Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boycotting of judges nothing new to DA

Boycotting of judges nothing new to DA
At least three others targeted since 2003
By Greg Moran, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 28, 2010
Bonnie Dumanis took office in 2003.

When District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis quietly lifted a months-old challenge of Superior Court Judge John Einhorn late last month, it seemed that an uncommon event — the wholesale boycott of a veteran judge’s courtroom — had come to an end.

But Einhorn was not the first judge to have been singled out for such treatment by Dumanis.

Since 2003, prosecutors have targeted at least three other Superior Court judges for whole or partial boycotts.

Sources in the courthouse, the local defense bar and the District Attorney’s Office said all three were targeted shortly after they made rulings that the District Attorney’s Office apparently disagreed with. Two of those judges, Judith Hayes and William McAdam, no longer work in the criminal courts...

[Judge Judith] Hayes was boycotted just months after Dumanis took office in 2003. The former state and federal prosecutor now hears civil cases in downtown San Diego.

She was challenged soon after dismissing murder charges in the middle of a trial against Michael Savala, who was accused of fatally shooting two bouncers at a Bonita restaurant after the prosecution had presented its case. Hayes said the slayings were not premeditated murder but were committed in the heat of passion — “a classic voluntary manslaughter,” as she said.

Savala eventually pleaded guilty to that lesser charge and received a 13-year sentence...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Families USA: lack of health care kills 68 per day

Families USA: lack of health care kills 68 per day
February 27, 2010
The Bristol Press
By SCOTT WHIPPLE

According to a report released Thursday by a nonprofit consumer group, failure to enact health care reform this year will lead in the next decade to about 1,700 premature deaths of people between 25 and 64 years old in Connecticut.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Washington, DC-based Families USA, said 2,100 people have died prematurely between 1995 and 2009 because of a lack of health insurance.

At the national level, the Families USA report, “Lives on the Line: The Deadly Cost of Delaying Health Reform,” warns that the number of deaths would grow from 68 a day in 2010 to 84 a day in 2019...

Tri-City Hospital pays $300,000 for alleged Brown Act violations

See all Tri-City Healthcare posts.

HOSPITAL: Tri-City settles Brown Act lawsuit filed by former executives
Hospital agrees to pay $300,000, but admits no violation
By PAUL SISSON
February 25, 2010

Tri-City Medical Center has settled a lawsuit brought by a group of former hospital executives who alleged Tri-City violated the state's open meeting law, called the Brown Act, when four hospital board members put the executives on paid leave during a hastily called closed-door meeting in December 2008.

Ray Artiano, an attorney for the seven executives, said Thursday afternoon that Tri-City settled the case for $300,000, which will cover attorney's fees. The executives ---- who were later fired by Tri-City ---- have also filed a wrongful termination lawsuit that is still working its way through the courts.

Courtney Berlin, a spokesperson for Tri-City, confirmed the settlement in the Brown Act lawsuit this week. She said in an e-mail that it doesn't admit "any error on the part of our Board or any violation of the Brown Act."

"In order to preserve the company's resources, we felt it was appropriate to settle the matter," Berlin said.

Four of seven Tri-City board members voted during a special meeting on Dec. 8, 2008, to sideline the seven executives and call in an accounting firm to conduct a forensic investigation of the public hospital's books. Tri-City's former chief executive Arthur Gonzalez was put on leave during the same meeting.

In February 2009, the seven sued Tri-City's board, alleging it had violated several aspects of public meetings law.

The suit asked a Superior Court judge to declare the decision invalid, but more than one year later there had been no ruling in the case. Artiano said that when the suit was filed, there was some hope among the executives that a decision would come quickly and could result in them being reinstated.

In the intervening months, Gonzalez settled with the hospital district and found a new job running a large hospital system in Minneapolis.

In the wrongful termination lawsuits, the remaining executives are seeking more than $1 million each. Lawyers on both sides are now arguing whether the case belongs in federal or state court.

Artiano's clients include Doreen Sanderson, Tri-City's former vice president of human resources; Allen Coleman, former vice president of strategic services; Robert Wardwell, former chief financial officer; Daniel Groszkruger, former director of information systems; Ondrea Labella, former director of patient business services; Suellyn Ellerbe, former chief operating officer and chief nurse executive; and Terry Howell, former vice president of performance improvement.

Their salaries ranged from $194,000 to $325,000 per year.

While Artiano acknowledged that Tri-City has admitted no culpability with regard to open meetings law violations, he said the fact that the hospital settled means something.

"We thought the amount was sufficient to make a point, and now we will focus on the wrongful termination cases," Artiano said.

UC San Diego students storm chancellor’s office after noose found

Courtesy of San Diego 6 CW


It's like old times at UCSD. When I was there in the late 60s I remember the kids did a lock-out of the administration offices: they put putty in the locks.

I can't believe that forty years later so little progress has been made on achieving equality for African Americans.

See all posts on UCSD racial incident.


UC San Diego students storm chancellor’s office after noose found
By Elliot Spagat
Associated Press
February 27, 2010

Anger boiled over on the University of California San Diego campus Friday, where students took over the chancellor’s office for several hours to protest the hanging of a noose in a campus library.

Students wearing red handkerchiefs over their faces blocked the doors to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox’s offices for hours, while more students inside chanted “Real pain, real change.”

They left the office peacefully at sundown, about the same time that leaders of the university’s Black Student Union ended talks with administrators in a nearby conference room over demands that include more boosting the African-American curriculum and campus activities. A university spokesman, Jeff Gattas, said there were no arrests and no property was damaged during the takeover.

The noose found dangling from a light fixture on the seventh floor of Geisel Library on Thursday night was the latest in a string of racially charged incidents in the university community, authorities said Friday. Less than two weeks ago, an off-campus party mocking Black History Month ignited racial tensions...



NEW COMMENTARY BY SDNN

...First, there was the KoalaTV program that discussed the fallout from the party, in which its editor, Kris Gregorian, 25, dropped the N-bomb. KoalaTV, a student-run, closed-circuit station, has a reputation for inciting controversy across campus, all in the name of “free speech and the First Amendment.” Gregorian, as seen in a column by the Union-Tribune’s Michael Stetz, has proven himself to be at best an insensitive, agitating windbag, and at worst an antagonistic bigot...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ex-Officer Pleads Guilty in Katrina Killing Probe

Times Picayune photo

Lance Madison is arrested by State Police and NOPD SWAT members on Sept. 4, 2005, after a confrontation with police near the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans. Ronald Madison, Lance Madison's brother, was shot to death that day.


Ex-Officer Pleads Guilty in Katrina Killing Probe
Mary Foster and Mike Jenzelman
AP
Feb. 25, 2010
In Hurricane Katrina's chaotic aftermath, police shot six people -- killing two -- as they crossed a bridge in search of food. For years the case was a shocking symbol of the confusion and violence that swept through the flooded city. On Wednesday it became a mark of shame for the police department.

As victims' relatives watched from the courtroom gallery, a retired lieutenant who supervised the department's probe of the shootings pleaded guilty to orchestrating a cover-up to conceal that police gunned down unarmed civilians.

Michael Lohman, a 21-year veteran of the force, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors said Lohman and other unidentified officers conspired to fabricate witness statements, falsify reports of the incident and plant a gun in an attempt to make it appear the killings were justified.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the investigation is continuing and would not say whether higher-ranking officials of the police department might be involved.

Lohman's plea brought at least some closure to families of victims in the best-known of several violent incidents that raised questions about police conduct immediately after Katrina. The shootings happened on Sept. 4, 2005, six days after the storm smashed levees and flooded 80 percent of the city.

Survivors have said the officers fired at unarmed people who were crossing to get food at a grocery store. The officers claimed they opened fire only after being shot at. Ronald Madison, 40 and mentally disabled, and James Brissette, 19, were killed and four others were wounded.

"We are very, very happy about the progress that the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department have made," said Romell Madison, Ronald's brother. "The people of New Orleans should be relieved that there is still justice for everybody here."

Lohman's plea marked the first conviction in the case. Seven officers were charged with murder or attempted murder but a state judge threw out all the charges. Federal authorities then stepped in to investigate...

"It looks like the blue code has been broken," former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg said. "Remember, those officers stood shoulder to shoulder when it was in state court. Nobody said anything."

