Monday, June 28, 2010

Women are getting most of the college degrees these days; do we need affirmative action for boys?

The End of Men
By Hanna Rosin
July/August 2010

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences.

...We’ve all heard about the collegiate gender gap. But the implications of that gap have not yet been fully digested. Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s. Most important, women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees—the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life.

...The student gender gap started to feel like a crisis to some people in higher-education circles in the mid-2000s, when it began showing up not just in community and liberal-arts colleges but in the flagship public universities—the UCs and the SUNYs and the UNCs. Like many of those schools, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, a full research university with more than 13,000 students, is now tipping toward 60 percent women...

There Is a Free Lunch, and SDCOE's Diane Crosier Is Not Telling You About It

"Attorney...usually paid for the meals, which happened more than once a month," SDCOE employee John Vincent said in a deposition.

There Is a Free Lunch, and They're Not Telling You About It
June 27, 2010
Voice of San Diego

Top employees at the San Diego County Office of Education have been allowed to avoid reporting gifts despite a California law that is supposed to ensure that the public can peek at who is paying for meals, handing out baseball tickets or giving other gifts to influential government employees...

The Fair Political Practices Commission urged the County Office of Education to change its guidelines after being alerted to the issue by earlier this month. Depending on how long the office has failed to report gifts, its employees may need to report gifts they received years ago. Office spokesman Jim Esterbrooks said the agency is updating its guidelines to comply.

Gifts have played a role in a contentious lawsuit filed by a former employee that alleges free meals contributed to a "culture of corruption" at the agency that steered County Office of Education business to specific law firms.

For instance, employees who help oversee legal work for school districts regularly accepted free lunches from an attorney who is frequently hired by their department, according to testimony by employee John Vincent taken as part of the lawsuit. Attorney... usually paid for the meals, which happened more than once a month, Vincent said.

Diane Crosier, who directs the office's risk management department, was one of the employees that accepted the meals, according to the testimony. Her department controls millions of dollars in legal work for school districts across the county. While Crosier does not decide which attorneys to assign to each legal case, she oversees Rick Rinear, the worker who does. Rinear also went to lunch with... from time to time, along with other employees, Vincent said in the deposition this year.

Crosier is required to reveal her economic interests to the public because she helps make decisions with a financial impact for a public agency. The County Office of Education does not require Rinear or the other employees to do so.

California law typically requires employees like Crosier to reveal gifts worth $50 or more from a single source annually, so frequent free lunches would likely need to be reported.

Yet Crosier did not report any lunches with .... VOSD sought to learn why Crosier hadn't revealed the lunches and learned that the office does not require most of its employees to report gifts.

That makes it impossible for the public to gauge whether Crosier or other office employees are getting gifts that could compromise their objectivity.

Accepting the gifts also appears to violate a County Office of Education regulation that states that no employee should accept personal gifts from people or companies selling services or supplies to the public agency, except for promotional items like calendars that everyone gets for free...

The former employee who is suing the County Office of Education, Rodger Hartnett, specifically names ... as one that got work "based on personal relationships" and not merit. The firm was paid nearly $7 million between 2002 and 2008, dwarfing other firms...

Hartnett himself testified that ... also gave him lunches, golf games and baseball tickets. He also said he got dinner and free concert tickets from Randy Winet, an attorney from another firm hired by the agency...

[Maura Larkins note: ... was assigned to represent Peg Myers and Robin Donlan in one of many cases orchestrated by Diane Crosier of SDCOE.]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The education system suffers from McChrystal syndrome: the powerful don't discuss the situation as a team, but merely exploit their own power

I liked San Diego Unified Superintendent Alan Bersin in many ways. He really wanted to fix schools. He didn't suffer fools gladly (and there are a lot of fools to deal with in the education field, as in every other field, I imagine). But like recently-fired General Stanley McChrystal, Bersin didn't understand the situation on the ground. Specifically, he didn't understand the power of the teachers union.

Bersin and McChrystal sabotaged their own war plans. Schools today are not unlike Afghanistan:

1. No one has genuine control;
2. Political corruption is rampant in school boards, administrations and the teachers union;
3. Winning the hearts and minds of the population is necessary--including teachers, students and parents.

What should Bersin have done instead of wielding raw power? The same thing McChrystal should have done: sit down and work with the team. One thing that happens very little in schools is serious, respectful discussions within and among different parts of the team. Gossip doesn't count; if it did, schools would be flourishing. A really radical change would be to create a corps of master teachers who aren't merely trained, but truly educated. Hopefully, administrators would come from the ranks of the best teachers. Today, many teachers move to administration because they aren't successful in the classroom.

On the Media: What McChrystal failed to understand
Michael Hastings, writing for Rolling Stone, was unlike other journalists who'd had access to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. For one, the skeptical, hardheaded Hastings was a kindred spirit.
June 26, 2010
James Rainey
Los Angeles Times

What would Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the hardened commanders on his staff have to fear from a bearded, pointy-headed reporter from a rock 'n' roll magazine?

The general and his aides had faced down terrorists and the enemies of America. They had welcomed into their midst journalists from top news outlets. The result had been stories that mostly made the men running the war in Afghanistan look like a bunch of can-do warriors.

Ads by Google

But Team McChrystal and its leader met their downfall this week because they failed to recognize, as soldiers like to say, that the opponent, and the situation on the ground, had changed.

Since the last time McChrystal and his men popped off to gain political advantage, the president of the United Stated had made it abundantly clear he wanted more team play. Sensitivity about the war had increased, as the U.S. deployment and casualties climbed.

Most important, the Rolling Stone reporter they invited in to write a profile, Michael Hastings, didn't have to tussle with the competing priorities of the mainstream beat reporters who had come before him. If McChrystal and his men had thought it through, they might have realized that Hastings was in for just one hit. Hastings didn't need to play nice in hopes of getting access to McChrystal down the road. The piece, as a result, was no-holds-barred.

Merely by reading his online bio they would have learned that this journalist they invited into their inner sanctum was something more than the "dirty Rolling Stone hippie" who Jon Stewart suggested had such an easy path to outdoing the dunderheaded mainstream media.

Hastings, 30, had already covered America's wars for five years. He had made plain his skepticism about the chances of victory in Afghanistan. He had boldly written about the death of his fiancée in an ambush in Iraq, turning aside critiques from some journalists that he was too ready to dissect a personal tragedy.

In one Web posting, the Vermont native and NYU grad wrote of his admiration for "writers who live their lives with integrity and without compromise." By phone from Kabul Thursday, Hastings said that in some ways he admired the renegade McChrystal. Recalling the darkly evocative fiction that McChrystal wrote as a West Point cadet (including one story in which the protagonist assassinates the president), Hastings commented: "His attitude was, like, [stick it to] 'The Man.' And those sorts of attitudes exist in me, on a certain level."...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Financial Reform passed!/How did Scott Brown get to be in charge of bank reform?

Our financial system failed us in 2008. One of the biggest victims has been our school system. Why don't Republicans agree that we need financial reform?

UPDATE: Financial reform passed!

Lawmakers agree on historic Wall St reform at dawn
Charles Abbott and Andy Sullivan
Fri Jun 25, 2010

U.S. lawmakers hammered out a historic overhaul of financial regulations as dawn broke over the nation's capital on Friday, handing President Barack Obama a major domestic policy victory on the eve of a global summit devoted to financial reform.

In a marathon session of more than 21 hours, legislators agreed to a rewrite of Wall Street rules that may crimp the industry's profits and subject it to tougher oversight and tighter restrictions.

To secure agreement, lawmakers reached deals in the final hours on the most controversial sections which restrict derivatives dealing by banks and curb their proprietary trading to shield taxpayer-backed deposits from more risky activities.

Banks will be allowed to keep most swaps dealing activity in-house, although the riskiest trading would be pushed out...

How did Scott Brown get to be in charge of bank reform?

As the fate of the Volcker rule is determined, the junior senator from Massachusetts may tip the balance
Andrew Leonard
June 24, 2010

...A senator sworn in five months ago owns the swing vote on the most important financial reform legislation in decades.

Brown's concerns are strictly parochial. On the one hand, he wants mutual funds and insurance companies exempted from the Volcker rule. Not uncoincidentally, such exemptions would apply to major Massachusetts-based financial institutions such as Fidelity and MassMutual...

