Monday, July 30, 2007

An upstart union comes to charter schools in Los Angeles

The new union is AMU, Asociacion de Maestros Unidos, the Animo Teachers' Union

From the New York Times:
By Sam Dillon

Steve Barr, a major organizer of charter schools, has been waging what often seems like a guerrilla war for control of this city’s chronically failing high schools.

In just seven years, Mr. Barr’s Green Dot Public Schools organization has founded 10 charter high schools and has won approval to open 10 more. Now, in his most aggressive challenge to the public school system, he is fighting to seize control of Locke Senior High, a gang-ridden school in Watts known as one of the worst in the city. A 15-year-old girl was killed by gunfire there in 2005.

In the process, Mr. Barr has fomented a teachers revolt against the Los Angeles Unified School District.

He has driven a wedge through the city’s teachers union by welcoming organized labor — in contrast to other charter operators — and signing a contract with an upstart union...

Board of Directors of Green Dot

Steve Barr – Founder & Chairman, Green Dot Public Schools
Charisse Bremond-Weaver – President & CEO, Brotherhood Crusade
Oscar De La Hoya – Professional Boxer, Philanthropist and Businessman
Glenn Dryfoos – Senior Vice President - Business Affairs, Univision Communications
Susan Estrich – Professor, University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Abigail Garcia – President, Asociacion de Maestros Unidos
Mike Garcia – President, Service Employees International Union Local 1877
Kevin Hall – Chief Operating Officer, Broad Foundation
Rich Leib – Executive Vice President, Liquid Environmental Solutions
Noah Mamet – President, Mamet & Associates
Shane Martin – Dean, Loyola Marymount Graduate School of Education
Pam Rector – Director of the Center for Service and Action, Loyola Marymount
Richard Schaefer – Chief Executive Officer, Golden Boy Promotions
Jeff Shell – President, Comcast Programming, Comcast Communications
Timothy Watkins – President and CEO, Watts Labor Community Action Committee
Joanne Weiss – Partner and Chief Operating Officer, NewSchools Venture Fund

Abigail Garcia is the President of Asociacion de Maestros Unidos, the union representing Green Dot’s teachers and an affiliate of CTA/NEA. She has taught English at Animo Leadership Charter High School for two years. She was driven to the field of education after witnessing the discrepancies in the quality of education available to Latinos compared to other ethnicities and the disproportionately low number of Latinos in higher education. She sees teaching as a catalyst to encourage and promote higher learning among Latinos and empower students in underserved communities. Prior to joining Green Dot, she worked at an elementary school in Watts, California as the Parent Coordinator. Ms. Garcia earned her Masters in Secondary Education and received her BCLAD credential from Loyola Marymount University. She earned a double Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish from the University of California at Berkeley.

Schools don't fire incompetent teachers because they don't have competent teachers to replace them with

It's a myth that schools want to fire incompetent teachers.

Who would replace them?

Or maybe the problem is that administrators are too lazy to document incompetency. Or could it be that principals just don't know who to start with? There's quite a bit of incompetency going around, and not just in the teaching profession.

Susan Ohanian notes that "...the main targets of firing and harrassment are the outspoken teachers who want to change the system, or who criticize the boss, NOT the lazy, incompetent teachers, who are portrayed as the chief beneficiaries of tenure."*

Susan is right.

Administrators (and teachers) who are unsure of their own abilities often react with hostility and aggression when a colleague starts talking about how things could be improved.


He's not heavy; he's my president

President Bush upon signing the Bankruptcy Bill (4/20/05):

"If someone doesn’t pay his or her debts the rest of society is left paying for them."

Amount added to the federal debt during the George W. Bush presidency:

$2.2 Trillion that the rest of society is left paying for...

(From "The Donnybrook" and "Think Progress" blogs)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

CTA's legal committe picks and chooses who it defends; Albert Truitt got their nod of approval

The following is taken from an article by By Robert Gammon that was published in the East Bay Express on December 7, 2005.

"...The case involves the fruitless attempts by Merced County's Atwater Elementary School District to terminate a teacher accused by five of his former students of molesting them. During the Atwater district's odyssey through the state's tenure rules, officials learned that even though the teacher was arrested, charged by prosecutors with six counts of felony child molestation, and ordered to stand trial by a superior court judge, they still could not fire him.

"These eye-opening lessons were handed out in the case of Albert G. Truitt Jr., a longtime teacher and track coach at Thomas Olaeta Elementary School in Atwater. The case began in December 2001, when one of the coach's former students told Atwater officials that Truitt had molested him. As required by law, school officials immediately notified police, who promptly opened an investigation. Truitt, however, remained on the job, and few people were aware of the allegation against him.

"After four months, police told school officials that they had yet to gather enough evidence to arrest Truitt, who proclaimed his innocence. So the frustrated officials conducted their own investigation, and soon discovered four other students with similar allegations. The boys said that between 1992 and 1998, Truitt repeatedly fondled their penises and buttocks and peppered them with unwanted kisses at his home and on field trips. So on May 23, 2002, the district informed Truitt -- per tenure rules -- that it planned to bring termination proceedings against him in thirty days.

"Before the tenure hearing could begin,
Truitt's union attorneys filed motions to throw out
most of the allegations, citing a provision
that prohibits the use of allegations
against a teacher if those charges are
more than four years old.
An administrative law judge agreed,
effectively ruling that Truitt could not be fired.

"Stunned district officials appealed the case, and a Superior Court judge overturned the earlier ruling and reinstated the tenure hearing. But before it got under way, the California Teachers Association appealed the case to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Fresno.

"In February 2003, Atwater police finally put together a case against Truitt and arrested him on one count of felony child molestation. The district attorney added five more counts the following July. After a preliminary hearing, a judge concluded there was sufficient evidence to order Truitt to stand trial. He faced up to fifteen years in prison.

"But those developments meant nothing to the appellate court. It ruled against the district and once again dismissed Truitt's termination hearing. The court held that tenure rules clearly state that "no decision relating to the dismissal ... of any employee shall be made on charges or evidence of any nature relating to the matters occurring more than four years prior to the filing of the notice."

"Although Atwater officials appealed the case to the state Supreme Court, they feared they would never be allowed to fire Truitt -- who by then had been put on leave pending a resolution of the case. One option was to wait for him to be convicted of molestation, which would result in the loss of his teaching credential. But that was no slam-dunk. Child-molestation cases can be tough to win, especially if they're based on old allegations without physical evidence. In this case, it would be the word of young boys who had waited four to ten years to come forward against that of a well-liked teacher who was backed by one of the most powerful unions in California.

"With the prospect of children having to testify in open court, school officials signed off on a plea-bargain agreement between the district attorney and Truitt's attorneys. The teacher pleaded no contest, was convicted of a misdemeanor battery charge, and agreed to five years' probation. In exchange, he resigned from the district and voluntarily surrendered his teaching credential. "This broke my heart," he wrote in July 2004 to the court.

"The plea deal kept Truitt out of the classroom and away from children every day. But if he was guilty, justice had not been served. A child molester may have gone free because tenure rules made it virtually impossible for his employer to keep him away from potential victims.

"After suffering a stroke, Truitt died in May of this year at the age of 54. The school district is pressing its case nonetheless, supported by the California School Boards Association and several other major school districts. Atwater is arguing that even though Truitt is dead, key questions remain unresolved. "The essence of this case is to protect the safety of schoolchildren," said attorney Smith, who represents the district. "When you don't know about the misconduct, then why should you be prevented from acting on the misconduct when it comes to your attention?"

"Atwater is asking the high court to liberally interpret the tenure rules to mean that the four-year clock should not begin ticking until the district learns of the allegations. "It contravenes public policy that the employment rights of one individual would be elevated above the rights of schoolchildren," attorneys for LA Unified said in a letter to the court in support of Atwater.

