Friday, July 30, 2010

Kevin Ricks' career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades

Kevin Ricks' career as teacher, tutor shows pattern of abuse that goes back decades
Josh White, Blaine Harden and Jennifer Buske
July 25, 2010
washingtonpost.com

A four-month Washington Post investigation of former Manassas teacher Kevin Ricks' career as a teacher, tutor, foreign exchange host and camp counselor has revealed a pattern of abuse that goes back to at least 1978 and has left a trail of victims that spans the globe.

Kevin Ricks was a gregarious, well-traveled English teacher at Osbourn High School, a Walt Whitman devotee who was so popular that a photo of him in class was chosen to fill the opening page of the yearbook. A writer and photographer himself, Ricks would walk the halls of the Manassas school with a leather-bound journal of his musings tucked in his bag, next to his laptop computer.

What teachers, parents, students and even his wife didn't know was that his journals contained decades of dark secrets, a running handwritten commentary of Ricks's world of obsession, infatuation, pursuit, sexual abuse and international child exploitation...

But despite the abuse, Ricks moved from one teaching job to the next over nearly 30 years, navigating the nation's public and private school systems undetected, evading traps designed to catch him...

His case underscores the difficulties that educators and parents face when they only suspect abuse but can't prove it, and how reluctant even the most suspicious and well-meaning people can be in coming forward with allegations. It shows how someone can for decades wear a mask of trusted role model while using that powerful position to lure unsuspecting boys...

Mar Cardenas Was Only Protester from San Diego Arrested During Arizona Rally

Mar Cardenas of San Diego, the granddaughter of Lazaro Cardenas, former president of Mexico, was released at 1 p.m. today.

Local Activist Released From Ariz. Jail After Law Protest
July 30, 2010
Channel 10 News

A San Diego activist who was the first person arrested in Arizona during protests against the state's immigration law was released Friday night.

Mar Cardenas, an immigrant rights activist with the local May 1st Coalition, did not plan on being arrested in Phoenix until later that day. However, when she stepped into the street near City Hall where others were blocking traffic, she was taken into custody.

"I stepped into the street to take a picture and the police officer ordered me back in line. He says I didn't comply, but I actually did. He put his arm on my shoulder and pushed me," said Cardenas.

Cardenas said she panicked a bit because she was scheduled to drive a group of people to another event.

"I said, 'Omigod, omigod.' I don't know where they are and I'm being taken in," said Cardenas.

Right before she was taken away, she managed to give another protester her car keys.

She spent the next 30 hours in jail and said she has no regrets. [Maura Larkins' comment: It appears that Ms. Cardenas spent closer to half a day in jail; a judge actually seems to have gotten out of bed to come and release protesters on their own recognizance.]

Cardenas was one of more than 100 local protesters in Arizona, but the only one taken into custody.

While the most controversial parts of the state's immigration law were blocked by a court, the protest went on for activists, including Cardenas.

She said the court fight is just beginning, pointing to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crime sweeps allegedly targeting illegal immigrants...

Cardenas' arrest was her first, and she was charged with a misdemeanor for obstructing traffic. She faces community service and a fine...



San Diegans Caravan to Phoenix for Immigrants’ Rights Protest
by Frank Gormlie
OB Rag
May 29, 2010

I met Mar Cardenas a couple of weekends ago at a Coffee Party meeting. I knew she was one of the main organizers of a car caravan to Phoenix to protest the new Arizona immigration law, SB 1070. She is an energetic woman in her mid-forties who has a huge heart, a leader in the local Unitarian Universalist church, who also is the granddaughter of L├ízaro Cardenas, one of the great former presidents of Mexico – in fact the FDR of our southern neighbor...


See also: Joe Arpaio's Goons Grab Salvador Reza Off the Street and Arrest Him, Again

Attorney for Wyly brothers charged in huge fraud

Billionaire Brothers Samuel and Charles Wyly Charged With $550 Million Fraud
By JONATHAN BERR
07/30/10
DailyFinance

Billionaire brothers Samuel Wyly (pictured) and Charles Wyly were charged Thursday by the Securities & Exchange Commission with orchestrating a 13-year-long securities fraud that reaped them $550 million in undisclosed gains that were hidden in a series of transactions in the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands tax havens.

The SEC alleges that the brothers created an "elaborate sham system of trusts and subsidiary companies" to sell more than $750 million worth of stock in four public companies for which they were corporate directors. The brothers also allegedly committed an insider-trading violation connected to one of the companies for an unlawful gain of more than $31.7 million.

According to the SEC, the shares that the Wylys sold in the alleged scheme were of Michaels Stores, Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce, and Scottish Annuity & Life Holdings. The SEC also charged the Wyly's attorney, Michael C. French, and their stockbroker, Louis J. Schaufele III. French was on the board of directors at three of the companies...

School boards ask federal judges to block employee free speech

Lawyers from the National Council of School Attorneys seem to have talked the School Boards Association into fighting the First Amendment. These lawyers have a tendency to badmouth students and employees who sue schools that caused harm to them, but it's the school lawyers that are the premier practitioners of lawsuit abuse.

School boards ask federal judges to block employee free speech
July 30, 2010
Corey G. Johnson
California WatchBlog

School boards are trying to reverse a federal court ruling banning administrators from controlling the free-speech rights of teachers and other school employees.

According to a brief filed yesterday in 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the California School Boards Association (CSBA) argue that public K to 12 schools need discretion to regulate their employees’ expressions in the workplace.

“Public-school officials need authority over what teachers say and do in the classroom,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant in a press release. “Nearly every teacher posts artwork and other materials on their walls, and schools have a responsibility to ensure those materials are appropriate for students.”

The case stems from an incident in Poway Unified School District. According to published reports, Principal Dawn Kastner of Westview High School asked teacher Bradley Johnson to remove banners he posted around his classroom with the phrases: "In God we trust," "One nation under God," "God bless America," "God shed his grace on thee" and "All men are created equal, they are endowed by their creator."

Johnson claims the school violated his First Amendment free-speech rights and contradicted an internal policy that allowed teachers to display messages and items in their classrooms “that reflect the individual teacher’s personality, opinions and values, as well as messages relating to matters of political, social and religious concerns, so long as these displays do not materially disrupt school work or cause substantial disorder or interference in the classroom.”

In February, a federal judge agreed with Johnson, saying the district had practiced viewpoint discrimination...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quiet Coalition Floats Idea of Expanded School Board


Quiet Coalition Floats Idea of Expanded School Board

July 14, 2010
By EMILY ALPERT
Voice of San Diego

..."Obviously if this group liked what the school board was doing, they wouldn't try to change it," said Bruce McGirr, who directs the union for principals and other administrators. Himelstein met with him to talk about the idea. "He and his group seem to feel that this school board is influenced by a certain group within the city -- and I'm sure he's talking about unions."

Critics blame those board members for driving away former Superintendent Terry Grier, who favored reforms disliked by unions. It has taken a decentralized, grassroots tack on school reform that skeptics say isn't really reform at all. And like school boards before it, it has been criticized for meddling too much in the day-to-day management of the schools.

"They micromanage. They can't hang on to a good superintendent. They all seem to be pawns of the teachers union," said Bill Lynch, who started a foundation for children. He went to one of the early meetings but has not been involved with the group recently. "It's pretty disappointing."

The coalition first gathered at the University of San Diego after Grier announced he would leave last year. It urged the school board to woo him back. When that failed, the group stuck together. Its members, who range from Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs to parent leader David Page to Price Charities Executive Vice President Tad Parzen, are united by a sense that something needs to change in the school district...

School board member John de Beck called it "another downtown grab," likening it to battles between business interests and unions during the thorny and deeply controversial superintendency of Alan Bersin. Though the group includes Bersin foes and people far from business, it may struggle to shed that label. It has met for months behind closed doors and been tight-lipped about its plans, even as pollsters air them to voters and Himelstein floats the idea with the principals union and other groups.

Shirley Sherrod will sue Andrew Breitbart

See all Shirley Sherrod posts.

This should be an interesting case. I think Sherrod will win. Andrew Breitbart intentionally doctored a video to make it look like she was saying the exact opposite of what she really was saying. This seems to be a hobby of Breitbart, who apparently does not find support for his positions in the real world, so he constructs fake evidence to back up his beliefs.