The "blue code" is likely to face further tests with Lohman's cooperation as federal prosecutors probe the fatal shooting by police of Danny Brumfield Sr. outside the New Orleans convention center; the death of Henry Glover, whom witnesses claim died in police custody; and the fatal police shooting of a Connecticut man, Matthew McDonald...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hundreds of students walk out of ‘teach-in’ at UCSD

Photo: Dave Schwab

Hundreds of students walk out of ‘teach-in’ at UCSD
La Jolla Light
By James R. Riffel, City News Service
February 24, 2010

See all posts about racial incident at UCSD.

Thousands of students and administrators attended a “teach-in” at UC San Diego Wednesday to address a recent ghetto-themed party intended to mock Black History Month and the racial unrest it sparked on campus, but the event was disrupted when the bulk of students in attendance walked out.

About an hour into the event at the university’s student center, two female students with the Black Student Union stood up and blasted the teach-in, with one saying, “The university and our community will not be fixed by a two-hour teach-in.”

Saying the university was doing little to address racism on campus, the pair urged their fellow students in the packed auditorium and overflow room to march out of the event, and the vast majority complied. The students filed out of the auditorium, loudly chanting “Whose university? Our university!”

The students then gathered en masse outside the auditorium, continuing to chant. Members of the Black Student Union work black T-shirts with the slogan “Real Pain Real Action.”

About 3,000 people gathered at the teach-in and resulting demonstration — with whites making up about half of the crowd. About 2 percent of UCSD’s students are black...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Compton Cookout has us wondering whatever happened to togas

Looking back to a happier time, Mike Stetz asks, "Whatever happened to togas?"

See all posts about racial incident at UCSD.


Bring your invitation and your ignorance
By Michael Stetz
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE COLUMNIST
February 21, 2010

It’s no surprise that college kids like to throw parties. You might be surprised by the kind of parties that some like to throw, though.

We got something of an idea last week when a number of UCSD students helped arrange a party called the “Compton Cookout,” which ridiculed African-Americans on the occasion of Black History Month.

That’s actually a more common party theme than you might think. They also go by the names “Pimps and Hos,” and “Gangsta” or “Ghetto” parties.

At these gangsta parties, students wear gold chains. They drink malt liquor. They flash gang signs.

Fraternities also have thrown parties making fun of Latinos. At Santa Clara University, students came dressed as gardeners and janitors. Some of the women put balloons under their shirts to look pregnant.

Poor white people are targets, too. A fraternity at the University of Idaho throws a big one at the end of the year. Partyers wear overalls and John Deere caps to the “White Trash Trailer Bash.”

Here’s another party concept: “Mekong Delta.” At the University of Florida, male students dressed up as U.S. soldiers and the women as Vietnamese prostitutes.

Whatever happened to togas?

So why is this happening? Daniel Widener, who teaches African-American history at UCSD, believes that the lack of black students on college campuses is partly to blame.

“The Cosby Show” probably boasted more blacks than UCSD. So the other students rarely get a chance to interact with average, everyday blacks, Widener said.

They get their cues from TV, which often portrays young blacks as gangsters and thugs, Widener said. And they aren’t told when they’re crossing the line because there’s no one to tell them so.

Society, in general, has tired of hearing about the plight of minorities, Widener said. That’s particularly true now, given how the economy is hurting all people, whites included. So fewer college students feel empathy.

They may even feel threatened by the rise of minorities, such as President Barack Obama.

Some students said that those involved in the party are not racists. They’re just normal guys who weren’t thinking, said Debbie Sert, a member of the sorority TriDelta.

“They were trying to be funny,” Sert said. “But it was ridiculous. I’d never take part in it.”

On campus last week, she was selling calendars that pictured members of different campus fraternities. The money is going to a local hospital.

“We’re shocked because it’s not what the Greek community is about,” Sert said.

Members of Pi Kappa Alpha — also known as Pike — the fraternity in question, are pictured in the calendar. They represent the month of August and are pictured in Speedos and holding foam noodles, which help keep you afloat.

In the back of the calendar is another picture of the students. There, they have the noodles sticking out from their crotches.

They’ve since cleared out their Web site, which had pictures of them partying. And partying.

They wouldn’t return phone calls or e-mails.

UCSD got hit with more controversy when a student-run television show was aired Thursday defending the students who threw the party and criticizing blacks for being offended.

Regardless of how anyone feels about what the students did — and some feel it was no big deal, that it was just a joke — some argue the students do indeed have the right to have their party.

Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., noted how the First Amendment “allows people to say hurtful and insulting things.”

It would be wrong to suppress it, Policinski said. Indeed, it sometimes works out better if such speech is aired. That way, people can rally to fight against it.

“It promotes more speech,” he said.

That’s already happening at UCSD. For one thing, the party invitation, which described “ghetto chicks” as having “short nappy hair” and “cheap weave,” turned viral because people were outraged over it.

And the incident is sparking a loud call for the university to do a better job in recruiting blacks and fostering a more welcoming campus.

One of the colleges there is named after Thurgood Marshall. Let’s see if they can start living up to it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A second Compton Cookout is planned

See all posts about UCSD's "Compton Cookout"


Would someone please invite Mike Radazzo to a party? He's never been to one that wasn't about making fun of someone.

What's fun or funny about denigrating a group of people? Of course, it is possible to tell a funny ethnic joke, but that involves some subtlety, some thought. Humor requires the juxtaposition of the unexpected, and it's best when it involves some insight, perhaps poking fun at someone with pretensions. I'm Irish, and I always liked the one about the Irish priest who refused to say a mass for a dead horse until he heard the sum of money that the horse's owner was offering. "Why didn't you tell me your horse was Catholic?" the priest then asks. Good ethnic humor is merely a clever insight about human beings wrapped in the trappings of a given culture.

It doesn't sound like the Compton cookout involved any actual humor, just put downs intended to make the party goers feel superior. Mr. Radazzo doesn't understand that the target of fun has to buy into the idea or it's not fun, it's harmful.

Here Mr. Radazzo justifies his efforts to have another Compton cookout:

"If your intent is to make fun and not to harm anyone, and you really aren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings, then it's different from trying to cut someone down on purpose," Randazzo said.

He claims he has never been to a party that was not a mockery of something.

“On Cinco de Mayo, we have parties making fun of Mexicans; on Veterans Day, we make fun of veterans (yes, the same veterans who uphold our rights to free speech); on St. Patrick's Day we make fun of the Irish. Everyone gets made fun of out of jest now, not hate,” the invitation read.
--from Channel 6 Sam Diego



'Compton Party Part Deux' Organizer Defends His Actions
Racial tensions boil at UCSD
By MICHELLE WAYLAND
Feb 21, 2010

The racial tension at UCSD is boiling over for many and it may get worse.

Another invitation has surfaced on Facebook to an off campus "Compton Party Part Deux" party encouraging partygoers to “come to this party in honor of your favorite cultural stereotype.”

"We pretty much want people to just choose a culture and harmlessly poke fun at it," Mike Randazzo told NBC San Diego...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New UCSD racial incident sparks rage, confrontation

Marc Balanky / Union-Tribune













See all posts about UCSD's "Compton Cookout"


Should public funds be given to "journalists" to shower contempt on minority students, making them want to leave UCSD?

Should fraternities support this type of journalism?

The free speech issue is very important, making this a tough situation. Our society benefits from free speech, but is harmed as it becomes less inclusive.

It's important for all of us that African American citizens become educated and allowed to fully participate in public higher education. In a way the situation is analogous to the Sally Smith situation. The Koala "journalists" don't want irritating "loud" black girls around; the teachers at Serra don't want "irritating" Sally Smith around. The urge to silence voices that make us uncomfortable is rampant in America. Situations with competing moral values, such as freedom of speech v. equal treatment of and participation by all people in our society, are far more tricky than simple questions of right and wrong. It seems to me that UCSD needs to teach students to think more carefully about these issues.

KRIS GREGORIAN

Kris Gregorian and his friends would have us think that he has contempt for black girls because one cute black girl yelled at him at a softball game. I think the reverse is true: Kris Gregorian and friends are racists, and they use an outburst, similar to outbursts I've heard time and again by white girls with extroverted personalities and a sense of fun, to justify their contempt. Apparently the Koala folks consider white women to be more acceptable because they are perceived as passive aggressive like Gregorian and friends, rather than direct and to the point.

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity denies responsibility the "Compton Party", but we'll see if it aids and abets the planners and participants by keeping some of them as members.



UCSD race tensions rise after ‘Compton Cookout,’ use of n-word
By Staff, City News Service
February 21, 2010

...According to the BSU, the broadcast called critics of the party ungrateful and used the n-word. Students searching for a tape of the broadcast found a scrap of cardboard in the TV station with the words “Compton lynching” written on it, further fueling tensions...






