Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merryl Tisch To Andrew Cuomo: Let's Fire More Teachers, Raise Charter Cap In New York City

Clearly Regents Chancellor Tisch, acting NYSED Commissioner Beth Berlin and Governor Cuomo are all on the same page when it comes to next year's education reform agenda.

Here are the details of Tisch's reply to Cuomo's letter earlier this month asking about education reform issues to pursue this next legislative session:

The letter from Chancellor Merryl Tisch , who heads the New York Board of Regents, was also signed by Beth Berlin, who will become acting commissioner of the State Education Department on Jan. 3. It urged lawmakers to:
  • Expedite cases to dismiss teachers, by replacing the group of independent contractors who hear these cases with a new state office to do so. This would give the state more control over who decides these cases and limit expensive delays, the letter said. Now unions and district officials must agree on the choice of arbitrators.
  • Change the burden of proof in a dismissal case so that a teacher with two consecutive poor ratings is presumed incompetent.
  • Extend the time it takes to get tenure to five years. Now it usually takes three years of acceptable service.
  • Make teacher evaluations more stringent and consistent statewide by reducing certain measures in them that are negotiated by districts through collective bargaining.
  • Continue mayoral control of New York City schools after it expires in June.
  • Raise the cap on the number of charter schools.
  • Add more money to grant programs that boost the pay of talented teachers who take on leadership roles, or work in high-poverty schools or hard-to-staff subjects.
  • Enable districts to come up with compensation plans that reward excellence. Unions generally back salary scales that increase pay by longevity.
  • Give the state more power to restructure, and in some cases replace, chronically failing schools. One idea is appointing a receiver to take charge.

The details around the charter cap in Tisch's letter go like this:

More later.

Cuomo Says His Education Reform Agenda Will Be 2015 Priority

When he says education will be a priority in 2015, he means this:

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.”

In short, Cuomo stayed true to his promise to destroy New York public schools.

Dunno about you, but that's how I read a statement the statement that he plans to "break" the public school "monopoly."

The fight is on.

Merryl Tisch Wants To Increase Test Score Component In APPR Teacher Evaluation System To 40%

This news is not a surprise:

Ms. Tisch said in a phone interview Tuesday that she and Mr. King planned to propose several changes to the state’s teacher evaluation system, including creating a more efficient process for firing teachers who receive two consecutive ineffective ratings.

They will also propose doubling the weight of state or district tests in the ratings, to 40 percent of the overall score, which Ms. Tisch said would actually reduce the amount of testing in schools. Currently, 20 percent of the ratings are based on those tests. Another 20 percent are based on additional tests created as a result of negotiation between local districts and their unions, tests that could be eliminated with the change.

Because of those 20 points, what happened was you got an increase in testing and an increase in focus on testing in these districts,” Ms. Tisch said.

Sixty percent of each rating is based on subjective measures, like principals’ evaluations, which in many districts were overwhelmingly favorable to teachers. Ms. Tisch said she and Mr. King would also propose changes to the scoring of principal evaluations.

I thought Tisch would look to do that - increase the test component to 40% and argue that doing so will actually "decrease" the amount of testing in the state's schools.

Here, of course, is the rub of all of that:

Any significant changes would have to be approved by the Legislature. The teachers’ unions, which have fought to limit the influence of testing, have support in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, and even some Republicans have been wary of the use of Common Core tests.

This is partly why there is now an attack on Assembly Speaker Silver, leaks to the NY Times about a federal probe into Silver by US Attorney Preet Bharara's office and such.

The monied interests have an enormous investment in destroying the public education system and breaking the teachers unions in New York State - they think that moment is now.

The only thing standing in the way of Andrew Cuomo getting to "break" the public education system as he promised to do before the election is Sheldon Silver and the Assembly Democrats.

John Flanagan has already signaled that Senate Republicans will go along with Cuomo's reform plans - including imposing a statewide APPR system.

The monied interests are looking to destroy Silver this legislative session and force through their school privatization and union busting plans.

Tisch's statements to the Times demonstrate just how far-reaching those plans will be.

In one piece of good news today, the Times-Union reports that Silver's expected demise may not come as planned.

I'll have more on that story later.

Suffice to say for now that Tisch, King and Cuomo are going to push a coordinated attack on public schools and teachers before King slinks off to his next gig and Silver and the Assembly Dems are all that stand between them and their goal.

When It Comes To Andrew Cuomo, There's A Lot To Protest

NYSUT is holding a protest demonstration outside the governor's mansion in Albany today:

The demonstration is ostensibly a protest against Cuomo's veto of the teacher evaluation "safety net" bill Cuomo himself had pushed prior to the election to shield teachers from Common Core test scores in their APPR evaluation ratings.

Cuomo made a deal with NYSUT over the "safety net" late in the spring, but never signed the bill into law.

Like many "deals" Cuomo has made lately (like the one he made with Working Families Party to push for a Democratic-controlled State Senate in return for the WFP ballot line), Cuomo had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain - that's why he never signed the "safety net" bill into law.

Cuomo waited until the end of the legislative session to veto the bill, using the mysteriously delayed release of the statewide APPR teacher evaluation ratings by NYSED as the excuse for the veto - he said so few teachers had been found "ineffective" by the APPR system that the "safety net" bill was not needed.

This veto came two days after Cuomo vetoed a Port Authority reform bill that had passed four houses in two different state legislatures, 612-0, that would have brought historic and much needed change to the way the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates.

The PA has a budget larger than 26 states, but no accountability or transparency to the citizens of either state - it is entirely controlled by the NY and NJ governors.

Cuomo and his pal in crime and corruption, Governor Chris Christie, met last Tuesday to hatch a plan to veto the Port Authority reform bill and push their own "faux" reform that some astute observers believe has no chance to ever be enacted into law.

Cuomo, knowing that he would take a political hit for vetoing the PA reform bill, tried to hide the veto by issuing it on Saturday night during Christmas weekend, a time when few would be paying attention to politics.

Even more damning, when Cuomo released a press statement on Saturday night about the "faux reforms" he and Christie were pushing for the Port Authority, he hid the news of his PA reform bill veto in the last paragraph of the press release - so deep down in the statement that NY 1 staff couldn't figure out if he had actually vetoed the legislation or not.

How's that for a profile in political courage from Andrew Cuomo?

While Cuomo and Christie were hatching this plan to maintain the PA as their personal fiefdom and piggy bank, Cuomo was also planning to veto a bill that would extend tax credits to remediate toxic waste sites.

This tax credit extension veto, like the "safety net" bill veto, was a reversal of course, since Cuomo had said six months before that he would approve the extension while pushing for "reforms" to the program in the next legislative session.

It's an amazing amount of damage that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has done to the State of New York (and New Jersey, for that matter) in the course of just a few days time.

He has broken promises twice - once to teachers over the "safety net" bill, once to citizens of New York over the environmental clean-up tax credit extension - and has destroyed reform legislation for the Port Authority that was passed 612-0 by legislators in two states and pushed his own "faux" reform plan that has little chance to pass.

He has tried to hide his dirty deeds by pulling them at the end of the year, between Christmas and New Years, when many people are engaged with family and not paying attention to the political landscape, but teachers were paying attention and they intend to let Cuomo know it today at the Executive Mansion when Cuomo holds his annual New Years Eve Open House.