Obama urges a dialogue on race after Sherrod case
July 29, 2010
By Mimi Hall
USA TODAY

President Obama said Thursday that all Americans should spend more time talking about a sensitive subject that he has addressed only sparingly since he took office: race.

In a speech to the National Urban League and on the ABC daytime talk show The View, the president talked about race relations in the context of the controversy surrounding the recent firing of Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod.

Sherrod's own comments about race were misconstrued after a snippet of a 43-minute speech she gave to the NAACP was posted last week on the conservative blog biggovernment.com. The clip made Sherrod, who is black, appear racist as she recounted a time when she purposefully didn't give a white farmer the help he needed. The whole speech reveals that she was using the anecdote as part of a broader story about racial reconciliation.

They day after she was fired, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized for taking action based on just the edited video and offered Sherrod her job back. She has not said whether she'll take it. She announced Thursday that she will sue the blogger, Andrew Breitbart, who posted the video...



Race isn't the problem -- economic inequality is
Shirley Sherrod says the social war is about money, not race.
Associated Press
By Michelle Singletary
July 25, 2010

Instead of focusing on the politics behind the firing and subsequent redemption of Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod, we should consider what she was trying to tell us when she addressed the NAACP.

Sherrod became the latest hot-topic story after a conservative blogger posted a video that was edited to make it appear she went out of her way to not offer help to a white farmer when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund decades ago. Sherrod was summarily asked to resign and then, in a New York minute, was vindicated when the full video of her speech revealed she had been instrumental in saving the man's farm.

Given her work and experience, we need to hear Sherrod out.

There is a disturbing and widening gulf between the rich and the poor in America. And it would be even wider except for the fact that so many middle-income families have borrowed their way to a comfortable lifestyle. They are just a paycheck, a divorce or a heath crisis away from financial ruin.

Sherrod said that while working with the white farmer, she realized that the social war we've been having isn't about race but economic inequity.

"Y'all, it's about poor versus those who have," Sherrod said in her speech. "It's really about those who have versus those who don't, you know. And they could be black; and they could be white; they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people -- those who don't have access the way others have."
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Over the past several decades, more and more Americans have come to this realization. The number of people who believe they are among the have-nots has doubled from 17 percent in 1988 to 34 percent in 2007, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. The economic data back up this perception. Income gains over the past few decades have been heavily concentrated at the very top of the economic ladder...

Injunction issued against most provisions of Arizona law SB1070, but protests continue

Arizona activists take to the streets to protest immigration policy
By Nicholas Riccardi
Los Angeles Times
July 29, 2010

Several hundred demonstrators opposed to Arizona's hard-line stance on illegal immigration marched Thursday to the federal courthouse here, where a judge the previous day had issued a last-minute injunction against most of the state's controversial immigration law.

Three people were arrested in a carefully choreographed act of civil disobedience, when they stepped onto the cordoned-off steps to the building's plaza. Demonstrations are expected to escalate Thursday.

"We live here in a climate of fear," said Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator who joined about 100 people on the two-mile march from the state Capitol at 4:30 a.m and was one of those arrested. "The context of Arizona is foreign to this country. This is basically a nation that's become hostile to its own people."

» Don't miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox.

A federal judge Wednesday halted implementation of much of the immigration law, known as SB 1070, ruling it unconstitutional. But activists said they had to keep up the pressure on a state that has come to define the national debate over illegal immigration.

SB 1070, which would have taken effect Thursday, declared the state's policy is "attrition through enforcement" -- an attempt to drive out illegal immigrants, who make up about 7% of the population here, through a series of criminal penalties. Even without the law, though, the state has used many tools against illegal immigrants.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was expected to demonstrate one of them later Thursday by launching one of his controversial "sweeps," in which his deputies fan out through immigrant neighborhoods, stopping people for sometimes minor infractions and checking their immigration status...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

San Diego woman excommunicated; Catholic Church equates wrongness of pedophilia and ordaining women

Vatican Revises Abuse Process, but Causes Stir
Andrew Medichini/Associated Press
By RACHEL DONADIO
July 15, 2010

The Vatican issued revisions to its internal laws on Thursday making it easier to discipline sex-abuser priests, but caused confusion by also stating that ordaining women as priests was as grave an offense as pedophilia.

The decision to link the issues appears to reflect the determination of embattled Vatican leaders to resist any suggestion that pedophilia within the priesthood can be addressed by ending the celibacy requirement or by allowing women to become priests...


This San Diego woman has been excommunicated:

Excommunicated But Not Intimidated
by Randy Dotinga
Voice of San Diego
July 23, 2010

Jane Via, a county prosecutor, can't receive the sacraments at an official Roman Catholic Church. She can't even be buried in consecrated ground when her time comes.

Yet she gives communion, marries people -- even gays -- and takes confession. Via, who was ordained in Europe without the Vatican's approval, is apparently the only woman who claims to be a Roman Catholic priest in the county. She oversees a parish that meets in a Serra Mesa neighborhood church each Sunday evening.

The Roman Catholic Church has excommunicated all women who claim to have been ordained as priests, cutting their ties to the rituals of the faith. And earlier this month, the Vatican linked the ordination of women to pedophilia in the hierarchy of church offenses...

Francisco Escobedo chosen as Chula Vista Elementary School District superintendent






















See all posts re Francisco Escobedo.

CVESD announces choice of Francisco Escobedo to replace Superintendent Lowell Billings.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mayor: Schools Report is ‘Cause for Great Concern’


Mayor: Schools Report is ‘Cause for Great Concern’

Voice of San Diego
Emily Alpert
Jul 20, 2010

A coalition of philanthropists, parents, academics and business leaders aired an updated study of San Diego Unified schools at a press conference today, touting it as a call to action to change the way a "failing school system" is governed.

The University of San Diego study, commissioned by businessman Rod Dammeyer, is likely to be the opening salvo in a longer battle to alter how the school district is run. It draws no conclusions. But simply by airing data on test scores and finances and diagnosing the schools as failing, the group is taking its first public step toward a more concerted, more specific campaign.

The report was built largely on publicly available data from the California Department of Education from 2002 to 2009...

For instance, the report noted that on a national math and reading exam, at least two-thirds of students tested last year were still falling short. Achievement gaps have grown between white students and their black and Hispanic classmates... the report also noted bright spots, such as a decreased dropout rate.

Sanders said he supported efforts to reexamine how the school district is governed, aligning him with the new group. But he did not invoke the idea of a larger school board, an idea the group has quietly discussed. It was the first public event for the coalition, which includes dozens of members ranging from Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs to retired educator Linda Sturak to San Diego State professor emeritus Alberto Ochoa...


‘We Have No Idea Where You’re Coming From’
Voice of San Diego
Emily Alpert
July 22, 2010

...Scott Himelstein, the leader of the newly named San Diegans 4 Great Schools, explained that his group was disappointed with test scores in the local schools and believed "governance" -- a buzzword that translates into "how the school board works" -- was a big part of the problem. Dramatic changes in the school board have caused superintendent churn, he said, causing wild swings in direction.

Several at the meeting agreed that the schools needed help. Community Council President Scott Hasson said he believed the schools were "in a shambles." Conroy said he was aggravated that so few graduates seemed to know the basics for science careers...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Attorney general issues subpoenas in Bell salary scandal

See all posts on Bell City Hall salary scandal.

UPDATE:
Mayor of Calif. city to stop taking high salary
By JOHN ROGERS (AP)
jULY 26, 2010

BELL, Calif. — The mayor of Bell apologized Monday for the excessive salaries paid to city officials and said he will step down after completing his term without pay.

Mayor Oscar Hernandez said in a statement posted on the Bell city clerk's website that the salaries were indefensible.

Four of the five members of the City Council earn about $100,000 a year for running the blue-collar city of about 40,000 people.

The city's chief administrative officer was earning nearly $800,000 a year before he resigned last week.

Hernandez last week defended the city's salaries...


Attorney general issues subpoenas in Bell salary scandal
July 26, 2010
LATimes

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown on Monday issued subpoenas for hundreds of salary and employment documents from the city of Bell to determine whether top officials broke laws in awarding out-sized salaries to city administrators and City Council members.

Brown said he was moving swiftly after The Times exposed a pay scandal in the small working-class city to reassure taxpayers that the state was determined to crack down on possible wrongdoing and to warn other cities not to follow Bell's path.

