Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teachout And Astorino To Make Joint Appearance To Hammer Cuomo On His Lack Of Ethics

Nick Reisman at State of Politics:
Astorino, meanwhile, due to make a joint appearance with Zephyr Teachout this morning at the Tweed Courthouse — an eyebrow raising event that could garner both campaigns more attention during a relatively slow summer.

Teachout, a Fordham law professor, is challenging Cuomo on the Democratic primary ballot (Her petitions are being challenged by the governor’s re-election campaign).
The joint appearance comes as both Astorino and Teachout try to raise their name recognition with voters and gain the attention of Cuomo.

Ken Lovett in a tweet:

Both Teachout and Astorino have their work cut out for them.

Cuomo has a big lead on Astorino in the latest Siena poll and Astorino isn't registering much with voters yet.

Meanwhile Teachout has to survive a challenge to her ballot petitions and then start to get some traction with liberals and progressives angry at Cuomo for his corporate-friendly policies.

Still, it's good to see Teachout and Astorino join forces today to hammer Cuomo on his lack of ethics.

If there's any opening these two have to go at Cuomo, it's over ethics and corruption.

That is, unless Preet Bharara decides to go at him first:


If Christie Doesn't "Invest In Lost Causes," Why Is He Running For President?

From Politics on the Hudson:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered a harsh assessment of Rob Astorino’s candidacy for New York governor, saying tonight that the Republican Governors Association won’t “invest in lost causes.”

Christie heads the association and met with Astorino, a fellow Republican, last November in Arizona, when Astorino was first starting to seriously consider a run for governor.

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” Christie said during a fundraising trip to Connecticut, according to NJ.com.

Oh, snap, Chris!

That is so cold!

And if true, why are you running for president?

Because between Bridgegate, the Sandy funds mess, the investigation into how Port Authority money wound up getting used for the Pulaski and the various other Port Authority scandals involving your cronies and conflicts of interest, your "cause" running for the White House is about as lost as Astorino's running against Cuomo.

Just saying.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How Quickly New York Has Soured On The Common Core

Dave Weigel at Slate reacting to the Siena poll that found 49% of New Yorkers want Common Core implementation stopped - including 53% of independents:

The new Siena poll doesn't contain many surprises—Andrew Cuomo easily leads his re-election race, challenger Zephyr Teachout has yet to register, etc. It's really just the question, and answers, about the Common Core education curriculum that surprised me.
In a very short time, opposition to Common Core has evolved from a fringe Republican position that blue-staters laugh at to a position that clearly wins out in blue New York. When independents break against something by a 14-point margin, politicians generally look awkwardly for the escape hatches.

Core supporters and proponents continue to act as if CCSS critics and opponents are on the fringe, but increasingly even the most ardent Core proponent and shill has to see how quickly the opposition to the Core is mounting in New York on the entire political spectrum.

Democrats support the Common Core 47%-40%.

That's the best the Core supporters have here in New York.

Independents oppose it 53%-39% and Republicans oppose it 60%-25%.

Given the trajectory of Core support over the past year, I don't think it's unreasonable to predict that it will be underwater even with Dems in six months or so.

And as Weigel notes, when you start to see independents oppose some program or reform by a 14 point margin, politicians start to bail on that program or reform.

I'm betting even the shrillest of the Common Core shills has to be looking at this Siena poll today and thinking "It's over..."

Edu-Entrepreneurs And Lobbyists Flood Cuomo's "Smart Schools" Forum

Not a surprise - that "Smart Schools Commission meeting" I blogged about earlier was filled with edu-entrepreneurs and corporate lobbyists looking to feed off the public trough:

Rather than being filled solely with educators, many of the roughly 100 people who came to a Smart Schools Public Symposium earlier Monday were lobbyists and representatives of telecoms, networking companies, software and hardware providers as well as other businesses that service the Internet and its digital economy.
That’s because the symposium came amid the knowledge that voters this fall will decide on a $2 billion bond referendum which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gotten on the ballot to, if it passes, modernize the state’s school buildings.
If the bond passes, these companies will be competing to equip schools with the latest broadband wiring and all that goes along with it.

And check out all the fun jargon, buzzwords and other bullshit Cuomo highlighted in his press release:

The Smart Schools Commission is charged with advising the State on how to best enhance teaching and learning through technology. The Governor instated the Commission in spring 2014 in order to reimagine New York’s public schools for the 21st Century. Access to advanced technology fosters a more interactive and personalized classroom experience while facilitating increased communication between parents, students, and teachers. Embracing innovation in education is an important step towards helping New York’s students gain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century economy.

...

The five experts highlighted to the Commission and community members the need and ability to: enrich the in-classroom learning experience by incorporating the use of tablets, laptops and smartphones; extend preparation for student instruction by using web-based software accessible at home, increase communication between the instructor and student’s guardian; provide more descriptive academic progress reporting; and to support these changes, build a robust network of high-speed broadband and wi-fi connectivity throughout New York’s public schools and communities. Challenges that the panel encouraged the Commission to address include the difficulty of providing broadband access to rural regions of Upstate New York and the initial implementation of new technology in the classroom.

In short, lots of yummy yummy taxpayer-provided funds for Cuomo's corporate criminal friends to gobble up - all so that we can envision and create "The Classroom of Tomorrow" today.

Sounds like the kind of claptrap I used to see hawked in "Tomorrowland" in Disney World when my parents took me there in the 70's.

Here's an idea - how about we create the "Classroom of Yesterday" when students used to read books, engage in discussions with peers and teachers and, golly, not stare at a freaking computer screen all day?

Nahh - no money to be made off that.

Because that's what this is all about, of course - funding a whole bunch of giveaways to Cuomo's corporate buddies and edu-entrepreneur friends while making believe he's "improving schools"!

Cuomo's Dumb Schools Initiative Meets Later In The Week

From State of Politics:

At 1 p.m., the first meeting about the broadband availability enhancement component of the Smart Schools Initiative will be held, Blue Room, second floor, state Capitol.

