Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, October 31, 2014

Randi Weingarten Defends Cuomo's "Public Schools Are A Monopoly" Comments

You knew she would do this, didn't you?

ALBANY—American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten attributed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s characterization of public education as a “monopoly” to last-minute campaign rhetoric and called on teachers angered by the governor’s comments not to vote for G.O.P. candidate Rob Astorino as an alternative.

“We’re in the political season. At the end of the day, … I’ll chalk it up to politics,” Weingarten told Capital on Friday when asked about the governor’s comments earlier in the week to the Daily News' editorial board.

Campaign rhetoric?

He repeated the statement a day after the Daily News first reported he had told their editorial board that public schools are a "monopoly" which he intends to "break" in his next term.

That doesn't sound like campaign rhetoric to me - that sounds like something Cuomo intends to do in his next term.

Otherwise, why repeat the sentiments about public schools being a monopoly that need to be broken the next day?

Weingarten says she decided to write Cuomo a letter to tell him how off base he was in his comments:

"I decided I would actually write him a letter explaining why public education isn’t a monopoly but a public good, a moral imperative and a constitutional mandate in New York,” she said. “I really decided to spell that out, not in the high-pitched moment of the last few days of a gubernatorial election, but privately, in a letter. Because the values of public education are so important that we really have to have a real conversation about it.”

If Weingarten knows Cuomo statements are just campaign rhetoric, why bother writing him a letter telling him he's off base?

Wouldn't he already know that these comments are off base and wouldn't Weingarten already know he knows that, since she's assuring us his comments were just "campaign rhetoric"?

Ah, but later on, Weingarten tells us this:

Weingarten also said Cuomo's comments to the Daily News come at a time when there are heated battles for State Senate seats. Critics have argued that Cuomo’s “monopoly” comments reveal his commitment to a Republican-led State Senate, even though he has pledged to help Democrats win the chamber.

When asked whether she thought the governor would prefer Democrats or Republicans to be in charge of the Senate, she said: “I don’t actually talk to the governor much, so you’re going to have to ask him that question.”

Wait - Weingarten has assured us earlier that the comments Cuomo made about public schools being a "monopoly" that he intended to "break" - statements that he made twice - are just rhetoric, but later she tells reporter Jessica Bakeman she doesn't know the governor that well so she has no idea what his thoughts on the State Senate are.

How does Weingarten know Cuomo well enough to know the "monopoly" comments are "rhetoric" but not know him well enough to know what his thoughts are about the State Senate?

Sounds like more Weingarten jive to me - campaign rhetoric, if you will, to muddy the waters around Cuomo and defend his offensive and disturbing comments about schools and teachers.

In short, business as usual for the ever shifty, every dishonest Randi Weingarten.

Cuomo Out To Destroy Working Families Party, Keep Senate In Hands Of GOP/IDC

Jon Campbell in Democrat & Chronicle:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign is boosting its efforts to snag votes on the Women's Equality Party ballot line, airing a new television advertisement in hopes of getting permanent ballot status for the next four years.

The 30-second ad will begin airing Friday through Tuesday, Election Day. It was released the same day Cuomo sent an email to supporters, asking for their vote on the line.

If Cuomo gets 50,000 votes on the WEP line, it will be on New York ballots for the next four years.


Cuomo launched the party effort in July, not long after he received the Working Families Party endorsement in late May as part of a last-minute deal in which he backed a variety of liberal-leaning causes.

His push for boosting the Women's Equality Party could have a detrimental impact on the Working Families Party, which currently occupies Row D on New York ballots. Should the Women's Equality Party gain more votes than the Working Families Party, it would push the latter further down the ballot.

Cuomo created the WEP for two reasons:

First, Cuomo polls badly with male voters these days but remains popular with women - pushing the WEP line has seemed to solidify his support among women voters even more

Second, it was payback for the humiliation of having to grovel for the WFP ballot line in May. 

It's not an accident that Cuomo created the WEP not long after the WFP fiasco. 

WFP leaders thought they were getting promises out of Cuomo to push for a Democratic State Senate in return for the WFP endorsement.

Instead what they got was an empty promise from Cuomo to push for Democratic control of the State Senate and a rival third party that now threatens to keep WFP from getting the 50,000 votes it needs to maintain its ballot line.

On Wednesday November 5th, it is very likely that the State Senate will remain in the control of the GOP/IDC and the WFP will no longer have its ballot line.

Quite a coup from Governor Cuomo there, sticking it to the Working Families Party.

Yeah, he had to make the hostage video to get the WFP nod, but in payback, he seeks to ensure the party loses its ballot line and ceases to matter.

Given the sell-out that occurred at the WFP convention in May, maybe that's the best thing that can happen here.

The lesson would be, don't sell your soul to a candidate who doesn't share your values, support what you support or care about you in the least.

Clinton Gets Orwellian In Defense Of Cuomo

Ross Barkan at Politicker:

Recasting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s race as a bellwether of the left’s ongoing struggle with conservatives nationwide, former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of union members tonight that Mr. Cuomo would be a bulwark against the “last gasp of trickle-down economics.”

“He has made this a more progressive, more fair, more forward looking state–and it’s turned out to be good for the economy,” Mr. Clinton said at the headquarters of 1199 SEIU, the powerful healthcare workers union, in Manhattan. “This team of Andrew and Kathy [Hochul] will do more.”

He said that Mr. Cuomo, facing a conservative, under-funded rival in Republican Rob Astorino, was all that stood between progressives and a possible Reagan revolution-like redux: “This election is about the last gasp of trickle-down economics,” he charged.

What the hell is Clinton talking about?

Cuomo has demonized the "extreme left" and pushed again and again for tax cuts for rich people and corporations while attacking unions and unionized workers.

What's "Democratic" about this record?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo , whose center-right policies have alienated him from much of his party’s progressive base, attacks the “extreme left of the Democratic Party” in his new memoir, according to a report in the New York Times.

While his father Mario Cuomo’s 1984 address at the Democratic National Convention served as a liberal rallying cry, Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly found himself starkly at odds with the liberal wing of the party. Although the governor signed marriage equality and gun safety legislation into law and has staked out a robustly pro-choice position, he has also slashed corporate taxes, capped property taxes, maneuvered to keep his own party from controlling the New York State Senate, lent conditional support to fracking, and earned plaudits from the right-wing National Review for his conservative economic agenda. There’s also the federal probe into Cuomo’s disbanding of his much-heralded anti-corruption commission, which Cuomo had touted as evidence of his commitment to good government.

Capitalizing on progressive discontent with Cuomo’s policies and his sudden dissolution of the Moreland anti-corruption commission, challenger Zephyr Teachout managed to secure 34 percent of the vote against Cuomo in New York’s Democratic primary last month.

Given his center-right track record, it’s hardly unsurprising that Cuomo is no fonder of the left than the left is of him. According to the Times – which got its hands on a copy of his new memoir, All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life – Cuomo rips the “extreme left” in the book, particularly for what he depicts as its hostility to the rich. Leftists, Cuomo writes, “speak of punitively raising taxes on the rich and transferring the money to the poor” and seek to “demonize those who are very wealthy.”

