Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cuomo/Hochul Spent $5.9 Million On Primary

This says everything you need to know about the corrupt nature of our politics:

ALBANY – They were never worried about their Democratic Party primary challengers earlier this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his running mate, Erie County’s Kathy Hochul, insisted over and over again.
Worries aside, Cuomo and Hochul spent about $5.9 million in the final couple of weeks and days immediately following their recent closer-than-expected Democratic primary contests.
New campaign finance filings with the state Board of Elections show that the governor spent $5.6 million, much of it on television ads, during the primary campaign in which he faced political newcomer Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor who captured 34 percent of the Democratic vote against Cuomo.

Hochul's opponent Tim Wu spent under $300,000 on the campaign, Teachout's filings aren't available yet but it will be around the same numbers as Wu's.

$5.9 million to about $700,000

American democracy at its finest.

What Common Core Proponents Like David Coleman Have Wrought In Kindergarten

Remember when ELA Common Core architect David Coleman famously told parents at a NY State Board of Regents meeting that no one gives a shit what their kids think or feel about things?

Here's how some of that Coleman wisdom is playing out in kindergarten these days:

Writing lessons also have changed.

"In kindergarten we always taught them writing," she said. "But 15 years ago it was more personal, 'Tell me a story about your family.' 'Tell me more about something the class did.'

 "Now we have broader topics, 'Tell me how to make pancakes. Give me directions. Tell me about giraffes,' or whatever topic the student is interested in."

Notice the shift - from learning about self, family and human society to learning informational lessons about external topics.

The teacher in this article says the informational lessons about external topics come from the students themselves ("whatever topic the student is interested in") and this may be so.

Still, I think an important part of childhood, puberty and adult is learning about self.

Who am I?

Where do I come from?

Where am I going?

Who I am in the process of becoming?

Why do I think and/or feel the way I do?

Are all these thoughts and feelings mine or are some of them left over from my parents/family/society?

These are important questions to ponder, but in the new era of the Common Core, these kinds of questions are replaced with "How do you make pancakes?" or "Give me directions on how to get to the Apple Store."

The powers that be in this country want a populace divorced from their own thoughts and feelings, incapable of critical thinking or deep questioning.

They want a populace that can follow orders and comply with directions - make pancakes, get to the Apple store - because that makes for a good consumer society.

What they don't want is a populace who have been taught as children to think for themselves, to learn about themselves, to question society when their own internal signals tell them something's wrong in what they're seeing around them.

That kindergarten children no longer tell stories about themselves or their families and instead repeat directions for how to make pancakes is not a mistake in judgment by David Coleman and the Common Core architects, proponents, and funders like Bill Gates.

It's part of the social engineering of the populace the owners of this country want done to help them maintain their power and privilege.

They're educating the Common Core Era children to be mindless drones who can parrot directions but do not know themselves, do not understand themselves, cannot question themselves or their society.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bloomberg Is Still An Arrogant Ass

Bloomberg sure does think well of himself:

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just wrapped up a panel discussion with macro legend Ray Dalio. 

...

His fellow panelist Dalio added that culture is an important factor to consider when picking a place to work. He went on to say something about how there’s no correlation between money and happiness.

Bloomberg swooped in: “Just remember: Happiness can never buy money.” 

The audience laughed.

Yeah, that's some funny stuff out of our former comedian mayor.

Says a lot about him too.

Reminds me of what Michael Corleone said about Hyman Roth in Godfather II:

He thinks he's going to live forever.

Cuomo Reneges On Deal To Working Families Party

Gee, here's a surprise:

ALBANY—Late last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo sat next to Senate co-leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos at a press conference and announced they had reached a "handshake agreement" on an multi-million dollar item in next year's budget to fund anti-terror efforts. Left unsaid was the fact that such an agreement would become void if the Senate comes under new Democratic leadership, a goal Cuomo promised less than four months ago to work toward.

The event Friday was the latest in a string of Cuomo comments and appearances that seem at odds with the promise he made to the Working Families Party last May in exchange for the party’s endorsement, to help his party take over the majority in the State Senate. (Cuomo, who quietly played a key role in the formation of the the Republican-Independent Democratic coalition that kept the regular Democrats in the Senate minority, had previously avoided committing to any such goal.)

With just six weeks left until the general election, Cuomo has yet to begin campaigning in person for Senate Democrats. And he remains noncommittal on the issue of endorsements.

This is how he's acting before the election.

Wait until after he's re-elected.

He's going to govern as a centrist Republican corporatist once again.

Tell me again why "progressive" Bill de Blasio is campaigning for Cuomo, robocalling for his right wing running mate and helped finagle that Working Families Party deal for him?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Common Core Headlines Spell Trouble For Common Core

Common Core advocates are trying to save Common Core from an untimely death but recent news headlines suggest they continue to lose that battle:

Panel starts reviewing Common Core standards in NC

Missouri leaders named in Common Core lawsuit: Foes seek to stop payments to test-making consortium

Green Bay Catholic Diocese Backs Away from Common Core

Quarrel over Common Core: A Pennsylvania Primer 

Common Core US History standards attacked in SC

Not enough play for kindergartners under Common Core?