This is the right strategy - to take Cuomo on directly.

The only way to deal with a criminal and a bully like Andrew Cuomo is to take him on, right to his face, and keep on taking him on.

Cuomo does not understand compromise (he views it as weakness), his promises are worthless (as we have seen demonstrated twice in the last week alone) and he will never do the right thing for the citizens of the State of New York unless he is forced to do it by political pressure.

Cuomo himself indicated this when he said it was the constant badgering and haranguing by anti-fracking protesters that helped bring about the anti-fracking ban in New York State.

There's a terrific lesson in how the anti-fracking movement pushed Cuomo on the issue and made him do the right thing.

Cuomo feared the anti-fracking protesters and in the end, after years of being followed all around the state by anti-frackers with placards and signs, ceded ground on that issue.

If parents and teachers mount protests against Andrew Cuomo again and again, wherever he appears, hitting him on his hypocrisy over Common Core, over the Endless Testing regime he is pursuing in this state, over the evaluation system that causes so much of the overtesting to begin with, over his deliberately underfunding many school districts while the state imposes more and more mandates on them, and over his taking millions from charter school advocates and operators and pushing to greatly expand charter schools around the state, you will see an Andrew Cuomo in fear, an Andrew Cuomo on his heels, and Andrew Cuomo shrinking from the fight - just as you did in the fracking battle.

Andrew Cuomo is a bully and the only way to handle a bully is to stand up to him directly in a fight.

Today's anti-Cuomo protest at the Executive Mansion in Albany is ostensibly about Cuomo's veto of the "safety net" bill, but it's really about so much else too - his attacks on the public education system, his disdain for parents and teachers, his promotion of the Common Core and testing (even as he claims to be on the side of parents on this issue), his advocating for charter schools as he sucks up millions in charter school supporters campaign donations, his criminality and corruption.

When it comes to Andrew Cuomo, there's a lot to protest - so have at it, folks.

It's #CallOutCuomo time.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

LoHud Editorial: What Really Needs To Be Done To Fix New York's Teacher Evaluation System

The LoHud editorial board nailed the APPR teacher evaluation sham Cuomo's pushing in this editorial that just went up.

Here's the crux:

If Cuomo really wants to improve teacher evaluations, he should stop talking about the results. That's the easy part.

Instead, Cuomo needs to address the complex questions raised by school districts about the inner workings of the state-imposed system. Are ratings tied to test scores accurate? Have school districts been able to accurately measure the progress of students who don't take standardized tests? Do classroom observations provide useful feedback for teachers and districts? Does the system really help districts fire bad teachers? Is anyone reviewing the effectiveness of the overall system?

Fixing the system matters. Its rushed implementation alienated teachers and school districts, which hurt school morale and got the "reform" era off to an awful start.

If Cuomo really wants to repair a flawed evaluation system, he and legislative leaders need to listen to the myriad of complaints from New Rochelle to Rochester, involve educators in a thorough review, and produce an evaluation system that is tough, fair and informative. That's one way to help kids. In the meantime, he should give teachers the safety net he promised.

Cuomo's not interested in a fair evaluation system, he's not interested in listening to teachers or administrators for input, and he's certainly not interested in making the public education system work better.

He's interested in scapegoating teachers and public schools, using the Common Core tests as a bludgeon to prove why teachers and public schools suck, and do the work his hedge fundie donors want - privatize the school system so that they can cash in.

That's what this whole evaluation fight is about.

Kudos to the LoHud editorial board for telling Cuomo (and the public) what Cuomo ought to be doing to fix things.

When Will Teachers Union Leaders Stop Trusting Andrew Cuomo?

NYSUT's press release/reaction to Cuomo's veto of the teacher evaluation shield law:

The governor reneged on an agreement. With this veto, the governor has decided that teachers are the only ones who should be held accountable for the state’s failed implementation of the Common Core. We can’t understand why he is refusing to sign his own bill. What has changed? Could it be that the governor is doing the bidding of billionaire hedge fund managers — many of whom, like Paul Tudor Jones, don’t even live in New York state? This governor has to decide whether he’s going to support the goals of students, parents and teachers or those of billionaires who want to destroy public education in order to privatize it and profit from it.”

Meanwhile, educators from across the state — joined by parents, students and community members — will gather outside the Executive Mansion on Eagle Street in downtown Albany beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to stand together against attacks on public education and teachers, and to call on the governor to listen to all stakeholders before bringing forth another wave of misguided educational policies designed to dismantle public education.

The demonstration coincides with the governor’s annual New Year’s open house and will include an invitation to the governor to attend public forums on public education so that he can hear, unfiltered, the concerns of parents, students and educators about his so-called reforms.

Going forward, there must be no "deals" with Cuomo from teachers union leadership.

It's clear Cuomo's word is worthless.

He reneged on the promises he made to the Working Families Party in return for their ballot nod.

He reneged on his promise to fight for a Democratic State Senate.

He reneged on the teacher evaluation shield bill.

That's three strikes - Cuomo's out.

Do the teachers union leaders understand this?

They're talking a good game for now.

But we'll see if they follow up their words with more actions than just press releases and calls for a demonstration outside the governor's mansion one day before hand.

Still Can't Get Past The Chutzpah Of Cuomo Pushing "Comprehensive Reforms" For Teacher Evaluations Two Days After Rejecting The Same For The Port Authority

Two separate piece in LoHud point to the hypocrisy of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The first, from Jon Campbell:

In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo negotiated and proposed a bill that claimed to "protect New York's standing as a national leader in teacher evaluation."

Six months later, Cuomo vetoed the very same bill, saying it doesn't "fix the foundational issues with the teacher evaluation system."


In his veto message, Cuomo promised to propose "comprehensive reforms" to the teacher evaluation system next year.

The second, from the LoHud editorial board:

Over the weekend between Christmas and New Year's, when little government work gets done, Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey pulled the plug on much-needed reforms at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In the same breath, they touted their quest for "accountability" at the lapdog agency.

On Saturday night, the governors announced vetoes of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014, dual bills passed unanimously in both states' legislatures. The legislation promised more transparency and less political maneuvering at the Port Authority. The huge agency's responsibilities include international airports; the largest port in North America; key bridge, tunnel and rail crossings; and the World Trade Center site.

Don't worry, the governors pledged in a joint press release announcing the vetoes, they have a plan. The governors would enact a series of reforms (also needed) suggested by their own panel.
Apparently, the embarrassment of Bridgegate – in which Christie's buddies at the Port shut down local lanes on the George Washington Bridge for a mysterious "traffic study" in what quacked like political payback – wasn't enough. It seems the Port Authority's power – and money – are hard to give up.


The governors' promised reforms include streamlining the Port's leadership structure and taking certain appointments directly out of the hands of the governors.

Such measures would be a complement, not a competition, to the legislative proposals. There was no valid excuse to reject the bi-state bills that had garnered overwhelming support. But, it appears, the authority's deep pockets and current opacity are hard to resist.