Dunno why Cuomo felt the need to bring Clinton in as closer for the campaign - the latest Marist poll shows Cuomo up 36 percentage points, with 56% support in the election - so he's going to win on Tuesday no matter what.

But for Clinton and Cuomo to make believe like he;s some great progressive - please!

NYC Comptroller To Audit Success Academies And Three Other Charters

From the NY Post:

Eight months after announcing his intention to audit charter schools, city Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday named the schools he’ll be scrutinizing — and they include the expanding Success Academy network.

“My office is going to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately and that proper controls are in place to ensure that all young New Yorkers are getting the quality education they deserve,” said Stringer.

Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz said she was “confident” her schools would pass muster but thought Stringer was wasting his time.

“We believe his energies would be better spent investigating the use of funds in the failing schools in which 143,000 New York City children are trapped,” she said.

Other charter leaders questioned Stringer’s authority over the privately operated public schools.
“Those matters are overseen by our state’s charter authorizers, which are recognized as among the nation’s best,” said New York City Charter Center CEO James Merriman.

Stringer will also examine the finances of Merrick Academy in Queens, Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School and South Bronx Charter for International Cultures and the Arts.

Not a surprise from Merriman - these charter school crooks like "accountability" only when it's aimed elsewhere.

The NY Times reports charter school entrepreneurs are pushing back on the comptroller to try and limit the audits:

The chief executive of the New York City Charter School Center, an advocacy organization, quickly sent out a statement that Mr. Stringer was overstepping his authority, which the executive said was limited to auditing the finances of charter schools, not their overall operations.

The comptroller’s office “does not have auditing power over charter school operations,” the executive, James D. Merriman, said. “Those matters are overseen by our state’s charter authorizers.”

The disagreement appeared to stem from a difference of opinion about where Mr. Stringer derived his authority to audit charter schools.

A spokesman for Mr. Stringer, Eric Sumberg, said it came from the City Charter, which gives the comptroller broad auditing powers.

But Mr. Merriman pointed to state law, which, in a change made by the State Legislature this year, gives the comptroller the power to audit a charter school “with respect to the school’s financial operations.” Mr. Merriman said that state law superseded city law, and that the state law clearly limited Mr. Stringer’s authority.

Mr. Sumberg dismissed the issue, saying, “Whether it’s state law or the City Charter, it is clear that the comptroller has the authority to audit charter schools, plain and simple.”

Will Merriman or some other charter backers take Stronger to court to try and tie the audits up?

Will they go to the pro-charter Cuomo and get him to limit the power of the city comptroller to audit charter schools in NYC?

Cuomo has already limited the power of the mayor over co-locations.

I could absolutely see him siding with his charter school donors and putting the shiv into Stringer's audits.

 In any case, this is just another example of the charter school entrepreneurs loving "accountability" when it is aimed elsewhere but skirting it when it is aimed their way.

Marist Poll Shows Cuomo Running Away With Race

Those of you hoping GOP challenger Rob Astorino could close in the waning days of the campaign to make this election a squeaker, the latest Marist poll will disappoint you:

THE LATEST NUMBERS: A Marist College/WNBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 82 percent of New Yorkers back a 21-day quarantine for health care workers returning from Ebola-stricken areas, and 63 percent of those surveyed said they supported Cuomo’s handling of the situation. Horse race: Cuomo 56, Astorino 30, Hawkins 6.

As some surmised, Cuomo's handling of the Ebola case got him derision from public health officials, scientists and many in the media, but helped him win support from the general public.

If Cuomo wins the election with anything close to these numbers, he will claim a mandate and attempt to push through his agenda no matter the opposition.

Given that the Senate looks like it will remain in the hands of the GOP's Dean Skelos and the IDC's Jeff Klein, this means pro-charter, anti-teacher legislation will sail through pretty easily.

Unless something changes quickly, it's going to be a dark few years.

Cuomo Pow-Wowed With Billionaires Over How To Dismantle The Public School System

Jimmy Vielkind at Capital NY:

ALBANY—In the final days of this year's legislative session, Governor Andrew Cuomo left the Capitol, boarded a state helicopter and flew to Manhattan, where he spent an hour talking about education policy with a room full of billionaires, schedule records show.

It's not clear what Cuomo said during a panel discussion at the Forbes 400 Philanthropy Summit.
An administration spokesman declined to offer details on the governor's remarks and a Forbes spokeswoman demurred, saying the summit was closed to the press.

Cuomo's schedules show he had three preparatory meetings with top staffers—including press aides Melissa DeRosa and Matt Wing as well as Ian Rosenblum, a deputy secretary for education policy—in the run-up to the June 17 discussion. Rosenblum, who left the administration over the summer, accompanied the governor.


 Cuomo's office did not announce that he was attending the Forbes event on the day it happened, but it was included on a schedule posted online this week.


The Forbes press release touted the presence of Blackstone co-founders Stephen Schwarzman and Peter G. Peterson, Warren Buffett, junk bond king Michael Milken, Leon Black, Jim Breyer and Paul Tudor Jones, who as head of the Robin Hood Foundation has been a major advocate of charter schools. (He gave Cuomo a $25,000 campaign contribution in 2013.)


Cuomo discussed his support of charters, according to a person present for the Forbes conversation. An administration official said the governor discussed his record.

Forbes, the magazine, is expected to detail the summit in its November issue, which is devoted to philanthropy.

Couple the secret meeting with the billionaires to talk about education policy and charter schools along with his comments this week that he plans to "break" the public school "monopoly" by adding many more charter schools around the state and the obvious face that he has not fulfilled his promise to the Working Families Party to work for a Democratic taleover of the State Senate and what you see for the next four years is:

1. A governor who plans a full-on assault against the public school system
2. A governor who plans to either increase or completely lift the charter cap
3. A governor who plans to redo his teacher evaluation system to add "real sanctions" so that more teachers will be declared "ineffective" and fired.
4. A State Senate that will likely be run by the GOP/IDC and give Cuomo whatever he wants on education policy

That's what's coming, folks.

If the State Senate had swung to Democratic control, there's no guarantee that stuff wouldn't have happened anyway.

But you can be sure with a GOP/IDC-led State Senate, it certainly will.

That's why Cuomo hasn't lifted a finger to fulfill his promise to the WFP to push for a Democratic-controlled State Senate.

He wants it that way - as do his billionaire buddies at the Forbes meetings.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cuomo Sells Less Than 1,500 Copies Of His Memoir In First Two Weeks Of Sales

No wonder Governor Andrew M. Cuomo wants those quarantined for Ebola to spend their time in Cuomo captivity reading his book - no one else is:

Sales of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s memoir fell by more than 43 percent to 535 copies in its second week on shelves.