Last week, a TV production company that had done some propaganda work for the NYSED, the Rhode Island Education Department and ENGAGENY, released a You Tube video ad meant to defend Common Core.

The story about the ad from Politico:


WHEN GRANDPA TAKES ON GATES: Common Core proponents have been saying for a while that they’re going to shake up their PR and one novel approach is about to hit social media. It’s a two-minute video that mocks Bill Gates as one of the “rich computer guys in the nerdy glasses” (who frankly is “not making the best computers any more”) and ends with the decidedly modest tagline, “Common Core. It’s Better Than You’ve Heard.” The video follows a gruff senior as he grills his grandson’s seventh-grade teacher. “You’re not going to make him read stuff just because Bill Gates said so, are you?” he asks. Smiling, the teacher reassures him.
The ad comes from the media firm Six One Seven Studios, based in a Boston suburb. Executive Producer Bryan Roberts said the firm self-funded the video after learning about the Common Core debate through work with clients including the New York and Rhode Island state education departments and EngageNY, a website that provides curriculum resources to New York teachers. “Too many of the pro-Common Core videos were PowerPoints and talking heads,” Roberts said. “So we put out this video to help folks see the power of telling a fun but simple story with real people.” He has more planned. Watch: http://bit.ly/1Bq4mST

This video showing a "simple story with real people" that was meant to defend the Common Core was itself put on the defense when critics pointed out how ham-handed and awful it was:

The video features a Cartoon Old Guy, who's insulting on so many levels. He's dismissive of the kid. He is wrapped up in his own stupid stories. He can't remember the teacher's name (aging brain function-- hilarious). He's ethnic. He's an ignorant war vet of some war-- he looks like a stereotypical WWII vet, but that would make him ninety-ish. Could be Korea, which would make him seventy-ish. He thinks Gates runs Apple (har!) and he measures the value of his grandson's ability to "figure" in how it can calculate money. Oh, and he plays the lottery.

He's worried about the Common Core stuff he's heard about on TV, and I'm wondering where on TV he's hearing bad things about the Core, because Core proponents have that media pretty well locked up.

The message here? Common Core critics are uninformed fools. Note that the nice teacher lady does not actually offer a single piece of fact-based data about the Core to contradict Old Bat-brained Granddad. She doesn't have to (though she might have mention that Hector will have to put a stop to figuring out math problems in his head). He's so obviously a dope that we are meant to simply discount his complaints because, well, he's a dope. He is truly the most wondrous animatronic straw grampaw ever.

I'd like to save the video for posterity's sake, but it was pulled from the Internet and the "Common Core" account that posted the video on You Tube was deleted.

So much for that defense of Common Core.

Earlier in the month, former Secretary of Education William Bennett wrote a pro-Common Core defense in the Wall Street Journal that was widely rebutted by Common Core critics and skeptics for doing exactly what Bennett claimed Common Core critics do in their criticism of Common Core - misleading people:

This morning, former Reagan administration education secretary Bill Bennett took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to make the “conservative” case for the Common Core. In that effort, he actually made a great case for Core opponents, illustrating the contradictions of the Core while furnishing several examples of all-too-frequent Core spin. And he did it, ironically, while implying that Core opponents have “badly and sometimes mischievously muddled” the Core story.

Read the rest of Neil McCluskey's piece, which takes apart every point in Bennett's WSJ column.

Rick Hess also did a good job of refuting the Bennett piece.

Bennett was further put on the defensive when he it was revealed he was paid to "write" the piece:

While in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Wednesday, former Reagan Secretary of Education Bill Bennett put out what was described as the “Conservative Case for Common Core,” he admitted he is paid by a lobbying firm for his continued work in support of the controversial standards.

 Bennett’s admission, reported by Politico, that the public relations, lobbying, and business consulting firm DCI Group paid him to write the op-ed perhaps explains why it doesn’t sound much like the writing of the Reagan appointee who agreed with his president that there was no real necessity for a federal Department of Education. 

So we have two "defenses" of Common Core that were themselves put on the defensive this past week and a half and a whole host of headlines that show more trouble's 'a-coming for Common Core.

Given the inept pushback Core advocates, proponents and supporters have engaged in so far, I can't imagine the trajectory for the Core is going to turn around any time soon.

We keep hearing about how the pro-Core side is going to get serious in their defense of the Core, with serious dollars in pro-Core ads and other propaganda.

We keep hearing how the pro-Core side is going to stop talking down to people, stop mocking Core opponents, critics and skeptics.

We keep hearing how the pro-Core side is going to try and connect emotionally with parents and students to win them over to the Core.

But so far what we see are ham-handed attempts by Core proponents to defend the Core like the You Tube ad that's been pulled and the column Bennett got paid to put his name to.

