Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Closer Look At The Polling On The Common Core

Neal McCluskey at Cato has done a great job of showing how much of the polling around the Common Core is problematic.

If you haven't read his posts, they are here, here and here.

Next time you see a poll purporting to show support for the Common Core, look to see what wording the pollsters used before they asked the questions around CCSS support.

When pollsters read the boilerplate from the Gates Foundation about how CCSS are a set of standards that states have voluntarily adopted that are going to help children compete in a globalized economy blah blah blah, of course people say "Yeah, I'm in favor of those!"

That's the kind of crap polling the CCSS-supporting Wall Street Journal does.

But when people are told that the Core Standards were devised by a small coterie of non-educators, financed by billions from rich philanthropists, promoted by the USDOE through carrots like RttT and sticks like NCLB waivers and designed to go along with national tests (which have been funded by the feds) and lifetime data tracking of children, the support is less than enthusiastic.

And with all that being said, the trajectory for CCSS support is still very, very negative:

Yesterday, I wrote about new survey results from the Friedman Foundation showing that the Common Core, if even close to fairly presented, has either negative, or thinly positive, levels of public support. But I posted that too soon; not long after I wrote it, two new polls came out showing even bigger trouble for the Core.

The first was a Rasmussen survey that revealed plummeting support for the Common Core effort among parents of school-aged children. Support dropped from 52 percent in November 2013 to just 34 percent in yesterday’s release. Opposition now outweighs support 47 percent to 34 percent. Assuming the question was unchanged between surveys, that is a huge drop.

The second survey was a University of Southern California poll of Golden State residents. The Core hasn’t been as controversial there as in many states–at least, there doesn’t seem to be a major groundswell to dump it–but it’s getting drubbed there, too. The USC research showed a marked increase in the percentage of Californians who claimed to know about the Core since the survey’s 2013 administration, and among those who reported knowing something only 38 percent had a positive feeling about the Core. Some 44 percent had negative impressions. Presented with pro- and anti-Core statements, a larger percentage of respondents–41 percent to 32 percent–agreed more with the negative statement. In 2013, the pro statement got the plurality, 36 percent to 25 percent.

Carol Burris wrote yesterday that you can stick a fork in the Common Core State Standards, they're done - and I think the polling is starting to bear that out.

It would be interesting to know what the support for CCSS would be if polls conducted by pro-CCSS outfits like the Wall Street Journal were on the up-and-up instead of serving as push polls for the wonders of Common Core.

Labor Dodges Bullet In Supreme Court - For Now

From Politico:

The Supreme Court Monday sided with home health care workers in Illinois who want out of a union but stopped short of a sweeping decision that could have decimated union finances and membership.

In Harris v. Quinn, the justices declined to reverse a precedent, set in 1977, that held states could compel public-sector employees to pay union dues. Laws mandating such payments exist in 26 states and will remain intact, in a major victory for organized labor.

 Justice Samuel Alito, writing for a 5-4 majority, called the precedent "questionable," signaling an openness to revisit it in future cases.

Given the impact of Vergara on teacher tenure, a Supreme Court ruling reversing the 1977 precedent that allows states to compel public sector workers to pay union dues would have had a devastating effect on the AFT and NEA.

A bullet dodged - for now.

As Politico notes, Alito left open the possibility of revisiting the precedent in future cases.

The Associated Press has more:

In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.

The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks — and bank accounts — in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.

But the ruling was limited to this particular segment of workers — not private sector unions — and it stopped short of overturning decades of practice that has generally allowed public sector unions to pass through their representation costs to nonmembers.

Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said home care workers are different from other types of government employees because they work primarily for their disabled or elderly customers and do not have most of the rights and benefits of state employees.

The case involves about 26,000 Illinois workers who provide home care for disabled people and are paid with Medicaid funds administered by the state. In 2003, the state passed a measure deeming the workers state employees eligible for collective bargaining.

A majority of the workers then selected a union to negotiate with the state to increase wages, improve health benefits and set up training programs. Those workers who chose not to join the union had to pay proportional “fair share” fees to cover collective bargaining and other administration costs.

A group of workers led by Pamela Harris — a home health aide who cares for her disabled son at home — filed a lawsuit arguing the fees violate the First Amendment. Backed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers said it wasn’t fair to make someone pay fees to a group that takes positions the fee-payer disagrees with.

The workers argue they are not government employees capable of being unionized in the traditional sense. They are different, they say, because they work in people’s homes, not on government property, and are not supervised by other state employees.

The workers had urged the justices to overturn a 1977 Supreme Court decision which held that public employees who choose not to join a union can still be required to pay representation fees, as long as those fees don’t go toward political purposes. They say the union is not merely seeking higher wages, but making a political push for expansion of Medicaid payments.

Alito said the court was not overturning that case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That case, he said, is confined “to full-fledged state employees.”

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the dissent for the four liberal justices. Kagan said the majority’s decision to leave the older case in place is “cause for satisfaction, though hardly applause.”

Given the bomb that was Vergara a few weeks back, I'll take the majority's decision to leave the older case precedent in place as a minor victory.

Alas, it will probably be short-lived.

 No doubt Alito, who specializes in union-busting, is looking for a better case to sweep away the old precedent.

Chamber Of Commerce Common Core Ads Fail To Persuade Republican Base

Pro-Common Core business entities have been putting up money to try and sell the CCSS to the public for a while now, with many aiming to change the way people on the right feel about the standards.

Libby Nelson at Vox reports the efforts to convince people on the right about the wonders of the Core aren't working:

The big political narrative around the Common Core this summer is that the national education standards pit Republicans against Republicans.

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and the Chamber of Commerce support the standards. The Tea Party decries them as "Obamacore." Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a onetime supporter of the standards, has turned against them; Jindal's top education official, a high-profile education reformer, still supports them.
But the Pew Research Center's recent profile of American political views destroys the assumption that these divides mean the Common Core is contentious among Republican voters. Business-friendly conservatives (the establishment base) and cultural conservatives (the tea party base) who know about the standards oppose them at identical levels. 

Supporters might hope otherwise, but the fight in the Republican Party is over and the standards have lost.

Pew divided the anchors of the Republican party into two groups in its new report on Americans' political beliefs. They call those groups steadfast conservatives and business conservatives, but they could just as easily call them tea party Republicans (religious, culturally conservative, angry at the federal government) and country club Republicans (wealthy, pro-Wall Street suburbanites).

The findings on the two groups' beliefs back up much of the establishment-versus-insurgency narrative. They disagree on immigration, on foreign affairs, on homosexuality, and on whether what's good for Wall Street is good for America.

But they agree on Common Core, identically: 61 percent of both groups oppose the standards.
This is a huge failure for the US Chamber of Commerce. The group spent much of the past year making a case for the standards from a business perspective.

The chamber argued that high, uniform expectations in math and language arts will produce better workers and a stronger economy. They made slick videos. They published op-eds. Yet they failed to convince even their core constituency — business conservatives.

This is why CCSS is doomed to failure and will see repeal in state after state - when business entities spend millions on pro-CCSS propaganda and can't even convince their own business-friendly constituencies that the Core is the most wonderful thing ever, it's difficult to see how the negative trajectory of CCSS support can be turned around.

Why Is Governor Cuomo Still Paying Full Salary To The Executive Director Of The Defunct Moreland Commission?

Quid Pro Cuomo at it again:

Three months after Gov. Cuomo said he was pulling the plug on his anti-corruption commission, the panel’s lightening rod executive director is still drawing a hefty paycheck.

State payroll records show that Moreland Commission Executive Director Regina Calcaterra, who at $175,000 a year makes just $4,000 less than the governor, is still receiving about $6,700 every two weeks despite the commission's work having ended.