Mr. Cuomo’s latest book, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” sold 945 copies in the week after its Oct. 15 release, according to BookScan, a subscription service that tracks sales at over 80 percent of book vendors in the United States but does not include e-books, which can increase sales by about 15 percent.

Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins paid Cuomo $700,000 in advance for his book.

The book is already headed to remainder status, with Amazon charging $18.33 for it, Barnes and Noble $18.51 for it.

The cover price was $30.

Looks like Harper Collins is going to have to keep the book on sale through the next millennium to recoup the $700,000 they handed over to Cuomo as a bribe, er, advance for the book.

And let's not forget that they spent more money on the PR too - including "renting" Cuomo's donor list.

Alas, even Cuomo's political donors don't seem to want to buy the book.

Sales dropped 43 percent after Team Cuomo sold the list to Harper Collins.

On the plus side, Cuomo can commiserate with Christine Quinn about low book sales.

She too wrote a shiny little memoir back in 2013 before her mayoral run that nobody bought and fewer read.

NY Times Should Look At Cuomo's Common Core Commission For Interference Too

The NY Times takes a look at Cuomo's first Moreland Commission - the post-Sandy panel that studied the failures of the electric companies during Hurricane Sandy and finds the following:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has faced intense scrutiny in recent months, including an investigation by federal prosecutors, over his management of a commission that he created to root out corruption in New York politics, but prevented from examining his administration’s conduct and then prematurely shut down.
An analysis of Mr. Cuomo’s handling of an earlier investigative commission, which highlighted the failures of electric companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, reveals some of the same hallmarks: interference, efforts to shield his administration’s role and a sense that the governor had a clear idea at the outset of what the commission should conclude.

Gee - what a surprise that Cuomo tampered with his LIPA commission, had a pre-determined outcome for what he wanted from the commission and worked to shield just what a sham the commission was.

These were also the hallmarks of Cuomo's Common Core Commission:

Todd Hathaway, a teacher at East Aurora 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.

The 11-member panel—which included two state lawmakers—said the state should keep Common Core-based tests in grades 3-8 from appearing on a student’s transcript, while capping the amount of instructional time that can be spent on standardized tests.


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.”

Cuomo knew what he wanted from the Common Core panel before it ever met.

It was a sham panel, just the way his first Moreland Commission was a sham commission, with the "findings" of the panel already pre-determined by Cuomo's needs and wants, just the way his second Moreland Commission was a sham commission.

I've covered this before, but it bears repeating:

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.

Too bad the Times Editorial Board doesn't read its own new section before it issues endorsements.

Maybe Cuomo wouldn't have gotten theirs.

Cuomo Lashes Out US Attorney Investigating Him For Witness Tampering And Obstructing Justice

Take heart teachers of New York State - you're not the only figures Governor Andrew M. Cuomo lashed out at this week:

ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a televised phone interview that criticism of his handling of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is “a lot of political baloney,” and took a swipe at U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who inherited the commission's files and is investigating the circumstances of his demise.

“I don't know,” Cuomo told Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo, who has appeared as an M.C. at award ceremonies for state economic development funding, when asked about the ongoing probe.

After noting that he used to be a prosecutor, Cuomo said, “Prosecutors are a lot better at starting investigations. You don't very often hear about closed investigations. But whatever he thinks is right, is right.”

The insinuation from Cuomo here is that the investigation by Bharara into Cuomo's handling of the commission is also "political baloney," which is a nice way of Cuomo saying he thinks US Attorney Preet Bharara is full of shit.

Jimmy Vielkind, who wrote up the article for Capital NY, notes that Cuomo refuses to say whether he or any members of administration have been subpoenaed in the investigation.

Vielkind also notes that Cuomo, in the gentle, cradling hands of his friend Maria Bartiromo on Fox, offered a new rationale for why he shut down the Moreland Commission:

The governor repeated a new narrative of the commission, which was disbanded in April after legislators agreed to tighten campaign finance disclosure and enforcement, change the bribery statute and enact a pilot program of public campaign finance covering the state comptroller's election.

“It was shut down, Maria, because I said it was going to be shut down as soon as the Legislature passed the law that I was going to accept,” said Cuomo.

Vielkind dispenses with that narrative in his Capital NY piece:

While administration aides began quietly using the commission as a bargaining chip even before the December release of its preliminary report, Cuomo instead chose to emphasize the commission's independence in his public rhetoric. Cuomo introduced the idea that it was only a leverage-creating exercise only after reports that exposed his administration's management of the ostensibly independent entity.

A couple of things to say here:

First, Cuomo's lashing out more and more these days, at teachers, at federal prosecutors, that you have to think he's really feeling frustrated about the direction of his political career and life.

Second, while he can probably get away with lashing out at teachers (let's be honest - teacher bashing is a time-honored tradition for political demagogues and/or con men like Cuomo), I'm less convinced lashing out at the U.S. attorney is such a good idea.

Teachers can write nasty things about Cuomo on the Internet and perhaps put together a movement to try and oppose him in his coming assault on public schools.

But the U.S. attorney can indict him or those around him and make his next four years very, very uncomfortable.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cuomo Doubles Down On "Public Schools Are A Monopoly" Statement

Just in case you thought maybe the Daily News took Governor Cuomo out of context when they quoted him saying that public schools are a "monopoly" that he plans to "break" in his second term, there is this from today:

A firestorm ignited between several state public education advocacy groups and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over remarks he made to the New York Daily News editorial board published Monday—in which he threatened to “break” what he deemed “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” New York’s public school system—grew hotter Wednesday, with more groups joining in his criticism.

Cuomo vowed to offer competition to public schools in order to raise the bar on the current education system via an expansion of charter schools and punitive teacher evaluation systems if re-elected. He dismissed educators’ and parents’ concerns about tying teacher evaluations to standardized test scores—a practice that has come under enormous scrutiny since the botched roll-out of the Common Core curriculum two years ago.

Despite the initial backlash, Cuomo reiterated the controversial statements later that day during a tour of Mineola Middle School intended to showcase his Smart Schools Act proposal, which would provide up to $2 billion in tech funding for schools throughout the state if approved by public referendum on Nov. 4.

 “As governor, I’ve probably spent more of my time trying to change the education system than anything else,” Cuomo told reporters after a briefing on the funding plan. “Why? It is very hard to change the education system. When you think about it, it’s probably the single-largest public monopoly in the United States of America.”

There you have it - Cuomo has doubled down on the threat to "break" the public school monopoly in his next term.

The threat is real and it WILL happen unless parents, teachers and public school advocates mobilize to stop him.

Cuomo CAN be beaten in this fight - make no mistake about that.

But beating him will require a coordinated effort.

Remember that Wall Street, the corporate deformers and the corporate journalists will be with him in this fight.

Andrew Cuomo's Plans To Destroy New York State's Public Schools

After months of carefully not telling anybody what he planned to do in his second term as governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo let the cat out of the bag yesterday on education when he gave an interview to the New York Daily News editorial board in which he called the public school system a "monopoly" which he plans to "break" through "competition."

