Friday, March 24, 2017

Memo From The RTC: Chorus Line is A’Comin’



Memo From The RTC: Chorus Line is A’Comin’
By Norm Scott

Monday night, with the “massive” snow storm beating down on us, I headed over to the Post Theater at Fort Tilden, home of the Rockaway Theatre Company to check out whether the cast of Chorus Line was rehearsing. Also to see what snacks were being served. And mother hen Suzanne Riggs, without a doubt, one of the most thoughtful people on earth, certainly delivered some fine snacks. I almost forgot to check out the rehearsal.

I don’t like to see too much of a rehearsal so as not to spoil thing when the show opens on Friday, March 24. So I stayed just long enough to get a bit of the flavor of a show I had seen in the original on Broadway, but it was so long ago, I had little memory of the details. Well, I don’t have to tell you that this cast, as vets of RTC full well know, is spectacular. Actors, singers and dancers – a stage loaded with them. And they are all so beautiful and handsome. Ahhh, youth. And oh those mirrors Tony Homsey and crew installed on an otherwise bare stage. Susan Warren and David Risley are directing, and there’s an awesome support crew that I will talk about next week, so we know every single aspect of the show is in good hands.

A friend called me the other day asking me to get her a ticket because she loves the music and never saw it on Broadway. So many people tell me that Chorus Line was their favorite show. You all know this will be special and popular. There are 9 performances over 3 weeks. www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org or call 718-374-6400.

Psssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I have a link to the wonderful video they showed at the RTC party last week reviewing the shows of the 2016 season. https://vimeo.com/208213080. Shhhhh!

When he’s not snacking at the RTC, Norm blogs at ednotsonline.com.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

PEP Pix - CPE 1 Parent(s) Savage Farina and PEP


I've got a batch of videos and pix from Wednesday night's raucous meeting reminding us of the good old days of BloomKlein. There were 2 themes at the meeting -- the closing of the schools with JHS 145 the feature and in the latter part of the meeting, the CPE 1 parents who come to meeting after meeting ---  this time they came with banners.

Here is just one 3 minute video of parent outrage. More to come. (Excuse the bad camera work as I became so involved I became a cheerleader -- lucky I don't do this for a living.

https://youtu.be/tA8uTE6l8Kg






Add caption

Does she look happy?







Many MOREs in the house
So boring hearing people pouring hearts out - time to check the email

Warning to Steve Bannon: BloomKlein Deconstructed the NYCDOE/UFT Administrative State - But Built Their a New One

Before I start, News of the Day: 
Last night we saw the NYCDOE administrative state standing on democracy and the people. Same old PEP as under BloomKlein-- words cannot describe last night's PEP meeting -- or we have described them for many years since BloomKlein days so you know the drill of closing schools and ignoring the public. So JHS 145 and the other -- done. Another charter hs - from the slimes at New Visions -- coming on to the Beach Channel campus to join zillions of other high schools -- The Charter Pestilence Hits Beach Channel Campus: ... - I had forgotten this was on the agenda and I should have spoken against it -- and the CPE1 people putting on a display month after month and raking Farina and the DOE over the coals as being liars and basically, criminals.

Now on to my theme of the day which I thought about during some of the low moments of the meeting last night, which ended around 10PM.

If Steve Bannon called for deconstructing the NYCDOE administrative state would we object? Well, actually that's sort of been done before.

-  Joel Klein/Mike Bloomberg took over the old Board of Education in 2002 with the same fervor and intent as Steve Bannon -- to wreck the administrative state of the BOE, which included its partner since the early 70s -- the UFT. And to a great extent they succeeded --- literally wiped out a massive number of people on every level --  and don't forget -- Klein disrupted -- his words --- multiple times.

It was the Trump-like equivalent we are seeing today -- the utter daily outrages of BloomKlein was shock and awe -- and the UFT was like the press today -- it didn't know which way to turn as they took away their privileged status as insiders.

It was also shock and awe to the many parent and community groups that had relations with the old BOE -- suddenly they were dealing with the same kind of people we see Trump installing today -- Michelle Rhee, John White -- Leonie can unroll a  massive list of these people.

Klein built another admin state to take its place -- and remember -- Farina was one of the remnants of that old admin state and managed to hang on for a few years -- until Klein et al dumped her (despite her revisionist claims that she left on her own) -- insiders tell me that she was told "she didn't have the skill set for the job" -- she still doesn't by the way. Can you imagine how the arrogant Farina reacted to that?

Then de Blasio takes over and brings Farina back - and she basically leaves the Klein/Walcott admin state in place -- other than to give superintendents more power -- and I remember how some of our allies said that was a good thing -- until you realize just what a collection of slugs and thugs these supt are ---

And then there is the UFT, which has wormed its way back into the administrative DOE state. Despite the claims to support JHS 145 being kept open and the sending of an officer to speak at the meeting, every other action of the union is to support Farina/de Blasio and that includes CPE1 and, yes, Townsend Harris.

I'm gonna stop right now or I'll need to start drinking before noon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Closing JHS 145: Farina Will Ignore State Law on Zoned Schools

Asked about the issue following a budget hearing Tuesday, Fariña denied the local education council had a role to play in the closure of JHS 145. “There are no zoning lines being eliminated and every school is choice there,” she told reporters. “Parents will be given three to four options of other schools they can apply to.”....
NY Post Public Advocate: City’s plan to close Bronx school is illegal

Yoav Gonen has a report at the NY Post. I love it -- a potential confrontation between Farina/de Blasio and Letitia James.

Typical Farina mimicking her former boss Joel Klein in the arrogant attitude of shutting community and parents out, especially when it comes to closing a bedrock school.

So for now I assume the PEP tonight will go ahead and vote to close JHS 145  -- Assume 4 votes - the boroughs - against with Staten Island voting to close. we might see some of the di Blasio appointments break ranks but not enough unless some of them react to the crowd, which will boo the hell out of them.