To sum up:

Faux reformer Cuomo put the shiv into Port Authority reform on Saturday night (reform passed 612-0 in the NY and NJ legislatures, btw) and pushed his own PA reform (which Tom Moran of the Star Ledger says has little chance of being enacted), then put the shiv into his own teacher evaluation shield bill on Monday night and said he will push "comprehensive reforms" of the state teacher evaluation system in the next year.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cuomo Vetoes Common Core Shield Bill, Promises "Systematic" Reform Of Teacher Evaluation System

From State of Politics:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday evening vetoed a measure that would have created alterations to the state’s teacher evaluation system.

The veto was announced in a batch of bill approvals and additional vetoes Tuesday night.
The measure was one Cuomo negotiated, submitted a “message of necessity” in order to waive the three-day aging process and ultimately introduced himself as a program bill.

But the governor had always indicated he was reluctant to alter the evaluation system in order to accommodate concerns raised over the Common Core education standards.

Cuomo’s veto of the measure in fact comes as little surprise following his comments at a year-end cabinet meeting that suggested he would take a hard-line approach with the state’s teachers union come 2015.

Indeed, Cuomo plans to push for an overhaul of the state’s education system next year, broadly hinting at plans to centralize power in education policy making in the executive branch, and not the semi-autonomous Department of Education, which is controlled by the Board of Regents.

In his veto message of the safety net measure, Cuomo wrote the results of the most recent teacher evaluations — which found less than 1 percent of teachers were rated ineffective — “are not an accurate assessment.”

Cuomo pledged in the veto message to propose “comprehensive reforms” to the evaluation system next year, adding that signing the bill as it is would “make no sense.”

“Instead, it is critical that we make systematic improvements to the evaluation system so that it acts as a rigorous, accurate, and reliable measure that will allow districts and schools to meaningful differentiate between educators,” the veto message states.

Faux reformer Cuomo had a great opportunity to "reform" the Port Authority but instead vetoed meaningful reform bills passed 612-0 in two state legislatures so that he and his buddy in crime, Chris Christie, can continue to use the Port Authority as their personal kitty for pet projects and cronyism.

So no reform to something that absolutely needs reform, but we're going to get plenty of reform in the education system - enough to "break" it.

These two "reforms" Cuomo is pursuing are linked, of course.

He vetoed PA reform because it would curtail his power - he instead will push for reforms that will never pass the two state legislatures in an effort to look like a reformer while actually being an anti-reformer on the PA.

But he pursues education reform because it will expand his power greatly.

And just to compound the bad news tonight, the only guy standing between Cuomo and the "breaking" of the public education system - Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver - is said to be under investigation by US Attorney Preet Bharara's office.

So, Cuomo vetoes his own CCSS "shield bill" for teachers, promises "systematic improvements" to the evaluation system (i.e., more "ineffective ratings" for teachers) and the Times runs a front page story about Silver being the target of a federal investigation.

Very bad news tonight for teachers.

US Attorney Said To Be Targeting Assembly Speaker Silver


Federal authorities are investigating substantial payments made to the State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, by a small law firm that seeks real estate tax reductions for commercial and residential properties in New York City, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have found that the law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., has paid Mr. Silver the sums over roughly a decade, but that he did not list that income on his annual financial disclosure forms, as required, the people said.

The prosecutors, from the office of the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, and the F.B.I. agents were seeking to determine precisely what Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, has been doing for the payments, the people said. Spokesmen for the F.B.I. and Mr. Bharara’s office declined to comment.

All that stands between teachers and destruction at the ends of Andrew Cuomo and/or his education reform donors is Sheldon Silver.

He may not be standing there for much longer.

Cuomo has taken gobs of money from gambling interests, real estate interests, Hollywood and the education reform lobby in return for favors like expanding gambling in NY State, handing out millions in tax breaks and advocating education reforms but Silver's the one being targeted.

Does Cuomo Have To Worry About Bridgegate Complicity?

I'm on the road, so I can't explore this in detail yet, but wanted to get this series of tweets up regarding the news that that Cuomo's PA appointee, Executive Director Patrick Foye, is talking to US attorney Paul Fishman about Bridgegate:

More later.

Legislators, Pissed At Lack Of Pay Raise, Talk Boycott Of Cuomo's Inauguration, State Of The State Addresses

Fred Dicker in the Post:

Members of the scandal-scarred state Legislature may boycott Gov. Cuomo’s inauguration this Thursday and his State of the State Address Jan. 7 in an angry protest over their failure to win a long-hoped-for pay raise, The Post has learned.  
The boycott is being actively discussed by lawmakers from Cuomo’s own Democratic Party, who accuse the governor of deep-sixing what would have been their first pay raise in 16 years out of fear of a political backlash.  
If a boycott is mounted, many Republican legislators are also expected to go along, a GOP lawmaker said.  
“Cuomo is afraid to take the heat on this, the merits be damned,’’ said one Democratic lawmaker. Another said, “The members are furious. This is something they really wanted and believed was justified. I mean, it’s been 16 years.’’  
It’s not clear how many lawmakers have been invited to Cuomo’s inauguration, which will be held in New York City and Buffalo, rather than in Albany, as it was four years ago.  
But all 213 members of the Legislature are invited to the State of the State Address in Albany, and it’s there that a sizeable boycott would be noticed. Cuomo and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Legislature have been holding pay-raise talks for weeks, with the possibility that top aides to Cuomo, and the governor himself, could see their salaries increased in a final deal.  
But Cuomo has insisted he would agree to a pay hike only if the Legislature addressed a long series of criminal and ethical charges against many of its members by passing several reforms, such as a limit on outside incomes earned by lawmakers and a system of publicly financed campaigns.  
The legislative leaders, however, responded that Cuomo was making demands he knew were unacceptable in a politically motivated effort to appear as a reformer because he’s under federal investigation for dismantling his anti-corruption Moreland Commission panel.

The deadline to get a pay raise deal done is Wednesday night at 11:59 AM.  Once the new legislative session starts, the legislature can only vote for a pay raise for a future legislature.

Cuomo's lost this issue, no matter what happens here.

If he caves and makes a pay raise deal hours before the deadline, it's going to look like Quid Pro Cuomo stuff, especially coming just days after he vetoed Port Authority reform legislation (a veto he did his best to bury by doing it on Christmas Weekend.)

If he doesn't cave, he's going to have a pissed legislature looking to pay him back for screwing them on the pay raise deal.

Either way, it's a win-win if you're looking for Cuomo to be further weakened going into the next legislative session.

Cowardly Cuomo Tries To Hide His Veto Of Port Authority Reform

Zack Fink has an excellent rundown on how and why Cuomo and Christie killed Port Authority reform during Christmas weekend.

Read the whole piece, but the three takeaways I got from it are

1. Christie and Cuomo plan to have a firesale of Port Authority property, selling it to their real estate campaign donors as payback for their financial and political support.

2. Christie wants Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye fired for exposing the Bridgegate scandal and talking to the US attorney.  That will happen now under the Cuomo/Christie announced plan.