The "competition" Cuomo plans is to add as many charter schools as he can into the state, starve the public schools of funds so that he can give that money to the charter operators (many of whom are his donors) and add even more rules and regulations to the public school system that charter schools don't have to abide by.

There is a charter cap in New York that limits charter growth, a cap that charters are quickly coming up against.

Charter operators have talked for months about how they plan to have that cap increased or lifted completely and they've said Cuomo is just the man to give them what they want.

Charter operators have donated much money to Cuomo to curry favor with him, but Cuomo has already shown a desire to help them as much as he can.

Last spring, he backed Eva Moskowitz and the charter operators in a showdown with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio over co-locations, helping Moskowitz to put together a pro-charter rally in Albany at which he spoke, then pushing through new rules in the budget that force NYC to co-locate every future charter school or pay rent for private space for them.

Cuomo told the Daily News the following that indicates he will either increase the charter cap in the next budget or get rid of it completely:

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

That sure sounds like Cuomo wants to spur unfettered charter school growth in his next four years - and in Andrew Cuomo's New York State, that unfettered charter growth will come at the expense of public schools.

Funding is a zero sum game these days after Cuomo instituted a tax cap that limits how much money towns and cities can raise for public education.

When Cuomo forces his unfettered charter school growth plan on towns and cities across the state, the funds for those charters will come from the public school kitty - just as is happening in New York City where the NYCDOE is on the hook for the rent for all future charter schools.

So far, the city is paying millions of dollars for rent for two Eva Moskowitz charters - each student costs the city $18,000 in rent at these two charters.

That's on top of the money the city already provides Eva for educating those students - the total comes to nearly $32,000 a student.

That money comes directly from the public school kitty - those are funds public schools and public school kids could have had that Moskowitz now gets so she can pay herself $600,000 a year and spend millions on advertising and political donations.

Cuomo plans to take that zero sum funding game statewide next, forcing public schools to "compete" with charter schools for the funding and the students - even though the game is rigged in favor of the charters.

And boy is it ever rigged.

You see, charter don't have to abide by the same rules and regulations as public schools.

They can get rid of students they don't want at any time.

They don't have to take every student who applies.

When students leave charters, charters don't have to replace them with new students - this is why graduating classes at charters are vastly smaller than classes in the earlier grades.

Finally they don't have to live with the same regulations - charters, for example, are not subject to the same evaluation system Cuomo shoved on the public schools in the state, nor will they be subject to the revised edition he plans for the next term:

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

Cuomo in 2012 won enactment of a new system tying teacher performance to the Common Core curriculum testing results.

Schools are already struggling under a mess of an evaluation system that superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley say is worse than useless because it takes so much time and energy to implement but does little to improve teaching.

Cuomo plans to make that system worse for public schools - but not for charters, which don't have to abide by this system.

So there's his plan to destroy the public school system around the state.

I wrote earlier today that he CAN be stopped at this - he is weaker now than he has ever been as governor and political pressure can be mounted to oppose his plans.

But we have to start organizing now - tell as many people as you can about Cuomo's plans to destroy the public school system and replace it with a privatized charterized system so that we can mount huge opposition to him in the coming months.

Why Cuomo Can Be Beat In His Coming Assault On Public Education

At the end of Jeff Smith's entertaining and astute review of Andrew Cuomo's memoir comes this:

Ebola antics aside, Andrew Cuomo will win reelection comfortably next week, but he has almost never looked weaker, especially with an open federal investigation grinding away. And that’s a fact that he’ll have plenty of time to chew over during the months ahead, as he and Ms. Lee nibble on fresh, locally sourced home-cooked meals at the Governor’s Mansion for the next four years.

Under investigation by a federal prosecutor and publicly warned by the same federal prosecutor to stop tampering with that investigation.

A punchline on The Daily Show for his fumbling, stumbling Ebola response this past week.

Reviled by people on the left in the state, 34% of whom voted for Zephyr Teachout in September's primary - the highest total for any challenger to a sitting governor in a primary since the current system was first instituted.

Reviled by parents and educators for his education policies, many of whom are vowing to vote for one of Cuomo's two opponents next week - Republican Rob Astorino or Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

Cuomo attacked teachers and schools yesterday when he threatened to "break" the public school system and impose "more rigorous" teacher evaluations with "sanctions" on teachers already struggling under his nightmarish APPR evaluation system.

The NYSUT leadership waved a flag of surrender in the face of that attack.

The AFT and UFT response was muted as well.

So Cuomo's not going to get much pushback on his coming attacks from the union leaders.

But judging by the outrage I saw on the Internet and heard at school yesterday, he's going to get a lot from ordinary people.

And given all the other trouble Cuomo's got (and he's got trouble - his campaign has asked for helped from Bill Clinton this week on the campaign trail, suggesting his internal polling is showing a closer race than the public polls have so far shown), that pushback from ordinary people, teachers and parents, can stand for a lot.

This is NOT the Cuomo of the first term, with an 80% approval rating that allowed him to govern with a "My way or your roadkill" mentality.

This is the Cuomo under federal investigation, the Cuomo who groveled to the Working Families Party in May for their ballot line, then lost half the counties in the state in his primary anyway, the Cuomo who's become a punchline on TV and a punching bag in the newspapers.

This is the Cuomo so scared of his standing with the public that he attempted to look tough with his Ebola response and instead just looked weak and desperate.

This is the Cuomo in enough trouble in this election that he needs Bill Clinton to save him in the days before voting.

This is the Cuomo that CAN be beaten in a battle over education policy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cuomo's Attack Against Teachers, Public Schools Is A Direct Attack - Not A Distraction As NYSUT Prez Says

If you were expecting NYSUT to take off the gloves and fight against Governor Cuomo for declaring the public school system a "monopoly" which he plans to "break" in his second term, you will be disappointed by the statement NYSUT President Magee offered as retort to Cuomo:

“Public education is for the public good,” said NYSUT President Karen Magee in a statement. “It is not a monopoly. It is the centerpiece of our democracy and what makes our nation great. Reclaiming the promise of public education should be our singular focus. The governor’s comments are an unfortunate distraction from the serious conversation we must have in this state about addressing poverty, funding and real solutions that ensure that every child receives fair and equal to a high quality education.”

The governor's comments are an unfortunate distraction?

What the hell is Magee talking about?

The governor's comments are a DIRECT attack against the public school system and public school teachers by Governor Cuomo.

If President Magee thinks a direct attack is nothing more than a distraction, than she is even more clueless than I thought she was when she was first elected president of NYSUT.

We've been over this before, but I want to go over it again:

The various union leaders at the AFT, UFT and NYSUT have helped Cuomo out considerably these past four years.

The reason why NYSUT President Magee is NYSUT president is because UFT President Mulgrew and AFT President Weingarten launched a putsch against the old NYSUT leadership when it started to push back against Cuomo's attacks on teachers and schools.