Seems like Cuomo's "Smart Schools Initiative" could have made Frederick Hess' 10 School Reform Phrases That Should Trigger Your BS Detector list:

Education is filled with jargon, buzzwords, and BS. I've had a lot of fun over the years skewering the inanity that gets bandied about in education research and professional development. Education policy and school reform are rife with their own vapid vocabulary.
It's worth flagging this stuff. Doing so reminds us that fatuous phrases don't make problems go away.  It helps puncture sugarplum visions fueled by hot air. Left unchallenged, pat phrases allow wishful thinking to stand in for messy realities. After all, these fatuous phrases are pervasive. Here are 10 phrases that, when heard, should cause listeners to ask the speaker to explain what he or she means, using words that actually mean something.

"Smart" as applied to "regulation" made it to #8 on the list:

8. "Smart regulation." (You know, as opposed to those championing "dumb regulation." A similar caution also applies to calls for "smart accountability," "smart teacher evaluation," or "smart" anything else. Attaching an adjective doesn't make problems go away.)

Let's add a similar caution to calls for a "Smart Schools Initiative." 

As Hess noted, education is filled with jargon, buzzwords and bullshit.

I would add, education in New York during the Cuomo/Tisch/King Era is REALLY filled with jargon, buzzwords and bullshit.

Daily News Continues To Shill For The Common Core

A Siena poll released today found the following:

BY a 49-39 percent margin, voters want to see implementation of the Common Core stopped rather than continued.

Despite these numbers, Common Core-supporting newspaper the Daily News reports voters are "split" on the Core here in New York.

Here's their headline:

Voters back Cuomo; split on Common Core and hydrofracking: Siena Poll

Since when is 49%-39% - a 10 percent plurality in opposition to the Core - a "split"?

50%-50% is a split.

51%-49% is a split.

Hell, I might even go with 52%-48% is close to a split if the argument you make to back that up is good enough.

But 49%-39% is a "split"?

Nahh - that's a 10 percentage point plurality of NYers who are opposed to the Core.

Leave it to the pro-CCSS hacks at the Daily News, ever the evangelicals for the Common Core, to continue to carry the Gospel of the Common Core to the masses in their Siena poll story headline even as the masses turn against it.

No wonder the print edition of the Daily News isn't long for this world.

When you're buying a newspaper, you kinda want it to, I dunno, cover the news accurately and truthfully.

Siena Poll Finds 49% Of New Yorkers Say Common Core Needs To Go

These poll numbers are going to make NYSED Commissioner King and Regents Chancellor Tisch very, very sad:

BY a 49-39 percent margin, voters want to see implementation of the Common Core stopped rather than continued.

Digging into the numbers:

"While a majority of New York City voters and a plurality of Democrats think Common Core standards continue to be implemented, a majority of Republicans, independents and upstaters, and a plurality of downstate suburbanites think implementation should be stopped. A majority of white voters want implementation stopped, a majority of black voters want implementation continued, and Hispanic voters are evenly divided," Greenberg said.

Support for the Common Core has plummeted across the state, with New York City the only stronghold of support remaining.

But if I were John King, Merryl Tisch, Andrew Cuomo or any other Common Core proponent, I wouldn't take much solace from that because the trajectory of CCSS support is clearly tanking.

By a 47%-40% margin, Dems in the state support CCSS.

By 60%-25% margin, Republicans oppose CCSS.

And by a 53%-39% margin, independents oppose CCSS.

Common Core proponents have completely lost Republicans, they have lost a majority of independents and they've lost 40% of Dems, maintaining a slim 7 point plurality in Dem support for the Core.

So far, Core proponents have been able to keep the Core alive and well in NY State and until politicians are made to pay for their political support of the Core and the ancillary reforms like testing and teacher evaluations tied to tests that go with it, I don't see that changing in the short term.

But as support for the Common Core continues to erode, political support in Albany is going to soften and eventually erode too.

We're at 49%-39% in opposition to the Core.

It's a 10 percentage point plurality.

Back in February, here's where voters were:

Most New York voters back a two-year delay in the implementation of the controversial Common Core education standards, but they remain divided on the quality of the curriculum itself, a new Siena College poll found.

The poll found a bare majority – 50 percent to 38 percent – of New Yorkers backs a two-year delay of the roll out of the standards, which has come under criticism from parents and teachers alike for a reliance on standardized tests and lack of preparation.

But voters are divided on the learning standards themselves, the poll found.

Thirty-six percent say the standards are too demanding, while 24 percent believe they aren’t demanding enough. Just 23 percent believe the standards strike the right balance.

Different questions asked about the Core back in February, but you get the idea here how opposition to the Core in New York State is beginning to solidify.

It is incumbent upon Core critics and opponents to continue to grow the opposition to the Core and make some politicians who support the CCSS pay a political price for that support.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You Could Do A Lot Worse

More paeans to James Garner and the character he created on screen for so many years.

The Guardian:

Through many films and two influential television series, Maverick and The Rockford Files, James Garner, who has died aged 86, developed a persona with a subtly different appeal. It began as original and accrued familiarity over the course of four decades: a coward who was the soul of honour, a hero likely to ride away, stick his finger up the barrel of his opponent's gun or get winded in a fight and complain of damage to his dentistry.

And my favorite from James Poniewozik in TIME:

But the characters he became famous for, especially TV’s Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford, won you over with their minds. They got through trouble with cleverness, charm and subtle wit. James Garner wasn’t the kind of star who won love because he seemed so elevated above you: he made you love him by showing you that he was on your level–had in fact spent some time down in the dirt, brushed off the dust, and moved on with a rascally smile.

...

Garner created him as a sunny, fundamentally decent example of how to get through frustrations and disappointments not with rage, but a wry comeback.