New UCSD racial incident sparks rage, confrontation

By Eleanor Yang Su,
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
February 20, 2010

...In the latest incident, members of an irreverent student organization aired a live segment on closed-circuit television Thursday night supporting the party...

About 200 students, mostly black, met yesterday with administrators to discuss four pages of demands, mostly aimed at improving the campus’ racial climate.

Brewing tensions were made worse yesterday morning, when students searching for a copy of the videotape found a piece of cardboard in the student-run television studio with the words “Compton lynching” written on it — an apparent reference to the party, which was billed as the “Compton Cookout.”

...The show that sparked fresh outrage is called Koala TV and featured the editor of the Koala publication [Kris Gregorian] supporting the ghetto-themed party organized by fraternity members.

An invitation to the party urged participants to dress and act like “ghetto chicks” by speaking loudly, starting fights and wearing cheap clothes. The party drew condemnations from lawmakers in Sacramento and angered many students and faculty...

“I don’t feel accepted, and I don’t feel welcomed here at all,” Robinson said. “The whole lynching situation pretty much upset me. It is a possible threat. It was found in the Koala studio, where they called us niggers, and called us ungrateful, and ghetto and dumb. This is an unsafe environment.”




PI KAPPA ALPHA INTERNATIONAL FRATERNITY DNIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR PARTY

...The Fraternity regrets the display of ignorance and error-of-judgment made by any individual members who may have attended or were associated via social-media with the racially-offensive party. These actions are in direct violation of PIKE's code of conduct and appropriate disciplinary actions have been taken against members affiliated with the event.

While the Kappa Phi Chapter accepts no direct involvement in the planning of this party, the Fraternity encourages all in attendance to reach out to the African American community, as well as the UCSD community at large, with a sincere and effective reconciliation program...

Garron Engstrom

President
The Kappa Phi Chapter
The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity




Racial Tensions Boil at UCSD
By MICHELLE WAYLAND
NBC San Diego
Feb 20, 2010

The UCSD’s Student Run Television (SRTV) shut down Friday after a student used the N-word to describe students who complained about the recent “Compton Cookout” controversy, according to a source at the university.

Last week, a group of UCSD students held a party dubbed the Compton Cookout, which featured a motif full of racial stereotypes. African Americans have staged protests in the days since. On Thursday night, students on SRTV, the campus TV station, allegedly called the protesters "ungrateful n-----s."



Dear racists, here’s what a REAL “Compton Cookout” looks like
Feb. 18, 2010
By John Rabe
KPCC 89.3

Scientology’s long war on SP Gerry Armstrong

Scientology’s long war on SP Gerry Armstrong
Opposition To Order To Show Cause Re Contempt
Declaration of Gerald Armstrong

VISTA: Judge orders new trial for failure to share evidence

Question: How do you tell the prosecutors from the prosecuted in San Diego?

Answer: Perhaps you can tell by seeing who refuses to follow the law.

See all posts about District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.


VISTA: Judge orders new trial for failure to share evidence
Judge finds prosecutor failed to notify defense of fingerprint
North County Times
By TERI FIGUEROA
February 9, 2010

An ex-con facing life in prison for allegedly swiping two bikes will get a new trial because of a prosecutor's "willful omission" of sharing fingerprint evidence, a judge ruled Wednesday.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Harry Elias' ruling did not address the larger concerns raised by a senior member of San Diego County public defender's office in Vista of allegedly systemic failures by prosecutors to turn over evidence. Attorneys had used the theft case as a platform to air those complaints.

But the judge's 15-page ruling focused solely on the dispute in the criminal case against accused thief Kenneth Ray Bowles. At issue: a fingerprint on a pawn ticket for one of the stolen bicycles.

Elias declined to dismiss Bowles' case, finding the strength of other evidence against Bowles probably would have led a jury to find him guilty of stealing and pawning the bikes.

Late last fall, a North County jury convicted Bowles of theft and burglary. During a post-conviction proceeding, his attorney learned that one of the pawn tickets had a fingerprint that could not be definitively matched to Bowles.

The judge said in his decision there was a "significant and substantial violation" of the evidence rules when the prosecutor failed to tell the defense that the inconclusive finding had been left out of the report by the forensic fingerprint expert.

Elias found that the prosecutor, Vanessa DuVall, had "an affirmative duty" to share that information. Elias ordered a new trial for two of the three charges Bowles faced.

Elias said the "willful omission" of sharing inconclusive fingerprint evidence was not so severe that it would have changed the jury's finding of Bowles' guilt. Elias noted other evidence in the case, including a security camera recording of the theft and Bowles confession to investigators.

Elias also said he considered issuing an order of contempt for the deputy district attorney, but opted against it because a fine would not solve the damage done to Bowles.

Requests for comment by prosecutors were referred to Paul Levikow, spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office. Levikow declined comment because the criminal case is still pending. DuVall also declined comment.

Defense attorney Kathleen Cannon, a senior member of the Vista branch of the public defender's office, called the ruling "reasoned and thoughtful."

Late last month, Cannon told Elias in court that there had been "a continuing pattern of failure" to turn over evidence.

She pointed to two recent cases in which she said prosecutors violated the rules. In a gang rape case, the prosecutor did not give the victim's statements to defense attorneys. In another case, the prosecution is alleged to have failed to turn over a bloody knife ---- evidence that actually could have worked in favor of the defense.

Neither of those cases went to trial; the defendants took plea deals offered by prosecutors. But the bicycle case did reach a jury, and Bowles was found guilty...

Former San Bernardino County supervisor charged with corruption

Former San Bernardino County supervisor charged with corruption
North County Times
Associated Press
February 10, 2010

A former San Bernardino County supervisor and an ex-county tax official were arrested Wednesday on charges that they took bribes from a developer to support a $102 million lawsuit settlement, state and local prosecutors announced.

William Postmus, 38, and former assistant tax assessor James Erwin, 47, were taken into custody and the criminal complaint implied that at least one other supervisor was under investigation.

"This is one of the most appalling corruption cases ever seen in California, and we will aggressively pursue this conspiracy until all of the facts are exposed," Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a statement.

Postmus was held on $225,000 bail and Erwin on $380,000 bail, said Susan Mickey, spokeswoman for the county district attorney's office.

Prosecutors contend that while he was chairman of the county Board of Supervisors in 2006, Postmus agreed to accept $100,000 from Colonies Partners, L.P.

The partnership had sued the county in 2002 over county easements for a flood-control basin in Upland. In November 2006, Postmus joined a 3-2 majority of supervisors to approve settling with Colonies for $102 million, even though the county counsel and other attorneys recommended against it.

Erwin is accused of funneling the bribe to Postmus through a political action committee called the "Committee for Effective Government" and of creating and threatening to send out political mailers depicting Postmus as a drug addict and a homosexual to blackmail him into the vote.

Prosecutors contend that Erwin received a $100,000 bribe for his intermediary role along with other gifts, including a private jet trip to New York, prostitution service and a Rolex watch...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Teachers Union, School District Closer on Furloughs


Teachers Union, School District Closer on Furloughs

EMILY ALPERT
Voice of San Diego
Feb 19, 2010

The back-and-forth over what San Diego teachers will lose in the budget crunch continues: San Diego Unified has pulled back its proposal for an 8 percent pay cut for teachers, after the union balked.

Instead, the school district is proposing six furlough days for each of the next two years -- the equivalent of a 3.24 percent cut. The teachers union, in turn, offered up four furlough days yesterday in a new proposal to the school district, an increase over its earlier proposal for three days off without pay.

"We're happy with how things are moving now," said Camille Zombro, president of the teachers union. "Our proposal showed huge movement on our part. Their proposal showed huge movement on their part...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CEO of Swiss engineering group ABB Joe Hogan is looking to slash costs by $1 billion

From Daylife
CEO of Swiss engineering group ABB Joe Hogan arrives for the company's annual news conference in Zurich February 18, 2010. ABB is looking to slash costs by an extra $1 billion as it struggles to predict when its customers will start investing again.

School Allegedly Spied On Kids In Their Homes

Click HERE to see original complaint.


"I do trust that the school district knows its bounds."
--A Pennsylvania student who apparently hasn't read this blog or the many news articles, blogs and court cases about illegal behavior by the individuals in charge of our schools


Students'-eye view of Webcam spy case
by Larry Magid
CNET

Students at Herriton High School in Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia are given Apple MacBook laptops to use both at school and at home. Like all MacBooks, the ones issued to the students have a Webcam. And, in addition to the students' ability to use the Webcam to take pictures or video, the school district can also use it to take photographs of whomever is using the computer.