The reason why Governor Cuomo doesn't have a third party candidate from the left battling him on the Working Families Party line next Tuesday is because the UFT leadership threatened the WFP with dissolution if Zephyr Teachout was given the ballot line.

One of the reasons why Governor Cuomo has his running mate, Kathy Hochul, running with him on Tuesday and not Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu, is because AFT President Randi Weingarten, along with NYC Mayor Bill de Blaiso, made robocalls before the primary in support of Hochul.

So Cuomo's gotten a lot of help from the leaders of the teachers unions and how does he repay that help?

With threats to "break" the public school "monopoly" and bring more "rigor" to his mess of a teacher evaluation system in his next term.

NYSUT supporters argue they got the governor to support a teacher evaluation safety net for teachers whose students take the Common Core exams, but the governor has yet to sign that bill into law, so in essence, the Revive NYSUT leadership has gotten NOTHING in any fight it has had with Governor Cuomo these past months (except for the double pension giveaway for the NYSUT leadership, as a commenter below points out.)

Now we have NYSUT President Magee calling Cuomo's direct attack on schools and teachers a "distraction" when it is anything but.

We are going to be in for a rough four years if and when Cuomo wins re-election because it's clear NYSUT leaders have no desire to take him on.

I'll have more later about the UFT and AFT leaderships, but suffice to say, they don't have any appetite to fight Cuomo either.

We're on our own, folks.

And Cuomo's coming for us.

Cuomo Vows To Break Public School "Monopoly" - I.E., To Privatize The Public School System

I posted this morning how Governor Cuomo has promised the Daily News editorial board that he will push for "more rigorous" teacher evaluations with "sanctions" in his second term - a threat he foreshadowed weeks ago when he said his APPR teacher evaluation system needs to be revised because the ratings aren't mirroring student passing rates on the state tests.

That wasn't the only change he has promised to enact in his second term.

He also plans to rid the state of the "monopoly" that public schools enjoy:

ALBANY — Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

You can expect Cuomo to push for an increase in the charter school cap - or perhaps an end to the cap completely.

Cuomo loves charter schools (and the money their supporters provide him) - and they love him in return.

For a while now charter school entrepreneurs have been saying they plan an assault on the charter cap next budget session.

Cuomo's saying he is not only on board with that, he wants to go further and end the "monopoly" public schools have.

A commenter at the Daily News story on Cuomo's threats against teachers and schools notes that public schools are not a "monopoly" like Cuomo says they are - they are public institutions run for the public good.

Taking on the "monopoly" of public schools is like taking on the "monopoly" of the MTA or the water company says the commenter:

Cuomo “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

So what about the MTA arent they a monopoly or the water company, National Grid etc.

Let's use the Charter school model for the MTA I plan on petitioning the state for the opportunity to run the #4 train but only in Manhattan (most profitable section) I will force the MTA to give me the subway cars and track maintenance for free because I am a public entity with the expenses only. I will then hire people without union benefits to operate my line while getting a stipend from the city and pocket the profits by paying myself a six figure management fee.

Charters pick and choose their students, they get rid of the ones they don't want, they don't replace their numbers after attrition, the city is now on the hook for either finding them space or paying their rent - and now Cuomo wants to give them even more advantages in the next term.

If the charter cap is eliminated, charter school growth will look like cancer rates in Russia after Chernobyl - SUNY has never said no to any charter application.

What Cuomo is essentially saying in this interview with the DN editors is that he plans the end of the public school system as we know it.

I'll strategize out the fighting on this in coming posts, but suffice to say for now, the key strategy is to keep Cuomo's numbers low next Tuesday.

The lower the vote totals Cuomo has on Election Night, the less juice he has to push this stuff through.

He's had a rough couple of months, first over the Moreland mess, with a federal prosecutor publicly admonishing him to stop tampering in his investigation of Cuomo's tampering with the Moreland Commission, now with the mess he has made with the state's Ebola protocols.

He won his primary against Zephyr Teachout, but it was the lowest total ever for a sitting governor in a primary since the current system was instituted in the 70's.

Cuomo is vulnerable to public pressure and politics these days, unlike throughout much of the first term when he called most of the shots.

Parents, teachers, administrators, advocates for public education, and anybody else who cares for public schools are going to have to join together in this next term to beat back Cuomo's privatization plans for public schools and his destruction plan for the teaching profession.

And we can do it - but it starts by holding his totals down on Election Day.

Daily News: Cuomo Declares War On Teachers, Public Schools

I thought this would happen.

Last week after reading through Andrew Cuomo's 245 page policy pronouncements for his second term, I got the feeling that we were going to see a re-do of Cuomo's vaunted APPR teacher evaluation system.

Cuomo had complained in the past that not enough teachers were being rated "developing" or "ineffective" in their evaluations.

In his policy pronouncement book, Cuomo bragged about APPR, claiming it was one of the best evaluation systems in the nation, but did say that New York has "the opportunity to strengthen teacher and principal evaluations" in his next term anyway.

That sounded like a threat to me.

I wrote that

Cuomo is saying publicly that APPR is a great success, but to make it more successful, it will need to be "strengthened " (i.e., made to more closely mirror student test score results.)

Meanwhile superintendents in the Lower Hudson Valley are saying the test components of the system are so broken that administrators have to rate teachers as high as they can on subjective measures to ensure they don't get low ratings they don't deserve because SED's algorithms suck.

We've got a fight coming in the next term over this awful evaluation system.

As bad as it is now, Cuomo wants to make it worse.

Today the Daily News confirms that threat:

ALBANY — Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

Cuomo in 2012 won enactment of a new system tying teacher performance to the Common Core curriculum testing results.

The implementation of some of those standards was delayed for two years earlier this year in recognition of the sloppy roll-out of the Common Core program.

Cuomo accused teachers of having tried to torpedo the Common Core curriculum in fighting the evaluation standards — and expects they will again.

“They will be using it the way they used it, I believe — to get the parents upset last year about this entire Common Core agenda,” he said.

There you have it - "a more rigorous evaluation system" with "sanctions."

More charter schools.

That's his plans for the second term.

And the tone - the disdain he has for teachers and public schools.

It speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Tell me again why the AFT, UFT and NYSUT helped him out by fighting Zephyr Teachout at the Working Families Party convention?

Tell me again why AFT President Weingarten helped him out by robocalling for his running mate?

The one saving grace we have this time around is that he is under investigation by a US attorney for witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

He has been weakened by Moreland, further weakened by the stupidity he has pulled the last few days over the Ebola protocols.

Also, he is struggling to put together a convincing win on Election day - his support numbers are soft and while I expect him to win, it won't be by the same margin as the first time around.

So he won't have the same juice in the second term that he had in the first and he CAN be beaten on these issues.

Nonetheless a fight is coming - Cuomo has declared war here and he plans on destroying the public school system and the teaching profession.

Time to go to the barricades - with or without the union leadership.

