Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Freedom Bombs

So glad I voted for Change We Can All Believe In - it's such a different governing style than the Compassionate Conservatism that it replaced:

Embattled Libyan despot Moammar Khadafy's youngest son and three of his grandchildren were killed Saturday in a NATO airstrike, officials said.

Sayf al-Arab Khadafy, 29, and the three unidentified grandchildren were inside a large residential villa in Tripoli when it was hit.
Khadafy was also inside the building at the time of the attack, but escaped uninjured, a Libyan government spokesman said.

Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the villa was attacked "with full power."

"This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country," Ibrahim told the BBC.

"The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives. The leader himself is in good health, he wasn't harmed."

NATO warplanes pounded Libyan targets Saturday after Khadafy called for a ceasefire but refused to step down.

Is Khadafy and his son a murderer?

You betcha.

Should the United States be leading the NATO effort to murder him?

Uh, I can think of better things we could be doing with our time and resources.

But one corporatist president has replaced another and this is all about hanging onto the vestiges of empire.

Hope President Accountability and his kids sleep well tonight in the bosom of that empire.

Maybe they'll go and take a look at his Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow.

Probably A Good Excuse To Charterize Schools In 8 States

Never let a disaster or catastrophe go unused.

That's what Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan always say.

And as Arne Duncan once noted, the best thing that ever happened to New Orleans was the Hurricane Katrina destruction, because it allowed the public school system to be privatized.

Wonder what he's got planned for the eight southern states that saw devastation from the weather?

The Future of Education


The graduate students at Harvard and Chris Christie get ready to take on the political thugs - teachers.

I would like to point out that this supposed "consensus" on education comes from the ruling classes and their corporate pols, but the people they govern - you know, the parents, students and teachers - well, there the consensus is the exact opposite.

Looks like the People's Republic of Harvard has been taken over by Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and the Koch Brothers.

Walcott Pulls Strings To Avoid Ticket

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott got into a scuffle with the NYPD Thursday night when a car he was riding in was pulled over in Queens.

Walcott allegedly told the cops "You have no right to pull us over!" when the police stopped the car for what they say was a failure to use a turn signal.

Walcott identified himself as a former deputy mayor and current schools chancellor, asked for the badge numbers of the officers, then complained to NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly that the officers did not properly identify themselves.

The two police officers are now facing an Internal Affairs investigation for the incident.

For their part, officers say they did identify themselves when they pulled the car over and that Walcott was excessively difficult during the incident.

Couple of things here:

Heckuva way to start his schools stewardship as chancellor.

First he continues the PEP policies of shutting down schools, rubber stamping mayoral policies and NOT listening to students, parents, teachers or community members when they beg him to not close down their improving schools, then he gets stopped by the police for failure to use a turn signal, gets in the face of the cops, pulls rank to get out of a ticket and uses his power to retaliate against the cops who pulled him over.

But he says he's going to be a different kind of chancellor than Cathie Black - less about abusive power and privilege and more about responsiveness to the community.

Oh, please - this incident is emblematic of people in power in general ("You have no right to stop us!") and symbolic of the Bloomberg administration in particular.

Impunity for their behavior, a lack of civility when called on their shit and a vindictive need to retaliate against anybody who tries to hold them to the rules that the rest of us have to follow.

There needs to be an independent investigation of this incident - I do not trust Ray Kelly's Internal Affairs officers to fairly investigate an incident involving Mayor Bloomberg's high profile schools chancellor.

DOE Consultant Wife Plans Reality Show Career

Want to know where some of the money DOE tech consultant Willard Lanham stole from the DOE ended up?

It ended up paying for the picture of his estranged wife - who blogs about sex and the pursuit of younger sugar daddies with lots of money to take of older women - at a site called

Here's the Daily News on the "cougar" angle to the DOE story:

Laura Lanham - the self-styled "cougar" still sharing a Long Island home with her estranged husband - believes she could become America's next big reality star.

"My life is already a reality show," she told the Daily News in her first interview since her spouse was charged with stealing $3.6 million in city school funds.

"You can't make this s--- up," the brunette mother of three said Friday at a Panera Bread on Long Island. "My reality is surreal. It's crazy."

Lanham, 42, was living in suburban obscurity until husband Willard surrendered Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court, charged with pocketing money designed to provide New York students with Internet access.

Suddenly, her writings and risque photos from the web site are big news - as was her nasty three-year divorce struggle.

Financial problems forced her to stay in the same house with her husband despite their crumbling marriage, along Laura Lane - a street he built and named after her. The strange arrangement seems to work.

"It's a big house," she explained. "We have separate rooms ... I'm happy. I love my life."

In addition to her blog, Lanham once sent nude photos to Playboy and confessed that she's an exhibitionist.

"Sex sells, period," she said.
It sure does - just ask Mayor Bloomberg's pal, Rupert Murdoch, who has made an entire publishing career out of selling it - but let's be honest here, this woman wouldn't have had the capital to fund her "cougar" lifestyle if not for the DOE largesse her estranged husband lived off of for years courtesy of the Mayor of Money and Chancellor Klein.

Hell, this guy stole enough money to build his own real estate sub-development and name a street after his (now estranged) wife.

That's some largesse, wouldn't you say?

I would, and I think it IS the stuff of reality TV.

Perhaps we can see how other DOE tech consultants live and work, stealing money from the good people of New York while the Mayor of Money lays off hard working teachers and increases class sizes.

Oh, and the "technology" that Lanham put into the schools (dubbed "Project Connect" by the DOE)

It doesn't work.

That's why they're spending $550 million in the next fiscal year to upgrade the technology.

That too ought to be the subject of a TV show.

Call it Mayor Mike's Failed Mayoral Control of the NYC School System.

Or better yet, Bloomberg Sucks.

Corporate Fascist Control Comes To Michigan And New Jersey

Via Queens Teacher, here's the Rachel Maddow Show on what the future will look like when the autocratic corporate managers take over cities:

Maddow reports that the Michigan governor plans to have corporate managers take over 23 school districts in the state in addition to the one that has already been taken over.

Here's the rationale:

Mayor Virg Benero: "Billions of dollars at stake, billions of dollars being spent and Wall Street can't wait to sink their fangs into it. They couldn't get a hold of Social Security but by gosh they've got a way to get in. And even with a president and secretary of Education under the guise of "Waiting for Superman", they can come in and look like a savior but dig right into those piles of cash and at the same time help wipe out the public unions that are a part of the public school system."

Meanwhile Schools Matter points out that Governor Chris Christie plans to abolish school boards in New Jersey.

Another part of the corporatization plan for schools.

Take away any vestige of democratic control.

Give one man the power - whether it's the Mayor of Money in NYC or Christie in Jersey or a corporate manager in one of 24 school districts in Michigan.

One man, no democratic say from the community, no democratic say from voters.

This is fascism pure and simple.

Glad to see Maddow taking on this issue.

I WISH she had taken it on when it was Obama and Duncan laying the groundwork for this by demonizing teachers and schools and schools districts as "failing."

You think that the firing of all those teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island and the codified teacher demonization that is the Obama Race to the Top policy (not to mention his No Child Left Behind blueprint) didn't lay the rationale for all this corporatization and privatization?

I think it absolutely did.

Unfortunately Maddow only seems to care when it's Repubs doing the privatizing.

Until "progressives" like Maddow become willing to take on corporate pols no matter the party, I am afraid the corporate fascism is going to continue.

Yes, Rick Snyder, Scott Walker, Michael Bloomberg and Chris Christie - Republicans all - are a big part of this problem.

But so are "Democrats" like Barack Obama, Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emanuel, and Arne Duncan.

Take on THEM too, Rachel.

No Accountability For Bloomberg On DOE Consultant/IBM/Verizon Scam

As usual, accountability is for the little folks, not for the Mayor of Money.

Why didn't the DOE notice that an outside tech consultant hired to provide Internet access to public schools was stealing millions?

Well, they do lots and lots of contracts and who can keep an eye on all those?

Not kidding, that's what the Mayor of Money said yesterday on his radio propaganda hour on WOR:

On his weekly radio show on Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the alleged theft “unconscionable.”

“Whenever there’s fraud, you can look back and say, ‘We should have looked there,’ ” he said. “But keep in mind the city has a budget of $65 billion a year, with lots and lots of contracts and lots of opportunities.”