"These outrageous pay practices are an insult to the hard-working people of Bell and have provoked righteous indignation in California and even across the country," Brown said.

Seven arrested for civil disobedience in Arizona

Injunction Hearing NO SB1070 - Voices From The AZ Struggle

Carolina Kawarik, a Member of Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Chandler, Arizona, was arrested on July 23, 2010 while protesting Arizona’s SB 1070.


I have been asked why I committed civil disobedience recently.

Being a UU calls me to many things, but most of all to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people. I believe that it matters deeply how we treat one another – how we honor our community; whether it’s our faith community, our local community, or our human community. SB 1070 violates the very ideas, ideals, and principles I hold dear.

By the sheer fortune of the location of my birth, I immigrated to this country easily, had permanent resident status for most of my life, and was able to get my citizenship within a year and a half of applying. Many others wait 20 years or more. Why?

Our immigration policy is dysfunctional and has led to a situation where AZ and other states feel the need to pass immoral legislation to “manage” the challenges that come with a large undocumented population. SB1070, however, will lead to more fear, undue suspicion, increased polarization, and escalating conflict within our communities – it already has – and it isn’t even in effect yet...

Carolina Krawarik
July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Study: Effective Principals Embrace Collective Leadership

Maura Larkins note: This study does NOT find that a few teachers and a couple of parents who manipulate the principal behind closed doors constitute collective leadership.

July 23, 2010
Study: Effective Principals Embrace Collective Leadership
By Christina A. Samuels

An expansive studyRequires Adobe Acrobat Reader devoted to examining the traits of effective school principals has found that high student achievement is linked to “collective leadership”: the combined influence of educators, parents, and others on school decisions.

Effective principals encourage others to join in the decision-making process in their schools, said the study, which was commissioned by the New York-based Wallace Foundation and produced by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, in St. Paul, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Successfully done, the study suggested, such power sharing does not mean a principal loses clout.

“Influence in schools is not a fixed sum or a zero-sum game,” the report said. (The Wallace Foundation underwrites coverage of leadership, human capital development, expanded learning, and other topics, in Education Week.)...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Banks Paid $1.6 Billion in Excessive Bonuses, U.S. Finds

Top Banks Paid $1.6 Billion in Excessive Bonuses, U.S. Finds
Brendan Hoffman/Bloomberg News
July 22, 2010

In a report to be released on Friday, Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Obama administration’s special master for executive compensation, is expected to name 17 financial companies that made questionable payouts totaling $1.58 billion immediately after accepting billions of dollars of taxpayer aid, according to two government officials with knowledge of his findings who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the report.

The group includes Wall Street giants like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and the American International Group as well as small lenders like Boston Private Financial Holdings. Mr. Feinberg’s report points to companies that he says paid eye-popping amounts or used haphazard criteria for awarding bonuses, the people with knowledge of his findings said, and he has singled out Citigroup as the biggest offender...

Bonny Garcia, notorious school attorney, shares Daily Transcript Top Attorney honors with ACLU's David Blair-Loy

See all posts about David Blair-Loy.

David Blair-Loy of the ACLU shares Daily Transcript honors with Bonny Garcia, the lawyer whom the San Diego Union Tribune criticized for his shocking actions in regard to Otay Water District. The SDUT particularly criticized the indemnification agreement Garcia had with Otay.

Top Attorneys 2010

The Daily Transcript does
not evaluate the lawyers it
chooses as "Top Lawyers" of
the year; there is no panel of
experts making the choice.
Nor do all the lawyers in town
participate in the vote.
Instead, the voters select
themselves. To win, a lawyer
has to get his pals to send in
ballots. (There is even a
section for insurance
lawyers.) The Daily
Transcript seems to be
promoting itself by exploiting
lawyers who feel the need to
promote themselves. The
most highly regarded lawyers
do not seem to participate in
this contest. David Blair-Loy
has exerted himself mightily
for two years in a row to
become one of the many
"winners" of this contest.

David Blair-Loy article from the DT's online newspaper, San Diego Source

Who shares the Daily
Transcript's Top Attorney
"honor" with Blair-Loy?

See Daily Transcript story on Bonny Garcia

1. Bonny (Bonifacio) Garcia,
(2010) has become notorious
for charging outrageous fees to
school districts such as
Sweetwater Union High School
District. He also assisted in the
collapse of ethics at Otay Water
District. The district, shockingly,
indemnified him for his work,
and when the district was sued,
ratepayers (including the author
of this website) were forced to
pay Daniel Shinoff and Jeffery
Morris of Stutz Artiano Shinoff &
Holtz to defend him.

2. Another attorney from Bonny
Garcia's firm, Marie C. Mendoza,
also won. It's obvious, when
looking at the long list of winners,
that certain law firms got busy and
nominated several of their
lawyers, and everyone in the firm
voted for their fellow employees,
making sure that the few firms that
invested energy in this project had
many winners. Both of the lawyers
from Garcia's firm are in the same
category as Blair-Loy,
"Government Municipal," which
has a total of seven winners. I've
never heard of the other four.

3. Blair-Loy's school attorney pal
Dan Shinoff (yes, the one who
defended Bonny Garcia), also
won the Daily Transcript award
(in 2005). Most lawyers don't vie
for it. School districts have paid
to defend Daniel Shinoff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Agriculture Dept woman was fired for promoting racial reconciliation due to Breitbard hoax

Conservative bloggers went after her with a distorted story, and Democrats caved in to the pressure.

Discrimination against black farmers (Look for the discrimination video by scrolling in the "recommended" window at top right.)

WH apologizes to fired Ag worker; she mulls return
By MARY CLARE JALONICK and BEN EVANS
AP
7/21/10

The White House did a sudden about-face Wednesday and begged for forgiveness from the black Agriculture Department employee whose ouster ignited an embarrassing political firestorm over race...

Sherrod said she resigned under White House pressure after the airing of a video of racial remarks she made at an NAACP gathering. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said repeatedly on Wednesday that the decision had been his alone.

"I asked for Shirley's forgiveness and she was gracious enough to extend it to me," he said after reaching her by telephone...

It all began with the airing of a video on a conservative website of Sherrod's remarks about not doing all she could to help a white farmer two decades ago. After she was told to resign — with the NAACP declaring its approval — the situation grew more complicated when the rest of the edited video was released by the NAACP and Sherrod insisted her remarks were about reconciliation, not the stoking of racism...


Jul 22, 2010
The civil rights heroism of Charles Sherrod
Andrew Breitbart sure picked the wrong people to symbolize black "racism." Taylor Branch and Clay Carson weigh in
By Joan Walsh
Salon.com

People who care about civil rights and racial reconciliation may eventually thank Andrew Breitbart for bringing Shirley Sherrod the global attention she deserves. Really. Her message of racial healing, her insight that the forces of wealth and injustice have always pit "the haves and the have-nots" against each other, whatever their race, is exactly what's missing in today's Beltway debates about race. What's even more amazing, but almost completely unexplored in this controversy, is the historic civil rights leadership role of her husband, Charles Sherrod, an early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who served on the front lines of the nonviolent civil rights movement in the early 1960s.

Despite Breitbart's attempt to cast Shirley Sherrod as The, um, Man ("The Woman" doesn't have the same ring), out to keep oppressed white folk down, under our first black racist president, she turned out to be the opposite, an advocate of justice for everybody. Given that history, it's fascinating to learn more about her husband, an early SNCC leader known for being willing to work with white volunteers even after tension developed over the role of whites in the organization. Charles Sherrod is important for much more than the fairness with which he treated whites, but given Breitbart's attempt to make his wife the poster woman for black "racism," that footnote to his leadership history is particularly noteworthy...

Monday, July 19, 2010

A (legal) immigrant dies in Brian Bilbray's district

Reza Lavasani Dana, an Iranian tourist from Sweden who went jogging near Escondido last weekend, has been found dead.

What did Resa Lavasani Dana die from?
It appears he died from the heat (and the fact that no one stopped to help him as he was crawling along the roadside).
He seems to have crawled into the ravine looking for relief from the heat.

It's odd that he was found at the bottom of a ravine; he had been seen hobbling along the road. How and why did he (or his body) leave the road? Why didn't anyone stop to help? Were they afraid he was illegal, and therefore they didn't want to get involved?


Jogger's body believed to have been found
By J. Harry Jones
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
July 19, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.