In a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, James objected to the proposed closure of six schools — but said JHS 145 in The Bronx was of greatest concern because of the legal issues.
“We are particularly concerned about the proposal to close JHS 145, since it is a zoned middle school and should not be closed without a vote of Community Education Council in District 9,” James wrote. “This vote has not occurred.”
Yoav reported before the CEC vote last night which I reported on late last night - Community Education Council, District 9, Bronx Votes 7-1 Against Closing JHS 145 - A zoned school--- actually 8-1.
In 2009, then-Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and the NYCLU teamed up with parents to sue the DOE over a similar bypass of local community education councils, which have few powers other than drawing school zoning lines.
Given this history, the next step would be for James or the UFT to sue.

So maybe the fact of this overwhelming vote, the charges that will be made tonight that the Far/deB and PEP are executing the DeVos/Trump privatization plan when they turn more public space over to Eva Moskowitz, will nudge a few PEPers into line.

Here is more of the Post piece- note that the list of issues reported somehow leaves out that when the DOE gave space to Eva that split the school and finished off JHS 145, which was hardest hit by the charter.

http://nypost.com/2017/03/22/public-advocate-citys-plan-to-close-bronx-school-is-illegal/
The city Department of Education is breaking state law by moving to shutter one of its struggling Bronx Renewal Schools without a vote from the local education board, Public Advocate Letitia James charged Tuesday.

A decision to close JHS 145 and the five other schools will be made Wednesday by the 13-member citywide Panel for Educational Policy — a majority of whom were appointed by Mayor de Blasio.

Asked about the issue following a budget hearing Tuesday, Fariña denied the local education council had a role to play in the closure of JHS 145.

“There are no zoning lines being eliminated and every school is choice there,” she told reporters. “Parents will be given three to four options of other schools they can apply to.”

Parents and education advocates have pinned the failings of JHS 145 on the city’s Renewal Schools program — which they say didn’t come through with promised resources or support.
They say the school lacks needed bilingual teachers and a science lab, while a planned health clinic has yet to open at the site.
At the budget hearing, the DOE for the first time detailed the program’s costs, which are roughly $188 million in the current school year.

This includes $108 million allocated directly to schools and $40 million earmarked for community based organizations.
Providing a director of school renewal for each of the 86 schools still in the program was pegged at $7 million.

Central Park East I Parents and Community WILL BE THERE at Tonight's PEP in Support of Marilyn Martinez and the School

Parents and supporters flood Hearing Waiting Room to Support Chapter Leader Marilyn Martinez at her hearing, March 10, 2017
why is the DOE expending so many resources in keeping this incompetent, despised and heartless principal in place? And why are our children being made to pay the price for this decision?
Jen Roesch... parent
If you know me, you know that I have been part of an 18-month battle against an abusive principal at our son's progressive, East Harlem school, Central Park East 1. We've had the majority of our best, most veteran teachers forced out over the last year and two (the union chapter leader and delegate) have been placed under investigation in an attempt to remove them from teaching.

In the current termination, parents have supported our teacher, Marilyn, in overwhelming numbers at her hearings. Parents and teachers have appealed to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) at each of its last 13 meetings, have gone to the UFT for support, have gotten a Community Education Council resolution supporting us, have had a rally of close to 300 parents, teachers and supporters at the DOE, led a walkout of students and parents, organized a petition drive signed by nearly 70% of current parents, appealed for support and much, much more. The DOE has recognized our Principal Monika Garg's incompetence when it finally assigned a support person to do the work our principal should be doing. But they have refused to remove her - saying that she has a right to be at CPE1. A parent has now used available statistics to show that Garg is, in fact, the WORST principal in NYC as shown by school-based surveys. She oversaw the largest decline in parent and teacher satisfaction/confidence in the whole city. We don't believe in test scores, but if Garg has staked her claim to anything, it has been academic and skills improvement. But our school also saw the largest decline in test scores in the whole city. It really begs the question: why is the DOE expending so many resources in keeping this incompetent, despised and heartless principal in place? And why are our children being made to pay the price for this decision? #savecpe1
 Kaliris Yimar Salas-Ramirez Tory Frye, Kari Steeves, Johanna Garcia, Mari-Alistine Moss, Rachel Birdsall, Xandrea J. Sanford, Jia Lee, Aixa Rodriguez, Norm Scott, Jane Maisel, Susan Ochshorn, Aldo Rafael Perez, Henry O. Love, Akiea Gross -- in the fight to #savecpe1 -- share with your communities and let people know that we love CPE1 as Deborah Meier intended it to be. Democratic, inclusive, integrated and supportive of ALL children. Progressive schools ARE NOT just for the rich. They work for children and it is MY son's school. We cannot do what is intended for our community with an abusive principal that no one trusts and that is taking our teachers out! #savecpe1 #UFT #bringourteachersback

Community Education Council, District 9, Bronx Votes 7-1 Against Closing JHS 145 - A zoned school---

... thus making it illegal for the PEP to vote to close it Weds night.
Watch Eva throw a fit and all her allies to go nuts attacking everyone they can.

I have to say that my experience at the March 6 hearing made me fall in love with the teachers from the school who spoke. You can see some of their videos here

But since there was word that Farina said that JHS 145 would stay open over her dead body... who knows what may happen at the PEP? But a big group of MOREs will be joining with whatever UFT leaders show up to stand with the school. As for what happened at Monday's Ex bd meeting regarding our reso, we'll report more on that -- but MORE will also be active at the DA before the PEP and many of us will leave the DA early to get on the speakers list. A big group of parents from CPE 1 will also be joining us at the PEP meeting and we will be working with them in their struggle too.

Kudos to Tish James for standing up for the school. If she were to run against de Blasio she would be my choice for mayor. On education over the years she has been one of the better people on the whole.

