. Secretary we do not have a mule or a tractor. However, we do have our voices and our shoes.
Unfortunately, Dr. Leonard's lack of attention to women's issues and refusal to allow  Lesa Donnelly to participate via telephone during his meeting with The Coalition in the future, has resulted in the filing of another Women's Class Action Complaint, Region 5, on behalf of all Forest Service Women in California. The bases are gender discrimination and reprisal. The issues are equal pay, non selection, promotion, training, and reprisal for protected activity. Some of the same women have begun filing reprisal complaints against you and members of your leadership team....for their participation in a protective activity.
Since September 2010, The Coalition have been discussing the possibility of a class action with your staff, i.e. Joe Leonard, Pearlie Reed, Harris Sherman, Karen Ross, Kathleen Merrigan, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, and Regional Forester Randy Moore. We tried our best to work with USDA leadership to resolve these issues at a low level to prevent a class action. However, these officials suddenly refused to meet with us.  It is unfortunate that USDA forced the California women into taking such serious action. It is also ironic that they had to file this class action less than one week after President Obama's radio address to the nation in which he stated, "Achieving equality and opportunity for women isn't just important to me as President. It's something I care about deeply as the father of two daughters who wants to see his girls grow up in a world where there are no limits to what they can achieve." I wonder how he will feel about this class action, which we tried numerous times to warn you of, but was ignored? 
It is evident that this Administration cares more about human and civil rights in the middle east, than it does at USDA.
   We look forward to meeting with you. Thank you.

Lawrence Lucas, President
USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
856/ 910-2399
cc: Coalition Board Members
      Valerie Jarrett, The White House
      No Fear Coalition
      The Coalition for Change
        John W. Boyd, Jr.

        Mathew Fogg, Vice President, FEW
           Carl Goldman, AFGE

           Chairperson, EEOC

A Pursuit for Civility, Dignity, and Respect

February 24, 2011
Secretary Vilsack:
Because of the importance and transparency your Administration places on civil rights, we are again requesting to meet with you to discuss the unfettered  racism, sexism, reprisal, intimidation, hostile work environment, bullying and other abuses perpetrated by USDA officials in Washington, DC and around the country. The fact that some of these abusers look like me does not exempt them from being held accountable for their egregious actions.  USDA has purposely chosen to neglect these widespread abuses and appears to be condoning the mistreatment of its customers and employees…"plantation mentality." We are again, appealing to you, to bring some sense of sanity to the civil rights environment at USDA. Civil rights must be your priority. If not, USDA will continue to ignore or hastily retaliate against innocent people…similar to the treatment of Mrs. Shirley Sherrod. 
Because The Coalition continues being outspoken on behalf of USDA employees and minority farmers, it appears that members of your leadership team have taken it upon themselves to attack The Coalition and its Executive Board Members, for trying to make USDA a model workplace, where there is dignity and respect. The Coalition's Board of Directors have recently and continue being the victims of USDA investigations and discriminated against. This is not a coincidence. There is an obvious widespread effort to marginalize and demonize our organization.
The Coalition (see documentation below), will not remain silent. Our history conveys the message that we will never run and hide, fearing attacks from within USDA.  The attachments illustrate the types of illegal actions your leadership team has taken, in an effort to silence our organization. We will continue to be vocal and stand whenever and wherever, necessary for minority farmers, USDA employees and the right of our organization to exist, free of retaliation/reprisal and other abuses.
We have a litany of information indicating that The Coalition has been trying to obtain a meeting with you for two years to help you fix USDA's continued dysfunctional and tainted civil rights administration and processing. The reduced number of cases filed is not a true indicator that USDA civil rights are better off now than two years ago. I am sure those responsible for USDA civil rights, have advised you otherwise. The denying of employees right to file their complaints with the USDA agencies is incomprehensible and more widespread than you are being told. 
We as a Nation cannot serve as a model of democracy to the rest of the world, if civil and human rights abuses continue at USDA. The abusers are attempting to silence "freedom of speech, and expression," including The Coalition's effort to address racism, sexual abuse/assault, reprisal, intimidation, racial epithets (hangman's noose, monkey dolls, Blacks referred to as "niggers"), and denying USDA employees the right of representation.  This is an attempt to intimidate and attack ideas they don't comprehend or dislike. This is America...not Egypt, Bahrain or Libya. Civil rights abuse is National in scope....Iowa, Mississippi, California, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Washington DC, Colorado, New York, Kansas and Georgia and more.
To place our many issues and concerns (see attached documentation), in the hands of top Obama/Vilsack officials such as your Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Dr. Joe Leonard is unacceptable. During our last meeting he refused to discuss our issues and concerns. In addition, he was disrespectful and insulting. He seemed more concerned with keeping his job, than doing his job.