3. Cuomo wanted to hide his veto of the PA reform legislation.  Unfortunately for him, news of the veto leaked out on the NJ side, making Cuomo look like he had lost control of the story narrative.  When Cuomo's office finally released an announcement about the Port Authority, they buried the news of the veto in the last paragraph:

Here's how Fink described it:

At about 4:30 Saturday afternoon, staff from Governor Chris Christie’s office in Trenton New Jersey called the majority offices of both houses of New Jersey’s Legislature. Their message was that a massive structural reform bill for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would be vetoed. 
In contrast, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office told no one – not even the sponsors of the legislation – that a joint press release would be coming out later that night from the two governors, announcing rejection of the bill and implementation of their own reforms at the Port Authority.  
The same release casually mentioned in the last paragraph that “neither governor is approving the legislation as passed.”  
The lead was so buried on this one that my news desk at NY1 asked me twice if I was sure Cuomo was vetoing the bill. Yes, I told them, I am sure. But I could understand the confusion. 
In New Jersey the news leaked. Of course it did. I covered news in Jersey for 13 years. I coulda told you it would leak. All credit goes to Shawn Boburg at the Bergen Record who has done some excellent reporting on Bridgegate and the Port Authority.  
Boburg (who I do not know personally) was the guy who called former Christie aide Bridget Kelly last January to inform her that he had in his possession of an unfortunately worded email of hers that read: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” 
The problem with this leaking out the way it did is that it made Cuomo look like he was not in control of his own story. The story instantly became the vetoes, not the other reforms the two governors are implementing.

Cowardly Cuomo wanted to hide the veto, waiting until the last minute to do it, then trying to bury the news on Christmas Weekend with a diversionary PA reform release that further buried the news in the last paragraph.

Classic cowardice from Cuomo on this.

If you're wondering why I'm spending so much time on this PA story, it matters to public education advocates as Cuomo gets set next month to destroy public education in New York State.

He was already weakened going into Christmas after a difficult political season, but the way he went around hiding his killing of PA reform will further weaken him going into the New Year.

The next time Cuomo talks "reform," this Port Authority reform sham will come up to undercut whatever "reform" Cuomo is pushing - and that means education reform too.

Little Chance To Override Andrew Cuomo's Veto Of Port Authority Reform Bill

People have said, if the legislatures of both New York and New Jersey passed the Port Authority reform bill 612-0, surely they can get two-thirds of that number to override Cuomo's Saturday night veto and Christie's coming veto in January.

The NY Times reports that's not going to happen:

Despite the unanimity of the legislators in Albany and Trenton, however, and despite the torrent of criticism they unleashed after the governors’ announcement, the bill’s backers said on Sunday that prospects for overriding the veto seemed slim at best. Neither Legislature has accomplished that feat with Mr. Cuomo, who was elected to a second term in November, or during Mr. Christie’s nearly five years in office.

And with only days left in the current legislative term in New York, that streak was not likely to be broken. That left officials to sift through the reform recommendations the two governors put forth as they quashed the bill, some of which drew praise for reducing the governors’ political influence at the agency and others of which have already attracted withering criticism. 
“An override is not practical,” said Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York Assembly. “We still think legislation is needed, and we will work with our colleagues in both states to bring increased accountability to the Port Authority.” 
In New Jersey, sponsors also conceded that the makeup of the State Senate — where Democrats hold more seats, but not the supermajority needed to reverse a veto — was likely to scotch any override. While the legislation passed unanimously, Republican legislators have been known to switch positions on an issue rather than risk crossing Mr. Christie.

And so, the partners in corruption, Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo, have ensured real reform will not come to the Port Authority.

Instead we'll get a brand of reform that they want - one that largely maintains the status quo.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cuomo, Christie Plan The End To Overnight PATH Service, Look To Privatize The Entire PATH System

Here's a doozy in the Port Authority "reforms" Governors in Crime Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo have suggested rather than signing a PA reform bill that had been passed by four legislative houses in two states, 612-0:

As lawmakers and authority officials sparred over ethics reforms, one of the governors’ other recommendations, eliminating overnight service on PATH trains, came under fire from the mayors of Hoboken and Jersey City, whose rapid growth has depended on trains to Manhattan.
Mayor Steven M. Fulop of Jersey City said the veto’s timing suggested the governors’ move was nothing more than a “power grab.”
“The panel started as a way to root out corruption, not to limit mass transportation,” he said.

Christie is an enemy of both the Hoboken and Jersey City mayors.

I'm sure you wouldn't be shocked when I suggest that he's going to push for the end of overnight PATH service as a way to punish the Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, for taking him on over Bridgegate, or JC mayor Steven Fulop, who is thought to be a potential NJ governor candidate next time around and suing the PA.

But it's worse than that - it's also another neo-liberal scheme to privatize a public entity and make some money for themselves and their cronies:

A report by the Port Authority that’s supported by the governors of New York and New Jersey floats the idea of eliminating overnight PATH service and turning over the system's operation to an outside organization — public or private.

Those ideas, along with others in the 99-page report that was released Saturday night, were slammed today by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who said curtailing service on one of the region’s most vital transportation links would hurt not just his city's economy, but the state as a whole.

“I think that all too often politicians assume the public is stupid, and this is an example of that,” said Fulop, a Port Authority critic whose administration in May filed a $400 million lawsuit against it alleging owed back taxes. “The fact that you’re releasing a report in between Christmas and New Year's, the fact that there are components of it that are nothing more than a mere power grab.”

Hoboken's mayor had some fighting words for the Cuomo/Christie plan as well:

 "This irresponsible proposal is a classic example of being penny wise and dollar foolish," Zimmer said in a statement. "Shutting down overnight PATH service will cost the State of New Jersey many times the supposed savings in lost economic activity, sales tax and business tax revenues. Cities like Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark are growing because residents and businesses want good access to transportation options like the PATH. It is incomprehensible that any New Jersey official would be willing to even consider this proposal that would only hurt the State's economy."

The PATH loses a lot of money of year, but what you never hear when Christie, Cuomo or their PA cronies trot out that argument is that much of that money goes to the WTC PATH station boondoggle, which is billions over budget.

Or that there was the sweetheart deal Christie's cronies got at the Harrison train station, and of course the shenanigans Christie's cronies were playing in Hoboken.

Let's not forget Christie stole $1.8 billion of PA funds to fix the Pulaski Skyway even thought it's nowhere near any PA facility.

Oh, and the PA just put through a plan to spend $1.5 billion on extending PATH service from Newark to the Newark airport.

A commenter at sums up the corruption and cronyism these governors are engaging in even as they threaten to cut PATH service:

They want to cut PATH but wont cut salaries, overtime, waste, corruption. How about the deal that Samson made to charge NJ Transit a $1.00 for a park and ride lot that should have been charged much more. They throw out money by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a Harrison PATH station and billions on that thing at the WTC PATH station. After they waste billions of dollars then they say they are broke! What arrogance!! They spit in our faces and we need to protest. Remember this. We must march and protest. Call your representatives.

A direct "F--- You!" to Fulop and Zimmer from Christie and his cronies at the PA, with Cuomo helping him give the bird.

These scum are stealing billions for their own pet projects, allowing their cronies to enrich themselves off the PA kitty, then screwing the citizens of NY and NJ who rely on PATH or the PA.

What Are Christie And Cuomo Pulling With Their Sham Port Authority Reform?