We see continued obfuscation of the issues around the Core, particularly in the "the Core isn't a curriculum" defense, which is false since the testing that comes with the Core and the Obama administration NCLB waivers absolutely prescribes what must be taught in schools.

And we see continued mocking of critics from the pro-Core side, as best embodied in the grandpa in the pulled pro-Core You Tube video.

Good times if you are a Core skeptic, critic or opponent.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Andrew Cuomo Looks To Be The New George Bush

Ever since that trip to Israel over the summer, Cuomo's been burnishing his "national security" credentials.

Here's another example:

Although saying there is "no specific threat" of a terror attack, Gov. Cuomo announced on Friday that he is calling up hundreds of National Guard troops and other personnel to beef up security in New York.

Summoning reporters and legislative leaders to his midtown office, Cuomo said a comprehensive new security plan will be implemented to cover airports, transit hubs and large gathering points across the region.

He declined to give specifics of the plan until he formally unveils it with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie next week.

Cuomo, who is running for re-election, said "it is undeniable that New York is a possible target of terrorist activity," either "in retaliation... or as an offensive gesture."

However, he acknowledged that, "We have no specific threat" of terrorists plotting an attack.   
“This is just a general precaution given the obvious situation and obvious facts,” Cuomo told reporters, after discussing the situation with legislative leaders.

It was Cuomo's second media briefing on security issues in five days, activity that comes as he is ramping up his general election campaign against Republican Rob Astorino. The ability to command media attention through official duties is an advantage that incumbents almost always have over challengers. 

Cuomo, Christie and Mayor de Blasio met earlier this week with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The group pledged to step up preparedness and security amid fears that ISIS and other extremist groups would launch terror attacks in the area in response to President Obama authorizing a military campaign against the group.

“There will be hundreds of people, additional people, deployed across the system,” Cuomo said Friday. “There will be National Guard who will be called up.”

Cuomo said the short-term costs of the plan will be in the “tens of millions of dollars” and will be paid for in next year’s budget.

“This state and this metropolitan area will never have been as well protected as it will be when this plan is in operation,” Cuomo said.

No specific threat, just "a general precaution given the obvious situation and obvious facts” says the governor running for re-election as he calls a special presser to announce his security plan that he's doing jointly with pal Christie, who's running for president and also looking to burnish his national security credentials.

I guess I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I remember back in 2004 when the Bushies raised the terror alert every other month while Bush was running his re-election campaign based on national security and keeping the country safe from terrorism (never mind that Bush was president for 9/11 and completely ignored the warning signs beforehand about it.)

This Cuomo/Christie anti-terrorism campaign has the same political feel that the 2003-2004 terror alert manipulations had.

That doesn't mean the NYC area isn't a terrorism target and the politicians in charge aren't right to try and protect people and proparty as best they can.

Just that the rhetoric and press statements around this anti-terror campaign have the feel of a political campaign too.

As I noted when Cuomo admonished his Democratic opponent, Zephyr Teachout, over her staying out of the Mideast conflict, more and more it seems Andrew Cuomo has decided to wrap himself in the veneer of George W. Bush.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cuomo's Memoir "Shelved" Indefinitely, Victim Of Moreland Mess, Cuomo Micromanaging

Gee, who didn't see this coming after the Moreland mess this summer?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to launch his presidential bid with an inspiring autobiography — the way Barack Obama did with “Dreams of My Father” — has gone haywire, partly because the micromanaging governor doesn’t have enough time.

“It’s a disaster,” said one source. “This could be one of those books that is never finished.”

The HarperCollins book’s original ghostwriter and editor were replaced after several months of work. It’s now likely that Hachette’s unauthorized “The Son Also Rises: A First Biography of Andrew Cuomo,” by Vanity Fair writer Michael Schnayerson, will be published first.

One of Cuomo’s bigger problems is dealing with US Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into why Cuomo shut down his anti-corruption Moreland Commission before it had a chance to accomplish anything.

“Who’s going to want to read an inspirational book about how Cuomo got where he is when he is under investigation?” one editor wondered.

Another source said Cuomo is too busy putting out fires to work on his memoir because of problems with two of his top advisers. Howard Glaser, who had been with Cuomo since his days at HUD, left in June. Larry Schwartz, who handled the Moreland shutdown, has been mothballed by the Bharara probe.

“So there’s no one there. Andrew’s running his own show. He needs some help,” my source said. “Because there is no one guiding him, he’s now micromanaging the book himself.”

Going to be a swell second term, with Cuomo's henchmen either jumping ship or under criminal investigation and Cuomo having to run things himself.

And that's assuming that Cuomo himself isn't indicted for Moreland.

NYSED, Regents Look To Test The Arts In Order To Rate Teachers

From Diane Ravitch:


“NYSED is convening a panel to examine creating assessments to measure student growth, performance and college and career readiness in the Arts programs.

“The Department recommends that the Board of Regents commission an operational study that would establish criteria to identify and evaluate arts assessments in each discipline that signify college and career readiness as well as those that are truly worthy of Regents recognition. Similar to the approach used in career and technical education pathways, the proposed process would begin with the establishment of an Arts Advisory Panel.”