Do Republicans actually want America to fail?

"The vote was 57-41. Oddly, the side with 41 votes actually won. Because that is how the Founders wanted things to not work in this god-blessed nation."

Jun 24, 2010 18:20 ET
Do Republicans actually want America to fail?
By Alex Pareene

Tomorrow, more than a million people who've been out of work for six months or more will lose unemployment benefits, because Senate Republicans and theoretical Democrat Ben Nelson joined together to block an already too-small package of half-measures designed to provide some modicum of help for the nation's millions of jobless people.

The vote was 57-41. Oddly, the side with 41 votes actually won. Because that is how the Founders wanted things to not work in this god-blessed nation...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why innovation will elude Russia

We must guard against our country becoming more like Russia. Here in the land of the free we have problems with "corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law" and "continuing media restrictions" that "result in an erosion of the accountability of government leaders to the population."...

Why innovation will elude Russia
Joel Brinkle
San Francisco Chronicle
June 24, 2010

..."It's not by chance that I came here," [Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev admitted to an audience at Stanford University. "I wanted to see with my own eyes the origin of success." And it's no wonder: Can you think of a significant Russian technological invention of recent times?

The problem isn't the Russian people. Thousands of them are at work across Silicon Valley creating the very products and services Medvedev came to emulate.

No, the problem is the Russian government, still a brutal, capricious bureaucracy guilty of "contract-style killings," the State Department says, "continuing centralization of power in the executive branch, along with corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law" and "continuing media restrictions" that "result in an erosion of the accountability of government leaders to the population."...

Opponents of gay marriage ban must release memos

Marriage equality opponents vow rematch over public disclosure case
Keen News Service
By Lisa Keen
June 24, 2010

In a ruling hailed by gay activists, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 upheld a law that requires public disclosure of the names of people who signed a petition to put an anti-gay referendum on the ballot in Washington State. But litigation over the domestic partnership battle may not yet be finished and may be back before the court in a year or so.

The 8 to 1 decision, with only Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, said a state law requiring the names and addresses of petition signers be available to the public does not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution...

Opponents of gay marriage ban must release memos

By Lisa Leff
Associated Press Writer
March 22, 2010

Civil rights groups that campaigned against California's same-sex marriage ban must surrender some of their internal campaign memos and e-mails to lawyers for the other side, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker said sponsors of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative targeting gay marriage, were entitled to the information as evidence in their defense against a lawsuit challenging the ban...

The ACLU and Equality California, the state's largest gay rights group, had argued that the campaign documents being sought were irrelevant to the Proposition 8 lawsuit. They also claimed it was unfair to make them bear the expense of sifting through tens of thousands of old e-mails.

"We do believe this decision is incorrect," said Geoffrey Kors, Equality California's executive director. "A core issue in the case is whether the motivation of those who put Prop. 8 on the ballot is animus (dislike for gays)...

Scarborough wants Republicans to pretend they don't support oil companies

Scarborough sings a different tune when his own ox is getting gored. Why is he such a late convert to opposition to oil companies?
See also Republican suggests US pay for oil spill.

Scarborough: "Why is Joe Barton being allowed to keep his job?"

By Greg Sargent
Washington Post
June 24, 2010

"Why is Joe Barton being allowed to keep his job, when Joe Barton apologized to a corporation that is destroying my home town's economy, and is destroying the environment across the Gulf Coast?"

That's Joe Scarborough this morning, posing a very well-framed question to Eric Cantor. The ensuing verbal skirmish between the two men is the day's must-watch video:

Cantor put up a good fight, repeatedly claiming that Joe Barton is "not the issue," reiterating the Republican line that the real issue that matters is stopping the spill. When Cantor compared Barton's BP apology to gaffes issued by Joe Biden, Scarborough repeatedly pushed back hard, pointing out that Barton's apology came from prepared remarks.

And Scarborough wondered aloud in a mystified tone why Republicans weren't axing Barton:

"This hurts the Republican Party. This hurts the Republican brand. Joe Barton is the most powerful Republican on the Hill when it comes to energy policy, and that shows his mindset. Does it not?"

The question is, Why haven't Republicans removed him? As best as I can determine, Republicans believe there's no political percentage in doing so because Dems will continue attacking them as stooges for Big Oil no matter what they do. Republicans don't appear to think the Barton attack is as effective as, say, attacking them for taking Big Oil's campaign contributions. ..

SDUSD board doesn't want education reform, so it's silly to criticize Kowba for not being a reformer

I wish voters had the option of electing school board members who aren't controlled by people entrenched in power. The education establishment (on both the right and left) wants to guard its power, and that means maintaining the status quo. Given that fact, I think Bill Kowba is a good choice to keep things from falling apart any more than they already have.

Of course, a better choice would be to get more bang for our education bucks by reforming how teachers function. We could pay more for effective teachers and end up with better results for less money.

Superintendent Finalist Has Strengths, Weaknesses
By Ana Tintocalis
June 23, 2010

...Critics say the board could have done a better job at recruiting top talent.

But the trustees stand by their decision, saying the school board is not looking for a big personality or school reformer.

They also say a team of academic leaders are already in place to begin the work of getting more students to achieve.

Trustee John Evans downplayed any rumors that the board made up its mind a long time ago.

“There are five independent-minded people on the board,” Evans said. “These decisions are not taken lightly or reached easily.”

Kowba would not be the first superintendent in San Diego without an academic background. Bersin, the district's most infamous superintendent, was an attorney.

Supporters say San Diego Unified needs a budget-minded leader right now. The district has suffered more than $300 million in state budget cuts over the past few years. The district is looking at another big deficit for next school year...

Slashed budget for schools all but OK’d

By Maureen Magee
June 22, 2010

San Diego Unified School District has cut about $300 million since 2008. Next year’s proposed $100 million in cuts include:

• Five districtwide furlough days, which will trim the school year by a week in each of the next two years

• Cuts to magnet school funding, which could force staff reductions

• Eliminating most adult education offerings

• Cuts to central office personnel

• Eliminating support programs for new teachers

Deep cuts to next year’s San Diego school district budget were all but approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday.

No relief is in sight for the San Diego Unified School District in the coming years.

Millions of dollars in preliminary cuts to the 2011-12 budget, including layoffs, were also announced Tuesday.

To offset an estimated $134 million deficit to next year’s $1.1 billion operating budget, trustees have approved cuts that include trimming the school year by five days, cutting some bus routes and personnel reductions.

Preliminary proposals for the 2011-12 year include a call to cut the district work force by 10 percent, close small schools, eliminate vice principals, raise class sizes and revert to half-day kindergarten classes...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is the deeply corrupt Karzai a reliable partner in Afghanistan? Is General McChrystal?

UPDATE: McChrystal is out. McChrystal was more loyal to the deeply corrupt Afghan president than he was to the American president.

In replacing McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, Obama reasserts authority

By Linda Feldmann
Christian Science Monitor
June 23, 2010

“The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general,” Obama said. “It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.”

...Earlier, McChrystal had been criticized for his role in the faulty reporting of the 2004 friendly fire death of Army Ranger (and former NFL football player) Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

...In a rare show of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicans alike applauded Obama’s decision.

Obama's choice of Petraeus a 'masterstroke'

June 23, 2010
...CNN: What do you think of the president's decision?

Fareed Zakaria: This is a masterstroke. Petraeus needs no on-the-job training, knows the theater, and is beloved by the troops. He understands COIN [counter-insurgency strategy], literally wrote the book on it, and most important -- knows how to execute it. He has superb political skills and understands that a close working relationship with his civilian counterparts from the State Department, White House, and other agencies is not a bother but at the heart of the mission's success...The question I have, which in some ways is greater, is not whether Gen. McChrystal is guilty of insubordination but of incompetence. ...What you see in Gen. McChrystal is someone who is openly disdainful of and sets himself up almost in opposition to the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, the State Department high representative Richard Holbrooke, the national security adviser, the vice president...If McChrystal and his team are so contemptuous of these other people whose support is absolutely critical to the success of the mission, then he's failing at his mission...