In a civil complaint (PDF) filed in federal court, a student at the school, Blake Robbins, said he received a notice from an assistant principal informing him that "the school district was of the belief that minor plaintiff was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the Webcam."

The district said in a statement that the "security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student." The district further explained that "upon a report of a suspected lost, stolen or missing laptop, the feature was activated by the district's security and technology departments. The tracking-security feature was limited to taking a still image of the operator and the operator's screen." The district claims it has "not used the tracking feature or Webcam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever."...

In the mean time, the Associated Press is reporting that the FBI is investigating the district and "will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws," according to an unnamed official who spoke to the AP.

In an interview with CBS Evening News, plaintiff Blake Robbins said he was unaware that the camera could be activated at his house. "I thought that there was no way that they could do that at my home," Robbins said, adding that the assistant principal "thought I was selling drugs, which is completely false." ...




School Allegedly Spied On Kids In Their Homes

Web cams in laptops provided a school district with compromising photos of minors in their homes, a lawsuit claims.

By Thomas Claburn
InformationWeek
February 18, 2010 03:35 PM

A Pennsylvania family last week filed a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District for spying on their child at home using a Web cam in a school-issued laptop.

The lawsuit, brought by Michael E. Robbins and Holly S. Robbins on behalf of their minor son Blake Robbins, alleges that the school district invaded their privacy and stolen private information in violation of various computer fraud and privacy laws.

The complaint claims that Lindy Matsko, assistant principal of Harriton High School, informed the Robbins' son that the School District believed he "was engaged in improper behavior in his home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the Web cam embedded in [his] personal laptop issued by the School District."

The complaint further states that Michael Robbins subsequently verified that the School District had the ability to remotely capture images using the Web cam at any time, without the knowledge or consent of the user.

"As the laptops at issue were routinely used by students and family members while at home, it is believed and therefore averred that many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including, but not limited to, various stages or dress or undress," the complaint says...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parent activist Sally Smith suffers fate of Dr. Almeda Starkey: kicked off boards that didn't like what they had to say

See all Sally Smith posts.

Ever since Sally Smith got ousted from the Serra High School site council, I've been trying to find a story I read a few months ago about a woman who was ousted from a planning board, and reinstated by a judge.

I searched the SDUT archives and Google, all to no avail. But today Shannon Lopez, Assistant to the Editor, answered my request for help.



Veterinarian kicked off panel prevails in court
by Greg Moran
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
Sep 27, 2009
Dr. Almeda Starkey of Pine Valley sued to regain her seat on a county conservation program committee after county officials ousted her.

At all of seven typed paragraphs long, the statement that Dr. Almeda Starkey read at a meeting of a San Diego County land-use steering committee in May 2008 doesn't appear particularly controversial...

But that short statement would get Starkey kicked off the committee two weeks later by county planning officials.

It also touched off a court fight that ended last month when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county had violated Starkey's First Amendment rights, and ordered her back on the committee.

In a five-page decision, a three-judge panel said the record "flatly contradicts" the county's claim that Starkey was removed because she was uncooperative.

"The only identifiable act that led to Dr. Starkey's removal was her reading of a brief, prepared statement into the record of a committee meeting," the panel wrote in an unsigned opinion. "Viewpoint discrimination of this nature is particularly odious under the First Amendment."

The case drew the attention of Californians Aware, the California First Amendment Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union, who all sided with Starkey. They said it highlighted a key principle in First Amendment law -- that governments cannot squelch a point of view they simply don't want to hear.

Starkey's return to the committee may have to wait. Budget cuts have led county planners to suspend the committee's work, so it is no longer active.

The East County Multiple Species Conservation Program is intended to map out large habitat preserves to protect threatened and endangered species and would impose land-use restrictions on large chunks of property.

Starkey was brought on the committee to represent the San Diego-Imperial County Cattlemen's Association, which is concerned about the plan's effects on private landholders in the backcountry.

In her statement last year, Starkey proposed creating the preserve on publicly owned lands and private lands that were already designated for conservation. That approach would exempt agricultural lands, including ranches, from the habitat preserve.

Once land is designated part of the plan, Davis said, changing its use -- such as putting in different crops -- is almost impossible.

"We have most of the acreage the county would be looking at, and we needed a seat on the committee," Davis said.

Getting that seat was difficult, he said. In 2007, the association sought a seat, but county planners balked...

Starkey was stunned. The committee was supposed to solicit different viewpoints, and that was what she had done. "That's what democracy is," she said...

A request to interview Murphy and other planning officials was referred to Ellen Pilsecker, the county lawyer who argued the case. She said it was not anything Starkey said that got her removed, but her overall demeanor.

[Maura Larkins comment: When you have no facts to support your position, you claim that there was a "perception" that the person you don't like did something improper. It's hard to argue with such a claim, but I'm glad that Dr. Starkey did just that.]

"It was more of a perception issue," Pilsecker said. "What I have been told is it was supposed to be a group of people working together, and other members of that group did not feel she was being a team player."

Pilsecker also said that before Starkey was on the committee, she had been trying to obtain documents from the county under the state Public Records Act. Her lawyer had written the county to say that if not all the records were produced, Starkey might sue to get them -- a step that is allowed under the law.

[Maura Larkins comment: Starkey has the constitutional right to petition for redress of grievances. This is the same type of complaint that was made about Sally Smith.]


Pilsecker argued that it fueled the county's perception that Starkey would not be a cooperative member of the committee.

The lawsuit over Starkey's dismissal ended up in federal court. Starkey asked for a court order that would place her back on the committee, but District Judge Janis Sammartino ruled Starkey did not have a First Amendment right to a seat on the committee and sided with the county.

Pilsecker had argued that Starkey could come and speak to the committee as a member of the public.

But Guylyn Cummins, who argued the appeal for the cattlemen's association, said there is a distinct difference between speaking during the public comment portion and having a seat on the committee. (Cummins has also represented The San Diego Union-Tribune in First Amendment and public-records-access litigation.)

Moreover, Cummins said, Starkey's seven-paragraph statement was in response to a request from the committee...



TIMELINE
>
> February 2008:
>
> Dr. Almeda Starkey is named to the East County Multiple Species Conservation Program steering committee as the representative of the San Diego-Imperial County Cattlemen's Association.
>
> May 28, 2008:
>
> Starkey reads a statement into the record during her second meeting.
>
> June 12, 2008:
>
> San Diego County officials inform the cattlemen that she is off the committee.
>
> September 2008:
>
> Starkey and the cattlemen sue the county, saying her First Amendment rights were violated and seeking her reinstatement on the committee.
>
> December 2008:
>
> Federal Judge Janis Sammartino rules in favor of the county. The case is appealed.
>
> August 2009:
>
> The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of Starkey and orders her reinstated.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Millionaire Is Giving Away His Entire Fortune

I think I know how this guy feels. If you learn to live on whatever money is coming in, you're satisfied. But people with lots of money are rarely satisfied with the amount they have. That said, this guy obviously has a place he'll be able to live. He's not worried about where his next meal is coming from. He's not in the same boat as the hungry people of the world.



Millionaire Is Giving Away His Entire Fortune

Terence Neilan
Feb. 14, 2010

If money can't buy you happiness, what do you do? If you're Austrian millionaire Karl Rabeder, you give it all away, right down to the last penny, or, in his case, euro.

"My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing," Rabeder, 47, told The Daily Telegraph of London. "Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come."

On the block, or already sold, is his luxury villa with lake in the Alps, his 42-acre estate in France, his six gliders, and the interior furnishings and accessories business that got him rich in the first place.

Millionaire Karl Rabede says getting rid of his fortune makes him feel "free."
Actually, everyone will get the chance to live the Alpine luxury lifestyle, because Rabeder has decided to raffle off his home at $134 a ticket.

When every penny of his estimated $4.7 million fortune is gone, he says, he intends to move into a small wooden hut in the mountains or a studio in Innsbruck...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cash, not food, should be sent to Haiti

FEBRUARY 12, 2010 5:06PM
Haiti: Where "helping" doesn't always help
Judy's World

...With starvation looming, you might think that Haitian earthquake victims need all the assistance they can get. And yet, as Bryan Schaaf from Haiti Innovation pointed out just before the January 12 earthquake, Haiti’s chronic nutrition crisis is not due to a lack of food but (among other problems) to a lack of cash. Swamping the decrepit Haitian market with donated foodstuffs actually damages the country’s food security even further by encouraging Haitians to keep planting specialty crops such as vanilla and coffee for export while allowing their own staple food production and natural environment to go to ruin.