This is as much about evaluating the teachers using New York State's abysmal APPR teacher evaluation system as anything else.

APPR calls for teachers to be rated using so-called student performance on both state and local tests and assessments.

As of now, arts teachers are often being evaluated using alternate measures like ELA exams that their students take.

But once the geniuses at SED and the Regents come up with their criteria for how to identify and evaluate arts assessments in each discipline, every teacher in every subject will have her or his own assessment that they can be rated on.

And won't that be wonderful?

Folks, until we make the politicians who put these Regents into power pay a political price for doing so, this stuff isn't going to change.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Steve Forbes Loves Governor Cuomo

Want to know why Rob Astorino can't win in November?

Because business people like Steve Forbes love them some Andrew Cuomo:

BOLTON LANDING—Publishing titan and two-time Republican presidential aspirant Steve Forbes praised Andrew Cuomo before a speech Wednesday, but said it'll be a while before the governor can boast of a welcoming business climate in New York.

“He's made some changes on the tax side, and that's good, but it has to be just the beginning,” Forbes told Capital. “People see that it's beginning to improve, but a lot of work's got to be done.”

The billionaire spoke at the opening dinner of the Business Council of New York State's annual retreat at the Sagamore, a gilded island resort about halfway up the west side of Lake George.

...

The crux of Forbes' speech was a defense of capitalism and free markets, which Forbes presented as a solution to current problems from health care to inflation.

“Capitalism in free markets promotes cooperation. … You may not love your neighbor, but you sure want to sell your neighbor,” Forbes said. “It's not only creating resources. Capitalism, when allowed to operate, turns scarcity into abundance.”

Really?

What we're seeing these days is an abundance of wealth for the top 5% and a scarcity for everybody else:

Manhattan is becoming an island of extremes.

The mean income of the top 5 percent of households in Manhattan soared 9 percent in 2013 over 2012, giving Manhattan the biggest dollar income gap of any county in the country, according to data from the Census Bureau.

The top 5 percent of households earned $864,394, or 88 times as much as the poorest 20 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is being released Thursday and covers the final year of the Bloomberg administration.

“The recovery seems to be going to those at the top, much more than those in the middle, while those at the bottom may even be losing ground,” said Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College of the City University of New York. He attributed the disparity to the surging costs of housing and the lack of housing subsidies and other forms of public assistance available to many needy families.

The wealthiest New Yorkers are benefiting in part from the rise of the financial industry, including hedge funds and investment banks, which has helped lift the income of the most affluent households to levels reached before the recession. The recession lasted roughly from 2007 to mid-2009.

...

In Manhattan, the ratio between the top 20 percent and the lowest 20 percent fluctuated around 36 since 2006, but has soared more than 7 points since 2012.

The citywide poverty rate remained stalled at about 21 percent. About 1.7 million New Yorkers were living below the official federal threshold for poverty, with the biggest numerical increase among New Yorkers who are 18 to 64 years old.

In the metropolitan area, more people were living below the poverty threshold in 2013 than the year before. In 2012, the federal poverty threshold was $11,170 for an individual and $23,050 for a family of four.

“It means that despite the fact that the recession is over we’re still seeing no basic improvement in poverty levels, and for African-Americans it seems to be getting gradually worse,” said David R. Jones, president of the Community Service Society, a research and advocacy group. “The escalation in rents is driving people to the wall.” About 45 percent of New York City households said they spent 35 percent or more of their income on housing.

Unfortunately whether Cuomo or Astorino wins the election, the state policies that promote this environment will continue unabated.

That's why Forbes isn't going full-out for the GOP candidate.

He knows Cuomo's going to give him what he wants too.

SUNY Chancellor To Promote Business Role In Education

From State of Politics:

Also at 10 a.m., SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and IBM Foundation president Stanley Litow discuss the role that business should play in education during the Business Council’s conference, The Sagamore, 110 Sagamore Rd., Bolton Landing.

Because Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg and a host of edu-entrepreneurs, hedge fundies, and tech and textbook companies don't have enough of a role in education already.

Zimpher told a bunch of billionaires yesterday about her plans for the indoctrination of children:

At the opening dinner of the Business Council of New York State's annual retreat at the Sagamore, a gilded island resort about halfway up the west side of Lake George...SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher spoke with attendees about her cradle to career initiative.

Cradle to career initiative.

That has an ominous sound to my ears, especially when you know the "educators" creating this initiative are, like Nancy Zimpher, nothing more than shills for the business criminals.

Class Sizes Rise Again In NYCDOE Schools

From the Wall Street Journal:

Average class sizes in grades 1-3 in New York City public schools rose to 25 or 26 children in the last school year—an addition of three students a class from five years earlier, according to the Mayor's Management Report released Wednesday. 

Average classes in grades 4-8 also rose but at a slower pace, and averaged 26 to 28 students.