If you compare McChrystal's attitude toward his civilian counterparts with that of Gen. Petraeus in Iraq, it's night and day. Petraeus was extremely respectful of Ryan Crocker, the ambassador, extremely respectful of the State Department, always talking about how he really admired and appreciated their efforts and wanted them more involved, held almost all his briefings along with Crocker. And that clearly was a crucial part of why the surge succeeded, because the whole premise of the surge is that the military part is not by itself going to be enough...


Can the US win in Afghanistan? It would be more likely if Karzai and McChrystal were more loyal--not just to each other, but to the people of Afghanistan and the US, respectively.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal to explain anti-administration comments

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan was summoned to Washington for a White House meeting after apologizing for flippant and dismissive remarks about top Obama administration officials.
By Greg Jaffe and Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post
June 23, 2010

...During his 12 months in Kabul, McChrystal has earned a reputation as a forthright commander with an unscripted style and a strong work ethic. He has forged a close working relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was quick to come to the general's defense Tuesday, saying that his loss would be a major setback for the war effort.

Still, McChrystal has stumbled frequently in his interactions with the media, often to the great irritation of the White House. It has interpreted the general's outspoken manner as an effort to box Obama into backing a major troop surge and large-scale counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

In the article, McChrystal suggests that Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, the top U.S. civilian in Afghanistan, "betrayed" him by suggesting in a classified cable last fall that Karzai was not a credible partner in the counterinsurgency strategy that McChrystal was advocating...

J. D. Hayworth – AZ snake oil salesman

J. D. Hayworth – AZ snake oil salesman
Steven Rockford
La Dolce Vita
JUNE 22, 2010

J. D. Hayworth, currently campaigning for John McCain’s Arizona senate seat, has been touting his ultra conservative stop-government-spending credentials to the Arizona Tea Party crowd for several months. However, it appears his views on this issue were considerably different three years ago when he shilled for an “Easy Money Scheme” promoted by a now-defunct Florida-based company.

In a 2007 infomercial for National Grants Conferences (see YouTube video below), Hayworth said the following about the potential for individuals being able to receive “free (federal) money grants:”

"Now, you may think what you've heard is too good to be true, but let me assure you, it is real, it's available, and it's something you should take advantage of.

You should come to one of the National Grants Conferences. Because there, you receive information, information that equates with power. And knowledge to make you a better business owner, to make you a wiser investor, to make you, perhaps, a first-time homeowner."

None of this was true, of course. As noted on the U.S. Government website

"We have all seen them: late night infomercials, websites and reference guides, advertising 'millions in free money.' Don't believe the hype! Although there are many grants on, few of them are available to individuals and none of them are available for personal financial assistance."

Good job: SDUSD hires Bill Kowba from within as superintendent

I like the idea of hiring from within. This way you really know who you're getting.

District promotes from within for superintendent
Kowba loses 'interim' tag
June 22, 2010

Bill Kowba
Age: 58
Occupation: Interim superintendent, San Diego Unified School District. Retired Navy rear admiral.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history, St. Bonaventure University; master’s degree in history, University of Richmond ; master’s degree in resource management, Webster University; master’s in business administration in accounting and marketing, UCLA.

Bill Kowba, a retired Navy rear admiral and trusted administrator, has been named superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District.

In a hastily scheduled announcement Tuesday, the board of education ended a four-month search for a schools chief by identifying the district’s interim superintendent as its choice for the job...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

School lunch program started when 16% of eligible soldiers disqualified for malnutrition in WWII

lobal Media Contact:
Bethany H. Carland-Adams
+1 781-388-8509

National School Lunch Program Increases Educational Achievement

WASHINGTON, DC—June 21, 2010—A new article from the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management is the first to evaluate the long-term health and educational effects of participation in the National School Lunch Program. The study finds that the program leads to a significant increase in educational opportunity and attainment, but an insignificant increase in health levels from childhood to adulthood.

The Congress-led program, which first began in 1946 under President Harry S. Truman, built off the existing New Deal food subsidy programs, first started under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The program was largely inspired by the disqualification of sixteen percent of eligible soldiers from serving in World War II, due to malnutrition or underfeeding causes, and was originally perceived as a “measure of national security.” ...

This study is published in a new issue of Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. To request a full-text version of this article please contact

What teachers should do instead of trying to get rid of bad students

School should be like church in some respects. For example, instead of trying to get rid of students they don't like, teachers should devote themselves to helping the students that the taxpayers have entrusted to their guidance. As a pastor of a church service I recently attended said, "You shouldn't come here to find the people that you love. You should come here to love the people that you find."

Cato Institute doesn't have a clue about democracy: democracy naturally brings conflicts out in the open

Why We Fight
How Public Schools Cause Social Conflict

by Neal McCluskey

It is all too often assumed that public education
as we typically think of it today—schooling
provided and controlled by government—constitutes
the “foundation of American democracy.”
Such schooling, it is argued, has taken people of
immensely varied ethnic, religious, and racial
backgrounds and molded them into Americans
who are both unified and free. Public schooling,
it is assumed, has been the gentle flame beneath
the great American melting pot.

Unfortunately, the reality is very different from
those idealized assumptions. Indeed, rather than
bringing people together, public schooling often
forces people of disparate backgrounds and beliefs
into political combat...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

51 German millionaires offer to pay more taxes

German Millionaires Volunteer to Pay More Tax
Sticky Feet blog
JUNE 18, 2010

CNN and CNBC are reporting a story about a group of German millionaires who are volunteering to pay an additional 10% in income taxes for 10 years to help the German government meet its budget needs in a time of austerity.

The movement, known as the Club of the Wealthy, was formed in 2009 and now 51 German millionaires have written a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposing their idea. It would not actually be voluntary - the idea is to have the government impose a temporary 10% charge on income. It's unclear whether the proposal has much support among the broader circle of Germany's élite - there are 800,000 German millionaires, so if only 51 have signed the letter after a year's efforts, that may signal its lack of support. But the movement is gaining momentum and is underpinned by Germany's longstanding social democracy framework...

Felicita students’ iPods won’t fix problem

Felicita students’ iPods won’t fix problem
By Logan Jenkins,
San Diego Union Tribune
June 20, 2010

A brick — the Smoke, Mirrors and iPods award — to the Escondido school Union School District for moving around the furniture (i.e., the principal and some teachers) at North County’s worst school but failing to change the culture...

To turn Felicita, a model of underachievement, into a model of success, however, requires surgery, not the partial shuffling of district personnel and the promise of high-tech wizardry, like iPods for students.

If we know anything about education in tough circumstances, it’s that charismatic principals and energetic, expert teachers, freed from the mind-numbing orthodoxies of the public educrats, can work wonders with students if — and it’s a profound if — parents buy in to the American dream...

Hope I’m wrong. Afraid I’m not.

But what the heck. The kids will have iPods.

At least they’ll be quiet.

Maybe we'll learn the truth about Del Mar USD

A bouquet — the Clearing the Black Cloud award — to Sharon McClain
By Logan Jenkins
San Diego Union-Tribune
June 20, 2010

...A bouquet — the Clearing the Black Cloud award — to Sharon McClain, the fired superintendent of the Del Mar Union School District, for putting her purse where her mouth is and filing a claim against the board members and the attorney who she says done her wrong.

This first step toward a full-fledged lawsuit lays out McClain’s belief that three board members — Katherine White, Annette Easton and Doug Perkins — acted in concert with attorney terminate McClain for cause when, in her view, there was no reasonable cause.

Without prejudging the legal merits of McClain’s claim, this much can be said for certain: The public has not been informed specifically what awful thing(s) McClain was supposed to have done to merit summary firing right before the spring break.

To remove a permanent stain upon her reputation — and, it should be noted, recover the severance she was entitled to if she’d been fired without cause — McClain, 65, is trying to force the board to lay out the charges against her so she can rebut them. She wants her good name back.

To be sure, there’s a political aspect to McClain’s action.

In November, two of the three trustees named in the claim — White and Easton — will be up for re-election.

If the incumbents run, the election will be at least in part a referendum on McClain’s belief that she was fired by a micromanaging board majority that failed to respect the role of the superintendent as the district’s CEO.

With a fresh crop of trustees on the board, a quick settlement with McClain might be likely. If, however, the board majority survives the election, the prospects aren’t so good for McClain.