"Union attorney John Kohn maintains to this day that Truitt was innocent. Attorney Thomas Driscoll, who represented Truitt since the original tenure hearing and is still being paid by the teachers' union, said the district attorney's office must have settled the case because there were "problems with it." Mendocino County District Attorney Gordon Spencer did not return two phone calls seeking comment on why he accepted the plea bargain.

"As for the Supreme Court case, Kohn and Driscoll argue that it should be the job of police and prosecutors -- not school districts -- to investigate criminal allegations against teachers and prosecute them if necessary. "I'm glad that the California Supreme Court took this case, because we want to defend this case," Driscoll said.

"But there is more at stake in Truitt than the rights of teachers versus the safety of schoolchildren. Cash-strapped school districts, like most public agencies, are concerned about the costs of getting sued. They want a definitive ruling because school districts forbidden by law from firing a suspected child molester can nonetheless be sued for millions of dollars in civil court -- where the standard of proof is less -- by the victims of such a teacher..."

CTA goes to California Supreme Court in effort to keep child molesters in classrooms

Here's a post from Jane Swanson's California Teachers Blog:

Those pesky school districts!

Once again they are trying to get child molesters out of the classroom. In the Albert G. Truitt, Jr. case, the California Teachers Association proved once again that its executive director Carolyn Doggett, its chief counsel Beverly Tucker, and their stable of lawyers are a buch of geniuses.

Usually, teachers cannot be dismissed or have their credentials taken away for any act occurring more than four years before charges are brought against them. But for CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, exceptions have been made to this 4-year statute of limitations IN EVERY VENUE IN CALIFORNIA EXCEPT WHEN A DISTRICT TRIES TO DISMISS A TEACHER.

Atwater School District wanted to dismiss Mr. Truitt in 2002 for molestations that occurred from 1992 to 1998.

CTA said no way!


Why do Beverly Tucker and Carolyn Doggett want to keep the following anomaly in California law?

"A teacher could be prosecuted criminally, the CTC could institute credential revocation proceedings, and a school district could be sued for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision all based on the same set of facts that exist here. Yet, the Court of Appeal’s literal interpretation of section 44944(a) would deprive a school district of the ability to dismiss an employee on the same set of facts."


Beverly Tucker and Carolyn Doggett care about political power and loyalty to friends who commit crimes more than they care about the abuse of children.

Sadly, our friends at CTA lost the Albert Truitt case. In June 2007, the California Supreme Court ruled that equity requires that school districts get the same extension on the statute of limitations that the Teacher Credentialling Commission gets.

CTA must have thought it had a good chance to win, since in 1993 it apparently was able to kill a California bill that would have specifically extended the child sexual abuse statute of limitations for school districts. Can you believe that legislators would fail to vote for a bill that would get child molesters out of classrooms? This goes to show the enormous power that CTA has in California. No Democrat can get elected without CTA's support. CTA holds the purse strings to a huge amount of campaign funds, and every local affiliate in California is rigidly controlled by Beverly Tucker and Carolyn Doggett.

Isn't it sad to see Beverly Tucker and her pal Michael Hersh lose a case? Let's hope they don't get depressed. They would be so much more successful if they didn't defend criminals. I for one am crossing my fingers and hoping that in the next case they fight, Bev and Mike won't be using teacher union dues to protect criminals. Maybe they got over confident when they got my case thrown out of court. They succeeded in protecting union leaders who had started with
misdemeanors,but went on to commit felonies to cover up their misdemeanors.

CTA defends the rights of certain teachers, like Albert G.Truitt, Jr.

California Teachers Association's powerful leaders Beverly Tucker and Carolyn Doggett are loyal to a fault.

When a pal of CTA leaders is charged with incompetence or child abuse, CTA works hard to protect them.

Do competent teachers, who have not committed child abuse or any other crime, get the same treatment? No--politics reigns supreme in the education system. CTA frequently ignores or violates the rights of high-functioning teachers, but the top brass of CTA act just like the current executive branch of the United States when it comes to covering up crimes and protecting pals from punishment.

Last month the California Supreme Court released the Albert Truitt Jr. decision, much to the consternation of CTA lawyers Beverly Tucker, Rosalind Wolf, and John Kohn.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Man spared hours before his scheduled execution because police suborned perjury

Troy Davis, 38, has been taken off death row in Georgia because seven of nine witnesses against him now say that they were pressured by police to lie under oath in the case. Other witnesses have implicated another man in the killing of a Savannah police officer in 1989. There was no physical evidence against Davis.

Here's a story about the case:

Some Witnesses Now Say He Is Innocent
By Peter Whoriskey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 16, 2007

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- A Georgia man is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday for killing a police officer in 1989, even though the case against him has withered in recent years as most of the key witnesses at his trial have recanted and in some cases said they lied under pressure from police.

Prosecutors discount the significance of the recantations and argue that it is too late to present such evidence. But supporters of Troy Davis, 38, and some legal scholars say the case illustrates the dangers wrought by decades of Supreme Court decisions and new laws that have rendered the courts less likely to overturn a death sentence.

Three of four witnesses who testified at trial that Davis shot the officer have signed statements contradicting their identification of the gunman. Two other witnesses -- a fellow inmate and a neighborhood acquaintance who told police that Davis had confessed to the shooting -- have said they made it up.

Other witnesses point the finger not at Davis but at another man. Yet none has testified during his appeals because federal courts barred their testimony.

"It's getting scary," Davis said by phone last week. "They don't want to hear the new facts."

Three school administrators cover up rape and slaying

Laura Dickinson

Eastern Michigan forced out three administrators who covered up the rape and murder of Laura Dickinson, 22, in her dorm room. John Fallon, Jim Vick and Cindy Hall lost their jobs for tellilng Dickinson's parents that there was no foul play involved.

This story was reported by Jeff Faroub of the Associated Press on July 17, 2007.

This seems like the logical outcome of the culture of secrecy and dishonesty among educators and education attorneys across the country.

"When you remain silent as a silent witness, you become a silent accomplice."

Monday, July 23, 2007

An apology for releasing politically damaging information

by Michael Gormley
The Associated Press

(July 23, 2007) — ALBANY — Gov. Eliot Spitzer today suspended a top aide and will reassign another following a report by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that said members of the administration conspired to release politically damaging information about a Republican adversary’s use of state aircraft.

Spitzer said he accepted the findings of the report. He suspended indefinitely without pay his longtime communications director, Darren Dopp, and said he will reassign his assistant deputy for public safety, William Howard, to a position outside the executive chamber. Both are senior staffers for Spitzer and among his closest aides.

Spitzer, a Democrat, said neither he nor anyone else higher up in the administration ordered Dopp and Howard to collect information on Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Spitzer said he knew nothing of their plans.

“Clearly this was not part of a broader package,” Spitzer said. “I will not tolerate this behavior.”

Spitzer took no action against the acting superintendent of state police, Preston Felton.

Spitzer said he won’t challenge the findings of Cuomo’s report, which found no violations of law.

“I apologize to Senator Bruno, as I did earlier today,” Spitzer told reporters. “I apologize to the people of the state of New York.”

Developer Paul Nieto (parter of Mike Madigan) resigns from Airport Authority

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is there a difference between lying and duplicity?

Note: If you are looking for Dennis Doyle, former Assistant Superintendent at Chula Vista Elementary School District, this article is not about him. Doyle moved to National School District.

Lies vs. duplicity
Letter to the Editor
National Catholic Reporter, August 15, 2003 by Joseph C. Kunkel

Dennis Doyle distinguishes lying from duplicity (NCR, July 18). While lying is wrong, duplicity is presented as a cut above.

Doyle's wonderful example of Fr. William Joseph Chaminade is appreciated. But Chaminade's statement is a far cry from the 16 words President Bush used in the State of the Union address to claim from discredited sources that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Niger.

