So I'm never surprised to find out that a Michele Rhee or Joel Klein is cashing in on their reputation for union bashing and busting.
But even I was a little taken aback to find out that a company New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf founded just a few months ago that operates out of his house in Montclair has been retained to do some education reform work in Newark, New Jersey by Mayor Cory Booker:
A consulting firm hired by Newark’s mayor to overhaul the city’s failing schools was founded a few months ago by Christopher D. Cerf, the state’s acting education commissioner, and still lists his Montclair home as its New Jersey address.
The firm, Global Education Advisors, is at the heart of a controversial proposal to open nearly a dozen new charter schools — a move that would reshuffle thousands of city kids and one that has already drawn angry response from parents.
Cerf acknowledged Tuesday that he had a hand in the creation of the firm, but said he was no longer connected with it. He said he is now merely lending his address to the consulting firm because it needed a New Jersey mailing address. "When this little consulting company was formed, I was part of the creation of it," he said. "I severed my relationship to it literally right after its formation. I have never received any compensation from it."
He said he never did anything with the company. "I have no presence or association with it. I have never taken a nickel from it," he said. "I never actually did anything with it, so I’m not in any way, shape or form related to it."
He asked The Star-Ledger not to publish this story because he said he did not think it was very important.
Global Education Advisors was retained by Mayor Cory Booker two months ago to conduct an audit of the city’s public schools, under a contract that was funded using money brought in from private donors, according to Booker. He would not say how the firm was selected, but state records show the firm was incorporated by Cerf and Rajeev Bajaj last May.
Asked why the new firm was incorporated with his help, Cerf said he incorporated the company with like-minded reformers while he was still in the private sector. The firm, he said, consults with a "wide variety" of clients.
The association between the man who would presumably be the next commissioner and a firm receiving money from Newark will likely raise questions when Cerf comes up for confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), the chairman of the committee, asked why Cerf was even involved in the company.
"Does that experience bring him any preconceptions going into the job?" he asked. "I’d like to know what that means why he was involved. I look forward to having him in front of our committee."
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), another member of the committee, said she wants a "very in-depth look" at the situation.
"Having a business registered to you, having formed only seven or eight months ago, that is suddenly emerging as a major player in the Newark schools system — we would have to look at what connections exist in the administration," she said Tuesday night.
Okay - so this is jailable stuff.
Why did Booker hire a company that was founded by Acting Education Commissioner Cerf just a few months ago that still operates out of his house to take over the school turnaround business in Newark?
Who paid who how much money to try and sneak this crooedk business through?
Both Booker and Cerf need to answer PUBLICLY for this crookedness.
And Cerf of course also needs to answer for why he asked the Newark Star Ledger to NOT report on this story.
Cerf says it's because it's not important.
Oh, wait - but it IS important.
So important, actually, because it draws the veil back on the business connections some of these "reformers" have that enables them to make gobs of money even as they bring their chaotic reforms to school systems that ultimately do more damage than good.
And even as they enrich themselves the way Cerf has on the public dime (remember, this guy used to run the failed Edison Schools contract in Philadelphia), they also get to play like they're the good guy just doing it for the kids.
Yeah, Cerf needs to be investigated for this, his appointment to run the NJ Ed Dept. needs to be held up while the investigation goes on and if criminal activity is found, Cerf needs to be charged with a crime.
Same goes for Booker.
Especially when you hear Booker say he doesn't know how much money the city of Newark has paid Cerf's firm for the work it has conducted so far.
Something funky is going in in Newark and Cerf and Booker are at the center of it.