The last thing she wants is a drawn-out legal war of attrition that could, in the end, drain her purse.

In the end, McClain’s shot across the bow could be more about the ballot box than a jury box.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why do schools litigate instead of settling when they have done wrong? Follow the money: JPAs, insurance brokers, lawyers

Photo: Lora Duzyk (left) is San Diego County Office of Education's Assistant Superintendent for Business Services.

Who is profiting from inflated insurance premiums in San Diego schools? Perhaps just about everyone involved in school liability insurance.

Sometimes my commenters know more than I do about a subject, and school insurance is one of those subjects. A recent comment caused me to do some research. I already knew that the San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority was paying millions of tax dollars each years for lawyers who cover up wrongdoing in schools. I didn't know how far up (or down) the corruption went.

I found this:

County pushing suit alleging misdeeds in insurance industry
By Julie O'Shea
San Jose Recorder

Following New York's lead, Santa Clara County is suing several top insurance brokerage firms, claiming they have duped customers out of millions through secret "kickbacks" and other "lucrative" service deals.

"It's almost cartel-like," said the county's outside counsel, Louise Renne, a for-mer San Francisco city attorney who wasbrought on board because of her extensive experience with this type of litigation. "We believe that every public agency in the state of California has been affected."

In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court in November, Santa Clara is alleging that industry giants Marsh & McLennan Cos., Driver Alliant Insurance Service and Keenan & Associates are "steering" clients toward insurers that are offering brokers undisclosed commissions, funded through insurance premiums.

"In the end," the complaint alleges,"clients paid more for less insurance, with defendants siphoning off the difference to pad their bottom line..."

Here is part of what my commenter wrote:

"...Three insurance brokers namely Driver Alliant, Keenan and Associates and Marsh & McLennan manage these super pools. These insurance brokers are being sued in Alameda County where the allegations are for unlawful business practices, in violation of California Business and Profession Code section 17200 et. seq. false and misleading advertisement where they cream millions of dollars in public funds in violation of Business and Profession Government Code Section 17500 et. seq., breach of fiduciary duty, illegal and secret kickbacks, steering premium dollars and getting public agencies to purchase services at high rates.

"...Keenan and Associates has a “HYBRID SELF-INSURANCE and REINSURANCE” [SDCOE has SELF-JPA where Keenan is also a member of this “Super Pool”] pooling program for nearly 400 schools and community colleges.

"Keenan advertised for its Super Pool’s conference at Lake Tahoe as, “The Pudding is in the Pooling,” in their invitations. Yes, the pudding is good, they are raking in Millions of PUBLIC FUNDS through their billable hours...

"Daniel Shinoff and his SASH firm takes the cream of the Southern District billable hours for BOTH Keenan and SELF which are brokered by Marsh & McLennan. The premium billable hours are steered to his firm with the blessing of Keenan, SELF and Diane Crosier.

"Keenan and Marsh and McLennan as the agents of California’s public entities have a fiduciary duty to recommend the best coverage at the best price for its clients. They are to provide independent, objective advice, and to put ‘their clients best interests’ ahead of their own. Keenan and Driver and Marsh and McLennan are hired to act as consulting, billing/premium administration, and claims administration. Their duty is to provide full disclosure, candor, and loyalty. Disclose the amounts of income; Contingent Commissions Agreements and remuneration they receive form all transactions to the public agencies they represent. Keenan has a policy where every employee, associate and partner has to belong to several churches, golf clubs, non-profit organizations and civic groups. This is how they create friendships with judges, political figures, churches and organizations who look the other way. While attorneys like Daniel Shinoff bully public boards into contractual agreements and decisions that are not in the best interest of PUBLIC AGENCIES but bring in a lot of billable hours to his firm and bigger premiums for insurance Brokers and JPA’s.

"The agreements that the PUBLIC AGENCIES get pressured into signing with the JPA’s have different names like: “Contingent Income Agreements” “Production Service Agreements” “Volume Based Commission Agreements” “Profit-Sharing Commission Agreements” “Commission Override Agreements” Premium Value Contingent Commission Agreements” “Preferred Agency Agreements” and “Platinum Profit Sharing Agreements.”

"These commissions create a blatant CONFLICT of INTEREST and a direct financial interest for these brokers, JPA’s and preferred law firms. These commission and preferred agreements cause CONFLICT of INTEREST, along with premium prices in many cases with lower benefits. The insurance companies recoup the kickbacks paid to marsh & Marsh and McLennan, Keenan and Driver by higher insurance prices passed on to the public agencies. Whereby, suppressing competition in the market of insurance.

"This is the reason why the PUBLIC AGENCIES in San Diego cannot get insurance apart from the JPA’s. No insurance company can do business in California without belonging to one of the three “insurance brokers.” The insurance brokers have contractual agreements with certain JPA’s; like SDCOE SELF and these JPA use the same law firms they have contractual agreements with like Best Best and Krieger, Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and Holtz “SASH” and Winet..."

(End of quote of commenter to this blog.)

It turns out that insurance companies were doing a lot of harm long before they helped bring down the US economy in 2008 with their credit default derivatives. The derivatives were too complicated and clever by half, a scheme to get rich quick while promising that there would be no consequences. The government failed to regulate these scams, pretending they weren't really insurance policies. Institutions began to fail once it was discovered that the institutions didn't have any protection against defaults because they were unknowingly insuring themselves.

Many local school districts belong to the San Diego County Office of Education-JPA. Diane Crosier is the Executive Director of the SDCOE-JPA, and she works under the direction of SDCOE Superintendent Randolph Ward and Asst. Supt. Lora Duzyk. Crosier represents the SDCOE-JPA at a bigger JPA called SELF.

Diane Crosier then goes on to represent SELF when the other JPAs come together to form what it is called a “super pool,” then she reports back (delivers instructions) to SELF and SDCOE-JPA (which she herself directs).

This complete circle leaves me wondering who is in charge, the people at the bottom or the people at the top? There is some evidence that the person in charge is Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz attorney Daniel Shinoff, whom Diane Crosier most often selects to represent school districts in San Diego.

Internet providers need regulation, according to my personal experience

Cox Communications just erased all my emails in one account. I was hoping they would add a feature that allowed me to search my old emails. I wanted to make sure I had copies of all the important emails before I closed the account, but now that option is closed off forever. They said they erased all my emails when I didn't check the account for 3 months, even though I was only using a fraction of the total storage they claimed they were allowing. In fact, they were allowing me no storage at all. Clearly, they don't want to pay to upgrade their service with a search feature. They prefer to keep their email service substandard, and let their customers rely on free email providers.

The Broadband Providers Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

By Tony Bradley, PC World
June 19, 2010

The broadband industry and some politicians have reacted strongly to an FCC effort to have an open dialogue. In response to a Thursday vote by the FCC to open a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) period to consider the options for reclassifying how broadband service is governed, some broadband providers have responded with undue hyperbole that leads one to question their motives.

The FCC has been tasked by Congress to develop and implement a National Broadband Plan, but the industry is challenging its authority to do so.A statement from Verizon following the FCC vote says "Reclassifying high-speed broadband Internet service as a telecom service is a terrible idea...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Campaign reform

Every time you see a politician on TV, wouldn't it be great if you could see a his top three campaign contributors listed right under his name?

Or what if whenever registered lobbyists go the capitol or meet with legislators, require them to wear safety-orange vests that say "LOBBYIST" in big letters on them.

How about we heavily tax corporate campaign contributions? That way at least we won't have to tax working people to give the corporations what they want.

Instead of trying to limit political donations, force all candidates for public office to list all donors and dollar amounts on a publicly accessible web site. Corporations won a big victory recently, allowing them to contribute unlimited amounts to political groups, on the basis of their right to free speech. So, fine, let them have free speech. But not secret backroom deals. Speak up, corporations. Let us all hear what you have to say.

Let the public know who members of Congress are meeting and talking with.

Make it illegal for members of congress to receive gifts or money from lobbyist or special interest groups - personally or for campaigns while in office and 10 years after. I am tired of congress members voting in favor of who ever pays them the most.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Republican Joe Barton seems to feel that he's the only one who should shake down oil companies

Republican, Under Pressure, Backpedals From Apology to BP
June 17, 2010

Representative Joe L. Barton had to be truly sorry by the time he apologized for his apology on Thursday.