In the end, charm and humor wear more comfortably than rage and drama. Audiences love that kind of character. Fate loves that kind of character. If you need a quick thumbnail philosophy for living, it would not be a terrible one to simply remember to ask yourself, whenever you face adversity, “What would Jim Rockford do?” For posing that question, and giving it such an entertaining answer, thank you James Garner, and RIP.

Indeed, you could do a lot worse than go through life asking yourself "What would Jim Rockford do?"

Another Banskter/Wall Street Mess

Gee, this story doesn't sound familiar at all:

Rodney Durham stopped working in 1991, declared bankruptcy and lives on Social Security. Nonetheless, Wells Fargo lent him $15,197 to buy a used Mitsubishi sedan.

“I am not sure how I got the loan,” Mr. Durham, age 60, said.

Mr. Durham’s application said that he made $35,000 as a technician at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a copy of the loan document. But he says he told the dealer he hadn’t worked at the hospital for more than three decades. Now, after months of Wells Fargo pressing him over missed payments, the bank has repossessed his car.

This is the face of the new subprime boom. Mr. Durham is one of millions of Americans with shoddy credit who are easily obtaining auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay. The loans often come with terms that take advantage of the most desperate, least financially sophisticated customers. The surge in lending and the lack of caution resemble the frenzied subprime mortgage market before its implosion set off the 2008 financial crisis.

Auto loans to people with tarnished credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered subprime — people with credit scores at or below 640.

The explosive growth is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in subprime mortgages. A wave of money is pouring into subprime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors. Just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are feeding the growth in subprime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.

And, like subprime mortgages before the financial crisis, many subprime auto loans are bundled into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds — a process that creates ever-greater demand for loans.

I'm sure this will all end well - just the way it all ended so well for the subprime mortgage wave and the investors who bought those subprime mortgages bundled into bonds and securities hawked by Wall Street.

Too Bad Bloomberg Didn't Run For President

From the NY Post:

Georgina Bloomberg reveals she was relieved that her dad, Michael, didn’t make a run for president, “because it would have been so difficult on him,” she says. “I’ve seen the process of a campaign . . . I know how brutal it is.”

If anybody could use a little brutality - in this case, ego deflation - it's Michael "I Know Best About Everything!" Bloomberg.

Nothing would have been sweeter than seeing Bloomberg outpolled by comedian Pat Paulsen (dead since 1997) in Iowa.

In any case, here's hoping Sheriff Andy Cuomo runs in 2016 or 2020 and gets some similar ego deflation in the Democratic Primary.

In fact, here's hoping Cuomo gets some via Zephyr Teachout in this year's gubernatorial primary.

James Garner On Acting And Politics

It has been announced that James Garner has died at the age of 86.

Garner wrote one of my favorite pieces on actors and politics in 2011:

James Garner's memoir "The Garner Files" was published today, and far from being a glossed over look at his career, it's very much matter of fact.

Although he defends actors who express their political views, he is critical of those who run for office.

"Too many actors have run for office," he writes. "There's one difference between me and them: I know I'm not qualified. In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't qualified to be governor of California. Ronald Reagan wasn't qualified to be governor, let alone president. I was a vice president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was its president. My duties consisted of attending meetings and voting. The only thing I remember is that Ronnie never had an original thought and that we had to tell him what to say. That's no way to run a union, let along a state or a country."

Garner writes that he was asked to run for Congress in 1962 as a Republican, and "it didn't stop them when I told them I was a Democrat. …They just thought I could win." In 1990, Democratic leaders approached him about running for governor of California, but the discussion got to the issue of abortion and Garner says he answered, "I don't have an opinion, because that's up to the woman. It has nothing to do with me." The conversation pretty much stopped there.

Garner is what he calls a "bleeding-heart liberal," having participated in the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and later advocating for a number of progressive causes. He voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, he writes, but never cast a ballot for a Republican again. He voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, and calls him "the most intelligent presidential candidate we've ever had. I think Obama runs a close second."

He's also critical about Charlton Heston — either as an actor or defender of civil rights. As Garner describes it, Heston appointed himself leader of the Hollywood group that went to the March on Washington, and even tamped down a suggestion by Marlon Brando that the performers chain themselves to the Lincoln Memorial. But the next year, Heston switched parties and backed Barry Goldwater.

The Times really gets at Garner's charm in the Rockford Files:

Rockford, a semi-tough ex-con (he had served five years on a bum rap for armed robbery) who lived in a beat-up trailer in a Malibu beach parking lot, drove a Pontiac Firebird and could handle himself in a fight (though he probably took more punches than he gave), was exasperated most of the time by one thing or another: his money problems, the penchant of his father (Noah Beery Jr.) for getting into trouble or getting in the way, the hustles of his con-artist pal Angel (Stuart Margolin), his dicey relationship with the local police.

“Maverick” had been in part a send-up of the conventional western drama, and “The Rockford Files” similarly made fun of the standard television detective, the man’s man who upholds law and order and has everything under control. A sucker for a pretty girl with a distinctly ’70s fashion sense — he favored loud houndstooth jackets — Rockford was perpetually wandering into threatening situations in which he ended up pursued by criminal goons or corrupt cops. He tried, mostly successfully, to steer clear of using guns; instead, a bit of a con artist himself, he relied on impersonations and other ruses — and high-speed driving skills. Every episode of the show, which ran from 1974-80 and more often than not involved at least one car chase and Rockford’s getting beat up a time or two, began with a distinctive theme song featuring a synthesizer and a blues harmonica and a message coming in on a newfangled gadget — Rockford’s telephone answering machine — that underscored his unheroic existence: “Jim, this is Norma at the market. It bounced. Do you want us to tear it up, send it back or put it with the others?”

In his 2011 autobiography, “The Garner Files,” written with Jon Vinokur, Mr. Garner confessed to having a live-and-let-live attitude with the caveat that when he was pushed, he shoved back. What distinguished his performance as Rockford was how well that more-put-upon-than-macho persona came across. Rockford’s reactions — startled, nonplussed and annoyed being his specialties — appeared native to him.