Thank You. 

   Lawrence Lucas, President

   USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
 856/ 910-2399

cc. Coalition Board & Members Nation-Wide
November 10, 2010

TO:                  Secretary Tom Vilsack and Staff
SUBJECT:       Issues and Solutions Regarding USDA Civil Rights

The USDA Coalition of Minority Employees has on numerous occasions requested to meet with Secretary Vilsack concerning violations of USDA employees' and minority farmers civil rights by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Only once during his first few months on the job did he agreed to meet with the Coalition.  His staff on occasion has met with the Coalition:

Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary; Karen Ross, Chief of Staff; Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights; Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources; Edward Avalos; Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs; Steve Silverman, Deputy General Counsel; Tom Tidwell, Chief, Forest Service.

Yet, significant and systemic civil rights violations continue at USDA; the issues require the Secretary's immediate attention. The Secretary is responsible for the Department's civil rights violations and abuses.
The Coalition has identified significant problems and proposes solutions for the following issues:

1.      Failure to process civil rights complaints.  Institute immediately a Departmental program to resolve/reduce the backlog of complaints for both employees and minority farmers, especially, Black farmers.  

2.      Implement programs that have already been successful. Use the Glickman/Clinton administration model to resolve complaints and implement the remaining recommendations from the Civil Rights Action Team (CRAT) and the Civil Rights Implementation Team (CRIT) Reports. 

3.      Make the CRAT & CRIT Reports an immediate priority for implementation throughout USDA & all of its agencies. Place each of these reports back on the USDA website.  Require each agency to develop an internal resolution program (utilizing a USDA prescribed process) for mediating all cases in the administrative process. This process should be offered to all employees having outstanding cases.

4.      Immediately begin final negotiations to settle remaining class actions. Specifically, the Herron African American, Wilson/Benton class and resolve all remaining cases in Spencer.

5.      Reinstate and process minority farmers, especially Black farmers, administrative complaints that were allowed to lapse during the ten years of the Bush and Obama Administrations.  

6.      Investigate farmers' complaints. When a final decision is reached concerning allegations, send the farmers a letter to inform them of the decision made concerning the complaint.

7.      Fully implement recommendations in GAO Report of 2008 that contain remedies and viable options to address management deficiencies in the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

8.      Implement all issues and concerns in Senator Chuck Grassley's June 15, 2010, letter to Senator Blanche Lincoln, Chairperson Senate Agriculture Committee.

9.      Enforce USDA's regulations on accountability. Hold management officials and employees accountable for discrimination. Include a civil rights critical element in performance evaluations for officials, managers and supervisors.

10.  Require the USDA Office of Civil Rights to work in cooperation and partnership with the Coalition of Minority Employees to improve civil rights, workforce diversity, and recruitment agency-wide.  Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, has undermined progress and cooperation between the Office of Civil Rights and the Coalition. Only in a recent meeting with the Secretary's top staff, has he shown a desire to meet with the Coalition.

11.  Report and process all reprisal complaints expeditiously via the USDA Office of Civil Rights so that employees do not languish and suffer in an abusive environment.  The process is already in place; USDA should follow existing policies. Claims and documentation of reprisal should be maintained, documented and reported by the USDA Office of Civil Rights.   

12.  The USDA Office of Civil Rights has failed in its management responsibilities to conduct proper civil rights oversight and compliance reviews of all its agencies. This is a requirement that must be corrected.

13.  No USDA employee should be forced to resign or retire as a condition for settling a complaint. The Secretary should take immediate action to prevent this double discrimination from continuing.  This is a direct violation of Title VII. 

14.  Settle the long standing Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) case of a Black female employee that was called the "N" word, "MF", "You People" and other abuses. Top Obama officials at USDA refused to settle this egregious case. Also, settle another NRCS employee case who was wrongly discriminated against, now deceased. 