In the four hours between his televised apology to BP — for what he called a $20 billion “shakedown” by President Obama for loss claims in the gulf oil spill — and his apology for that apology, Mr. Barton, a Republican from Texas, had been pummeled in the blogosphere, assailed by Democratic Party operatives and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and, in the blow that landed, threatened by Republican leaders with being yanked from the party’s top seat on the powerful House energy committee.

...“Who would the G.O.P. put in charge of overseeing the energy industry & Big Oil if they won control of Congress? Yup, u guessed it — JOE BARTON.”

...The shakedown, in the eyes of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors campaign contributions to lawmakers, is actually the pitches by lawmakers for oil industry donations.

Individuals and political action committees in the oil and gas industry have been Mr. Barton’s biggest source of campaign money, it reported, contributing $1.4 million since the 1990 election cycle.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Congress should close the hedge fund manager loophole

What's wrong with this picture? Political Action

Hedge fund managers make billions but pay lower tax rates than teachers. Hard to believe, right? Congress is considering fixing the loophole, but Wall Street is pushing back hard.

Meg Whitman: the story behind that eBay shove

Some people don't even want to hear about virtual worlds. It makes them really, really mad if you so much as mention the possibility of their spending some time in a virtual world.

Meg Whitman: The story behind that eBay shove

Reenacting the Second Life battle rocking American politics
By Salon Staff
Jun 16, 2010

When news broke that an emerging political candidate had settled out of court with a corporate lackey over an alleged conference room fracas related to nerd neverland Second Life, we alerted our investigative team. They immediately set out to re-create the incident in the best, most lifelike way they knew how...

For Norwegian exhange student, America seems to value mean girls' culture above due process

Thanks to Google's translation capabilities, I am able to present the story of a Norwegian girl who was apparently the target of "mean girls" culture in the U.S., where she was an exchange student. Note the "evidence" in the photo: an open beer container (that does not appear to be hers) on a counter.

Link to Norwegian TV website: Louise thrown out of the U.S. - alleged that she had been drinking beer

18 year old Louise Berge enjoyed the U.S. until she suddenly was thrown out...When her daughter came home bursting into tears earlier this year, the couple began to look for the reason. I thought that Louise probably had committed some youthful sins. They find none.

They have four prohibitions with the letter D, "says Louise, "no drinking, no driving, no dating, no dope." I broke none of the restrictions.

But on a blog there was a picture of Louise standing next to an opened beer bottle...

Anyone who knows anything about high school understands that there are many rumors going, says Louise. Perhaps the rumor spreading is the cause here? We exchange students were taken aside by the principal and told that we should adjust our behavior. There was a rumor in the small town in Vermont that we fixed game, which was not true!

Louise had a few days notice, then was taken away from her family, almost "detained" in a foreign place as parents perceive it, and sent home with an explanation that the family do not agree with...

Danielle Grijalva writes:

...Another story about the treatment of a Norwegian exchange student has reached TV2 Norway. The international reputation of the United States is being harmed.

Danielle Grijalva, Director
Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students
P.O. Box 6496 / Oceanside, CA 92052

How Schools Can Boost Students’ Reading Scores

Here is a guest post by Anna Miller:

The verdict is in and the result is not really flattering for children in the USA – according to the survey conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the reading scores (a dismal 221 on a scale of 500) of fourth graders across the nation has not improved at all over the period of a year. The same tests conducted for eighth graders did not show much improvement either with the scores rising just one point (from 263 to 264) in a whole year. There is more reason to hang our heads in shame when we consider that this lack of improvement is despite the efforts of the No Child Left Behind law and the Reading First program that was a part of it. So where are we going wrong and what can schools do to boost their students’ reading scores?

Get them to read, read and read some more: The best and easiest way to easily understand what you read and be able to infer facts from what you have read is to read as much as you can. The more you read, the more your comprehensive ability increases. The written word does so much more than tell you a story – it improves your vocabulary, boosts your comprehension capabilities, and even allows you to become a writer in your own right. So if schools want to get their students to improve their reading scores, they must encourage and insist on reading habits right from the time the child is able to make sense of a string of words.

Minimize the use of technology in the classroom: While technology is a good thing, there are times when it hinders with the natural learning process by allowing you to take shortcuts that don’t help your brain in the long run. So if students are permitted to use calculators to work out formulae, if they’re allowed to use cell phones to remember vital facts, and if they’re allowed to look up the Internet for the solution to every single problem they’re given, how are their brains going to be pushed enough to develop and grow? Reading and comprehension skills are associated with the ability to reason and infer facts and solutions from the given set of information. So unless children are allowed to challenge their brains in more ways than one, they will always remain poor readers and writers.

Reading is as important as, if not more important than Mathematics and the Sciences because it forms the basis for every other subject. If you’re able to comprehend the essence of a paragraph with just one reading, you don’t really have to struggle to study the subject in question. Reading itself constitutes studying, so that’s all the more reason for schools to focus on boosting their students’ reading scores.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of online degree. She welcomes your comments at her email id:


In spite of high-profile efforts to improve the reading skills of the USA's poorest schoolchildren over the past several years, their reading abilities barely improved last year compared with 2007, results of a federally administered test show.

Reading scores essentially didn't budge in 2009, both for students overall and minority students, according to results issued Wednesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Fourth-graders' scores were unchanged at 221 points on a 500-point scale, and those of eighth-graders rose just one point, from 263 to 264.

ILLITERACY: Why Johnny still can't read.

Police officer punches jaywalking teenage girl: sometimes police (and teachers!) allow issues of control to distort their perspective

The teenage girl detained in this story clearly broke the law by jaywalking and then ignoring a police officer. My question: what is the best way to deal with teenage girls who violate the law by jaywalking and then ignoring a police officer?

How do police and teachers maintain respect and authority? I'm not an expert on police, but I would like to suggest that as teachers we do so by sometimes letting things go, by recognizing when a confrontation will actually damage our authority.

In the grand scheme of things, there are important problems that require the use of physical force. A teenager jaywalking is not one of these things. The officer allowed several jaywalkers to leave; why not one more? Why get physical with a teenage girl? If I'd been in this officer's situation, I might have called after the departing girl, "We're worried about the possibility of an accident at this intersection. Please cross in a safer place next time."

I'm afraid we give young people the wrong message about the proper use of power when police (and teachers) overreact to young people who don't comply with our directives. The goal is to mold young people into responsible citizens, right? The specific goal in this case is to prevent a traffic accident.

Somehow I don't think this is the way to do it. It just makes kids think that the adults are abusive and can't control themselves when they get angry. Some adults can't identify a situation in which a confrontation will damage their own authority. This officer did not enhance his own authority by using physical force in this situation.

Police: Officer reassigned after punching incident caught on camera

(Includes video)
By Gabriel Falcon, CNN
June 16, 2010

A Seattle police officer who was recorded on a cell phone camera punching an alleged jaywalker in the face has been temporarily reassigned, a department spokesman said Wednesday.

Ian Walsh has been taken off patrol duty and placed in a training unit to review police tactics, Detective Mark Jamieson said.

Walsh, who joined the force in November 2007, has not been disciplined in the Monday incident, which remains under investigation, Jamieson said. The event has been referred to the police's Office of Professional Accountability for review, he said.

According to a police statement, Walsh was on patrol and in uniform Monday afternoon when he stopped a young man for jaywalking.

While interacting with the man, Walsh observed four women jaywalking at the same location and ordered them to step over to his cruiser, police said. The department described the women as being "verbally antagonistic toward the officer."...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama Targets For-Profit College Recruiting in Proposed Rules

See all posts on for-profit education.
See all posts on for-profit college recruiting.

Obama Targets For-Profit College Recruiting in Proposed Rules
By John Hechinger
June 16, 2010

The Obama administration proposed banning for-profit colleges from tying recruiters’ pay to the number of people they enroll, saying high-pressure sales tactics induced students to take out government loans they can’t afford.