NY Times: Christie And Cuomo Are Buffoons

Governors Christie and Cuomo talked tough on Friday when announcing their new mandatory 21 day quarantine policy for anybody who had come in contact with someone infected with the Ebola virus.

But Monday that tough talk was in tatters, with both governors having walked back the policies while claiming they hadn't.

Kate Zenike and Thomas Kaplan have a devastating summary of the Christie/Cuomo journey from tough to tatters in the NY Times this morning:

Shifting stances and a lack of clear standards from the governors of New York and New Jersey over their Ebola quarantine policy left critics and even some allies questioning on Monday whether the two men had fully worked through the details before they announced it.


Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that they were imposing their strict new mandatory quarantine because standards from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been inadequate.

But on Monday, faced with criticism from the nurse who had been detained in Newark as the test case of the new quarantine, Mr. Christie said the C.D.C. — not New Jersey — had been responsible for hospitalizing her and giving her the Ebola test in the first place.

By Monday, the White House, the United Nations secretary general and civil-liberties groups, with varying degrees of anger, were accusing Mr. Christie and Mr. Cuomo of putting politics ahead of science, at the risk of deterring health care workers needed to treat the disease at its origin in Africa.

The governors, who recently appeared side by side to declare their resolve and strategy against the Islamic State, said on Friday that they needed clear policy to combat hysteria. But three days of apparent reversals — though both governors said there had been none — only helped to fan public confusion. (A re-released, but inaccurate, transcript compounded matters.)

The Times journalists report that health officials in both New Jersey and New York have gotten no guidance from the governors on how to carry out the new policies.

They also report that Governor Cuomo's PR flak sent a transcript of the Friday Cuomo/Christie presser that was edited to make it sound like Cuomo's Monday policy shift (quarantees could stay at home) was what the governor had intended overall.

When the Times noted the transcript was edited for inaccuracy, the Cuomo PR flak said the "omissions" in the transcript were a mistake.

Christie and Cuomo wanted to look tough and decisive with this Ebola policy.

They wanted it to be a master stroke of political maneuvering, which is why they announced it on Friday without giving any heads up to anybody in the various municipal or federal agencies who would be helping to carry out the protocols, let lone their fellow politicians.

But as I first thought on Friday when I heard these two clowns talk tough at their press conference, they put the politics before the policy and had no plan to carry out their tough talk.

I've said a couple of times on Twitter that these two schmucks can't get the PATH to run right, how can they put together a complex quarantine policy overnight without the help of health officials?

And the reality was, they couldn't.

Health officials are still waiting for the policy details from both Christie and Cuomo.

Maybe the public only pays attention to the tough talk part and the poll numbers of both men rise as a result of this fiasco.

That's possible - there's a lot of fear out there over Ebola and I could see many people supporting Christie and Cuomo on this.

But if you're really paying attention to what these two men did, you have seen them exposed as buffoons who put their political careers over the public's health and did it rather ineptly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cuomo Says People Under Ebola Quarantine Should Read His Book

Governor Narcissist returns to his favorite subject - himself:

Gov. Cuomo downplayed the burden of following the mandatory 21 day quarantine he ordered for returning Ebola health workers - and joked they should pick up his new book as a way to pass the time.
"I'm asking those people who were in contact with infected people - stay at home for 21 days. We will pay. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your kids. Enjoy your friends,” Cuomo said. “Read a book. Read my book. You don't have to read my book. But stay at home for 21 days.”

Yeah, he was joking about reading his book.

The part that seems like a joke but isn't is this:

He's quarantining people who have had contact with people who have contracted Ebola but allowing family and friends to come and go to see the potentially-infected quarantee.

Doesn't that kinda undercut the whole effectiveness part of the quarantine?

Doesn't this seem not just another half-assed Cuomo policy, ill-conceived, ill-thought out, ill-carried out?

Cuomo's Ebola Quarantine Eerily Similar To The State's Common Core Roll-Out

A commenter at Perdido Street School writes the following about Andrew's Cuomo Ebola quarantine policy that kept shifting over the weekend:

This policy roll out seems in the vein as the Common Core Rollout. No Plan, No Research, No Officials of the Medical Community. Common Core Roll Out- No Research, No Plan, No Officials of the Education Community.

Like his education policies, Cuomo's public health policies are driven by political caluclations and political calculations only.

So why bother consulting with experts?

Is anybody more expert in what Andrew Cuomo needs than Andrew Cuomo?

Cuomo Throws Christie Under The Bus

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been tossing a lot of people under the bus lately.

After holding a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday night to reassure New Yorkers over Ebola, he threw de Blasio under the bus Friday afternoon when he held a press conference with Chris Christie to announce stringent new mandatory quarantine rules for anybody who had come in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.

The NY Times noted the "public rift" that had developed between city officials and Cuomo, with unnamed city sources saying Cuomo had not alerted anybody in the city about the sudden change in state protocol for Ebola.

That was Friday.

Then came Saturday, with Governor Chris Christie setting up "Gitmo on the Passaic" for a nurse returning from Sierra Leone who had worked with Ebola patients and forcing her into a mandatory quarantine in a tent outside Newark University Hospital even though she showed no signs of the Ebola virus.

The nurse, Kaci Hickox, wrote a scathing critique of the New Jersey Ebola protocol, saying it was characterized by "fear," "chaos," and "disorganization," and retaining counsel to sue the state over civil rights violations.

Christie got hammered in the press over the weekend for the treatment of Ms. Hickox, but refused to back down from his mandatory quarantine of her, falsely claiming that she was "ill" and needed to be held by the state of New Jersey until it could be determined what she was ill from.

Cuomo, seeing the hammer job being done to his pal Christie across the state and taking a load of flak from the Obama administration for putting in place a stringent new Ebola quarantine protocol that was ill-thought out and seen to be a barrier against recruiting future volunteers to battle the Ebola crisis in West Africa, suddenly shifted course last night and held a joint press conference with Bill de Blasio to announce more details of the state's protocol:

Facing fierce resistance from the White House and medical experts to a strict new mandatory quarantine policy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Sunday night that medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa but did not show symptoms of the disease would be allowed to remain at home and would receive compensation for lost income.

Mr. Cuomo’s decision capped a frenzied weekend of behind-the-scenes pleas from administration officials, who urged him and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to reconsider the mandatory quarantine they had announced on Friday. Aides to President Obama also asked other governors and mayors to follow a policy based on science, seeking to stem a steady movement toward more stringent measures in recent days at the state level.

It was the second striking shift in Mr. Cuomo’s public posture on the Ebola crisis in 72 hours; after urging calm on Thursday night, then joining Mr. Christie to highlight the risks of lax policy on Friday, Mr. Cuomo on Sunday night appeared to try to dial back his rhetoric and stake out a middle ground.