A Cuomo administration official said that Calcaterra "has taken some time off and is finishing up closing down the Moreland."

Exactly what is left to do is a big question considering the panel worked for just nine months and has been inactive for the past three. The commission also turned over its records to different law enforcement officials, including US Attorney Preet Bharara, who is looking into possible interference with the panel by Cuomo that was detailed in a series of stories last year by the Daily News and the specifics that led to the body's end.

"Makes you wonder what she knows," said one Albany insider of Calcaterra's continued pay.
Calcaterra drew criticism from many on the Cuomo's Moreland Commission who believed she was there not only to carry out the orders from the governor's office, but also to report back what she was hearing to top Cuomo aides.

The Cuomo administration official did not rule out the possibility that Calcaterra will stick around on the payroll in some other role. Before serving on the anti-corruption commission, Calcaterra was the executive director of the far less controversial Moreland Commission created by Cuomo to look into the performance of the utilities before, during and post Hurricane Sandy.

"Like a number of the staffers, she will potentially take a different position within state government," the official said.

Makes you wonder what she knows is right - this reeks of bribery.

Will Preet Bharara probe this?

State Comptroller Criticizes NYSED For Lax Oversight Of Special Education Services

From Ken Lovett in the Daily News:

A Queens-based provider of bilingual pre-school special education services was hit by state Controller Thomas DiNapoli in a new audit for improperly spending taxpayer money on fancy cars, a Manhattan apartment, and even a recent hire's funeral expenses.

The audit, set to be released Monday, found that Bilinguals Inc. received reimbursements to help cover the cost of rent on a Manhattan apartment for Executive Director Trudy Font-Padron and her husband, Robert Padron, an assistant executive director, "so they wouldn't be too far from the office," even though the headquarters are in Forest Hills.

Taxpayers also paid parts of the leases, insurance and other costs related to three upscale vehicles - 2009 and 2011 Lexus SUVs and a 2010 Honda CRV - for Font-Padron and her husband as well as cable TV at their Manhattan apartment, auditors found.

Bilinguals Inc., which has provided services since 1995 to special needs kids ages three through five in New York City and the surrounding suburbs, also wrongly billed governments for excessive compensation for Font-Padron and her husband, employee bonuses, meals and parties, gift certificates, and college tuition for employees, the audit found.

As a result of a shortage of bilingual special ed teachers and therapists, Bilinguals spent $279,552 on international recruiting costs that included trips to South America but resulted in only eight hirings from overseas over a three-year period.

The organization also billed to cover the costs of employees who either weren't working at the program during the three-year audit period ending June 30, 2011, or worked at affiliated out-of-state programs.

All told, auditors found more than $875,000 in improper reimbursements out of the $13.3 million Bilinguals Inc. billed government during the three-year period.

"Bilinguals, like other special education providers audited by my office, took advantage of lax oversight to cash in," DiNapoli said.

That includes more than $541,000 in questionable personal services, $128,629 in non-personal serves, and $205,695 in recruitment costs.

The controller knocked the state Education Department for lax oversight.

"The State Education Department needs to recoup the money paid for these unwarranted charges and put in place more stringent standards to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure the parents and children who rely on special education programs get the funding they deserve," DiNapoli said.

Failed roll-out of the Common Core, test scores that were set to purposely plummet, lax oversight of special education service...

Remind me again why NYSED Commissioner John King still has his job?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seeds For Next Crash Sprout

From the NY Times:

FRANKFURT — An organization representing the world’s main central banks warned Sunday that dangerous new asset bubbles were forming even before the global economy had finished recovering from the last round of financial excess.

Investors, desperate to earn returns even as official interest rates are at or near record lows, have been driving up the prices of stocks and other assets with little regard for risk, the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, said in its annual report published Sunday.

Recovery from the financial crisis that began in 2007 could take several more years, Jaime Caruana, the general manager of the B.I.S., said at the organization’s annual meeting in Basel on Sunday. The recovery could be especially slow in Europe, he said, because debt levels remain high. “During the boom, resources were misallocated on a huge scale,” Mr. Caruana said, according to a text of his speech, “and it will take time to move them to new and more productive uses.”

The B.I.S. acts as a clearinghouse for transactions among national central banks and also as a setting where central bankers can discuss monetary policy and other issues like financial stability or bank regulation.

Its board includes Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the United States Federal Reserve; Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank; and the heads of central banks from Japan, China, India and many other countries.

The organization often uses its annual reports to send a message to political leaders, commercial bankers and investors, and reflects a widespread view among central bankers that they are bearing more than their share of the burden of fixing the global economy.

The language in the 2014 edition was unusually direct, as was its warning that the world could be hurtling toward a new crisis."There is a disappointing element of déjà vu in all this,” Claudio Borio, head of the monetary and economic department at the B.I.S., said in an interview ahead of Sunday’s release of the report, which he described “as a call to action.”


The B.I.S. also had harsh words for corporations, which it said were not taking advantage of booming stock markets to step up investment. That is one reason that gains in productivity — the foundation of sustained economic growth — have slowed in most advanced economies, according to the report. “Despite the euphoria in financial markets, investment remains weak,” it said. “Instead of adding to productive capacity, large firms prefer to buy back shares or engage in mergers and acquisitions.”

The overall message from the central bankers was that the world has forgotten the lessons of recent years."The temptation to postpone adjustment can prove irresistible, especially when times are good and financial booms sprinkle the fairy dust of illusory riches,” the B.I.S. said. “The consequence is a growth model that relies too much on debt, both private and public, and which over time sows the seeds of its own demise."

How exciting - the geniuses who brought us the last crash are working on bringing us the next one.

The Pro-Common Core Push Back Remains The Same

Carol Burris left this comment on a Valerie Strauss post at the Answer Sheet on how the CCSS testing is coming apart:

Put a fork in the Common's done. And when the history is written, its demise will be attributed to Race to the Top and the way the Gates Foundation people influenced the Department of Education. And it's irresponsible implementation in NY will receive credit as well.

A pro-CCSS commenter left this response:

As you know, CBurris, the polling in NY does not suggest that residents want the state to drop the Common Core. Half of NY voters support slowing its implementation. Nearly 40 % like it just fine.

Half of New York voters believe the state should delay implementation of Common Core.

That's according to a new Siena Research Institute poll.

Fifty percent of people polled support a two-year moratorium on the more-stringent education standards.

That's compared to 38 percent who said they should "continue to be implemented as quickly as possible."

The same pro-CCSS commenter left this earlier in response to the Strauss piece about the CCSS testing falling apart:

Valerie Strauss's hair is on fire once again. Tea Party states may continue to drop the CC because they're drinking the Kool Aid that the CC is a curriculum. But heck. Bobby Jindal can't even lie and distort his way out of the CC in Louisiana. 

Other states will retain the CC and slow the adoption of the assessments until they have aligned their instruction--not their curriculum-- to the standards. That makes good sense. 

You can see the strategy of the pro-CCSS people remains pretty much the same here - claim the CCSS doesn't amount to curriculum (technically true, but in practice, given the emphasis on the testing, not true at all) and marginalize CCSS critics as nut cases or people with their "hair on fire."

The thing is, this push back strategy isn't working in the least.

The reality is, the more people come into contact with CCSS and the ancillary testing, the less they like both.

The trajectory in the CCSS polling is pretty clear - negatives on CCSS are growing.

And while pro-CCSS folks clearly think delaying the stakes attached to the CCSS testing for students and teachers will save their initiatives, there are so many other problems with the CCSS outside of the testing and the stakes that I'm dubious delay is going to do what it is CCSS proponents think it will do.

