Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Open Thread: How Many Lies Did Cuomo Tell During Tonight's Debate?

Here's one:


What Preet Bharara Said

US Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara appeared on radio with Susan Arbetter today, made no specific announcements about the Moreland investigations or Andrew Cuomo but did say this:

Arbetter noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the corruption panel as “transactional,” or a tool for achieving a deal on ethics legislation. Doesn’t that drive Bharara up the wall?

“I’m not going to go back … and talk about what certain people said or didn’t say and a number of contradictions there were in what someone may or may not have said about a particular commission,” Bharara said in a sentence that you should be glad you didn’t have to diagram back in fourth grade.

“What I stand by is, if you want to solve any problem — corruption problem or anything else — and you decide to employ an investigative body, the only way that that investigative body is to get to the root of the problem and be appreciated by the public as having gotten to the root of the problem is if it has independence,” he said.

Also important: “the longevity of a prosecutor’s office. … It takes a while. And so, generally speaking, when you’re trying to solve a problem you need some amount of longevity, and you certainly need to have — at the core of the institution — independence.”

If you're reading tea leaves, the individual who most played with the independence of an investigative body was Andrew Cuomo.

It was Cuomo's staffer who put the kibbosh on subpoenas to Cuomo's donors.

It was Cuomo's staffer who wrote up statements for former Moreland commissioners to issue in support of Andrew Cuomo after the Times published it's devastating Moreland article over the summer.

It was Cuomo who kept tabs on the commission via his commission director, Regina Calcaterra.

I saw somewhere a comment that by not mentioning the Moreland investigations specifically on the radio today, what Bharara was saying was that Andrew Cuomo was in the clear.

Bharara said nothing of the sort - not in either the statements he made or the subtext of those statements.

One thing I did hear here, however, was that Bharara will certainly not be making any moves pre-Election Day and maybe not for long afterwards either.

Dunno if he really is going to go after Cuomo or not for interfering with the Moreland Commission, but it does seem like if he does do it, it won't be any time soon.

Now We Know Why Cuomo Is Running The Education Ad

I've blogged a few times about Cuomo's latest campaign ad, which is focused on education and makes the claim that he has pushed for a five year moratorium on Common Core consequences for students (a lie - the moratorium is two years) and is opposed to "over-testing" (also a lie - his APPR teacher evaluation system causes much of the over-testing by forcing teachers in every grade in every subject to be evaluated using both state and local tests and assessments.)

You can see those posts here, here and here.

The ad, which shows Cuomo helping his daughter with her homework, was clearly aimed at women, with it's soft focus photography, Cuomo all dressed in white amid a holiday background (even the pumpkins are white), and the text assuring voters "Education is the gift we give our children..."

Clearly Cuomo is trying to shore up his support among women with this late election cycle ad - and here's why.

Per the latest Siena poll, Cuomo's support among women is what's keeping him afloat:

According to the poll, 54 percent of voters view Cuomo favorably, while a record high 43 percent view him unfavorably.

Voters also have a harsher assessment than ever of the governor’s performance, the poll found. A record high percentage—25 percent—said they thought Cuomo had done a “poor” job in office so far, while the percentage who said they believed his performance had been “good” stood at 34 percent, his lowest numbers on that question since he took office. Nine percent said they thought Cuomo was doing an “excellent” job while 32 percent rated his job performance as “fair,” the poll found.

Cuomo is far more popular among women, according to the poll. Sixty-five percent of the women questioned hold a favorable view of the governor, compared to 32 percent who have an unfavorable view of him. Among men, the poll found 41 percent had a favorable view of Cuomo, while 56 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

Cuomo's approval among women is growing. A Siena poll taken in late September found 59 percent of female voters viewed him favorably.

In recent months, the governor has sought to strengthen his support among women by creating the Women’s Equality Party, and his campaign recently began airing ads featuring his three daughters and girlfriend, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, promoting the party and a package of legislation called the Women’s Equality Act.

Apparently the Women's Equality Party Cuomo created is garnering support from some female voters.

Maybe that's why Cuomo is driving around in a bus that looks like a box of tampons.

At any rate,the education ad is the latest salvo to ensure those numbers in female support don't crater before Election Day for him.

Because if his support among female voters fell to his support among male voters, he'd be in trouble.

That his education ad full of lies and deceptions - well, that's just Cuomo doing what he does best.

He's saying anything to win on Election Day.

You can be sure that the Wednesday after the election, he'll drop all this Women's Equality Party stuff, as well as the concerns over Common Core and "over-testing" and go right back to governing the way he did in the first term.