Shorter Bloomberg: "Shit happens!"

Except that this crooked shit was happening for a long, long time:

Sometime in 2002, a manager at I.B.M., which was working on a large project to wire New York City schools for the Internet, noticed something unusual about payments the company was making for some workers.

The payments, investigators said this week, were going through a company called Lanham Enterprises, which was owned by Willard Lanham, the same person who was directing the wiring project for the city.

The manager asked a colleague if this was proper, according to a report by the office of the special investigator for city schools. The colleague said others at I.B.M. were also concerned, with one saying he “did not trust Lanham.” But Mr. Lanham, known as Ross, assured I.B.M. that he had spoken with a supervisor at the Education Department, who “was O.K. with it,” and the matter was taken no further. The supervisor would later tell investigators he did not recall such a conversation.

It was the first of several warning signs about Mr. Lanham, whom investigators have accused of stealing $3.6 million from the city through marked-up billings using a complex scheme of contractors and subcontractors, including I.B.M. and Verizon. But because of Mr. Lanham’s unchecked power over the project, which the city was paying him $200,000 a year to oversee, virtually all of the suspicions came to naught.

The companies assumed that if Mr. Lanham said it was fine, the city had approved it.

The case, which comes on the heels of an $80 million fraud prosecution involving consultants on another city project, the CityTime automated payroll system, illustrates again the vast amounts of money the city is spending on technology, and the trust it was putting in independent consultants. The Education Department said that once Mr. Lanham’s activities came to light, it added controls to prevent a recurrence.


During the six-year period when the authorities say he stole the money, Mr. Lanham was apparently left to operate on his own. “It is difficult to understand how the D.O.E. could allow so much power to reside in a consultant, even an honest one, which Mr. Lanham was not,” the city’s investigative report said.

Just like in the CityTime crookery, just like during the Bloomberg Blizzard Disaster of 2010, just like when the NYC test scores were shown to be inflated, Bloomberg skates accountability by shrugging like he's Donald Rumsfeld blaming the Iraq war mess on fate.

"Oh, well - what can you do?"

What can you do?

I'll tell you what we can do.

You can take away the mayor's ability to spend these hundreds of millions of dollars without any oversight whatsoever.

As John Liu completes his audits of other DOE contracts, we will see just what other messes Bloomberg has allowed since 2002.

More importantly, however, we now have more than enough reason why Bloomberg CANNOT be allowed to spend $550 million on tech upgrades next year when he is laying off 6,166 teachers in order to save $300 million.

I CANNOT repeat this statement enough.

The outside contractors with the no-bid contracts are STEALING THE CITY BLIND.

It is all in the CityTime and the Project Corruption reports.

Time to put an end to the open wallet Bloomberg has.

If he wants to spend $550 million on tech upgrades at the DOE, let him SPEND HIS OWN MONEY.

Not one thin dime of taxpayer money should go for this.

Not one thin dime.

Not after CityTime, not after Project Corruption at the DOE.

Not with all the other suspicious contracts Comptroller Liu is looking at.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Any Consultants Get Arrested At The DOE Today?

Just wondering.

You know, the NY Post didn't want to publish that story until they realized there was a sex angle with the divorce and the "cougar" wife/hooker.

Would have loved to see the editorial argument in Murdochland:

"No, we can't cover a story about another outside consultant stealing millions from the city!"

"Yes, but there's a hooker/wife with topless photos and an escort service website where she trolls for younger sugar daddies to take care of her! We HAVE to cover that! We can run the photos!!!!"

Oh, the sacrifices that have to be made at the Murdoch Street Post in order to bring enough sex and sleaze to the readership.

Ron Paul Vs. Barack Obama

Interesting article at Common Dreams about the "liberal" Barack Obama and the "wingnut" Ron Paul.

Which one holds the more progressive views?

Ron Paul is far from perfect, but I'll say this much for the Texas congressman: He has never authorized a drone strike in Pakistan. He has never authorized the killing of dozens of women and children in Yemen. He hasn't protected torturers from prosecution and he hasn't overseen the torturous treatment of a 23-year-old young man for the “crime” of revealing the government's criminal behavior.

Can the same be said for Barack Obama?

Yet, ask a good movement liberal or progressive about the two and you'll quickly be informed that yeah, Ron Paul's good on the war stuff -- yawn -- but otherwise he's a no-good right-wing reactionary of the worst order, a guy who'd kick your Aunt Beth off Medicare and force her to turn tricks for blood-pressure meds. By contrast, Obama, war crimes and all, provokes no such visceral distaste. He's more cosmopolitan, after all; less Texas-y. He's a Democrat. And gosh, even if he's made a few mistakes, he means well.

Sure he's a murderer, in other words, but at least he's not a Republican!


Let's just assume the worst about Paul: that he's a corporate libertarian in the Reason magazine/Cato Institute mold that would grant Big Business and the financial industry license to do whatever the hell it wants with little in the way of accountability (I call this scenario the “status quo”). Let's say he dines on Labradoodle puppies while using their blood to scribble notes in the margins of his dog-eared, gold-encrusted copy of Atlas Shrugged.

So. Fucking. What.

Barack Obama isn't exactly Eugene Debs, after all. Hell, he's not even Jimmy Carter. The facts are: he's pushed for the largest military budget in world history, given trillions of dollars to Wall Street in bailouts and near-zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve, protected oil companies like BP from legal liability for environmental damages they cause – from poisoning the Gulf to climate change – and mandated that all Americans purchase the U.S. health insurance industry's product. You might argue Paul's a corporatist, but there's no denying Obama's one.

And at least Paul would – and this is important, I think – stop killing poor foreigners with cluster bombs and Predator drones. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-chief, Paul would also bring the troops home from not just Afghanistan and Iraq, but Europe, Korea and Okinawa. There'd be no need for a School of the Americas because the U.S. wouldn't be busy training foreign military personnel the finer points of human rights abuses. Israel would have to carry out its war crimes on its own dime.

Even on on the most pressing domestic issues of the day, Paul strikes me as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama. Look at the war on drugs: Obama has continued the same failed prohibitionist policies as his predecessors, maintaining a status quo that has placed 2.3 million – or one in 100 – Americans behind bars, the vast majority African-American and Hispanic. Paul, on the other hand, has called for ending the drug war and said he would pardon non-violent offenders, which would be the single greatest reform a president could make in the domestic sphere, equivalent in magnitude to ending Jim Crow.

Paul would also stop providing subsidies to corporate agriculture, nuclear energy and fossil fuels, while allowing class-action tort suits to proceed against oil and coal companies for the environmental damage they have wrought. Obama, by contrast, is providing billions to coal companies under the guise of “clean energy” – see his administration's policies on carbon capture and sequestration, the fossil fuel-equivalent of missile defense – and promising billions more so mega-energy corporations can get started on that “nuclear renaissance” we've all heard so much about. And if Paul really did succeed in cutting all those federal departments he talks about, there's nothing to prevent states and local governments -- and, I would hope, alternative social organizations not dependent on coercion -- from addressing issues such as health care and education. Decentralism isn't a bad thing.

All that aside, though, it seems to me that if you're going to style yourself a progressive, liberal humanitarian, your first priority really ought to be stopping your government from killing poor people. Second on that list? Stopping your government from putting hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens in cages for decades at a time over non-violent “crimes” committed by consenting adults. Seriously: what the fuck? Social Security's great and all I guess, but not exploding little children with cluster bombs – shouldn't that be at the top of the Liberal Agenda?

Over half of Americans' income taxes go to the military-industrial complex and the costs of arresting and locking up their fellow citizens. On both counts, Ron Paul's policy positions are far more progressive than those held – and indeed, implemented – by Barack Obama. And yet it's Paul who's the reactionary of the two?

The water carrying that liberals do for Barack Obama bothers me to no end - on the wars (now we're in three!), the bailouts, the Fed policy, HAMP, education, Gitmo, WikiLeaks, torture prosecutions of Bush officials and so many other counts, Barack Obama fucking sucks Dick Cheney's nitro pills.

Not saying you have to vote for Ron Paul or should even contemplate it if you're a liberal.

But you OUGHT to contemplate telling Barack Obama to go fuck himself.