And Maverick:

Alone among westerns of the 1950s, “Maverick,” which made its debut in 1957, was about an antihero. He didn’t much care for horses or guns, and he was motivated by something much less grand than law and order: money. But you rooted for him because he was on the right side of moral issues, he had a natural affinity for the little guy being pushed by the bully, and he was more fun than anyone else.

“If you look at Maverick and Rockford, they’re pretty much the same guy,” Mr. Garner wrote. “One is a gambler and the other a detective, but their attitudes are identical.”

RIP.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Common Core Texts Students Are Sure To Learn From

I left the following reply to a tweet by NYSED Commissioner John King:


It's not the first time I've taken this jab at King or other Common Core supporters when they talk about all the exciting reading teachers can have students do under the informational text-heavy Common Core Federal Standards.

And the reason why it's not the first time I've taken those jabs is because Common Core supporters actually listed Fed Views, the publication page of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as recommended reading for the informational text category of the Common Core Federal Standards for 11th and 12th students.

Today I went over to Fed Views to see just what I could use for my 11th and 12th graders.

Here's what I found in the latest piece of writing posted, July 10, 2014:

John Fernald, senior research advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, states his views on the current economy and the outlook.
  • The first-quarter decline in GDP was revised to be even steeper than previously announced. The new data indicate that health-care spending fell in the first quarter, in contrast to earlier estimates that showed an increase. Nevertheless, the first-quarter dip appears transitory. In addition to the anomalous decline in health spending, other temporary factors include harsh weather in much of the country, a reduced pace of inventory accumulation by businesses, and weak net exports.
  • We expect growth to bounce back over the remainder of this year and next. Indeed, available data already suggest a second-quarter rebound. For example, business surveys show an ongoing healthy expansion in the manufacturing and services sectors. Also, light-vehicle sales in June reached their highest level since 2006.
  • The labor market report for June was strong—consistent with an economy that continues to improve. Employment gains have been solid in recent months, averaging 231,000 new jobs per month so far this year. The unemployment rate in June fell to 6.1%, the lowest level since September 2008. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate remains above our estimate of the natural rate, suggesting that economic slack remains.
  • Inflation has been running well below the Federal Reserve’s 2% objective. In recent months, inflation has run closer to the objective, in part reflecting higher food and energy prices. However, underlying inflation pressures still appear to be subdued. Hence, we expect only a gradual return to a sustained 2% inflation rate as the economy continues its recovery and slack diminishes.
  • A recovering economy has prompted a steady reduction this year in the pace of monthly asset purchases by the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, with persistent economic slack and low inflation, monetary policy remains highly accommodative. 
  • Labor productivity, or inflation-adjusted output per hour worked, is an important factor underpinning the sustainable speed limit for the economy. From the early 1970s through 1995, productivity in the business sector rose only about 1½% per year. In the next eight years, through 2003, that pace more than doubled. Considerable evidence links that acceleration to the production and use of information technology (IT). However, over the past decade, productivity growth has returned to roughly its pre-1995 pace of about 1½%.
  • The early-2000s slowdown in productivity growth predated the Great Recession of 2007–09. Hence, it does not appear related to financial or other disruptions associated with the recession. Rather, it appears to mark a pause—if not the end—of exceptional productivity growth associated with IT. Many transformative IT-related innovations showed up in the productivity statistics in the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the past decade, however, the gains may have become more incremental. 
  • Productivity also fluctuates around its trend, with many of the most pronounced movements around recessions. For example, productivity growth was weak relative to trend early in the Great Recession. At the end of the recession and early in the recovery, productivity rebounded sharply. 
  • An important reason for these short-run cyclical fluctuations in productivity is variation in the intensity with which firms use capital and labor. For example, when the economy goes into recession and firms see a reduction in demand, they may want to maintain much of their existing workforce if they believe the reduced demand is temporary. In that case, firms may have a larger workforce than is ideal from a short-term perspective, and so measured productivity falls. When demand recovers, firms have excess capacity and can quickly ramp up production without needing substantial investment or hiring. 
  • Over the period of a decade, these short-term cyclical movements are probably not a key factor explaining weak productivity growth. Measures of capacity utilization, for example, are close to where they were a decade ago.
  • Since 2007, hours worked in the business sector have declined. Fewer hours combined with slow trend productivity growth means that output growth in the business sector has been very slow relative to the previous 60 years. As the economy continues its recovery, hours worked are likely to rise. But, with population growth slowing, future increases are likely to be muted relative to the historical experience since World War II. Assuming productivity growth continues at a pace similar to the past decade, output growth will remain slow relative to its historical performance.
  • Uncertainty about future productivity growth remains high. Pessimists argue that IT is less important than great innovations of the past that dramatically boosted productivity, such as electricity or the internal combustion engine. Optimists point to the possibilities offered by robots and machine learning. Economic history suggests that it is hard to know until after the fact how revolutionary any particular innovation will turn out to be.

Now if you're an economics teacher, there might be something useful from Fed Views, but I see not much of use for me as an ELA teacher.

Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton reported that the architects of the Common Core also recommended students read some government studies:

Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents. That has left too many students unprepared for the rigors of college and demands of the workplace, experts say.

The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.

Among the suggested non­fiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.