Andrew Cuomo's Unfavorables Hit A New High In Latest Siena Poll

Cuomo's up in the race for governor- but so are his unfavorables:

ALBANY—With less than two weeks until the Nov. 4 election, Governor Andrew Cuomo has a 21-point lead over Republican opponent Rob Astorino, though his unfavorable ratings remain high, according to a Siena Institute poll released this morning.

The poll of 748 likely voters shows Cuomo leading Astorino 54 percent to 33 percent.

...

While the poll indicates Cuomo is likely to win by a healthy margin, it appears less likely he'll reach the 63 percent threshold he achieved in 2010, in part because Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is polling at about 9 percent.

According to the poll, 54 percent of voters view Cuomo favorably, while a record high 43 percent view him unfavorably.

Voters also have a harsher assessment than ever of the governor’s performance, the poll found. A record high percentage—25 percent—said they thought Cuomo had done a “poor” job in office so far, while the percentage who said they believed his performance had been “good” stood at 34 percent, his lowest numbers on that question since he took office. Nine percent said they thought Cuomo was doing an “excellent” job while 32 percent rated his job performance as “fair,” the poll found.

Cuomo's popularity rests in many ways with women and I'll have more about that later.

Suffice to say, Cuomo's in the driver's seat in the race, but his negatives are rising, and he isn't going to top his 2010 totals with Howie Hawkins garnering close to double digit support.

What Will Preet Bharara Say Today?

It's debate day:

At 8 p.m., Cuomo, Astorino, Hawkins and Libertarian Michael McDermott will participate in the campaign’s lone televised debate hosted by WNED-TV, WBFO-FM and The Buffalo News, WNED Studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo. The debate will be broadcast live on PBS television stations and NPR radio affiliates across the state.

But before that happens, this happens:

Bharara has been pretty quiet since the summer, when he warned Cuomo and his cohorts to stop meddling in his Moreland Commission investigation.

Odd that Bharara chose today to appear on the radio to talk corruption.

It will be interesting to see what he says.

He's used the radio before to send messages to Cuomo.

This could be another one of those things.

Or it could just be Bharara appearing on the radio.

We'll see soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Andrew Cuomo Lie In His Education Ad

Last night I posted how people shouldn't be fooled by Andrew Cuomo's new education ad.

In the ad, Cuomo claims the following:

“Education is the gift we give our children, and they deserve the very best,” Cuomo narrates in the ad. “Over the years, I’ve helped my kids by just being there. That’s why I want real teacher and school evaluations; to stop over-testing our children; not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready. I want to invest $2 billion dollars to build the new technology classrooms of tomorrow. And I still believe the best education equipment is the kitchen table, and the best teacher is the parent.”

In yesterday's post I took on the "not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready" line.

There is no five year moratorium on anything in New York State.

The budget agreement last spring brought a two year moratorium on using test scores from the Common Core assessments for students:

As part of the state budget approved in March, Cuomo and the Legislature approved a number of changes to the state's implementation of the Common Core, including a two-year pause on using standardized test scores as the basis for promoting students to the next grade level.

In addition, the legislature passed a bill shielding teachers who teach students who take the Common Core assessments from the worst effects of having those scores used in the state test component of Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation system:

Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck a deal Thursday that would largely hold teachers harmless from poor student scores on Common Core-based exams for two years.

A bill introduced Thursday would essentially exclude Common Core test results from some teacher evaluations through the 2014-15 school year, which starts July 1, shielding them from the negative consequences of a poor review caused by the scores.

Both the moratorium for students and the moratorium for teachers run through the 2014-2015 school year - this year - and then things go back to the way they were before, with districts able to use the test scores to hold children back.

Nothing actually changes for teachers because Cuomo never signed the so-called teacher safety net into law - teachers still have the CCSS test scores used in their APPR teacher evaluation ratings without the shield devised in the legislature bill.

So when Cuomo says he has pushed to "not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready," he is looking voters directly in the eye and lying to them.

That's Pathological Lie #1 in the ad.

Here's Pathological Lie #2 in the ad:

That’s why I want...to stop over-testing our children

Right before that lie, Cuomo brags about bringing "real teacher and school evaluations" to the state - which in practice means he added to the batteries of tests that were already in place so that teachers and schools could be evaluated using student performance and test data.

Cuomo's vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system (vaunted in his own mind, at any rate - nearly everybody else seems to hate it) works this way:

A) 60% of a teacher's rating comes from "subjective measures," like classroom observations and student surveys
B) 20% comes from "state measures," based upon state tests that students take
C) 20% comes from "local measures," based upon local tests and assessments devised by districts.

There was an immense amount of testing even before the new APPR teacher evaluation system was put into place, but that "immense amount" has now gone to "insane amount" in many schools.

For example, some districts have students taking "pre-assessments" early in the school year and "post-assessments" later in the year in every grade in every subject in order to evaluate their teachers via Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation mandate.

