Friday, September 28, 2007

Weingarten Says: It's All Hunky Dory in UFT/Tweedland



When only around 500 chapter leaders out of a potential 1500 showed up at the citywide Chapter Leader meeting on Tuesday, Randi Weingarten stated it must be because things are going well in the schools.

"This was one of the smoothest openings of schools ever," she said.

Boy, that wacky gang at Tweed must be doing something right.

Only 4000 over class size grievances and not the usual 6000. See, they're listening.

Last year almost twice as many CLs attended the Sept. meeting (held at the the magnificent auditorium at UFT HQ at 52 Broadway) and squeezing almost a thousand people into a room holding only 850 served to remind them of their overcrowded classes and how years of the UFT's "reduce class size" campaign has netted them nothing. And a lot of people never got a banana.

So this year I was all excited when they moved the meeting to the Brooklyn Marriott, where if I got there early, I was sure to score a macadamia nut cookie. And a banana.

But so many happy chapter leaders were busy celebrating the glorious opening of school with their colleagues, the meeting had to be moved to a much smaller room, which they had plenty of time to arrange since Weingarten showed up so late. But chapter leaders have plenty of extra time on their hands, so they didn't mind.

And I had time to eat and drink myself silly.

I was there with my leaflet announcing that after 10 years, the final print edition of Ed. Notes would be distributed at the OCT. 17 Delegate Assembly (you can read it here.)

There was shock and awe in Unity Caucus at this news and I had to console them. UFT District 22 rep Fred Gross came up with tears streaming down his face after reading the news and pleaded with me for another copy. I had to turn him down and he went off sobbing.

Well, here's some more good news. (Read James Eterno's right-0n report on the meeting at the ICE blog.)

The UFT will join the fight on NCLB, not to eliminate the horrendous law, but to stop the provision calling for individual merit pay for teachers. (Remember Randi's suggestion years ago that summer school teachers who get good scores should get free airline tickets.) But as a compromise the UFT/AFT seem willing to accept merit pay for entire schools that raise scores. Just plugging into the "test will decide all" mentality that I always charge them with no matter what their task force on reading says.

With reports of open revolts about to take place in the Queens and Staten Island rubber rooms, where the inhabitants blame the UFT as much as the DOE for their situation and the formation of groups like TAGNYC (who did such a good job standing up to Klein at the PEP meeting on Monday) to defend themselves in the absence of the UFT, Weingarten announced that the UFT will focus on ATR's and the rubber room and will be holding meetings with both groups. More deflection by the "masters of deflection." [Make sure to check this post out as it develops my theory on how the UFT operates.]

The work Woodlass has been doing on this blog on the ATRs and excessed has clearly had an impact and gotten the UFT's attention. (It is amazing how much they worry about anyone out there organizing.)

In a post the other day I wrote "the screams of the people are beginning to be heard and with the potential national impact of blogs calling Randi a sellout, she is trying to make it look like they will do something-- she has assigned Ron (back-stabbing worm) Isaac, Betsy Combier and reporter Jim Callahan to visit the rubber rooms and come up with suggestions. So she is trying to let the air out of the balloon."

It will be the usual "We hear you, we feel your pain." People will feel good like the union is paying attention and will stop organizing. A year later when nothing much has changed they will get the message: Talk loudly, carry a tiny stick.

3 Stooges
Jeff Kaufman (who brought rubber room conditions to everyone's attention in 2005) in a post called "Rubber Room Redux" wrote on the ICE blog about what he termed the "3 stooges" Randi has appointed to investigate the rubber rooms. I know all of them and only consider Ron (the back-stabbing worm) Isaac a true stooge. Jim Calahan is a reporter for the NY Teacher who has written a number of exposes on abusive principals and probably has good intentions, but will not have much impact.

Betsy Combier, not a teacher but a parent advocate who I have worked with on a number of cases, was recently hired by the UFT, ostensibly to assist in rubber room cases. But since the real reason she was hired was to keep her from revealing sensitive information about some high UFT officials she gained from a FOIL request, I have to be suspect about how effective she will be. But if someone wants to pay you 50 grand to keep your mouth shut, who can blame them? And since I and others know the sensitive info, it will do them no good anyway.