Leonie Haimson reports on her blog: https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2017/03/letter-from-public-advocate-why-renewal.html

Letter from the Public Advocate: Why the Renewal schools should not be closed - & how the closure of JHS 145 is illegal 

 Tonight the Community Education Council in District 9 in the Bronx voted 7-1 against the closure of the zoned renewal school JHS 145.  If the Panel for Educational Policy votes tomorrow to close the school anyway it will be illegal, for the reasons stated below in the letter from the Public Advocate Tish James, Class Size Matters and Marilyn Espada, President of CEC9.. 

In any case, the members should vote against the closures of these six Renewal schools.  The DOE has refused to follow through in its promises to the state to reduce class size in the Renewal schools and to provide their students with sufficient bilingual teachers and classes.  It is the DOE which has failed and should be held accountable --  not these schools.

 




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are Dues Arrears Reports Fake News or is Mulgrew's Response Fake News?

If paying late is an accepted procedure then maybe no biggie -- just say so. Or is this part of the hidden game being played by the UFT/DOE partnership in order to buy UFT complicence and silence in so many areas? Mulgrew last night said the major problem was abusive principals -- but offered no plan to fight that. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. ....Norm comment
[Mulgrew] Says there is fake news about UFT being two months behind on dues. Says we are never behind on dues. In January city collects them and we don’t get them until March. We’ve always been on time. We have solidified financial shape of union... Arthur Goldstein, UFT Executive Board March 20, 2017--CPE1 in House, JHS 145 Reso Watered Down
Mike Antonucci in email to ed notes:
Uh, except NYSUT's LM-2 describes the situation as of August 31, when UFT's per caps were between 90-180 days overdue. Sooooo...
Now before I post Mike A's just now response to Mulgrew, I must point out that Mike does have an agenda -- and it is not friendly to unions. So I may have heard something Arthur didn't from Mulgrew -- maybe a hint - that people like me reposting anti-unionist's comments may be aiding and abetting our enemies. And I do get that. But there is fake news and then there is truth and if the UFT wants us to bury truth even if coming from places of bad intent, they are helping to dig their own grave.

Letitia James on Board: Big Boost to the Save JHS 145 Campaign

Public Advocate Letitia James today called on Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina to slam the brakes on plans to shutter six Renewal Schools, saying the DOE has failed to deliver on promises like smaller class sizes and bilingual teachers for immigrant students.
Good news from James and a press conference today in advance of tomorrow's PEP votes to close 6 Renewal schools. Keep in mind that this is an Eva Moskowitz takeover school and closing 145 and basically turning the building over to an anti-union, no-excuses repressive school is playing into the Trump/DeVos game plan.
James said she was “particularly concerned” about the DOE’s proposal to close Junior High 145 in the Bronx without the approval of the local Community Education Council. In a letter to Farina, James said state education law “states that CECs must approve any changes in school zoning lines. Elimination of a zoned school is a change in zoning lines.
In the past the UFT went to court to oppose zoned schools being closed without a CEC vote and won. It looks like the CEC is meeting later --- probably to try to force through a vote -- the CEC is split so that should be interesting and the press conf is right before that meeting. Sorry I can't be there.

Rumors that Farina has told people the school will remain open over her dead body. Farina believes in punishing people who resist the Farina-Borg.

Last night at the UFT Ex Bd meeting, MORE and New Action raised a reso regarding 145, motivated with great speeches from Mike Schirtzer (It's a shonda) and Marcus McArthur - one of the best speeches I have heard. (See minutes by Arthur: UFT Executive Board March 20, 2017--CPE1 in House, JHS 145 Reso Watered Down.)

JHS 145 teacher Jim Donohue has been in the forefront of the battle.
JHS 145 English Teacher James Donohue said James’ support is a huge shot in the arm for a grassroots campaign to keep the school open that is comprised of students, alumni, teachers, parents, elected officials, community groups, activists and the teachers’ union.

“We believe Mayor de Blasio and Education Department have a moral and legal obligation not to shutter JHS 145,” Donohue said. “Closing the school brings to mindthe Vietnam-era expression ‘We had to burn the village in order to save it.’ Surely, there are less devastating ways to help students than evicting them from their school and uprooting them. Surely, it is preferable to keep these vulnerable children in the place that they consider a home away from home - while providing crucial resources, like adequate staffing, that they unfortunately have been denied despite being dubbed a ‘Renewal School.’ ”
I posted videos from the March 6 JHS 145 hearing last night - Videos JHS 145 Hearing: Farina Closing 145 and handing it to Eva echos DeVos/Trump Ed Policy

View Jim's March 6 speech: How do you know when you're not important.
JHS 145 Hearing Jim Donohue 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrdTLZBre8g

The campaign to SAVE JHS 145 from being closed by the Department of Education announces a big step forward – and will have a press conference late this afternoon.

The campaign to keep 145 open has widespread support, including City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, state Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, Community Board 4, the New Settlement Organization, the United Federation of Teachers, parents, students and alumni.

Supporters of 145 will be holding a press conference this afternoon before the local Community Education Council meets. The Panel for Educational Police is set to vote on proposed school closings Wednesday, March 22nd.
Press Conference

When: TODAY, Tuesday, March 21, 4:30 pm

Where: PS 28 
1861 Anthony Avenue
Bronx NY
in front of the school

What: JHS 145 is calling on the DOE to withdraw proposal to close the school. 
The District 9 CEC has not approved the DOE proposal, and the zoned school cannot legally be closed without their approval. 


Videos JHS 145 Hearing: Farina Closing 145 and handing it to Eva echos DeVos/Trump Ed Policy

Here are links to some of the videos I processed from the March 6 hearing in the Bronx. Some really good stuff from teachers at the school, parents, community members and some MORE people. The last one is 30+ minutes of DOE gobbledy goop.