One of the biggest is this: the Common Core is now a national punch line - from Stephen Colbert to Louis CK to David Letterman - just as the "new math" became a national punch line for Tom Lehrer and Charles Schultz back in the 60's.

It's difficult to save any kind of reform - educational, or otherwise - when that reform becomes synonymous with "mockery."

Direct Evidence Of Corporate Criminal Activity By News Corporation Surfaces

From The Independent:

Detectives investigating possible corporate charges against Rupert Murdoch's media empire have obtained evidence to suggest that News International paid private detectives to unlawfully access the phone records of a leading IRA mole who lives under the protection of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Senior Scotland Yard officers are analysing an invoice originally seized from a private investigator by the Metropolitan Police in 2007. The document – which dates from the time of the discredited original phone-hacking investigation – bills News International £850 for "Scappaticci phone records".

At the time the invoice was submitted, in April 2006, a senior News of the World executive had allegedly commissioned private detectives to find Freddie Scappaticci, Britain's top agent inside the IRA who was known by the codename "Stakeknife". David Cameron's former director of communications Andy Coulson was the newspaper's editor at the time. Last week, he was convicted of conspiracy to hack mobile phones.

It is understood the explicit request to be paid for obtaining confidential phone records makes the invoice unique amongst the files held by the Metropolitan Police (Met) – and central to possible corporate charges. The request is effectively asking, in black-and-white, to be compensated for a criminal offence.
Last week, Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to hack mobile phones. Five other News of the World journalists pleaded guilty to similar offences. After an eight-month trial that made headlines around the world, former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was acquitted of four charges.  

However, the conviction of such a senior figure as Coulson has raised the possibility that News International – now rebranded News UK – could face a corporate charge, which may have serious consequences for the ability of the parent company News Corp to operate in the United States. The investigation into News UK as a "corporate suspect" caused pandemonium at the upper echelons of the Murdoch media empire when they learnt of the development two years ago.
Shortly after the company was informed it was under suspicion in May 2012, executives in the US ordered that the company dramatically scale back its co-operation with the Met. A News Corp analysis of the effects of a corporate charge, produced in New York, said the consequences could "kill the corporation, and 46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy".
Lawyers for the media giant pleaded with the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company, saying it would not be in the "public interest" to put thousands of jobs at risk.
Gerson Zweifach, group general counsel of News Corp, flew to London for emergency talks with the Met in 2012. According to Scotland Yard, he told police: "Crappy governance is not a crime. The US authorities' reaction would put the whole business at risk, as licences would be at risk."

I remain skeptical that corporate charges will be filed against News International/News Corporation or hopeful that even if they are, Murdoch's millions won't win the day for the evildoers, as they did in the Brooks case.

But it's becoming increasingly clear that if the Brits want to file corporate charges against Murdoch in the UK, the evidence is there to do so, and with the FBI grabbing 80,000 emails from News Corporation servers last week here in the U.S., there's a good chance the DOJ could mount a criminal case against Murdoch and News Corporation here as well.

Time For Dennis Walcott To Just Go The ---- Away

Dennis Walcott shares the results of his latest physical for all New Yorkers to rejoice in:

Smart government policies to improve longevity and health outcomes for the public are critical. But it is ultimately our own individual responsibility to chart a healthier course for ourselves. You don’t need to run marathons. A modest change in diet and exercise habits can go a long way.

My annual physical checkup — I just got the results — yielded the following comparisons to last year’s findings: Weight down from 152 to 148 lbs.; HDL (“good cholesterol”) up from 80 to 103; LDL (“bad cholesterol”) down from 82 to 73; blood pressure from 122/70 to 120/68; resting heart rate from 59 to 46 beats per minute.

I am here today as a result of the change in diet and exercise and a determination to confront the diseases that devastated families like mine. It’s a small price to pay to experience the joy of holding your grandchildren someday.

That's great, Dennis - you're an awesome physical specimen.

But you're also a de-humanized functionary of the oligarchy who has spent years doing the work of privatizing the public school system.

Few people have done more to damage children in the past ten years in this city than you.

Better to be a little less of an awesome physical specimen and a little more of a whole human being.

Go away, Dennis.

No one gives a shit about your latest physical results, your cholesterol levels or your body fat measures.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Education Reform's Dirty Secret: Reformers Target Black And Brown Teachers For Replacement

Glenn Sullivan, a recent graduate from New Orleans’ Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, writes the following in the Washington Post:

In my school, as in many schools — especially in reform-oriented school districts — a lot of the good, black teachers have been replaced by younger white teachers. Before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, nearly 75 percent of the city’s public school teachers were black. That began to change after Katrina, when charter schools began to grow in number. The percentage of minority teachers across New Orleans public schools dropped from 60 percent to 54 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to data compiled by Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.

This troubles me. Particularly upsetting to me was the departure of the music teacher, a veteran black educator who helped run the New Tech school choir and put together trips for students.

When I talked to administrators about the departures of good black teachers, I was told that students need diversity in order to receive a high quality education. The school principal, who is black, has pointed out that a majority of the teachers are still black — a higher percentage than at some other New Orleans charter schools. He also pointed out that students are not always privy to the reasons teachers depart, and some might have chosen to leave.

Students do need diverse educational experiences, but that diversity doesn’t need to be about a teacher’s race. Hiring more white teachers is not the best way to improve education for students, particularly students of color.

In city after city, education reformers have gone after teachers of color and replaced them with young white people who work a couple of years, then head on to greener pastures.

Those in turn are replaced with more young white men and women.

New Orleans, a district that has been completely charterized, is one of the most egregious examples.

But there are a lot of others, including NYC, where the Bloomberg DOE made the teaching corps. a lot whiter than before they took power.

Next time you hear some jive ass education reformers link education reforms, particularly reforms that give districts the power to fire large numbers of teachers, to civil rights, remember that many districts are using these initiatives to fire lots of black and brown people.

Why Won't Campbell Brown Reveal The Donor List To Her Education Reform Advocacy Group?

From David Callahan at Inside Philanthropy:

When queried by a reporter for Politico, Brown declined to name the donors to the advocacy group she's started, the Partnership for Educational Justice, except to say that they come from both political parties.

Carl Korn, a spokesperson for New York State United Teachers, told Politico that PEJ was an "astroturf" group funded by right-wing “extremists," and added that "Campbell Brown ought to disclose her donors who are funding this attack on working people and the rights of teachers... We will vigorously defend due process and seniority rights against these attacks by billionaire hedge fund managers.”

It could literally be years before we know where PEJ's money is coming from. Or perhaps never, given that nonprofits don't have to disclose their funders and there's also no requirement for individuals to publicly disclose where they donate funds, assuming they don't channel those gifts through a foundation.

In all likelihood, though, the donors behind PEJ—which, by the way, has only four staff, including Brown, and has recruited a pro bono legal team—are the usual suspects. It will be the same donors who give money to pro-charter and ed reform groups, particularly those with a big presence in New York: Teach for America, Achievement First, the New Teacher Project, and so on. (Reshma Singh, the executive director of PEJ, previously worked for both Teach for America and Achievement First.) 

What's Brown hiding that she refuses to reveal the donor list?

7% Of FOX 5 NY On Air Personalities Have Been Accused Or Convicted Of Sex Crimes In Past Four Years (UPDATED - 2:00 PM)

I posted earlier about former Fox 5 NY reporter Charles Leaf getting sentenced to 26 years in prison on child molestation charges.

In the post, I wondered about the following:

Why isn't Campbell Brown screaming about the Leaf case and wondering aloud how many other Fox News employees are pedophiles?