The body of a man believed to be that of a Swedish tourist who went jogging Thursday in a rural area north of Escondido was found by Sheriff’s Department detectives Monday morning.

The body was located at 8:30 a.m. in a ravine off a driveway on Mountain Meadow Road. Two sheriff’s officials said there is no reason to suspect foul play at this time, but until the body can be examined the cause of death can’t be known for sure.

The general description and clothing of the man who was found match that of Reza Lavasani Dana, 33, who was last seen Thursday afternoon in the area. High temperatures that day reached the mid-90s in the area.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said witnesses came forward over the weekend saying they had seen a jogger hobbling along the road, as if his leg or ankle had been injured, but thought no more about it until seeing news reports over the weekend about the search for Lavasani Dana.

Detectives Monday morning went to the area and found the body in heavy brush at the bottom of the ravine...

Deputies Search For Vacationer Who Never Returned From Run
Channel 10 News San Diego




WHERE'S YOUR SUGGESTION FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM, MR. BILBRAY?

I'm afraid you're encouragement of anger at immigrants may send the wrong message to those who feel the urge to commit hate crimes. Police need to investigate events like this one, not immigrants just looking for work.


Lawmaker plans to file brief criticizing Obama lawsuit against state
North County Times
By EDWARD SIFUENTES
July 16, 2010

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said Friday that he and a group of lawmakers plan to file a court brief in opposition to the Obama administration's legal challenge of Arizona's controversial new immigration law...

"It comes as no surprise," said Pedro Rios, San Diego director of the human rights group American Friends Service Committee. "Brian Bilbray has always pushed for anti-immigrant legislation at the local, state and federal level."

...Arizona overstepped its authority by passing the immigration law, said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

"Whether you think the federal government is doing its job or not is beside the point," Blair-Loy said. "The state of Arizona trespassed into the legal prerogative of the federal government. ... Arizona doesn't get to play in the immigration sandbox."


[Maura Larkins note: An acquaintance of mine remembers Brian Bilbray visiting city hall in Imperial Beach in the seventies wearing a motorcycle jacket with a swastika on the back.]


Open Congress.com:

Bilbray was born in Coronado, California, growing up in Imperial Beach, California. He worked as a tax consultant before entering politics. He and his wife, the former Karen Walker, have five children. He is a cousin of former Nevada Democratic Representative James Bilbray.

Bilbray became interested in politics during an attempt by Mayor Bert Stites to carry out an extensive program of eminent domain. He ran successfully for the Imperial Beach city council as a populist, serving during 1976–1987, and was mayor during 1978–1985. Bilbray's tenure as Mayor was marked by his attempt to build a yacht marina in the Tijuana Estuary and build a 1.5 mile breakwater off of the beach of Imperial Beach. [1] Both projects were stopped by the opposition of local environmentalists and surfers. The Tijuana River Estuary is now a National Estuarine Research Reserve and California State Park. The breakwater project was halted with the help of the then fledgling Surfrider Foundation...



Neighbor: Bilbray being investigated by grand jury
North County Times
By: WILLIAM FINN BENNETT
October 27, 2006

NORTH COUNTY --- A neighbor of Republican 50th District Rep. Brian Bilbray said Thursday that he was subpoenaed to testify before a San Diego County grand jury in August and spent about an hour and a half answering questions about whether Bilbray lived in his Carlsbad neighborhood...



SAN DIEGANS GOING TO ARIZONA TO PROTEST ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW

San Diegans, led by Mar Cardenas, are asking everyone who opposes SB1070 to come to Arizona on July 28-30th for Days of Non-compliance. They will be meeting at the Unitarian Church in Hillcrest.


From the website:

We are all Arizona! Don't let this happen here or anywhere else! We must do this as a community and as a nation.

The passage of SB 1070 by Governor Brewer sparked national outrage catalyzing a movement for immigrant rights and lending a sense of urgency to stop the hate and terrorizing of immigrants and people of color in Arizona and across the nation.

Resa Lavasani Dana, Iranian visitor from Sweden, found dead near Escondido

What did Resa Lavasani Dana die from?
It appears he died from the heat (and the fact that no one stopped to help him as he was crawling along the roadside).
He seems to have crawled into the ravine looking for relief from the heat.

This post has been moved to HERE.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Catholics believe in three gods?

Yesterday I was surprised to learn, at an introductory discussion at the South Bay Unitarian Church in Chula Vista, that Catholics believe in three gods. This was told to me by a "recovering Catholic" who says she is a pagan.

I'm afraid the "three gods" idea is a misinterpretation of Catholic belief. A woman sitting next to me at the discussion leaned toward me and asked, "Who are the three gods?" She herself had been raised Catholic, but without the benefit of Catholic religious instruction, so she was sincerely confused and curious.

I offered to this woman the explanation that my Irish parents gave regarding Catholic belief about the Trinity: just as each leaf of the shamrock has three sections, so God has three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. (Protestants also believe in the Trinity, so why did the leader of the discussion limit her remarks to Catholics? Perhaps she has issues?)

I told the woman that Catholics do not believe in three gods, and she got so mad at me that she withdrew her offer of membership. She was shaking with anger, and said I'd have to talk to the minister. She said the nuns in Evanston, Illinois taught her when she was a child that there are three gods. I think she may be either misremembering or misreporting that story.

Another woman at the meeting said "I'm sorry" when I mentioned that I had been raised Catholic. I said I still considered myself a Catholic, just not a very good one, and I understood that Unitarians weren't required to reject their original religions. Clearly the women running the show at South Bay UU disagree with that notion--at least if the original religion is Catholic.

Ironically, these same women are planning a trip to Arizona on July 28-29, 2010 with the specific purpose of committing civil disobedience.

Apparently the hope is that Arizonans will back down if the Unitarians are unpleasant enough. It seems to me that there is a bit of a contradiction here. These women don't want anyone in their church that disagrees with them about the number of gods worshipped by Catholics, and yet they think that somehow the people of Arizona will listen respectfully to folks who disagree with them about the number of immigrants that should live in Arizona.

It's a lost cause. Registering a protest only gathers sympathy when people accept that the protester is in the right. Polls show this not to be the case in the current situation. The public supports the Arizona law, and, in fact, support is increasing. Obviously the Arizona law is unconstitutional, but the majority of the population seems to see the law itself as a protest against the federal government's failure to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. The immigrants themselves would like to be legal; the law, however, makes that logistically close to impossible.

Most people on this planet--including many of the supporters of the Arizona law-- are just like the Unitarian women I talked to on Sunday: they have little use for others' opinions. My guess is that the Zonies will be just as headstrong as the Unitarians. The protests won't turn any hearts or minds. The protests might actually be counterproductive. They might have the same effect as similar protests that occurred the night before the vote on California's Proposition 187: the protests seemed to have triggered a landslide in favor of the proposition.

I agree that the law is bad, but the Unitarians need to think a bit more clearly about how one goes about changing the world. The attitude of the South Bay UU women seems to be that they can simply demand compliance from just about anyone. I would recommend that they think this through. How can you change the world when you're so obviously working from the same rule book as your opponents? I suggest open, free-flowing discussion that includes lots of different opinions.

Some possibilities:

1. Work to obtain better drug treatments for Americans so we won't be funding the narco-traffickers who are destroying the economy of Mexico, sending refugees north.

2. Better media coverage and social integration of immigrants in the US, so Arizonans and others won't be so afraid of them.

3. Pressure on Mexico to share the wealth among its citizens. Mexico has the richest man in the world (Carlos Slim). Simply by reducing his profits by a reasonable amount he could stop the transfer of funds from poor Mexicans to himself. Mexico could become just as comfortable a place to live as the US if the laws were more egalitarian.

A difference in approach is needed, not just constant posturing to prove who is stronger.

Generic Education; Free speech; race

What is Generic Education
The concept of generic education was proposed by Win Straube in his book, "QGE=A, Quality Generic Education is the Answer". Generic Education means the identification and practice of objective, unarguable values. Generic Education can be taught and learned anywhere because it is free from cultural or political baggage, yet it is understood on all sides as a shared, generally accepted version. Generic Education is universally measurable, which means that learners’ proficiency in the studied subjects can be tested. It also means that the tests used are either identical or at least comparable in different locations and as administered at different times. In other words: The level of proficiency to pass a specific test needs to be as close to identical to every other such test as possible.

