Friday, November 26, 2010

A Texas jury finds Tom DeLay, former House majority leader, guilty of money laundering

DeLay convicted of money-laundering charges in campaign finance scheme
By Robert Barnes and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
November 25, 2010

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay, the Texan architect of Republican power in Congress, was convicted Wednesday of illegally plotting to funnel corporate contributions to home-state legislative candidates in 2002.

A jury in Austin found DeLay guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Punishment for the first ranges from five years to life in prison, but the former congressman from the Houston suburb of Sugar Land could receive probation.

DeLay will remain free until he is sentenced on Dec. 20.

"This case is a message from the people of the state of Texas that they want - and expect - honesty and ethics in their public officials," said Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. "All people have to abide by the law."

Reporters in the courtroom described DeLay as stunned by the verdict, which came after 19 hours of deliberation.

"This is an abuse of power," the former congressman said outside the courtroom. "It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system, and I am very disappointed in the outcome."

The conviction follows years of investigation of DeLay, 63, who came to symbolize the intersection of money and politics in Washington. He made a mission of solidifying the Republican majority in Congress, and his ability to raise campaign cash was part of his power and eventual downfall.

For a time, DeLay was the Republicans' chief vote counter and patronage dispenser, and he earned his nickname, "The Hammer," for the dictatorial style with which he commanded House Republicans - and tormented President Bill Clinton and Democrats.

Over three weeks, prosecutors presented more than 30 witnesses and volumes of documents todescribe a campaign-finance scheme that benefited Texas legislative candidates but was aimed at cementing GOP power in Congress.
Click here!

They said a political action committee that DeLay started in Texas solicited $190,000 from corporate interests and sent it to an arm of the Republican National Committee. They said that group then distributed the money to seven legislative candidates in an effort to skirt Texas law, which forbids corporate contributions to political campaigns.

Prosecutors said that the money helped the GOP win control of the Texas House and that the majority then pushed through a DeLay-organized congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Congress.

"There is nothing wrong with Republicans trying to dominate the political world," prosecutor Beverly Mathews told jurors when the trial opened. "But the means to achieve that gain must be lawful."...

DeLay, who had an extermination business before he was elected to Congress, was back in the national limelight in 2009 as a contestant on the ABC hit television show "Dancing With the Stars."

He has always said that the charges against him were politically motivated, a vendetta on the part of former Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle. But a statement to Earle in which DeLay said he had known about and sanctioned the money swap was damaging.

The former congressman later said he misspoke, telling reporters that "even if I knew about the deal, the deal is legal. So what's the conspiracy?"

Three years ago, DeLay and his attorneys briefly considered a plea bargain because of his statement. But he decided instead to hang tough.

Lead prosecutor Gary Cobb said Wednesday that the jury had acted without a political agenda, and so had his office.
clear pixel

"We thought the citizens of Travis County would see this case for what it was: a corrupt politician who was caught violating the laws of the state," Cobb said.

Five years ago, DeLay's political career began to unravel with disclosure of the details of his money-raising operation and his extensive connections to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist was eventually convicted on conspiracy, mail fraud and tax charges. Those disclosures helped undo the Republican majority in the 2006 midterm elections.

Abramoff notably paid for DeLay's airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for a golfing trip, while DeLay's former chief of staff - another lobbyist who was handsomely compensated by Abramoff - paid for some of the former congressman's expenses on that trip.

In August, after a six-year investigation, the Justice Department informed DeLay's attorneys that he would not be indicted for his long association with Abramoff, who DeLay reiterated was still "a friend of mine." That investigation had already produced guilty pleas to federal charges by DeLay's former deputy chief of staff and one of his close aides.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When she’s stumped, it becomes a teachable moment

When she’s stumped, it becomes a teachable moment

By Lisa Deaderick, UNION-TRIBUNE
November 24, 2010
Karen Jensen likes the moments in class when her students ask her a question and she doesn’t know the answer. That way, they all have to find the answer together.

“I hope that’s a model to them that if you are interested in something, if you don’t know the answer, we have the resources to go out and find out what we want to know,” she said...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Did Don't-Touch-My-Junk Guy Have the Right to Record?