Mets Keep It Classy

He's with the Braves now, but better known with the 80's Mets:

The Atlanta Braves have placed coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave as the team investigates allegations that the former Mets pitcher threatened a dad who protested after McDowell hurled homophobic insults at fans.

Dave Wallace, the Braves minor league pitching coordinator, will serve as the team's acting pitching coach in the interim.

"We are very pleased that the Atlanta Braves have placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave while they investigate my client Justin Quinn's allegations that Coach McDowell made gay slurs and engaged in sexually explicit and offensive conduct and threatening gestures," civil rights attorney Gloria Allred said in an email to the Daily News.

Quinn, a Fresno, Calif., environmental researcher who attended a Giants-Braves game in San Francisco with his 9-year-old twin daughters and wife on Saturday, said earlier this week that McDowell unleashed an anti-gay tirade at three men in the bleachers at AT&T Park.

Quinn said he objected, shouting at McDowell that his kids were watching his ugly display. "Kids don't f------ belong at a baseball park," McDowell shot back as he approached menacingly with a bat, according to Quinn. "How much are your teeth worth?"

Allred told the News this week that another fan has complained that McDowell unleashed a verbal tirade against him at a ballpark last year. She declined to identify the fan or the venue of the alleged incident but said she has provide that information to commissioner Bud Selig's office.

If the allegations are true, McDowell belongs nowhere near a ballpark.


Kinda like the Wilpon Family.

DOE Oversight - Or The Lack Of It

Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools Richard Condon said the following about the oversight capabilities of the DOE on its outside consulting contract for Project Corrupt:

MANHATTAN — A former Department of Education computer consultant ripped off nearly $4 million from city schools to fund a lavish lifestyle — the latest in a string of black marks for city contractors, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

William "Ross" Lanham allegedly blew the $3.6 million in cash on high-end cars, including a Lexus, Corvette, Porsche and Cadillac Escalade as well as real estate, including three homes on Long Island.


Lanham, who earned $1.7 million working for the DOE, surrendered to federal authorities Thursday morning on mail fraud and theft charges. He could face 20 years in jail if convicted.

IBM and Verizon, vendors for "Project Connect," are accused of turning a blind eye to the alleged scheme, according to a report by Richard Condon, Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, also released Thursday.

"IBM and Verizon, by their silence, facilitated this fraud," the report said. Neither company was charged.

Condon's report also slams the DOE for lax oversight.

"It is difficult to understand how the DOE could allow so much power to reside in a consultant, even an honest one, which Lanham was not. Project Connect was a billion dollar undertaking, yet no one exercised any oversight of Lanham," it read.

Indeed it is.

The DOE under Bloomberg is famous for its oversight and accountability measures for teachers, but apparently doesn't seem to give a shit about oversight and accountability of consultants or vendors.

John Liu will take action to rectify this lack of oversight and Scott Stringer has connected this disturbing lack of oversight and accountability to teacher layoffs:

City Comptroller John Liu has also directed a review of contracts with all vendors accused of wrongdoing in the report.

"Federal charges once again, that a consultant has stolen millions from the taxpayers, are infuriating enough. Even more disconcerting, however, are indications that corporations with billions of dollars in City business have aided and abetted and profited from the scam," Liu said in a statement, which called for greater oversight of city subcontracting.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also slammed the DOE for spending so much on technology without sufficient oversight.

"At a time when the Department of Education is still threatening to lay off more than 4,000 teachers, it is extremely distressing to learn that the department can’t seem to keep track of its own contractors — or the money they spend," he said in a statement.

Bloomberg CANNOT get his way on these layoffs or budget cuts when he is spending so lavishly on tech contracts and the consultants themselves are STEALING millions.

Project Corrupt At The NYCDOE

The Daily News has some more salacious details on the outside tech consultant arrested yesterday for stealing $3.6 million from the city:

A cuckolded computer consultant hired to link the city's 1,400 schools to the Internet was charged Thursday with downloading $3.6 million into his crooked pockets.

Willard (Ross) Lanham, aided by corporate giants IBM and Verizon, masterminded the massive fraud to enjoy a life of luxury from 2002 to 2008, according to a scathing report from the special schools investigator.

"Lanham effectively stole from schoolchildren so he could buy fancy cars and valuable real estate," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Prosecutors described Lanham's greed as staggering. He was charged with looting the Department of Education while earning a $200,000 annual salary and living with his family in a sprawling, two-story Long Island home.

As he earned an illegal fortune off phony companies, inflated fees and a pair of no-show jobs, officials said, he built three luxury homes on a piece of abandoned Long Island farmland.

Once finished, Lanham even named the private street after his estranged wife, Laura Lanham.

The couple have since endured a long, angry and ongoing three-year divorce, with the wife dumping her 57-year-old husband to pursue younger men while blogging about her "cougar" lifestyle.

Willard Lanham - who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted - smiled wryly when asked about his 42-year-old wife before he bolted from Manhattan Federal Court.

Willard Lanham also maintained a $600,000 fleet of high-end automobiles, including a flashy yellow Corvette, a Porsche, a Mercedes-Benz, a Lexus and a Cadillac Escalade.

He owned a $380,000 property in Bethpage, L.I., and held an interest in a multimillion-dollar Bridgehampton, L.I., development, according to court papers.

Just last week, he treated his family and a next-door neighbor to a pricey Florida vacation with a stay at the Hard Rock Cafe.

"It was an expensive trip," the teen neighbor told the Daily News before a young man from the Lanham house ran over to end the interview by slamming her front door shut.

The probe, aided by the city Department of Investigation, found Lanham was hired to work on three major DOE projects - including the highly touted "Project Connect."

The scam was simple: He hired contractors at low hourly rates, persuaded subcontractors to bill the city at a much higher rate and pocketed the difference, officials said.

In all, his Lanham Enterprises allegedly was paid $5.3 million for consulting work that cost his company only $1.7 million.

The accused swindler even ripped off his own brother, hiring him for a $40-an-hour consulting job while charging the city $225 an hour, a criminal complaint charged.

I am sure Bloomberg will try and blame this on just Lanham when he gets asked about this today on his WOR radio show, but the truth is that two major DOE vendors - and major American companies - also aided in and profited from the scam. The NY Daily News reports that:

Richard Condon, special commissioner of investigation for city schools, said IBM and Verizon "by their silence facilitated this fraud."

But both companies noted they cooperated with the probe, and neither business, nor any of their employees, were charged with a crime.

The Times reports that:

Verizon and I.B.M., the largest of the vendors involved in the projects, played a role in the scheme and profited from it, according to the city’s special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon.

How many other outside consultants are stealing money from the DOE and being "facilitated" in the theft by vendors like IBM and Verizon?

We don't know, but neither does Bloomberg because he has done little to no oversight of the consultant jobs since he became mayor.

You see, Bloombert thinks outside consultants, because they are non-unionized, non-governmental employees, are by their very nature honest and worthy.

It's those nasty crooked governmental employees - like those teachers the NY Post has been chronicling all week, you know the 12 out of 75,000 who have done something unethical, unseemly, or illegal - who need oversight.

Accountability is NEVER for the outside consultants and it is NEVER for Bloomberg himself.

But now that Project Corrupt at the NYCDOE has been revealed, oversight MUST be done not only on all outside consultant gigs, but also on the mayor himself.

As John Liu said yesterday:

“Federal charges once again, that a consultant has stolen millions from the taxpayers are infuriating enough. Even more disconcerting, however, are indications that corporations with billions of dollars in City business have aided and abetted and profited from the scam. As with the CityTime scandal, oversight of subcontracting is acutely needed right now.”

This mayor CANNOT be trusted with the city money without some independent oversight of what he is doing with it.

This mayor CANNOT be allowed to claim he needs to lay off 6,166 teachers in order to save $300 million when he is squandering $550 million on tech projects like Project Corrupt that have little benefit to anybody who isn't on the Bloomberg/Klein/Murdoch crony payroll.

And make no mistake, former chancellor Klein and prime teacher hater Murdoch are BOTH tied up in this corruption.

Murdoch now owns Wireless Generation, a tech/ed company that Klein - who now works for Murdoch - signed a bunch of DOE contracts with to bring tech services to the public school system.

How did this contract come about?

How did Klein come to sign it?

How did Murdoch decide to buy the company after Klein came to work for him?

So many questions, so few answers.