Generic Education means "proficiency in" a certain science, art, or other subject which is agreed on by all or almost all...


Those who have been prosecuted for ideas that challenged the social order have included some of the greatest minds in human history. Socrates was forced to drink poison for his words, Galileo was put under arrest for his words, James Joyce and Lenny Bruce were convicted of obscenity. And its not just artists and scientists; Jesus was brutally murdered for his words and ideas.

Freedom of speech is not just part of the right to enjoy yourself. It is the freedom to move society forward...
--Arvin Vohra


Our Most Highly Recommended Private Educational Service
Educational Consulting & Curriculum Design for Local and National School Systems ... Training Programs for Parents · Book Arvin Vohra as a Speaker ...



The Overrepresentation of Black Students in Special Education ...
in Special Education Classrooms Kimberly Suzette Peterz
Chicago, Illinois.


American Indian education: counternarratives in racism, struggle Matthew L. M. Fletcher - 2008 - Education - 223 pages... Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the Michigan Land Use Institute to, inter alia, improve access to the cemetery on South Fox Island). ...


Who were the evangelicals? conservative and liberal identity in the Unitarian Controversy in Boston ...Universalists...UU... University of Minnesota


Arvid Fredborg, 80, a journalist and one of the first to...

Baltimore Sun
January 11, 1996

Arvid Fredborg, 80, a journalist and one of the first to report the scope and goals of the Nazi Holocaust, died of an apparent heart attack Thursday at his home outside Stockholm, Sweden.

His 1943 book "Behind the Steel Wall" detailed the systematic genocide at Nazi death camps and estimated that 2 million Jews had been killed. The book came out two years after the death camps were started, but before the killing reached its peak. The book caused a stir in Sweden and was published in English in 1944.

His biggest contribution was to publicize the extent of Nazi genocide and the goals of the Holocaust, rather than to expose it for the first time, Swedish historian Henrik Brackner said. Many governments, including Sweden's, knew about the death camps but kept silent.

Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams expelled over 'Colored People' letter

Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams expelled over 'Colored People' letter
BY Helen Kennedy
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
July 18th 2010

Racism is tearing the Tea Party movement apart.

The National Tea Party Federation has expelled a prominent activist group, the Tea Party Express, because it wouldn't rebuke and fire one of its leaders for writing an offensive blog post.

Mark Williams, a California radio host who is leading protests in New York against a proposed mosque near Ground Zero and has drawn Sarah Palin to his rallies, had previously called the President an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug" and said Muslims were "animals" who worship "a monkey god."

But when he posted a satirical letter this week from "the Colored People" to President Lincoln about how little they want to work, that apparently crossed the line - especially after the NAACP called on Tea Party leaders to oust racists from their ranks...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reza Lavasani Dana found dead/Brian Bilbray supports Arizona anti-immigration law

What did Resa Lavasani Dana die from?
It appears he died from the heat (and the fact that no one stopped to help him as he was crawling along the roadside).
He seems to have crawled into the ravine looking for relief from the heat.


This post has been moved to HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's time for David Blair-Loy to stop mincing around and sue Southwestern College, already

Who's side is he really on? David Loy discusses lawsuits spearheaded by other chapters of the ACLU at Thomas Jefferson School of Law on Aug. 24, 2011.

UPDATE FEB. 2012: It's beginning to be clear that San Diego ACLU's David Loy is not a big fan of free speech about what's really going on in public schools.

See other new posts re David Loy and earlier posts under his former name of David Blair-Loy.

UPDATE: July 22, 2010

I am more concerned than ever about the motivations of local ACLU head counsel David Blair-Loy. He seems deeply concerned with his own career, as evidenced by the effort he must have put in to get busy lawyers to participate in the Daily Transcript's yearly opportunity for lawyers to promote themselves.

The Daily Transcript does not evaluate the lawyers it chooses as "Top Lawyers" of the year; there is no panel of experts making the choice. Nor do all the lawyers in town participate in the vote.

Instead, the voters select themselves. To win, a lawyer has to get his pals to send in ballots. (There is even a section for insurance lawyers.) The Daily Transcript seems to be promoting itself by exploiting lawyers who feel the need to promote themselves. The most highly regarded lawyers do not seem to participate in this contest.

David Blair-Loy has exerted himself mightily for two years in a row to become one of the many "winners" of this contest.

See all ACLU posts.
See all Southwestern College posts.

David Blair-Loy, legal counsel for the San Diego ACLU, gets along too well with school attorneys. He even got an award from the bar association for "high civility" in dealing with them, and with other attorneys.

But the situation at Southwestern has gone on long enough. It's time to stop writing letters to Jonathan Pearl and Raj Chopra, and to take some action.

LBUSD Process For Firing Teachers Stands Up In Court

Long Beach USD achieved a small victory for using criteria beyond seniority to fire teachers.

LBUSD Process For Firing Teachers Stands Up In Court
by Ryan ZumMallen
Long Beach News
07.08.10
After seven days of hearings, a judge ruled today in favor of the Long Beach Unified School District and denied the Teachers Association of Long Beach's assertion that the district did not follow rules while laying off employees.

The local Board of Education is going through its final list of layoffs on July 12.

The judge agreed that the district was within its rights to determine layoffs through its seniority system, its exemption of teachers with training in college readiness programs from the seniority system,

Poor City Pays Officials Top Dollars: Where is all Bell's money coming from?

See all posts re City of Bell scandal.

UPDATE:
Salary scandal in Bell shines light on impound cash
September 10, 2010
Ryan Gabrielson

Police are supposed to keep the streets safe. In Bell, it appears, the police department also expected officers to keep the city’s coffers filled.

As part of a policy ostensibly to deter gang activity, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Bell patrol officers aggressively pursued unlicensed motorists. Officers there – in the wake of the city's salary scandal – say they operated under quotas for how many arrests to make, traffic tickets to write and cars to impound each day. [Update: La Opinion first reported the Bell Police Department's impounding policy and the revenue it generated.]

California law permits police to seize for 30 days cars driven by people without licenses. Police across the state are impounding a huge volume of vehicles.

It’s unknown exactly how many, but the California Office of Traffic Safety documented [PDF] 108,050 30-day impounds in 2008 at sobriety operations (checkpoints, saturation patrols) alone.

Cities collect impound release fees. Increasingly, local governments also get a cut of the revenue that tow companies charge car owners for moving and storing seized vehicles, California Watch reported earlier this year.

The 30-day impounds, however, face a legal challenge from the owners of impounded cars who argue the law violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. At question is whether the impounds are a constitutional administrative penalty for violating state law.

The lawsuit, Salazar v. Maywood, awaits oral arguments before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later this year.

As the Times showed in Bell, with the impound law in effect, the dollars pile up:

Impounding cars, usually because the drivers are unlicensed, has been a steady revenue stream in Bell for years. In the last fiscal year, the city expected to make more than $770,000 from release fees, which would amount to between 2,000 and 2,500 impounds per year. The previous year, the department made more than $834,000.

The city charges unlicensed motorists a $300 fee to release the car; those charged with driving under the influence are charged $400. The number does not include costs imposed by the impound lot, which starts with a $104 base fee and increases $27 per day.

Bell’s release fee is higher than most other of the state’s cities, but is nowhere near the highest. Oxnard’s police department charges drivers $495.

Similarly, while Bell might offer an extreme example of the practice, California cities have long been aware of impounds’ profit potential.

In 2000, the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies published step-by-step instructions on how to implement a “winning” impound program.

The instructions were based on an examination of how the city of Upland took over towing and storage from private firms. Impounds, the report shows, are revenue positive...

UPDATE: Someone left the following links in the comments section. You can put in the name of a city and find out salaries: for actual salaries, by person, check out www.lasalaries.com or www.sanfranciscosalaries.com

Where is all this money coming from? I doubt that tax rates are unusually high. There must be something going on in the city that is generating a lot of revenue. Are officials being paid to look the other way? This should be an interesting investigation.