Here's a little bit “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” for your reading enjoyment:

Executive Order (EO) 13423, "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management," was signed by President Bush on January 24, 2007. EO 13423 instructs Federal agencies to conduct their environmental, transportation, and energy-related activities under the law in support of their respective missions in an environmentally, economically and fiscally sound, integrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable manner. The Order sets goals in the following areas:

  • energy efficiency
  • acquisition
  • renewable energy
  • toxic chemical reduction
  • recycling
  • sustainable buildings
  • electronics stewardship
  • fleets
  • water conservation
E.O. 13423 rescinds several previous EOs, including E.O. 13101, E.O. 13123, E.O. 13134, E.O. 13148, and E.O. 13149. In addition, the order requires more widespread use of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as the framework in which to manage and continually improve these sustainable practices. It is supplemented by implementing instructions, issued on March 29, 2007 by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
OMB is also integral in the execution of E.O. 13423. The E.O. requires the OMB Director to issue instructions concerning periodic evaluation, budget matter, and acquisition relating to agency implementation of the E.O. OMB issues budget guidance through updates to Circular No. A-11. OMB will also continue to track agencies' progress on EO and EPACT goals through the three management scorecards on environmental stewardship, energy, and transportation.
Information relating to EO 13423 can be obtained through the following links below:


CCSS architect David Coleman says the emphasis on informational text and non-fiction reading that Common Core pushes is not limited to just the ELA classroom - much of this reading can be done in math, science, social studies, physical education and CTE classes.

And certainly the two texts above do not lend themselves to ELA classrooms, that's for sure.

I can imagine the Fed Views site could have some use in an economics class and Executive Order (EO) 13423, "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management" could be discussed in a science or sustainability class.

But the thing is, I'm not sure how useful these texts would be even in those classes.

These are the kinds of texts that best show how the Common Core Standards and many of the people who wrote them and push them fetishize difficult reading, complex language, and jargon often for what seems like their own sake.

This is silly to me.

The older I get, the simpler I like to keep things - including in the language that I speak and use to communicate.

My thinking is, life and communication are complex enough without adding to it by purposely using complex language and jargon.

That doesn't mean you can't ever use either - sometimes you need to use complex language or jargon to communicate something.

But more often than not complex language and jargon does more to obfuscate (sorry!) meaning rather than clarify it.

Whenever I'm writing something or thinking about something I want to teach in class, I ask myself "What would the two Georges think?"

By that, I mean George Orwell and George Carlin, two people who have been influential on my own thinking and teaching.

Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" has stuck with me since I first read it in, yes, high school - especially this part:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable.

Truth is, I'm guilty of sins on Rule (i) and Rule (iii) more than I would like - some of that is out of laziness, some of it out of sheer necessity (blogging half a dozen posts a day while holding down a full-time job sometimes requires letting go of perfection!)

But I try my best to subscribe to these rules as best I can as a writer and I don't go out of my way to look for reading material for classes based on the Lexile Framework or anything like that.

On the point of jargon, something that I have posted before is how much contempt I have for people in the education world who throw jargon around.

Let's be frank here - the education world is full of jargon lovers and cliche-meisters who really dig throwing this kind of language around:

across content areas
across spatial and temporal scales
across the curricular areas
across cognitive and affective domains
for high-performing seats
for our 21st Century learners
in authentic, "real world" scenarios
in closing the achievement gap
in data-driven schools
outside the box
throughout the Big Ideas
through cognitive disequilibrium
through the collaborative process
through the experiential based learning process
through the use of centers
throughout multiple modalities
via self-reflection
with a laser-like focus
within a balanced literacy program
within professional learning communities
within the core curriculum
within the new paradigm
within the Zone of Proximity
with synergistic effects

You can find that exact language - and much more of it - at the education jargon generator website that can help you too put together a combination of jargon and cliches that will amaze and terrify your friends and neighbors.

It seems to me that people often use jargon when they want to obscure meaning, want to fool people into thinking they know stuff they don't really know, or just generally do things without people actually understanding what it is they're doing.

George Carlin's work on language hits on this idea often, but I think this one gets at it best:




"Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins, it's as simple as that" - indeed, it is as simple as that.

And now that language is codified in the Common Core Federal Standards, those "higher" standards brought to us by David Coleman, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama and a host of other ed reformers.

Frankly, I think we could better raise the standards by taking Fed Views and Executive Order (EO) 13423, "Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management" off the CCSS reading list and putting some George Carlin - along with more George Orwell - on it.

Sure, the Lexile Framework might not like the "level" of the language (not complex enough!) and the jargon festishists might not like the absence of jargon (unless you consider the "Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say On TV" jargon), but I'll tell you what, I bet students would learn a whole hell of a lot more from Carlin and Orwell than the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco and the General Services Administration.

Building A Tea Party Of The Left

From Dave Weigel at Slate:

The story of “Andrew Cuomo, closet right-winger” is well-known among progressives and obscure for everybody else. Cuomo won an easy 2010 race against one of the year’s most self-destructive Tea Party candidates, and when he’s made national news, he’s done it by driving left. He signed gay marriage into law. He signed a gun safety bill. He warned “extreme conservatives” not to waste their time in New York, which made him a dunk-tank villain on Fox News. Polls give the governor supermajority support from self-identified Democrats.

Progressives, Teachout especially, didn’t think the other Cuomo story was getting told. Cuomo had spent his tenure working with a Republican state Senate—in marked contrast to former Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer—and giving school boards less than they asked for while proposing property and estate tax cuts. After his lieutenant governor bowed out, he chose former Rep. Kathy Hochul as a running mate—Hochul, who had won a tough western New York district by running to the center, Hochul who even took credit for quashing a bill that would have given driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

That tore it. The Hochul choice was enough to get Tim Wu, the net neutrality advocate and legal theorist (and sometime Slate contributor), to join Teachout on her ticket.
“Cuomo wants to win by some massive margin, to prove that he’s a national candidate,” says Wu. “That’s why he picked Hochul. He wants to be what Chris Christie used to be known as. I just don’t think that’s a responsible way to govern the state. There’s a battle going on for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party right now, and there are some deep ideological divides that sometimes we paper over because there’s a Democratic president. On immigration, I think we should be having an open debate in the party.”

The strategy behind the Teachout/Wu ticket?

To become the Tea Party of the Left:

Teachout is copping a move from the Tea Party. Conservatives stayed inside the Republican Party to force it further right, and Teachout watched it with a combination of dread and jealousy.