But there are plenty of things to mull over in this deal and plenty of oversight to do on the Wireless Generation deal as well as the other tech deals Bloomberg has done at both the DOE and other agencies.

Between CityTime, Project Corrupt at the DOE, the Independence Party/Haggerty corruption case and other problematic consultant jobs pointed out by Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News, we have more than enough evidence to see that Bloomberg CANNOT get his way on financial issues involving the city without outside input.

The $550 Million Bloomberg Plans To Spend On Tech At The DOE Must Be Frozen

Given the news yesterday that an outside consultant hired to provide Internet access to NYC schools by the NYCDOE was stealing millions from the city from 2002-2008 and that two major DOE vendors - I.B.M. and Verizon - were involved in helping the consultant to defraud the city, Bloomberg CANNOT be allowed to spend $550 million on technology upgrades to schools this year even as he lays off 4,666 teachers and lets another 1,500 teaching jobs go by attrition in order to save $300 million.

The technology upgrade contracts MUST be frozen until an outside independent auditor is allowed to see just who is being paid to do what in these contracts.

Not ONE teacher can be laid off while these financial shenanagins by Bloomberg, the DOE, the outside consultants and the DOE vendors go on without investigation.

After CityTime, after the questions raised by Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez about other outside consultants hired by the DOE and now this arrest and revealed fraud involving I.B.M. and Verizon, the time has come to take away the mayor's dictatorial power over the school system and contracting.

It is very apparent that the mayor cannot be trusted with either.

The seriousness of these charges and the companies involved in the scheme to defraud the city cannot be overstated.

As Comptroller John Liu said in a statement yesterday:

“Federal charges once again, that a consultant has stolen millions from the taxpayers are infuriating enough. Even more disconcerting, however, are indications that corporations with billions of dollars in City business have aided and abetted and profited from the scam. As with the CityTime scandal, oversight of subcontracting is acutely needed right now.”

That is especially so when Bloomberg is laying off all these teachers even as the subcontractors and vendors rob the city blind of millions.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Philly To Cut Student Bus Passes To Public Schools - But Not To Charters

The charter school Apartheid system continues:

The Philadelphia school district may have to cut 3,800 positions in order to close a $600 million deficit. Another proposal to make up for the loss of almost $300 million in state funds this year includes eliminating free transportation to and from school.

That means no busing or free SEPTA transpasses for any students except those in special education students and those attending charter schools.

That's because state law requires the district to provide transportation to and from charter schools. But students who attend public and parochial schools next year could have to pay their own way.

Shelley Yanoff, executive director for Public Citizens for Children and Youth, said the proposal is worrisome.

"We worry about truancy, we worry about them dropping out of school," she said. "And we make it more expensive for them to come to school when we know that three-quarters of the kids who attend the public schools are low-income."

Perfect - make the kids at traditional public schools pay to go to school so that many of them drop out.

Then tar the traditional public schools as "drop-out factories" (as President Accountability likes to call traditional public schools that serve high needs students), close them down and open up more charters.

But only for-profit charters.

Because the track record of those schools in Philadelphia is so fantastic.

Oh, wait - it's not.

Oh, well -so what?

This is about profit for EMO's and lower taxes for rich people anyway.

The Wireless Generation Contract With The DOE Needs To Be Investigated

Now that an outside consultant hired to bring Internet access to NYCDOE schools has been arrested for stealing $3.6 million and two major DOE vendors, I.B.M. and Verizon, were implicated in the scheme to defraud the city, it is high time somebody takes a closer look at the DOE contract former NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein signed with Wireless Generation, the connection Wireless Generation has to one of the implicated companies, I.B.M., and just how it is that Klein is now working for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. after Murdoch bought Wireless Generation.

As Gotham Gazette noted today:

The Times is reporting that a former Department of Education consultant has been charged with stealing $3.6 million from the city. Federal prosecutors say Willard Lanham persuaded subcontractors to overbill the city for their work and then kept the difference for himself.

Fernanda Santos writes, “Verizon and I.B.M., the largest of the vendors involved in the projects, played a role in the scheme and profited from it, according to the city’s special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon.” Verizon said it would “return any inappropriate profits.”

Lanham, who reportedly already made $200,000 a year, supposedly used the money to buy fancy cars and Long Island real estate. He has denied any wrongdoing. The crime allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2008.

The projects involved were supposed to provide internet access in city schools. The case — assuming the charges are true — involves a number of issues that continue to prove extremely nettlesome for the Bloomberg administration.

First, of course, is its ongoing problem with tech contracts: most notably, the City Time computerized payroll system and the efforts to upgrade the 911 announced he would conduct audits of two Department of Education tech projects: the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System, popularly known as ARIS, which tracks student performance, and the Innovation Zone or iZone, the department’s initiative to reshape city schools using on line learning and other technology, among other techniques.

In another echo of the Lanham case, the concerns about ARIS also involve IBM. In the latest case, Condon has said, IBM shifted consultant among subs-contractors in an effort to hide Lanham’s scam from the education department.

As for ARIS, the Department of Education hired IBM to develop the system to track student achievement in 2007, spending some $80 million on it. Despite the investment, many schools don’t like it and have opted to buy another system. The city, however, is sticking with ARIS and plans on testing a new version of it, Gotham Schools has reported.

In the meantime, IBM hired a subcontractor, Wireless Generation, to develop the ARIS system. Wireless Generation continue to work on ARIS> Now, though, it is owned by News Corp. News Corp. now employs Joel Klein, who championed ARIS’ development during his tenure as schools chancellor. Klein, of course, also was chancellor during the time that Lanham allegedly was ripping off the city.

Despite Klein’s departure, the department’s penchant for technology remains. Facing spending cutbacks in other areas, this department’s capital budget seeks to boost spending for technology in general — wireless, hardware, cables — and for the iZone, the department’s initiative to reshape city schools using on line learning and other technology, among other techniques

Liu also has launched an audit of the Zone. Some critics have questioned whether, during a time of proposed layoffs and cutbacks, the city should be moving ahead on iZone when, they say, little evidence exists that such tech initiative actually help children learn.

The disclosure today is likely to fuel doubts about any increased tech spending by the department.

Less tech spending, no layoffs, but more purchasing of handcuffs - because the more investigators look into these contracts, the contractors themselves and just how the money is being doled out and what it is being used for, the more crookedness that is being revealed.

No one has seriously looked at Klein and Wireless Generation yet, but just how did the former schools chancellor get to sign all these contracts with Wireless Generation, then get to run the online K-12 for-profit education division of News Corp. after Rupert Murdoch bought the company?

Holy cow, that deal sounds so fishy on the face of it that it begs investigation.

And so does Klein's role in all of this.

Leaving aside the temerity of the DOE and the mayor to promote all this technology spending in the same year that there are going to be teacher lay offs for the first time in 30+ years (that I will deal with tomorrow in another post), the Wireless Generation contract CANNOT be allowed to stand as is without investigation.

Fraud At DOE Involving Outside Consultant, I.B.M. And Verizon

CityTime comes to the NYCDOE:

A former consultant for the Department of Education surrendered to federal authorities on Thursday to face charges that he stole $3.6 million in the six years he worked managing projects that were meant to provide Internet access to city schools.

Verizon and I.B.M., the largest of the vendors involved in the projects, played a role in the scheme and profited from it, according to the city’s special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon.

The allegations emerged just as the department is gearing up to increase its technology spending by roughly $550 million in the next year alone, even as it contends with sharp drops in state aid that could force teacher layoffs.

According to the federal complaint, the former consultant, Willard Lanham, coaxed subcontractors into billing the department for work performed by people he had hired at rates higher than they were actually paid.

Mr. Lanham then pocketed the difference, according to the complaint, using the money to finance a lavish lifestyle that included luxury cars and a large plot of land on Long Island, where he built three high-end homes.

Mr. Condon’s office began unveiling the scheme in 2006, after receiving two anonymous complaints that Mr. Lanham was getting kickbacks from vendors.

While investigating the accusations, investigators discovered that I.B.M. had been billing the Education Department for work performed by consultants hired by Mr. Lanham without proper authorization, the complaint says.

In November 2008, the office received yet another complaint, from a senior director at the Department of Education’s Division of Instructional and Information Technology, Sheila Raskob.

