Before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo set up a supposedly independent commission to investigate political corruption in Albany—a commission he later shut down after it began poking around his own operations, a commission that is now causing him serious political headaches that could become legal headaches—he set up a supposedly independent commission to investigate the state’s electric utilities.
Mark Green, Cuomo’s fellow Democrat and onetime political opponent, says he was surprised when Cuomo tapped him to serve on the utility commission in November 2012. He says he was less surprised when Cuomo’s aides quickly began pushing the commission to propose privatizing the dysfunctional Long Island Power Authority, which was still struggling to get the lights back on after Superstorm Sandy. Several sources confirm the governor’s office pressured the commission to issue a report recommending privatization less than two months after its creation, and that Green threatened to resign when a Cuomo press release incorrectly suggested the recommendation had been unanimous.
“Independent?” Green said. “They tried to ram privatization down our throats. I told them I wasn’t going to be a fig leaf for Andrew.”
A spokesperson for Cuomo declined to comment.
Similarly one of the members of Cuomo's Common Core panel, teacher Todd Hathaway, revealed how the governor's staff had a pre-set outcome for the findings of the panel and wanted all members of the body to agree to them:
Teacher Todd Hathaway already exposed the shamery around the panel when he reported that panel heads were not interested in any dissenting views from what they had already decided would be in the preliminary report:
Todd Hathaway, a teacher at East Aora High School and a member of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Common Core panel, ripped the process today after the panel released its report last night.
The recommendations include what Cuomo wanted: holding students harmless for the tougher exams, but not a three-year moratorium on using the tests to evaluate teachers.
Hathaway said, “The report – and the process that produced it—is incomplete. the report was released suddenly, even as final comments were still being solicited. I had indicated the likelihood I would dissent and not allow the report to be spun as ‘consensus.’” Nevertheless, the report was issued with my name attached. I am very concerned that the report tries to make it seem like all the discussion had been completed.”
Here’s the rest of his statement:
“In fact, the Executive Office repeatedly ignored my concerns and the legitimate concerns of others about inappropriate state testing, the misuse of invalid tests for evaluations and the lack of transparency in state testing. The result is that some of the report’s conclusions and suggestions do not hold up to scrutiny. I wouldn’t accept this kind of work from my students and I don’t accept it here.”
“The failure to address testing and evaluation issues in a comprehensive way suggests the dynamics of the classroom will not change. The report seems to blame everybody else for the problems of the Common Core learning standards without adequately addressing the appropriateness of some of the standards and the testing that goes with it. This report should have addressed serious deficiencies in state testing. It should have discussed the lack of transparency in tests; the lack of diagnostic and prescriptive worth to teachers; the unacceptable delays in returning scores to school districts and the insanity of pretending there is validity to teacher ratings that are derived from student scores widely acknowledged to be invalid.”
“Finally, this panel should have recognized the need to pause in the use of assessments for high-stakes decisions for students and teachers. This would have allowed the State Education Department, as well as school districts, to refine the tests and testing materials; teachers to engage in the standards and develop a variety of lessons to meet them instead of just relying on modules; parents to understand the role and utility of data in education; and for teachers to receive the necessary professional development. Implementing massive curriculum changes do not just happen overnight. They take time. I fully support a delay in the use of tests in high-stakes decisions for students and teachers, but that issue was never fully explored. You can’t put students first if you put their teachers last.”
The games Cuomo played with the Moreland Commission are the same games he played with the LIPA Commission and the Common Core panel.
Cuomo uses these commissions as political cover to get something he wants through, then rigs the panels and commissions so that it all ends up the way he wants.
The difference between the LIPA Commission and the CCSS panel and the Moreland Commission is, Cuomo was screwing around with potential criminality when he dealt away the Moreland Commission in order to get some minor league ethics reforms in the budget agreement.
With the other two panels, he was simply rigging a process and engaging in political gamesmanship, not dealing away criminal investigations in some quid pro quo budget deal.
That's why Preet Bharara wasn't going to look into the LIPA Commission or the CCSS panel process, but he is looking into just what Cuomo engineered in the Moreland mess.
Perhaps Cuomo, emboldened by four years of successfully manipulating these commissions and panels to get the outcomes he wanted, thought nobody would blink at his Moreland machinations either.
If so, Cuomo was wrong about that.