“The tea parties represent a genuine, authentic civic anger,” Teachout wrote in The Nation in 2009. “I think the public anger is warranted. We are spending billions of dollars on bank bailouts that will not serve us. People are profoundly, and rightly, insecure about their jobs, where they live, their health care, and the economy. They are concerned, rightly, that the government’s response seems to be driven by the financial industry. They are concerned, rightly, about the cost of the programs and the degree of deficit spending.”
The left-wing Tea Party never happened. Occupy Wall Street happened, and Teachout spent time with New York activists, encouraging them to focus on “Madison’s idea of decentralized power.” The internal Democratic Party policing just never happened. Even in Chicago, where one possible progressive challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel led him by 22 points, the establishment scared her off with a tower of campaign money.

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you know that I have long called for something like a Tea Party of the Left that takes on corporate Democrats and the Democratic establishment and punishes them for selling out to corporate interests.

So long as corporate Dems like Obama and Cuomo know that no matter how often they sell out the base and cater to corporate interests, progressives and liberals will vote for them no matter what because they're too scared of the Republican alternative, then these Democratic sell-outs are going to continue to take progressives and liberals for granted and do what they've been doing.

When people on the left start making the sell-out Dems pay a political price for their sell-outs, that's when things will change - as you've seen in the Republican Party where Tea Party challenges have the GOP establishment in never-ending fear (just look at what happened to Eric Cantor in Virginia and what almost happened to Thad Cochran in Mississippi.)

Here's hoping Teachout/Wu can make Cuomo pay a political price for being that "closet right winger."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Independent Democrat Jeff Klein Is Mobbed Up

Old timey corruption, Carlo Gambino-style!

State Senator Jeff Klein took a $10,000 campaign donation from a mafia-linked realty company–the same firm he rents his district office space from. 
The Bronx pol’s July filing shows that the Hutchinson Metro Center, an affiliate of Simone Development–formerly known as Hutch Realty Partners–kicked in the five figures in June. The donation brings the real estate group’s total contribution to Mr. Klein’s operation to a whopping $93,850 since 2006.

Two principals of the company, Michael Contillo and Joseph Deglomini, were indicted in the 1990s of tax evasion, racketeering, and conspiring to raid the pension funds of building trade unions with the help of organized crime.

Mr. Klein relocated his official district office to the Hutchinson Center in 2011. A spokeswoman for the senator said that the move was based on the site’s central location in the Bronx- and Westchester-spanning district.

“Senator’s Klein’s district office is located in the expansive Hutchinson Metro Center complex, as are a number of city agencies including the New York City Housing Authority the City’s 911 call center, federal agencies and prominent New York institutions,” said spokeswoman Candice Giove. “Senator Klein’s district office lease, like all of Senate leases and lease renewals, was subject to procurement and vendor review by the State Senate and was reviewed and signed off on by both the Attorney General and New York State Comptroller.”

...
The New York Post has previously noted Mr. Klein had rented space and received donations from the mob-tied firm.

Ms. Giove did not immediately respond to requests for comment specifically about Mr. Klein’s acceptance of campaign funds from a mafia-affiliated organization. 
...
According to the Daily News, Hutch Realty Partners purchased 10 acres of land–immediately adjacent to their center where Mr. Klein’s district office is located–from the state for a total of $5.5 million between 2001 and 2005, when the New York Police Department was interested in constructing a call center on the plot. After an extended fight, the city agreed to buy the land from the company for $46 million.
The senator’s camp said he had no input with the state, the city, or Hutch Realty Partners at any time during the land dealings.

My favorite part of that story?

The sentence that reads:

Ms. Giove did not immediately respond to requests for comment specifically about Mr. Klein’s acceptance of campaign funds from a mafia-affiliated organization.

That's just a fabulous sentence.

In fact, the whole story is just great from start to finish - Klein takes almost $100K from mob associates, they make almost $40 million on land next to Klein's office that they first bought from the state for $5.5 million then sold to the city for $46 million, but Klein says he didn't help in the least with any of it.

Sure you didn't, Jeff.

Is there anybody in Albany political circles who isn't a fucking crook?

Was This The Best The LIRR Unions Could Do?

Given the leverage the LIRR unions had in their negotiations, it being an election year and all, if these reports are accurate, this is a pretty bad deal:

"Under terms of the deal, current LIRR employees will receive a 17 percent wage increase over six-and-a-half years. The union had been seeking six years, and the MTA seven. To pay for the additional salary expenses, all employees will for the first time contribute to their health insurance, the governor said. New employees will have a different wage progression and retirement contributions. The agreement doesn’t include fare increases, Cuomo said."

If what Cuomo said is what's actually in the deal, then the union leadership conceded on health care contributions and they ate their young on wage progression and retirement contributions.

Those concessions sure do diminish the 17% wage increase over 6.5 years.

I've written this over and over, but I'm going to do so once again:

Making that first-time concession on health care contributions is ALWAYS a loss.

Once you open the door to ANY contributions to health care, you hit the slippery slope of concessions on health care/increased payments from employees EVERY time the contract comes up for re-negotiation.

They couldn't do better than this in an election year with a strike deadline looming?

Zephyr Teachout Opposes Common Core

From LoHud:

In 2008 Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men, decided that he should take charge of education policy. He promoted a single set of standards to measure our children's achievements in school. Since then Gates has spent more than $200 million to advance this idea, called the "Common Core." Gov. Andrew Cuomo, since taking office in early 2011, has supported the use of Common Core in New York schools.

The idea of a shared, high standard sounds appealing. But in practice what Common Core means is that students and teachers are subject to a grueling regime of tests that the citizens and families of our state never really had the chance to discuss. In the words of education historian Diane Ravitch, the imposition of Bill Gates' Common Core has been "the closest thing to an educational coup in the history of the United States."