The rules would prohibit paying sales incentives at Apollo Group Inc., ITT Educational Services Inc., Career Education Corp. and other for-profit colleges, according to a copy of the proposal by the U.S. Department of Education to be made public today. At for-profit colleges, recruiters contact potential students, often after they express interest over the Internet.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is seeking to protect taxpayers from loan defaults and to stop students from taking on debt for programs that don’t lead to higher incomes. For-profit colleges can receive up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal grants and loans. Federal aid to for-profit colleges jumped to $26.5 billion last year from $4.6 billion in 2000, according to the Education Department...

San Diego High School Students Struggle To Get To School

If we want an educated populace, we should make sure kids can get to school. I think bus passes would be more worthwhile than many of the textbooks that schools are forced by law to pay for. It's a boondoggle for the textbook companies, and often the textbooks are not used by teachers. I remember that I used to have one expensive social studies text for every two or three students. This was the bizarre legal requirement that schools had to fulfill. My kids had trouble reading the books even when they could see the print. Imagine how impossible it was for them to read when they were craning their necks to see a book that was placed halfway between their desk and the desk next to them. Those books cost a lot of money and were almost useless.

In the 1960s I used to walk to San Diego High School. It was a lovely walk with no homeless people on the bridge and Victorian homes instead of high rises. Not long ago I was driving on the ramp to highway 94 East and I noticed a high rise parking structure near the school. The only kind of building that is more menacing than that is a prison.

San Diego High School Students Struggle To Get To School

By Ana Tintocalis
June 14, 2010

...Osuna doesn't own a bike or car. His only option is to take the San Diego Trolley or bus. But he can't afford a pass.

And Osuna is not alone. Hundreds of students at San Diego High School do not have a cheap, safe and reliable way to get to school. The problem is so bad that many teens are chronically tardy. Others skip school all together.

San Diego High School is surrounded by high-rises, freeways and homeless people...

[Conseulo] Manriquez recalls how one of her students was mugged while walking to school...

Manriquez decided to establish a bus pass scholarship for about 80 of her students... A few weeks later, she was flooded with applications...The majority of her students come from low-income families and could not afford a monthly transit pass. Transit passes cost students $36 every month. A bus pass scholarship for half a year saves them more than $200...

Daniel Gilbreth is transportation manager for for the school district...“It would just be too costly,” Gilbreth said...

But Manriquez believes the district's priorities are misplaced. She says it's even more costly to deny a child transportation because it contributes to low-attendance and high dropout rates...

Monday, June 14, 2010

California Teachers Association head counsel Beverly Tucker used to be a counsel for the ACLU

California Teachers Association head counsel Beverly Tucker used to be a counsel for the ACLU in Northern California. Obviously, she wasn't a true believer in civil rights, or she wouldn't have spent so much money and effort on silly efforts to violate my civil rights. Tucker didn't plan her actions well.

Tucker had no good reason to support the two teachers who said I was going to come to school and shoot everybody. Her reason for doing so? It was an election year for the teachers union affiliate in Chula Vista, and the incumbent (Gina Boyd) was afraid the two teachers might make trouble for her if she insisted on a proper investigation.

I think Tucker was careless. The matter simply wasn't important to her, so she didn't bother to use any energy thinking about it. Only a very tiny amount of brain work was required to reach a sensible solution to the problem. The teachers should have been told to apologize to me. Instead, Tucker has spent years forcing teachers to lie under oath, wildly contradicting each other, among other shameful actions.

Tucker has enormous power. The people who supported her in my case (Gail Mendes, Jim Groth and Peg Myers) are rising fast in CTA. This delights me, because it makes my case more newsworthy and it reveals the politics inside CTA.

Click on the labels below to see older posts about the individuals involved.

SDUSD attorney Mark Bresee

Click HERE for all posts re school attorney Mark Bresee.

Why doesn't SDUSD want the public to see the legal advice it pays for?

"The school district has argued that its decision is legal because it is using stimulus money, not its own ordinary funding, to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at other schools. They believe that the stimulus money does not fall under the same rules that the critics have cited. But while the school district has said the move is legal, it hasn't let us take a look at its legal advice. San Diego Unified attorney Mark Bresee said under California public records law, the school district doesn't have to disclose its attorneys' legal advice. That's true, but the school board could waive that privilege and give it to us anyway. "

See all posts about school attorney Mark Bresee.

Wondering How San Diego Unified Justifies a Controversial Budget Fix?
Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego
June 14, 2010

San Diego Unified says it has the legal backing to use federal money for disadvantaged students to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at schools with poorer students. But so far, the school district hasn't let the rest of us see the legal advice they're relying on.

The school district paid an outside law firm $5,000 to evaluate whether the controversial idea, which we explored in a recent article, is legal.

Critics and a state official say it appears to be illegal because schools are supposed to provide equal services to all schools with their basic funding. The special federal money is supposed to pay for the extra needs of poor children, not pay for things the district would anyway.

The school district has argued that its decision is legal because it is using stimulus money, not its own ordinary funding, to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at other schools. They believe that the stimulus money does not fall under the same rules that the critics have cited...

What Our Military Allies Can Tell Us About the End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

It's in our national interest to let gays serve openly in the military. Anyone who believes that homosexuality is wrong should follow his or her own conscience, but should not harm our national security by demanding that the military interfere with the private lives of personnel.

What Our Military Allies Can Tell Us About the End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Charles McLean
Peter W. Singer
June 07, 2010

Every gay-pride parade seems to have its share of sailor suits, aviator sunglasses, and camouflage trousers. In the United States, such costumes are often drawn from the Halloween bin, since gays cannot serve openly in the military, let alone march for pride in their official uniforms. But that’s not the case in Britain, where gay members of the Royal Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marines not only march but also move their partners into the military’s family housing. The armed forces has also embraced the shift—which came following a European Court of Human Rights ruling 1999—placing recruitment ads in gay publications, and, last summer, featuring an openly gay soldier on the cover of the military’s official magazine.
U.S. Marine Corps and Navy personnel stand at the rails of the USS Iwo Jima as the amphibious assault ship enters New York Harbor for Fleet Week.

Britain isn’t the only U.S. ally to allow open gays in the military. More than 25 of our allies, including every original NATO signatory other than the U.S. and Turkey, have transitioned to an open military...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where did Alvin Greene get the $10,400 to run for office in South Carolina, and does he have the mental capacity to run a campaign?

It seems unlikely that Alvin Green used his own money for a bizarre quest that appears to be far beyond his mental abilities.

South Carolina Pol Questions Dem Senate Candidate's 'Mental Status'
By Heidi Noonan
June 13, 2010

A South Carolina lawmaker on Sunday suggested that new Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene may be intellectually incapable of participating in the general election race.

State Rep. Todd Rutherford told Fox News that he went to Greene's house to discuss with him how Greene succeeded last week in becoming the candidate to challenge Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in the November election, but he found it difficult to decipher an answer.

"About two questions into a conversation with him, it would become apparent that he is not probably fit to answer the questions befitting a Senate candidate," Rutherford said. "If he was put into this, then it is a joke that is funny to all the rest of us, but he doesn't get it -- because I don't know that his mental status is such that he can get it."

On Friday South Carolina authorities launched a formal investigation into Greene's unlikely win. The campaign of his vanquished opponent, Vic Rawl, said it too is looking into reports across the state from voters and poll workers who "experienced problems with voting for whom they intended."...Greene won with about 60 percent of the vote...

Rutherford added that based on his conversation with Greene about his military service he got the impression that Greene could have decided to spend the $10,400 needed to enter the South Carolina race, but "I doubt it very seriously."

...South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip, said he could reach no conclusion except that Greene is a plant.

"I never said he was a Republican plant. I said he was someone's plant. ... I saw the patterns in this. I know a Democratic pattern, I know a Republican pattern and I saw in the Democratic primary elephant dung all over the place," he told CNN...

Conviction wouldn't bar Greene from representing S.C.
June 15, 2010
By Ron Barnett

If Alvin Greene is convicted of the felony obscenity charge against him, he could represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate — but he might not be able to vote for himself, elections officials said Tuesday...

Greene, who did no campaigning, had no website and raised no money, defeated Vic Rawl, a former circuit judge and state lawmaker who campaigned across the state, in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary last Tuesday. He captured nearly 60% of the vote...

Unless a new election is called, Greene will face heavily favored incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in November.

