Thursday, May 15, 2008

Corruption in the World of BloomKlein

"Next time someone goes on about the corruption and waste that pervaded the system in the days before Mayoral control, perhaps you might mention one of the examples [below.] - Leonie Haimson

"One day BloomKlein will be taken out with bags over their heads." - ednotes online.

At a recent Manhattan Institute breakfast where Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee were guest speakers, former Daily News reporter Joe Williams, on a follow-up panel, in defending the BloomKlein tenure of NYC schools, talked about how bad the system was in the BBK (before BloomKlein) years. He gave such an inane example, I've forgotten what it was.

Williams now heads Democrats for Education Reform – you know the drill: critics of BloomKlein are entrenched forces opposing changes in the status quo even of these changes are beyond inane. Charters are the answer to everything, preferably charters where there is little union presence.

When it comes to Ed Reform, there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats.

One area Williams never reports on is the much more massive corruption (and incompetence) that has gone on under his BloomKlein heroes.

Leonie Haimson's post below summarizes a piece of it. Note the mention of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, a man with mayoral ambitions. I was a fan of Marty since the days he was a student activist at Brooklyn College. He once came to my building on Ocean Avenue to organize the tenants. But for the last few years I suspected some deal with the mayor. I wrote about Martine Guerrier, Marty's appointee to the Panel for Educational Policy, who received a lot of notoriety for voting NO against 3rd grade retention at the Monday Night Massacre. When BloomKlein gave her a $150,000 position as Parent CEO, there was much bragging about how they took in a "critic" we were pointing out that her criticism died down very quickly the closer Marty grew to Bloomberg. (The NY Times at the time painted her as a persisent critic and when I accused them of sucking up , then ed reporter David Herzenhorn sent me a very nasty email personally attacking me.)

I guess $900,000 goes a long way in Brooklyn.

Leonie's post to the nyceducationnews listserve follows:

See today’s NY Times about the federal indictments of four DOE employees as a result of the bus scandal investigation – accused of soliciting bribes for amounting to at least $1 million, in exchange for giving preferential treatment on safety inspections to companies that provide transportation to thousands of special ed students.

These indictments result from a terrific investigative series of reports last summer by the Daily news– not anything uncovered by DOE itself or by Richard Condon, the school special investigator. See our blog for links to these stories. In fact, the News reporters complained of stonewalling by the DOE in the process of researching the safety problems and abusive behavior on the part of these companies’ drivers.

In addition, today’s NY Post reveals a list of community groups that received money through the Mayor’s “own secret taxpayer-funded cash stashin the reporter’s words, amounting last year to $4.5 million, which the Mayor used “to reward favored lawmakers” like Councilman Simcha Felder (who got $1.9 million for his favorite community groups), Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz ($900,000) and others.

Also on the list is Councilman Erik Dilan – who coincidentally or not, along with Felder is one of only four Council members who have refused to sign the resolution opposing budget cuts to schools. The Mayor’s office supplied $60,000 to a community group that happens to be run by Dilan’s wife.Unlike those groups allocated discretionary funds directly from the Council,

“Bloomberg's slush funds were channeled through various city agencies to 45 groups and weren't listed on the document released each year by the council oped in Daily News – suggesting that the recent naming of a Queens campus of public schools by the DOE for Senator Padavan might be considered a form of graft:

The state's Public Officers Law is clear on this: Elected officials cannot receive extra compensation or any gift of more than nominal value. Placing someone's name in a prominent place, whether it's an actual building or a tract of land, has monetary value. ….Naming a school after Padavan appears, at the very least, to violate the spirit of the law, which says that an elected official cannot "solicit, accept or receive any gift having a value of seventy-five dollars or more whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or in any other form ... in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action on his part.

Worse still, according to the chancellor's regulations, "schools may not be named after living persons." The chancellor and others worked around this rule by arguing - get this - that it doesn't apply to a campus. The naming is especially egregious in this case because Republican Sen. Padavan's district is a major battleground in the war over control of the state Senate, which is one seat from a tie and two from flipping to the Democrats.

But perhaps all this pales compared to the unfortunately legal, but incredibly wasteful spending practices of the DOE, which while proposing huge budget cuts to schools also intends to spend nearly $8 million next year on its so-called Accountability office – with only 18 staff members, averaging $432,757 per person!

See this entry by the invaluable blogger, Eduwonkette:

On page 446 of New York City's FY09 budget, we learn that the Division of Assessment and Accountability is budgeted at $8,287,282. $7,789,623 will buy you 18 staff - that's $432,757 per person! What else could you buy for this money, according to Eduwonkette?

A)3,894,812 subway rides
B) 15,579 pairs of Prada heels
C) 1812 hours with the Emperors VIP Club
D) 315 years of education at the Brearley School

I would also add a lot of smaller classes, after school tutoring, and art programs as well.

Next time someone goes on about the corruption and waste that pervaded the system in the days before Mayoral control, perhaps you might mention one of the examples above.


Anonymous said...

The Division of Assessment and Accountability.
Which of Bloomberg's friends will get which contract to subject our children to which standardized test this year?
This year, it seems to be about McGraw Hill, good friend of George W Bush.
It's nice to have friends, isn't it?

ed notes online said...

C&C - Not ony are they corrupt but they have proven themselves incompetent in just about anything they attempt.