Christopher Robbins at Gothamist:
State legislators of both parties in New Jersey and New York voted unanimously to reform the Port Authority, an agency with a $7.8 billion budget racked by patronage and opacity, and most recently used to exact revenge on an entire town. But shortly before midnight on Sunday, Governors Christie and Cuomo announced they would veto those laws and thus block that hard-earned reform.  
Democratic Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of New Jersey sponsored the bill in her state, and called Cuomo and Christie's decision "spineless."  
“We crossed party lines to pass Port Authority reform, and they crossed party lines to obstruct it,” she told

A commenter at Gothamist bluntly puts this veto into perspective:

You can be sure there's some financial fuckery going on when these two scumbags pull some shit like this.  Otherwise, they'd be trumpeting the bipartisan/intrastate agreement from the mountaintops -- and not do this in the middle of Christmas and New Years when the political press corpse is on holiday.

Fortunately, they've just guaranteed that neither one will be president.

Another says:

Blinding naked corruption in its purest form. Screw the public. Until they get their respective 'cuts' from the barrel of money any change will cost, both these weasels will make sure the cesspool status quo remains.

Can't really improve on either of these comments.

This veto of PA reform is going to come back to haunt Governor Cuomo.

Next month when he starts talking the need for "reform" of the public education system, you can bet opponents are going to bring up this PA chicanery to point out how Cuomo is ONLY in favor of reform that enlarges his power and control.

Reaction To The Port Authority Reform Bill Veto By Andrew Cuomo, Faux Reformer

Faux reformer Andrew Cuomo vetoed a Port Authority reform bill last night, claiming he and his fellow governor in corruption, Chris Christie, will push their own PA reform.

The reaction to Cuomo's veto was swift and condemnatory:

Cuomo vetoed the New York bill just before midnight. Had he not vetoed it, the bill would have become law in New York State, though their identical New Jersey versions would have required Christie's signature -- or his failure to act by a deadline next month.

“We crossed party lines to pass Port Authority reform, and they crossed party lines to obstruct it,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), who called the governors “spineless” for revealing their veto plans on the Saturday night after Christmas, when the public might not notice.


State Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said the only reason the governors would veto such a bill would be that they do not want to enhance accountability of any agency they jointly control through their appointment of commissioners and veto power over board actions.

"There is no legitimate reason for them not to sign" both bills, Weinberg said.  

Lawmakers weren't alone in condemning the accountability veto. Regional watchdog groups including the Citizens Union, New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, the New York Public Interest Research Group, Reinvent Albany, & the Tri­-State Transportation Campaign issued a joint statement.

"It is obvious that the Port Authority has lost its way, and Governors Cuomo and Christie have now vetoed a bill which was unanimously supported by the state legislatures of New York and New Jersey, numerous public stakeholders and editorial boards," the groups stated. "This much-needed legislation would have put in place fundamental reforms necessary to make the Port Authority far more accountable."

Here are some some comments from on the Cuomo veto:

You'd think everyone could agree that the Port Authority needs to be transparent and accountable to the public, not the personal and political playground of politicians.
What this coordinated veto that Cuomo and Christie tried to sneak by on a Saturday night shows is that there are politicians in both parties that are corrupt.
And this forum shows that those who put their party ahead of the public interest are willing to go along, preferring to attack the other party even if both parties are involved. Thus they keep us distracted while they pick everyone's pocket.


Did ANYONE actually think Christy/Cuomo would actually change the Port of Authority??? They get SO MUCH more of our money by keeping the agency out of the Public domain. They take our Toll money, charge planes to come/go, and God knows what else they control. They have a budget AS BIG AS NJ'S BUDGET .... Do you have ANY idea how much of our money they can steal for personal gain ??? Look at Samson. He's just one. Look how much HE was able to gain. .. If ANYONE was actually able to REALLY see what the books would reveal, I think they all might go to jail...  You can thank our Tri-State Gov.s the next time you pay your EZ Pass bill after driving from Jersey to JFK.... Just for tolls, and parking at JFK, you're looking at approx. 45.00 $$$... That is just one person. Now multiply that by the millions that go to just JFK. Get The Picture ????


I don't get it, Cuomo just gave a stirring speech at Officer Ramos' funeral about what a great nation we are, and how we all have to work together to engender changes.  So what do we get instead? The same old same old.  I guess the message is if change doesn't infringe on my power, I'm all for it.


We know about Christie, but what's Cuomo's excuse?  If we dig a little deeper, this is the same governor who stopped the Moreland Commission, and its ability to prosecute corrupt politicians in New York.  Again, doing what's best for their own self=interests, not the people's interests.


So that explains the dinner they shared the other night, they were having a mafia style sit down on how to divvy up the PA between them.


Why haven't the feds investigated this SCAM perpetrated by both governors and Christie's P/A NY/NJ Capos, Baroni & Wildstein?;

"Top Christie Port Authority appointees devised toll-hike plan to bolster image of NJ, NY governors"

What Cuomo did last night was to make sure that little will actually change at the PA - the governors of NY and NJ will continue to call many of the shots at the Port Authority and because the changes they are suggesting for the PA will be written into PA by-law rather than NY and NJ state law, any reform that actually happens will be eroded over time.

The next time faux reformer Andrew Cuomo attempts to talk about some major "reform" he plans, the hatchet job he did on Port Authority reform must and will be used on him by the opposition.

Because Cuomo is not interested in real reform of any kind - he is only interested in reform that enlarges his power.

Let us remember this when he trots out his large scale reform plans for the public education system next month during his State of the State address.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cuomo, Christie Push Sham Reform For Port Authority

As I wrote earlier, Christie and Cuomo are vetoing a Port Authority reform bill that passed both state legislatures 612-0 and would have enshrined a host of reforms into state law in both New York and New Jersey.

They are instead pushing their own sham reform:

Governor Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocked the efforts of lawmakers in both states to reform the Port Authority and instead endorsed their own sweeping proposal on Saturday, nearly a year after the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal brought the agency under unprecedented scrutiny and criticism.

The governors agreed that they would no longer appoint the agency’s two top executives, that the agency should shed its real estate holdings, including the World Trade Center, and that money previously set aside for the governors’ pet projects should be shifted toward a new Manhattan bus terminal and other transportation initiatives that will benefit commuters moving between New Jersey and New York. They announced the changes in a joint statement that accompanied a 103-page report of reform recommendations.

The report, endorsed by a panel appointed by both governors, was released as the governors announced they would veto a widely-supported Port Authority reform bill unanimously passed by legislators in both states. The veto and simultaneous release of the report were seen by some as an attempt to head off legislative efforts to weaken the governors’ control over the multi-billion agency. It also comes as Christie is trying to put the lane closure scandal behind him as he mulls a run for president. A federal criminal investigation is ongoing.


State Sen. Bob Gordon of Fair Lawn, a sponsor of the reform bill sent to both governors, said before the governors released their report that any changes proposed by the Port Authority or the governors would not go far enough. 
“In all likelihood those changes will occur in the bylaws of the Port Authority, and the whole reason for going through this exercise we have since February, is to make these changes in statute so they have the force of law, because you get a majority of commissioners together and with the vote of a majority they can rescind the bylaws. And even if the current group decides to change their procedures in the interest of transparency and accountability, the next team in there may not, and all of this may be forgotten 20 years from now and we’ll go through the same thing again.”

Here's how you know Cuomo understands the press over this is going to be bad:

So he releases this jive:

Zach Fink points out:
Cuomo and Christie may "embrace the spirit and intent of the extensive reforms contained in the omnibus pending legislation," but they didn't want to sign them or enshrine them into law.