In a report released on Thursday, Mr. Condon said that Ms. Raskob accused Mr. Lanham of hiring other consultants whose work was billed by Verizon through its separate contract with the department.

Mr. Lanham hired a brother as one of the consultants, according to the federal complaint. The brother was paid $40 per hour, though the invoices received by the Department of Education showed an hourly rate of $175, the complaint said.

“We are entrusted with the public’s money, and should have been more vigilant in our oversight of this project,” Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement. “Since we severed ties with this contractor and reported his criminal activity in 2008, the Department of Education has established new safeguards to ensure that no contractor has oversight over his own projects.”

Mr. Lanham is to be arraigned Thursday afternoon at Federal District Court in Manhattan.

So much to unpack here.

First, note that this scheme took place over several years and the DOE provided no meaningful oversight of the consultant's work for most of those year - he did his own oversight.

Second, note that the defrauding of the DOE was done not only by the consultant, who has now been arrested, but also by two of the largest vendors involved in the projects - I.B.M. and Verizon.

These aren't some fly by night companies that conspired to defraud the DOE of millions.

This is Verizon and I.B.M we're talking about.

Next let us note that Bloomberg plans to spend $550 million dollars on technology upgrades in the next year alone even as he lays off 4,666 teachers and lets another 1,500 jobs disappear by attrition to save the DOE $300 million.

How much of the $550 million is going to simply be stolen either by the outside consultants who apparently work for the Bloomberg administration without ANY oversight whatsoever or by the vendors who also apparently work with the city without ANY meaningful oversight whatsoever.

Bloomberg is proud to say he brought "accountability" to the DOE.

Go to the NYCDOE website and you'll see an "accountability and performance" link where visitors can see how schools, administrators and teachers are being held "accountable" by the DOE.

But apparently there is NO accountability or performance controls for any of the outside consultants or vendors who work with the city or with Bloomberg.

They steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the city and Bloomberg is going to throw them another $550 million this year for tech upgrades even as the arrests of the outside consultants start to ratchet up.

First came the CityTime arrests.

Now comes the first of the DOE arrests.

The more outside investigators dig into this business, the more crookedness they will find.

Juan Gonzalez has already pointed in the direction of another outside consultant/tech company that may be stealing money from the DOE (and thus the taxpayers.)

Gonzalez has pointed out how the outside consultants Bloomberg hires are often free from outside scrutiny because their salaries come out of the capital budget and they do not have to be revealed in public expense reports.

No one actually knows how much they're paying these guys or what it is exactly that they do.

We only know that they will not be getting laid off or taking pay cuts even as teachers do.

Given the arrest of the outside consultant in this scheme and involvement of the two vendors, I.B.M. and Verizon, in defrauding the DOE and the city, given the CityTime mess and the questions Gonzalez has raised about the Turkish contractors working for the DOE, it is time to put a FREEZE on ALL NYCDOE contracts for technology.

Bloomberg does NOT deserve the benefit of the doubt on this.

How dare he drop 6,166 teaching jobs, including laying off 4,166 teachers, when he is allowing these outside consultants and vendors to STEAL THE CITY BLIND.

Nader: Primary Obama

Not because he thinks anybody can knock off Obama in a primary, but just to remind Obama not to take liberals and progressives for granted:

Ralph Nader is convinced that Barack Obama will win reelection in 2012, but that won’t stop him from trying to organize a slate of Democrats in the coming months to challenge the president in party primaries next year.

Nader told POLITICO on Wednesday that he is working on bringing together about half a dozen presidential candidates who could “dramatically expand a robust discussion within the Democratic Party and among progressive voters across the country.” Each would focus on a specific issue where the far left says Obama hasn’t done enough, including the environment, labor and health care.

Nader, who has run for president five times as an independent or third party candidate — including his 2000 run on the Green ticket, which some Democrats say cost Al Gore the election — said that for next year, he believes an ideologically based, multi-candidate primary challenge would be the best way to pull Obama to the left ahead of the second term he believes Republicans will not be able to stop.

Obama is smug and abusive toward the base.

I think anything that makes him less smug and less abusive would be a good thing.

The Real Reason For The Common Core

Here it is:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy, and the foundation associated with Pearson, the giant textbook and school technology company, announced a partnership on Wednesday to create online reading and math courses aligned with the new academic standards that some 40 states have adopted in recent months.

The 24 new courses will use video, interactive software, games, social media and other digital materials to present math lessons for kindergarten through 10th grade and English lessons for kindergarten through 12th grade, Pearson and Gates officials said.

Widespread adoption of the new standards, known as the common core, has provoked a race among textbook publishers to revise their current classroom offerings so they align with the standards, and to produce new materials. The Gates-Pearson initiative appears to be the most ambitious such effort so far.

The Pearson Foundation is heading the course-writing effort. But Pearson Education, which owns textbook houses like Prentice Hall and sells an array of multimedia classroom tools, will market 20 of the new courses to schools and districts.

The Gates Foundation, which has promoted the common core standards movement in its philanthropy, is providing $3 million so that four of the 24 courses can be offered free to schools, partly to give educators a taste of how the digital courses can be used in classrooms.

“We’re hoping that by placing those four courses in a way that’s accessible, people will take a look at them and make connections,” said Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation.

In his educational work, Bill Gates has explored ways that new technologies can transform teaching. Vicki Phillips, a director at the Gates Foundation, said the partnership with Pearson was part of a “suite of investments” totaling more than $20 million that the foundation was undertaking, all of which involve new technology-based instructional approaches.

The new digital materials, Ms. Phillips said, “have the potential to fundamentally change the way students and teachers interact in the classroom.”

The partnership with the Gates Foundation could give Pearson a considerable advantage as textbook and learning technology companies position themselves in an education marketplace upended by the creation of the common standards.

“It’s a good deal for Pearson, and it’s good for Gates too, because it brings more attention to the standards,” said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, which has studied the evolution of state policies on the common core.

Pearson stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars and of course these online courses can only be run on Windows, Internet Explorer, and other Microsoft platforms.

And eventually these courses can be run from anywhere with any facilitator, so you can just fire the expensive teachers and hire cheap Mcfacilitators to run the whole shebang.

But Pearson and Gates are in this for the kids, right?

Dems Join Public Worker/Union Bashing

Democrats in Mass. have voted to strip public workers of the right to collectively bargain their health care.

In the bluest of blue states.

How soon before Cuomo pals up with his corporate allies in the legislature and tries a similar thing here?

This is why unions must stop supporting Dems reflexively and ONLY support pols who support workers and union members.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fred Klonsky's Right

Really, really right.

End the co-dependency.

Only support politicians who support working people.

Suing Bloomberg Over The Cathie Black Appointment

Now we're talking:

A group led by Brooklyn district leader Chris Owens announced today that they are suing Mayor Mike Bloomberg for $100 million or his appointment of Cathie Black as city schools chancellor last year.

The class action suit, filed on behalf of the city's public school parents, alleges that by appointing Black as schools chief, the mayor damaged the education of public school children throughout New York City.

"Michael Bloomberg, as Mayor, has a fiduciary obligation to act with the utmost of prudence and responsibility in running the New York City school system," the suit claims. "He either knew, or should have known, that the appointment of Black was not in the best interests of the system, but he appointed her nonetheless. By so acting, Michael Bloomberg breached his fiduciary duty to the parents of all school children in New York City public schools and is guilty of 'misfeasance of office.'"

The parents want Mayor Bloomberg to place $100 million of his own money (which they note, comes to approximately $1 million for each day of Ms. Black's nearly 100-day tenure) into a fund used for teacher training "as compensation for the damage to the morale and performance of staff and teachers, which therefore impaired the education of students."

They won't win, but it's fun to file lawsuits and make Mike respond.

Anybody know how that E.E.O.C. lawsuit against Bloomberg LP is going?

12% Teaching Force Reduction In Philadelphia

The Mayor of Money here in Gotham Schools City is planning an 8% reduction in the teaching force.

Philly got 12%.

Tax cuts for hedge fund managers and multi-national corporations?


Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Barack Obama And "Reform"

Even as some observers sympathetic to the education deform agenda, such as Times columnist Joe Nocera, begin to question the efficacy of the deform agenda, the people behind the agenda are moving ever more closely to running every school system in the nation:

ST. PAUL — With the dust settling on legislative sessions around the country, 2011 is shaping up as one of the most consequential years in memory for changes in the way schools are run.