If anything, when it comes to food the developed world has been “helping” Haiti far too much in recent decades, treating it as if it were still a white-owned colony. Schaaf notes: “While I lived in Haiti for two and a half years, it is plausible that I did not have a single bowl of Haitian rice. Haiti was once capable of meeting its own internal demand for rice, although now the markets have become flooded with (often heavily subsidized) rice from the United States, Japan, Argentina, Japan, and so on.” All it takes is a bad harvest, a spike in inflation, or – in this case – yet another natural disaster to send Haitians into starvation and total dependence on foreign handouts. Far better, Schaaf concludes, to donate cash to reputable foreign aid organizations such as the World Food Program and UNICEF, which can use part of the money to purchase immediate supplies and then invest the rest in long-term redevelopment programs such as infrastructure and soil conservation...

Professor accused in Ala. slayings shot her brother in Mass. 24 years ago


Bob Gathany/Huntsville Times/AP

Sometimes your siblings don't love you as much as you think they do.


Professor accused in Ala. slayings shot her brother in Mass. 24 years ago

February 13, 2010
By John M. Guilfoil and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

The University of Alabama biology professor accused of slaying three of her colleagues fatally shot her brother in an apparent accident in Massachusetts more than two decades ago, a local police chief said.

Braintree Police Chief Paul Frazier confirmed the 1986 shooting in his town and slated a news conference this afternoon to discuss the incident.

The Globe reported at the time that Amy Bishop had shot her 18-year-old brother, Seth M. Bishop, an accomplished violinist who had won a number of science awards.

John Polio, chief of police at the time, said Amy Bishop, who was 20 at the time, had asked her mother, Judith, in the presence of her brother how to unload a round from the chamber of a 12-gauge shotgun.

Polio told the Globe that while Amy Bishop was handling the weapon, it fired, wounding Seth Bishop in the abdomen. He was pronounced dead at a hospital 46 minutes after the Dec. 6, 1986 shooting.

"Every indication at this point in time leads us to believe it was an accidental shooting," Polio said at the time.

In Friday's shooting, Amy Bishop, 42, a Harvard-educated neurobiologist, allegedly shot and killed three of her colleagues and wounded three others in an apparent tenure dispute at the Huntsville campus, the Associated Press reports.


DID AUTHORITIES COVER UP A MURDER? DID SHE HAVE CONNECTIONS?

14 February 2010
BBC
University of Alabama shooting suspect 'killed brother'

...At a news conference in her former hometown of Braintree, Police Chief Paul Frazier said the biology professor had killed her brother in 1986.

It was reported as being an accident at the time, but he said officers who were serving then had told him that Ms Bishop shot the young man after an argument and fled the scene before being arrested at gunpoint.

Mr Frazier alleged she was never charged after the then police chief, John Polio, or someone acting on his behalf, intervened and told officers to release Ms Bishop. He added that detailed records of the incident had been missing for more than 20 years.

"It is a far different story than what was reported at the time," Mr Frazier said...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another teacher opens fire: Three shot dead at University of Alabama-Huntsville

FEBRUARY 12, 2010, 9:29 P.M. ET

Three Dead in Shooting at University of Alabama-Huntsville


By JENNIFER LEVITZ

A woman opened fire during a meeting of teaching staff at the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus Friday, killing three faculty members and wounding three others, according to university spokesman Ray Garner.

A professor was in custody Friday night in connection with the shooting, but Mr. Garner said he couldn't yet name her or the victims, or provide a possible motive. Local television media reported that the shooter was a female faculty member who learned during a biology tenure meeting that she wouldn't receive tenure, and pulled out a gun and started shooting.

Mr. Garner said no students were involved.

The Huntsville Times reported that Amy Bishop, a Harvard University-trained neuroscientist was taken into custody without a struggle, and that her husband was also detained. They haven't been charged with a crime. The Huntsville police wouldn't name the people in custody.

L.A. Unified schools' chief works for district supplier


L.A. Unified schools' chief works for district supplier

By Howard Blume
LA Times
February 12, 2010

Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines earned more than $150,000 last year for serving on the board of one of the nation's leading educational publishing companies, a firm with more than $16 million in contracts with the school district over the last five years.

Scholastic Inc. provides the main reading intervention curriculum for the Los Angeles Unified School District, a program that is part of the company's fast-growing educational technology business...

Sarah Palin says it's okay to call someone a "retard" when satire is intended

Colbert: "Sarah Palin Is A F--king Retard" (VIDEO)
02- 9-10

Using Sarah Palin's defense of Rush Limbaugh against her, last night Stephen Colbert proudly pronounced that "Sarah Palin is a f--king retard."

After mocking Palin's speech at the Tea Party Convention (taking the obligatory jabs at the notes on her hand) Colbert moved on to Palin's reaction to Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retard." Palin not only called for his Emanuel's firing, but also defended Rush Limbaugh's use of the word, deeming it acceptable because it was satire...

Four SDUSD Democratic board members find the courage to stand up to the teachers union

John De Beck always had the courage to criticize the teachers union; citizens can rejoice now that Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans and Shelia Jackson have done the same.

Camille Zombro and Jim Groth of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) might want to pull their heads out of the ground and realize that its time to acknowledge the real world: there's a limit to how long citizens will continue to bow to the arbitrary demands of CTA.

Pressing Labor for Cuts Triggers 'Surreal' Shakeup on School Board
Voice of San Diego
Feb 11, 2010
By EMILY ALPERT

After another plan failed to dig up enough savings, San Diego Unified is now under even more pressure to squeeze employees to balance its budget.

The prolonged budget crisis has put some board members at odds with the same unions that helped to elect them -- and jumbled the usual dynamics of the politicized board.

Longtime labor ally Richard Barrera is seeking deeper concessions from the teachers union, along with John Lee Evans, who was elected on a pledge to protect teachers. John de Beck and Shelia Jackson, who have often disagreed on labor issues in recent years, are both pushing the idea of progressive salary cuts that fall harder on employees who earn more...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Republican says U.S. might have contributed to collapse of World Trade Center buildings

Maybe this is what Debra Medina was talking about? Bizarre announcement of WTC 7 collapse while the building was still standing. How did they know it was going to collapse? I remember on September 11, 2001 hearing a reporter say that they were getting people away from building 7 because there was a "bomb" in it and it was going to collapse.

Texas Republican Debra Medina clearly states that the U.S. had nothing to do with the planning and execution of the airplane collisions with the World Trade Center in September 2001. "There is no doubt in my mind that Muslim terrorists flew planes into those buildings on 9/11. I have not seen any evidence nor have I ever believed that our government was involved or directed those individuals in any way." Medina suspects, however, that the dramatic collapse of the buildings, a phenomenon never before seen in a skyscraper fire, might have been designed by someone with foreknowledge of the attacks. Motive? To inflame public opinion to support a war against Iraq.

Texas gov. candidate questions any US role in 9/11
By APRIL CASTRO
02.11.10
Associated Press
...Debra Medina on the Glenn Beck Show that there were "some very good arguments" that the U.S. was involved in bringing down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001..."I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina said. "I think some very good questions have been raised. In that regard there's some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there."...


See also: http://learningboosters.blogspot.com/2009/06/california-high-school-physics-teacher.html

Terry Grier has good idea in Houston: no more big bucks for master's degrees

See all Terry Grier posts.

A teacher I knew went through a masters degree program that was remarkable for both the minuscule effort required and the very large amount of money demanded by a "diploma factory." I was amazed when she recounted a conversation she had with someone, ending the story with the words, "But I didn't mention that I have a masters degree." I thought it was astounding that she believed she had a real masters degree.

Research has recently shown that advanced degrees do not improve teaching.


Districts Consider Ending Salary Perk for Teachers
By Ericka Mellon, Houston Chronicle (MCT)
February 10, 2010

Houston-area school districts spend tens of millions of dollars a year on teachers with advanced degrees that studies show don't produce better student achievement.

But with money tight, a handful of districts are considering ditching the traditional salary bump for teachers with master's degrees in favor of pay based more on student learning. The Houston Independent School District and the top-rated YES Prep charter school chain are among those looking to experiment.

"I would like us to look with our teachers and see whether or not those dollars could be spent in a more productive way," HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said...