They took a historic moment when real reform for the Port Authority could have been written into law in two states and instead pushed their own sham version that will be eroded over time and ultimately be ineffective.

In a few weeks as Cuomo starts to talk about the need for wide scale "reform" of the New York public education system and touts his record as a "reformer," I will make sure that people remember the games he and his fellow in corruption, Chris Christie, played with Port Authority reform.

Christie, Cuomo To Veto Port Authority Reform Bill, Enact Their Own "Reforms"

Been on the road much of the day, but just saw this:

Bills passed unanimously by the state legislatures of New Jersey and New York that would institute an array of reforms at the Port Authority will not be signed into law by Governor Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a ranking Senate Democrat said late Saturday afternoon.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck said the state Senate Office was informed by Christie's office that the bills, which are  awaiting the signatures of both governors, will be vetoed on Saturday. Weinberg said the office was told that a separate bill making the Port Authority subject to public records laws in both states will be conditionally vetoed. She said the Senate office was informed of the impending development in advance of a joint announcement by the governors expected later today.

The legislation would have initiated broad administrative, procedural and ethics reforms at the Port Authority, including requiring efficiency studies by outside experts every two years, imposing restrictions on lobbying, and forcing agency officials to appear before state lawmakers to answer questions about any topic.

Instead, the governors were expected to announce a list of reforms proposed by their own appointed panel, Weinberg said.

Here is a press release that just got sent out from Christie and Cuomo:

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie accepted the comprehensive and wholesale changes recommended by the Bi-State Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority. At its core these changes call for restructuring the agency's overall operations, including reorganizing the leadership of the Board of Commissioners and the executive management of the Port Authority with the creation of a single Chief Executive Officer and the modification of the Chairperson's role. The reorganization accepted by the Governors will also return the Port Authority fully to its original mission – developing and maintaining the world's largest transportation system and infrastructure.

The structural reorganization of the Authority will create clear lines of responsibility and accountability that start with its leadership. A single Chief Executive Officer -- to be hired as expeditiously as possible based on a national search directed by the Board of Commissioners -- will replace the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director. The current Chair and Vice-Chair roles will be modified in one of two ways. Either the Chair and the Vice Chair positions will be replaced with two Co-Chairs, one recommended by each Governor, for election by the Board of Commissioners, or the chairmanship will be rotated between the two states on an annual basis. Either approach promotes a long-term balance between the policy interests of the respective states, and present a more equitable model to the public stakeholders of the Authority. The CEO and either Co-Chairs or rotating Chair and Vice-Chair will constitute the Office of the Chair, a senior operations committee.

Organizational changes to the Agency to demand increased accountability is only part of the Special Panel's recommendations to maintain trust with the public it serves. Governors Cuomo and Christie are embracing initiatives to increase transparency of the Port Authority's deliberations and operations.

Additionally, Governors Cuomo and Christie accept and endorse the transparency legislation, Senate Bill No. 2183 (First Reprint), and S6718C/A8785C, but with some sensible changes to eliminate confusion that would be caused by the bill as currently drafted. The recommended changes will make it easier for individuals pursuing public records under the law. The Governors continue to embrace the previously announced Freedom of Information policy, which ensures access to the Port Authority's records under both States' laws, and the recent practice of strictly limiting the use of executive sessions for Board deliberations and using public meetings whenever possible.

Additionally, the Port Authority has been instructed to prepare a revised Code of Conduct to drive a renewed focus on ethics and compliance throughout the agency, and the Governors are calling for the creation of a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer position to ensure the highest ethical conduct.

Why are they vetoing a reform bill that passed both state legislatures 612-0 for their own "reforms"?

I dunno.

Is this just about grabbing the narrative?

Is this a head fake, with their "reform" only looking like "reform"?

What I'm seeing so far suggests it's a little bit of both:

I'll have more in a bit.

But suffice to say, Cuomo and Christie are doing something that will have great import here both for their own powers and the millions of people in both states who are served by the Port Authority.

Why Is Cuomo Intent On Public School Reform But Reluctant On Port Authority Reform?

Less than 18 hours before Governor Andrew Cuomo has to take final action on the Port Authority reform bill that passed 612-0 in all four legislative houses in New York and New Jersey.

Editorial boards in both states are calling for him to sign it - the Daily News was the latest yesterday.

So are politicians and reform advocates.

And let's say again, it passed 612-0.

Does anything ever pass 612-0 anymore?

Yet for some reason, Cuomo hasn't signed the PA reform bill yet and is waiting until the last moment to take public action.

The cynic in me wonders if it's because of some secret deal he has with Christie, his fellow governor who also controls the PA and uses it as a patronage mill and a cash box when he needs funds for projects that have nothing to do with the PA.

It's pretty clear the Port Authority is need of "reform".

As the Daily News put it:

Exempted from basic government rules like the freedom of information and open meetings laws, the Port Authority has run amok time and again. Even a partial list of the outrages astonishes.

There was the waste of billions of dollars on a super-extravagant, overdesigned PATH station.

There was the scheme by which the governors ordered the authority staff to propose a toll hike that was double the amount needed so the governors could then “rescue” drivers by ordering the hike slashed. For good measure, Cuomo and Christie then ordered up an audit that branded the PA “dysfunctional.”

There was Bridgegate.

There was the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars by which Christie propped up a bankrupt city and funded his road budget.

There were secret meetings of the board of commissioners and conflicts of interest galore.
There was Christie’s use of the authority as a patronage dump and the division of the agency into two bureaucratic fiefs, one for each state.

Cuomo and Christie now have the opportunity — actually, the duty — to impose the most sweeping reforms on the PA in its near century of life and to do so by statute, not easily modified PA bylaw or gubernatorial decree.


One measure would subject the PA to the freedom of information laws of both states and mandate that it conduct business in public. The other, more sweeping, bill would require members of the board of commissioners to swear a “fiduciary” duty to act in the authority’s best interest — and not in either governor’s political interest.

Despite the will of the people as so certainly expressed by two legislatures, Cuomo and Christie have said exactly nothing about the reform acts. Both must approve for the laws to take effect.

Cuomo claims the mantle of "reformer" and has already told us he plans widespread "reform" of New York's public education system, which he says is a "monopoly" that he needs to "break."

Dunno why Cuomo is so intent on reforming public education but reluctant to reform the Port Authority.

The cynic in me thinks it's because public education "reform" will enlarge his power as governor while Port Authority "reform" will diminish it.

It seems when it comes to "reform," Governor Cuomo is only for the kind that enlarges his power.

At any rate, with so many public figures and editorial boards promoting PA reform, Cuomo may have no choice but to sign this bill into law.

But then Christie has to do so too for it to actually become law.

The two met on Tuesday and again, the cynic in me wonders what they were cooking up over the PA.

You can bet neither one wants this to happen.

You can bet they have some jive planned to kill PA reform.

It may come with Cuomo not signing the bill into law.

Or it may come with Cuomo signing it but then something happening that keeps Christie from signing it by his mid-January deadline.