University of South Carolina police allege that Greene was caught on video showing obscene material on a computer screen to a female student and asking her to go to her dorm room with him. Greene has refused to discuss the charge. He has not entered a plea and has not been indicted.

Rawl has filed a protest with the state Democratic Party alleging the touch-screen voting machines the state uses malfunctioned. The state Democratic Party's executive committee will hear Rawl's protest about the voting machines Thursday. It has the authority to call for a new election, Whitmire said.

Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit group, asked South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster— who lost a bid in the GOP gubernatorial race last week — to investigate how Greene came up with the $10,440 filing fee required to put his name on the ballot and whether Greene "accepted an inducement" to run.

Greene, an unemployed veteran, has repeatedly said he used money saved from his service in the Army, although he was granted a free attorney in his criminal case as an indigent...

Friday, June 11, 2010

We should have listened to disgruntled ex-employee before explosions at Massey mine in West Virginia

Usually it's only the disgruntled ex-employees who will tell the truth about an institution. Those who are still employed are usually afraid to talk, or they have convinced themselves that it is right to protect wrongdoers.

Ex-Massey Miner: Safety Gripes Led To Firing

by Howard Berkes
June 7, 2010

A former Massey Energy coal miner has filed a federal whistle-blower complaint, claiming he was fired after complaining about unsafe conditions at two Massey mines in West Virginia, NPR News has learned. One of the coal mines is Upper Big Branch, where an explosion killed 29 workers April 5.

Ricky Lee Campbell's complaint says he repeatedly told his supervisors about failing brakes on the coal shuttle cars he drove at the Slip Ridge Cedar Grove mine.

The 24-year-old from Beckley, W.Va., also spoke to a newspaper about unsafe conditions at Upper Big Branch, where he worked until shortly before the accident. And he provided information in the federal investigation of the blast.

Campbell spoke to the newspaper on April 7. A week later, he was given a five-day suspension "subject to discharge" and then fired April 23. He then filed the whistle-blower complaint with the Labor Department, contending that his persistent safety concerns, his media interview and his role in the federal probe prompted his termination...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Support Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010

Support Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010

No Taxpayer Bailout of Big Oil — Hold BP Accountable for Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster
BP oil spill cleanup

One month after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank off the Louisiana Gulf Coast, attempts to cap the gushing well have failed. Thick oily sludge has reportedly reached Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, threatening to destroy the delicate ecosystem and the multimillion-dollar seafood industry of the region.

Congress must act now to ensure that the corporations responsible for this massive disaster pay the full cleanup costs. Under current law, corporate liability for oil spills is capped at $75 million. For companies such as BP, which reported a profit of over $6 billion in the first quarter of 2010, it amounts to less than one day’s average earnings. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently introduced the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010 (S. 3305), which would increase corporate liability to $10 billion.

Urge your senators to cosponsor S. 3305 today and prevent the bailout of Big Oil!

Who is really at fault for the oil spill?

This Time Is Different

New York Times
June 11, 2010

My friend, Mark Mykleby, who works in the Pentagon, shared with me this personal letter to the editor he got published last week in his hometown paper, The Beaufort Gazette in South Carolina. It is the best reaction I’ve seen to the BP oil spill — and also the best advice to President Obama on exactly whom to kick you know where.

“I’d like to join in on the blame game that has come to define our national approach to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This isn’t BP’s or Transocean’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry. It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life...

John Boehner accidentally, briefly suggests feds foot oil spill bill

John Boehner accidentally, briefly suggests feds foot oil spill bill
By Alex Pareene
Jun 10, 2010

The Chamber of Commerce does not think it is fair that British Petroleum will have to pay to clean up the tens or hundreds of millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico because of its negligence. So they would like taxpayers to help foot the bill. And because GOP leadership basically represents the interests of the Chamber of Commerce, House Republican leader John Boehner accidentally revealed that he will probably eventually lobby for the federal government to contribute to the cost of cleaning up BP's huge mess...

If Not Test Scores, What? Linda Nathan of the Boston Arts Academy

Uncovering the 'Invisible Barriers' to Student Success

By Anthony Rebora

The Hardest Questions Aren't on the Test: Lessons From An Innovative Urban School
by Linda F. Nathan
Beacon Press, 2009

Linda Nathan is a former teacher and the founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, an arts-focused public high school that has gained widespread attention for its unconventional methods and strong academic record. Some 95 percent of BAA graduates are said to be accepted into college. And that statistic is all the more impressive when you consider the school’s demographic: Nearly 80 percent of BAA's students are minority and 60 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch...

Instead of immediately instituting intensive test-prep sessions or some other "tactic of the month," Nathan and her colleagues embarked on a series of sometimes uncomfortable discussions on the connections between race, classroom practice, and academic achievement. These deliberations then led to potentially risky initiatives to help teachers look more closely at the way they interact with African-American boys in their classes and to open up the conversation to the students themselves. The immediate results, Nathan says, were promising...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Banality of Good: Watching our neighbors go to their doom

The banality of good is happening everywhere, notably in schools where ordinary employees and board members continue to live their lives, not much disturbed by the fact that thousands of children that could have been saved are passing through their schools and heading toward lives of poverty, failure and, in not a few cases, crime.

It is vile. Not vile beyond all vileness, but definitely vile.

I feel that publishing my blog is somewhat like the writing of postcards by the heroes of this novel.

The Banality of Good
The New York Times
May 3, 2010

What was it like? I would ask myself, the years I lived in Berlin. What was it like in the leafy Grunewald neighborhood to watch your Jewish neighbors — lawyers, businessmen, dentists — trooping head bowed to the nearby train station for transport eastward to extinction?

With what measure of fear, denial, calculation, conscience and contempt did neighbors who had proved their Aryan stock to Hitler’s butchers make their accommodations with this Jewish exodus? How good did the schnapps taste and how effectively did it wash down the shame?

Now I know. Thanks to Hans Fallada’s extraordinary “Every Man Dies Alone,” just published in the United States more than 60 years after it first appeared in Germany, I know... It was vile beyond all vileness.”...

“Every Man Dies Alone” recounts how a working-class Berlin couple, Otto and Anna Quangel, are stirred from acquiescence to anger by the death at the front of their only son. The action they take is minimalist — writing postcards denouncing Hitler and depositing them at random — but contains the immensity of defiance in a world where disobedience equals death...

The postcards were almost all handed in to the police by terrorized Berliners. But humanity is Quangel’s disciple. For the “preposterous comedy” continues here and there and terror still poses the existential dilemma: decency and its (mortal) dangers or conformity and its comforts?

As Hannah Arendt once observed: “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply but some people will not. ... Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

San Diego schools admits to error in alerting media of two meetings

San Diego schools admits to error in alerting media of two meetings
June 7, 2010
by donal brown
First Amendment Coalition

After a prompting from a reporter, the San Diego Unified School District acknowledged that they had to post and notify the media of all meetings 24 hours in advance. The Board of Trustees had posted notices for two meetings properly but failed to give the media adequate notice.

The Robles-Wang et al. v. California lawsuit re unequal school funding

California students sue over disappearing teachers
By Rupa Dev, New America Media
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

...Massive cuts in schools may not surprise Californians these days, but that doesn’t mean residents have become complacent. In late May, a broad coalition of families, students, teachers, school districts, administrators, and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the State of California, asking a Superior Court Judge to declare the state’s system for funding public schools unconstitutional.

The Robles-Wang, et al. v. California lawsuit, which is supported by State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, argues the amount of state funding provided to education isn’t sufficient enough to deliver the programs required for students to meet the state’s educational requirements.

For example, the state requires Riverside Unified School District to adopt new textbooks but only provide a fraction of the dollars needed to buy the books, according to Dr. Rick Miller, superintendent of Riverside Unified School District. Riverside Unified is one of nine school districts listed among the plaintiffs...

Judge Halts Construction on Indian Burial Grounds

Judge Judith Hayes seems to like to issue permanent injunctions, so I am confident she will do so in this case.

See all posts re Judge Judith Hayes.

Judge Halts Construction on Indian Burial Grounds

SAN DIEGO - A judge Monday granted a temporary restraining order stopping the Padre Dam Municipal Water District from doing further construction on a planned reservoir and pumping station near Lake Jennings Park Road and Old Highway 80 on a recently unearthed Indian burial site.