Now Leaf is the only convicted pedophile that I know of at Rupert Murdoch's FOX News and and FOX affiliates, but he is not the only accused sex criminal at the company.

Let's not forget Ray Kelly's son, Greg, a FOX 5 anchor who was accused of rape, though police and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined to file charges against him.

The NY Times wrote up the story on Greg Kelly this way:

Manhattan prosecutors have decided not to file rape charges against a son of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly after a two-week investigation of a woman’s accusation that he had attacked her late last year inside the Lower Manhattan law office where she worked, prosecutors said in a letter on Tuesday. 

The office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., concluded its inquiry into the accusation leveled against Mr. Kelly’s son Greg Kelly, a local television anchor, concluding that “the facts established during our investigation do not fit the definition of sexual assault crimes,” according to a brief letter to Mr. Kelly’s lawyer, Andrew M. Lankler. “Therefore, no criminal charges are appropriate.” 


The accusations came to light after the woman, who is in her late 20s or early 30s and whose name was not released, walked into the 13th Precinct station house on Jan. 24. She told the police that she had met Mr. Kelly, 43, on the street and had gone for drinks with him at the South Street Seaport a few days later, on Oct. 8. Afterward, she said, they returned to her office and he raped her. 

Police detectives initially interviewed the woman in the hours after she walked into the station house last month, law enforcement officials said at the time. But within hours, the Police Department had turned the investigation over to Mr. Vance’s office because of the conflict presented by the department’s looking into a sexual assault accusation against the commissioner’s son, who from the outset denied the accusations through Mr. Lankler. 

After the allegations became public, Mr. Kelly, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Reserves, took a leave from his position as an anchor of “Good Day New York” on the Fox station WNYW (Channel 5). 

OK, so here we have two FOX 5 on air employees accused of sex crimes in the last four years, one of whom was convicted on charges, the other not charged.

The FOX 5 NY news site lists 28 current on air personalities - including Greg Kelly, who still has his job despite the rape accusation.

2 out of 28 is 7% - which means 7% of the on air personalities at FOX 5 NY have been accused or convicted of sex crimes in the past four years.

Let's imagine that 7% of teachers working in NYCDOE schools were accused or convicted of sex crimes in the past four years (that would be about 5,600 teachers.)

How do you think Rupert Murdoch's FOX 5 NY affiliate would handle that story?

How would Murdoch's tabloids, the NY Post or the Wall Street Journal, handle that story?

What would frequent FOX News guest Campbell Brown say about those kinds of statistics?

And yet, here we have 7% of the on air personalities at FOX 5 NY accused or convicted of sex crimes in the last four years, one of whom has been imprisoned for child molestation, and we get silence from the FOXies over the sleaze at their station.

Silence too from professional teacher troll Campbell Brown.

It's amazing when you think about, really, because similar statistics for teachers would send both the FOXies and professional teacher trolls like Brown apoplectic about the dangers of teachers, but the reality is, you're far more endangered by FOX 5 NY on air personalities than you are by teachers.

And yeah, I know I'm stretching the Kelly sex crime thing and stretching the stats too - there have been more than 28 on air FOX 5 NY personalities in the past four years.

But this is just the kind of "stretching" that Murdoch media entities engage in when smearing teachers and the teaching profession. 

And the point I want to make in this post still stands regardless - you're far more endangered by FOX 5 NY on air personalities than NYC teachers.

The statistics bear this out.

UPDATED - 2:00 PM: The Daily News reports Greg Kelly is as sleazy as ever:

There is a time and a place for most things — but admiring your co-worker's body live on TV is neither of those.

An excited Greg Kelly could not contain his enthusiasm when colleague Anna Gilligan reported live from the newly renovated Action Park in New Jersey in a bikini.

Gilligan was there to show how the park had been transformed.

But if she thought the hardest part of her broadcast was going on one of the rides and then swimming live on TV, she was wrong.
After getting out of the water, a self-conscious Gilligan, who admitted it was "scary" that she had to strip to a two-piece on air, was subjected to some awkward comments from Kelly.

As she started the Tarzan ride, Kelly exclaimed: "Wow! here she goes, in a two-piece!"
And he couldn't contain himself.

As Gilligan climbs out of the water, he tells her: "First of all, nice bathing suit."

She ignores the remark, but Kelly's co-host Rosanna Scotto warns him to "stay appropriate."
He does not heed the advice and continues with his cringey remarks.
When Gilligan says she is about to go and put some clothes on, Kelly tells her "Hold on a second, no, not so fast Anna."
He then stutters to find a question to keep the presenter on air and receives another telling off from Scotto who even slaps him on the arm and tells him to "be nice and stop milking this shot."

Even then, he does not pick up on the clues and continues with the awkwardness.
The camera operator even gets involved by sparing Gilligan's blushed and cutting to a shot of the pool rather than the presenter in her two-piece.

When it goes back to the Fox 5 studio, a suitably embarrassed Kelly tells Scotto, "don't be so frowning at me."

Former Marine Kelly, the son of NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, was cleared of a rape allegation back in 2012 and thanked Scotto then for her support.

He has been hosting the breakfast program since 2008.

Greg Kelly, keeping it classy as always.

Same goes for FOX 5 NY - great idea to put the female reporter in a bathing suit so that Greg Kelly could ogle her publicly on air.

Fox 5 Reporter Sentenced To 26 Years In Prison For Child Molestation

But Charles Leaf, the former Fox 5 reporter sentenced to 26 years in prison for child molestation and child porn, continues to deny the charges:

The former television reporter convicted of molesting a 4-year-old girl defiantly maintained his innocence for nearly half an hour in a packed courtroom before a judge sentenced him to 26 years in prison on Friday.

“I can’t stand before you and say I’m sorry for something I didn’t do,” the journalist, Charles Leaf, handcuffed and wearing an orange inmate’s jump suit, told Superior Court Judge James J. Guida in Hackensack. “Those who prey upon children are the worst kind of criminals. I am not one of them,” he declared “I am innocent, 100 percent innocent.”

Leaf, the son of a police officer, steadfastly maintained that he never abused the girl — who recanted the story of abuse that she told her baby sitter and then authorities in 2010. He accused state child-protection workers of conducting a witch hunt against him and destroying his family because his wife stood by him. Leaf, who lived in Wyckoff until his conviction, has two children.

Anyone can be falsely accused and then encounter so much “prejudice and scorn” that it will ruin his life and the lives of those around him, he said.

Glancing at handwritten notes and sometimes tearing up as he spoke, Leaf said he had passed a polygraph exam and a psychosexual evaluation administered by a leader in the field.

“I have led a life of honor, integrity, courage and commitment,” he declared, referring to his military service in the U.S. Marines. And as an investigative reporter at Fox News 5, he said, his job was to hold the powerful accountable.

A jury found Leaf guilty in February of eight charges, including aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, child endangerment, hindering apprehension by intimidating the victim, possession of child pornography on a computer and evidence tampering for destroying a hard drive. He was convicted of touching the girl’s private parts and instructing her to touch him in a sexual manner. He also warned her not to tell anyone, but the girl told her baby sitter in October 2010, leading to Leaf’s arrest, the prosecution said.

 The prosecution also called an expert who testified about the pressure some children undergo that leads them to recant testimony about crimes in some circumstances. The victim’s identity is being withheld by The Record because she is a minor.

Testifying in his own defense, Leaf vigorously denied the charges. The girl, now 8, recanted her story and testified that Leaf never touched her in a sexual manner. Leaf’s father-in-law also testified, saying he had downloaded and watched child pornography on a family computer in Leaf’s home.