Poor City Pays Officials Top Dollars
Source: Los Angeles Times
July 15, 2010

Bell, one of the poorest cities in Los Angeles County, pays its top officials some of the highest salaries in the nation, including nearly $800,000 annually for its city manager. In addition to the $787,637 salary of Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo, Bell pays Police Chief Randy Adams $457,000 a year, about 50% more than Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck or Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and more than double New York City's police commissioner.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Witness to Police Misconduct Speaks to ACLU

Witness to Police Misconduct Speaks to ACLU
by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 at 8:51 PM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P.O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

Chris Carlino spoke at the annual meeting of the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) February 18 and relived her experience being pepper-sprayed by an abusive sheriff's deputy at a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Francine Busby eight months earlier. Her attorney, Mike Marrinan, and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse director Beth Givens also spoke at the meeting, and San Diego ACLU staff attorney David Blair-Loy laid out the group's local legal agenda...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The “blame the teacher crowd” would rather “affix blame than fix schools

Randi's idea doesn't solve the problems created by individuals who can't handle their jobs. We need to put the right people in the right positions, not just pretend that we can fix any teacher. It's better to put a struggling teacher in a position with less responsibility, such as assistant to a master teacher.

The “blame the teacher crowd” would rather “affix blame than fix schools,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten as she outlined a sweeping plan to “build a system of public education as it ought to be,” at AFT’s biennial convention.

AFT Leader Outlines Vision to Build Better Public Education System
by James Parks, Jul 9, 2010

Saying America’s teachers would “lead and propose, not wait and oppose,” AFT President Randi Weingarten... spoke yesterday at AFT’s biennial convention in Seattle, which runs through Sunday. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will address the convention tomorrow.

She told the more than 3,000 delegates that the “blame the teacher crowd” would rather “affix blame than fix schools.” These critics, she continued, “would have Americans believe that there is only one choice when it comes to public education: either you’re for students, or you’re for teachers,” which Weingarten called a “bogus choice.”

It’s simply wrong to suggest that there is an epidemic of bad teachers and at the same time to ignore poverty, budget cuts, the absence of curriculum, the huge attrition of good teachers—all things we know truly hamper student success.

No teacher—myself included—wants a bad teacher in any classroom. The AFT and our locals are taking real steps to solve the problem and to strengthen teaching...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Judge slams, slashes "unconstitutional" $675,000 P2P award

Judge slams, slashes "unconstitutional" $675,000 P2P award
By Nate Anderson
Ars Technica
July 9, 2010

Judge Nancy Gertner knows that Joel Tenenbaum did it. Tenenbaum, the second US target of the RIAA's five-year litigation campaign to complete a trial, eventually admitted his music-sharing liability on the stand—and Judge Gertner issued a directed verdict against him. But when the jury returned a $675,000 damage award, they went too far. Way too far.

In fact, according to Gertner, they trampled the Constitution's "Due Process" clause. In a ruling today, the judge slashed the $675,000 award by a factor of 10, to $67,500.

If it sounds like a familiar result, it should. In Minnesota, Judge Michael Davis used a different legal approach called remittitur to lower Jammie Thomas-Rasset's liability from $1.9 million to $2,250 per song. That amount is three times higher than the $750 minimum for statutory damages, and Judge Gertner has accepted both Judge Davis' number and his reasoning when issuing her own opinion...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ralph Opacic says charter schools are exempt from the US Constitution

...Ralph Opacic, the charter school's president and executive director, issued a statement defending administrators, arguing that charter schools were exempted from the law defining student rights.

Even if this teacher lost her job because of unrelated issues, this is still an important story. I would really like to know why the students wrote about the religion of the food service providers. Was religion a factor in hiring the caterer? Is that what the school wanted to cover up?

Orange County boots journalism teacher after censorship faceoff
July 6, 2010
Erica Perez

An Orange County high school newspaper and yearbook adviser who stood up to the school's administration when it threatened to censor the paper has been dismissed, prompting accusations of retaliation.

Konnie Krislock, adviser at Orange County High School of the Arts, got a letter June 20 saying she had been dismissed – less than a year after Krislock had a very public dust-up with Principal Sue Vaughn last fall, according to the Student Press Law Center...

The story began last September, when Vaughn tried to stop publication of the student newspaper, Evolution, because a story about the school's new food services vendor described the company, Alegre Foods as a "Christian-based company" whose purpose is to serve God, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Krislock said the school – a public charter school – was illegally censoring the student press. Ultimately, the school administration allowed the paper to publish without pre-approval.

But the controversy didn't end there. A few days after the school backed down, Ralph Opacic, the charter school's president and executive director, issued a statement defending administrators, arguing that charter schools were exempted from the law defining student rights.

That in turn prompted state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, to sponsor SB 438. The law would make provisions regarding free speech for public school students specifically applicable to charter schools. It has been unanimously approved by the state Senate, cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will go before the full Assembly soon, the Student Press Law Center reports...

The ACLU's Andrea Guerrero speaks in La Mesa

See ACLU lawsuit to stop Los Angeles Unified School District from laying off large percentages of staff at schools with inordinately large numbers of new teachers: Lawsuit: Layoffs hurt minority kids

See also: Judge to LAUSD: No Layoffs at Gompers, Liechty and Markam This Year

See all ACLU posts.
See all David Blair-Loy posts.


Last night ACLU speaker Andrea Guerrero told La Mesa Democrats, "We defend you whether you are of our political liking or not." The fact is that it's impossible for a large organization to function--and even harder for it to get funding--without some horsetrading. Of course the ACLU plays politics; it just does it in a more restrained manner than most organizations.

There have been times when the ACLU has defended people with whom it disagreed. An example of this was when Oliver North testified before Congress about shenanigans in the Reagan administration such as selling missiles to Iran to get secret money to quash the uprising in El Salvador. (Now there's an example of some heavy-duty horsetrading: selling missiles to Iran!?! I don't recall the ACLU ever sacrificing its principles to that extent.) The ACLU insisted that the government couldn't use anything Oliver North said before Congress in its criminal case against him. A huge firewall was instituted between prosecutors and the congressional hearings.

Ms. Guerrero indicated that the new Arizona law ordering local police to act as immigration agents is unconstitutional because only the federal government is authorized to deal with such matters. This is the reason that California's Proposition 187 was enjoined several years ago.

Andrea Guerrero is the Field & Policy Director of the ACLU in San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Goldman Sachs sold a portfolio without disclosing that this person designing it was betting against it

As I struggle to understand exactly how and why financial institutions inflicted so much damage on the American economy, I appreciate articles like this one from NPR.

Fresh Air
May 4, 2010

Today, a conversation with New York Times financial editor Gretchen Morgenson, who has covered the world financial markets since 1998. She'll be discussing what's going on with Goldman Sachs, the Justice Department, and the SEC.

...Ms. MORGENSON: What the SEC really is saying is that they have omitted a material detail in the selling of this security. Here's how it was created. It was created with a very big hedge fund that was a client of Goldman Sachs.

It was called the Paulson and Company Hedge Fund, and it was run by a man named John Paulson, who has subsequently become very famous for making billions of dollars betting against subprime mortgages when people were still sort of thinking everything was fine.

Now, he and Goldman put together this portfolio of mortgages that were then sold to Goldman's clients. But the element that is at the crux of the case is Mr. Paulson had interest in this portfolio being filled with sort of toxic mortgages, mortgages that were less likely to perform well, that were really sort of on the precipice already.

So was it right for Goldman Sachs to sell such a portfolio to its clients without disclosing that this person who was selecting the portfolio had a negative bet on and was therefore opposed to the people who were buying it, who were hoping that it would perform and that the mortgages would continue to pay?

GROSS: So the suit names Fabrice Tourre, who is a vice president at Goldman, who helped create and sell these derivatives. How come the suit doesn't name the hedge fund manager who helped create the derivative and then betted against it?

Ms. MORGENSON: Well, John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who is involved, did not have a duty to disclose to investors his role in it because he was not selling the securities...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Susan Luzzaro has the voice of a deeply intelligent friend

COMPLICITY
Susan Luzzaro
Publisher: Trask House
PubDate: 1/1/1996
PAPERBACK
Poetry

"Susan Luzzaro's poems are arguments for love and human ethics. The diction is spare and precise, the interior/exterior vision flawless. Susan Luzzaro has the voice of a deeply intelligent friend, a woman you can trust. She writes as though our lives depended upon these poems. Reading them one cannot help but share her desire for justice, for a more tender engagement with the physical world"
-Sandra Alcosser.

Robin Donlan, Comic-Con, and the fighter pilot in hell

Photo: Robin Donlan being deposed in Maura Larkins case.