Doyle questions whether the completely unfounded connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam as propounded by the Bush administration was really deception or only duplicity. If spurious statements by public officials in support of some "higher cause" are approvingly duplicitous, what has happened to the Christian notion of truth?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

No prison time for 3 Oxycontin executives

Three lucky executives will not be going to jail for their crimes: Michael Friedman, Purdue Pharma’s president until recently; Howard R. Udell, its top lawyer; and Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim, its former medical director. Purdue Pharma is owned by the Sackler family, well known contributors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Mary Jo White, a former United States attorney in New York who represented attorney Udell, said he was the “moral compass” of Purdue Pharma. Well, it sounds like that's the problem right there.

Lots of public and private agencies hire lawyers to be their "moral compass," knowing full well that the lawyer understands that his job is to help them do what they want to do and get away with it.

BARRY MEIER of New York Times reports on July 20, 2007 that "Judge James P. Jones of United States District Court indicated that he was troubled by his inability to send the executives to prison."

"After hearing wrenching testimony from parents of young adults who died from overdoses involving the painkiller OxyContin, a federal judge Friday sentenced three top executives of the company that makes the narcotic to three years’ probation and 400 hours each of community service in drug treatment programs."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Supressing Science

U.S. Agency May Reverse 8 Decisions on Wildlife

Published: July 21, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 20 — The Interior Department said Friday that it would review and probably overturn eight decisions on wildlife and land-use issues made by a senior political appointee who has been found to have improperly favored industry and landowners over agency scientists.

The appointee, Julie A. MacDonald, resigned on May 1 as a deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, after an internal review found that she had violated federal rules by giving government documents to lobbyists for industry. The agency’s inspector general also found several instances in which Ms. MacDonald browbeat department biologists and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species.

H. Dale Hall, the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said he had asked the agency’s regional managers to submit for review cases in which Ms. MacDonald might have inappropriately bent the process to fit her political agenda. Mr. Hall winnowed the list to eight instances in which he said he expected that her actions would be reversed...

Why didn't the FDA protect the public from Oxycontin

These people were no better than heroin dealers. As is so often the case, a lawyer was instrumental in these crimes by businessmen.

The Associated Press
Published: July 20, 2007

OxyContin maker, executives fined $634.5 million for misleading public

ABINGDON, Virginia: A federal judge on Friday fined the maker of painkiller OxyContin and three executives $634.5 million for misleading the public about its risk of addiction.

U.S. District Judge James Jones said he would have preferred to have the plea agreements call for spending money on education of those at risk of drug abuse and treatment of those who are addicted to OxyContin. But Jones said he would not reject the agreement.

"Many young people mistakenly believe today that prescription drugs are safer than other drugs," Jones said.

Designed to be swallowed whole and digested over 12 hours, the pills can produce a heroin-like high if crushed and then swallowed, snorted or injected.

Purdue Pharma L.P., its top lawyer and former president and former chief medical officer pleaded guilty in May and under an agreement for claiming that OxyContin was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications...

The coal-mining region of southwest Virginia where the sentencing took place has had a number of oxycodone-related deaths — 119 from 2003 through 2005, according to the state medical examiner's office...

Survivors of the victims want the Food and Drug Administration to reclassify OxyContin for use only for severe pain. The drug currently can be prescribed for moderate pain...

Bush wants no child left behind all alone; he wants them to have lots of company

Bush's Pell Grant plan would shut out thousands
By PATRICK KERKSTRA, Knight Ridder Newspapers

PHILADELPHIA -- As a freshman, Temple University student Arsema Solomon needed to borrow just $5,000 to cover college expenses that were not met by grants, some limited family help and a part-time job.

Three years later, Solomon has added a night shift as a bank teller, and mounting costs have forced her to double her student-loan load to $10,000 a year.

Her financial burden might be even greater next year if the Bush administration goes ahead with a plan to change the Pell Grant funding formula.

If the formula is changed, an estimated 90,000 students receiving Pell grants would become ineligible for the program, and an additional 1.2 million students would see their grants shaved by $200 to $300, according to a financial-aid advisory committee created by Congress...


Chula Vista Police Department 2005-06 hoax on behalf of Cheryl Cox and the Santa Barbara Sheriff

Chula Vista is not the place to go if you are looking for equal protection of the law. It makes a big difference to the CVPD if you're a Republican or Democrat. Republicans like Cheryl Cox get help from the CVPD in covering up crimes and other wrongdoing.

On the other hand, a Democratic employee of the City of Chula Vista who took two hours off work to spy on a Cheryl Cox fundraiser has been charged by Bonnie Dumanis with perjury for not admitting he was doing political work on the job.

There's a lot of political work being done on the job in Chula Vista, but you don't hear much about the work done by Republicans in the police department.

The Chula Vista Police Department is a friend of Cheryl Cox, who was a Chula Vista Elementary school board member before she was elected mayor. The CVPD failed for over a year to investigate a financial crime at Castle Park Elementary School reported in 2005. Why? The CVPD has a knee-jerk policy of covering up wrongdoing by Cheryl Cox and the other board members of Chula Vista Elementary School District, who include Pamela Smith, Patrick Judd, Larry Cunningham and Bertha Lopez.

In 2006 I pursued a public records request for months before the CVPD admitted that it had a record of a police visit to Castle Park Elementary on April 21, 2001. When they decided I wasn't likely to go away, I finally received a copy of the Castle Park Elementary School "call" report.*

But the Chula Vista Police Department was doing a lot more than illegally hiding public records in its efforts to support Cheryl Cox's campaign for mayor of Chula Vista in 2006.

Between 2000 and 2006 a long string of crimes had been committed at Castle Park Elementary which resulted from criminal actions by a Santa Barbara Sheriff's deputy and his sister, a teacher in Chula Vista. Cheryl Cox and CVESD committed bigger and bigger crimes to prevent the exposure of earlier, smaller crimes and violations of law committed at Castle Park Elementary in 2000 and 2001.

See "Castle Park Elementary," "Teacher Reports," and "Law Enforcement" at MAURALARKINS.COM (link available on this blog's link list).

In 2005-2006, the most newsworthy crime being covered up by the CVPD and the media to protect Cheryl Cox and the CVESD school board was the embezzlement of about $20,000 from the Castle Park Elementary PTA.

Apparently fearing that this crime would eventually become public knowlege, perhaps because it was being reported by this blog and the San Diego Education Report website, the Chula Vista Police Department seems to have developed a plan in November 2006 to create the appearance that it was no longer covering up the embezzlement. Of course, by November 7, 2006, the election was over. The cover-up was successful. Larry Cunningham crowed that voters had seen throught the lies of his opponents. The truth is that the voters saw almost nothing because Larry and Cheryl had spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to cover up crimes and other violations of law at CVESD.

The police asked former Castle Park PTA president Kim Simmons to come in the CVPD office, where she was interviewed and arrested. Was Simmons arrested after a careful investigation? No, the CVPD does not carefully investigate incidents that might embarrass Cheryl Cox and the school board. CVPD arrested Kim Simmons simply to create the impression that they weren't covering up Castle Park crimes, and passed on their humble efforts to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

What did Bonnie Dumanis do? Prosecute the crime? Not likely. Just as she had refused to prosecute CVESD Assistant Superintedent Richard Werlin for obstruction of justice, she also refused to prosecute Kim Simmons.

Why? Maybe because Kim Simmons knew too much about crimes at Castle Park Elementary.

Did I mention that Kim Simmons was a close friend of transferred teacher Robin Donlan, a member of a powerful teacher clique at Castle Park Elementary that received a great deal of support form local papers when she and several other teachers were transferred out of the school?

Robin Donlan and her friends created a bizarre brouhaha, in which they and the media attacked the principal of Castle Park Elementary without ever mentioning the crimes of which Donlan had been accused. The truth was that the principal was attacked for daring to challenge the authority of the "family" that had created a crime wave at the school.

In October 2004, Kim Simmons entered a Castle Park Elementary classroom, and asked to use the school phone during class time so she could call up Robin Donlan and ask for instructions on how to proceed with her attacks on the principal of the school. The teacher gave permission, and took the opportunity to explain to her students that she was "mad at the principal." (There has been a dearth of professionalism at Castle Park Elementary since this "Castle Park Family" teacher group took over.)