NOTE: Want a job with the UFT? FOIL all the work records of every former and current district rep to see if they actually teach the one period a day. Word is that a reporter for a local daily has already done so, which is causing all the DR's to make sure to do their daily period of teaching - poor dears.

Weingarten hired Ron Isaac last year for 60 grand a year as a reward for his work during the 2005 contract negotiations in stabbing the opposition in the back. (Ron had run with ICE in the 2004 elections and parlayed that into his job.) I also used to publish Isaac's articles in Ed Notes when the UFT did not want anything to do with him (years of applications to get into Unity were rejected.)

And by the way, one of Isaac's main jobs is to monitor this blog all day. From our conversation the other day it is clear he knows more about what I write than I do.

So, this is the rubber room crew that Weingarten has put together. If I were in the RR I wouldn't make plans to be back at my job real soon. Better to join up with TAGNYC.

Apparently there's some upset at Kaufman's calling them "3 Stooges." The UFT wouldn't know how to spell rubber room if not for Kaufman.

On a closing note, it was nice to get responses from people about the impact Ed Notes has had. (check the comments here). One chapter leader who I did not know came up and said he really enjoyed reading it all these years and even some positive words filtered out from some Unity people the non-suit non-goon wing.

It is also nice to see ICE beginning to stir again after a bit of hiatus. One Unity slug commented: "ICE melts slowly." Or not at all.

25 comments:

  1. I am furious that the UFT is even considering SCHOOLWIDE BONUSES. I just heard the news at a chapter leader meeting in the Bronx. When I raised my hand to object to such a horrendous proposal I was quickly told that the meeting was not the correct forum for this discussion. I think it sounds like a move to segregate students. Who the hell is going to teach the ELL's ,and forget about the special education children. Do these people think before they speak of such detrimental proposals? Perhaps the UFT is too far removed from the class to really know what education is all about!

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  2. Hi Ron. I just wanted to say hello to Ron Isaac since he monitors this blog.
    from Eminem:
    Dealing with backstabber's there was one thing I learned
    They're only powerful when you got your back turned
    I yearned for the day that we finally met again
    So I can give him a taste of his own medicine
    He shed his skin, then he promised to come clean
    I took his ..... and ..... it into his spleen
    .... him at the seam then dragged the fella home
    Beating him over the head with the telephone

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  3. I'm sorry, I didn't understand Sol's post too well, but I did want to say something about Norm's:

    Wowsies! There's something really spellbinding about his expose of the horror show at 52 Broadway, putting it all out in the open like this. Kind of grim, too.

    Could he yell it louder from the Empire State Building that these people are all just plain corrupt?

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  4. Double Wowsies. Your post is even less understandable than Sol's.

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  5. I'll put it in other words, then.
    The blog is fascinating for its content and analysis.
    The situation designed and managed by RW & Co. is grim. That's because a whole range of people of suspect character are selling us out incrementally, contract after contract.
    Corrupt behavior needs to be exposed.
    When the press is bought or otherwise unwilling to do the muckraking, people have to shout out what they know from the rooftops.
    Or the Empire State Building.

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  6. Sorry for being obviously too cute and confusing. I was referring to Ron Isaacs, "aka" the backstabber according to Norm. I just wanted Ron to know, when he does monitor this site, what real union folks think of sell outs and collaborators. The lyric is a partial and cleaned up one from a song by Eminem

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  7. Dear Norm,

    You told me that you would be attacking me for taking on a position at the UFT to help teachers in the “rubber rooms”, but not to take it personally. You also told me to stop saying anything about how Joel Klein does not have a contract and therefore is in violation of Education Law 2590-h; you told me that it doesn’t look good for me to say that the Panel For Educational Policy and Mayoral control of the NYC BOE is unconstitutional. Then, you accuse me of violating my professional responsibilities to the public as a reporter for more than 30 years by keeping quiet some FOIL information, for money.

    I’m sure that you will get a great discussion going as soon as your latest whine is heard by the many teachers that I have tried my best to help for 4 years and who have told me that both you and Jeff have never given them any helpful advice or people to contact. Yep, that’s right, nothing. Why? In fact, I heard Jeff say to a teacher who did need help badly, “There is nothing you can do.”