UPDATE: The husband of "Castle Park Five" teacher Robin Donlan has completed his federal prison sentence for stock options fraud, and returned to San Diego in late 2009. I am thinking he may be the person who sent me the email on this page from an address of "fpilotinhell@gmail.com."

I got a kick out of watching Robin Donlan's interview in a video from last year's Comic-Con (or was it 2008?). She spoke of fielding complaints from customers who, in Donlan's words, thought they were "special little snowflakes." Ah, yes. Sarcasm in the right hands is a marvelous thing. But "snowflakes"? Who talks like that? It sounds like something that a cyncial elementary school teacher might say about a child who was seeking attention. My advice to Robin: try to cultivate a greater sense of respect for others.

See all Robin Donlan posts.
See Vencent Donlan posts.

Del Cerro couple sued in $7.7 million fraud
Wireless Facilities, SEC file civil lawsuits in case
By Kathryn Balint and Keith Darc�
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS
May 4, 2007

In a new twist on the burgeoning stock options scandal, the former stock options manager for San Diego-based Wireless Facilities and his wife have been accused of fraudulently issuing company stock options and selling them at a profit of more than $7.7 million.

Vencent A. Donlan, and his wife, Robin D. Colls Donlan, both 44-year-old teachers in local schools, were accused in civil lawsuits announced yesterday by Wireless Facilities and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wireless Facilities is among more than 200 U.S. companies that have launched probes or are under federal investigation for backdating stock options without disclosing the practice to shareholders. It said the Donlans' “elaborate scheme” came to light during its internal review and it notified securities regulators.

The accusation that an options administrator defrauded a company of stock is unusual and suggests another avenue of wrongdoing that has, as yet, gone undetected.

“I'm pretty sure there has never been a case like this,” said Kelly Bowers, a senior assistant regional director of enforcement for the SEC.

“This is an example of a different scheme that (other) companies should take notice of,” he said. “They should make sure they have proper policies and procedures to make sure this is not happening under their watch.”

The SEC obtained a court order freezing the Donlans' assets to guard against what it said was the “imminent danger” that they would transfer or hide proceeds from the “fraudulent scheme.”

The Wireless Facilities case accusing the Donlans of “breach of duty and loyalty” was filed Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court, while the SEC case accusing them of violating federal securities laws was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in downtown San Diego.

The Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General's Office and the San Diego District Attorney's Office all would neither confirm nor deny any criminal investigation.

The street in front of the couple's gated, two-story house on Norman Lane in Del Cerro was busy with activity late yesterday. Two men in an idling gold Ford Crown Victoria refused to identify themselves but one held a black binder embossed with a federal seal and the words “Corporate Fraud Division.” A process server waiting to deliver Wireless Facilities' lawsuit said they had earlier identified themselves as federal agents.

Vencent Donlan, a physics teacher at the San Diego High Education Complex School of Business, and Robin Donlan, a fourth-grade teacher at Hilltop Drive Elementary School in Chula Vista, didn't return phone messages yesterday and could not be reached at home to comment.

The SEC lawsuit describes a process in which Vencent Donlan, a former Charles Schwab broker, had primary responsibility for entering Wireless Facilities' stock options data into company software.

According to the lawsuit, he fraudulently issued and transferred 728,229 shares of stock and options to himself and his wife between November 2002 and November 2003.

Donlan, who was being paid $65,000 a year when he left Wireless Facilities, hid the unauthorized transactions by creating accounts with abbreviated names of real employees' names linked to his wife's Social Security number.

The couple made at least $7.7 million through the sale of shares and exercise of options that were illegally transferred, according to the lawsuit.

The SEC said it seeks the return of the “ill-gotten gains” as well as civil penalties against Vencent Donlan.

According to court and real-estate documents, the Donlans bought the five-bedroom home in Del Cerro in 2004 for $942,000 in cash. Earlier this year, the couple paid $655,000 in cash for a three-bedroom home in Julian.

Since owning the Del Cerro house, the couple have added a pitched roof, a wide second-story deck, a security gate and wall, extensive landscaping and other additions.

“The amount of activity, financially, is incredible,” said Sal Dauria, who lives two houses down.

“I was told they were teachers,” he said yesterday. “There is a disconnect with what normal people make in income and the number of people” the Donlans have hired to work on the house.

It was not unusual to see as many as 10 laborers arriving in the morning, Dauria said.

Vencent Donlan, reportedly a former Navy pilot, and Robin Donlan, a volunteer vice president of events for Comic-Con International, are both science fiction fans. They were married in March 2002 in a “Star Trek”-themed Las Vegas ceremony that was featured in an article in Las Vegas Weekly.

Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said yesterday that Robin Donlan has been involved with the group for many years. He said he didn't know anything about the fraud allegations against the couple...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Does your child's high school start before 8:30 a.m.? Shame on those in charge.

Teens More Alert When School Starts Later
Study Shows Later Start Time for High School Can Improve Students' Mood and Motivation
By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 6, 2010 -- A simple half-hour delay in high school start time led to a significant improvement in students' mood, alertness, and motivation, and increased their average sleep time during the week, according to a new study.

Judith A. Owens, MD, MPH, at the Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I., and colleagues studied 201 students in grades nine through 12 attending a Rhode Island high school where the class start time was changed from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for a two-month period. Students completed online surveys before the change in class time and then after.

Owens and her team found that:

* The percentage of students getting less than seven hours of sleep per night dropped by 79.4%.
* Students reporting at least eight hours of sleep per night increased from 16.4% at the start of the study to 54.7% after two months.
* The percentage of students who reported feeling at least somewhat unhappy or depressed dropped from 65.8% to 45.1%.
* The percentage of students who reported feeling annoyed or irritated throughout the day also dropped, from 84% to 62.6%.
* Reports of visiting a health center for fatigue-related symptoms decreased from 15.3% to 4.6%.
* Sleep duration increased on school nights by about 45 minutes and the average bedtime on school nights was 18 minutes earlier.

The findings are published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Time to play "Did this judge take a bribe?": Why did judge in Cyrus release 11th member of Russian spy ring?

UPDATE: Perhaps the odd actions of the judge in Cyprus were just an attempt to avoid a political crisis. The suspect probably would have been part of a spy swap if he had not been released.

ORIGINAL POST:

"Suspects arrested on the island are almost always held in custody for fear they may attempt to flee through the internationally unrecognised Turkish-run enclave of northern Cyprus. Both Turkey and Syria are only short boat rides away."

Russian spy ring suspect jumps bail in Cyprus

The Russian espionage drama intensfied tonight as the alleged paymaster in the "deep cover" spy ring failed to answer bail in Cyprus.

An arrest warrant was issued for Christopher Metsos, the 11th suspected member of the operation, after he failed to report to a police station in Larnaka, the Guardian has learned.

Metsos, 55, was arrested in Cyprus on Tuesday but, to the surprise of Cypriot police, was released on bail. Ten other accused are in custody in the US, after the FBI broke up the alleged ring on Monday.

"An arrest warrant has been issued and if found he will be arrested immediately," an officer at the police station in Larnaka told the Guardian. "He has broken his pledge to be here."

Metsos was first stopped at 9am yesterday at Larnaca airport by officers acting on an Interpol "red notice", moments before he was about to board a plane to Budapest.

Appearing before a district court judge, Metsos was told he could walk free, pending an extradition hearing within 30 days, if he posted €20,000 (£16,000) bail.

Metsos, who is thought to have been travelling on a Canadian passport, is believed to have returned immediately to his hotel in Larnaca, which he had checked out of only hours before.

Suspects arrested on the island are almost always held in custody for fear they may attempt to flee through the internationally unrecognised Turkish-run enclave of northern Cyprus. Both Turkey and Syria are only short boat rides away...

The Fourth of July minus Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence? That's what Texas conservative Christians want to celebrate

Note to Texas legislators: what about the commandment not to bear false witness? If you don't want to separate church and state, could you at least agree to separate truth and falsehood?

The Irrefutable Mr. Jefferson
By ThosPayne
Auburn Journal

Thomas Jefferson, until this year, was revered in American history textbooks as the Founding Father who wrote the Declaration of Independence. His document is the reason we celebrate the fourth of July as this country's independence day. This is a holiday to remind Americans about the history and significance of that document.