The new policies have many champions, but a little-known common denominator behind sweeping measures in nearly a dozen states is Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, who has re-emerged as an adviser to governors and lawmakers, mostly Republicans, who are interested in imitating what he calls “the Florida formula” for education.

Mr. Bush, for example, has been closely involved in new education bills and laws in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah. One out of five state school superintendents have joined a group that his national foundation created, Chiefs for Change, to rally behind a common agenda.

He has hopped around the country to campaign for candidates, hold meetings and lobby for Florida-style changes. They include private-school vouchers, online courses and requiring third-graders to pass reading tests before they move up to fourth grade, rather than being pushed along with their peers — or “social promotion.”

Increased testing, charter schools, school vouchers, merit pay, teacher accountability as the sole measure of - all debunked education reform initiatives, and yet the EXACT blueprint for the "reforms" enacted this year at the state level with the help of Jeb Bush and Barack Obama.

Oh, and with the help of the money of Bill Gates and Eli Broad.

And of course underpinning all of this "reform" is the idea that only the teacher matters and great teachers can overcome any obstacle in the school system.

But as Nocera wrote in his column yesterday:

Good teaching alone can’t overcome the many obstacles Saquan faces when he is not in school. Nor is he unusual. Mahler recounts how M.S. 223 gives away goodie bags to lure parents to parent association meetings, yet barely a dozen show up. He reports that during the summer, some students fall back a full year in reading comprehension — because they don’t read at home.

Going back to the famous Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have contended — and unquestionably proved — that students’ socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors in determining how much they learn. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute lists dozens of reasons why this is so, from the more frequent illness and stress poor students suffer, to the fact that they don’t hear the large vocabularies that middle-class children hear at home.

Yet the reformers act as if a student’s home life is irrelevant. “There is no question that family engagement can matter,” said Klein when I spoke to him. “But they seem to be saying that poverty is destiny, so let’s go home. We don’t yet know how much education can overcome poverty,” he insisted — notwithstanding the voluminous studies that have been done on the subject. “To let us off the hook prematurely seems, to me, to play into the hands of the other side.”

That last sentence strikes me as the key to the reformers’ resistance: To admit the importance of a student’s background, they fear, is to give ammo to the enemy — which to them are their social-scientist critics and the teachers’ unions. But that shouldn’t be the case. Making schools better is always a goal worth striving for, whether it means improving pedagogy itself or being able to fire bad teachers more easily. Without question, school reform has already achieved some real, though moderate, progress.

What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that school reform won’t fix everything. Though some poor students will succeed, others will fail. Demonizing teachers for the failures of poor students, and pretending that reforming the schools is all that is needed, as the reformers tend to do, is both misguided and counterproductive.

Over the long term, fixing our schools is going to involve a lot more than, well, just fixing our schools. In the short term, however, the reform movement could use something else: a dose of humility about what it can accomplish — and what it can’t.

Jeb Bush pats himself on the back for being a "successful" proponent of education reform when the data shows that the improvements made under his administration in Florida, real for students in the fourth grade, actually disappear by the time they reach high school.

Meanwhile Barack Obama pats himself on the back for bringing the "most meaningful" reform to education in the last generation by pushing charter schools, merit pay, and teacher evaluations tied to test scores all across the nation.

Gates and Broad fund this stuff, but at the end of the day, the child that Nocera wrote about in his column still slipped through the cracks, not because of "bad teachers" or a "bad school" but because the socio-economic problems that underlie the system are so complex and entrenched that the simplistic "Blame Teachers" formula promoted by Obama, Bush, Gates, Broad, et al. does NOT work.

But it sure does rake in the profits for the ed deformers, doesn't it?

Bloomberg Tells Tavis Smiley He Talked To Lots Of People About Hiring Cathie Black

Bloomberg really lives in his own reality:

Tavis Smiley is bringing his late-night PBS show to New York this week, and his first guest was Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The talk show host asked Bloomberg about the apparent decision to bring in Cathie Black as city school chief without consulting with aides and experts.

The mayor disputed the premise of the question.

"I did ask a lot of people," he said. "I did talk to a lot of people about whether they would be interested in the job."

The Times reported that Geoffrey Canada had been offered the chancellor's job and turned it down. Mayor Bloomberg has denied this.

The mayor also said that despite his falling poll numbers, he has not regretted seeking a third-term, telling Smiley that he thought it would be too easy to just leave office while the city was soaring.

The mayor's own people, through anonymous quotes, claim he hired Black without asking anybody about it.

The Times couldn't find anybody he talked to about the search.

But he still maintains he conducted a search, talked to lots of people, thought through all options, etc.

Why can't he just admit the truth?

He's like the Fonz trying to admit error.

Just can't do it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recall Bloomberg

Go vote.

Bloomberg: Layoffs Coming, Budget Going To Be "Painful"

The Mayor of Money is digging in on layoffs and budget cuts, at least according to the Bloombergian mouthpiece paper, the Murdoch Street Post:

After weeks of issuing dire warnings that large-scale layoffs are coming, Mayor Bloomberg declared yesterday that when the numbers are finally released next week they'll be "very painful."

He offered no specifics, but indicated there's not much hope of a reprieve once his $65.6 billion executive budget for fiscal 2012 is made public May 5.

The mayor laid the blame on Albany and Washington, which he asserted had left the city with about $3 billion less in aid than it needs and was counting on.

He suggested that demonstrators planning a massive rally on Wall Street May 12 to protest his budgets cuts would be better suited directing their anger at the state and federal governments.

"New York City has to balance its budget by law," he said. "We will go ahead and do that, you can rest assured. And it will be very painful because we have a lot less money, which means a lot fewer people."

Hizzoner added, "What we have to do is decide will it be fewer cops, fewer firefighters, fewer teachers, fewer this, fewer that."

Bloomberg repeated that ominous assessment three times in slightly different versions during a press conference that dealt mostly with immigration.

More than 5,000 jobs -- primarily teachers -- are on the line.

In past years, the City Council has restored many service cuts imposed by the mayor as part of the annual budget negotiations. But one source said that will be much more difficult this year because tax revenues, which had been coming in beyond projections, have flattened since the preliminary budget was issued in February.

"There's going to be less money," said the source.

The mayor has proposed reductions to services ranging from day care to libraries to fire companies -- over and above 4,666 teacher layoffs.


Bloomberg does have one financial ace up his sleeve should he choose -- or be forced -- to use it.

In a savvy move during the boom years, the city established a health-benefits reserve for future retirees which it's been tapping to avoid even worse cuts. About $2 billion is left.

But the mayor has said he needs that cushion for 2013, when the city faces a deficit estimated at $4 billion.

This "very painful" budget comes on the heels of Bloomberg saying that we MUST NOT raise taxes on rich people because, well, just because.

So there you have it - very painful budget for working and middle class New Yorkers, continued low taxes and tax breaks for wealthy Bloomberg cronies.

Oh, and don't forget the continued squandering of city money on no-bid contract boondoggles like CityTime and outside consultant contracts like the crooks the DOE has hired.

Bloomberg says he has no budget surplus, that it MUST be used to service next year's debt.

I dunno if that's actually true (if Bloomberg is saying it, it's probably not), but even if it is true (and that's a big if) there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS he is choosing to spend money on rather than teachers, firehouses, senior services, libraries, etc.

Bloomberg says he'll save $300 million by firing 4,666 teachers and letting another 1,500 go by attrition.

Yet he has chosen to spend $500 million to upgrade technology services in schools so that there can be more computerized instruction via School of One (which his former schools chancellor, Joel Klein, now helps run) as well computerized standardized testing that can measure both student and teacher performance simultaneously.

He could save the teacher jobs by delaying the technology spending by a few years.

But he has chosen NOT to do this.

So when he says this budget is going to be "very painful" and makes it sound as if it's a force of nature that cannot be changed, he is full of it.

This is a very deliberate and conscious choice by him to push layoffs so that he can get changes to LIFO next year as well as to weaken the union and further diminish teachers.

He can try and publicly rationalize the cuts and layoffs and try and displace blame all he wants.

This is BLOOMBERG'S budget.

These are HIS choices.


NYPD Ticket Fixing Scandal Grows

This looks more and more like it will turn into Bloomberg's Parking Violations Bureau scandal:

The growing NYPD ticket-fixing scandal is about to get worse.