Leaf can maintain his innocence and claim he has led a "life of honor and integrity," but the record shows otherwise.

First, a family member in the past had accused him of sexual misconduct:

A sister of troubled Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf says the Emmy-award winning newsman has molested young girls before.

Susan Gaudet told the Daily News her younger brother, busted Thursday on sex assault charges, abused two of his relatives in the 1980s.

"I'd like to see them put him away for the rest of his life," fumed Gaudet, one of Leaf's three sisters, from Jacksonville, N.C. "I am so full of rage. If I had the opportunity to spit in his face and hurt him, I would do it."

Leaf, 40, was charged this week with molesting a 4-year-old girl inside his Wyckoff, N.J., home. The married father of two is being held at Bergen County Jail on $250,000 bail.

It was 25 years ago when Gaudet found out Leaf abused two young female relatives multiple times at their grandparents' home in Trucksville, Pa.

The abuse started when Leaf was just 9years old and his first victim was 3, Gaudet said.
Over the next six years, Leaf repeatedly molested the girl and her sister, who is two years younger, said Gaudet, 53.

Leaf was eventually confronted, and he immediately confessed to the sordid acts, Gaudet said.
"He said, 'Mom, I did it,'" Gaudet recalled. "Just like that. And he's never denied it. He probably wanted help, but he never got it."

Leaf was never prosecuted, Gaudet said. The incident divided the family, but Leaf's sister started talking to him again in recent years.

She remained concerned that he might molest another young girl.

"He continually reassured me we had nothing to worry about," said Gaudet, a mother of two. "I kind of resolved myself to the fact that this was something in the past, but now we know it wasn't."

Gaudet said she revealed her brother's dark past to his wife, Monika, for the first time on Friday. The couple has a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.

"She said, 'I don't know what to believe. I don't know what to do,'" Gaudet recounted.

In recent years, Leaf, an ex-Marine who has won two Emmy Awards, battled depression and often threatened suicide, his sister said.

"He's tormented," Gaudet said. "Little did we know how tormented he really was."

Leaf had a reputation as a bully and a liar when he worked for FOX News - this is a piece describing Leaf's reporting style that was written one month before he was arrested on molestation charges in October 2010:

Fox News has launched the careers of some of the most ignorant, unethical, anti-journalists, ever to fondle a microphone. Some have had great success like Glenn Beck. Others have disappeared into media black holes likes Jesse Watters.

Following in the footsteps of Watters is a reporter for the Fox affiliate in New York (WNYW), Charles Leaf. With an obnoxious bearing and a devotion to dishonesty, Leaf has been falling all over himself to fabricate a story where none exists. It’s no wonder that he has found himself promoted to numerous segments on the Fox News Channel. He has been featured with Fox & Friends and Greta Van Susteren. And Megyn Kelly has virtually adopted him and moved him into her den.

The story Leaf has been investigating is related to the controversial non-mosque that is not at ground zero. His premise is that persons associated with the project are either corrupt or connected to terrorists. However, his reports haven’t even provided enough evidence to start a rumor.

First Leaf conducted an ambush interview on real estate developer, Sharif El-Gamal, that yielded nothing to support his contention that El-Gamal was corrupt. Leaf merely insinuated that something must be wrong because El-Gamal was a waiter eight years prior to investing in the Park51 project. The implication being that anyone who starts a small business, works hard for nearly a decade, and achieves success, is deserving of suspicion.

Then Leaf turned his focus to investor Hisham Elzanaty. Again, Leaf ambushed Elzanaty without acquiring any usable information. The only purpose for Leaf’s ambushes is to suggest something sinister when the target declines to talk to him. To that end Leaf made wild accusations about Elzanaty’s contribution to a Muslim charity. As it turns out, the charity, the Holy Land Foundation, was later investigated for ties to Hamas. But that wasn’t until two years after Elzanaty’s donation, and the feds acknowledged that contributors would not have known about the organization’s relationship with Hamas as it was deliberately concealed.

Both of these reports failed completely to produce evidence of any wrongdoing. They were exercises in insipidness and their only purpose was to insinuate and intimidate. They were utterly unprofessional and potentially libelous. Yet Leaf exalted himself as if he had exposed Watergate. And Fox News (particularly Megyn Kelly) went along by broadcasting Leaf’s empty innuendos and affirming the unsupported conclusions.

The most recent edition of this phony story shows Leaf continuing to ambush unsuspecting figures with highly-charged questions that have no basis in fact. In a new segment broadcast on Fox News by Megyn Kelly, Leaf approached both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at separate events and asked a loaded question to the effect of: Do you still support the right to build the mosque now that you know it’s developer contributed to a terrorist organization?
What a dishonest piece of tabloid excrement Leaf is. First of all, neither Bloomberg nor Gillibrand “knew” of the allegations prior to Leaf making them. And there was certainly no reason to take his word for it based on his shoddy reputation. Secondly, Leaf outright lied by asserting that Elzanaty contributed to a terrorist organization. The HLF was a credentialed charity at the time of the donation and there is no evidence that he had any knowledge of any untoward activities. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.

Charles Leaf is on the fast track to Fox News stardom. He is demonstrating the skill set so admired by Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, its executive masters: dishonesty, partisanship, sensationalism, and aggression. He has a gift for innuendo and for advancing false premises. He expertly exploits the ignorance of his audience who are not likely to research the subject matter themselves. And he will barge into any affair and assert his bogus inquisitions without embarrassment.

Yes, Charles Leaf will go far in that environment. And we need to be aware of him as he climbs the Fox ladder of propaganda. We need to watch as this slimeball advances to the mothership and spreads his brand of sophistry and deceit. He is the embodiment of the Fox ethic and the quintessential Fox blowhard. Remember his name.

Update: Megyn Kelly hosted Charles Leaf again today, even though he had nothing new to add. He just repeated his slanderous accusation that Elzanaty had contributed to a terrorist organization. Leaf is an irredeemable liar, and Kelly is his enabler.

Before Leaf got to Fox 5, when he was working at a smaller affiliate in the south, he was accused of assaulting a councilwoman in Alabama and getting into a fight with his cameraman:

Earlier in his career, Leaf was a reporter in Mobile, Ala., for WPMI, where he became known for his “in-your-face” style, according to the Mobile Register.
In 1999, he left the station abruptly following a well publicized incident with a local councilwoman, who sued him for allegedly assaulting her while attempting to interview her for a story, according to the newspaper.
The suit claimed he slammed a car door on her arms and legs as she tried to get into a car and leave. No criminal charges were filed, and Leaf called the suit “baseless,” the paper reported.
A year earlier, police responded to the television station to investigate a reported fight between Leaf and a cameraman. Again, no criminal charges were filed, and Leaf said the incident was blown out of proportion, according to the paper.

There's your "life of honor and integrity," Mr. Leaf.

The only question I have about all of this is, why isn't Campbell Brown screaming about the Leaf case and wondering aloud how many other Fox News employees are pedophiles?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fox 5 New York Brings Joel Klein Onto "News" Show To Peddle Amplify Tablets

From back in March:

Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is now the Executive Vice President for News Corporation (parent company of FOX 5). 

Klein visited the set of Good Day New York on Tuesday to discuss the new Amplify tablet.  
The device is designed for teachers and students.

"Teachers love it; students love it. The teacher can personalize (the tablet.)  A teacher can also click on and see what skills (the student) has mastered. Everything the student does is stored in a cloud," said Klein.

The Android based tablet is being piloted in school districts across the county.