    In my opinion, your support for the Klein/Bloomberg ring is a nullification of everything that you say about the UFT or anyone who works for the UFT. There is certainly enough blame to go around about how the deplorable conditions in the “rubber rooms” could happen. I have many stories of teachers who have been helped by Randi and the UFT, but of course you don’t want to hear that. The bottom line is, teachers want the UFT to do something, and Randi has taken the first step in making major changes to a process that has gone seriously astray. I, Jim Callahan, Ron Isaacs, and a bunch of other folk inside the UFT are moving toward ending this imprisonment of good people, individually and collectively. I have many stories of people who have been helped by Randi and the UFT, but of course you don’t want to hear that. There, I said it. PEOPLE. I’m dedicated, as I have been – see my website http://www.parentadvocates.org as well as the new blog with Lenny Brown and Polo Colon http://nycedadvocates.blogspot.com - to making sure that individually and collectively every person gets due process and a fair hearing.

    What is your agenda, Norm?

    Betsy Combier

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  8. I weep for the souls of dead ocelotsSaturday, September 29, 2007 at 5:09:00 PM EDT

    I don't believe anything Unity does and the lackeys they hire. The proof is in the 2005 contract. The "good" they do is only PR. Mentioning Randi's name in the post is a great idea too. I'm sure Randi will get word of it and reward you.
    Randi and her lackeys SOLD US OUT!
    Why did anything get to the point to where it is now? We are talking years here. We want a union that is pro active for its' members and not one that decides which cases sound good in the press.

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  9. My agenda Betsy?
    Peace and brotherhood towards man (and woman).

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  10. Betsy, I don't think you really get it. Just how far off-base you are is right there when you say you have "many stories of teachers who have been helped by Randi and the UFT."

    Probably they did help a few, and that's just it. Helping a few people out case by case is all we get from her against the BloomKlein juggernaut. Randi's motives are always suspect, her responses consistently anemic, and her remedies come always too late.

    She has made no attempt as far as I can see to build this union into a formidable workforce, one that could keep an administration like BloomKlein from bashing this profession into the ground.

    In fact, she did just the oppposite: she stifled dissent, manipulated the DAs, and allowed the DOE to cast us pretty consistently as incompetents and teacher-wannabes. Did I say allowed? She treated us the same way herself. Look at the contracts she signed off on.

    And one last thing: Norm never supported the Klein/Bloomberg ring a day in his life. What planet are you on?

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  11. If Betsy claims she helped teachers in the RR why did they need the help of an outsider like her if Randi and the UFT were helping them? A little filthy lucre sure made her change her tune.

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  12. I changed my mind Betsy. Nix the brotherhood - My truly real agenda is peace, love and understanding.

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  13. Betsy said:
    "There, I said it. PEOPLE. I’m dedicated, as I have been – see my website http://www.parentadvocates.org as well as the new blog with Lenny Brown and Polo Colon http://nycedadvocates.blogspot.com - to making sure that individually and collectively every person gets due process and a fair hearing."

    She forgot to mention that she also uses environmentally friendly communications when she does all that.:

    http://mediarights.org/directory/users/b/listing_bb.php

    Betsy Combier (Activist)
    I am a journalist/TV Producer/paralegal/editor, and have used environmentally appropriate communications for change for the past 25 years.
    Posted on May 25, 2006

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  14. environmentally friendly, WTF ?

    and people said I was confusing

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  15. My quote on "environmentally appropriate communications for change" refers to my work as a TV reporter based in Cairo, Egypt, 1979-83, where I also set up solar-powered video as a tool for rural villagers in the Nile Delta to use when they needed appropriate technology for community development or agrigulture. My Masters thesis submitted to NYU for the Interactive Telecommunications Masters Program in 1983 was on the application of solar-powered video to the funding of technology for rural agriculture in Egypt.

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  16. So un-Norm-al, let me get this right...according to you it's Randi Weingarten's fault that only 500 chapter leaders showed up for the meeting???

    Un-Norm-al, care to share what you are smoking? Does the word "reality" mean anything to you anymore or are you content to fabricate things?