Kim Simmons, along with Gina Boyd, the president of the teacher union, and school site council President Felicia Starr were working with transferred teacher Robin Donlan to get rid of the first principal who had had the nerve to stand up to the arbitrary power of the group of teachers who ruled the school.

What was Cheryl Cox's role in all this? She and all the other board members authorized the payment of hundreds of thousands of public dollars to Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz law firm to represent Robin Donlan and cover up the crimes initiated by her and Assistant Superintendent Richard Werlin and several other CVESD officers and employees in 2000 and 2001. After fostering perjury and other crimes, and using huge sums of public money to keep bad teachers in power, Cheryl Cox ran for mayor on a platform of "charater" and "fiscal responsibility."

The San Diego Union Tribune has maintained to this day a complete black-out regarding crimes committed by Robin Donlan, Richard Werlin, Cheryl Cox and others at CVESD. On November 17, 2006 the SDUT published a small article about the arrest of former PTA Kim Simmons. The story immediately went into "partially hidden" status in the Union-Tribunes archives. (If someone does a signonsandiego search for "castle park PTA Simmons," he'll get a message back saying "No articles found.) The article can only be found by leaving "simmons" out of the search. If you already know about Kimberlee Simmons, the San Diego Union Tribune doesn't want you to know more.

Of course, there has been no follow-up to the SDUT story. But there should be--because the story created the false impression that the police were actually intending to do something about crime at Castle Park Elementary. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The police waited until Cox was elected, and then they did their hoax arrest, but Kim Simmons was never charged with anything.

When wil the SD Union Tribune publish the full story, revealing Kim Simmons' close association to Robin Donlan and the "Castle Park Five"? When will the San Diego Union Tribune apologize for so maliciously attacking the honorable and decent principal of Castle Park Elementary on behalf of Robin Donlan, Kim Simmons, and the rest of their clique, after the group was found to be responsible for yet another crime after the SDUT had written so much on its behalf? How about it, Don Sevrens?

The SDUT November 2006 story about Simmons arrest was published to create the impression that Bonnie Dumanis and the Chula Vista Police Department are not covering up crimes involving Cheryl Cox and Castle Park Elementary School. It appears that Simmons wasn't really the fall guy; she was actually the pretend fall guy.

Bonnie Dumanis, why don't you investigate the use of public resources for political purposes at CVPD? Why don't you investigate crimes at Chula Vista Elementary School District, including perjury by Cheryl Cox and Robin Donlan? Or do you only use the public resources under your control to investigate Democrats?

*The police "call' report that was hidden for months by the CVPD revealed Assistant Superintendent Richard Werlin's attempt to silence a teacher who had suggested that the media might investigate what was happening at the school in 2001. The teacher clearly knew nothing about the media in San Diego. The San Diego Union Tribune, the Chula Vista Star-News and La Prensa still have not reported those crimes, although all three newspapers have long known about them. These three publications exposed their lack of journalistic ethics when they published a deluge of letters, articles and editorials defending the teacher, Robin Colls/Donlan who initiated the crime wave! All three papers were incensed when Robin Colls was transferred from Castle Park Elementary. Richard Werlin, who called the police when the teacher mentioned the media, didn't correctly estimate the power of his Chula Vista Elementary School Board bosses, including Cheryl Cox, to silence the media. Werlin did go on to achieve a certain amount of notoriety for his use of the police to silence teachers. He had second-grade teacher Jenny Mo arrested in front of her students at his new school district in Richmond, California this year when the teacher went to the media with a story about bullying at her school. Of course, Werlin didn't step up and take the credit/blame for the arrest. He let the principal sit in the hot seat. He took indefinite sick leave from his position.

Leslie Devaney and Cheryl Cox and the taxpayers of Chula Vista

Leslie Devaney, Cheryl Cox and Laurie Madigan.

There are a lot of school board members who love developers. Board members Cheryl Cox, Patrick Judd, Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez, and Larry Cunningham of Chula Vista Elementary School District actually named a school after developer Corky McMillan.

And they got rewarded when the time came to collect donations for their political campaigns.

Interestingly, Cheryl Cox was there again, as mayor of Chula Vista, when Mike Madigan's wife fleeced the taxpayers of Chula Vista.

Madigan's attorney, Leslie Devaney, who is, ironically, a spokesperson for Californians Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), helped Laurie Madigan collect big bucks to quit her job--after Madigan had taken a long paid sick leave because she feared she MIGHT get sick while being investigated for a conflict of interest."

The irony would be complete if we found out that Cheryl Cox is a member of CALA.

Madigan demands more money
Ex-assistant city manager wants $47,000 for legal bills
By Tanya Mannes

April 19, 2007

CHULA VISTA – Laurie Madigan, the Chula Vista assistant city manager who resigned last month while being investigated for a potential conflict of interest, has demanded $47,000 from the city to pay her legal bills.

Laurie Madigan resigned as assistant city manager March 9.
Sources familiar with the negotiations told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Madigan wants money for her legal costs in addition to the severance package she received – $155,000 in salary through the end of this year and lifetime retirement benefits.

Madigan, who had worked for the city for four years, hired her own attorneys to defend her in the investigation and later negotiate the terms of her resignation. Her severance agreement was signed March 9.

Shortly afterward, Madigan's attorneys began speaking with city officials about additional payment, citing new issues, including public statements by Councilman John McCann about the conflict-of-interest probe, the sources said.

City officials are currently in closely guarded negotiations regarding Madigan's new demands.

The City Council met in closed session Tuesday night to discuss a legal matter, but officials would not confirm whether Madigan's case was the topic. The City Attorney's Office said the council did not report taking any action in the closed session, as it is required to do by state law if a settlement is reached.

Yesterday, Mayor Cheryl Cox declined to make “any comments regarding Laurie Madigan.”

Madigan's attorney, Leslie Devaney, who has acted as her spokeswoman, did not return calls seeking comment yesterday and several times during the past week.

Madigan, who began working for the city in January 2003, was in charge of processing development plans for Chula Vista's 550-acre bayfront. Gaylord Entertainment, a Nashville, Tenn.-based firm, is negotiating with the city to build a bayfront convention center and hotel of up to 2,000 rooms.

McCann recently told the Union-Tribune that he learned in January that Madigan's husband, prominent San Diego businessman Mike Madigan, was a consultant for Lankford & Associates – a firm looking to develop in Chula Vista on a site near the one being considered by Gaylord. Company officials approached the city about building an amphitheater and parking garage on the bayfront.


Background: Chula Vista Assistant City Manager Laurie Madigan took sick leave beginning Feb. 8 but continued teaching a course at UCSD – while collecting her city salary. In exchange for resigning, she is receiving $155,000 in severance pay and lifetime retirement benefits.

What's new: Madigan's attorneys have demanded more money – $47,000 for legal bills.

The future: City officials continue negotiating with Madigan.
McCann's remarks were published on March 27.

McCann said that he brought the matter to the attention of City Attorney Ann Moore in January. The council discussed it in closed session Feb. 6 and asked interim City Manager Jim Thomson to investigate a potential conflict of interest.

Madigan, 56, went on sick leave Feb. 8. She continued to collect her full salary of $189,212 per year. Federal law makes it difficult to discipline or fire employees while they are on medical leave.

About the same time, Madigan hired three attorneys: Devaney, Priscilla Dugard and Christina Dyer. She said her doctor prescribed leave because she was stressed from the conflict-of-interest investigation and at risk for a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis.

Madigan resigned March 9, the day the Union-Tribune reported she was teaching at the University of California San Diego while still collecting her city pay.

In 2005, Moore supervised an investigation of the Madigans after receiving complaints that Laurie Madigan gave her husband's business partners an “inside track” on city projects. That probe led the city to cancel a redevelopment deal involving the old CinemaStar site on Third Avenue.

Devaney has said that in this case, Mike Madigan worked for Lankford in San Diego but wasn't involved with the Chula Vista proposal.