If you learned it, then you should have got an "A" on it

If you learned it, then you should have got an "A" on it: LINK.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teacher accused of shooting 2 principals at school


Teacher accused of shooting 2 principals at school

AP
By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press
Feb. 10, 2010

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An elementary school teacher is accused of shooting and wounding the principal and assistant principal at his school Wednesday about an hour after the children were dismissed because of snow.

Police charged Mark Stephen Foster, 48, of Clinton, with two counts of attempted first-degree murder after the shooting at Inskip Elementary School. The school Web site identifies Foster as a fourth-grade teacher.

A former boss of Foster's said the suspect was taken into custody in the 1990s with weapons near their office after making threatening comments about him to family members.

University of Tennessee Medical Center officials said Principal Elisa Luna remained in critical condition and Assistant Principal Amy Brace in stable condition Wednesday night.

"We're very saddened by this tragedy," Knox County Schools Superintendent James McIntyre Jr. said. "Thankfully there were no students involved." The children had left school early because of snow.

The Web profile for Foster includes a picture and description that says, "I love teaching 4th grade. Every child is a winner."

Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman Rachel Woods said Foster received an apprentice teacher license for grades K-6 in the summer of 2007. An apprentice license is issued when someone first starts teaching, before they have tenure, she said...

Bonnie Dumanis considers boycott of sixth judge

I am happy to note that Dumanis has lifted her boycott of Judge Einhorn, but this story has gotten much bigger since I first posted it. Congratulations to the San Diego Union Tribune for publishing an important story about Judge Judith Hayes, the first judge boycotted by Bonnie Dumanis.

The bigger story here turns out to be that the first judge Bonnie Dumanis boycotted was a staunch conservative, not a liberal concerned with defendant's rights. Clearly Bonnie Dumanis doesn't like liberals (i.e. judges who get perturbed when it turns out that the prosecution has convicted someone on the basis of manufactured evidence). So why did Dumanis lose confidence in a conservative judge?

I know from personal experience in civil court that Judge Hayes is capable of completely ignoring the law when she thinks no one is looking.

See Judge Judith Hayes posts.

The six judges targeted by Bonnie Dumanis:
Judge Judith Hayes--2003, moved to civil courts
Judge William McAdam--moved to civil courts
Judge Gale Kaneshiro--now hears only misdemeanor cases
Judge John Einhorn--boycott was rightly ended
Judge Harry Elias--D.A. says he was biased because he harshly criticized the prosecutors for failing to follow rules for turning over evidence to defense lawyers.
Judge Laura Parsky--possible boycott


Boycotting of judges nothing new to DA

At least three others targeted since 2003
By Greg Moran, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 28, 2010

When District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis quietly lifted a months-old challenge of Superior Court Judge John Einhorn late last month, it seemed that an uncommon event — the wholesale boycott of a veteran judge’s courtroom — had come to an end...

Since 2003, prosecutors have targeted at least three other Superior Court judges for whole or partial boycotts...

Two of those judges, Judith Hayes and William McAdam, no longer work in the criminal courts.

...Hayes was boycotted just months after Dumanis took office in 2003. The former state and federal prosecutor now hears civil cases in downtown San Diego.

She was challenged soon after dismissing murder charges in the middle of a trial against Michael Savala, who was accused of fatally shooting two bouncers at a Bonita restaurant after the prosecution had presented its case. Hayes said the slayings were not premeditated murder but were committed in the heat of passion — “a classic voluntary manslaughter,” as she said.

Savala eventually pleaded guilty to that lesser charge and received a 13-year sentence...




ORIGINAL POST:

Thank goodness we still have the jury system; that seems to be our only hope as a source of a variety of points of view in our courtrooms. However, even that might not offer a fighting chance to the accused: juries tend to do what the D.A. wants.

D.A. Targets Third Judge for Boycott
Voice of San Diego
February 10, 2010
By KELLY THORNTON

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office has threatened to boycott another Superior Court judge over rulings that prosecutors found troubling, according to a personal account from the judge in question.


Laura Parsky, the third judge in four months to be targeted by the district attorney,
related details of the possible boycott during a court hearing in a domestic violence case Jan. 15.

Parsky said it was her ethical duty to disclose that a district attorney supervisor had complained to the supervising judge in Chula Vista about some of her rulings, including decisions she made in the still-pending domestic violence case. The supervising judge, who handles ministerial matters such as assigning cases to other judges, then relayed these concerns to Parsky, along with a warning that the District Attorney's Office may seek to disqualify her in future cases.

It is considered unethical for a party in a pending case to have communications with the judge without the other parties present. Although the prosecutor and Parsky had no direct communication in this case, Parsky was so concerned about the implications of the exchange that she consulted a state judicial ethics panel and was advised to formally disclose it.

She did so at the next hearing in the domestic violence case of defendant Michael Barron...;

Her comments are contained in a court transcript of the hearing. Barron's defense attorney, Lynn Ball, subsequently filed a motion to disqualify the District Attorney's Office because of "arrogant misconduct."

"I just don't like that they have this old boys' club down there," Ball said in an interview. "It's bad enough that every damn judge is a former D.A. To feel that they can go talk to the chief judge and say, 'Square your guys away or they're going to be challenged,' that is a violation of the separation of power."...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Southwestern College Pushed to the Brink by Brutal Power Struggle; Blackwater connection

Southwestern College Pushed to the Brink by Brutal Power Struggle
February 7, 2010
Voice of San Diego
By SEAN CAMPBELL and LYNDSAY WINKLEY

Andrew Rempt was correcting composition papers at his home when the doorbell rang.

Earlier that day, the Southwestern College English professor had stood with students protesting against class cuts. Now, the college's human resource director was standing on his doorstep alongside an armed campus police officer. Their message: Rempt and three other professors were banned from campus that night.

Three of them later learned they were being investigated for inciting students and not cooperating with campus police.

The incident enflamed the already volatile relationship between the South Bay community college's employees and Superintendent Raj K. Chopra. It has been an almost constant battle since Chopra was hired in August 2007, and there is no sign of letting up, even after the state's accreditation agency put the college on probation on Tuesday.

The president has acted unilaterally to enact massive budget cuts in the face of deep financial troubles, breaking course with previous administrations who involved faculty in decision-making. Now, three pro-Chopra board members are facing a recall, faculty is complaining of a culture of fear and California's college accreditation commission is threatening to shut the whole place down if the campus environment does not change...

They were up in arms about Chopra's decision to associate the college with controversial war contractor Blackwater and its "mercenaries." ...



Blackwater used 'child prostitutes in Iraq'
08 Aug 2009

New disturbing charges have emerged against XE, the infamous private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, whose operations came under spotlight after its 2007 carnage in Baghdad.

According to a report by MSNBC and based on alleged sworn declarations by two Blackwater employees in federal court, the firm used child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

The declarations added Iraqi minors got involve in sexual acts with Blackwater members in exchange for one dollar and Erik Prince, the firm's owner, "failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men."

Based on other statements, the firm was involved in another sex scandal; "Prince's North Carolina operations had an ongoing wife-swapping and sex ring, which was participated in by many of Mr. Prince's top executives."

The two employees also alleged that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," The Nation reported...

Does National Board Certification improve education?

I think that the people who apply for National Board Certification were already slightly better than average, so it proves nothing that researchers have found that they're slightly better than average after certification. It would be helpful to see how much these teachers were changed by certification, and no one has done that. Do their students progress faster now? Who knows?




Credential of NBPTS Has Impact
Still, evidence scant that program transformed field

By Debra Viadero and Vaishali Honawar
June 13, 2008

Teachers who earn advanced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards are more effective than teachers without that credential, but there’s little evidence to show the program has transformed the field in the broader ways its founders envisioned...

The Arlington, Va.-based standards board, created in 1987, has received more than $100 million in federal money to develop and run a system of assessments for recognizing accomplished teachers. And, as of 2006, 42 states were offering teachers financial incentives for earning the voluntary national certification. Between 2003 and 2007, the program awarded its certification status to more than 63,800 teachers.