The report noted the city aims to bring class sizes down in all K-8 grades, and has a five-year construction plan to reduce overcrowding.

With Cuomo forcing the city to find space for all charter schools - both new and expanding ones - or pay for space on private property, you have to wonder if the city's five-year construction plan to reduce overcrowding is going to work.

This is especially a concern since charter advocates and edu-entrepreneurs are looking to get the charter cap raised or completely eliminated in the next legislative session.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cuomo Wants To "Bridge The Broadband Divide" At Same Time He Can't Pay For The Tappan Zee Bridge Project

It is becoming increasingly clear that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is building a $3.9 billion dollar replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge that has no funding source.

Cuomo tried to get half a billion in loans from the EPA clean water fund for the bridge, but that attempt was rejected yesterday.

Now people are worried that Cuomo will have to raise tolls on the Thruway and pull money from other sources in order to pay for the bridge.

Cuomo's administration has not released a financial plan for the funding of the bridge, though they do tout this bridge replacement and the speed with which it is being built as proof for how quickly Cuomo can get things done.

What I haven't seen connected to the bridge story yet is the bond act Cuomo is pushing this year to wire schools across the state with the technology needed for online computerized testing, which he calls the Smart Schools Initiative:

$2 Billion Smart Schools Bond Act Referendum November 4, 2014 – Proposal #3

In January 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act that will build out schools and classrooms for the 21st Century to ensure that our students graduate with the skills they need to thrive in the economy of today and tomorrow.

Smart Schools Commission

Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the Smart Schools Commission will lead a research effort into best practices into technology-enabled education and broadband connectivity efforts. In preparation for the Commission’s final report that will be developed in Fall 2014, we will invite local and national experts to present best practices for the Commission’s consideration over the coming months at public symposiums and Commission meetings.

Cuomo's selling this thing as an upgrade for school infrastructure, but what it's really is a boondoggle for his tech and edu-entrepreneur donors.

The upgrades are needed to run the computerized standardized tests the NYSED, the Regents and their Gates Foundation/ed reformer funders want in the near future.

Cuomo's Smart Schools Commission is meeting today:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Smart Schools Public Symposium

WHAT: Public Symposium – Bridging the Broadband Divide in New York State 

WHEN: Wednesday , September 17, 2014 from 12 pm - 2 pm

WHERE: Fifth Floor Atrium, Clinical and Translational Research Center, University at Buffalo 875 Ellicott Street , Buffalo NY 14203

 Come hear from technology and education experts about innovative, successful approaches to school and community connectivity and technology - enabled education practices that can help to reimagine New York’s public schools for the 21st century.

It's ironic that Cuomo's looking to get state voters to pony up $2 billion to "bridge" the broadband divide when he can't find the $3.9 billion he needs to pay for the other bridge he's building at the same time - the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement.

I do hope voters reject Cuomo's Smart Schools bond boondoggle, since it's really about nothing other than getting schools wired for computerized testing.

But given the mess he's made with the Tappan Zee Bridge project, who knows where the money will actually end up if voters say yes to the bond.

Hell, if Cuomo can try and divert money meant for sewers and clean water to a bridge project, you can bet he might try and take money meant to "Bridge the Broadband Divide" and put that into other things as well.

Perhaps even a real bridge.

Although if it's between paying for a real bridge or "bridging the broadband divide" so they'll have the infrastructure for computerized testing, I suppose I'd rather they build a real bridge.

At least a real bridge would be useful.

Cuomo Has To Hike NY State Thruway Tolls To Pay For His Bridge Mess

Oy:

ALBANY – The federal government Tuesday rejected most of the Cuomo administration’s bid to use $511 million from a clean water fund for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, a decision that has implications for Thruway tolls across the entire state.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s rejection of all but $30 million in funding from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund highlighted criticism of the project over the Cuomo administration’s failure as yet to release a detailed financial plan for covering the costs of the $3.9 billion bridge project.

The EPA’s decision to deny most of the funding was greeted with enthusiasm by environmentalists, who had accused the administration of inappropriately raiding a fund dedicated to clean water improvements.

Representatives of Thruway users said the EPA rejection brings renewed attention to the fact that the state is proceeding with bridge construction without releasing a financial plan on how it will be funded and how the cost will affect users of the Thruway or the bridge. The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River, is part of the Thruway system.

When asked if tolls systemwide could increase as a result of the rejection of the federal loan, John Corlett, legislative committee chair of AAA New York State responded: “I think one can draw that conclusion, yeah,” said.

A trade group that represents truck companies said worries about future toll hikes are increasing.
“With or without that loan, we’re concerned about pressure on system-wide tolls,” said Kendra Hems, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association.

Hems noted that the clean water funding the EPA rejected was going to have to be repaid by the Thruway Authority anyway.

“At the end of the day, the money they need for the Tappan Zee is the money they need for the Tappan Zee, with or without that loan,” she said.

“Truthfully, the bigger concern is a lack of a public financing plan. They’re making all these decisions … with absolutely no indication of how they’re going to pay for it,” Hems said.