These local tests and/or performance assessments come on top of the state tests mandates - math and ELA Common Core tests in 3rd-8th grade, Regents exams in high school - the field testing that is done by NYSED to try out new test items on students, and the PSAT test that sophomores and juniors take at their schools in some districts that are used as pre-assessments for APPR as well.

Cuomo is once again looking voters directly in the eye and lying when he says he wants "to stop over-testing our children."

His APPR teacher evaluation system has taken the Endless Testing regime that was already in place pre-APPR and shot it up with steroids.

That Cuomo feels the need to lie so blatantly twice in this election ad shows you how desperate he is feeling in this election.

It would be interesting to see what his internal polling is telling him that he felt the need to dress up all in white, pull his daughter into the ad to help her with her "homework" (or maybe it's her taxes - she looks old enough to be filing a 1040A form) and claim there's a five year moratorium on Common Core consequences when there isn't anything of the sort while saying he's against "over-testing" even as he pursues policies that force "over-testing."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't Be Fooled - Cuomo Isn't Caving On Common Core

A headline on this Dave Weigel piece at Bloomberg News claims Andrew Cuomo has "conceded defeat" in the Common Core wars:

Over the summer, when Zephyr Teachout was mounting a surprisingly potent primary challenge to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, I noticed a poll result that confounded some left/right stereotypes. When asked if "Common Core standards should continue to be implemented," a majority of voters said "no." Only 47 percent of Democrats wanted the standards. Independents, who were planning to vote for Cuomo, broke against Common Core by 14 points.

The situation can't have gotten any better for education reforms since then, judging by Cuomo's new TV spot. Among his education pledges is a solemn one "not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready." 

What a dizzying downward spiral it's been for Common Core. Just a few years ago, it was the joint product of agreements by 48 governors (minus only Rick Perry and Sarah Palin), an attempt to ameliorate the negative impacts of No Child Left Behind. (Cuomo was not elected until 2010, after the initial agreements.) Then conservatives rose in opposition – and for a while, progressives laughed at foolhardy lawmakers warning that these new standards would induct children into homosexuality. Later, as Tim Murphy has documented, suburbanites (in New York especially) started raging about the new testing that reflected poorly on their kids, and labor unions worried about the shuttering of underperforming schools.
That's how we ended up with this ad, from a center-left Democrat with heavy labor backing, promising voters that he will slow-walk the education standards that Glenn Beck had warned about first.

But as I posted earlier tonight, there is no five year moratorium on Common Core consequences.

The budget agreement that Cuomo signed into law this spring delayed Common Core consequences for two years, not five - and that was for students only.

As of now, the Common Core consequences for teachers remain.

The APPR teacher evaluation system in the state mandates that 20% of a teacher's evaluation come from student performance on state test scores.

If teachers have students who take the Common Core tests, their state test component for APPR will still be based on those scores - even though the Common Core tests don't count for students.

It's true that the legislature passed a bill giving a safety net for teachers in those circumstances - but so far, Cuomo hasn't had time to sign that bill into law (though he has had time to declare yogurt the official state snack.)

So I dunno what Weigel is reporting here - he's taking Cuomo's ad at face value, but he's foolish to do so.

There is no five year anything for Common Core and some consequences remain even during the so-called two year moratorium (albeit for teachers.)

Josefa Velasquez and Jessica Bakeman at Capital NY report the following:

It's unclear whether the statement is a new plan that Cuomo is revealing in the ad, or a claim about his record on the Common Core, the controversial standards for English and math instruction that have been adopted by most states. Cuomo has pushed for changes that would place less emphasis on students' scores on new standardized tests based on the Common Core, but none of those changes would apply for exactly five years.

...

Cuomo's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment explaining the "five years" pledge in the ad.

In short, Weigel is wrong - Cuomo isn't "slow-walking" anything around Common Core.

The moratorium on Common Core consequences is two years and if I'm not mistaken, those two years are up at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Unless Cuomo makes an explicit statement to the contrary, none of the jive in that soft-focus education ad of his changes anything about the Common Core implementation in New York - not for students, not for teachers.

Cuomo Says New York Has At Least A Five Year Moratorium On Common Core

The State of Politics blog reports Cuomo is running a new ad touting his education record.

The ad, all bright and cheery with Cuomo in a white sweater, shows the governor helping his daughter with her homework,

Here's the text of the ad:

“Education is the gift we give our children, and they deserve the very best,” Cuomo narrates in the ad. “Over the years, I’ve helped my kids by just being there. That’s why I want real teacher and school evaluations; to stop over-testing our children; not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready. I want to invest $2 billion dollars to build the new technology classrooms of tomorrow. And I still believe the best education equipment is the kitchen table, and the best teacher is the parent.”

