Dear Jonathan,
Thank you for taking the opportunity to address my recent demonstrations against The Corcoran Group in “Occupy Corcoran: Do The Facts Add Up?,” posted to your Web site Brownstoner.com on Tuesday. These complex matters certainly demand the kind of expansive analysis you provided, though many of its claims hinge on arguments evacuated of important details. Maybe these facts will help make the math add up.

First, your criticism that my conflation of one person’s wrongdoings with an entire company leaves out the role of Corcoran’s corporate management in this problem.

I first aired my grievances with senior managing director Juliana Brown, who, from her administrative role, actively denied any wrongdoing or responsibility on the part of my agent. Her defense even extended to the most egregious ethical lapse: broker Arlene Booth’s failure to provide me with New York State’s Agency Disclosure Form until after I had signed my contract (well after it is required by law). Further, when I explained that Ms. Booth asking me to sign, but not date, the form was unlawful, Ms. Brown denied its illegality and claimed that the company implemented the disclosure form voluntarily.

Ms. Brown lied. In fact, this form became a requirement of New York law on January 1, 2011, with the stated intention of helping buyers or sellers “make informed choices about [their] relationship with the real estate broker and its sales agents.” It set out to combat the plight of uninformed consumers and to make the naive person you call me a bit more wise.

Second, your criticism that I singled out an “unconnected Corcoran broker” – thereby “threatening her livelihood” – is misinformed. The broker whose open house I demonstrated outside of last weekend (Merele Williams-Adkins) is a Corcoran Group vice president.

As a leader, Ms. Williams-Adkins has a duty to maintain and protect the ethical standards of the company. You also fail to note the threatening confrontation Ms. Williams-Adkins provoked when her husband arrived and warned me to never show up at his “wife’s open houses again.” Finally, I have never “harass[ed] potential buyers,” as you say. I politely offer my leaflets to appreciative members of the public.

In sum, your argument operates from a deeply cynical perspective: you presume that any attack on a commonly-loathed profession – against “dishonest” realtors or “fat-cat” bankers, lets say – is unfounded and opportunistic. Fortunately, this kind of cynicism has at certain times in history been defeated, winning us some of our most coveted rights (against the will of “corrupt” politicians). Every profession demands accountability. Even teachers, doctors and publishers like yourself, who must preserve their duty to the public against the pressure of satisfying advertisers.

I hope that your obligations fall on the side of your readers and you join me in making, perhaps, the general public more aware of their role in the real estate market.

Sincerely,
David

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