15.  The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Ames, Iowa laboratories has a long
history of racial epithets and hostile work environment that includes: reprisal, intimidation and bullying. There is no evidence that has been shared with the Coalition that top and lower management officials at those laboratories are being held accountable, for past and present abuses.
16.  The USDA tracking system and reporting process is an abysmal failure. Senator Grassley has said "A statutory mandate to publish reports on the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs but those reports are riddled with unreliable data."  The Coalition can only assume that the same applies to employment and record keeping as well since there are no published reports. This is not the civil rights transparency promised by the Secretary.

17.  Implement the GAO and 2008 Farm Bill Recommendation to hire an "Ombudsman". 

18.  Apologize to the five Black women, in the USDA Office of Civil Rights who were falsely accused of wrong doing and subject to a humiliating investigation.  This is a clear case of abuse of power. Even though their stories did not make national news, these women deserve to be accorded the same level of justice afforded Shirley Sherrod.

19.  USDA Office of Civil Rights must publish accurate civil rights reports and data which are treated as confidential or classified. We need more accountability and transparency. 

20.  The USDA Forest Service remains the most abusive and discriminatory agency in all of USDA.  The claims predominantly from women include: hostile work environment, reprisal, intimidation, sexual harassment, bullying and other abuses. Few officials are being held accountable. Priority should be placed on resolving cases in Forest Service Region 5.

21.  The USDA Forest Service during recent years paid out 4.2 million taxpayer dollars to one       contract attorney to battle employees in ADR/mediation process.  This money is better spent improving the working conditions of employees instead of saving the jobs of some civil rights abusers.

22.  Process for employee complaints (including ADR and Mediation) should be handled expeditiously. There are too many instances where resolving officials have not shown up; came without the authority to settle; declined to sign the negotiated agreement; came in bad faith; or refused the employee the right to a representative of their choosing. These intentional violations of civil rights regulations undermine the integrity and the intent of the process and further violate the employees' rights.

23.  Reinstate the USDA diversity recruitment programs at Iowa State University (Ames) and California Polytechnic University (Pomona).

24.  Hire employees in the Office of Civil Rights who know Title VI and VII.  Top management for USDA civil rights are not knowledgeable of the laws and the cases that interpret these and other civil rights statutes. 

25.  The Coalition has seen the Obama administration continue the abuses in the Office of Civil Rights. Unless there is an honest attempt to address these civil rights abuses, the Coalition recommends that the Office of Civil Rights be placed in "Receivership".    

It is imperative that we meet with you to assist in identifying and eliminating the underlying causes of discrimination throughout USDA. Working together we can assist in putting together a plan for preventing future individual and class complaints.

Thank you.
 Lawrence Lucas, President
USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
Phone: 856/ 910-2399 

Cc:   Coalition Representatives Nation-wide 

Sent: 2/9/2011 1:41:34 P.M. Eastern Standard Time

From: Lesa Donnelly [mailto:lesa@snowcrest.net]
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 9:32 AM
To: Cotton, Ron
Cc: Silverman, Steve; Merrigan, Kathleen; Harden, Krysta; O'Brien, Doug; Scheduling; Epstein, Linda; Mon S Yee; lawrlcl
Subject: Re: FW: a new tone of indifference directed at the usda coalition & membership

Lawrence, Ron, et. al -
I feel compelled to add to Lawrence's email. I am experiencing deja vu with this administration. Under the Bush administration, Mark Rey started his relationship with the Coalition by having meetings with us, acted as if he was listening, and said he wanted to correct problems. We suspended disbelief and believed him. But he wasn't sincere and civil rights violations flourished. Then came Vernon Parker. He made it clear he was not going to work with us. Mark Rey told me that it wasn't USDA/FS business when the female firefighter was raped in the Angeles NF barracks, it was police business, even though we previously reported that the crew was sexually harassing her. Vernon Parker told us it wasn't rape when the female firefighter was sexually assaulted in Sacramento because he didn't penetrate her with his penis. Yes, that is exactly what these men told us. This exemplifies the scope of their work with us. When the Barack Obama administration came, I had, yes, I'll say it, the audacity of hope (good book & audio tape). When we started our meetings with you all in September 2010, I was very hopeful. When you told me that Secretary Vilsack wanted an investigation of R5 and to correct the problems I was hopeful. But now, deja vu. Meetings - no action. No investigation, just a minor inquiry. Discussions of egregious acts against women - no action. An Asst. Secty for CR that is so blatantly anti-Coalition he makes Parker look good. And finally, the Secretary and his staff behaving the same way as under Bush, isolate and minimize the Coalition. What has changed? We did not expect the same attitudes and behaviors of this administration. President Obama needs to know that this is occurring, because it could hurt his administration, one I personally want to see succeed. I will provide a copy of my letter to the president to you all within the week.