But earlier this year, Christian conservative members of the Texas Board of Education decided to push for a revision of our history by downplaying Jefferson's influence in the founding of our nation. Why? Because the notion of the "separation of church and state" has been traced to him. These religious rightists believe this country was founded as a Christian nation and decided to make their point by revising public school text books. The effect of this kind of revision of American history would be to celebrate the founding of this country as a Christian event rather than the secular event it always has been...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The American dream will die for a whole generation.

Renowned Educator Exposes Harsh Realities of High-Poverty Neighborhoods and Their Impact on Latino Young People Today

In a new book released today, Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, and researcher Laura Scheiber, expose the devastating effects of appalling schools; racism; dead-end jobs; homelessness; high crime rates; violence and drugs' and a broken legal system on Latino young people today. Based on several years of research, Levine and Scheiber contrast what urban neighborhood life was like 40 years ago when Arthur Levine grew up with the experiences of young Latinos today. The authors argue that - without comprehensive interventions to help restore today's disenfranchised children to a better, richer, and happier life - the American dream will die for a whole generation.

Arthur Levine, president, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and president emeritus, Teachers College, Columbia University

Laura Scheiber, researcher and Ph.D. candidate in Comparative and International Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Friday, July 02, 2010

Victoria Richart files new claim--my guess is that Diane Crosier at SDCOE-JPA will pay her off

You didn't think she was just going to apologize when the Court of Appeal ruled that she had ripped off taxpayers, did you?

Former MiraCosta College president Victoria Richart and her lawyers Randy Winet and Dan Shinoff seem addicted to playing power games that cost taxpayers millions. The continuing saga of these three musketeers has cost MiraCosta College over $3 million. Richart and Shinoff spent around $1.5 million to investigate $305 worth of stolen water for palm trees at MiraCosta College, and then Winet and Shinoff arranged a payoff of $1.6 million when the College wanted to fire Richart.

The California Court of Appeal says the payoff to Richart was illegal.

So do the three musketeers apologize for ripping off the taxpayers and throwing MiraCosta College into turmoil?

No. Victoria Richart has filed a new claim against MiraCosta. If Randy Winet is representing her, he should immediately become ineligible to work for SDCOE.

Now that she has filed a claim, SDCOE-Joint Powers Authority can pay her off. The previous deal was illegal because it was a severance deal that went over the legal limit. But paying off a claim for damages would not have such a limit.

My guess is that Diane Crosier at SDCOE-JPA will be only too happy to approve a payoff. Crosier is very close to Dan Shinoff, and he certainly isn't going to want to see Victoria Richart on the witness stand at a trial talking about how he advised her to conduct the Palmgate investigation.


See recent story in Voice of San Diego about Dan Shinoff's gifts to Diane Crosier


OCEANSIDE: Richart files claim against MiraCosta

By PAUL SISSON
North County Times
July 1, 2010

Former MiraCosta College President and Superintendent Victoria Munoz Richart has filed a claim against the college alleging potential damages worth more than $2 million for breach of her employment agreement, retaliation, wrongful termination and a host of other allegations.

The claim is the latest twist in a three-year legal battle over a pricey buyout Richart received when she left MiraCosta in June 2007. In a closed-door meeting held that month, the college's board of trustees agreed to give Richart a settlement of cash and benefits valued at up to $1.6 million.

The agreement led to a lawsuit by Carlsbad activist Leon Page, who argued it was an illegal gift of public funds. In November, the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with Page and ordered the lower court to reverse a previous ruling that had upheld the settlement.

A Superior Court judge will soon rule on whether Richart must return some of the money she has already been paid under the deal.

The claim against MiraCosta states that Richart is willing to return to her old job of running the community college if her previous settlement is undone.

Richart's stint at MiraCosta was mired in turmoil that started with her investigation of illegal sales from the college's horticulture department. Along the way, she ran afoul of MiraCosta's faculty senate, which vocally objected to her investigative methods...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Trying to avoid future crises in schools and the economy: we are now halfway to the goal of financial reform

The financial crisis has devastated schools and the economy--so why are Republicans fighting reform? Answer: campaign contributions. But it looks like a few Republicans care more about our economy and our democracy than they do about corporate lobbyists. Let's hope they stand firm.

The battle is only half won with the vote below in the House of Representatives. The Senate still has to agree.

This bill was hammered out less than a week ago in a marathon session.

See all posts re financial abuses.

House passes landmark financial reform bill

Andy Sullivan and Kevin Drawbaugh
Reuters
July 1, 2010

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a landmark overhaul of financial regulations but the Senate put off action until mid-July, delaying a final victory for President Barack Obama.

Still, the 237 to 192 vote in the House marked a win for Obama and his fellow Democrats, who have made the most sweeping rewrite of Wall Street rules since the 1930s a top priority in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

"It has been a long fight against the defenders of the status quo on Wall Street, but today's vote is a victory for every American who has been affected by the recklessness and irresponsibility that led to the loss of millions of jobs and trillions in wealth," Obama said in a statement.

Analysts say Obama is all but certain to get the measure on his desk eventually, but Democrats' hopes of sending him a bill to sign into law by the July 4 Independence Day holiday were dashed.

The death of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd and cold feet among Republican allies has complicated efforts to round up the votes needed in the Senate. A week-long break following the July 4 holiday means the Senate won't act until the week of July 12, at the earliest..

Obama earlier on Wednesday accused Republicans of being out of touch with the American people for opposing reforms. Others echoed his line of attack on the House floor.

"Republicans have sided with big Wall Street banks at every opportunity," said Democratic Representative Luis Guitierrez. "If it helps Wall Street banks, they favor it, but if it helps Main Street and regular Americans, they won't vote for it."...

School Budget Nearly Fails on Federal Funds Queasiness

This is a poisonous issue for schools. Many employees have been fired for insisting that the law be followed. For example, Mary Anne Weegar in Sweetwater Unified School District, and Pamela Settlegood in Oregon. I have learned through personal experience with Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego County Office of Education that school officials in San Diego and elsewhere tend to believe they are above the law whenever the law seems inconvenient. Rather than follow the law, they pay millions to lawyers to defend illegal actions. It's amazing that schools are so resistant to reform that they are able to rationalize flat-out misuse of funds. We need school officials with imagination, courage and ethics. Instead, almost certainly the board and lawyer Mark Bresee will get clean away with ignoring the law. Courts tend to back up public officials when they violate the law. For example, a jury found that Sweetwater USD should pay Mary Anne Weegar over $600,000 but the court of appeal reduced the amount to $5000. So why should school officials worry? They can do whatever they want, and just fire the whistleblowers.
School Budget Nearly Fails on Federal Funds Queasiness
Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego
Jun 30, 2010

The San Diego Unified board nearly didn't pass its budget last night because three board members said they were uneasy with the choices they made -- including the choice to use federal funding for disadvantaged students to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at its poorer schools.

Critics and a state official say the move 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 foot the bill for anyway...

100 percent of school's first class college-bound

I can understand what motivated Tim King to create this school. It must be a great feeling to have found young men who were circling the drain, and plucked them out of the vortex of failure. He didn't merely help the young men. He helped society as a whole.

100 percent of school's first class college-bound
By SHARON COHEN (AP)
June 28,2010

CHICAGO — For each boy, the new school offered an escape and a chance at a life that seemed beyond reach.

Krishaun Branch was getting D's, smoking reefer a lot, skipping school twice a week. His mother was too busy working to know what he was doing. He liked to fight and hang out in the streets; having relatives in gangs was his armor.

When a young man in suit and tie came to tell his eighth-grade class about a new high school on Chicago's South Side, Krishaun wanted no part of it — until he heard something tempting: Students would have laptops. Suddenly, he was on board...

And Urban Prep had a goal — one that seemed audacious, given that just 4 percent of the Class of 2010 was reading at or above grade level when they arrived at the school in 2006...

From the very start, Tim King had a grand plan.

"I wanted to create a school that was going to put black boys in a different place," says the founder of Urban Prep, "and in my mind, that different place needed to be college."

King faced long odds: Slightly more 40 percent of black male students in the Chicago public schools graduate high school; a little more than one in five earn a college degree in six years.

Still, on an August day in 2006 he gave members of the first class of Urban Prep a peek at the end of the rainbow. He took them on a guided tour of Northwestern University — just 25 miles away, but a foreign land to kids who had never visited a college or, in some instances, even Chicago's Loop...