For more information, visit

A commenter notes:

Joel Klein really has a face for radio! All kidding aside, he was a terrible Chancellor, is a terrible human being, and now he wants to peddle hundreds of thousands of these crappy tablets to schools nationwide....and the sad thing is, he'll probably succeed. From what I've seen, American kids already know how to play video games on smartphones and tablets....what exactly is the educational value of a game in which Tom Sawyer fights the Brontes? And how can you pitch this as "news" when it's a product YOUR COMPANY (Newscorp) is selling? From what I've seen the "Amplify" is only going to amplify problems.....and really, who wants to give Rupert Murdoch a camera that sees into children's bedrooms? FAIL!


FBI Seizes 80,000 Emails From News Corporation Servers

Interesting news:

The FBI has seized 80,000 potentially damning emails from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., giving the media titan worries on both sides of the Atlantic in the ongoing phone hacking scandal.
While Murdoch was in London on Thursday facing the fallout from the conviction of one of his former star editors, it was disclosed in the U.S. that the FBI took and shared the mountain of emails with British prosecutors.

The emails, all copied from servers at News Corp.’s Midtown headquarters, include messages Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch’s former protégé, sent up the chain of command during the height of the phone-hacking scandal, The Daily Beast reported.

The emails have been shared with British prosecutors, but they were not used as evidence in the trial of Brooks and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

It was not immediately clear what the emails say or what the FBI further intends to do with them.
Murdoch is juggling troubles in England and America as his company maneuvers to dodge corporate charges and keep the 83-year-old billionaire from being prosecuted himself.
He turned up in London to speak to his News UK staff in the wake of Tuesday’s stunning conviction of Coulson. Murdoch has yet to publicly address his former star editor’s conviction on phone-hacking charges. But he appears to have bigger problems to worry about.

Scotland Yard has advised him it wants to interview him “under caution” — a warning given to suspects.

British prosecutors appear to be working up a case for corporate charges to be brought against Murdoch’s company. Under section 79 of Britain’s Regulations and Investigatory Powers Acts, company directors can be brought to justice if evidence shows they consented or connived with the misdeeds of employees, or were negligent.

A corporate charge could be devastating for News Corp., which concluded in an in-house analysis that it could “kill the corporation” and put “46,000 jobs in jeopardy.”

In 2012, News Corp.’s general council, Gerson Zweifach, told British police and prosecutors if the company faces a corporate charge it risks losing its U.S. Federal Communications Commission licenses. The FCC licenses includes those for Fox News Channel, Fox Sports and Fox Broadcasting Co.

Peter Jukes covers much of the same hacking story ground over at Daily Beast.
Count me as dubious the Obama DOJ and FBI are going to go after Murdoch and News Corp.
Or that if they do decide to go after Murdoch and News Corp, that they're successful at it.
Murdoch spent millions defending Brooks and you can bet he'll spend way more to save his own wrinkled old ass.

Still, here's hoping.

Westchester Residents Demand Tax Deadbeat Governor Cuomo Submit To Tax Assessment

Tax deadbeat Governor Cuomo and his consort Sandra Lee have refused to let the tax assessor into their Westchester home in order to avoid a property tax increase.

That move is not playing well around Westchester - so fellow Westchester residents have decided to follow suit and refuse to let the assessor into their own properties:

Westchester County residents joined gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino outside New Castle Town Hall on Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to open his home to the town assessor so he could better determine the taxable value of its interior.

New Castle Assessor Phil Platz was denied entrance to Cuomo's home on May 27 when he came for a scheduled inspection, which was sparked by The Journal News investigation of renovations done at 4 Bittersweet Lane since Cuomo's girlfriend, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, purchased it in 2008. The investigation found that the renovations, detailed in numerous national publications, were conducted in 2009 and 2010 without building permits, which would have alerted the assessor of taxable improvements.

The news conference followed the Astorino campaign's robo-call campaign to 1 million homes, accusing Cuomo of getting "caught cheating on his property taxes."

Yonkers homeowner Ralph Volino said he would refuse to let revaluation data collectors from Yonkers into his home until Cuomo opened his door to the New Castle assessor.
Yonkers is moving forward with a citywide revaluation, and data collection could begin later this year.

"I think Governor Cuomo is hiding something," Volino said. "If he's not opening his door, I'm not opening mine."

Yonkers Assessor David Jackson acknowledged that the decision by homeowners to bar data collectors will hurt efforts to obtain accurate assessments, which lead to a fairer property-tax system. Homeowners have the right, however, to deny access to assessors.

"We hope that resonates and those property owners appreciate that the foundation for attaining a fairer property tax in the City of Yonkers is accurate data," Jackson said.

The Cuomo campaign says this is all just about politics:

Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann dismissed the news conference as an Astorino political gambit.

"It's now totally clear what we said all along — this is Mr. Astorino's Republican small town politics and what every real Westchester homeowner is saying to Rob Astorino is stop playing politics and lower my taxes," Kauffmann said.
They don't seem to realize that Cuomo's refusal to let the tax assessor into his home is not going to play as "politics" and come back to bite GOP opponent Astorino.

Rather, it's the kind of thing that is going to build resentment against Cuomo - and not just for 2014.

He runs for president in 2016 or 2020, you can bet this tax deadbeat story will come back to haunt him.

The UFT MUST Endorse Andrew Cuomo For Governor

I am calling for the UFT to enthusiastically and vocally endorse Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for re-election this November.

Sure Cuomo has shown himself to be anti-union, anti-teacher and anti-traditional public schools during his tenure as governor.

And sure it makes no sense that a teachers union would continue to support a politician who hates unions, teachers and traditional public schools, as the UFT does with Andrew Cuomo (and the AFT and NEA do with Barack Obama.)

And really, another four years of Andrew Cuomo will probably be the final nail in the coffin of traditional public schools in NYC, since Cuomo has already forced into law a provision that forces the NYCDOE to take money and resources from traditional public schools and give them to charter school entrepreneurs like Eva Moskowitz and David Levin.

So you may be wondering, why am I calling for the UFT to endorse Andrew M. Cuomo for governor?

Well, it's quite simple really.

As I posted earlier this morning, pretty much every candidate the UFT endorses loses - the latest being Adriano Espaillat, the state senator who conceded to Representative Charles Rangel after losing a second close primary race for Congress.

Quite frankly, one of the better things that can happen if you're opposed to Andrew M Cuomo and corporate education reform in New York State is for the UFT to enthusiastically and vocally support Andrew M. Cuomo for re-election.

While the UFT's endorsement may not be the "kiss of death" for Cuomo, it surely means a lot less in real political terms than the UFT leadership would have the members and the public believe.

So go ahead, Mikey and Company - do the right thing and endorse Cuomo for governor.

And then we can hope for the kind of political results you got in the Espaillat/Rangel race, or the Thompson 2013 run or the backing of the Holy Triumvirate of Hevesi, Ferrer and Green in 2001...

UFT Planted "Kiss of Death" On Espaillat With Union Endorsement

From State of Politics:

In a statement sent out this afternoon, Sen. Adriano Espaillat conceded the primary for the 13th congressional district to incumbent Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel. He also declared his candidacy for re-election to the state Senate.

Espaillat had held off on conceding to Rangel, saying he’d wait until “every single vote” was counted before admitting defeat. This comes after the senator’s last attempt to knock off Rangel in 2012 ended in an extremely tight race. As affadavit and absentee ballots continued to be counted in that election, the race grew tighter, eventually ending in a victory for Rangel of less than 1,000 votes.

But it seems Espaillat’s camp realized the vote deficit was too much to overcome this time around. Earlier today, the senator called Rangel to congratulate him on his victory and his long career in the House of Representatives.