Here's the ad:



State of Politics notes this oddity in the ad:


Policy-wise, the ad is interesting on another level.

The ad’s line about a moratorium for using Common Core scores for “at least five years” is especially intriguing. It’s unclear if the governor is pursuing a new policy stance for a second term. At the same time, Cuomo says he would only allow the test scores “only if our children are ready” but no guidelines are given as to how that would be defined.

Cuomo still hasn't signed the safety net for teachers whose students took Common Core tests that didn't count for them but did count for teacher ratings.

Now he's saying there's "at least a five year" moratorium on using Common Core scores for children, but if I remember correctly, the budget settled on just a two year moratorium.

In addition, he says nothing about whether those Common Core tests just won't count for students but will still count for teachers.

Given how he brags in the ad how he wants "real teacher and school evaluations," I would think he doesn't plan to delay APPR ratings for teachers based upon those Common Core tests - especially since he hasn't had the time to sign that safety net he negotiated with NYSUT into law yet (though he did have time to make yogurt the official state snack.)

This ad shows you how desperate he is to run up the score on Astorino - it's clearly aimed at women (the soft focus, the white colors, the presence of his daughter) and maybe it will win a few votes to him.

But I'm skeptical of that - many mothers know the reason there is Common Core in the schools and the reason why there are Common Core tests is because Andrew Cuomo wants it that way and has taken no steps to change the state's education policies.

Sure, Cuomo doesn't control the SED or the Regents, but he surely could change the direction of the state policies if he wanted to.

Instead he simply lies in his ad that he's instituted a Common Core moratorium for "at least five years" that doesn't actually exist.

Andrew Cuomo - liar, hypocrite and he looks goofy in white.

Cuomo Gets Self--Pitying In An Interview With New York Magazine

Chris Smith in New York:

The phone is Andrew Cuomo’s instrument. Somehow distance brings out the governor’s full range of operatic inflections and rhetorical flourishes that he doesn’t deploy effectively in person. Today, on the phone, three weeks from Election Day, cruising toward a second term, he is in full Rodney Dangerfield mode.

“I passed gay marriage! I passed the toughest gun law in the country! I closed more prison cells than any governor in the history of the state! Minority job vouchers! My record of progressive accomplishment tops anyone!” Pause, dramatic reduction in volume. “Now, do you have some voices on the left that are impossible to placate in any realistic way? Yeah … Ask yourself: If he were more liberal, he would have done what? What more could I have possibly done? You’re gonna use the tax code just to take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s not liberalism. That’s confiscation! Liberalism was ‘Lift up the poor’ … The problem for liberals and progressives—of which I am proudly one—is you have to demonstrate you can actually do what you talk about. And that’s what I’ve been doing. My government works.”

Cuomo is quite clear here about what constitutes "liberalism" to him.

His stance on social issues make him "liberal."

Economic issues, he's clearly here:

Not that he cares to dwell on some pesky liberal carping when he’s got the whole state to worry about. Cuomo believes the center is still the most responsible place from which to govern New York—and the country, though he’s merely an informed spectator on that front, of course. Aren’t national politics increasingly polarized, with the right and the left wings setting the agendas for the Republicans and the Democrats? “That’s always been true,” Cuomo says, quickly warming to the subject. “But you’re leaving out a big piece of history. Bill Clinton wins saying to the left of the party, ‘You are unelectable.’ Bill Clinton gives a speech saying, ‘Mario Cuomo, Dukakis, Ted Kennedy are the politics of a failed Democratic Party.’ Bill Clinton does Sister Souljah, puts his finger in the chest of Jesse Jackson. That was after a period of left dominance. Clinton is then centrist-moderate-left, right? Sort of tacks back and forth between the two. Where is the national Democratic Party now? Well, they’re talking about Hillary Clinton. Her last name is Clinton, which represented that centrist-left platform. So I think that’s where the party is nationwide. And the Clinton philosophy is still a winning philosophy.”

That he doesn't understand why liberals and progressives in the state detest him shows you how clueless he is.

He remains fixated on the Clinton 90's, an era of centrism he thinks he's brought back here in NY and would like to bring back nationwide in the future.

Those days are over, however.

Income inequality since the 90's has widened considerably and Cuomo's "Lift All Boats" policies isn't working.

Alas, he doesn't seem to notice or care.

Cuomo Accused Of Ethical, Criminal Violations In Book Promotion Tour

It seems Cuomo is using his goons to keep anybody who isn't a sychophant away from him on his book tour:

Gov. Cuomo may have violated state criminal and ethics laws by using his public position and employees to promote his newly published autobiography, “All Things Possible,’’ a sworn complaint charges.