Did Don't-Touch-My-Junk Guy Have the Right to Record?
November 19, 2010
by Randy Dotinga
Voice of San Diego

By now, much of the nation has heard about how an Oceanside man took a stand against intimate airport security checks last weekend at Lindbergh Field. As his cell phone surreptitiously recorded his conversation with a security officer, he entered a new phrase into the American lexicon: Don't touch my junk.

"If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested," declared 31-year-old John Tyner when told he was about to undergo a "groin check." Tyner's iPhone captured his conversations with security officers, apparently without their knowledge, and the undercover video became an internet sensation.

It looks like Tyner won't face a $10,000 fine from the Transportation Security Administration for failing to finish the airport screening process. But did he violate the state's privacy laws?

California has some of the nation's toughest regulations regarding the recording of private conversations whether they're in person or over the phone. With rare exceptions, people can't record the conversations unless both parties give permission, as a spokesman for Governor-elect Jerry Brown learned after secretly taping calls with reporters last year.

However, not every conversation is considered private under the law, said Michael Niborski, a Los Angeles media attorney.

"The key question is whether the person who's being recorded has an expectation of privacy," he said.

In a 1999 case, a state appeals court ruled that undercover journalists from Dateline NBC had a right to videotape a conversation at an outdoor restaurant patio without consent. The court ruled that two people who took part in the conversation had no right to a private conversation in a public restaurant. Nor, it ruled, was the taping "highly offensive to a reasonable person."

In another case, a court said a reporter had the right to secretly tape record conversations in a busy dial-a-psychic call center, Niborski said.

What about a security checkpoint at Lindbergh Field? Is it private?

"Given the fact that there are cameras and recording devices in airports and TSA officials are probably used to having their actions be recorded, the officials probably do not have an expectation that what they say and do is confidential," Niborski said.

However, he said, "if they were in a back room having a private discussion and the guy had his phone turned on in his briefcase, it would be a slightly different analysis."

The fact that the security officers work for the government is another point in Tyner's favor, said Kimberley Isbell, a staff attorney with the Citizen Media Law Project. Recently, a judge in Maryland — where Bill Clinton sex scandal figure Linda Tripp got in trouble for secretly taping phone conversations — ruled that police officers could be recorded during traffic stops, she said.

There's yet another reason that Tyner may be in the clear, said Terry Francke, head of the Californians Aware watchdog organization. "It would be particularly cheeky, if you'll pardon the expression, for TSA officials to assert their privacy rights to talk about groping airline passengers' privates."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Car czar to Cuomo---I'm too important to be sued

Just because he's never been publicly accused before doesn't mean he never did anything wrong.

“This episode is the first time during 35 years in business that anyone has questioned my ethics or integrity.” “I intend to clear my name by defending myself vigorously against this politically motivated lawsuit.”

"Mr. Rattner now has a lot to say as he spins his friends in the press, but when he was questioned under oath about his pension fund dealings he was much less talkative, taking the Fifth and refusing to answer questions 68 different times."
RICHARD BAMBERGER, a spokesman for Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.

Financier Is Sued by Cuomo in Fraud Case

November 19, 2010

Steven L. Rattner, the financier who oversaw the federal rescue of the auto industry, was formally accused by New York’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, on Thursday of engaging in a kickback scheme involving the state’s pension system.

On the same day that Mr. Rattner was being celebrated on Wall Street for his role in turning around General Motors, he found himself embroiled in a bitter public battle with Mr. Cuomo, he settled similar charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission and he escalated a separate legal fight against his former investment firm.

Even as a resurgent G.M. went public again in a huge stock sale on Thursday, Mr. Cuomo sought to banish Mr. Rattner for life from the securities business in New York.

The civil fraud claims, which Mr. Rattner fiercely contested, came within moments of news that the financier had settled a related dispute with the S.E.C. In that case, Mr. Rattner accepted a two-year ban from certain Wall Street businesses and, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, agreed to pay a $6.2 million fine...

Some people are too important to expect them to follow the law

Driver kills boy on bike, sues boy’s parents
by Sarah Goodyear
15 Nov 2010

[Story #1]

Woke up this morning to a truly depressing story in my Twitter feed. It's about a man serving a 10-year sentence for killing a 14-year-old boy with his car in Prospect, Conn. The boy, Matthew Kenney, was riding his bike in the road when, according to prosecutors, David Weaving tried to overtake another vehicle at 83 miles per hour in a 45-hour zone. He was convicted of manslaughter in the case.

