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OWS Redistributes City’s Wealth to Their Lawyers

Occupy Wall Street has finally achieved success in their mission to redistribute wealth from the haves (the taxpayers of the City of New York) to the have-nots (lawyers in the City of New York). Perhaps this exact redistribution wasn’t quite what the group set out to achieve, but thanks to a lawsuit recently settled between the city and Occupy’s lawyers, that’s what the group has accomplished.

CBS News reports on the settlement that landed Occupy’s lawyers with almost four times as much cash as the group itself:

A settlement was announced Tuesday in a lawsuit over the seizure of the Occupy Wall Street library at Zuccotti Park.

Siegel says the settlement, announced Tuesday, calls for the city to pay $47,000 for the loss of books and $186,000 in legal fees. About $16,000 will come from Brookfield.

A city Law Department spokeswoman released a statement saying that “sometimes cases are settled to avoid drawn-out litigation that bolsters plaintiff attorney fees.”

What has the group achieved with this lawsuit? Its lawyer told the Village Voice, “This was not just about money, it was about constitutional rights and the destruction of books.” While pressing ahead with this lawsuit, the group neglected to explain, if the lawsuit isn’t about money, where exactly the cash settlement will be going. The group stated on its website after the settlement was announced that “The money that GlobalRev recovers from this settlement will be used to outfit more citizen journalists, and to train and equip more people to bring us the real stories of what is going on in the streets.” How will this plan be executed and where will the accountability and oversight lie? If the group’s past with financial disclosures is any indication, its members and sympathizers should keep their expectations quite low.

The group’s accounting website hasn’t been updated since September, when it admitted that infighting over the group’s cash reserves had fractured the movement:

The Accounting Working group has had a long discussion about consensus and responsibility over several weeks.  We have decided we are currently unable to recognize the ability of the group meeting on Saturday evenings at Liberty Plaza to access the General Fund and make spending decisions for our community. Other GAs [General Assemblies] have popped up across NYC over the months, but we have not yet seen a community meeting which has the buy-in of a wide range of the OWS community. Thus, we are unable to acknowledge the spending decisions of this group.

The last known accounting of the group’s resources seems to have been reported by the Daily Caller in early 2012, indicating that as of December 2011 the group had about $100,000 in cash reserves in its bank account. Another report from around that same time by CNN Money put the total around $455,000. An accounting meeting early last year devolved into chaos, as the group’s own minutes humorously portray:

Guy insists that bank statements should be published, regardless of whether GA wants it.

Calvin tries to speak to the frustration with how slow things can be in horizontal movement. It can be hard to make a decision or to know “who is in charge” when we all are. Things can be really slow…

Danielle talks about how, since the park, people’s anger at the banks seems to be turning on each other, and on the accounting group. She describes the increased transparency that they have been trying to enact through the website.

Guy starts shouting about accounting having revealed their agenda. Makes crude sexual remarks.

Facilitation tries to extend time but Janet and shouting guy not listening. Meeting time expires and meeting closes.

The group pledged three months later to publish its donations and expenditures online, however the links to view both reports are inactive. If money really is the root of all evil, as many of the participants’ signs claimed during its occupation of Zuccotti Park, then Occupy Wall Street and its lawyers just became a little bit more evil. 



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