The Honorable Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC  20250

February 4, 2011


Dear Secretary Vilsack:

     In May 2008, Lawrence Lucas, President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees (The Coalition) and I testified before congress for the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform, Adolphus Towns, Chairman. Our testimonies addressed egregious civil rights violations of women and others, especially in the Forest Service. In April 2009, I sent you a letter advising of serious and pervasive civil rights violations occurring in the Forest Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). I shared my concern about the long-term obstructionist officials that would undermine your new Civil Rights Initiative. In July 26, 2010, I sent you a similar letter also discussing the dysfunctional USDA civil rights program. During that time, I've sent dozens of emails to your staff advising of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, work place violence and other abuses. Little-to-no action has been taken to address these issues.

    From September 2010, through December 2010, The Coalition participated in several meetings with your staff, including Chief of Staff Karen Ross; Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Joe Leonard; Under Secretary Harris Sherman; Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary Doug O'Brien; HR Deputy Director Billy Milton; Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell; Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos, and others, to discuss civil rights problems and solutions. In addition, in October 2010, Lawrence Lucas provided your staff a letter with twenty-five civil rights issues and a formal request to jointly develop solutions and resolve the identified problems. In November, 2010, I provided Karen Ross a letter identifying incidents of harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, stalking, threats, intimidation, retaliation, and workplace bullying, in addition to matters of high level officials engaging in waste, fraud, and abuse. 

     I think it is evident that the Coalition has diligently attempted to communicate issues, concerns, and solutions to USDA during your tenure as Secretary of Agriculture. And yet, to this date we have seen little-to-no correction of these problems. Employees we identified in 2008, 2009, and 2010, are still being harassed and retaliated against. Not one offender has been held properly accountable. Repeat offenders continue the abuse. Many employees have still not been allowed mediation of EEO complaints. ADR resolving officials use retaliation tactics such as demotions and coerced retirements. Policies and procedures are used to the benefit of favored sons and daughters, and the detriment of others. High level officials abuse their authority for personal gain. There has been no visible "Transformation" that you have promised us.

     The Coalition has appreciated your staff meeting with us to discuss issues. Yet, there has been no visible action as a result of the meetings. Of particular concern has been the Coalition's discussions with Joe Leonard. The past two meetings were unproductive and actually quite disturbing due to Dr. Leonard's unprofessional behavior. The January 2010 meeting had been predetermined to be a discussion of the twenty-five action items prepared by The Coalition. Lawrence Lucas, Ron Cotton, and I attended. The meeting was reduced to raised voices and insults from Dr. Leonard. He started the meeting by stating he would not discuss our issues and concerns, flatly refusing to speak with us if I participated in the meeting via tele-conferencing. He focused on why The Coalition would not give him credit for "his" accomplishments. Our few meetings with Dr. Leonard have been non-productive and lacked substance. We do not believe this behavior is representative of your desire to work in cooperation and partnership with The Coalition. Unfortunately, Karen Ross insisted that we continue to work with Dr. Leonard despite the inability to have a productive meeting. I believe intervention is necessary to correct this matter.