    BTW, I soooooo find the humor in your imagined sense of self-importance. I honestly don't think Fred Gross gives a second thought to your little publication. It's too funny that you do.

    Now as for your assertions that Jeff "Andy" Kaufman brought to light the problems with rubber rooms, well crud, why don't you guys in ICE just take credit for every little thing where the union has succeeded in the last few years.

    Seriously, your propaganda is just too funny. Please don't ever stop, teaching is a hard job and you make me laugh.

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  17. Norm -
    At the Panel for Educational Policy meeting, of which you noted in your comments, you mentioned that TAG (Teacher's Advocacy Group, NYC) confronted Joel Klein about the present situation in the schools, but you reported no details about what they said or what they're really at. You also neglected to say that after TAG spoke that I spoke.
    I asked Mr. Klein if he still stands by his statement (made on November 27, 2006 at the PEP meeting) that "I [Klein] am an Attorney, and all teachers placed in rubber rooms are child abusers or guilty of corporal punishment" (paraphrased). His answer last Monday was evasive, so I told him I therefore considered the answer a non-answer. I then asked Mr.Klein what he based the characterization of reassigned staff as child molesters and the like, and his comment was again evasive. I told him that I would also take that as a non-answer comment.
    I followed that question by asking him why his office sent, in response to a Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") request, a reply stating that they have no information. The New York Post reporter had asked for information regarding the amount of, locations of and statistical information about the "rubber rooms" and their prisoners. Since his typical and sickeningly predictable response was evasive, I asked him why were there so many people over the age of 40 reassigned. I followed up with the question, why were so many of the rubber room inhabitants black and latino people (and mostly male)?

    But Norm, you neglected to report this, too! To me, it doesn't matter that you may not agree with what I had to say. You seem to have a one-sided agenda of criticizing the Union and Randi with venom, but dealing with the DOE and Klein with tapioca commentry. Wazzup with that?

    So then, following my speaking, Betsy Combier spoke loud and clear about the Klein administration's administrative terrorism perpetrated against the teachers in the New York City school system and about the deplorable violations of the teacher's rights (as guaranteed by the 1st, 6th and 14th Amendments to the United States' Constitution)! She told Klein that he was 100% wrong and that what he was doing to our school staff was criminal! Her speech was appl;auded by the TAG and the audience enthusiastically!
    I heard you say to Betsy, "Betsy, you were great!"
    Once again, it doesn't matter whether or not you liked what she did or had to say - but why didn't you report this important statement and speech, which is a matter of public record? I can't help but interpret your silence and reversal of your assessment of Betsy's attempts to help teachers in the rubber rooms as disingenuously dishonest.
    I have a problem with those that criticize the UFT venomously, but fight the DOE with kid gloves.
    Once again, I must say to you that I find suspect your not being incensed about mayoral control of the schools and the voter's rights being taken away through to the year 2009. My case is about that as well as the illegality of the PEP. I don't see why you have no outrage over this issue. It seems that you are not concerned about this, or that the Chancellor has no contract, in violation of State Law, or that the Panel for Educational Policy (Klein, the new Board of Education!) violates NYS Open Government Law by meeting in secret prior to the Public Meeting,and voting on the termination of teachers However, it is interesting to me that you would come down so hard , suddenly and by surprise on Betsy, who has been a champion for teacher's rights. I have trouble trying to understand how you can point the finger at Randi, but not at Klein. Are you afraid of Klein?
    I want to know, what have you and ICE actually done to stop the erosion of our rights under your watch? What have you done to try to prevent so many teachers who are hurt from being hurt?
    Where were you guys when the Class Action Lawsuit was supposed to be launched on behalf of over-40, Senior, experienced and tenured teachers - - - you know: the one that was shelved? The one nothing was done about as promised to the membership?
    Perhaps a new party that is not beholden to the others should be created, with the independent-thinkers from the existing parties as well as the rank and file members at large who want to see some real dramatic change right now. The new party might be called, TSP or "Teacher's Solidarity Party", one which is devoted to the classroom teacher's real needs and goals. A real Teacher's Party that is supportive of Teachers that are under attack, facing administrative terrorism from administrators-gone-wild. A Party that demonstrates real outrage with manifested action and not just getting bogged down with blogs filled with impotence. A party that will effectively deal with the latest barrage of attacks on teachers from the corrupt media and the DOE from an offensive posture and not a defensive and apologetic stance. May the Teacher's Solidarity Party finally arrive! -Polo Colon

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  18. Hey Polo:
    I have about an hour of video of the meeting. I went there to film TAGNYC and Patrick Sullivan.