Thirty cops were secretly recorded during the massive probe, and what was heard on thousands of hours of tape goes far beyond just making traffic violations disappear for family and friends. Sources tell me what's yet to come out is potentially criminal conduct:

• Several officers allegedly tried to deep-six domestic violence incidents involving off-duty cops before police headquarters found out.

• Others allegedly tried to quash drunk-driving incidents involving their brethren.

• And still others were allegedly overheard making arrangements for and paying prostitutes.

Evidence is being presented to a Bronx grand jury that's weighing criminal charges.

Two weeks ago, I disclosed that the NYPD has a list of at least 24 cops who cannot even think about retirement until the criminal cases are done and several hundred more officers, maybe as many as 500, who could face disciplinary action from the NYPD.

A source says they include officers in virtually every rank: a chief; one inspector; four deputy inspectors; four captains; 10 lieutenants; 25 detectives; 30 sergeants; and the rest are police officers, many of them union delegates.


As I reported last week, some cops are being probed for receiving money, free meals or booze for "favors." Others allegedly had renovations done to their homes or repairs made to their cars or choice seats at sporting events. An executive with the New York Yankees even got a speeding ticket fixed.

Investigators went to the locker of one police union delegate in Lower Manhattan. They recovered copies of 240 tickets covering all of 2010.

There are so many cases for the prosecutors to handle that they have set threshold levels regarding corruption and fixed tickets that will trigger possible criminal charges rather than disciplinary action by the NYPD.

"The number of arrests may be closer to 40 and the number of cases for the NYPD around 500," a source said.

Here is the borough breakdown of the numbers of cops touched by the probe are: 55 in Manhattan; 30 in queens; seven on Staten Island; 30 in Brooklyn; 380 in the Bronx.

Money, food, booze, or prostitutes in return for favors?

Domestic abuse and drunk driving cases quashed?

40-500 police involved?

Includes officers in every rank?

This is starting to sound like more than a ticket-fixing scandal for city luminaries (as has been asserted by the NYPD and the mayor.)

This is starting to sound like old-school police corruption, plain and simple.

And where oh where was the Mayor of Money with his vaunted accountability mechanisms and technology to root out this corruption?

Oh, right - he was on Bermuda.

As per the usual Bloombergian protocol, this will be somebody else's fault, he'll back Ray Kelly up to the max and blame the corruption on the union and low level cops who "betrayed" him.

But if this scandal is as wide as Murray Weiss in DNAinfo is saying it is, this is so much WIDER than anything involving the union - after all, inspectors, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants are involved too.

This corruption case ought to kick off a wider investigation of NYPD book-keeping itself.

There has already been some evidence that the vaunted NYPD crime fighting machine was cooking its books in some precincts in order to make the data-obsessed Bloomberg happy.

Just as test scores have to go up in schools or principals and assistant principals get fired, so crime stats must go down in police precincts all across the city or the brass are punished.

It stands to reason that if the 500 cops were getting away with fixing tickets and making domestic abuse and drunk driving cases go away in exchange for money, food, booze and hookers, there were also some cops who were making criminal cases COMPLETELY go away in order to cook the precinct books and make everybody in the brass and City Hall happy.

There needs to be an independent investigation into the NYPD books to see just how far down the rot goes into the system and how much the "data-driven" policies Bloomberg has promoted have played in it.

As a report from two academics found in August of last year:

Two academics at an FBI-sponsored conference Friday will accuse the NYPD of cooking the books to make the city appear safer.

The claims are contained in a survey of more than 309 police officers - most of whom have served as precinct commanders since the department started using the CompStat program in the mid-'90s.

More than half of the respondents admitted to fudging numbers, according to the study by John Eterno of Molloy College and Eli Silverman of John Jay College.

The pair of criminologists will also release recordings they obtained from several roll calls that they say capture supervisors telling officers not to take reports of robberies unless the victim is willing to go to the stationhouse.

The recordings also capture officers being told not to take reports if they think the district attorney will not prosecute.

"It's putting people in an unreasonable position," said Silverman, adding that there is growing pressure from top brass to keep the numbers down. "The public needs to understand that crime can fluctuate."

Silverman said the city needs to change how it views CompStat, a program that maps crime so that police can zero in on problem areas.

"It needs to be less number-driven," Silverman said. "You can't just measure [cities] by their crime rate."

The ticket-fixing scandal and the cooking the books scandal may or mey not be related, but as the ticket-fixing scandal grows, it is important that the cooking the books scandal get looked at too.

NY Times: Bloomberg Hates Liu

Interesting article about the relationship between the Mayor of Money and Comptroller John Liu.

Bloomberg doesn't like Liu because Liu, unlike most of the other major politicians in this city, doesn't roll over for Bloomberg:

Within minutes of boarding his private jet last November, destined for Hong Kong, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dispensed with the pleasantries and confronted his main guest, John C. Liu, the city comptroller: Why are you blocking a crucial city contract?

The two barely talked afterward, according to people briefed on the trip: not on the 21-hour journey, not during a conference on climate change, and not during a tour of a factory. (Mr. Liu returned on a commercial flight, which he had planned to do all along.)

Sixteen months into their concurrent terms as New York City’s top two elected officials, Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Liu have made it clear that they do not care much for each other.

They rarely appear at the same events, much less announce joint initiatives. They have dined together only once or twice. And they have clashed so often, whether over multimillion-dollar contracts, teacher layoffs or pension costs, that some political insiders view anything Mr. Liu does as a personal attack against Mr. Bloomberg.

To the mayor, Mr. Liu has become a union mouthpiece intent on using him as a foil for a campaign for the mayor’s office in 2013.

After one recent report by the comptroller’s office, one senior administration official said: “It’s fair to say the mayor is not particularly pleased. From the mayor’s perspective, there is plenty of taunting and jabbing going on. You cannot partner with John. We understand that we’re being used as a platform in his mayoral campaign.”

To Mr. Liu, Mr. Bloomberg, who is in his third term, is simply unaccustomed to aggressive scrutiny. The comptroller is just doing his job, his allies say, by exposing questionable contracts and insisting on transparency from City Hall.

“If the mayor is saying that we need to tighten our belts and we all have to be accountable, then what John is doing is, ‘I’m trying to make sure the city is being held accountable,’ ” said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, who has clashed with Mr. Bloomberg over plans for teacher layoffs. “Why the mayor would have a problem with that is beyond me.”

Of course the mayor has a problem with that.

In Bloomberg's worldview, accountability is for other people, not for himself.

And politicians in this city, if they want to work with the mayor (and be on the end of his largesse) need to have the same world view as Bloomberg dies - accountability is for other people, not for the mayor.

Liu doesn't cow-tow to the mayor or the mayor's worldview, so Bloomberg doesn't like him.

Yes, Liu has made a political calculation that there is gold in them there anti-Bloomberg hills after two and a half terms of Bloomberg.

He is promoting his own political career by posing as the anti-Bloomberg, the man willing to call Bloomberg on his shit.

That was the signal Liu sent right after he was elected Comptroller when he declined to meet the mayor for lunch after the mayor called him and proposed a meeting.

Public Advocate de Blasio very publicly broke bread with the mayor, signaling that he was willing to work with the mayor (which in the mayor's world, means do what the mayor wants.)

I think given the hatred many on the union side have for Bloomberg, Liu has made a pretty shrewd political calculation.

But beyond the politics of this for second, let's be honest here - who the hell has called Bloomberg on his shit the last ten years other than John Liu?

I can't think of a major political player who has.

So Bloomberg is not used to this, not in politics, not in business, and he doesn't like it.

I say, good for Liu and good for the city.

Exactly what this city needs is somebody holding Herr Bloomberg accountable for the no bid contracts, the outside consultants, the tech boondoggles, and the cronyism.

For too long, Bloomberg has had HIS way on EVERYTHING, with all the major politicians either on his payroll - like Sharpton, Quinn and the Borough Presidents - or ready to roll over when Bloomberg says "Roll!" - Like Thompson.

It's good to see the Little Dictator not get his way on everything, not be able to buy everybody off.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Joel Klein Crawls Out Of The News Corp. Sewer For An Interview

Yup - he's still an asshole.

That's the takeaway I get from the interview he gave to City Hall News.

