Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hired Ed Boks the Director of Animal Services without checking out his references. He did not know that Boks had just been sued for racial discrimination and unlawful termination a month before he hired him. When the City was apprised of the lawsuit in January 2006, Boks told the Mayor that the lawsuit "had no merit." Antonio did not investigate and took him at his word. Judge Kimba Wood in New York has ruled otherwise.
In an opinion and order dated March 27, 2009 Judge Wood stated that "Viewing the available evidence as a whole, the Court finds that a reasonable jury could conclude that Defendants terminated Plaintiff because of his race." Since the judge's ruling the City of New York has decided to settle with the plaintiff Wesley Artope. The exact amount is unknown at this time.
November 1, 2005 Wesley Artope filed a lawsuit against Ed Boks and New York City Animal Care and Control for racial discrimination and unlawful termination. African American Artope claimed that he was fired so that Boks could hire a personal friend, Richard Gentles who was white and had no experience. On top of this Gentles had recently been fired from the Parks and Recreation Department after being arrested and charged with a felony work-related crime. To make things even more awkward Gentles was a friend of the woman Boks was "seeing" who sat on the board that over saw his Department.
As per the lawsuit Artope had been with the Department for many years and was better qualified than his replacement. "Plaintiff was promoted regularly to positions of increasing responsibility. Plaintiff has an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology and a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. Plaintiff also has licenses and certifications as a veterinary technician, animal handler, and animal rehabilitator, and work experience in animal training, handling, and treatment." Gentles who replaced him on the other hand had no animal-related experience at all. In deposition Gentles admits that his “only experience with veterinary personnel was when he took his pets to the veterinarian.”
Boks initially told Artope that he was fired for "budgetary and restructuring reasons." After Artope filed suit Boks changed his story and stated he was fired because of "poor performance." Oddly enough Artope had never been told his performance was lacking. In fact he was told his performance was "great." The Judge did not believe Boks' claim that he fired him because of poor performance.
Boks tried to make the case that he did not discriminate based on race because he also fired two white people and demoted another. The records show that he only demoted one white person. Boks also failed to state that the white person was offered to be demoted instead of fired, and they accepted. Boks did not make this same offer to Artope. The Judge did not believe Boks' argument.
Artope claimed that when he was fired he was not given the chance to apply for the new position which replaced his. In fact Boks gave the job to his friend Gentles without making it available to anyone which is against City policy. Boks had no explanation for this action at all.
A source close to Boks said Boks gave them this explanation for why he fired Artope and hired his friend Gentles. Boks stated that Artope was "just a lazy black employee." He wanted to fire him but couldn't because of the union. He decided to get rid of his position, then recreate his position with a new title. He wanted his personal friend to have the job because he was "like-minded" and needed a job.
While in New York and Los Angeles Boks had a singles ad on Match.com. In his profile he stated that he is only interested in "white/caucasian" women. No Hispanic, African American or even Asian need apply. Was this whole thing a case of racism or croneyism, or perhaps a little of both?
What is most disturbing is that Antonio Villaraigosa hired Ed Boks immediately after he'd been sued for racial discrimination, immediately after he'd been fired from New York. In deposition it was stated that the Mayor's Office in New York "hated" Boks and frequently reprimanded him for bad behavior. Deputy Mayor Jimmy Blackman was in charge of vetting Boks. Why didn't he talk to the people in New York before hiring Boks? Why did LA hire a man who was fired from his previous position because of bad behavior?
Since Boks has come to LA he's managed to garner the wrath of personnel, volunteers, animal rescuers, the public and even City Council, a first for any Director. It's been one mistake after another from the "Hooters for Neuters" bikini contest to the Pitbull Academy run by ex-cons to incurring countless lawsuits. Through all of this Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has stood by his side, even after Boks was reported for driving the City vehicle drunk and sexually harassing female rescuers. This is on top of Boks' poor performance with increased euthanasia and three times as many animals dying on their own in the shelter from illness and injury. It really makes one doubt the abilities of our Mayor. How many other "Ed Boks" has the Mayor appointed to top positions in our City? Does the Mayor even know what is happening? Is he even in town?
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