Now Weaving is suing the boy's family for not making their son wear a helmet (bike helmets are mandatory for kids under the age of 15 in Connecticut, but not wearing one does not constitute a violation under state law).

That's right. The man is suing the parents of the boy he was convicted of killing for "contributory negligence."

Before killing Kenney with his car, Weaving was convicted four times for driving drunk. He got his license back every time...

[Story #2]

...[A] high-end financial manager named Martin Joel Erzinger... allegedly hit a man on a bicycle with his car and then fled the scene. Erzinger was allowed by the Eagle County District Attorney to avoid a felony charge in the case:

"Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it," Hurlbert said. "When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay."

This despite the fact that the man allegedly hit by Erzinger, Dr. Steven Milo, had let the DA know that money wasn't an issue as far as he was concerned:

Milo wrote in a letter to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert that the case "has always been about responsibility, not money."

"Mr. Erzinger struck me, fled and left me for dead on the highway," Milo wrote. "Neither his financial prominence nor my financial situation should be factors in your prosecution of this case."

Milo was left with spinal cord injuries, bleeding on the brain, and damage to his knee. Erzinger was left facing misdemeanor charges...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Not Turning Over Public Records Illegal?

November 18, 2010

Is Not Turning Over Public Records Illegal?

Liam Dillon
Voice of San Diego

This week, I've been through a rigmarole with San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso, his staff and council administrators about a now-withdrawn request Hueso made for $11,000 in employee bonuses.

Hueso asked Mayor Jerry Sanders' office in writing for the bonuses. But when I made a California Public Records Act request for any documents requesting additional pay in the City Council offices, Council Administration Director Lori Witzel told me that none existed. Her denial came even though she had written a cover memo to Hueso's bonus request.

The California Public Records Act requires disclosure of all government documents aside from a few limited exemptions.

I wanted to know if there was any penalty for not following the state public records law.

There's no criminal penalty for not turning over information requested under the Public Records Act, said Terry Francke, head of watchdog organization Californians Aware. Civil penalties, Francke said, only would apply if the denial of a record's existence would leave the requestor defenseless against serious harm. An example: not turning over a document that could have been used to stop a foreclosure on the requester's home.

"Otherwise, lying to the public about the existence of a government record may be immoral or unethical, but it has never been made illegal," Francke said.

For the record, both Witzel and Hueso's spokeswoman Michelle Ganon told me that they didn't believe that the bonus documents were subject to my request. You can judge for yourself. Here's my request. Here's the response. Here are the bonus documents.

It is, however, a misdemeanor crime under the California Government Code for a public official to knowingly make false statements in writing to the public. But Francke said he's seen "no indication that it's ever been used to punish such informal communications as these."

Francke added that Californians Aware sponsored legislation in 2006 that would have made dishonest responses to public records requests subject to substantial fines, but the bill was vetoed.

An email to the lawyers who are suing me for defamation

From Maura Larkins
to [WXYZ law firm]
date Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 1:06 PM
subject Are the clever folks at [WXYZ] trying to get Google to censor my blog?

When I got your email [yesterday] asking for extra time to respond to my opening brief, I knew that you wouldn't stop playing tricks just because I did you a favor. So I wasn't surprised to get some information today leading me to believe that you're using the extra time I gave you to complain to Google about my blog, rather than working on your opposition. You haven't got a leg to stand on constitutionally, so you figure you'll have to resort to other methods of shutting me up.

Here's the thing...When an injunction is appealed, it's mandatory aspect is stayed. So I don't have to go through my site erasing stuff. You might want to mention this to Google, unless your goal is to trick them.

Here's the hit from Google headquarters that made me suspect there was a complaint:

Domain Name ? (Commercial)
IP Address ? (Google)
ISP Google
State California
City Mountain View
Time of Visit Nov 18 2010 9:34:39 am
Visit Length 5 minutes 7 seconds
(1) 307

Here's the email I got yesterday from this law firm:

to Maura Larkins
from [WXYZ law firm]
date Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 11:21 AM
subject Stipulation for extension of time

Good morning Ms. Larkins,
We have received your appellate opening brief and your appendix. However, due to the upcoming holiday and because of other timing issues, we respectfully request that you stipulate to a 30 day extension to file our responsive brief, pursuant to California Rules of Court Rule 8.212. Should you agree to such a stipulation, we would stipulate to grant you additional time to file your reply brief, if needed. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Health care for me, not for you: incoming GOP congressman wants his free government healthcare now!