    Did you forget that I spoke at that PEP too? And against Klein? And that I didn't mention in my report that I spoke either? So the paranoia you exhibit at leaving out you, Betsy and - goodness - myself from the very brief report that sought to give a boost to the TAGNYC people who were venturing into the waters for the first time is sad.

    Why not join TAGNYC, which by the way got together because of the fact their experiences were that the UFT has not helped them instead of urging people to form another group, which by the way, no one has stopped you from doing in all this time. But if you do, I will support it - but only if it doesn't become divisive and a shill for the UFT.

    I am surprised at your sudden defense of the UFT after all your appearences at UFT Exec bd meetings complaining about the fact they did not support people in the RR.

    As for my stands on BloomKlein, from comparing them to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe to charging them with the destruction of public education, to my actions a Klein's press conferences, trying to pin a pro-BloomKlein label on me undermines any credibility you might have.

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  19. Polo, I thought you were strong at the PEP meeting when you told Klein that you considered his answers non-answers. You scored many points with those remarks.

    Norm does not need anyone to defend him, as you can see, but one person can't be everywhere and comment on every thing.

    He is the most consistent oppositional voice I know of in the union over such a long period of time. Consistent as well as being conscious of and actively speaking about the larger issues, which I don't know if you even care about -- things like what's good for students, or parents (he's terrifically involved in the parents actions), labor movements and labor issues nationwide, political insightfulness as to the decisions made behind the scenes by the major players. Not knowing you at all, I'm not sure your range of interests can come near what he dabbles in on a day-to-day basis. Maybe they do, but it's hard to imagine. I haven't seen this kind of range in anyone else.

    Also, he does not attend a meeting to document it unless he wants to. Don't look for him to be a a person who takes minutes, like a secretary, or a reporter -- unless he's doing that specific job for that specific meeting. He can write about whatever part of the meeting he wants to, and you can write about whatever part of the meeting you want to.

    Keep up the good work, and Norm will keep up his.

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  20. The Fourth Reich is alive and well. The meek shall inherit nothing. The Rubber Rooms are living testament to the tyranical rule of ReichChancellor Klein and his Gestapo underlings.

    Imagine being frogmarched out of your school as though you are a criminal. Think about being defined as unfit to enter your place of work or teach your students. Imagine turning up at a teacher relocation center.

    Imagine your dismay and horror when you look at a room full of your fellow inmates. They number over a hundred and most are between the ages of 40 and 60.

    You are told that you may not leave and that you must punch a time clock. You are also told that your duties are to sit there all day with nothing to do.

    The union tells you, after many months of rotting in place, that as long as you are recieving your pay and benefits that everything is just hunky dory. This is your union; the people who tell you this garbage are LIVING LARGE BECAUSE THEY PULL APPROXIMATELY $1,000 YEARLY FROM YOUR SALARY SO THEY CAN LIVE WELL AND HURT YOU.

    You sit in utter depression and watch your fellow suffering and aging educators being tortured and fired.

    Some of them get massive fines. MANY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS ARE WITHHELD FROM EACH PAYCHECK FOR YEARS.

    The contract takes on the significance of Chairman Mao's little red book. You thumb through its dog-eared pages looking for some ray of light.

    You actually come across Article 21.g in the contract that purportedly protects your rights.

    This tells you that if you are not charged within 6 months, you have to be repatriated to the cesspool that sent you to Aushwitz in the first place.

    You contact your spiffy and expensively dressed union rep. He tells you not to file any grievances. But what about our contract's Article 21.g? "Don't worry!" You are hardly reassured, but are convinced that OUR contract is on your side.