When Laurie Madigan resigned, Thomson authorized a severance package that keeps her on the payroll until January 2008, at which time she will be eligible for a pension. Her pay from March 9 through Jan. 10 will total $155,000. She will be able to collect $28,400 a year for life if she retires at age 60.

McCann has publicly called for a review of the city's policy for awarding severance packages to executives.

Many residents were outraged when details of Madigan's severance agreement were released through a California Public Records Act request by the Union-Tribune. Dozens of people called and e-mailed City Hall, and wrote letters to the editor, venting about an employee who had been teaching while on sick leave – and who might have had a conflict of interest – would be awarded a severance package...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Will this case be a showdown between secrecy and openness in education?

CTA lawyers are determined that a compendium of bizarre falsehoods will be the final record in the Chula Vista Elementary School District v. Maura Larkins case.

Maura Larkins believes that so many laws have been broken in this case, and that it is so symptomatic of the failure of our education system, that the truth must be known. I have posted two new documents about the case: the Court of Appeal pleading offers specific quotes from Elizabeth Schulman's disgraceful performance at her deposition. It serves as partial proof of the allegations in the original complaint against Schulman.

I'll soon post depositions and transcripts and documents from the Office of Administrative Hearings proceeding that resulted in a decision that is illegal on its face, since it dismisses Maura Larkins because she filed grievances and a lawsuit.

CTA and PERB were vexatious litigants in the Turlock case

California Teacher Association was a shamefully vexatious litigant in the Turlock case in 2003. The Court of Appeal had already ruled in San Diego that CTA buttons may not be worn by teachers during class time when CTA is fighting another union to represent teachers. But at the height of the budget crisis, when the Public Employee Relations Board was laying off at least one employee that I know of, PERB and CTA went all the way to the California Supreme Court in an effort to overturn PERB's OWN JUDGE (!) who had correctly relied on the San Diego case. CTA and its lapdog Bob Thompson, general counsel at PERB, wasted tax dollars and teacher dues in this vexatious litigation.

The vexatious lawyers in the Turlock case were: Robert Thompson, General Counsel, and Marie A. Nakamura, Legal Counsel, for PERB, and Priscilla Winslow, Beverly Tucker, Ramon Romero, Diane Ross, and Ballinger G. Kemp for CTA.

The lawyers who won were San Diego's own Currier & Hudson, Richard J. Currier, C. Anne Hudson, and Andrea Naested who represented Turlock Joint Elementary School District.

This is what the court of appeal told the vexatious Beverly Tucker:

"This is the bottom line: “The first rule of teaching should be that teachers shall teach. A classroom is not a place for proselytizing students to advance a teacher’s financial interests. Nor should a classroom be transmogrified into a teacher’s soapbox."

Beverly Tucker noted with outrage in recent pleadings that I had posted DOCUMENTS on my website. I think they were upset that I posted letters from them.

They specifically complained to the judge about this page.

Of course, Bev was even more upset that I accused her of destroying and altering documents and suborning perjury. But instead of trying to prove she is innocent (which she can not do), she is trying to stop me from filing any more lawsuits. She says I'm a vexatious litigant, failing to note in her pleading that my lawsuit against Kathleen Elton was settled in my favor for $75,000.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why did Pamela Smith and union leaders suddenly become friends in 2006?

Pamela Smith has trouble making up her mind.

From 2001 to 2004, Smith put $100,000s of CVESD's taxpayer dollars into keeping teachers Robin Donlan, Peggie Myers, Nikki Perez and their friends in control of Castle Park Elementary. Smith voted to cover up teacher and administrator crimes, and to keep up the pressure on teachers and administrators to lie under oath.

Then in August 2004, Myers, Donlan and Perez were transferred out of the school. Pamela Smith and the rest of the board seem to have approved of that, since they all voted to keep Superintendent Lowell Billings in his position ever since.

Pamela Smith spent more tax money to defend the district FROM Robin Donlan and her friends, after having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend Robin Donlan and her friends. Is this making any sense?

Here's another puzzle. For years and years, Pamela Smith voted in lock step with anti-union board members Patrick Judd and Larry Cunningham.

Then everything changed in 2006. Pamela Smith (and the rest of the board) were suddenly best friends with the teachers union. Chula Vista Educators suddenly supported Pamela Smith in 2006 after many years of opposing her.

Why? Because the board and the union had something in common: they both wanted to cover up wrongdoing they had committed together since 2001. Both the incumbants and the union feared that an outsider might win, someone who would have no sympathy for the $100,000s of taxdollars the board had spent covering up crimes by administrators and union leaders illegal acts by administrators and union leaders.

Did CTA hire a hacker to hide a lawsuit?

On May 15, 2007, someone blanked a page on my website. It was the text of a lawsuit that had just been filed against Beverly Tucker, California Teacher Association's chief lawyer.

This lawsuit is a matter of public interest, concerning California teachers and students, and very powerful people who have violated the law. If you have any doubts, just read the text and click on the links.

If anything I have said is untrue, or if these matters are not of public interest, the defendants can sue me for defamation. But of course, they don't want to sue because they know everything I have said is true, and very much a matter of public interest.

I created a new page for the lawsuit. Here is the new link.
Here is the new link.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is your property going to be on the beach front?

Clues to Rising Seas Are Hidden in Polar Ice
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post
July 16, 2007

Few consequences of global warming pose as severe a threat to human society as sea-level rise. But scientists have yet to figure out how to predict it.

And not knowing what to expect, policymakers and others are hamstrung in considering how to try to prevent it or prepare for it.

To calculate sea-level rise, the key thing researchers need to understand is the behavior of the major ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica. The disintegration of one would dramatically raise the ocean. But while computer models now yield an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how a warming atmosphere would behave, such models have yet to fully encapsulate the complex processes that regulate ice sheet behavior...

It's not corruption, it's prioritizing based on contributions

Shankar Vedantam wrote for the Washington Post:
July 16, 2007

Through the first quarter of this year, according to data about presidential race contributions from the Center for Responsive Politics...

Real estate groups gave Mitt Romney $1.6 million,
Education groups gave Barack Obama $696,000,
Casinos gave Rudy Giuliani $118,000
and the entertainment industry gave Hillary Clinton $794,000.

Richard Hall ... came to Washington on a fellowship to work for then-Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). Hall and Daschle were fired up about a hunger relief bill that was working its way through was an issue the senator cared about deeply, and Hall was enthusiastic to work on an issue that touched his conscience.

As Hall worked on amendments and helped deal with the minutiae of moving a bill through Congress, however, the outlines of a drought emerged in the eastern part of South Dakota.

By the time Hall finished..., he had gotten a lot accomplished to help dairy farmers.

But the hunger relief bill was still sitting on his desk.

...The only problem, of course, is that by focusing on some constituents, the politician no longer has time to focus on issues that help other constituents. Politicians may feel they are in the corner of both wealthy and poor constituents, but the money that flows into politics tends to get them to prioritize the concerns of the wealthy and the organized over those who are marginalized.

At the last minute, this man got a reprieve

This post has been moved to Man spared hours before his execution because police suborned perjury.

UW pays $480,000 to settle suit over sex abuse

Nick Perry of the Seattle Times writes about a man who was raped at age 13 by a female mental patient nearly three times his age. The lawsuit against the University of Washington was settled for $480,000.

"The alleged events took place 30 years ago in the summer of 1977, but the man's lawyer said the man in recent years had come to realize how damaged he was by the experience.

"The teen was admitted to a UW hospital psychiatric unit for a two-week evaluation. The teen was the only minor among a group of 25 to 30 adult patients who were free to walk about the ward and patient rooms, which didn't have locks. Patients, who were voluntarily committed, could also leave during the day and often visited the adjacent ship canal..."

July 16, 2007

Why Ronald Reagan didn't pardon Oliver North, Robert MacFarlane, & John Poindexter

Scooter Libby

In light of the President Bush II pardon of Scooter Libby, the number two man in VP Dick Cheney's office, for perjury, the following article about Ronald Reagan's refusal to pardon Oliver North and his co-conspirataors is interesting. Bush suffers in comparison to Reagan.