JHS 145 Hearing Muslim Community Rep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXMKixJxuE4



JHS 145 Hearing Tech Teacher 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TGBh3Y-S4Y



JHS 145 Hearing Jim Donohue 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrdTLZBre8g



JHS 145 Hearing Spanish Speaker w Translator

  https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=LsoTWe4PI_E



JHS 145 Hearing Two Vet Teachers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLSlCLhEyMk



JHS 145 Hearing PTA and Chap Ldr 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhgWfdfEgYE&t=22s 



I'm the 3rd speaker
JHS 145 Hearing MORE Speakers - Mindy, Aixa, Norm, Jia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJmnG4-kr_o



JHS 145 HearingParent and 2011 alum 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiiMVsrekgo



JHS 145 Hearing Myrie and Rosalie Friend 




JHS 145 Hearing SBCC1 - South Bronx Community
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzRqB7zFJYM 



Here it comes - Elizabeth Rose lying through her teeth along with the slug Superintendent. For a half hour if you can stand it.
JHS 145 Hearing DOE Position and Response
https://youtu.be/tYazc_qWCTM


Monday, March 20, 2017

NYSUT is a Ponzi Scheme - Harris Lirtzman Analyzes the Financials - Does ST Notice?

NYSUT ... has a salary structure unlike anything I've seen in any other organization. In 2014, NYSUT had about 500 employees on its payroll.  Something like 60% of the overall NYSUT payroll went to staff members making more than $100,000....

So long as the cash keeps moving from dues-paying members to NYSUT to the AFT to the UFT and back around it can keep its doors open.  When any part of that chain-of-cash gets broken, for example when its members stop paying a large portion of their dues, the weakest link in that chain will fail.  NYSUT is that weak link.... 
Harris Lirtzman, Deputy NYS Comptroller for Administration from 2003-2007
After I posted Mike Antonucci/EIA report of the NYSUT financials - NYSUT Blues - Dire Finances and ST Criticism of Non-Union Consultant - and the EIA NYSUT financials from last year and the year before - NYSUT Financial Reports from EIA, 2015, 16 
--- LM-2 reports always lag a year behind ---

I heard from old pal Harris (Harry) Lirtzman, who I met through MORE about 4 years ago. If you want to know why I've been involved in groups like ICE, GEM and MORE, one of the major reasons it that I get to know people like Harry, a deep thinker and someone you can talk to just about anything. Even when we have serious disagreements, we always manage to bury the hatchet - usually over lunch without food fights.

Harry's years spent inside the Democratic Party fighting for his core issues has given him an interesting perspective about the party, especially over the past year and has led to some interesting conversations, to say the least, about Bernie/Hillary and the future of the party.

Unlike me, Harry had a variety of jobs before he taught for a few years at the end of his working time. He was Deputy NYS Comptroller for Administration from 2003-2007, which makes him uniquely qualified to examine the NYSUT budget, which he actually did around 2 years ago, as he describes below. He offered the results to some of us to publish and I remember there were some discussions around that. My thinking is fuzzy but I recall possibly at a MORE meeting some people being concerned about falling into the "bash the teacher union trap" as part of the general attack on unions. After all, that is what EIA, an anti-union site, is doing. But that is the Unity line --- we have to band together and what? bury the dirt?

I believe the best defense of unions is to fight openly for a democratic, non-corrupt union. Tell me this: Unity fucked up by installing Karen MaGee as president 3 years ago and we have to pay for their mistake by bumping her upstairs to a made to order job. Do we bury that?

By the way --did you know that Stronger Together is running against Unity -- let me know when they broach the subject of NYSUT financials.

Antonucci posited this thought in his post last April: New York State United Teachers is the teacher union equivalent of “too big to fail.”

Hmmm. That led Harry and I into a semi-deep discussions this afternoon of what that idea could mean. We're doing lunch soon and will explore that concept further.

On NYSUT Financials 
by Harris Lirtzman
March 19, 2017


Two years ago, I reviewed in detail the NYSUT LM-2 for 2014, the same document that Mr. Antonucci reviewed for his analysis.
              I concluded a couple of things.  

              The first thing I found, just like Mr. Antonucci did, was that NYSUT is insolvent on paper and is able to operate only because it is using curious sorts of loans to and from the UFT and AFT and transfers from internal funds earmarked for teacher education and professional development to generate enough cash flow to keep itself running.  An organization can be insolvent on paper but still operate so long as it has cash flow to pay its bills--when the cash flow stops and it can't pay its bills it goes bankrupt (for those of you old enough, think about the New York City fiscal crisis in the 1970s when the City was in deep financial trouble for years before it finally ran out of money to pay its bills). If NYSUT goes bankrupt because 25-30% of its members stop paying dues when the Supreme Court upholds "Son of Friedrichs" or the Republicans pass a national right-to-work law, and because the UFT and AFT can’t afford to keep bailing it out, it will no longer be able to defend any teacher, much less Marilyn Martinez, or negotiate any labor contract for its member locals. 

              NYSUT is a Ponzi scheme. So long as the cash keeps moving from dues-paying members to NYSUT to the AFT to the UFT and back around it can keep its doors open.  When any part of that chain-of-cash gets broken, for example when its members stop paying a large portion of their dues, the weakest link in that chain will fail.  NYSUT is that weak link.  No one, but especially not the UNITY folks who now control NYSUT, ever suspected that the cash could stop.  But it will stop and soon.

              Mr. Antonucci is only partly correct when he says "...honoring the work and commitments made to NYSUT’s unionized staff has resulted in net assets of negative $413 million. The teachers of New York are on the hook for that."  He’s right about the desperate financial condition.  For better or worse, he’s wrong about who’s going to be left holding the bag. 

              The teachers of NYS are not on the hook for any retirement or health care obligations accrued by current and former NYSUT employees. Those employees are not protected under state law or the state constitution the way that public school teachers are.  There is no funded NYSUT pension system available to them like there is in the state and city for teachers. They are protected only by their contract with NYSUT.  NYSUT, and only NYSUT, is on the hook for contractual commitments it made to its employees.  If--more accurately, when--NYSUT goes bankrupt those retirees will have to get in the same line with every other NYSUT creditor. That means that they will have nothing but the piece of paper on which their contract was written to show for their life time of service on behalf of NYS teachers and will have to take their chance in bankruptcy court along with everyone else to try to get those commitments honored.  Good luck with that.