He said his decision balanced public safety with the need to avoid deterring medical professionals from volunteering in West Africa. “My No. 1 job is to protect the people of New York, and this does that,” he said. Those quarantined at home will be visited twice a day by local authorities, he said. Family members will be allowed to stay, and friends may visit with the approval of health officials.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, sitting beside Mr. Cuomo at a news conference in Manhattan, nodded in approval, and praised the governor for developing a set of flexible quarantine guidelines that, the mayor said, would show proper respect to those required to abide by them.

After Mr. Cuomo’s announcement, Mr. Christie issued a statement saying that, under protocols announced on Wednesday, New Jersey residents not displaying symptoms would also be allowed to quarantine in their homes.

What else to say here but Cuomo tossed his pal Christie under the bus just two days after tossing his "old friend" Bill de Blasio under the bus.

And this wasn't the first shift in Cuomo's stance on Ebola this weekend either.

On Saturday he made a statement saying he didn't think his quarantine was legally enforceable, then backtracked on that statement Sunday morning, saying he did think it was enforceable (see here.)

Here's how some on Twitter put the weekend shifts in protocol from Cuomo:

Cuomo wanted to come out of this looking tough and decisive. 

Clearly he and Christie wanted to draw a sharp contrast between how New York and New Jersey were going to handle Ebola cases and how the federal government has been handling them.

There were political calculations behind all of this for both Cuomo and Christie, with Cuomo running for re-election in 2014 and Christie running for president in 2016.

But they announced a stringent new Ebola quarantine that they couldn't actually carry out well and so, in the end, instead of looking tough and decisive, they both look like putzs who have played politics with the public's health.

In addition, Cuomo looks even more expedient than usual, with New Yorkers getting to see him throw two different "friends" under the bus in one weekend.

One last point - the guy who looks the best in all of this is de Blasio, who never shifted policy or rhetoric and has remained constant in how he has handled the crisis.

It has been an extraordinary four days of policy shifts, dueling press conferences and betrayals by Governor Cuomo.

As Seema Kalia noted on Twitter, he managed to come out of these four days looking both evil AND weak.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chris Christie Sets Up Gitmo On The Passaic For His Ebola Quarantine Victims

Imagine you are a health care professional thinking about going to West Africa to help with the Ebola outbreak.

Imagine you will be flying out of and into Newark Airport for your trip.

Imagine this is what awaits you - a mandatory quarantine when you get back:

On Sunday both governors, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, stood by their decisions, saying that the current federal guidelines did not go far enough.

At the same time, the first person to be forced into isolation under the new protocols, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone, planned to mount a legal challenge to the quarantine order. Despite having no symptoms, she has been kept under quarantine at a hospital in New Jersey, where she has been confined to a tent equipped with a portable toilet and no shower. On Sunday, she spoke to CNN about the way she has been treated, describing it as “inhumane.”

Ms. Hickox spoke out about her treatment in her interview with CNN on Sunday, saying that officials still have not told her what they plan to do next or why they are isolating her since she poses no public health risk as long as she remains asymptomatic.
She also blasted Mr. Christie for saying that she was sick, when it was clear that she did not have a fever and had tested negative for Ebola.
“The first thing I would say to Governor Christie is that I wish he would be more careful about his statements about my medical condition,” she said from inside the medical tent where she has been quarantined since Friday night. “If he knew anything about Ebola, he would know that asymptomatic people are not infectious.”
“I also want to be treated with compassion and humanity, and I don’t feel I’ve been treated that way in the past three days,” she said in the interview. “I think this is an extreme that is really unacceptable. I feel like my basic human rights have been violated.”
Ms. Hickox has retained a well-known civil rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, to challenge the quarantine order and get her out of isolation. In an interview on Sunday, he said the order “raised substantial civil liberties issues.”

She should sue Christie personally.

Let's run through the facts again:

Christie has her isolated in a tent outside the hospital.

There's no shower but there is a Porta Potty.

She's being detained there even though she has shown no signs of infection.

Christie plans to keep her there for at least 21 days.

No word on whether he plans to waterboard her.

New York has instituted a similar mandatory quarantine, other states are following suit.

Imagine again that you are a health care professional looking to help out in West Africa with the Ebola crisis.

Are you going to go knowing when you come back you will be treated like a criminal?

Cuomo Admits His Mandatory Ebola Quarantine Is Toothless And Unenforceable (UPDATE - 11:58 AM)

UPDATE - 11:58 AM: Perhaps realizing how ridiculous he looks after instituting a mandatory quarantine that he says won't be enforced, Cuomo now says his quarantine plan is enforceable:

In a radio interview on Sunday morning, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that it was important to be able to compel people to monitor themselves under the force of law.

“If you had someone who didn’t want to cooperate, you can enforce it legally, there’s no doubt about that,” he said on Radio 103.9, adding that it was “highly unlikely” that a health care worker returning from the affected West Africa nations would object.

Highly unlikely that a health care worker returning from West Africa won't want to cooperate with the mandatory quarantine?

The first case - the nurse currently being detained by Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey - doesn't want to cooperate with it.

You can bet there will be somebody in New York who will feel the same way.

What will Cuomo do then?

ORIGINAL POST: Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie talked tough during their Friday press conference when they announced a mandatory quarantine for anybody coming through either JFK or Newark airports who had worked with or had contact with Ebola patients.

As soon as they made the announcement, skeptics of the plan (including myself) began asking, "Where do they get the authority to detain people at the airport?  How will they force people without symptoms into a quarantine if they don't want to be quarantined?"

Another criticism of the plan was the lack of clarity and details - just where would they keep the people who had been caught up in the Cuomo/Christie mandatory quarantine?

I blogged on Friday that it seemed like Christie and Cuomo had made their "tough new protocol" announcement well before they actually had the plan in place to carry that protocol out.

Today it sounds like that's exactly what happened.

The Daily News reports this morning Governor Cuomo has admitted he has no idea how the mandatory quarantine will be carried out or enforced:

Gov. Cuomo acknowledged his tough quarantine policy for health-care workers returning from West Africa was somewhat toothless and possibly unenforceable.

“Could you have a hostile person who doesn’t want to be quarantined?” the governor asked Saturday during a campaign swing through Queens. “I suppose you could. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”
The governor said officials had never considered whether people refusing to go along with the order could face prosecution or arrest.

“It’s nothing that we’ve discussed, no,” he said.

Pressed on where the passengers would spend their 21-day quarantine, Cuomo made it sound almost voluntary.

“Some people could be quarantined in a hospital if they wanted to be,” he suggested.

Perhaps Cuomo has learned a lesson from what's happening in Chris Christie's New Jersey.

A nurse who had worked with Ebola patients in West Africa was detained at Newark Airport and put into a mandatory quarantine at Newark University Hospital even though she says she has exhibited no symptoms of the Ebola virus.

The nurse wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News in which she said the mandatory quarantine protocol was characterized by fear and disorganization, that New Jersey officials had no idea what they were doing.

Governor Christie, politicking in Iowa, falsely claimed on Saturday that the nurse was ill when he was called to defend his order to quarantine her.

Christie, under attack over the illegal detention and subject to legal action by the nurse, has not backed down - she is still under mandatory detention in Newark.