In the new report, however, a 17-member panel of the National Research Council says it’s still unclear whether the process itself leads to better-quality teaching...



rwruth wrote:
Teachers who complete the NBPTS program are usually teachers who want to improve their skills and are already very good teachers. I suspect that with or without the NB certification, these teachers would have close to the same positive impact on student test scores as the NRC committee found.
Robert Ruth
6/18/2008

Dr. Painter wrote:
The mindset of uniformity that pervades education will keep teachers in mediocrity until they understand that individual accomplishments benefit the profession. When I gave a presentation on NBPTS, a teacher indignantly told me, "I think ALL teachers should be given National Board Certification!" I was treated negatively by my colleagues after achieving National Board Certification, and I was actively discouraged by my administrators, who stated they did not want an art teacher to surpass the academic teachers. Education careers would be improved by making NBPTS one of a variety of programs in which teachers may excel. As Sir Ken Robinson wrote, "Real creativity comes from finding your medium, being in your element."
6/18/2008 EdWeek

Tom Warwick takes on the Bonnie Dumanis machine in race for judge

Tom Warwick

See all Bonnie Dumanis posts.

A Race for Judge That's Intriguing -- for Once
February 7, 2010
Voice of San Diego
By KELLY THORNTON

Most Superior Court judicial races are about as exciting as traffic school. Campaigning is considered undignified. Attacks between candidates are forbidden. There are no sparks, no debates, no surprises.

The real competition -- for endorsements -- is settled behind the scenes, long before voters see unfamiliar names on a ballot and pick candidates merely because they're backed by the sheriff and district attorney.

But one matchup for this June's primary has potential to be downright intriguing. It could be the first time in two decades a criminal defense attorney is elected to a bench that is dominated by former prosecutors.

And, making things even more unusual: The political maneuvering is well underway, with a strong potential for a curveball or two on the endorsement front.

In one corner is one of San Diego's most prestigious and politically connected criminal defense attorneys, Tom Warwick. He is supported so far by 40 judges and, surprisingly, by retired Sheriff Bill Kolender. That's quite unusual, since law enforcers tend to support prosecutors for judge.

In another corner is Deputy District Attorney Richard Monroy, the respected former head of the deputy district attorneys union who has held significant posts managing the gang and special operations units. He is backed so far by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, the district attorneys union, the San Diego District Attorney Investigators Association, a peace officer association, plus 10 judges. Oh, and Kolender.

Huh?

Kolender has endorsed both candidates. He first agreed to support Warwick, at the behest of a judge. And then he endorsed Monroy...

Iraq Vet Accused of Waterboarding 4-Year-Old Daughter

Iraq Vet Accused of Waterboarding 4-Year-Old Daughter
David Knowles
Feb. 9, 2010

Seattle police have arrested a U.S. Army sergeant and charged him with assaulting his 4-year-old daughter by holding the girl in hot water in an attempt to get her to recite the ABCs.

After receiving a call that 27-year-old Joshua Tabor was drunk and wandering his neighborhood at 2 a.m., police arrived at the man's home in Yelm, Wash., CNN reports...

Police said when they interviewed Tabor's girlfriend and his young daughter from another marriage, they learned that Tabor had held the girl in a sink full of water because he was angry when she couldn't recite the alphabet...

According to police, the girl had severe bruising and scratch marks on her body, and Tabor admitted to holding his daughter in the sink, precisely because she was afraid of water, CNN reported. In the police report, Tabor acknowledged that he had put the girl's head in the sink "three to four times."

"She said the letters after that," Tabor is quoted as saying in the report.

After returning from a 15-month tour in Iraq last year, Tabor has been stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, CNN said. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Gibbs Scrawls Grocery List on Hand in Jab at Palin



Gibbs Scrawls Grocery List on Hand in Jab at Palin
FOXNews.com
February 09, 2010

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a swipe at Sarah Palin Tuesday, mimicking the former vice presidential candidate's decision to use her hand as a notepad at the National Tea Party Convention last week...

At the daily press briefing, Gibb showed his left hand with writing on it, which apparently was his grocery list to purchase ahead of the expected snowstorm.

Scrawled on his hand were:
-- Milk
-- Bread (crossed out)
-- Eggs
-- Hope
-- Change

The press secretary said he crossed out bread, just so I can make pancakes."

Palin had seven words scrawled on her hand during the convention, which led some left-leaning bloggers to mock her, in particular, after she joked about President Obama's extensive use of the teleprompter.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Obama official 'very disturbed' by Anthem Blue Cross rate hikes

In this Feb. 4, 2010 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. washingtonpost.com







Obama official 'very disturbed' by Anthem Blue Cross rate hikes
By Duke Helfand
LA Times
February 9, 2010


California insurance regulators asked Anthem Blue Cross to delay controversial rate increases of as much as 39% for individual policies, hikes that have triggered widespread criticism from subscribers and brokers -- and now from the federal government.

In a rare step, the Obama administration called on California's largest for-profit insurer to justify its rate hikes, saying the increases were alarming at a time when subscribers face skyrocketing healthcare costs...




HHS secretary asks insurer to justify rate hike

By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER
The Associated Press
February 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- The Obama administration on Monday asked California's largest for-profit health insurer to justify plans to hike customers' premiums by as much as 39 percent, a move that could affect some 800,000 people.

In a letter to the president of Anthem Blue Cross, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she was disturbed to learn of the planned increases, calling them "extraordinary."...

Bankers give money to Republicans because they don't want to be "kicked around" anymore


Bankers don't seem to be feeling any remorse for triggering the biggest financial crisis since the Depression and then getting bailed out by the government. They're not going to take it anymore! Well, they might take more money, but they're not going to put up with regulations and limits on their bonuses.

Wall Street Throwing More Money at Republicans
gothamist
Feb. 8, 2010

Fed up with name-calling and increased restrictions from the Obama administration, bankers are shifting financial support to Democratic opponents in the Republican party.

Bank officials say Wall Street is sending a message: “The expectation in Washington is that ‘We can kick you around, and you are still going to give us money,’ ” one top official at a major Wall Street firm tells the Times.

“We are not going to play that game anymore.”...




In a Message to Democrats, Wall St. Sends Cash to G.O.P.

New York Times
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: February 7, 2010

...this year Chase’s political action committee is sending the Democrats a pointed message. While it has contributed to some individual Democrats and state organizations, it has rebuffed solicitations from the national Democratic House and Senate campaign committees. Instead, it gave $30,000 to their Republican counterparts...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bullying adults are deep into a "schoolyard dynamic"

When Moms Bully Moms, Online and Off
by Amy Hatch
Parentdish
Feb 4th 2010

...She adds that social media networks such as Twitter encourage bullying because it "facilitates a schoolyard dynamic."

"People nudge each other and whisper to each other and say 'did you hear what she said? Pass it on!'," she says. "Someone reacts to what you've posted or tweeted and seeks out agreement from others, who in turn react, and so on and so forth. It can make bullying viral in a way that it just wouldn't be otherwise."

The culture of bullying isn't limited to the virtual world. An opinion piece in the Huffington Post points out that even being a good ecological citizen can give parents license to talk down to -- and yes, even harass -- parents who have different philosophies about child-rearing.

"A new competition has developed pitting the so-called 'green' parent against the 'helicopter' parent who tends to micro-manage and control every part of her children's lives," writes psychotherapist Carol Smaldino. "Directly or not, the bullying tendency within our culture encourages the 'liberated' and ecologically correct parents to openly snicker at those caught in a web of anxiety that is all too frequently culturally induced."

Lillian Gould tells ParentDish about her best friend, who turned on her once she became a fellow parent.

"There was constant bullying," the Charleston, West Virginia mom writes in an e-mail. "Everything from how much weight I gained to the house my husband and I bought."...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Iran clamps down on bloggers, and tries to control the Internet

Clamping down on bloggers? This sounds a lot like what's happening in San Diego.


Iran.ir: an ominous sign

by Saeed Kamali Dehghan
guardian.co.uk
4 February 2010

As Iranian protesters gear up online again, the state is clamping down with a new state service replacing foreign email accounts.

Since the disputed election last June, Ahmadinejad's government has sought different ways to further crack down on the internet in Iran. Now, access to almost all reformist websites is blocked, including those of the reformist candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.

Last week Iran launched a national webmail service via iran.ir, intended to replace free foreign webmail services with a domestic one that is easier to control...

Recently, officials have blocked access to Google Translate, which has provided English to Persian, Persian to English service since June. But, as has happened in China, is filtering Google the next step?...