Common Core forces teachers to adhere to a narrow set of standards, rather than address the personal needs of students or foster their creativity. That's because states that have adopted the standards issue mandatory tests whose results are improperly used to grade a teacher's skill and even to determine if he or she keeps their job. These tests have created enormous and undue stress on students, and eroded real teaching and real learning. What's more, there's sound reason to question whether these standards even measure the right things or raise student achievement. No doubt, many teachers have found parts of the standards useful in their teaching, but there is a big difference between optional standards offered as support, and standards foisted on teachers regardless of students' needs.

Widespread outrage from teachers and parents has led Gov. Cuomo to tweak the rules around the implementation of the Common Core and call for a review of the rollout. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not addressed the real problem with Common Core.

She shares some solutions:

My principles are different. I went to a great public elementary school and high school in Vermont. My teachers were attentive because they had the time and support to see each child and teach us not only the basics, but also about creativity and civic responsibilities. Teachers and parents had a real say in defining and measuring our progress. After college, I worked as a special education teacher's aide in a rural public school, and I saw the hurdles to learning posed by emotional challenges at home. Top-down, highly regimented tests would not have worked, largely because it would have straight-jacketed teachers, instead of allowing them to respond to particular needs.

If I am elected governor, I will fight every day to make sure New York's children have the best schools in the country. I will immediately halt implementation of the Common Core. I believe the best path to high standards is to work more closely with teachers and parents, and with the Legislature and the Board of Regents. Where the problem is federal policy, I will lead a delegation of parents and educators to Washington to demand that federal officials stop dictating how we educate our own children.

As did the founding generation in America, I believe public education is the infrastructure of democracy. The best public education is made democratically, in the local community: when parents, teachers, and administrators work together to build and refine the education models and standards right for our children.

She has my support in the primary against Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Some Of What Preet Bharara Will Find In His Cuomo/Moreland Investigation

Liz Benjamin puts today's Cuomo/Moreland news in perspective:




And just what might Preet Bharara find when he interviews Governor Cuomo's counsel, talks to the assistant to former Executive Director of the Moreland Commission Regina Calcaterra and digs through the correspondences between Calcaterra's assistant and Cuomo's senior aides?

Well, let's start with this:

The commission, known as a Moreland Commission and made up, in part, of district attorneys around the state, responded on Monday to increasing questions about its independence by defending its work. It acknowledged that the offices of Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Schneiderman had given “input,” but said it was the commissioners’ “judgment and discretion that governs the commission and determines its action.” 

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, said that while the panel reported to both the governor and the attorney general, “ultimately all investigatory decisions are up to the unanimous decision of the co-chairs.” Mr. Schneiderman’s office had no comment. 
...
 
The commission’s relationship with the governor’s office has also been freighted. It issued a flurry of subpoenas at the start, but then was slowed by Mr. Cuomo’s office in several instances, according to people familiar with the situation who insisted on anonymity because they feared retribution by the governor. 

In one such instance, when the commission began to investigate how a handful of high-end residential developers in New York City won tax breaks from Albany, its staff drafted, and its three co-chairmen approved, a subpoena of the Real Estate Board of New York. But Mr. Cuomo’s office persuaded the commission not to subpoena the board, whose leaders have given generously to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, and which supported a business coalition, the Committee to Save New York, that ran extensive television advertising promoting his legislative agenda. 

Frank Marino, a spokesman for the board, said it was “cooperating with the commission and will continue to do so.” 

“Obviously, there’s discussions,” said Mr. Marino, who added that the real estate board had had no conversations with the governor’s office or the commission about subpoenas. 

The commission also abandoned a plan to subpoena the State Democratic Party, which spent millions on advertising this year to support Mr. Cuomo. The subpoena was part of an investigation into loosely regulated spending on political advertising; as part of that inquiry, the commission issued subpoenas to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the State Independence Party. 

At a recent meeting, according to a person familiar with the exchange, one of the commission co-chairmen, William J. Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney, said that the panel would subpoena the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee rather than the state party; the Senate committee has not been a player in Mr. Cuomo’s campaigns. Mr. Fitzpatrick has said any claim the commission is not independent is “categorically false.” 

The commission’s decisions not to issue subpoenas to the real estate board and the state Democratic Party were first reported by The Daily News

One lawyer familiar with the commission’s work said the governor’s aides were having trouble leaving it to its job. 

“You can’t say this is an independent commission when you’re trying to tell people what they can do and what they can’t do,” the lawyer said. 

And Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, said, “If the governor stopped certain subpoenas from being sent, it is an outrage.” 

“If what was reported is true, that there are people in the governor’s office who have directed the commission not to follow through on subpoenas, that is worthy of its own investigation,” she said. 

Indeed, the governor's meddling into Moreland Commission work and his putting the kibbosh on subpoenas aimed at his donors and cronies is worthy of its own investigation.

The news of who and what Bharara has subpoenaed suggests that investigation into Cuomo may be getting done.

I don't want to get ahead of the story here but even looking at the stuff from the Times article I re-posted above, you'd have to say Cuomo can't be thrilled he's got a politically ambitious US attorney like Bharara looking into this.

Because just on the face of what's in the Times story, you can see that Cuomo and his people meddled in the work of the Commission, tampered with the subpoenas, and seemed to be trying to keep the Commission from looking into anything that might embarrass or cause problems for the governor.

That's what's on the surface.

Lord only knows what Bharara will find when he digs deeper.

US Attorney Subpoenas Communications Between Assistant To Moreland Executive Director And Cuomo And His Aides

What do you make of this news?

Federal prosecutors investigating Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s shutdown of an anticorruption commission have subpoenaed the assistant to its former executive director to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan, suggesting that the criminal inquiry has moved to a new stage, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

Federal agents served the subpoena on the assistant, Heather Green, on Wednesday morning, appearing at her doorstep before 7 a.m., the people said. Ms. Green, who is not believed to be a target of the inquiry, worked as an executive assistant to the anticorruption panel’s former executive director, Regina Calcaterra, until Mr. Cuomo announced he was disbanding the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, on March 29.