One way or the other, I have a difficult time seeing why Cuomo would have left this bill to the last minute except that he's got some shenanigans planned to kill it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Exclusive Video Of Cuomo And Christie Colluding Over Their Port Authority "Problem"

As I posted earlier this week, reported that Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo met at a restaurant in Carlstadt, NJ for lunch.

Christie's spokesperson admitted to the meeting though would not say what was discussed there.

Cuomo's spokesperson didn't return calls.

But given how the Port Authority reform bill sits on Cuomo's desk and must be either signed or vetoed by tomorrow night, you can bet the words "Port" and "Authority" came up a couple of times at the Cuomo/Christie meeting.

See, neither Cuomo nor Christie really want Port Authority reform (despite all four legislative houses in both states voting unanimously for the PA reform bill - 612-0!) and they're looking for a politically astute way to kill it.

Why don't either of these governors wants PA reform?

Well, that's an easy question to answer.

It's because the Port Authority is a cesspool of patronage, criminality and corruption - just the kind of place guys like Cuomo and Christie like.

Here's The Nation investigating some of that cesspool back in April:

When, in 2011, Governor Chris Christie did an end-run around Port Authority rules to siphon $1.8 billion in PA funds for pet projects in New Jersey, the New York side of the PA, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, went along. Why? As Christie Watch has learned, the New York PA officials had their own concerns—namely, getting the new World Trade Center built—and, worse, in the words of one former PA official, they didn’t want “to go to war with Christie.”

Read the rest - what you learn is that Christie killed a trans-Hudson tunnel New Jersey desperately needed so that he could steal the money from that project and use it for projects the bankrupt state transportation kitty was supposed to fund.

Two New York governors, Paterson and Cuomo, knew what Christie was doing was wrong, but neither wanted to do anything about it because they needed Christie to continue signing off on the insane gobs of money the World Trade Center complex was costing - especially the over-budget PATH transportation center.

The takeaway from this mess:

 So with New York officials acquiescent, and the New Jersey governor determined to grab the ARC money to avoid tax increases, the use of the money for the Pulaski Skyway and related building went through. “The governors of either side don’t seem to have any qualms about committing Port Authority funds for their own purposes even though they may be non-Port Authority related,” says David Gallagher, a former executive at the PA. “But it’s not a regional piggy bank. It was intended to provide the transportation, business and commercial infrastructure to make the bi-state region grow.”

The Nation also reported the patronage that goes on at the PA, particularly from Christie's side of the Hudson:

Since 2010, Christie has installed dozens of cronies and favored operatives, including very high-level Christie insiders: David Samson, a real estate attorney, as chairman; Bill Baroni, now fired, a long-time Christie ally who was the PA’s deputy executive director; Philip Kwon, another key Christie ally is the agency’s deputy general counsel; and, of course, David Wildstein, Christie’s non-friend from Livingston High School, who was “director of interstate capital projects,” whatever that is.

Thanks to Bridgegate, most of those names are now well known not only in New Jersey but nationwide. What’s less well known is how Christie has used the PA to build his political machine, using its power to curry favor with a wide range of Democratic mayors, county officials and party bosses. In towns such as Hoboken, Harrison and many others, the PA is involved in or controls important development initiatives and transportation projects that are often entangled with cronies of the New Jersey governor and his friends.

Read the rest of that piece - some of what you'll learn is that Christie and Cuomo hit people with "massive" PA toll and PATH fare increases, then Christie stole the money for his own purposes:

The New Jersey legislative investigation may also finally bring to light the political dealings behind the enormous toll hikes the Port Authority enacted in September 2011, when fares on bridges and tunnels rose from $8 to $13. (They’re scheduled to go to $15 by 2015.) Usually such increases would only follow extensive public debate and discussions; instead, they were rushed through after only a single day of hearings that summer.


Linked to all this—and the committee is seeking documents on this, too—is Christie’s decision in 2010 to cancel the tunnel project. By then, the various agencies involved had already spent over $400 million on engineering property acquisition, construction and other expenses. New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Jon Corzine had broken ground on the project just before his defeat by Christie in 2009.

But a few months after Christie appointed Baroni to the PA, he and David Wildstein, who is at the heart of Bridgegate, looked for other ways to use the $2 billion in PA funds slated for the tunnel. Here’s what they came up with: to help Christie keep his promise not to raise gasoline taxes, they decided to use it to resupply the exhausted Transportation Trust Fund, which is usually replenished through the gas tax at the pump. In addition, they sloshed some of it to build a rail station in a town whose Democratic mayor later supported Christie for re-election. And it went for a new bridge project that won him the support of the powerful International Laborers Union at his first re-election campaign rally a year later.

The Nation also notes how the PA became a patronage mill for Christie:

The Bergen Record investigated who they were:
One was a gourmet food broker who landed work as an $85,000-a-year financial analyst at the Port Authority. Another got a $90,000 job to check maintenance contracts. An author and actor was hired as the employment publications editor—a three-day-a-week gig that pays $50,000 and provides full benefits.
In an interview with The Nation, Jameson W. Doig, a professor at Dartmouth and author of Empire on the Hudson, a definitive history of the Port Authority, said that Christie’s appointments “show patronage at work.” He added: “Christie was willing to use his power as governor to insist that the Port Authority hire his friends and party workers, even if they were not qualified for the work they were expected to do.”

This is mob-like stuff Christie's engaging in  - the creative accounting that allows him to steal millions meant for public projects and use the money for his own ends, the "no-show jobs" for his pals and cronies, the use of the PA to punish enemies (like when members of the Christie administration had traffic on the George Washington Bridge shut down for three days as political payback.)

You can see why Christie wouldn't want any of this stuff to end and why Cuomo might want to assuage his political pal until the WTC complex is finally completed and he doesn't have to worry about getting stuck with the bill.

And so, Cuomo and Christie met this week to talk over their Port Authority "problem" and figure out solutions.

Neither man completely trusts the other, so they picked a public place both know (which is why they were noticed by the press.)

Perdido Street School blog, via a commenter at named Neilhow, has gotten exclusive video of Christie and Cuomo colluding over the Port Authority.

We have forwarded this tape to the proper authorities as well, the respective US attorneys offices in NY and NJ who are investigating these two criminals, but don't hold your breath that anything will happen to either of these two corrupt public officials.

About the best we can hope for is that these guys turn on each other and go to war publicly - something that could happen if this video of their lunch together means anything at all.

In any case, enjoy the video:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays From Perdido Street School Blog

Been a rough year, but better things are on the way:

Were Cuomo And Christie Colluding To Kill Port Authority Reform When They Met For Lunch This Week?

Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo met for lunch in New Jersey the other day, as reported by

Yesterday I wondered aloud just what they might have been colluding over as they broke bread.

Today the NY Times reports it may have been the Port Authority reform bill that was passed by all four houses of the legislatures in both states - 612-0 - that neither Cuomo nor Christie want to sign into law:
ALBANY — On its surface, the bill known here as A3944C — less of a mouthful than the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014 — would seem to be a slam-dunk.

It was intended to overhaul operations at the Port Authority, even as prosecutors continue to investigate last year’s politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and other allegations of misconduct. Identical versions of the legislation were unanimously approved by all four houses of the New York and New Jersey State Legislatures. Newspaper editorial boards spanning the ideological spectrum and on both sides of the Hudson River have pressed for it to be signed into law.