Walter Pincus wrote in the Washington Post on July 16, 2007:

"In his diary entry for Dec. 6, 1988, President Ronald Reagan wrote, "I lean very much toward a pardon" for Robert "Bud" McFarlane, his former national security adviser who had pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts for misleading Congress about the Iran-contra affair.

""He awaits sentence. . . . I don't think he deliberately lied," Reagan recorded, adding that McFarlane's wife had written him "on her own asking for a pardon for Bud."

"The issue had come up that morning, according to the diary, when Reagan's White House counsel, A.B. Culvahouse, began a 10 a.m. meeting talking about pardons -- not only for McFarlane but also for Oliver North and John Poindexter, the two main actors in the arms-for-hostages dealings.

"The matter reemerged on Dec. 22, less than a month before Reagan would leave office. The president wrote that he had sent Culvahouse "letters from Ollie North's lawyers asking me to pardon Ollie." Next, he wrote that at 10:30 a.m. on the same day, Attorney General Richard Thornburgh "came in with a well reasoned argument against pardons for North & Poindexter," who at that point were awaiting trial.

"On Jan. 10, 1989, Reagan noted, "The matter of a pardon for North is now being looked at as -- the judge should drop the charges." Part of Reagan's interest in the North trial is reflected in the next day's entry: "[T]he Justice Dept. will file a motion today to quash the subpoenas for Geo. [Secretary of State George P.Shultz] & me in the North case."

"On Jan. 16, Reagan recorded that he had "a 20 min. session on things hanging fire -- like pardons for several people." The only name Reagan mentioned was that of Michael K. Deaver, his former deputy chief of staff who had been convicted of not telling the truth to a congressional committee. Reagan noted that a Deaver relative had called a Justice Department official "about a pardon for Mike," but "Mike has passed the word he wouldn't accept a pardon."

"On Reagan's last full day in office, Jan. 19, he wrote that Thornburgh came "to see me about pardons." Reagan went on: "He doesn't believe I should pardon . . . North, Poindexter or McFarlane. I'm afraid he's right."

"In his autobiography, "An American Life," Reagan disclosed that "despite appeals from their supporters and despite my own sympathies," he had decided against pardoning the three. "I still felt the law had to be allowed to take its course," he wrote. It was Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, who would pardon McFarlane on Dec. 24, 1992. North's and Poindexter's convictions had been previously reversed.

"Now, after President George W. Bush has commuted the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, it would be interesting to know what roles Bush's attorney general and White House counsel played in the decision...

George Bush's heart goes out to those who outed Valerie Plame

In 2003, someone at the White House decided it was necessary to out a covert CIA agent because her diplomat husband was going around saying that there was no support for Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

In 2007, the Washington Post quotes Bush as saying, "'It's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House."

According to papers released by special prosecutor Fitzgerald, Valerie Plame was indeed a covert agent at the time she was outed. (See 2007/05/its_final_valer.html)

Dan Froomkin writes in about secrecy and misinformation at the White House.

"President Bush made several unsupported assertions about the war in Iraq during his press conference yesterday, but when it comes to sheer audacity, nothing came close to his response when asked how he felt about two of his top advisers leaking Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent to reporters.

"Jennifer Loven gets it right in her Associated Press story: "President Bush always said he would wait to talk about the CIA leak case until after the investigation into his administration's role. On Thursday, he skipped over that step and pronounced the matter old news hardly worth discussing.

"'It's run its course,' he said. 'Now we're going to move on.'

"Despite a long history of denouncing leaks, Bush declined to express any disappointment in the people who worked for him and who were involved in disclosing the name of a CIA operative. Asked about that . . . the president gave a dodgy answer.

"'It's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House,' he said.

"He didn't even acknowledge the undisputed fact that someone working for him was the source, saying only that 'perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person.'"

"In fact, Bush clearly seemed to be pointing his finger not at the two senior White House aides who leaked Plame's identity to reporters -- senior political adviser Karl Rove and former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- but at former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage..."

(More at
Article published Friday, July 13, 2007.

This little girl is going to see a crueler world

I found this article by Karin Brulliard in the Washington Post.
Monday, July 16, 2007

Refugees of War-Ravaged Land Ordered to 'Still Volatile' Nation

Last month, finally, Bendu Simpson told her young daughter about the ticking clock that keeps Mom awake at night: Come October, no more karate class, no more zoo trips to see the otters, no more zipping around smooth suburban streets on your purple scooter. No more toilets, showers or central air.

On a recent night, 8-year-old Ami picked at her popcorn shrimp basket in the cool confines of a Gaithersburg Red Lobster and described her feelings upon learning she might soon have to abandon their neat Clarksburg townhouse for the war-shattered terrain of her mother's native Liberia, a nation Ami has never seen.

"Mad," grumbled Ami, her dark eyes gazing at the table. "I thought, I'm not going back. I'm scared of the things that are there."

Fear and anger are pulsing these days through the Liberian community in the Washington region and nationwide. Barring action by the Bush administration or Congress, Simpson and about 3,500 other Liberians will be subject to deportation Oct 1. Since 1991, they have been allowed to live and work in the United States while civil war seethed in their homeland. They have had children, bought homes, paid taxes -- and they want to stay. But last year, the U.S. government deemed their West African nation stable, so Liberians with temporary protected status must go.

Is Jerry Sanders next going to say he's not part of the executive branch?

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Vice President Dick Cheney says he doesn't have to allow access to an executive branch oversight board because he's not part of the executive branch.

It seems that San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders is using Cheney as a role model.

I found this on Voice of San Diego's "This Just In" section today:

Donna Frye
Rob Davis writes:
"I just spoke again with Fred Sainz, spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders.
He said the Mayor's Office doesn't take Councilwoman Donna Frye's summons seriously. But the city staff that Frye requested will be attending tomorrow's council meeting on recycling.

"Sainz said he does not believe the charter section was intended to allow council members to formally summon city staff members.

"City Attorney Mike Aguirre disagreed. The charter does allow staffers to be summoned, Aguirre said.

"Sainz stopped short of admitting that Friday's memo -- which said no city staff would be attending tomorrow's committee meeting -- was a mistake, but said "we did not choose our words correctly."

""We wanted to communicate to the committee that we were not ready to appear," Sainz said. "We didn't want to waste anybody's time. We didn't want staff to waste their time to appear before committee and say they're not ready and then get browbeat for not being ready to speak.""

Good news for falsely-accused medics in Libya

Libya Lifts H.I.V. Case Death Sentence

Published: July 17, 2007

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- The death sentences for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV have been commuted to life in prison, Libya's foreign minister said Tuesday.

The ruling came after the families of the children each received $1 million and agreed to drop their demand for the execution of the six, who deny having infected more than 400 children and say their confessions were extracted under torture.

Libya remains under intense international pressure to free the medical workers, and Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam said Tripoli was willing to consider the medics' deportation to Bulgaria. He said the negotiations would take place within ''the legal framework and political context'' between the two countries.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Kamen Mihov, said requests would be made Wednesday to have the medics leave Libya shortly. They have been jailed since 1999.

But the medics' main Libyan defense lawyer, Osman al-Bizant, told the Al-Jazeera television network that their deportation would depend on ''whether there is the possibility of carrying out the punishment there (in Bulgaria).''

Why people in their 30s are worse off than their parents

From Voice of San Diego:
By Murtaza Baxamusa, San Diego
Tuesday July 17, 2007 |

Thanks to the Union-Tribune for a crash course on the education of American workers.

Just two months ago, the Union-Tribune editorialized a report that young men in their 30s in the United States are not doing as well financially as their fathers' generation. The U-T thinks this is because of the "consequences of bad choices throughout their lives, such as whether to pursue more education." As I pointed out in my letter to, this was a false statement. Every indicator of education shows that the current generation is more educated than before.