The subpoena, according to two people who have seen it or been briefed on its contents, asked for documents and correspondence, including any communications with Mr. Cuomo and his senior aides. It also directed Ms. Green to appear July 28 to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan, the people said.

Separately, Mylan L. Denerstein, counsel to the governor, has agreed to be interviewed in early August by federal prosecutors about her involvement with the panel, one of the people said.

...

The direction of Mr. Bharara’s criminal inquiry remains unclear, but it appears to be focused on whether shuttering the panel, or any actions before it, interfered with any prospective federal investigations.

It was not immediately clear how Ms. Green’s testimony fit into the criminal inquiry. While news reports have disclosed that several subpoenas had already been served in connection with the investigation, all of those were for documents and other materials, not for testimony.

In short, Preet Bharara appears to be doing just what he said he would - looking to see if there was any interference from the executive branch - ie., the Cuomo administration and Cuomo himself - into the workings of the Moreland Commission.

Given that we know from news accounts that the Cuomo administration tried to put the kibbosh on subpoenas that the Moreland Commission wanted to send to his donors, I bet Preet won't have to dig to hard to find Cuomo interference.

The question becomes, how far does Preet dig and what does he do with what he finds?

More later.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cuomo Administration Uses Surveillance Cameras To Monitor State Workers

I bet you're not surprised by this news:

A state workers union has filed a grievance over the Cuomo administration's use of surveillance cameras to gather evidence in cases of employees allegedly taking time off from work improperly.

The Public Employees Federation, in a grievance filed this month with the Department of Environmental Conservation, said that using cameras to track work habits violates a section of its labor contract that states that "no employee in this unit (PEF) shall be required to punch a time clock or record attendance with a timekeeper.''

"Our members have the contractual right (as professionals) to record their own times of arrival and departure from work, free of surveillance,'' PEF spokeswoman Jane Briggs said in an email about the case. "We argue that using time records generated by security systems/cameras to monitor our members' time and attendance violates..." the contract.

Not so says the Cuomo administration:

The recent grievance, which has not yet been resolved, is being viewed by some as a dispute over semantics.

DEC managers say they used the cameras not as timekeeping devices but to verify the comings and goings of state workers, according to documents reviewed by the Times Union.

Briggs said another section of the union's contract, known as a side letter, says electronic surveillance is allowed if it furthers the health and safety at state workplaces.

"We believe this means the state can use security systems and the information that is generated from them for valid security purposes," she said. "They cannot use that information to track/document time at work.''

And how is the state using the surveillance cameras to "further the health and safety at state workplaces?

This kind of thing:

At least three DEC employees have been disciplined for lengthy lunch breaks at the agency's Broadway headquarters or for other absences during the 7.5-hour work day.

In one case, managers referred to a video of a person coming and going during a one-hour lunch break that was allegedly recorded as a half-hour on a time card, known as a leave and accrual tracking sheet.

Another employee was rebuked after moving a vehicle to avoid a ticket.

Oh, yeah - everybody's workplace health and safety was put into jeopardy because some dude went out to move his car.

I understand that state workers are paid for working a certain amount of time and they are responsible for working that time.

And I understand that there are times when employees take advantage of the system and have to be disciplined.

The DEC biologist who skipped out of work to drink in a bar comes to mind.

But for the Cuomo administration to use the surveillance cameras under the guise that they are furthering health and safety in the workplace is jive - they're using them to monitor employees time and attendance, which is against the PEF contract.

You ever notice how the state (or the city) loves to hold workers to the contract when it's to their advantage but loves to stretch contractual language when it's not?

Andrew Cuomo - The Dirtiest Man In The Albany Cesspool Of Corruption

So many Cuomo stories today.

First, the games he's playing with the Tappan Zee Bridge plan.

Then the story of how Cuomo, along with Chris Christie, used Christie's Bridgegate cronies to play games when they wanted to hike the Port Authority bridge/tunnel tolls.

And now this one, as has been all over the Internet today:

In early 2007, when he was state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo brought on a longtime confidant as a consultant on mortgage industry investigations, a move that has gone undisclosed until now.
The friend was Howard Glaser, and he had another job at the same time: consultant and lobbyist for the very industry Cuomo was investigating.

Glaser, who went on to become a top state official in Cuomo's gubernatorial administration, was operating a lucrative consulting firm, the Glaser Group, with a host of mortgage industry clients.
Later that year, Glaser provided insights on Cuomo's investigations to industry players on a conference call hosted by an investment bank.

Cuomo's office ended up giving immunity to one of Glaser's clients a year into his term as attorney general.

Experts say the mortgage investigations Cuomo touted as "wide-ranging" came to little, even as he held one of the country's most powerful prosecutorial positions through the financial crisis and its aftermath.
... 

Before becoming a lobbyist for the mortgage industry, Glaser worked in the late 1990s under Cuomo at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he was known as Cuomo's "right-hand man'' and "hammer."
Glaser declined to release a list of his clients from the period he worked for the attorney general. A 2008 bio said his clients included "mortgage insurance companies, real estate and housing trade associations, mortgage bankers, and investment research companies."
Glaser's dual role when Cuomo was attorney general "poses a serious conflict of interest," said Craig Holman of Public Citizen.
At least two of Cuomo's early investigations involved firms that Glaser acknowledged to ProPublica were his clients. The client that was granted immunity in return for cooperation was the mortgage due diligence firm Clayton Holdings.

Gee, no wonder so many of the bad actors in the mortgage mess of '08 got away without prosecution.

Cuomo's right hand man, his "hammer," was working for both them and Cuomo, the attorney general investigating them.

I have written numerous times how Albany may be a cesspool of corruption, but nobody in that city - NOBODY - is dirtier than one Andrew M. Cuomo.

Could that be any clearer than from this Glaser story?