The complaint, filed with two state agencies by a Republican foe late Friday, says members of Cuomo’s State Police detail allegedly “forcibly ejected individuals from book-tour events that asked questions not pertaining to his book.’’

The complaint was referring to at least one alleged incident involving an Iona College freshman, Bill Maloney.

Maloney told The Post that he was “pushed away’’ from the governor at Cuomo’s recent book-signing at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan when the student tried to question the governor about the Moreland Commission scandal.

Maloney said he didn’t know whether it was the governor’s aides or state troopers who pushed him away.

But the lawmaker who filed the complaint — Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin (R-Rensselaer), a strong backer of Cuomo’s GOP gubernatorial rival, Rob Astorino — says he wants the incident investigated to find out. He added that he has been told of similar complaints.

And then there's this Quid Pro Cuomo:

McLaughlin’s filing also questions whether Cuomo violated ethics laws by appearing on David Letterman’s “Late Show’’ on CBS last week to peddle his book, for which he is reportedly being paid about $750,000.

The appearance could be an “impermissible gift,’’ since “CBS recently negotiated with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office a tax break for the ‘Late Show’ of at least $16 million,’’ reads the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

“Does the opportunity of a coveted guest spot on the ‘Late Show’ constitute an impermissible gift from CBS to Gov. Cuomo pursuant to [the] Public Officers Law?” the complaint asks.

In addition to possible ethics violations, the governor’s actions raise “issues as to whether Gov. Cuomo violated penal law . . . which establishes an ‘E’ felony for state officials who obtain ‘services or other resources with a value in excess of $1,000 from the state’ for personal gain,’’ according to the complaints.

The complaints were filed with JCOPE,  the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, and the state Board of Elections.

McLaughlin is not expecting a pre-Election decision from either entity but wanted to get these complaints on record:

“We have a governor who is out shilling books for his own personal gain,” the lawmaker told The Post. “He’s using state resources, the State Police, state employees, for his own personal gain, and that’s wrong,”

Add the complaints McLaughlin has filed against Cuomo with JCOPE and the Board of Elections to the detailed list of campaign finance machinactions WNYC's Andrea Bernstein reported on Friday and to what we know about his tampering in the Moreland Commission matter and what we have here is a portrait of a very corrupt governor who belongs in prison, not the highest political office in the state.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Here's A Teacher Who Should Be Rubber-Roomed

In the middle of this extraordinary New York Daily News piece explaining why Congressman Michael Grimm - the guy who threatened to throw a NY1 reporter off the balcony of the Capitol and is facing a 20-count indictment for corruption - is likely to win re-election from his Staten Island constituents is this:

Many said they thought Grimm showed nothing more than understandable frustration when he threatened Michael Scotto of NY1, after Scotto asked Grimm about the federal investigation of him.

“At least he gave (the reporter) a warning,” said Judy Psaotas, 49, a waitress at the Annadale Terrace Diner. “I would have just thrown him off.”

Psaotas was among several voters interviewed who appear to connect with Grimm on a visceral level.
I don’t like anybody, and I like him,” Psaotas said. “That’s not just because of the way he looks, because God knows, he is eye candy. I think he’s a man first. Before a politician, he’s a man.”

A 37-year-old teacher having breakfast at the diner put it more bluntly: “He’s bang-able,” she giggled, adding that she planned to vote for him.

The guy who threatened to toss NY1 reporter Michael Scotto off the Capitol balcony and faces 20 corruption counts deserves re-election because he's "bang-able"?

Anybody who says something like this is clearly too stupid to be in a classroom with children.

I'm only sort of kidding here.

Sort of.

In any case, it's beginning to look like the Bay Ridge/Staten Island area is going to re-elect a Congressman with violent tendencies who is facing a 20-count indictment and a State Senator under investigation for corruption by US attorney Preet Bharara.

Well, I guess in the end, most politicians are corruptible and contemptible.

In this Bay Ridge/Staten Island district, they're just more open about that and voters are okay with it all.

I guess that's nice.

Not sure it's "bang-able" though.

StudentsFirst Runs Pro-Republican Ads In NY State Senate Campaigns

Can we dispense with the idea that education reform groups are "liberal"?

Take StudentsFirst, for example:

ALBANY—A pro-charter school group spent a combined $78,000 on Thursday on radio and TV ads in three competitive State Senate races, according to financial disclosure filed with the state's Board of Elections.

New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, formed by StudentsFirst and run by the New York chapter of the organization, spent $47,000 on a radio ad on behalf of Republican State Senate candidate Tom Croci, who is vying to replace State Senator Lee Zeldin, a Republican who is vacating the seat to run for Congress.

...

Republicans have repeatedly tried to tie Democratic candidates to de Blasio as a way of alienating voters outside New York City. De Blasio campaigned on a pledge to limit the influence of charters in New York City.