Two months ago:

The city’s teachers union, which backed Rep. Charlie Rangel for re-election in 2012, is now looking to unseat him.

The delegate assembly of the United Federation of Teachers voted today to urge the union’s state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers, to endorse State Senator Adriano Espaillat, the leading challenger to Rangel in next month's Democratic primary.

Two years ago, the U.F.T. recommended an endorsement of Rangel.

In a statement, U.F.T. president Michael Mulgrew credited Espaillat with having “been a vocal champion for pre-k funding” and “a leading voice for banning standardized tests for our youngest students,” along with backing a three-year moratorium on using the new Common Core curriculum.

Back during the 2013 mayoral election, Bloomberg called the UFT endorsement the "kiss of death":

The candidates vying to succeed him can "shill" all they want for the teachers union, but they may very well be wasting their time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters today, during a press conference at the education department headquarters near City Hall.

"The last time the U.F.T.'s endorsement got somebody elected was better than two decades ago, O.K.?" said Bloomberg. "It's almost the kiss of death."

Espaillat made a lot of mistakes in this race - the UFT endorsement was not literally the "kiss of death" that did him in.

I'm sure he garnered a few votes because of Mulgrew's endorsement, but let's be honest here.

The UFT endorsement is pretty much worthless.

The Rangel/Espaillat race is just one more example of that.

You always see the UFT described in the papers as the "powerful" teachers union.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

RIP: Teenie Hodges

From the NY Times:

Teenie Hodges, a guitarist and songwriter whose lithe touch on songs by Al Green and others helped shape the sound of Memphis soul in the 1970s, died on Sunday in Dallas. He was 68.

The cause was complications of emphysema, his daughter Sheila said.

Along with his brothers Leroy, on bass guitar, and Charles, on organ, Mr. Hodges was part of the celebrated house band at Hi Records in Memphis starting in the late ’60s. Distinguishing themselves from the raw style of Stax, the city’s pre-eminent soul label at the time, Hi and the producer Willie Mitchell developed a jazzier and more languid approach that still had grit and rhythmic punch.

Mr. Hodges was crucial to that sound. His warm, loosely strummed chords and gently strutting funk on Mr. Green’s classic songs like “Let’s Stay Together” and “Tired of Being Alone” made him a connoisseur’s favorite, and helped establish the Hi players as one of the premier studio teams in R&B, on par with the Funk Brothers at Motown, Stax’s regular group and the players at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Mr. Hodges was also a frequent songwriting collaborator of Mr. Green’s. Among the hits they wrote together are “Love and Happiness” and “Take Me to the River,” which has also been recorded by Talking Heads, Bryan Ferry, Etta James and many others.

The Hi band — which in addition to the Hodges brothers included the drummers Howard Grimes and Al Jackson — also played on records by Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles and O. V. Wright. In 1976 the group, under the name Hi Rhythm Section, made its own record, “On the Loose,” with the musicians also performing vocal parts, but it sold poorly.

I saw Teenie Hodges two summers ago at Lincoln Center along with Dan Penn and William Bell at the American Songwriter Series.

It was apparent Hodges was sick with a lung ailment then, but he soldiered on through stories about the songs and the music, playing guitar and singing as best he could.

Ironically, my aunt, who my wife and I met at the show, was suffering with a second bout of lung cancer and would be dead before the year was out.

I treasure that memory seeing Hodges, Penn and Bell, along with my wife, aunt and uncle.

Too soon gone - both of them.

Support For Common Core Among Parents Of School Age Children Hits New Low

From Rasmussen:

Support for Common Core among Americans with school-age children has fallen dramatically, as more now question whether the new national education standards will actually improve student performance.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 34% of American Adults with children of elementary or secondary school age now favor requiring all schools nationwide to meet the same Common Core education standards. That’s an 18-point drop from 52% in early November of last year. Forty-seven percent (47%) oppose the imposition of the national standards, compared to 32% in the previous survey. Little changed are the 19% who are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

You see, this is just a messaging problem - one that will surely be solved by ads paid for CCSS-shills like the Chamber of Commerce and Exxon Mobile.

The Beach Boys Meet The Grateful Dead And Sing A Merle Haggard Tune

Pacific Ocean Blue

If you've never heard Dennis Wilson's solo album "Pacific Ocean Blue," you owe it to yourself to give it a listen - especially if you love the Beach Boys.

I think "Pacific Ocean Blue" is the best solo album by any Beach Boy - including all of Brian's records over the years.

If you have some time this summer, give it a listen.

Sail On, Sailor

Tell The Teacher We're Surfing...

LIRR Unions Do Not Take Kindly To Newest MTA Offer, Negotiation Strategy

From the Daily News:

The MTA’s decision to publicize its newest contract offer to LIRR workers — who are threatening a strike next month — has union leaders considering whether to ditch a new round of negotiations set for Friday.

Anthony Simon, a spokesman for a coalition of Long Island Rail Road unions, which can legally strike as early as July 20, faulted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for releasing to the media details of its proposal before the planned talks.

“Instead of sitting down with the only people who can make a deal, the MTA chose the route of cheap political grandstanding,” Simon said. “It’s painfully clear the MTA is not serious about negotiating a settlement.”

The MTA’s offer — 17% in raises over seven years — was publicized Tuesday, and represented an improvement over the previous proposal of 11% in pay increases over six years plus work-rule changes.

In earlier negotiations, the MTA had asked the unions, which have been without a contract since 2010, to accept a pay freeze unless the cost of raises was covered completely by work-rule changes. “We’ve moved considerably,” MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said after the authority’s board held its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The labor impasse persists despite two separate rounds of independent mediation from panels selected by the White House. Both panels recommended 17% in raises over six years.


The MTA’s proposal would eventually lead to savings, because it would require new hires to contribute more of their earnings for health care and pensions than current employees do.

Something to keep an eye on for three reasons:
1. The LIRR unions can legally strike
2. Governor Cuomo is not going to want a strike in July, a little over three and a half months before his re-election bid
3. Therefore the LIRR unions have considerable leverage in this fight, especially since both independent mediation panels that weighed in on the impasse recommended substantially higher raises than the MTA is offering

People In Westchester Demand Tax Deadbeat Governor Cuomo Open His Home To The Tax Assessor

From State of Politics:

At 10:15 a.m., “irate” Westchester homeowners will announce a strike against opening their homes to tax assessors until Cuomo does the same, New Castle Town Hall, 200 South Greeley Ave., Chappaqua.

This tax issue is going to become a very big issue for Andrew M. Cuomo.

Astorino is using it against him already and whenever Cuomo decides to run for higher office, it will follow him.

Hard to see how the tax deadbeat issue plays well for Cuomo either in 2014 or going forward.

Open Thread: Last Day Of School

Here we are - the last day of school.

Your thoughts as you head off to work it?

(And yeah, I'm totally burnt from Regents grading and the rest of the end of the school year shenanigans, so what better to post than an open thread...)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Happens To Rupert Murdoch And News Corporation After Brooks/Coulson Verdict?

Daily News reports the upside:

A lawyer for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp pleaded with British police and prosecutors not to file corporate charges in a phone-hacking scandal, arguing it would be “apocalyptic” for the company, according to a report.

News Corp brass so feared prosecutors would hold the company liable for the phone-hacking mess, they ordered up an analysis that showed such a move would likely doom the media giant.

The consequences of a corporate charge could “kill the corporation and 46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy,” the News Corp analysis concluded, The Independent of Britain reported Wednesday.
The scandal has already cost News Corp a whopping $535 million, including financial settlements with 718 phone-hacking victims, according to figures reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in May.

