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By tomsoterwriting - Posted on 09 May 2011

Was co-op board president Nick Biondi a liar? Biondi was widely branded as a racist – in fact, as a symbol of racism – after the co-op board of which he was president rejected an African-American man for an apartment in Biondi’s posh building. I talked to Biondi years after he had lost a lawsuit (and thousands of dollars in punitive damages) over the matter, and he insisted he was innocent.

Was he lying? Hard to say. Even though my first boss once said to me, “The best lies are those which you yourself believe,” I don’t think Biondi was lying to me or to himself. For proof, you have to follow Joe Friday’s dictum on Dragnet: “Just the facts.” And the facts in the case – the logic of the story – seem to indicate that Biondi and his board got a bum rap.

As I said in a story I wrote on the subject in March 2001: “If it was racism...this board seems an odd candidate for the charge: [board director Michael] Silverman, who had lived in South Africa and had known Nelson Mandela in the 1960s, notes that he left that country many years ago because of its apartheid policies. Biondi says that he rented one of the two apartments he owned [in the co-op] to a black woman, while Lawrence Wiener, the sponsor and [a] board member...has a stepbrother and stepsister who are black...”

Racist? I don't think so. But who knows for sure?

May 9, 2011