More women come forward as pressure intensifies on Baltimore’s housing commissioner to resign
TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: This is Taya Graham reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland. Lawyers have added new allegations in their lawsuit against the city in the sex for maintenance scandal in the troubled city housing project of Gimor Homes. ANNIE HIRSCH: The allegations are [inaud.] that is what we believe, based on what people have been telling us. GRAHAM: The initial lawsuit filed against the housing department included seven women who claimed they were asked to trade sexual favors by maintenance workers in exchange for repairs at the decrepit city housing project. But now lawyers say more women have come forward and the total has climbed to eleven. HIRSCH: The new allegations include the addition of several plaintiffs, four to be exact, which also include another facility and another defendant. GRAHAM: A pattern of harassment that they claim the city was aware of and the union who represents maintenance workers had already investigated. HIRSCH: We also have witness affidavits that include union members who actually tried to conduct an investigation and were deterred from doing so and told to stop pursuing any kind of investigation. GRAHAM: And also included an executive assistant to the deputy housing commissioner, who too was harassed even though she informed her supervisor. HIRSCH: The allegations also include one woman who is actually a former employee of the HABC. She is an assistant to one of the higher-ups, and she has informed us that she did in fact tell somebody there, and nothing was done about it. GRAHAM: In all the cases, according to [amended] complaint file today, the city did nothing. It’s a mounting litany of allegations of malfeasance and miscues that is adding to the pressure for City Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano to resign. And another indictment of the city’s neglect of public housing and the economic divide it engenders, even as the Inner Harbor continues to expand. But they are also transgressions that are beginning to catch the attention of activists. Over the past two weeks, protesters have occupied City Hall. One of their demands: that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fire Housing Commissioner Graziano. LAWRENCE GRAMPE: The demands were for the police commissioner of Baltimore to rescind his aggressive policing of protesters, first. Secondly, that Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano be fired. GRAHAM: A demand that so far has not been met. Still, residents of Gilmor Homes say change is needed in a community that until now has been largely ignored. LENISE DIGGS: If he knew about it and didn’t do anything about it, and waited to the last minute to do something about it, I think he should be removed and put somebody new in there that’s going to, you know, work with the people. GRAHAM: Accountability for past sins they say is the only way to move towards the future. DIGGS: They try to prey on people that they think is vulnerable to it. And I don’t think it’s fair. GRAHAM: This is Taya Graham, Stephen Janis, and Megan Sherman reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.