Word of the turmoil inside News Corp leaked out a day after it was revealed that Scotland Yard detectives have asked to interview Murdoch “under caution” — a warning given to suspects.
On Tuesday, one of Murdoch’s former top honchos, Andy Coulson, was convicted on phone-hacking crimes that occurred under his editorship of the News of the World.

Coulson’s conviction and Murdoch’s pending grilling indicate prosecutors are pursuing corporate charges against Murdoch’s company and could prosecute the 83-year-old media baron himself.

Prosecutors could go after Murdoch under section 79 of Britain’s Regulation and Investigatory Powers Act, which holds company directors liable if evidence shows they consented or connived with the misdeeds of employees.

I'm skeptical the Brits are going to really go after either Murdoch himself or News Corp.

Murdoch paid for Brooks' legal defense in the hacking trial and he won her acquittal.
That's not a promising sign for further legal battles against Murdoch or News Corp.

Hoping I'm wrong, though.

This Guy Makes NYSED Commissioner John King Look Good

From Political Wire:

"Pressure on the state's top school official to resign continued to mount Monday as more anonymous blog posts from John Huppenthal (R) emerged. Using an online alias, the superintendent of public instruction posted several comments on a conservative-leaning website calling for no Spanish language in the state," KTVK reports.

Wrote Huppenthal: "We all need to stomp out balkanization. No Spanish radio stations, no Spanish billboards, no Spanish TV stations, no Spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English."

Gotta love a top education official who works as a sock puppet at night leaving anonymous racist comments on blogs.

Rupert Murdoch To Be Interviewed By Scotland Yard In Hacking Case

From the Daily News:

Scotland Yard detectives plan to interview media mogul Rupert Murdoch about a phone-hacking scandal that led to one of his former top honchos being convicted Tuesday on criminal charges.
Detectives have informed the 83-year-old Murdoch he’ll be grilled “under caution” — a warning given to suspects, according to The Guardian.

The interview is expected to take place in Britain in the near future and could include questions for Murdoch’s son, James, who was executive chairman of News International, the British newspaper reported.

Tuesday’s conviction of Andy Coulson — the disgraced ex-editor of News of the World and one-time flack for Prime Minister David Cameron — could leave Murdoch’s company vulnerable to corporate charges.

Murdoch could wind up being prosecuted under section 79 of Britain’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which holds company directors liable if evidence shows they consented or connived with the wrongdoings of employees.
Company heads can also be prosecuted for violating the act if investigators determine their negligence resulted in the misdeeds of workers.
At least 11 more trials are slated involving 20 other former journalists for News of the World and The Sun, British tabloids owned by Murdoch’s company.

Murdoch also faces a number of civil suits filed by victims whose phones were hacked. His company has already agreed to pay damages to 718 victims.

Scotland Yard detectives had planned to interview Murdoch earlier in the investigation, but a deal was struck to grill him after the trial of Coulson and other officials of News International, now called News UK.

In September, Murdoch’s former right-hand man Les Hinton was interviewed by detectives “under caution” for three hours about the phone hacking scandal
A London jury convicted Coulson of conspiring to intercept communications by eavesdropping on mobile phone voicemails. But the panel acquitted Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive, of the same charge, plus bribery and preventing the course of justice.
During the eight-month trial, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson, both 46, engaged in an extramarital affair while working at the now-defunct News of the World.

“We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologized for it,” Murdoch’s company said in a statement Tuesday.

Too bad Brooks got off in the case.

Spending some time in the big house would have knocked that smirk off her face.

Still, at least Coulson gets prison time and Rupert's got to face the cops and News Corp still has liability in the case.

Top Christie Aides In Constant Contact With Port Authority Chairman During GWB Closures Timeframe

More evidence that the squeeze is being put on former Port Authority chairman David Samson to give up Chris Christie or die in jail:

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s former chairman maintained constant contact with top members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration during the week lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down, newly released phone records show.

David Samson, who resigned in March as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, spoke several times to Christie’s chief of staff and a top aide the week motorists in Fort Lee heading over the GWB were ensnarled in traffic jams over the course of four days.

Samson also had phone contact with former Port Authority officials Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, who both resigned from the agency in the wake of the controversy surrounding the lane closures.

The 18 months of call logs indicate Samson’s phone contact with Wildstein, the official who received the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email from a Christie aide, spiked between June and September. Before that, they rarely spoke by phone, the records show.

The calls, first reported by WNYC, were released by the legislative committee investigating the lane closures as supporting documents from the recent testimony of Christie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd. The records show Samson and O’Dowd were in frequent contact over the full 18 months.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who co-chairs the legislative committee, said today the calls raise credibility issues with the Christie administration’s narrative of the events.

"It does raise some serious questions about the accuracy of this story we have been collectively told by a number of people that this was just no big deal and that no one really paid much attention to it," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The calls seemed to indicate a heightened level of phone activity. The call logs, in particular, and the documents in general raise credibility issues with me."

The logs show a dozen calls between Samson and Baroni, with whom he regularly communicated over the phone, the week the lanes were closed. The two spoke for more than 20 minutes on Sept. 13, the day Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye ordered the lanes reopened. They also spoke on Sept. 16 shortly after records indicate Baroni was forwarded an email showing The Wall Street Journal was inquiring about the lane closures.

Samson and Baroni later exchanged three calls the day Baroni testified before lawmakers in November, assuring legislators the lanes were closed as part of a traffic study. Samson also spoke with Christie aide Regina Egea, who was slated to become the governor’s chief of staff, for 17 minutes the day Baroni testified.

Samson has declined to offer testimony for the legislative committee. Former two-time Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien and former aide Bridget Anne Kelly, who sent the email to Wildstein ahead of the lane closures, have also refused to testify.

Samson is refusing to talk to the legislative committee investigating the matter, but he's going to get the opportunity to talk to the investigating US attorney, as Esquire reported last week:

Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, wades through the sewage of Christie’s stewardship. Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening -- he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case.
“What’s taking the most time,” according to one source, “is separating what's viable from all the bad stuff they’re finding that may not be viable.”

Fishman’s challenge is to nail down specific criminal charges on several fronts -- the diversion of Port Authority money to fund New Jersey road and bridge projects; the four-day rush-hour closures of George Washington Bridge lanes in Ft. Lee; and a web of real-estate deals spun by David Samson, long a Christie crony, when he chaired the PA’s Board of Commissioners as Christie’s appointee. (One such deal, a stalled office-tower development in Hoboken, New Jersey, is central to a claim that Christie’s lieutenant governor told the town’s mayor that the state would withhold Hurricane Sandy relief aid from Hoboken if the mayor didn’t sign off on the development project.)

Whatever Christie says or does -- and whatever potential donors or Jimmy Fallon and his viewers think -- the question that truly matters is whether Fishman’s pursuit leads to the governor himself. Christie’s Port appointees -- not only Samson, but former PA Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball sidekick David Wildstein -- all face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie, as is the governor’s former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.

Wildstein, portrayed as the mastermind behind Ft. Lee’s traffic problems, has made proffers to Fishman’s investigators -- hoping to trade information to the prosecutor in exchange for gentler legal treatment -- but Fishman has cut no deals with anyone so far, and the looming indictments have encouraged Christie’s PA appointees to sing. “Don’t underestimate what Wildstein has on Christie,” says one source. “And Wildstein and Baroni have both turned on Samson. If Samson doesn't give Fishman Christie, Samson is toast.” 

With the news that the SEC and the Manhattan district attorney is also investigating Christie for stealing money from the Port Authority and using it for New Jersey bridge and road projects, Samson doesn't look like he's the only guy who's "toast" here.

Christie starts to look pretty toastie too.