Nov 16, 2010
Incoming GOP congressman wants his free government healthcare now!
By Alex Pareene

Representative-elect Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican and anesthesiologist, beat his incumbent Democratic opponent by campaigning against the terror of universal socialized medicine. Despite the fact that his opponent voted against healthcare reform, Harris insisted that once elected he would vote to repeal healthcare reform. Now he is elected! And he was shocked to learn that his free, taxpayer-funded, government-run healthcare won't kick in until 28 days after he's sworn in. This made him upset!

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning.”

Then he came up with a pretty good idea: "Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap...." Yeah -- why can't people just purchase health insurance from the government? Oh, right, because of Joe Lieberman and every Republican in Congress.

"'This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,' his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO." It's funny because lots of people have worked places where you don't get coverage any day you're employed.

Was Michigan Teacher Wrong to Eject Students for Anti-Gay Remarks?

The First Amendment doesn't permit yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Nor does it permit establishment of religion. So does it entitle high school students to make statements that might cause others to harm themselves, particularly when those statements are based on religion? Hmmm. Still, if I had been this teacher, I might have asked the students not to create an atmosphere in which their religion might negatively impact the health of other students, but I don't think I'd have ejected them.

Was Michigan Teacher Wrong to Eject Students for Anti-Gay Remarks?
by Tom Henderson
Nov 16th 2010

Someone was bullied in a Michigan classroom on Oct. 20. Exactly who was the victim and who was the bully, however, depends on your point of view.

Popular opinion -- at least as it was expressed at a community forum held Nov. 8 -- says Howell High School teacher Jay McDowell was in the right.

McDowell was suspended for a day, his supporters say, because he defended gay and lesbian students against hate speech. However, district officials say he violated the First Amendment rights of students.

Both sides, though, generally agree on the sequence of events that day.

Many Howell High School students came to class wearing purple T-shirts for Spirit Day, a national effort to oppose the bullying of gay and lesbian young people.

However, a female student came to McDowell's class wearing a Confederate flag belt buckle, instead. McDowell told her to remove it. She did so without defiance.

Then a male student asked why she was not allowed to wear a Confederate flag when other students were allowed to wear purple as a political statement. After McDowell explained his position, he asked the student if he had changed his mind.

The student said no. He still believed homosexuality violated his religious beliefs. At that point, McDowell ejected him from the classroom. Another student then spoke in support of the first student. He, too, was ejected.

Kim Root, a spokesperson for the Howell School District, tells ParentDish, officials learned all this after a thorough investigation. The students were not acting angry or belligerent, she says.

Even McDowell himself confirms this in interviews with the Associated Press and other news organizations.

Root says the district investigation was prompted by complaints from parents about how McDowell handled the students. She says officials suspended him after determining he violated district policies that protect students' freedom of speech.

The incident comes on the heels of highly publicized suicides by gay young people, suicides apparently prompted by bullying.

Emotions were running high at the Nov. 15 community forum before the Howell School Board.

Graeme Taylor, a 14-year-old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., came to speak in support of McDowell.

"When you hear of things like Dr. King's speech that one day he wanted his grandchildren, his posterity, to not be judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, I hope that one day we, too, can be judged by the content of our character and not by who we love," he says in a video recording of the meeting.

"There is a silent Holocaust out there where an estimated 6 million gay people every year kill themselves," he adds...

It's time to tax the rich: Clinton did it and the economy took off

It's time to tax the rich
Contrary to the Republican mantra, Clinton did it and the economy took off.
LA Times
By Moshe Adler
November 17, 2010

The final two years of the George H.W. Bush presidency brought a creeping recession, with an unemployment rate that increased from 5.6% in 1990 to 7.5% in 1992. In June 1992, just five months before the elections, the rate reached 7.8%, and Bush lost his reelection bid ("It's the economy, stupid").

What did the new president do about the economy? President Clinton in 1993 proposed to raise the highest marginal tax rate immediately from 31% to 39.6%. In a Wall Street Journal article, Martin Feldstein, the former chief economic advisor to President Reagan and then as well as now a professor of economics at Harvard, opined that "Mr. Clinton's proposal to raise the marginal tax rates of high-income individuals would hurt incentives, weaken the economy and waste investment dollars."