But Cuomo now seems to be saying that he won't do the same in New York if a person comes through JFK who doesn't want to be quarantined.

There appears to be daylight between Cuomo and Christie on Sunday where there was none on Friday.

As soon as Cuomo and Christie announced their mandatory policy on Friday, I thought they were playing politics with the Ebola crisis - particularly because Cuomo had taken pains on Thursday night to tamp down fears over Ebola in NYC.

With Cuomo now admitting his mandatory quarantine will be toothless and unenforceable in New York, it becomes quite clear that was the case.

Is there anything more despicable than politicians playing electoral politics with a public health crisis?

Are there any politicians in this country more despicable than Chris Christie or Andrew Cuomo?

These two clowns - who can't get the PATH trains to run well, btw - tried to ride the wave of fear and anxiety many are feeling over Ebola by putting in place an ill-conceived, ill-thought out mandatory quarantine plan.

Cuomo And Christie Play Politics With Ebola

If there was any doubt Christie and Cuomo are playing politics with their mandatory Ebola quarantine in New Jersey and New York, this should dispense with those doubts:

A mandatory quarantine imposed by New York and New Jersey on health care workers who came into contact with Ebola victims in West Africa blindsided many local and federal health officials, according o a report.

"They're not happy," a federal official told CNN regarding the federal Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. "These two governors said, 'Take this, federal government.' They're very worried we won't be able to get physicians or nurses to go (to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak)."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced the quarantine Friday a day after Dr. Craig Spencer - a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders - tested positive for the disease.

A New York City official also told the news agency the announcement was a "real stunner."
"They did this without consulting the city, and that's not a good thing," the official said of the two governors. "They didn't let anyone know in advance."

Why would Cuomo and Christie announce a major shift in Ebola protocol without consulting with any other agency - municipal or federal - before that announcement?

Because this decision was based on political calculations, not the health and welfare of the people of New York and New Jersey.

Cuomo wants to respond to criticism from his gubernatorial opponent, Rob Astorino, that he isn't handling the Ebola crisis well by showing how tough he can be.

Cuomo also wants to raise his national profile (which he has been doing, appearing on all the morning shows) for a potential presidential run in the future.

Christie is politicking in Iowa even now as I write - he's ostensibly there as head of the Republican Governors Association, but he's really there as a precursor to a 2016 run for the White House.

He too wants to look tough in his Ebola response, contrast that "toughness" with the response of the Obama administration, and ride that during a presidential bid.

On Friday when they first announced the mandatory new quarantine, questions were already raised about the legality and practicality of the protocol.

By yesterday, Cuomo had already walked back some of Friday's tough talk as he watched his pal Christie get beaten up for detaining a nurse not showing any symptoms of Ebola who had flown into Newark after working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone.

In some strange way, these two clowns may have screwed themselves politically with their masterful Ebola quarantine surprise announcement on Friday.

Maybe if they'd checked with municipal and federal officials before they announced the change in protocol, they could have figured out a way to force the federal government's hand in instituting a more stringent protocol for medical professionals coming back from working with Ebola patients.

Instead they made headlines of their own on Friday and have been on the defense since.

In the end, instead of seeing their poll numbers and profile rise as a result of their "tough new Ebola quarantine protocol," they may become victims of their own arrogance and hubris.

Let's hope - because this surprise quarantine announcement, made without consulting any other agency or entity involved in tackling the crisis or without a proper plan to carry it out put into place, is a disaster that is going to harm more people than it helps.

It was a political stunt, pure and simple, no different than Cuomo showing up in Afghanistan unannounced to "fight terrorism."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Governor Christie Falsely Claims Nurse He Has Illegally Detained Is Sick

The NY Times details just how bad things have gotten in the first quarantine of the vaunted new Christie/Cuomo Ebola protocol:

A nurse who was being quarantined at a New Jersey hospital after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone criticized her treatment on Saturday as an overreaction after an initial test found that she did not have the virus.


She described being held in isolation for about seven hours at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday, left alone for long stretches and given only a granola bar when she said she was hungry.

Ms. Hickox, 33, was placed in quarantine under a new policy announced on Friday by the governors of New York and New Jersey. All people entering the United States through Newark Liberty and Kennedy Airports will now be quarantined for 21 days if they had direct contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, even if they show no symptoms of infection.

On Friday night, New Jersey health officials said the nurse had developed a fever after arriving, but on Saturday, they said her blood had tested negative for Ebola. Additional tests will be conducted.
Ms. Hickox disputed that she had had a fever. She wrote that at the airport, a forehead scanner showed her temperature to be 101, but that came after four hours during which she had not been allowed to leave.

“My cheeks were flushed, I was upset at being held with no explanation,” she wrote. “The female officer looked smug. ‘You have a fever now,’ she said.”

She was eventually escorted by eight police cars to University Hospital in Newark and taken to a tent outside the building. An oral thermometer showed her temperature to be 98, she wrote.
She added that the doctor felt her neck and rechecked the temperature. “ ‘There’s no way you have a fever,’ he said. ‘Your face is just flushed.’ ”
Her complaints served as a broadside against the new quarantine policy, which goes further than recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Governor Christie isn't in New Jersey - he's in Iowa, running for freaking president.

But he claims Ms. Hickox needs to held because she is "ill":

Asked about the nurse’s essay while visiting Iowa, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, “My heart goes out to her because she’s someone who has been trying to help others and is obviously ill.”

“I’m sorry if in any way she was inconvenienced but inconvenience that could occur from having folks that are symptomatic and ill out amongst the public is a much, much greater concern of mine,” he continued. “I hope she recovers quickly, and we’re going to do everything we can in New Jersey and in our public health system to make sure that she does.” 

In a telephone interview on Saturday night, Ms. Hickox’s father, Leon Hickox, said that his daughter “is not ill in any way.”

Folks, this is scary stuff - the governors of New York and New Jersey have decided they can illegally detain travelers who they believe have had contact with Ebola patients whether these travelers show any symptoms of having the virus or not, then lie about their condition when called to account by the press.

Ms. Hickox needs to challenge Christie in court:

If Ms. Hickox was asymptomatic, said Udi Ofer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, he would have serious questions about the legality of her quarantine.

“Mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no symptoms and when not medically necessary raises serious constitutional concerns about the state abusing its police powers,” Mr. Ofer said.

Authoritarians like Christie and Cuomo love crises like Ebola because they get to expand their powers exponentially from what they were before, all in the cause of keeping the public "safe."

Make no mistake, that's what's going on here.

The governors and of New York and New Jersey have just declared they have the right to illegally detain travelers through Port Authority airports.

You can bet if this outrageous expansion of power is not challenged, governors in the future will use it to detain all sorts of people who have nothing to do with Ebola or Ebola patients, all in the name of keeping the public "safe."

If we learned anything after 9/11, the Patriot Act and the Iraq war, it's that all sorts of constitutional rights go away in the name of "public safety."