Cuomo's building a $3.9 billion dollar bridge without saying where most of the money to pay for the bridge is coming from.

You know toll hikes are coming, and given the cost of the bridge, they're going to be big.

I ride the PATH every day, and we have one more fare hike coming after Cuomo and Christie got together to engineer toll and fare hikes on Port Authority entities so that they could use the money for the World Trade Center boondoggle down in lower Manhattan.

Cuomo will do the same here, only unlike with the Port Authority hikes, where he had some political cover and didn't take any political hit for the increases, this time around, Cuomo's out there all alone.

When the toll hikes come on the Thruway - and they will - Cuomo will own them:

Cuomo has pushed the Tappan Zee project not only as necessary for transportation but as a symbol of how his administration can get things done more quickly than past governors.

Cuomo's getting this bridge built very fast, that's for sure.

So fast, no one knows where the money's coming from.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Like Summer Never Happened

Someone at school said to me today "We've been back 11 days and it feels like we've been back for months."

I said I felt the same way.

Anybody else out there feeling like summer never happened?

Bloomberg's gone, Cuomo's going to be lucky to escape prison, Obama's education reform agenda is coming apart, and yet so much of the nonsense at school continued unabated.

Meeting after meeting, evaluations starting already, PD that makes you want to poke a fork in your eye - so much soul-sucking activity that takes away the time and energy teachers need to teach, work on lessons, grade papers, and work with students.

It's September 16th.

It feels like April.

Big Loss For Cuomo

The losses are mounting for Governor Cuomo:

In a blow to the Cuomo administration – and a big win for the environmental community – the EPA has rejected almost all of the controversial funding approved by the Environmental Facilities Corp. for projects related to building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, deeming them ineligble for funding from revolving loan fund intended to pay for clean water initiatives.

In June, the EFC’s board of directors voted to provide $511 million worth of loans to the state Thruway Authority for 12 projects related to the bridge, and the Thruway Authority quickly voted to accept the money. The EPA has determined that seven of those projects, worth $481.8 million, do not meet the revolving fund’s criteria, while the other five are eligible.

The EPA informed the DEC and the EFC (headed by former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll) of its decision in a letter sent today. The Cuomo administration has 30 days to appeal the ruling, otherwise it is final.

Among the projects rejected for funding: $66.7 million for a pedestrian walkway to be attached to the new bridge; $100,000 for relocation of a peregrine falcon nesting box on the Tappan Zee; and $70 million for riverbed dredging and “armoring.”
“In light of this determination, EPA is enclosing the FFY 2014 capitalization grant agreement, which is awarded, as modified, to NYSDEC,” wrote Joan Leary Matthews, director of the EPA Region 2 Clean Water Division.
“EPA’s determination of ineligibility of seven Tappan Zee Bridge-related projects applies to funds from the capitalization grant as well as to the recycled funds in the CWSRF. Therefore, if New York State spends either capitalization grant funds or recycled funds toward projects that EPA has determined to be ineligible, EPA will disallow those costs.”
This is a big problem for the Cuomo administration, which repeatedly insisted that this unusual EFC loan – a funding scheme that has never been tried before – was completely legal.

More and more, Andrew Cuomo is learning he is not above the rules.

The US attorney is investigating him for meddling in the Moreland Commission and has publicly warned him over witness tampering.

Last week, Democrats gave him the lowest victory totals in a contested Democratic Primary in New York State ever.

And now the EPA has hit him for trying to divert funds to the Tappan Zee Bridge project that shouldn't be going there.

Just wait until voters find out that Cuomo's going to have to raise tolls on bridges, tunnels and roadways across the state to pay for his Tappan Zee Bridge boondoggle.

I'd bet a month's worth of Tappan Zee Bridge tolls that he'll learn another lesson in rule-breaking.

Charter School Advocates Sue New York State For More Money

What Governor Cuomo did for NYC charter schools by forcing the city to either find space for charters or pony up rent for private space?

Charter advocates want that same advantage state-wide:

A lawsuit filed by a group of charter-school supporters alleges that a chronic funding gap between charter schools and traditional public schools violates the state constitution and disproportionately hurts minority students.

The suit, filed late Monday in state Supreme Court on behalf of five families in Buffalo and Rochester, says charter students in Buffalo received around $9,800 less than their district-school counterparts in the 2011-12 school year, which they said was the largest disparity in the state. In Rochester, charter students received around $6,600 less, according to the suit. 

Charter schools outside of New York City don't receive funding for facilities, which forces them to cut back on critical amenities like libraries and science labs, the lawsuit says.

"For years charter schools have had to struggle to get by," said Kyle Rosenkrans, interim president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, a nonprofit group that represents charter schools in New York and Connecticut and that joined the suit. "That's why we see the parents from Buffalo and Rochester really rising up to say we've had enough. The state needs to find a solution."

The suit asks the court to declare that New York's approach to charter-school funding violates the state constitution and force the defendants to remedy the situation. Defendants include the state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state legislature, and the state education department.