South Carolina governor candidate explains Bauer family values: don't feed the poor, or they'll breed like stray dogs

Andre Bauer

They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.
--Grandmother of candidate Andre Bauer

Maybe Mr. Bauer's grandmother didn't think through her idea of how to get poor people to stop reproducing. A quick glance at world population proves that hunger doesn't end reproduction. Death by starvation, on the other hand, would solve the problem to Grandma's satisfaction, it seems. But so would abortion, and Grandma, as a card-carrying conservative, wouldn't approve of that, would she? The bottom line seems to be that Grandma was advocating a slow, painful death. Surely she didn't mean to do that, did she? I'm guessing Grandma herself may have had some poor ancestors who may have received food from others at some point. She would most likely not advocate that the world would be better off without her. Bauer explains, "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman..." It seems her grandson may not have outpaced her by much.

Oops, wait a minute. I see that Bauer was talking about not feeding kids with subsidized school lunches. Ah, well, that's a different story. If you starve them when they're young, then you would indeed keep them from breeding. So I'll give him credit for logical thinking.

At the same time, I'm wondering if we now have some insight into the motivations of people who oppose government subsidized health care.



So It’s Granny’s Fault?
January 28, 2010
New York Timnes

With its trysting governor and “you lie!” congressman, South Carolina has suffered more than its share of politician-induced embarrassment. Now Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has topped them, cruelly equating government help for the poor to “feeding stray animals.”...

He eschewed what he described as political correctness and sternly called for the state to “curtail that type of behavior” by taking away assistance if the parents of children receiving subsidized lunches don’t show up for school conferences...

In casting himself as the candidate of heartless civics, if not nitwit eugenics, Mr. Bauer at least stirred an encouraging furor. Outraged residents point out that South Carolina has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, with unemployment rising to 12.6 percent in a Great Recession the poor hardly caused. Fifty-eight percent of the state’s students receive subsidized lunches...



South Carolina governor candidate compares poor people to animals
San Francisco Examiner
January 25, 2010

Poor choice of words: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer compared poor people to animals. (AP)

WHO: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer

WHAT: Bauer, a Republican candidate for governor, is under increasing criticism after he compared poor people receiving benefits to “stray animals,” saying his grandmother had told him to stop feeding them. “You know why? Because they breed,” he reportedly told a crowd. “You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.”

Thursday, February 04, 2010

# The Washington Post reports on a study that finds that charter schools have increased racial segregation in schools.

Study: Charter school growth accompanied by racial imbalance
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 4, 2010

Seven out of 10 black charter school students are on campuses with extremely few white students, according to a new study of enrollment trends that shows the independent public schools are less racially diverse than their traditional counterparts.

The findings from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, which are being released Thursday, reflect the proliferation of charter schools in the District of Columbia and other major cities with struggling school systems and high minority populations.

To the authors of the study, the findings point to a civil rights issue: "As the country continues moving steadily toward greater segregation and inequality of education for students of color in schools with lower achievement and graduation rates," the study concludes, "the rapid growth of charter schools has been expanding a sector that is even more segregated than the public schools."

Gary Orfield, a UCLA education professor who oversaw the study, said that racially segregated schools tend to face more problems than integrated schools in teacher retention, graduation rates and other areas. He also said charter schools have not been proven to be better academically than regular public schools -- a conclusion some researchers debate...

High schools are finally starting later to match teen melatonin levels

No wonder teens are so drowsy they need more zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
By Marissa Cevallos
mcevallos@mercurynews.com
02/04/2010 T

When Glorianna Klyce's radio blasts hip-hop at 5:45 a.m., the 17-year-old rolls over and hits snooze. If it weren't for the second alarm clock that goes off at 6, she might have a much harder time getting to Kennedy High School in Fremont for the 7:35 a.m. first block bell...

She's not the only 17-year-old struggling to get to class. Emerging research shows that puberty upends sleep cycles, making snoozing into the late morning hours as natural for teens as hairy armpits and embarrassing voice squeaks. When teens hit puberty, their internal circadian clocks wind forward 1 to 3 hours, meaning they need 9 hours of sleep on average, a couple more hours than their younger siblings.

Now a growing number of schools are pushing back the morning bell so class times and students' energy are better aligned...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Rodger Hartnett, once SDCOE attorney Dan Shinoff's right hand man, explores life as an opposing litigant against SDCOE


He Got Quite An Education
By Dorian Hargrove
San Diego Reader
Feb. 3, 2010

Every morning at seven o’clock, Rodger Hartnett starts his day. The 62-year-old law school graduate... opens up his book of word puzzles, and for two or three hours he works on them. The puzzles are a strategy to correct his visual processing impairment, an adult learning disability that he was diagnosed with back in January 2006.

...One day a month, Hartnett’s list of daily activities increases. On that day, Hartnett opens an envelope from his employer, pulls out a payroll check for $5237.28 and slides the check into a new envelope addressed to his lawyer, who mails the check back to the San Diego County Office of Education. The checks started rolling in to Hartnett’s mailbox in early December, eight months after Judge Steven Denton granted a writ in Hartnett’s wrongful termination suit and two months after the Office of Education’s appeal was denied.

It’s not that Hartnett doesn’t need the money. He cashed in his 401(k) in 2007. He draws partial Social Security benefits, and he adheres to a tight budget, leaving him just enough money in the bank to last him another year...

... the 1980s, when he worked for the County Counsel, a county department that handles the county’s civil lawsuits... During his first two years on the job, he received positive annual performance reviews from his superiors.

“I walked on water,” quips Hartnett. “Not to pat myself on the back — never mind, no one else is going to — in one of my performance reviews I was described as being a real asset to the operation.”

The positive reviews ended and the problems began in 2006, a year after his boss, executive director of the San Diego County Office of Education–Joint Powers Authority, Diane Crosier, asked him to reduce legal expenditures to outside law firms by 10 percent. Hartnett looked at the law firms the office used.

[Image: Dan Shinoff of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz]

He discovered that in one recent year, the Office of Education had paid nearly $2.9 million to outside legal firms. One firm — Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff, and Holtz — received more than $1.49 million, ten times more than the next-highest-paid firm. Only three firms — Daniel Shinoff’s firm; plus Winet, Patrick, and Weaver, a law firm located in Vista; and Best, Best, and Krieger — received all of the school districts’ lawsuits.

Much of that money, says Hartnett, was for work that could have been done internally: “Shinoff’s law firm was assigned all the labor-intensive work, which was my work.”

...Hartnett recalled a lunch he and colleagues had had with Daniel Shinoff, a lunch that Shinoff had paid for. During lunch, Shinoff and Crosier had talked about a legal case involving Crosier’s son in San Francisco. Shinoff was representing him. Later, Hartnett discovered that Crosier had worked for Shinoff’s firm in the ’80s, after she passed the bar exam.

A few weeks later, Hartnett again pitched his idea to Crosier and again she rejected it...Crosier wrote that he should forget his idea.

He went to William “Woody” Merrill, general counsel for the Office of Education and a partner of the law firm Best, Best, and Krieger, to discuss his findings. Merrill advised Hartnett to discuss his concerns with Crosier’s superior, Lora Duzyk, assistant superintendent of business services.

... According to Hartnett’s attorney, Barry Vrevich, only after Merrill’s wife took control of the human resources department did Best, Best, and Krieger, the second-highest-paid firm on the county education office’s panel, start receiving cases.

...[Hartnett] had never passed the bar exam, failing the multiple-choice part four times. His girlfriend asked him if he had ever been tested for a learning disability. Hartnett had not. She recommended the Lindamood-Bell Learning Center in Del Mar, and a few weeks later, after a series of tests, specialists confirmed that Hartnett suffered from visual processing impairment.

He was, however, allowed to use his vacation and sick leave for his five-week training program to help him cope with the disability...During his training, no one at the Office of Education commented on his disability, though shortly after beginning the training, Crosier stripped away Hartnett’s supervisory duties.

..."They are not supposed to discriminate against you because of a disability.”

On October 5, 2007, Hartnett was terminated. Seventeen months after that, on March 27, 2009, San Diego superior court judge Steven Denton granted the writ that ordered the San Diego County Office of Education to reinstate Hartnett and award him back pay for the time he was out of work...

Hartnett says the county must have hired someone else to do his job, meaning taxpayers are paying not only Hartnett’s salary but also the salary of whoever is replacing him. In addition, Hartnett claims the county is not following the court order to send him back pay for the past two years...

According to Jim Esterbrooks, public information officer for the Office of Education, the office will not comment on Hartnett’s case. The office also refused to provide its legal costs associated with Hartnett’s termination suit.

The San Diego County Office of Education “continues to request Shinoff and Winet,” wrote Esterbrooks in an email. “Both are extremely experienced and successful in their work on behalf of school districts. That’s why school districts request them. SDCOE continues to use Best, Best & Krieger, where Merrill works.”...