New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, an independent expenditure political action committee created last month and funded largely by pro-charter hedge fund executives, is dedicated to preserving the current majority in the Senate. The upper chamber is controlled by the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference, who have been largely supportive of charter schools.

Capital reported yesterday that the PAC had spent $107,000 surveying battleground State Senate districts around New York.

New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany spent an additional $31,000 on cable and radio "media productions," in two competitive districts in the Hudson Valley.

Time and time again, we see these education reforms groups - from the Orwellian-named "Democrats for Education Reform" to supposed Democrat Michelle Rhee's group, StudentsFirst - raising money from the wealthiest (and toniest) of Republican donors (i.e., hedge fundies and other Wall Street types), then using that money to promote right-wing policies and right wing candidates, mostly with (R) after their names.

Carl Korn, spokesman for NYSUT (which is putting up some ads for Senate Dems), puts all this in perspective:

"What we see here is a small group of hedge fund billionaires working to privatize public education by siphoning money away from those schools that serve the vast majority of New Yorkers," NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn told Capital. "In terms of our work, we are proud to support those candidates who support public education and oppose the overreliance of standardized testing…We're working aggressively in a number of Senate races, and Assembly races , to elect candidates whose values align with out members".

StudentsFirst is using dark money from unknown sources to push for their right-wing policies and elect right-wing candidates to keep the State Senate Republican.

There's nothing "liberal" about them - they're no different than any other Republican donor group.

Which is fine - I have no problem with Republican donors groups raising cash and putting it into campaigns to elect their own people and push their own causes and issues.

I simply want those Republican donors to openly say "We're a Republican interest group pushing Republican causes and Republican candidates."

Not to much to ask, right?

Apparently with StudentsFirst it is.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cuomo The Campaign Finance Crook

WNYC's Andrea Bernstein has done a masterful job of putting together the ways Andrew Cuomo has skirted campaign finance law - all while claiming to uphold campaign finance law and "clean up Albany."

Here's a taste:


In May 2013, the housekeeping committee wrote a $900,000 check to Buying Time. A day later, an ad began appearing, featuring Cuomo looking straight into the camera. “I am proposing a clean-up Albany plan to fight corruption," he said. "It empowers our district attorneys, it increases criminal penalties. It decreases the influence of money in politics.”

Yes, that’s right. To pay for an ad about decreasing the influence of money and politics, Cuomo used an account with no contribution limits whatsoever. One of the main goals of ethics reformers has been to curtail housekeeping contributions.

Just a couple of months after that not-a-campaign ad ran, Cuomo’s own campaign committee paid Buying Time another $430,000 to run a virtually identical ad, with the same bright piano music underneath – even using the same font in the “paid for by” message.

“I am appointing a new independent commission led by top law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing," Cuomo said in the ad. "The politicians in Albany won’t like it, but I work for the people.”

But then things started to go off-track for the governor. Because the “new independent commission,” known in Albany shorthand as the “Moreland Commission,” smelled something fishy when it noticed that the housekeeping account was buying ads. So it issued a subpoena for information on – yes –Buying Time.

One of the governor’s closest aides, Larry Schwartz, immediately had it quashed, according to three knowledgeable sources. The circumstances are now under investigation by federal prosecutors. Neither Schwartz nor Buying Time would comment for this story.

Bernstein recounts Cuomo's shenanigans with the Committee To Save New York, a shadowy PAC that surfaced to promote his agenda, spending millions on pro-Cuomo ads without ever revealing who the donors were (though news accounts later found gambling interests gave a couple of million in return for expanded legalized gambling in the state.)

She also notes how Cuomo's using hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for pro-Cuomo ads as part of an ad blitz paid for by the Economic Development Corporation.

The ads are ostensibly about how New York is "open for business," but of course the message is, "Cuomo is great!"

Bernstein concludes that all of Cuomo's campaign finance shenanigans, while certainly hypocritical and ethically challenged, may not be illegal:

Last spring, after the Moreland Commission was shut down, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, seized its papers and vowed to continue its investigations. But speaking in Manhattan last week, he was rueful. “The scandal is not necessarily what’s illegal but what is legal." he told an audience. "And we have limited powers and we can only go after things that are illegal.”

So far, there’s no evidence Cuomo has done anything illegal. But the evidence does show that he stretched New York’s campaign finance limits so far they’ve become meaningless. And he did it to tell people he is cleaning up Albany.

Bharara has been very quiet about Cuomo since the summer.

That doesn't mean he's not working on something spectacular to be revealed after the election.

Alas, the statements Bharara made last week concern me that he's warning us that Cuomo the Campaign Finance Crook will get away with his criminality.