Yet the later the hour grows for the bill’s approval by the two governors, the more skittish its sponsors are growing about its chances of becoming law.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo faces the first deadline: He has until Saturday night at midnight  to decide on the New York bill. If he approves it, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will face heightened pressure to do the same; his deadline is in mid-January. But because the authority is a creation of the two states, approval of the legislation by only one state would have the same effect as its rejection by both.

Supporters of the bill say they now fear that the governors will reject the bill because it would erode the control they share evenly over everything the Port Authority does — whether running airports and bridges, hiring politically connected officials or awarding billion-dollar contracts to benefit political allies.

The Times reports that Cuomo is likely to be the governor to take first action to put the shiv into Port Authority reform - and he'll use another one of his jive panels to do it:

Backers of the legislation say they fear a pre-emptive strike on the New York side of the river.
In early May, Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Christie formed a special panel on the Port Authority’s future.

Were that panel to release findings before Saturday, the theory goes, it could give Mr. Cuomo a rationale for vetoing the legislation, which in turn would spare Mr. Christie the decision.

Cuomo's done this kind of thing before - he just used the release of APPR teacher evaluation system results as the rationale for why he's not signing the Common Core "shield bill" into law.

This was a bill that he called for back in the spring, but some teachers were skeptical it was anything other than a pre-election political maneuver.

Last year, NYSED released evaluation ratings in October, but for some reason this year there was a delay on the ratings release until the end of the calendar year, when the "shield bill" had to be either signed into law or vetoed.

The APPR evaluation results - with few teachers statewide found "ineffective" - gave Cuomo the excuse he needed to not sign the bill - something Jessica Bakeman reported he may have always wanted in the first place.

He also used his Common Core panel as an excuse for why the NY legislature did not need to address parent concerns over testing and Common Core - he claimed his CCSS panel was going to handle the issue.

This was the panel, btw, that panel member/teacher Todd Hathaway said was rigged from the outset for a particular finding that Cuomo wanted - just like his public corruption and LIPA panels were rigged.

So let's not be surprised if the Port Authority special panel that Cuomo and Christie set up issues a Christmas Week report that Cuomo and Christie want issued this week that gives Cuomo the excuse to help himself and his buddy, Chris Christie, out on PA reform.

Cuomo doesn't want to sign this reform bill into law, he knows Christie doesn't want it either, and they may be choosing Christmas week to kill it, a time when many people are not paying attention to the news.

I'll have more on this later, because from an education perspective, one of the best things that can happen here is for Cuomo to veto the bill.

While I want Port Authority reform and think it's much needed (I'm a daily PATH rider), if Cuomo puts the political shiv in PA reform after politicians in both NY and NJ voted for it 612-0, it's going to start the year off with the narrative frame that "Reformer Cuomo" talks a good game about reform but doesn't really want any except for the kind that enlarges his own power.

If he vetoes the PA reform bill, it will also put him on the defensive at the start of the legislative session just as he is set to argue that large-scale reform for the education system is needed.

It will also undo some of the goodwill he's engendered from liberals over his ban on fracking in New York.

One thing I know - we want him on the defensive as he starts the legislative season out, that's for sure.

He would be a fool to veto something that passed both state legislatures 612-0 without some political cover for himself, so if this thing plays out the way Times games it may, with Cuomo using the panel as excuse to kill the PA reform bill, we'll have to make sure that cover ends up in tatters.

At any rate, in just two days, we'll know what they're planning on doing.

We know Cuomo and Christie have colluded before over the Port Authority - the Bergen Record reported that they hatched a secret plan to raise Port Authority tolls and PATH fares while shielding themselves from the decision - so you can bet the lunch in Carlstadt this week between these two wasn't just a social call.

Isn't It Time Bill Gates Get His Own APPR Evaluation System?

GF Brandenburg has a post demonstrating how the heath initiatives of the Gates Foundation are as failed as their education reform initiatives.

Brandenburg links to this Seattle Times story from a few days ago that suggests it's time Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation get their own data-driven, metric-measuring system to evaluate their "philanthropic" efforts:

When he took the stage this fall to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his signature global health research initiative, Bill Gates used the word “naive” — four times — to describe himself and his charitable foundation.

It was a surprising admission coming from the world’s richest man.

But the Microsoft co-founder seemed humbled that, despite an investment of $1 billion, none of the projects funded under the Gates Foundation’s “Grand Challenges” banner has yet made a significant contribution to saving lives and improving health in the developing world.

“I was pretty naive about how long that process would take,” Gates told a gathering of nearly 1,000 people in Seattle.

Launched with fanfare a decade ago, the original Grand Challenges program mobilized leading scientists to tackle some of the toughest problems in global health. Gates handed out nearly half a billion dollars in grants to 45 “dream teams” of researchers working on everything from tuberculosis drugs and new vaccine strategies to advanced mosquito repellents and bananas genetically engineered to boost nutrition.

But five years in, Gates said he could see that it would be at least another decade before even the most promising of those projects paid off.

Not only did he underestimate some of the scientific hurdles, Gates said. He and his team also failed to adequately consider what it would take to implement new technologies in countries where millions of people lack access to basic necessities such as clean water and medical care.

While continuing to support a handful of the “big science” projects, the foundation in 2008 introduced a program of small, highly focused grants called Grand Challenges Explorations.

With headline-grabbing goals like condoms that feel good and waste-to-energy toilets, the explorations initiative has probably garnered more media attention than anything else the giant philanthropy has undertaken.

But none of those projects has yet borne fruit, either.

At the 10th anniversary meeting, Nobel Prize-winning biologist Harold Varmus urged a foundation known for its obsession with metrics to undertake a critical evaluation of Grand Challenges.

“Was the program actually a success?” asked Varmus, who served on the founding board. “We don’t know.”

I still see laudatory stories about Gates and the Gates Foundation in the media.

Americans in general - and seemingly many elite media people in particular - worship and respect wealth and seem to assume that if a guy could become one of the richest men in the world, he must be one of the smartest too.

But the truth about Gates is, he's no genius.

He's simply a ruthless man who engaged in monopolistic business practices to make Microsoft into the juggernaut it was.

That's not to say that he isn't a smart guy on some things - just to say, he's no visionary with insight into how to fix the world's problems.

The track record of the Gates Foundation bears that out.

Part of the problem is, Gates is a tech guy who thinks tech will fix all.

Another part of the problem is, he's a guy with no social skills and little understanding of the need to bring stakeholders in with his initiatives.

Lastly, he's an authoritarian with an ego the size of Michael Bloomberg's - he thinks he's right on everything and looks to impose his will on others.

These three personal flaws add up to major disaster - we have a billionaire egoist with no social skills who is tunnelvisioned on tech as the only solution to the world's problems.

Bill Gates has been granted a pass for far too long on his "philanthropic" efforts, both in the health field and the education field.

It surely is time that Gates and his merry men and women in philanthropy at the Foundation get some independent measurement of their efforts.

And then, if it's found that they've failed at most (or all) of their philanthropic initiatives, the Foundation can be closed down like a "failing school," and the harm these people are doing can be put to rest.

If measurement of "achievement" is good enough for schools and school districts, as Mr. Gates says it is, than surely it is good enough for his Gates Foundation programs and initiatives too?