    Maybe your students have been coerced into writing statements alleging that you hurt them in some Byzantine way in order to get you thrown out of your school. You have seen the statements written by illiterate students who strangely use adult language such as "innapropriate body language", "words to that effect" and "offensive statements". These phrases are correctly spelled yet all others are spelled incorrectly.

    You are only to aware that these kids know NONE of these words or phrases. They certainly couldn't spell them correctly.

    Worse, and more troubling: those well-written testimonies against you contain THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND PHRASES WRITTEN BY THE GESTAPO/ADMINISTRATORS IN THEIR OWN LYING STATEMENTS THAT SENT YOU INTO THIS LIVING HELL.

    You cringe like a whipped dog waiting for the inevitable charges and the issuance of a 30-20a procceding. The Gestapo tactics of those administering the misery decide that September to start instituting security procedures more stringent than our airports. You come in to Aushwitz and have to put everything in your pockets through an x-ray machine. You are also walked through a metal detecting archway or a magnatometer. To add insult to injury, you are also wanded with a handheld metal detector. After being forced to wait on line by three School Saftey Officers, you then get to punch in late. The Nazi timekeeper at your last school will deduct this from your pay, although it is not your fault.

    The level of fury rises and finally a level two grievance is filed. As soon as the union gets involved the charges mysteriously appear during month eighteen. A full year after you were thrown out of your place of work. Twice the statutory limit of the contract.

    Six months later you meet your NYSUT attorney who tells you that although the law and the contract say that you should be returned to teaching, this will not happen. Rather, he or she actually say to you: "We ignore the law and the contract. We do whatever we want to the teachers so that the arbitrators can make a living. The pipeline of teachers to do this to (HURT and possibly DESTROY, along with their families) is endless."

    Please note that the arbitrators are paid by the DOE and UFT and "earn" $ 1,200 - $ 1,400 daily, which we, as UFT members, pay for.

    When asked to request a dismissal on procedural screwups, your attorney might well respond that he/she "would have no capital with the arbitrator" if he/she were to do so.

    So there you are, screwed, blued, tattooed and dangling on a loose noose in the wind with little hope of being declared innocent of charges which were entirely fabricated to run you out of your profession and to cause you every kind of injury you can imagine - for years - and then some!

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  21. I just want to support anonymous in what he/she wrote about Norm:
    "(he's terrifically involved in the parents actions), labor movements and labor issues nationwide, political insightfulness as to the decisions made behind the scenes by the major players. Not knowing you at all, I'm not sure your range of interests can come near what he dabbles in on a day-to-day basis. Maybe they do, but it's hard to imagine. I haven't seen this kind of range in anyone else."

    Very true! Once when Pee Wee Reese was hurt Norm filled in at short and went deep in the hole to nab the speedy Mays at first. It helpd save my win that day.

    And I've been reading up on Betsy. She's done great work (seriously) and has great range too-ranging all the way to Egypt. My apologies.

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  22. This is Ron. Just to set you straight, Sol:
    I was a classroom teacher for 35 years. For most of those years I was a chapter leader. I was among the toughest, most effective chapter leaders in the history of the UFT, as numerous principals and superintendents and certainly members in the trenches would attest. Whoever you are, it is highly unlikely that you have one per cent of my track record as a unionist. Why don't you identify yourself by actual name so we can debate openly?

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  23. Ron of course is a legend in his own mind. And still a back stabbing worm. With such a great chapter leader why wouldn't the great UFT accept his repeated attempts to join Unity caucus? Or in other words, why did Unity shun him to such an extent that figuring he had nothing to lose, he ran with ICE in 2004?

    And Ron, did you strike out as many people as Sal?

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  24. No, he didn't Norm. I had that high hard one that earned me my "Barber" nickname. It was a purpose pitch that moved the batter off the plate. Then I could strike him out. Ron threw consistently wild, without a purpose. As I recall there was also some foaming at the mouth and umpires thought he might be loading up a spitter.

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  25. Hey Sol,
    This is me Ron. That other guy is an imposter. If he was Ron he would be in the trenches helping union members, not spending time monitoring ednotes.
    Let's have a drink sometime and watch replays of old Dodger-Giant games. I can show you my Bowie knife collection

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