              The second thing I found when I looked at NYSUT was that it has a salary structure unlike anything I've seen in any other organization. In 2014, NYSUT had about 500 employees on its payroll.  Something like 60% of the overall NYSUT payroll went to staff members making more than $100,000.  Yes, 30-40 of these people are highly-paid attorneys.  As some of your readers may know, I was Deputy NYS Comptroller for Administration from 2003-2007.  I can assure them that I’m aware of no, zero, none, not one non-profit or government agency that pays 60% of its payroll to employees making $100,000 or more a year.  I doubt that even Wall Street firms pay more than 60% of their payroll to employees making over $100,000 and I worked as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch and Co. from 1983-1990.  

              No. 1 and No. 2 are connected to each other.  If you pay your staff very high salaries you will owe them lots of money for pensions and health care benefits when they retire.  You can either make arrangements to pay for those commitments by funding them over time and investing those funds to earn more money.  Or you can take cash that comes in today from member dues and use it to pay the benefits you owe your current and retired employees.  The first way is prudent but can be expensive.  The second way can work but only if everything plays out the way you hope. 
Things in the Age of T#ump are not working out so well. Hope is a frail thing.  When your strategy is based on hope you can wind up bankrupt.

              I circulated my findings to a group of people two years ago.  I wrote a cover memorandum explaining the enormity of what I thought was going on at NYSUT.  I admit that it's not 'sexy' stuff and people told me either that they hoped Stronger Together would take care of the situation or that we ought not to challenge NYSUT when Freidrichs was still on the Court's docket.

              We need to figure out what the people who run NYSUT, the UFT and the AFT are doing with our money.  We can no longer take at face value any assurances they give us about how they are managing the $1,000 and more that most of us give them each year from our paychecks. They are not using it well. None of this is rocket science.

              The people who run NYSUT now won’t be affected by any of this. They’re being paid big bucks or can, like Karen Magee, parachute into special gigs created for them by Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten when they’re no longer useful to them.

              If what Mr. Antonucci and I think may happen does happen the people who will suffer are the people at NYSUT who work valiantly on our behalf.  Just as important, every teacher in the state will suffer because NYSUT’s attorneys protect us when our rights are threatened, NYSUT’s collective bargaining representatives negotiate our contracts every few years and NYSUT’s professional education and development staff give us the credits we need to keep our licenses.  We take them for granted.  But they may not be there a few years from now when we need them the most.

               We can keep the worst of this from happening if we take the time, now, to understand how badly NYSUT is managed, how terribly our money is being misused and how much we will lose if we don’t act.  I hope that the political strategy works in the long run. I'm afraid that we don't have the long run to find out.

              Teachers of the state unite!  You have nothing to lose but your union.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bernie is the most popular politician by far in the country at 61% As Dem Centrists Ignore the Message

Sanders has made himself and his platform relevant to Americans in a way Clinton and her crowd never did and still won't.  Fine, investigate the Russian - Trump connection but start talking about things that matter enough to people to get them voting. ... comment on NYCEducation listserve
Since Democrats have done things to reduce the role of government, they are in a poor position to defend against Republican attacks on government... On the Media
Words to make the Obama/Clinton wing that controls the Democratic Party cringe. I read somewhere that when leading Dems were asked whether they would go to the Bernie type economic message they said - nahhh, not now -- we'll stick with going after Trump and Russia and taxes --- go ask me if I'll sign another damn petition to see Trump's taxes.

I've been engaging in some debates over the concentration on the Russian issue and Trump taxes and how Bernie doesn't spend a lot of time there and stays on the economic message and health care. Diane Ravitch has chipped in and we are not on the same page on this issue. Here are some of thoughts I shared on that listserve.

The Clinton/Obama wing failed so miserably to address these issues in the campaign.

The Russians don't seem to have hacked the Senate, The House and all those states under total Republican control - or even in our own "liberal" NY state under the thumb of the Republican corrupt Senate and the renegade Democrats. Or the election of Cuomo and his charter giveaways.

Until we go after the roots and stop living in the tree tops we will see the Republicans increase their stranglehold on this nation.

If any other Republican had won we would still be facing the same kinds of cuts. People are comparing this to what Reagan did but at least he didn't control the whole ball of wax.

Instead of defending a flawed Obamacare, Dems need to be bold and call for single payer even if it looks like pie  in the sky -- let's convince the public that will end up being the best program for people.
Focus on Russia instead of health care is a distraction from the real work which is organizing a political fight back - not just resistance.
Hillary spent the campaign talking about Russia and attacking Trump - we watched the debates screaming in frustration at missed opportunities to teach the American public.


Like we spend 9500 a person for health care while France spends half of much with a top level single payer system.
How come no one knows about that when Hillary had a massive audience to tell them? 

The message needs to be about people in this country, not Putin.
And funny how only the left over the decades were the ones screaming about American interference and assassinations all over the world. Invasion of Iraq, anyone? And then there are those Obama drones.

The very Dems screaming today were part and parcel all that time.
 I was recently on a family cruise, some of whom are Trump supporters. Spending a week with our niece, hubby and 2 little girls -- the most decent people in the world - makes it hard for me to see them as enemies of the people. We have 25 people coming for passover -- we will be out of the liberal bubble that day.

I saw Reagan and Bush and their crews as deplorable - I mean Cheney/Rumsfeld, etc -- I have no scale of deplorable more than them. Count the dead.
So Trump is more despicable which is off the scale I guess.
They prepared the way for Trump and the Dems were handmaidens.

I See Pence as a religious zealot who would love to see Atwood's Handmaiden's Tale become reality.