I would imagine Governor Cuomo will be happy to do for charters in the rest of the state what he did for charters here in NYC - which means steal money from public schools and divert it to private schools:

"This lawsuit is simply another deceptive attempt for charter schools to divert even more money away from public schools," said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group for public schools.

Indeed.

Monday, September 15, 2014

NYSED Employee Indicted For Stealing $2.5 Million

Been saying for a while now that the NYSED is rife for investigation:

"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of Keisha Relf Davis, an employee of the New York State Department of Education, and an accomplice for stealing over $2.5 million from the state by diverting funds to NYC-area driving schools for services that were never rendered. As alleged, Davis received bribes in the form of regular cash payments for her role in the scheme. Together, Davis and Steven Washington, the schools’ program director, have been charged today with 19 felony counts including Grand Larceny and Bribery and face up to 25 years in state prison."

“Today’s indictment sends a clear message: no one is above the law and there must be one set of rules for everyone,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Taking advantage of a government job to steal millions of dollars from New York taxpayers is a shameful violation of the public’s trust. My office must and will remain vigilant for such blatant acts of fraud.”

“These criminal actions are reprehensible and demand severe penalties,” said Kevin Smith, New York State Education Department Deputy Commissioner. “The employees of the Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES) work toward the education and employment needs of New York State’s disabled adults. The actions of this one counselor exploited New York’s most vulnerable citizens for personal gain. When Education Department internal controls uncovered this criminal activity an immediate referral was made to the Attorney General for prosecution. Agency protocols will be tightened further to ensure that such criminality cannot again stand in the way of our mission to provide individuals with disabilities every opportunity for employment, economic self-sufficiency and independence.”

Davis was a vocational counselor for DOE’s Office of Adult Career and Continuation Education Services’ (ACCES) Vocational Rehabilitation program, which offers state-funded access to services like driver education to New Yorkers with qualifying disabilities and functional limitations. The investigation, which was conducted by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, revealed that Davis allegedly worked in concert with Washington, the program director of Americana Commercial Driving School, in Manhattan, and Roadway Driving School, in the Bronx. (The owners of those two schools, Juani Ortiz and Juan Cabrera, respectively, pleaded guilty last month in connection with this scheme.)

According to the indictment unsealed today in Bronx County Court, Washington charged non-disabled customers $300 to $500 cash and required a copy of their Social Security card in order to receive driving lessons. He then provided the students’ information and cash payments – which constituted an ongoing bribery scheme – directly to Davis, who created, submitted and approved falsified documents indicating that the students received their training through the ACCES program. (The students were not aware that ACCES services were being applied for and approved in their names.)

As a result, the driving schools received almost $5,000 in reimbursement from the state for each of the roughly 540 students for whom Davis submitted ACCES paperwork. As part of the alleged scheme, Davis would keep the cash payments, Washington was paid 12% of each reimbursement and the schools’ owners pocketed the rest.

The indictment charges Keisha Relf Davis and Washington with one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree (a Class B felony); one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class C felony); four counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (Class E felonies); and four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (Class E felonies). The indictment charges Davis individually with two counts of Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree (a Class C felony), four counts of Forgery in the Second Degree (Class D felonies) and one count of Defrauding the Government (a Class E felony); it charges Washington individually with two counts of Bribery in the Second Degree (a Class C felony). The top count of the indictment carries a mandatory prison term, with a maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years. 

Somehow the former NYSED Commissioner, David Steiner, avoided indictment for taking bribes from Pearson in the form of overseas trips.

Still wondering how that happened.

Guess whether you get indicted or not depends upon whether you're stealing for yourself or taking bribes to help a well-connected multinational steal millions from taxpayers via no-bid contracts.

Cuomo Will Be Happy To Screw De Blasio Over Despite The Help The Mayor Gave To Cuomo's Re-Election Campaign

After getting rolled by Governor Cuomo last spring over charter school co-locations and a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-K, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the decision to help Cuomo this election season with his re-election campaign in order to curry more favor with King Andrew.

First de Blasio helped engineer Cuomo's endorsement by the Working Families Party, then he began campaigning publicly for Cuomo, and finally he made a robocall for Cuomo's embattled running mate, the conservative Kathy Hochul, that Hochul's opponent, Tim Wu, said may have been the difference in the primary.

With all this help de Blasio has given Cuomo, Cuomo should want to help de Blasio out now too.

But Ken Lovett and Jeniifer Fermino of the NY Daily News report that if de Blasio thinks Cuomo's going to help him out in the future now that de Blasio has given Cuomo much needed help this election season, he's a fool:

A source with ties to Cuomo said the relationship between the mayor and governor has “fundamentally changed” as a result of the primary. “He’ll view the mayor much more as a reliable partner and friend,” said the insider.

...

The insider who is close to Cuomo told the Daily News that “the mayor can’t collect an IOU, but it’s the beginning of a real relationship” that will produce results for the city.