On public education and controversy - he's for it.

On using data to drive instruction - not only is he for it, he plans to profit from it.

On why he likes data-driven instruction - he finds it "exhilarating" and teachers should too.

Did he make any mistakes as chancellor? Nope.

What should Walcott do as chancellor? Same as Klein did.

Are the test scores and grad rates inflated? Nope.

As always in the ed deform narrative, the reality is skewered so that the deformer is the hero, the deform policies are working and anybody who opposes either the deformers or the policies is for the status quo and against the kids.

Bloomberg Criticizes Unions, Sticks Up For Rich People

Fresh off an appearance on FOX News Sunday where the Mayor of Money said governments at all levels should do anything to get budget deficits under control EXCEPT for raising taxes on wealthy people, Mayor Bloomberg says "How dare unions protest my policies on May 12!"

Here is the Daily News on the Mayor of Money's comments:

As I mentioned a bit earlier, my column in today's print editions of The Daily News was about a massive rally unions and community groups plan to stage against Mayor Bloomberg and the titans of Wall Street on May 12. As Michael Kink of the Strong Economy For All coalition told me as I was writing, the protest's message is when it comes to the city budget, layoffs and public services, "There has to be a solution other than 'Cut! Cut! Cut!'"

Via our Adam Lisberg, here's what the mayor had to say to the press about it:

"They have a right to protest. I would suggest they'd do better in, given our, the federal aid was cut by close to $1 billion, state aid by a couple of billion dollars, they might want to go to the federal or state governments and protest. New York City has to balance its budget by law. We will go ahead and do that, you can rest assured. And it will be very painful because we have a lot less money, which means a lot fewer people. What we have to do is decide, is it going to be fewer cops, fewer firefighters, fewer teachers, fewer this, fewer that. We've had 10 programs to reduce the gap over the last half a dozen years. Fortunately we saved some money a while back which will mitigate the pain, but we've used up virtually all of our reserve [this] year, and next year we will use up the balance of the reserve which we have in another place.

"We have to continue to grow this city. We have to make sure that people come here, businesses come here, wealthy people come here and buy apartments and create jobs and pay taxes. That's the only ways we're going to get through this. But I would think that while they have a right to protest, they're probably doing it in the wrong place. We are going to balance the budget. And to balance the budget, we are going to spend less, and spending less means fewer people, and it's going to be difficult. We are trying as hard as we can. We understand the problem. We're trying to work with what we have, but it's going to be a really hard time here, and we need everybody to pull together and find ways to do more with less, and we're going to continue to do that."

I'm sure laying off teachers, closing schools, reducing every part of the school budget except for the no-bid standardized test contracts and outside consultant contracts, closing fire houses, shortening the manpower on fire trucks, closing libraries, shutting hundreds of senior centers, throwing homeless families off city services and out onto the street and slashing taxes on hedge fund managers and Wall Street will make the rich people happy.

But to phrase these policies as "everybody pulling together" is just jive

The pulling together is being done by middle and working class people while the Mayor of Money and the Cathie Blacks and the Whitney Tilsons and the Alex Rodriguezes of the city yuck it up over martinis in their taxpayer-subsidized glass towers and brownstones.

If the mayor doesn't like to take criticism for policies that clearly benefit the rich few (a point he even acknowledges when he says that he has purposely put into place policies that will keep rich people buying apartments here in NYC), well, too fucking bad.

That's EXACTLY what his policies do and there is EVERY reason in the world the unions should be protesting to point this out.

May 12 Protests And the 2013 Mayoral Election

Celeste Katz says the May 12 union-organized protests against the financial industry and Mayor Bloomberg's budget cuts are less about getting Bloomberg or the financial industry to change course and more about getting 2013 mayoral candidates to know the importance of these issues to working and middle class people and unions:

Unions are hoping it'll be the shout heard around Wall Street - and City Hall. They'd also like its echo to reverberate into 2013.

On May 12, demonstrators will stage what they hope will be a massive rally against the financial industry - and Mayor Bloomberg - over policies and budget cuts that could mean layoffs and the slashing of social services.

No question about it: The protesters have got to be smelling blood as third-termer Bloomberg struggles to burnish a blizzard-tarnished legacy.

Organizers are billing the rally as "The Day We Made Wall Street Stand Still." Participants include community groups and unions such as the United Federation of Teachers and 1199/SEIU.

"The big banks wrecked our economy and are back to making billions in profits and lavish bonuses, while the rest of us are still cleaning up the mess," said Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless.

She says the mayor should "ask Wall Street bankers to contribute their fair share to fixing New York City, rather than enacting devastating cuts."


As David Birdsell of Baruch College sees it, rallies against the cuts aren't only about generating discontent with Bloomberg, but also about setting the stage for the next mayoral election.

Birdsell notes that in the past five or so mayoral cycles, with the possible exception of 2001, "There hasn't been a really kind of strong, Democratic unionist argument for the way the city should run."

With Bloomberg out of the picture in 2013 and no obvious GOP hopeful, Democratic candidates are already making noise.

"This is an effort [to] suggest what kind of debate we should be having," Birdsell said. "We know that people are not confident about the economy - or their part in it."

Wall Street executive suites may barely hear protesters' chants. It may be too late to expect Bloomberg to alter his attitude toward what he sees as the city's economic engine. Unions and citizens alike may well end up feeling the budget knife.

But one thing's sure: 2013 hopefuls will be listening. Whether the unions' theme will be their rallying cry in the next election is a story yet to be written.

After twelve years of authoritarian Bloombergian control of the school system, NOTHING is more important to children, parents, teachers and administrators than electing a mayor who is committed to a democratic partnership of the school system, who will listen to stakeholders in the school system other than the corporate entities who have the no-bid contracts for the computer systems, the test prep, and the data tracking appartatus, who sees the public school as the place to educate the WHOLE CHILD, not just the part of her/him who will grow up to be a compliant corporate employee.

So far, I am leaving my preferences for 2013 open - but just barely.

I have some potential candidates I definitely will NOT support.

I do know that charter-friendly whore-hound Eliot Spitzer will NOT be getting my support.

I also know that Mayor Bloomberg's little buddy, Christine Quinn, - the candidate who just met in a back room with the education reform industry and walked out with some IOU's from the education reformers/hedge fundies - will NOT be getting my support either.

I do not trust Anthony "On the Clinton's Payroll" Weiner and doubt I will be supporting him in 2013 unless I hear some very definite progressive ideas on education and the school system from him (ideas which I doubt the Clinton/corporate-friendly Weiner will be issuing.)

As for the rest, Scott Stringer, Bill de Blasio, and John Liu, well, I could be open to voting for any of them, but I have to say as of now, de Blasio and Stringer seem too wishy-washy in their battles against Bloomberg for me to be too positive about them. Liu I like, but I long ago stopped trusting politicians so again, I need to hear some very specific progressive ideas from him about the schools before I will go out of my way to support him.

I am taking the Eugene V. Debs quote that "I would rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it" to heart this time around.

I learned that lesson in 2008 - post Race to the Top, post-TALF, post-Bernanke renomination, post-Central Falls, Rhode Island firing (and subsequent cheering by Obama and his Secretary of Education Privatization Arne Duncan.)

Regardless of party and affiliation, I need to hear some VERY SPECIFIC PROGRESSIVE ideas from the candidates on education, the economy, and the state of the city before any of them get my vote.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dedicated To Michelle Rhee

Dedicated To Barack Obama

Dedicated To Joel Klein

Dedicated To Dennis Walcott

Keep handcuffing those seven year olds:

Dedicated To Mike Bloomberg

Which islands does he own, anyway?

Dedicated To Bill Gates

Take this data and shove it:

Dedicated To Regular Joes

Dedicated To Cathie Black

You are an embarrassment:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hazel Dickens Again

A few old memories:

Big Payback

Wisconsin, Indiana, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, Florida, New York...

Free Your Mind...

...and your ass will up your funky mind...yeahhh...

Hell, That Ain't No Hank Williams Song

The Good Old Blues Brothers Boys Band:

Where The Banksters And Hedge Fundies Belong

How Many Of You Who Sit And Judge...

...can walk the Streets of Bakersfield:

Career Opportunities

I won't open letter bombs for you!

Another Day, Another Dollar

I Won't Back Down

Which Side Are You On?