We liberals spend a lot of time chasing after every single thing Trump does every day instead of being relentless like Republicans -- shaping our message and vision --- the difference maker in Bernie is that he is always on message -- relentless -- no matter how press tries to distract he stays on course.

If the Russia stuff never pans out -- then what a victory for Trump. All fake news and even the people who marginally support him move towards him.

We trashed wilileaks on Clinton but we embrace the spooks when they dish Trump?
This morning on CBS they did a story on Denmark - a managed capitalist social democratic nation with a 60% tax rate. The Democratic party doesn't want to go near there -- which is why Bernie has not been part of that centrist party that echos Republicans of the 60s and 70s. Instead of challenging Reaganism the Dems moved in that direction,

The Dems don't want to hear about Denmark or social democracy because that would mean stepping on their corporate buddies.

My relatives all went to college and I consider them quite bright. But they do listen on issues related to the economy and a rational discussion of health care. They will have to live through the consequences of Trump but I still don't hold out much hope when the world view is so narrow and they live in their bubbles. What I noticed a few weeks before the election when they thought Hillary would win was actual fear and a sort of desperation -- it astounded me and also made me feel something real was there and I started listening more carefully. 

I have engaged in discussions with them and I listen to them -- they are misinformed on many issues I believe but I have given up trying to inform FOX listeners.  

I try not to forget that my neighborhood voted 75% for Trump -- my block alone has a number of first responders -- they are not deplorable.

But we liberals live in our bubbles.

I just was listening to On the Media -- and I highly recommend this segment - http://www.wnyc.org/story/view-poverty

Below is the description of the segment --
The extent to which the [Trump] proposals would punish the poor was shocking to many in the media -- and statements made by Trump administration officials didn't help. Someone who wasn't shocked was Jack Frech, former welfare director in Athens County, Ohio (and guide for our series, "Busted: America's Poverty Myths"), who has been working with those in poverty for over 30 years. In that time, he has seen many proposals like these, chipping away at the few services available to the poor. Frech talks to Brooke about what he recognizes in the GOP proposals, why he believes the Democrats have often failed to do better, and why many who would be hurt under these plans are still holding out hope that Trump might deliver for them.

Fench points out that no Democrat has admitted they erred - the only one who says things straight out is Bernie. Call for single payer and show how it could work and people will start to listen. Unlike Palin they can't see Russia from here.

Fench points to the liberal media not really listening but trying to get Trump supporters to admit they made a mistake rather than listen to why they voted for Trump -- the liberal attitude they are dumb is what will keep Trump and his ilk in power - I actually see a one party system as center Dems continue on the path and put down the left.
I see the Russia thing as a way to avoid coming to grips with the failures.

Jack Frech points out how the Democrats over the past 30 years have enabled the Republican assault and the rise of Trump by agreeing that government was too big and must be cut and aided and abetted in that process -- both Clinton and Obama ---
Did the Dems get up and defend govt and point out the important things even in inefficient govt has done over time?

----where was the same outrage then from all the people complaining about Trump cuts?

Attacking welfare was OK. Where was the outrage when the Dems and Republicans - and the UFT/AFT pushed through NCLB and ed deform with no push back --- it was the Susan Ohanians and George Schmidts and a few others who were a tiny minority against testing mania in the 90s --- Betsy DeVos could not exist without the Democrats.

That more people lost food stamps under Obama than under Reagan. That public service workers declined under Obama -- that the Clinton and Obama admins did little or nothing for labor unions -- did they show up in Wisconsin?

REALLY, REALLY, REALLY --  listen to this segment:
http://www.wnyc.org/story/view-poverty

Leonie Haimson, often the smartest person in the room, chipped in with this:
Latest Fox News poll finds Sanders the most popular politician by far in the country at 61%.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/15/fox-news-poll-34-voters-favor-gop-health-care-plan.html

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2017/03/15/fox-news-poll-315/

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-popular-politician-in-the-us-bernie-sanders-fox-news-poll-2017-3

Reasons are pretty clear if you watched the MSNBC town hall from West Virginia with Sanders – with an audience made up of mostly Trump voters-- probably the best thing I’ve seen on TV in months. If you didn’t, I strongly suggest you watch it online.

Amazing, moving, informative show; and explains the anger and the total sense of devastation in these communities – where life expectancy and employment has been falling for years, and opioid addiction is rife. Not that Trump will likely reverse this trend; quite the opposite – as Sanders and others pointed out repeatedly. Here are some clips:

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/5-remarkable-moments-bernie-sanders-town-hall-heart-coal-country

longer clip here: http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/can-trump-bring-boom-days-of-mining-back-to-wv-897150531732

The fact that Sanders isn’t a member of the Democratic party is completely irrelevant. The fact that the Democratic establishment successfully pushed for Tom Perez over Keith Ellison as DNC chair is very discouraging for many reasons, and really does suggest that the Clinton wing of the party hasn’t learned the real lessons from the election.

Perez is an awful spokesperson, with an unclear message; Keith Ellison is not only far more compelling speaker but is smart and has his finger on the overwhelming anger and discontent of millions of voters. He has been repeatedly been elected from a district with a majority white working class voters and knows how to appeal to a far broader constituency.

After Princeton economists Angus Deaton and Ann Case came out with their groundbreaking report showing white mortality rates rising sharply, likely for the first time in US history, Keith Ellison was the ONLY person from Congress to call him to ask why.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/angus-deaton-qa/518880/

Deaton: …I’ll tell you another interesting thing: There’s only one Congressman in all of Congress who called us up to make an appointment to talk to us about the dying white people, because they were in his constituency and he was really concerned about them. Guess who it was.

Lowrey: Who?

Deaton: Keith Ellison! I was really impressed.

NYSUT Financial Reports from EIA, 2015, 16

I've been running recent Mike Antonucci NYSUT financials ---- NYSUT Blues - Dire Finances and ST Criticism of Non-Union Consultant. I have a follow-up coming from Harry Lirtzman, who was a deputy NY state comptroller and echos Antoncci in about 2 hours, so come back and check.