How Desperate Is Tom Corbett?

This desperate:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's (R) re-election campaign "found an African-American woman to stand next to the governor on his website photos," the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

"Not an actual woman. According to Buzzfeed, the black woman who gazes at Corbett was Photoshopped from a stock picture."

Corbett's campaign claims all of the people in the photo with Corbett are Photoshopped, not just the black woman.

I don't think that makes this story any better for Corbett.

What it says to me is, no one wants to go near Tom Corbett, not even when they're getting paid for a photo op.

Good luck winning re-election, Governor Corbett.

NYCDOE Tech Consultant Arrested For Cocaine Trafficking - Why Is Bloomberg Not Blamed?

This would be one of Bloomberg's vaunted tech consultant hires:

Two Bronx men, including a city Department of Education tech consultant, were busted by the feds for cocaine trafficking, authorities said Friday.

Yinmi Rodriguez, 27, who has been employed in a Bronx high school since 2008, used city computers to track the UPS delivery of the dope from Puerto Rico to the Bronx, officials said.

More than 11 pounds of cocaine were"intercepted" by police.

Rodriguez has been on leave from his DOE gig since April 2013.

Let's see, Bloomberg's NYCDOE hired a guy who beat a teenager to teach teenagers and a guy who used NYCDOE computers to track cocaine shipments.

Let's imagine what stories the press would write if these were de Blasio's hires.

And yet, as always, Bloomberg is let off the hook - no accountability for the "Accountability Mayor."

What's The Strategy Here?

Remember when Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Ironic, that:

Resarch by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported just 4 percent of US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed people identified as members of al-Qaeda.

Research by the London-based bureau found that only 111 out of the total 2,379 drone victims killed in Pakistan since 2004 was "a senior commander of any armed group". Just 84 victims were identified as al-Qaeda militants.

Following the 400th drone strike on 11 October, the report provides a damning assessment of the CIA drone program in Pakistan.

"More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30 percent are not even linked to a specific group. Only 84 are identified as members of al-Qaeda – less than 4 percent of the total number of people killed," the report said.

The investigative bureau's Naming The Dead project has been monitoring and collating research on the identities and backgrounds of US drone victims in Pakistan since June 2004.

Indiscriminately dropping drone bombs, taking the fight to the "terrorists" - and creating many more terrorists in the bargain:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met in the Oval Office Friday with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani girl who was shot in the head on her school bus by Taliban gunmen for criticizing their rule, including banning education for girls.

The White House says the first couple invited Malala -- the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize -- to the White House "to thank her for her inspiring and passionate work on behalf of girls education in Pakistan."

In a statement, the White House says the United States "joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams."

In a statement released after the meeting, Malala said she was honored to meet with Obama, but that she told him she's worried about the effect of U.S. drone strikes. (The White House statement didn't mention that part.)

"I thanked President Obama for the United States' work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees," she said in the statement. "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."

In other circumstances, were Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan in the wrong place at the wrong time, Obama might have her killed in a drone strike.

Not purposely, of course, but intent is not the point here.

The point is what actually happens as a result of Obama's drone war.

The goal of the drone policy is ostensibly to stop terrorists from targeting the U.S. and it's allies.

The actual outcome of that policy is to fuel more terrorism against the U.S. and it's allies.

The cynic in me wonders if running an Endless War, with more "terrorists" being created every year as the U.S. indiscriminately drops drones on people, not particularly caring who they hit, isn't the actual goal.

Nothing keeps a government and the elite that supports it in power like Endless War.

And surely things are not getting better.

The more drones we drop, the more "terrorists" we seem to create.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/11/205176/obama-and-first-lady-meet-with.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Christie's Wife Rakes In $500K For Part Time Work

This is nice work if you can get it:

According to new tax filings, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) wife, Mary Pat, who works part-time on Wall Street, earned $475,854 for her job as a director at Angelo, Gordon & Co. and $34,698 from Cantor Fitzgerald, the AP reports.

Be nice to have an independent prosecutor look into how Mary Pat makes that kind of dough for a part time gig and what that has to do with Christie's giveaway of the state pension funds to Wall Street.

I bet there's some connection there.

New York Board Of Regents Set To Relegate Social Studies To The Second Tier

The cardinal rule of public education in the 21st Century - that which gets tested in schools is important and that which does not is not:

The state's top school leaders are pushing ahead with a landmark change in high school graduation requirements for Regents history exams, amid protests by social studies teachers and their allies that it weakens academic scholarship and students' grounding in world and national events.

Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state's Board of Regents, said Thursday that the policymaking group will vote Monday on the proposal known as "alternative pathways" to high school diplomas.