“For good or bad, the governor is not a person who views the world as 'I owe you one.' If someone came to him and said, ‘I was there for you and I took care of you — you owe me,’ you don’t get a good reaction,” the insider said.

A second source who has had dealings with de Blasio and Cuomo agrees.

“Andrew appreciates what Bill has done for him. But if he needed to f--k over the mayor tomorrow, he's going to do it. That’s just how he operates.”

Ah, yes - if Cuomo needs to "fuck over the mayor tomorrow, he's going to do it - that's just how he operates."

How's that for a "reliable partner and friend"?

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

The takeaway of this is, de Blasio is a fool, Cuomo is a scumbag and if anybody thinks Cuomo's going to help de Blasio get control of the rent board or hand him more money for pre-K or overturn the giveaway he gave to charters last spring when he forced the city to either find space for every charter or pay rent for them, they had better not hold their breaths waiting.

Cuomo does only what helps Cuomo.

Now I dunno if de Blasio really does think by helping Cuomo out, he's going to be able to call in some chits in the future or if he simply is trying to ride the winning team and expand his power base that way.

But either way, it's cynical politics and in the end, I don't think it's going to be terribly effective.

Cuomo Tries To "Reset" Relations With Black Community

This story comes on the heels of the story that Cuomo targeted black and Hispanic state troopers in his continent for removal, so I'm not sure how well the "reset" is going to go:

ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo held a meeting with African-American elected officials from Brooklyn on Friday afternoon, to help mend a strained relationship during his first term.

The meeting, held in Cuomo's Manhattan office, was attended by congressional representatives, members of the state Assembly and City Council, and state senators including John Sampson and Velmanette Montgomery.

The last time Cuomo held such a meeting was four years ago, when he was campaigning for governor in the fall of 2010.

“I’ll absolutely say that I think the meeting was generally a good, good step toward resetting the relationship between Brooklyn black electeds and the governor,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was one of about a dozen elected officials present at the two-and-a-half hour meeting on Friday afternoon.

Black officials have been frustrated with Cuomo, who had delayed a larger meeting, Williams said.
“I mean, we have been trying to get this meeting for some time to talk about issues germane to us, and other people that we represent and there’s been difficulty in doing that,” he said.

The meeting came a few days after Cuomo's primary challenger, upstart candidate Zephyr Teachout, exceeded expectations, winning 34 percent of the vote, despite having little funding and almost no institutional support.

Cuomo’s largest margins of victory in the primary came in predominantly African-American and Hispanic districts in the outer boroughs of New York City, such as the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. But turnout was especially low, suggesting an overall lack of enthusiasm among Cuomo's Democratic base.

The "reset" meeting took place before the Times Union story that Cuomo had targeted black and Hispanic troopers for removal at rates well above those for white troopers.

Something tells me he's going to need another "reset" meeting to reset what has happened since last Friday's "reset" meeting.

Cuomo Had Black, Hispanic Troopers Removed From His Security Contingent

Another week, another Cuomo scandal:

A month before Andrew Cuomo was elected governor in 2010, his top aides met privately with two State Police officials and proposed systematically replacing members of the governor's protective unit, including more than a dozen black troopers who suspected they were removed to "adjust the racial balance" of the elite unit.

Two confidential State Police reports, and interviews with current and former State Police officials, confirm that the agency's Protective Services Unit, which is tasked with protecting the governor and lieutenant governor, underwent sweeping personnel changes in the three months before Cuomo, then the attorney general, was sworn in as governor.

During the unprecedented restructuring, which followed a series of scandals in the unit, the number of black troopers in the detail dropped 44 percent, while the number of Hispanic members decreased 25 percent.

"They weren't looking to keep minorities on the detail," said State Police Investigator Charlotte Francis, a 25-year veteran of the agency.

Francis, who is black, was among the minority members abruptly reassigned from the governor's detail without being told why, they said, and despite having successful employment histories. Francis filed a discrimination complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, and last year the state paid her $30,000 to settle her case just before it was scheduled for trial. 

Cuomo's got a defender, of course an anonymous defender, saying Pateron had put too many minorities on the security contingent:

A high-ranking State Police official, who spoke on the condition of not being identified, said there was a perception that Paterson had infused the governor's detail with too many minority troopers, and that a series of scandals involving the State Police also prompted a need for change.

"There was no way that you could replace anybody in PSU and maintain the kind of (minority) numbers that existed at the end of the Paterson administration," the official said. "The reality is the State Police is probably 85 percent white. There was no way you could ever make up those numbers."

The truth is, Paterson and Spitzer had both used the state police for political ends and the detail probably did need to be re-ordered.

But considering Cuomo said as attorney general it shouldn't be done by the governor or his aides, then proceeded to have it done by his aides one month before he was elected, it smacks of hypocrisy.

Gee, Cuomo acting hypocritically - what a surprise.

And when you add in the numbers of the black and Hispanic troopers reassigned who are pissed about it, well, you have one more Cuomo scandal in what is now becoming a long litany of them.