There is a NYSUT election in a few weeks. Has Stronger Together even touched on these issues in their election campaign? Has MORE raised these financials?

These EIA reports are not new. Here are the ones going back 2 years.

Monday, January 19, 2015

EIA on NYSUT Finances - Negative Net Worth = - $233 Million

Oh that common core math must be at fault.
Mike Antonucci has been doing rundowns of each state union's finances. Calling NYSUT "Too big to fail" one wonders who will bail them out? Maybe their old pal Cuomo.

You'll notice Richard Iannuzzi is still listed as president because this is last year's report
.
Posted: 19 Jan 2015 08:52 AM PST
New York State United Teachers appears to be too big to fail. Though it raised an additional $1.6 million in revenue, it spent an additional $14 million in staff compensation. The union spent more than 125 percent of its income, contributing to a negative worth of more than $233 million. NYSUT holds more than $305 million in pension and post-retirement health care liabilities for its staff and former employees.

Total membership – 385,566, down 3,781
Total revenue – $133.7 million (88% came from member dues), up $1.6 million
Budget deficit – $34.3 million
Net assets – negative $233.6 million
Total staff – 575
Staff salaries and benefits – $118.6 million
Highest paid employee – Richard Iannuzzi, president, $253,353 base salary
Highest paid contractor – Buchbinder, Tunick & Company, $244,536

April 5, 2016

NYSUT Ran $14million Deficit in 2014: EIA on NYSUT Finances

http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2016/04/05/new-york-state-united-teachers-finances-2/

New York State United Teachers’ Finances


Written By: Mike Antonucci - Apr• 05•16
New York State United Teachers is the teacher union equivalent of “too big to fail.” In 2014 NYSUT increased revenues by $3.7 million and cut staff costs by $17 million and still ran a deficit of almost $14 million. Its gargantuan negative net worth is due to holding staff pension and post-retirement health care liabilities of an astronomical $400 million.

Total membership – 388,875, up 3,309 members
Total revenue – $137.4 million (88.4% came from member dues), up $3.7 million
Deficit – $13.8 million
Net assets – negative $313 million
Total staff – 562
Staff salaries and benefits – $101.6 million
Highest paid employee – Richard Iannuzzi, former president – $254,353 base salary
Highest paid contractorHerbert L. Jamison & Co. – $635,825

Saturday, March 18, 2017

It's the Republicans, Stupid: Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

For so long, Democrats demonized and smeared anyone trying to inject basic reason, rationality, and skepticism into this Trump/Russia discourse by labeling them all Kremlin agents and Putin lovers. Just this week, the Center for American Progress released a report using the language of treason to announce the existence of a “Fifth Column” in the U.S. that serves Russia.... Glenn Greenwald
Greenwald has been critical of the focus on Russia all along.
While Dems chase their tales on Russia, the Republicans push their agenda. Does Bernie spend time talking about Russia?
Trump’s critics last year were horrified at the rise of “fake news” and the specter of a politics shaped by alternative facts, predominantly on the right. They need to be careful now not to succumb to the same delusional temptations as their political adversaries, and not to sink into a filter bubble which, after all, draws its strength not from conservative or progressive politics but from human nature. 
Is Rachel Maddow becoming the Democratic version of Alex Jones? How she has been mocked (Colbert) for her Trump tax fiasco. I don't want to watch the left/liberals act like the right wingnuts.


Talk about helping Trump brand the mainstream press as being fake news. The constant sturm and drang about every single idiot thing Trump does and says drowns out the real issue -- Trump is an instrument of the Republican agenda. He may be whatever he is but I would feel no better, and maybe worse, if Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco, and any of that gang were in charge.

I know this is heresy - I still hate those guys worse than Trump.

The problem with Trump is that he is such a tempting target, the anti-Trumps are busy chasing their own tails on every issue, instead of focusing on organizing a base of opposition that goes beyond street demos.

Greenwald points out that, sure, we should be following the trail, but let's focus, man. We need to go after the states in not only the flyover zone, but how about our own NY State, which just because it voted against Trump, has awful politicians.

Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

http://linkis.com/theintercept.com/201/9Qy1s

NYSUT Blues - Dire Finances and ST Criticism of Non-Union Consultant

The information came from NYSUT's Labor Dept filings. If UFT is "fully paid up," it is a recent change. I have no reason to doubt Carl Korn but when reporting I can either choose to believe something he writes in a blog comment, or something NYSUT reports to the federal government under penalty of perjury. And why were the payments overdue?... Mike Antonucci, comment on Ed Notes
There is a lot of intrigue around NYSUT, even extending to internal divisions in MORE over how to deal with the Stronger Together slate running against NY state Unity Caucus. I have had about 10 drafts on ST laying around over the past 2 months, but something new always comes up and I don't finish them. Thus I've left it to my pals Eterno and Goldstein to carry the story -- James supports ST, Arthur has been critical. I pretty much stand with James on this -- might as well support ST over Unity even if they are not perfect. Sitting neutral with Andy Pallotta running for president is not an option.

At this point, most people in MORE aren't paying much attention, a big change from 3 years ago --- I don't have the energy to find the links - but if you are interested, check my archives from late March-April, 2014.

For today, let's talk NYSUT finances, which may be in deep doodoo, with worse to come. And if NYSUT is in trouble, so is the AFT. Gee, maybe those 250K salaries might have to go. And how about that golden parachute for a newly made AFT position for the dumped NYSUT pres, Karen Magee.

I posted a report on NYSUT finances - NYSUT/UFT Finances in Distress? - linking to Mike Antonucci at EIA/Intercepts (not to be confused with Glenn Greenwald's Intercepts -- call it the right and the left wing versions) on March 3, which happened to be my birthday. Seeing the dire financial situation in our UFT dominated state union was not one of my pleasant gifts - well, basically my only gift, if you can call it that.

