So I testified before the grand jury in the matter of the People vs. Richard Sheeran and life went on. The only person I talked to about it was my mother.
I had been hired by Dr. Gerald Grant to work on the competence-based education project through the Syracuse Research Corporation, formerly the Syracuse University Research Corporation (SURC). SURC existed as the research branch of the university but a substantial portion of its research contracts were with the U.S. Department of Defense—then came the Vietnam war and SURC was seen as engaging in bigger, better ways to kill people. SURC disaffiliated with the university and became simply SRC—the Syracuse Research Corporation, however SRC’s only clients were Syracuse University professors who got government research grants, such as Jerry Grant’s.
The competence-based education project had to produce a final report of eighteen chapters—nine on research and nine “think” pieces. I was hired as a secretary to type, file and photocopy but took it upon myself to do some editing. Jerry Grant discovered that I was really good at it and turned all the style editing over to me. I was the happiest I’d ever been on a job. I got to get up every morning and make words right! There were two of us secretaries working full-time in a converted house on the north side of campus—professors and students would wander in and out from time to time, but basically we were alone there. That was the jobsite to which I returned after my grand jury testimony.
Then Jerry Grant decided to quit the project. He was under contract to bring in the final report in three years however he was pretty poor at keeping his researchers—nine located all over the country—on schedule. The job wasn’t done but Jerry was tired of it so he decided to reinterpret his contract as a three-year contract, not a complete-the-project contract, and he quit. And who was to bring in the final report? Annie, the secretary.
My work was moved from the main campus to SRC headquarters, a sprawling one-story brick building located down the road and over the hill on the south side of Syracuse University. I had just been screwed and didn’t know it. In the early years of feminism, we proceeded on the dutiful-daughter basis that good work would be rewarded. If you did a particularly outstanding job then the good old boy network would reward you with more money and a more important title.
In fact, I was a secretary working as an editor and I never got the title or the money. I was happy to be doing work I enjoyed—and have never been particularly motivated by money—so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I tracked four drafts of eighteen chapters with researchers all over the country. I worked with the production department and designed the layout of the two-volume book, choose the typeface and colors for it, and periodically met with the president of the company who kept asking when the project would be completed.
I had my own large, multi-windowed, paper-filled office at the back of the building and that’s where I was working on the day the indictments were announced on the radio. I grabbed a draft of “On Comptence” and wrote notes on the back of it as I listened to the news.
Sheeran & Bachman yesterday Edward Gerber “stunned”
Three Republicans Deputy County Comptroller, County Purchasing, “D Co Co”
Released on own recognizance
Bribe receiving coercion
Hanlon shocked “smear these individuals” “I know these three individuals and I know them to be honest”
Three employees Dept. of Audit
216 violations felony bribery extortion conspiracy
Pled innocent Lyman Smith
Onondaga County’s Deputy Comptroller Richard Sheeran, Purchasing Director John Bachman and one other person—all Republicans—were the first people arrested on indictments produced by the Special Prosecutor’s Office. Sheeran’s attorney was Edward Gerber and his client was “stunned.” The men were released on their own recognizance. The charges against them included bribe-receiving and coercion. Richard Hanlon was shocked that the Special Prosecutor was smearing these men. “I know these three individuals and I know them to be honest” said he, chairman of the Onondaga County Republican Committee. The three defendants were charged with 216 violations, mostly misdemeanor charges, but also felony charges of bribery, attempted extortion and conspiracy. The defendants pled innocent before State Supreme Court Justice Lyman Smith.
I went home and called my best friend—the one who had told me to grow up and accept the shakedown. She still worked for an attorney who was the son of the Onondaga County Attorney. She said, “We just won’t be able to talk about this.” It was the beginning of the end of our friendship.
The next morning I bought a copy of the Post-Standard and read it on my way to work, wondering if I would be mentioned in any story about the arrest of Richard Sheeran. Uh, yeah. In a box in the lower right-hand corner of the front page, the charges were reported. Two of the felony charges were based on my testimony. Holy shit.
In the middle of the morning, Dr. Warren Zeigler, foster-father of the Citizen Power group of the Civic Literacy Project, walked into my office, handed me a bottle of wine from his briefcase and said, “While we were talking civic literacy, you were practicing it.”
All people share the right and the responsibility to make the decisions that affect their lives together.