One of the plan's provisions would allow students to waive taking one of two Regents exams -- U.S. history or global history -- in exchange for completing a sequence of technical or occupational courses that culminate in a practical-skills test.

...

State education officials said most students probably would opt for skipping the global history exam.
Students still would be required to complete courses in both U.S. and global history, even if they later chose to waive one of the exams.

The change would be a major shift in state policy, first established in 1995. That year, state school leaders set the goal of having students pass Regents exams in five subjects: English, math, science and the two history courses.

Federal law requires assessments in English, math and science, leaving only the history exams subject to potential waivers.

I'm in favor of career and vocational training in high schools.

I'm glad the Regents are coming back around to emphasizing career and vocational training.

But I also know that educrats only value subjects that get tested by the state.

With the Regents set to let students waive one of the two social studies exams currently required by the state, they are making a value statement about social studies.

Which is to say, they value the subject a lot less than ELA, math and science.

That should make you feel good if you're a social studies teacher.

You and your chosen subject expertise are no longer as valuable as they used to be - at least in the eyes of the Board of Regents.

Cuomo Refused TV Interviews Where He Wouldn't Be Treated Deferentially

From Mediaite:

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a memoir this week and, like all authors, he’s spending some time to promote it. But unlike all authors, the New York Times reported Thursday that Cuomo turned down guest invites from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, two spots that most authors would pounce on faster than you can say “nepotism.”

...

Cuomo’s aversion to Morning Joe (where a source confirms to Mediaite that Cuomo did indeed decline an invite) and The Daily Show may be justified, though.

Both programs, popular as they may be among political and media professionals, were highly critical over the summer of Cuomo’s questionable decision to dismantle an ethics commission he created once it started probing into his office.

“You know that’s fucking ridiculous, right?” Daily Show host Jon Stewart said of the matter back in July.

A few days prior, Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe said Cuomo’s decision to dismantle the commission was “deeply troubling.” He also said that Cuomo — who tried justifying his move by stating that it wouldn’t be appropriate for his own panel to investigate him — “may be deluding” himself.

According to the Times, Cuomo also declined an interview with a local TV news station in Rochester, N.Y., when the reporter wouldn’t commit to only asking question related to Cuomo’s book. Perhaps Morning Joe and The Daily Show had similar objections.

We’ve reached out to the governor’s press office by phone for an answer. After hearing us out, they said they wanted a request submitted by email, so we obliged. Still haven’t heard anything back.

Cuomo won't do any press that doesn't play by his ground rules.

How's that going to work when he tries to run for president?

Does he think the national media will defer to him?

Does he think the national media will quake in fear of him?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Free Refreshments Courtesy Of The Gates Foundation-Funded Educators4Excellence

A notice was passed along about an Educators4Excellence "Testing Networking Event!" tomorrow between 3PM and 5PM in Manhattan.

In case you're unfamiliar with the Educators4Excellence group, they're an astroturf organization run by some ex-educators who started a reform group that aligned well with what wealthy education reformers want for public education, then quit teaching to live high off the Gates Foundation-funded hog.

They push for all kinds of fantastic "teacher-led" reforms like teacher evaluations tied to test scores, 6+ observations a year, more and "better" testing, and of course Common Core.

You know, the kinds of top-down reforms that were shoved through by the Wall Street-funded Obama and Cuomo administrations, both of whom lap up the donations from the same wealthy education reformers who fund the Educators4Excellence (see here and here.)

In any case, the Educators4Excellence have got some excess Gates cash to burn tomorrow and they're holding a "Testing Network Event!" that you are cordially invited to:

Come celebrate the start of a new school year and network with some other teachers!  Enjoy complimentary refreshments on Educators 4 Excellence and hear about teacher-led change!

When: Friday October 17th
            3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Where: CK-14 The Crooked Knife
             232 W. 14th Street

Why: Network with like-minded educators that teach in your area, learn about E4E, and discuss teacher recommendations around testing and assessment.

No notice if you have sign a loyalty oath before you partake in the complimentary, Bill Gates-funded refreshment or discussion about "teacher-led change!", but in the past E4E has been known to make attendees at their get-togethers sign oaths before they were allowed in.

If there's no oath to sign and you're in the neighborhood around 14th Street, why not stop by, enjoy some Bill Gates-funded complimentary refreshment and let the Educators4Excellence astroturf folks picking up the tab know what you think of them and their "teacher-led change!"

Of course, since the braintrust at E4E, such as it is, have quit their jobs to work in "advocacy," they really ought to term their jive "ex-teacher led change!", but whatever.

Oh, and make up your own joke about why they chose "The Crooked Knife" for their pro-deform "Testing Network Event!"

My take is, that's the knife they use to stick teachers in the back with - bought and paid for by Gates and other corporate deformers, of course.