Mike reported that the UFT hadn't paid up its NYSUT dues, which would make the 750-800 Unity slugs going to the April 7-9 NYSUT convention here in NYC at the Hilton (at a cost of?) ineligible to vote -- but why worry, they could party anyway at our expense.
And yet AFT has millions to pour into the Clinton campaign and the Clinton Foundation.

Norm, I'd like to know what Antanucci's source is for the UFT not paying their dues to NYSUT?
A Unity slug, no doubt, left this comment, denying that the UFT hadn't paid its dues:
Facts matter: The assertion that UFT owes NYSUT money is false. Fully paid up.


The information came from NYSUT's Labor Dept filings. If UFT is "fully paid up," it is a recent change. I have no reason to doubt Carl Korn but when reporting I can either choose to believe something he writes in a blog comment, or something NYSUT reports to the federal government under penalty of perjury. And why were the payments overdue?
Keep in mind, Mike comes from the anti-teacher union right, so people are often suspicious. I, however, trust his facts and reporting, if not his interpretations.

Now let's shift to the current controversy just 3 weeks before the NYSUT convention with an ST critique and a  report from Mike addressing the ST criticism of the NYSUT leadership over the use of outside agencies instead of in house.

ST sent this out on March 14:
ST Caucus Stands in Opposition to NYSUT’s Outsourcing of Union Work.
It has recently been brought to our attention that NYSUT has begun outsourcing work previously performed by NYSUT employees who belong to the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner is now requiring that NYSUT managers send receipts and expense reports to an out-of-state company for processing.  The work which was previously completed by CWA members is now being done by Certify, a non-union company.  Participation in this outsourcing is required for managers and optional for members of the Professional Staff Union (PSA), who are all refusing to participate.
ST Caucus stands in opposition to any type of anti-union outsourcing.  NYSUT members across the state are fighting charter schools, distance learning, and similar outsourcing schemes.   We are perplexed and disheartened by the decision made by our current officers to subcontract the work of our union brothers and sisters.   According to Secretary-Treasurer candidate Nate Hathaway, “This flies in the face of our core values as unionists.  We must not fall into the trap of pursuing expediency at the expense of what is right.  Union workers are paid more because they defend the value of the individual worker and the concept that a worker should have protections in the workplace and be compensated with a reasonable, living wage.  What do we stand for as an organization if we espouse these principles in grand platitudes, yet pursue a policy of employing the services of those not afforded the very rights we claim to fight for?  This is very disheartening news.”
To address the budget issues that exist within NYSUT, our officers need to reduce costs through a transparent process that honors the work and commitments made to our unionized staff.  Any local leader who experienced the devastating budget cuts of the last decade knows the key components to an effective cost savings strategy. To reduce the budget of an organization and not have it lose its core purpose, cost savings must be transparent, involve shared sacrifice, and be mutually agreed upon by all parties. ST Caucus supports the elimination of one officer position (a 20% savings in officer salaries and expenses) and a 15% reduction in officer salaries.  Unlike the current officers, ST Caucus believes that fiscal responsibility starts at the top, not by outsourcing the work of some of our lowest paid employees at NYSUT.

ST Caucus Executive Board
I can pretty much agree with all of the above.
Now, in this age of "let's read all sides of an issue so we can find the true path" here is Mike A.'s take:

Union’s Internal Cost-Cutting Is Thorny

The finances of New York State United Teachers are a mess, but NYSUT’s officers are not entirely blind to the problem. When a union tries to cut its costs, it not only runs into labor unrest with its own employees, it might also provide political fodder for internal opponents.
Case in point: NYSUT sought to save a few bucks by hiring Certify, a company that supplies mobile apps and reporting tools for the processing of expense reports. This task is usually done in-house.

The staff contract bans outsourcing of work previously done by bargaining unit members without the staff union’s permission. NYSUT had to make the new process optional for employees, and evidently every single one of them has refused to use Certify.

NYSUT managers and executives, however, are not members of the staff union, and are required to use Certify. This irritated not only the staff union, but also Stronger Together, the opposition caucus within NYSUT that is running candidates for the union’s executive positions. It posted its complaint, which I excerpt here:
We are perplexed and disheartened by the decision made by our current officers to subcontract the work of our union brothers and sisters. According to Secretary-Treasurer candidate Nate Hathaway, “This flies in the face of our core values as unionists. We must not fall into the trap of pursuing expediency at the expense of what is right. Union workers are paid more because they defend the value of the individual worker and the concept that a worker should have protections in the workplace and be compensated with a reasonable, living wage. What do we stand for as an organization if we espouse these principles in grand platitudes, yet pursue a policy of employing the services of those not afforded the very rights we claim to fight for? This is very disheartening news.”
​To address the budget issues that exist within NYSUT, our officers need to reduce costs through a transparent process that honors the work and commitments made to our unionized staff.
A noble sentiment, but honoring the work and commitments made to NYSUT’s unionized staff has resulted in net assets of negative $413 million. The teachers of New York are on the hook for that.

http://www.eiaonline.com/intercepts/2017/03/17/unions-internal-cost-cutting-is-thorny/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Intercepts+%28Intercepts%29
So Mike is pinning the entire deficit on obligations to unionized staff. He provided numbers last time that made me dizzy - but check them out and it looks like he is right. Read his analysis if you have the stomach - http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2017/03/nysutuft-finances-in-distress.html


These numbers look scary and ST might want to address them. Cutting some salaries at the top won't cut it.

Lucky I live at the beach
I think there are over 20 and possibly 40 NYSUT lawyers who have to be there to defend all teachers in the state who are threatened with 3020a firing hearings, without cost. (One is defending Marilyn Martinez.) I have found the ones I saw in action to be pretty capable. But quality lawyers don't come cheaply.

I don't have answers to these complex issues which make me want to bury my head in the sand, or binge watch any crap I can find on Netflix - which makes me feel worse since the guy who runs it is a major ed deformer.