     Of greatest concern, and one of the main reasons for writing this letter is the recent alleged investigation conducted by your staff and the Forest Service. In December, Billy Milton advised Lawrence Lucas, Ron Cotton, and I, that you, Mr. Secretary had directed him, via Pearlie Reed to conduct an investigation based on my allegations of serious Forest Service civil rights violations. I was asked to speak with an investigator. I agreed and gave a sworn, signed affidavit discussing multiple incidents, employee names, and examples of dysfunctional personnel/civil rights processes. In my affidavit I stated that there were numerous other employees waiting to speak with an investigator, yet I was the only person interviewed. The investigator said he was told that my affidavit would be used to start a personnel misconduct investigation. During the week of January 10, 2011, new investigators interviewed some of the employees identified in my affidavit. However, an investigation was not conducted. It was an informal inquiry. Unlike myself, employees were not placed under oath and did not provide signed affidavits. Employees were not permitted to see or confirm the statements made to the investigator.  Many employees informed me that they were not allowed to provide information regarding their issues. Statements in my affidavit were read to the employees and they were asked to confirm whether my statement was true. This is highly unconventional. A few weeks before the inquiry, Mr. Milton told me the agency was waiting to complete the upcoming "investigation" to determine how to settle one woman's EEO case. He reiterated this during the December 20, 2010, meeting with Harris Sherman and Tom Tidwell. However, when the investigator interviewed the woman she was told it was, "just an inquiry" and she did not want specific details. It is readily apparent that there was little motivation by your staff to gather substantial and factual information about the alleged  Forest Service civil rights violations.

     On more than one occasion Mr. Milton characterized the Forest Service investigation as being directed by you because you were serious about the Transformation, very concerned about the continual civil rights problems and complaints in the Forest Service, and you wanted an investigation based on my allegations as a first step to correcting the problem. If this is true, your staff did not follow this direction. Not permitting employees to provide statements undermines the entire investigative process. Reading my sworn statement to employees to check its veracity is an investigation of me, not the employees' complaints. This action is not unlike the situation that occurred in 2010, when top Obama officials in your administration (one, said to be Pearlie Reed) falsely charged five African American women in the Office of Civil Rights with divulging information regarding farmer cases. During the investigation, a substantial number of questions were asked about their relationship with Lawrence Lucas, i.e. an investigation of Mr. Lucas. These incidents are too similar to go unnoticed. It is not unreasonable to question why I, a non-employee was asked to provide a sworn statement with hearsay information, but the complainants themselves were not permitted to give sworn statements or discuss the civil rights violations they incurred or observed first-hand.

     Prior to the inquiry, Billy Milton had been amiable, communicative, and told me I could call him with any questions or concerns. So I contacted Mr. Milton on February 1, 2011, to gain insight on the inquiry matter. Unfortunately, Mr. Milton was hostile and rude from the beginning. He implied I was lying when I told him employees were not permitted to discuss their issues and were instead asked to verify my statement. He told me the investigation was not my concern and abruptly hung up. His attitude convinced me that little good will come of the inquiry.

     Mr. Secretary, I am now compelled to insure you are provided with accurate information regarding the civil rights violations of USDA employees, and the waste, fraud, and abuse committed by some of your officials. We will provide you a substantial number of notarized affidavits from Forest Service employees. It is my hope that someone in the Obama administration will understand the disturbing situation  and see that action must be taken to address USDA's widespread civil rights problems.

     While we have been coming to the meetings with your staff in good faith to discuss problems and identify solutions, it is evident that some of your staff's intentions have been nefarious. Apparently, their goal is to undermine our attempts to assist you with your Transformation to make the USDA a place of respect, dignity, and equal opportunity for all employees. Mr. Secretary, as I stated in my 2009 letter, officials who are obstructionist make your work harder. They create Shirley Sherrod scenarios. If the Forest Service situation is not addressed, it is quite possible you will have another Sherrod situation on your hands in the near future. In fact, at this point it seems inevitable.

     On a more positive note, I have seen a glimmer of action occurring in Region 5. Mr. Moore has recently taken steps (albeit baby steps) to correct a couple of egregious situations. He has also requested our assistance to work with him on some important issues. I am hopeful he will receive your support to continue in this direction. My reasonable concern is that certain personnel may undermine our efforts. I ask for your oversight on this situation.

     Secretary Vilsack, for almost two years The Coalition has been requesting a meeting with you. I think it has become more important than ever to meet and resolve the identified problems.  Please feel free to contact either Lawrence or me if you wish to discuss matters in this letter.