In fact, a college degree does not ensure a bigger share of the economic pie for many graduates. In a recent study, two economists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology established that only college-educated women have seen their compensation grow in line with economy-wide gains in productivity. The earnings of male college graduates have failed to keep pace with productivity gains. Simply put, growth in business does not translate into growth in wages for workers.

Now the U-T apparently backs up into its argument by complaining that “...teens are spending more time going to summer school or studying” instead of learning job skills. It goes on to list things that “you cannot find in a book” such as flipping burgers.

So whether you are working or studying this summer, Americans deserve to be poorly paid, and our high wage jobs shipped overseas. Of course you can always find a minimum wage job without health care in a burger stand.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Today's Corruption Quiz

From "California Teachers" blog:

"His apparent lack of guilt about his actions speaks, I think, to his extraordinary capacity for self-delusion."
(Statement was made by SETH HETTENA, July 16, 2007 in Voice of San Diego)

Who is being discussed in the above statement?

A. Donald Rumsfeld
B. Richard Cheney
C. Randall Cunningham
D. George Bush

Answer: Hettena wrote a book about Randy "Duke" Cunningham, but he wanted readers to understand how the Cunningham case was a result of politics today, where defense contractors and others can buy access to, and a large amount of control over, those who make decisions about America's defense capabilities and way of life. How did these "deciders" gain power? By constantly repeating a set of messages about "values" and "terror," without ever bothering to pay attention to more immediate dangers to our country.

Getting a President to Apologize for Misleading the American Public

No, I'm not talking about George Bush. I don't think the current president has enough self-awareness or empathy to apologize to the American people.

But Richard Nixon did. Not at first, of course. In 1976 disgraced ex-President Nixon was interviewed for 20 hours by British journalist David Frost.

Frost relied on James Reston, Jr., a former soldier who abhorred Nixon's Vietnam War policy. In 1977 Reston wrote a book about the experience of working with Frost on this project, but for some reason, publishers decided that 2007 was the year to publish it. 30 years ago many of us baby boomers thought Nixon was as bad as a president could get. Now we know better.

Matthew Dallek of the Associated Press writes that Nixon was "vindictive and bewildered, angered and bemused...angst-ridden..." "Frost tossed his clipboard onto the coffee table and asked whether Nixon was ready to...acknowledge that the power of the presidency had been abused and apologize to the American people for having dragged them through two years of agony."

Los Angeles Catholic Diocese Finally Does the Right Thing



From the Associated Press
July 16, 2007

"A judge today approved a landmark $660 million settlement between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse.

"The deal was formally approved in a dramatic hearing marked by the sobs of victims and their attorneys, and a MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR THE VICTIMS WHO DIED DURING THE YEARS OF NEGOTIATIONS.

""This is the right result," said Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz. "Settling the cases was the right thing to do and it was done by dint of a number of extremely talented and dedicated people putting in an awful lot of time."

"The deal came after more than five years of negotiations and is by far the largest payout by any diocese since the clergy abuse scandal emerged in Boston in 2002. The amount averages a little more than $1.3 million per plaintiff, although individual payouts will vary according to the severity and duration of the abuse.

""It's their courage and commitment that made this possible and I think they deserve a tremendous debt of gratitude," [Ray] Bouchet said, struggling to hold back tears.

""I know it's hard for most of the victims whose scars are very deep ... and I know many will never forgive the cardinal," he said. "But he took steps that I think that only he could take and if left to the lawyers and others in the church he would not have settled this case."

MY COMMENT: I was watching the news yesterday, I'm pretty sure it was CNN, when a Los Angeles lady in wide-rimmed black hat said words to the effect of, "I don't believe all the claims were legitimate. And if they were, they should have just forgiven."

Just because someone works hard to demand reparation for horrible crimes does not mean that they haven't forgiven their attackers. I think victims too often are made to feel that they themselves are responsible for the crimes committed against them, but this is a new one. Does this lady think that NO criminal should EVER repair the damage he's done? I doubt it. I suspect that this lady has a bad case of "Don't rock the sacred boat" syndrome, even when the boat is filled with pedophile rapists.

Murderer Was a Religious Man

This killer could have said the Devil made him do it. Instead, he says God made him do it. Who exactly taught him this religion?

From "That's Life in the City" blog:

"A Cypress, Texas man charged in the death of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant said Saturday that he was doing God's work when he went to a Montrose-area bar last month, hunting for a gay man to kill.

""I believe I'm Elijah, called by God to be a prophet," said 26-year-old Terry Mark Mangum, charged with murder June 11. " ... I believe with all my heart that I was doing the right thing."

"Interviewed in the Brazoria County Jail Saturday morning, Mangum said he feels no remorse for killing 46-year-old Kenneth Cummings Jr. (shown in photo), whom relatives described as a "loving" son who never forgot a holiday and a devoted uncle who had set up college funds for his niece and nephew. He worked at Southwest for 24 years."

Ronald Reagan's Lawyer Wants Cheney Impeached

From "That's Life in the City" blog:

"According to recent polling by the American Research Group, 54 percent of Americans want Cheney impeached. Among Democrats, that number rises to 76 percent. A majority of self-described independents back action to hold the vice president to account, as do a striking 17 percent of Republicans.

"With conservatives such as former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein coming out strongly for Cheney's impeachment, the numbers of Republicans who are pulling for accountability is likely to grow.

"Four more members of the U.S. House signed on this week as cosponsors of H. Res. 333, the measure that outlines articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney for actively and systematically seeking to deceive citizens and Congress about an alleged threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and for openly threatening aggression against Iran.

"Congressman Bob Filner, the chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, added his name, along with another veteran Democratic representative from California, Sam Farr.

"The additional cosponsorships from Washington Democrat Jim McDermott, a Vietnam-era veteran who has been one of the House's sharpest critics of the war in Iraq, and Virginia Democrat James Moran bring the number of supporters for the articles to 14, including sponsor Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.

"House Members are backing impeachment for a number of reasons, including anger with Cheney's involvement with manipulations of intelligence regarding Iraq, illegal spying on Americans and the promotion of torture, as well his recent attempt to avoid scrutiny by claiming that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the executive branch. And then there was President Bush's decision to commute the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff and co-conspirator in moves to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson for exposing the deceptions that led to war.

"The founders were very clear about the fact that abuses of the presidential authority to pardon or otherwise lift the burden of the law from subordinates was an impeachable offense."


My friend Lee Lipps (from CTA) meets the new administrator of San Diego's "underfunded and over-indicted" pension board

According to the Conta Costa Times:

"David Wescoe, San Diego's retirement system administrator, told commissioners about the eight city and union leaders in his city facing federal or local criminal charges -- or both -- for allegedly boosting their own pensions and doing other sneaky things.

"Wescoe, who came on board after the scandals, opened with this remark: "I often like to say I'm from the underfunded and over-indicted San Diego City Employees' Retirement System.""

Note by EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice of San Diego
July 16, 2007

"Wescoe was one of a handful of witnesses who testified in front of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission last week. At the meeting, California pension officials announced that retirement funds across the state are running a combined $63 billion deficit, but that funding levels for public pension systems had increased by 11 percent since 1991."

Maura Larkins note: CTA's Lee Lipps was recently chosen to sit on the Benefits Commission (see below).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Algae blooms when water is warm, or full of pesticides

I saw my first algae blooms in Mexico when my family drove past the Tropic of Capricorn to Guadalajara in 1961. I was fascinated with the ponds, all the same color, an opaque pale green without an inch of reflective water. People lived in jacales, round huts made of tropical leaves and branches. The warm rain poured down in the rainy season.

The Tropic of Capricorn seems to be creeping northward. Now they have algae blooms in ponds in Oregon.

Apparently, pesticides affect the grazers that naturally keep algae under control.

Snow in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has first snow since 1918

The Casa Rosada, the Argentinian president's "Pink House", verged on turning white overnight after Buenos Aires was blanketed in snow for the first time in nearly 90 years.

Children threw snowballs while photographers tried to capture the falling flakes as a party atmosphere descended on the city. Crowds gathered at the Obelisk monument in central Buenos Aires, the traditional focal point for Argentinian celebrations and protests.