The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians said the restraining order issued by Judge Judith Hayes will halt the water district from further desecrating the burial and ceremonial ground. A hearing is scheduled June 25 to make the injunction permanent...

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Case Against Judicial Elections: Keep Politics Out of the Law

The Case Against Judicial Elections: Keep Politics Out of the Law
Andrew Cohen
AOL News
June 6, 2010

...The biggest single threat to fair and neutral justice is the trend toward partisan judicial elections at the state and local level. Through this practice, tiny pockets of zealous partisans mobilize to vote into office judges who, in the manner of an elected politician, are then presumed to owe something to their constituents...

See more HERE.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A good reason to go organic?

Will this impact the illegal immigration debate? Are Americans going to be willing to work on farms that use methyl iodide? Maybe the anti-illegal immigration folks are doing immigrants a favor by keeping them out.

Background information

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State poised to OK supertoxic pesticide
Peter Fimrite
San Francisco Chronicle
June 2, 2010

Farmers planting strawberries and other crops in California will soon have to contend with cancer-causing poison instead of bugs, worms and fungus if regulators get their wish.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has proposed registering methyl iodide as a pesticide in California to the dismay of scientists and environmental groups, who say it is so toxic that even chemists are reluctant to handle it.

The chemical will become legal for growers to use after a 60-day comment period ending June 29 unless there is some kind of public outcry...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Camille Zombro is wrong: schools need to do something about substandard teachers

It's not necessary to fire weak teachers; they can be useful, but they shouldn't have full charge of a classroom.

School Board Election Comes At Precarious Time For District
By Ana Tintocalis
June 2, 2010

...The powerful union has thrown its support behind Scott Barnett, a Republican who used to be the head of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

Zombro believes Barnett will reign in school spending so that it focuses on the basics and not on big reforms.

“(Quality education) is not a flashy program or a big consultant or a big splash. What it takes is a positive place for children to learn, for parents to interact with their schools, and for teachers to teach.”

Whatever the outcome, the board will have to manage the second largest school district in the state with a lot less money. It will also have to push for better academic results while dealing with a persistent achievement gap.

2010 Grand Jury report about SDUSD

Click here for a link to the 2010 Grand Jury report about San Diego Unified School District.

County Grand Jury: Schools Misuse Student Money, Charge Illegal Fees
by Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego
June 2, 2010

A county grand jury report released today criticizes San Diego Unified schools for misusing more than $100,000 meant for student government, instead spending it on school supplies, equipment and things that benefit faculty, such as a Christmas party for employees. The problems were originally uncovered in internal school district audits.

Such money is meant for extra activities, not the basics that schools are supposed to supply. The report states that the problem is widespread: Roughly 75 percent of schools audited by school district investigators had misused the funds, including the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Hoover High, Longfellow Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Mission Bay High and Washington Elementary.

The grand jury, a volunteer citizen group that investigates local governments, recommended San Diego Unified require more training for principals, vice principals, financial clerks and student government advisors to ensure they have checks and balances to track and control how money is spent. It also advised the school district to increase its auditing staff.

The report also noted a number of other problems in the school system: Schools are still charging fees for supplies, equipment and uniforms, violating state law, which prohibits schools for charging students for activities.

It argues for more oversight and auditing of charter schools, which are independently run but overseen by the school district. Oversight is currently limited to a single annual visit, it says. And the report says school district internal investigators aren't allowed to audit charter schools like other public schools.

"I think what we are seeing in San Diego Unified is probably happening in every school district in the county," said foreperson Victoria Stubblefield.

Despite the problems, another recent grand jury report gave San Diego Unified kudos for having the best system to detect and eliminate internal fraud among local government agencies. Those internal audits, in fact, provided many of the grand jury findings. School district spokeswoman Linda Zintz said San Diego Unified is still reviewing the report and will release a formal statement this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A Battle Over Who Speaks for Latinos in Vista Schools

In most districts, the district-wide DELAC committe (District English Learners Advisory Committee) stays under the firm control of the district office. In one school in another district, however, there was a big battle to keep ELAC parents out of the PTA board. The principal, Ollie Matos, was viciously attacked for allowing ELAC parents to attempt to join the PTA board. See news articles regarding Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD). Mr. Preciado certainly is right not to blame just one of the two major culprits in school problems; he correctly blames BOTH the district and the teachers union. The district and the teachers union oppose each other in many things, but they work together to keep parents out of the decision-making process.

See all posts on Vista Unified School District.

A Battle Over Who Speaks for Latinos in Vista Schools
May 31, 2010
Voice of San Diego

Preciado points out that Hispanic dropout rates are alarming. Scores on an English learners test have bobbled. He lays blame with the teachers union, particularly after it fought off a reading program championed by the superintendent...

Before Eduardo Preciado took over, it was a placid committee where parents gave their input on programs for English learners in Vista schools.

Now the group is embroiled in Vista's struggle to find a voice for a Latino community that has grown in numbers but not in political posts over the last decade.

Preciado has changed the committee on English learners into a platform for a small but passionate group of Latino parents who say it's their only place to speak out on all kinds of issues. Though Latino children are now much more common than white students in Vista schools, the school board is largely white and other Latino groups are scarce. One fan calls his group "the voice of the Latino people."

But not everyone wants him to be that voice. His group has split Latino parents -- and some want the outspoken and impassioned Preciado out. Some take issue with his injection of politics into the committee. Others call him too aggressive and confrontational.

There is fierce disagreement over whether the English learners committee should even play the role Preciado has pushed it to. Such committees are supposed to advise their districts on programs for English learners. Preciado has pushed the group to voice its opinions and seek change on much broader, more controversial debates.

He rails against the teachers union and the school board. He argues that the school district has failed Latino kids, pointing to the sobering dropout rates for Latino teens and decrying cuts to busing and programs...


Points that need clarity: (1). The DOJ investigation into the Voting Rights was flawed. Congressman Darrel Issa sat on the DOJ'S Committee. The city of Vista formed a Committee to address the issue and Frank Lopez was the Chair, John Herrera the Vice Chair and other city employees or city Committee members. The city of Vista and SD DA Bonnie Dumanis both knew that dozens of Hispanics complained that Frank Lopez was writing dozens of fraudulent checks in the amounts to thousands of dollars. Yet promised Lopez a seat on the Vista City Council which he now holds. Along with an investigation by the DA and other regulatory agencies into the bad checks felony. The California Voting Rights is completely separate and distinct from the DOJ Voting Rights one is state and the other is federal. Known as the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”). (Elections Code §§ 14025, et seq.) The California Voting Rights Act bans at-large voting if there is evidence that it “impairs the ability” of a minority group “to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.” The CVRA prohibits at-large elections in areas where racial polarization “dilutes” the rights of members of a protected minority class. (Elections Code §§ 14027, 14028; In Madera County Superior Court Judge James E. Oakley concluded that at-large elections for three school board seats put Latino candidates at a disadvantage and should be replaced by elections in which the board is divided into districts. Rey v. Madera Unified School District, Madera County Superior Court Case No. MCV043467.) John Herrera Chair of the Vista DOJ investigation and member of the Encuentros committee is married to Carol Herrera, former VUSD President and now Vice President of VUSD Board. Herrera brought Encuentros to VUSD and carried the motion to vote for Encuentros while her husband sat on the Encuetros Board of Directors. Council Member Steve Gronke running for SD Board of Supervisor to unseat Bill Horn is married to Jan O"Reilly President of the controversial Vista Teachers Association. Gronke also runs a VUSD homeschool. Gabriel Hoosmond has been sitting in VUSD committees for over THREE the VUSD. VUSD bylaws only allow two years. Hoosmond is a public employee and part of the public entrenchment as well working for Del Rio Elementary School. So who truly are the bullies here the people behind the entrenchment the ones with absolute power? The public employees who want to keep Hispanics illiterate picking strawberries, day labors, cleaning houses, janitors, and doing all the work white people don't want to do? Or the people who struggle to feed their kids, come home underpaid and overworked from the remedial jobs? Knowing that under this system the future of their children will be a continued cycle of poverty. Are those who fight to have a voice and a future for their children the bullies?

Edited By: scottlewis on 06/01/2010