/s/Lesa L. Donnelly
Vice-President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees

cc: The White House
       President Barack Obama
       Valerie Jarrett
     Senator Charles Grassley
     Lawrence Lucas, President, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees    
     Ron Cotton, Senior Advisor, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees
     Kathleen Merrigan
     Krysta Harden
     Pearlie Reed
     Harris Sherman
     Dr. Joe Leonard
     Edward Avalos
     Tom Tidwell
     Coalition Membership


February 21, 2011

I trust that you are doing well.  I thought I would make you aware of something that came to my attention this past Thursday, February 17.   I was informed that Billy Milton has been conducting an investigation of me and has been for many months.  He has been making repeated comments to my supervisor and his supervisor about me and my activities as they relate to the U.S.D.A. Coalition of Minority Employees (The Coalition).  As you know, I have been actively engaged in Civil Rights activities for many, years.  I was privileged to assist in small way with the CRIT and CRAT teams, which you lead.  In my view, which is shared by many in the Coalition and throughout the Civil Rights community, your effort with that is one of the most significant Civil Rights efforts related to USDA in decades.
It is clear that a pattern has developed with Mr. Milton and those with whom he corroborates with. These "investigations" began with Mr. Lucas, next Lesa Donnelly, and now me.   We are of the belief that Mr. Milton's efforts would better serve the American taxpayers, if he would direct his efforts toward those in California that are raping women wile on official time, Ames Iowa, where employees are being abused and given "Monkey Dolls" and called the "N" word and endure hangman's nooses in the workplace.  In Mississippi, where African Americans are targeted and abused for exposing wrongdoing, In Louisiana, where an female employee had to file a police report on an abusive individual. And even here in Washington, D.C. in FSA, DM, NIFA, and other agencies.  All of this improper conduct/activities on official time and on federal property.  Mr. Milton has been made aware of the things mentioned here.  Yet, no actions on his part.  
I nor Lesa or Mr. Lucas, have done anything that meets the standard of misconduct. It could be that Mr. Milton does not understand that my activities and those of the Coalition are what are defined as "Protected Activity." I have done nothing that hinders my ability to do my job.  I work on work assignments in many cases outside of normal business hours to unsure that I do.  My manager has insured that I have the tools needed to be effective even remotely. As a side thought, most do not realize that I have been fully trained to read, interpret, and apply personnel, rules, laws, and regulations.  During my many years as an EEO Counselor, John Richburg, then Director of EEO mandated it.  The skill does come in handy when needed.  You know how it is with some African American Males, we have the credentials, but no one wants to acknowledge them, because we don't' use them to abuse others.  Based on Mr. Milton's actions, I am wondering if I am in Egypt or America or some other country were Mr. Milton's actions would be the normal course of action(s) against its citizens.
I point all of this out to you because Mr. Milton has made it clear that he only does what you and Robin Heard and the Secretary direct that he do.  Therefore, I am reaching out to you to direct Mr. Milton's efforts away from Ron Cotton, Lawrence Lucas, Lesa Donnelly, unless it is to partner with us to effect positive change at USDA.  This adversarial approach does not reflect well on you.

Ron Cotton

Email by Mr. James Bankston, February 8, 2011, Issue of Employment & Black Farmer Discrimination & Other Abuse, NRCS, Mississippi
Mr. Lucas, Mr. Taylor and myself applaud your relentless pursuit of justice for the minority employees of USDA and Black farmers that are applicants or potential applicants for USDA programs. But, Mr. Lucas it is my experience Americans have a tendecy to honor the prejudices of their culture and are labeled traitors if they do not: Remember how many white Americans hated former president Jimmy Carter and called him a traitor. If Mr. Garner had  the temerity to do the right thing in addressing the discrimination against Willie Taylor and the Black farmers by Mr. Joyner and Mr. Kennedy he will likely be considered a traitor and called a "Nigger Lover". 
 To compound this culturally based racial bias Dr. Wilkes has a history of defending and sustaining agressively the racism and bigotry of his White managers against Black employees and Black farmers as he is doing in these cases we are presently fighting.

Until racism and discrimination is addressed at the grass roots level in USDA bigotry will flourish. The Black managers and executives at USDA have status but have not the authority or strength of character to address racism and bigotry in USDA.
I insist on an investigation of the appearance of corruption by Joyner and Kennedy regardless of mediation to address or settle the discrete acts of discrimination we have been attempting to resolve. I wish you luck in addressing these issues in DC tomorrow.

James E. Bankston