"Despite all my years, this is the first time I've ever seen in snow in Buenos Aires," said Juana Benitez, an 82-year-old who joined children celebrating in the streets...

Lakes froze over in Río Negro province as temperatures reached minus 32C, Clarín newspaper reported, and 500 travellers were forced to take refuge in Río Cuarto after roads were closed.

The snow followed a bitter cold snap in late May that saw subfreezing temperatures, the coldest in 40 years in Buenos Aires. That cold wave contributed to an energy crisis and 23 deaths from exposure.

by James Sturcke and agencies
Tuesday July 10, 2007
Guardian Unlimited,,2122983,00.html

Mr. Uribe comes up with a brilliant idea: make friends with paramilitaries, and when they kill legislators, rally the country

Update: October 3, 2007
The former mistress of the late cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar has come out with a book that alleges that President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, when he was head of civil aviation, helped Escobar secure licenses for landing strips used for cocaine trafficking.

You don't think this guy actually created a problem so he could solve it and become a hero?

The story below is from "A hero at home, a villain abroad"
Jul 12th 2007 The Economist

Colombians reckon that Álvaro Uribe saved their country. It's a pity for them that so many outsiders don't see their president that way.

WHEN hundreds of thousands of Colombians poured into the streets on July 5th to protest at the killing of 11 hostages who had been held by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), President Álvaro Uribe chose to read this as support for his tough security policies. “This demonstration is notice to the international community that we cannot, in this hour of pain, give in to the criminals,” he said. But much of the “international community” no longer sees events in Colombia in the way most Colombians do.

At home Mr Uribe is seen as the saviour of a country that was in danger of being turned into a failed state by the rampaging violence of drug-traffickers, left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries. Since he took office in 2002, violence has fallen sharply. As confidence returns, the economy is growing at 8% a year. According to Invamer-Gallup, a pollster, Mr Uribe's approval rating has remained steady at between 70% and 80% over the past year.

That is despite recent scandals in which a dozen legislators who support him, as well as a former intelligence chief, have been arrested on suspicion of having ties to the murderous paramilitaries; the latest to face investigation is Mario Uribe, a senator and the president's cousin. In the United States and Europe, on the other hand, Mr Uribe's reputation has suffered—so much so that in April Al Gore, America's former vice-president, refused to appear at the same conference as Mr Uribe in Miami.

Reactions to the killing of the hostages highlighted the widening gulf between the perceptions of Colombians and those of the outside world. The hostages were regional legislators who had been held by the FARC for five years. According to the guerrillas they died when an “unidentified military group” attacked the jungle camp where they were being held. Mr Uribe said that there were no government operations on the day in question in the area where officials believe the hostages were held.

Don't complain. If you do, YOU are likely to be investigated.

Betty Combier of writes:

"The problems that exist in the NYC school system also stem from the Department of Investigation not doing the work that they are mandated to do. They seldom investigate anything that an 'ordinary' citizen or parent of a public school child, reports, and when a teacher calls to ask for an investigation, if it is a teacher without political credentials, it is the teacher/parent/child who is investigated. They dont like people who call their bluff, either. I accompanied David Pakter to the SCI office when Thomas Comiskey, Deputy Chief Investigator, asked David to come into his office and tell him all about OTHER teachers who had broken the code of silence. Mr. Comiskey came over to me, put his finger in my face, and told me "Not you, we dont want to talk with you."

"The New York City Department of Investigations is located at 80 Maiden Lane in downtown Manhattan, near the South Street Seaport on the lower East Side.

"The following is the DOI mission, as stated on the website:

""The New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”) is one of the oldest law-enforcement agencies in the country and an international leader in the effort to combat corruption in public institutions. It serves the Mayor and the people of New York City by acting as an independent and nonpartisan watchdog for New York City government.""

The above was found at

Note by Maura Larkins: The NYC DOI's website states: "WHISTLEBLOWERS ARE PROTECTED," but they all say that, right?

Cheryl Cox says, "Eeeewww" when it comes to talking to workers

Cheryl Cox

EVAN McLAUGHLIN and ROB DAVIS, in a Voice of San Diego article on July 10, 2007, wrote:

"In Chula Vista, where Gaylord's work started under the watch of former Mayor Steve Padilla, the equation changed over the last year. Padilla, who was an ally of organized labor, was seen as a broker between the unions and Gaylord before he was ousted by Cheryl Cox last November.

"Cox took heated criticism from Rep. Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista, last week after the deal fell through for not playing a more active role in maintaining that relationship. She was quick to blame the labor groups for dooming the city's development opportunities on the bay front.

""I don't think our [description of the project] ever said, 'Oh, by the way, you have to have labor unions on board,'" Cox said."

No, Cheryl, it didn't. Workers are automatons with arms and legs that come and build your billion-dollar projects, but you shouldn't be expected to actually TALK to them. As long as you pay them SOMETHING, they just automatically appear. I can certainly understand your rage and frustration. Who do these people think they are--Republicans? I know I can count on you to keep up your campaign to rally the "leaders" of Chula Vista to help you put the workers in their place. Chula Vista will surely thrive under your leadership. Sure, Gaylord would probably be a done deal if Stephen Padilla were still mayor, and in those circumstances, workers would probably be buying new cars and houses and washing machines in Chula Vista. But you and your friends didn't want that because... Wait a minute. Why were you elected, Cheryl?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Congratulations to my friend, Lee Lipps

I had an encounter a couple of years ago with Lee Lipps, who was recently appointed to the Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission.

Here's what the press release says about Lee:

"Leonard Lee Lipps is a teacher who has worked in elementary, middle and high school classrooms in California. He currently serves the California Teacher’s Association as a regional manager where he works with school districts on budget analysis, State Teacher’s Retirement System issues and the economic impact of state legislation on education finance. Lipps has worked as the lead trainer for countless seminars on school finance and teacher retirement to fellow educators around California. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History and a lifetime teaching credential from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California and graduated from Harvard University’s Trade Union Program. Lipps is a Democrat."

Governor Schwarzenegger issued the following statement:

“Promised pensions and health benefits are vitally important to state workers and their families, especially public safety officers who put their lives on the line everyday. And they are obligations that must - and will - be paid by government.

"Soaring obligations of this type, however, also remain one of the biggest problems facing governments everywhere for the simple reason that rising pension and retiree health care costs mean less money for other government programs such as education, public safety, environmental protection and health care. We must seek ways to meet these obligations while not harming other government programs and taxpayers or handing invoices to future generations.

“I look forward to working with such a diverse and talented group of people who bring with them a wealth of knowledge in financial services in both the private and public sectors as well as have an extensive background in local, state and federal governments to find a solution to this immense problem facing California.”

Blowing the Whistle on the Powerful and Corrupt


Opening the Door to NYC Education Corruption Part I: Update on Retaliation of All Whistleblowers

The New York City Board of Education is throwing out good teachers who are either over 40 years of age and/or speak out against the corruption they see. Students who question or dispute the system are suspended or failed and thrown out, and parents who ask questions are told they will be arrested if they enter their child's school. this is New York City.

The New York City Board of Education - still the legal name - is continuing to defame anyone who dares to stand up and talk about the corruption and crimes going on inside our city schools. We all now know the routine: you may be a teacher, parent, student, or consultant, and you see students abused by school personnel, or you know of school funds being misappropriated; you cant sleep at night unless you mention it to your supervisor. In fact, you are probably encouraged by the BOE PR to speak out.

This is a trap.

The BOE expects complete silence about everything that occurs within the walls of any of their buildings or outside, and involves any BOE personnel or money.

Retaliation is always swift, unpredictable, incomprehensible, and random. Thus, everyone is kept in a state of constant terror: teachers who correctly fear for their jobs; parents afraid of the police and school personnel harassing or abusing their children; and children who feel the betrayal of trust for those who were supposed to protect them 'in loco parentis'...

by Betsy Combier