This was, of course, a reincarnation of the GOP's trickle-down theory — tax cuts for the rich would eventually benefit the middle and lower classes. But Republicans did not let the fact that the Reagan tax cuts had decimated government services and created huge deficits stand in their way. Claiming that it was wrong to raise taxes on the rich in the middle of a recession, every one of them, in both houses, voted against it. Forty-one Democratic representatives and six Democratic senators joined them. The tax increase passed by only the narrowest of margins. In the House the vote was 218 to 216, while in the Senate the increase passed with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Al Gore.

And what were the consequences? In the seven years that followed, the unemployment rate decreased steadily, every single year, until it reached 4% in 2000...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Murkowski Says Palin Lacks "Intellectual Curiosity"

Murkowski Says Palin Lacks "Intellectual Curiosity"
New York Times
Michael D. Shear
Nov. 16, 2010

Of all the risks former Alaska governor Sarah Palin took during the midterm elections, trying to oust Republican Lisa Murkowski from the Senate might have been the biggest...

Oceanside's John Tyner faces $11K fine for refusing TSA screening

I don't think this man will be fined since he was mistakenly escorted out of the screening area by security personnel, but he did us all a favor by educating the public--and terrorists!--about the federal requirement to complete the screening process once someone has started it.

Man faces $11K fine for refusing TSA screening
Chicago Tribune
November 15, 2010

An Oceanside man who blogged about a confrontation with security officials at the San Diego airport could be slapped with a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for violating federal law, a Transportation Security Administration official said Monday.

"What he's done, he's violated federal law and federal regulations which states once you enter and start the process you have to complete it," said Michael Aguilar.

Aguilar, the TSA's federal security director in San Diego, told reporters at a news conference outside Lindbergh Field Monday, that the agency has opened an investigation, which could result in a civil penalty because the man refused to complete the security scanning process.

"Once a passenger has entered into that screening process, he cannot opt out of it,'' Aguilar said. "We conduct our screenings under the auspices of the 4th amendment...constitution of the 4th amendment that allows us to do administrative screenings and searches."

John Tyner, a 31-year-old software programmer, was headed to South Dakota for a vacation when TSA officials directed him to a full-body scanner in the airport security line.

He refused the full body scan and opted for a traditional scan and pat-down, Aguilar said. However, Tyner refused to submit to a "groin check,'' which led TSA agents to eventually deny him the ability to board his flight.

According to Tyner, he was escorted from the security area and was given a full refund for the ticket at his airline's ticket counter.

After getting the refund, Tyner was approached by a TSA official who said he must submit to the full screening process before leaving. Tyner said he was threatened with a civil lawsuit if he left the airport, but he was also told that no one was forcing him to stay. He then left.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Schenectady is not alone: school districts tolerate bullies

Petty Tyrant
This American Life
In Schenectady, NY, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night.

Judge says Raucci took pleasure in victims' suffering and fear
Jun 9, 2010
All Over Albany

In sentencing Steven Raucci to 23 years to life, judge Polly Hoye told Raucci the evidence against him was "voluminous and convincing and, at times, even overwhelming." And she said, "You took pleasure in [your victim's] suffering and fear." She also said: "I hope you spend up enough time incarcerated to understand the destructive path your life has taken." Raucci's attorney read statement written by his client which said of the sentence: "As far as I'm concerned, this is a death sentence for something I did not do." Schenectady County DA Bob Carney said it's unlikely Raucci will get parole after 23 years. [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [YNN] [CBS6]

Sally Smith argues for free public education for all students

"When a student can take a math class without having to tell his teacher that "I can't afford a calculator" because every student is given a calculator, when no student has to draw out graph paper with a wooden ruler because his family doesn't have money to buy a pad of graph paper, when a student does not have to take his clay art piece and lump it back into a ball of clay and give it back while his wealthier peers pay the $25 and get to fire and paint their clay creation then we can talk about "salaries for teachers in San Diego are 32nd out of 37 school districts in the county."

Nov. 13, 2010
Voice of San Diego
Comments on "What is teacher tenure, anyway?"

Posted by Sally Smith:

...Annually, I hear complaints that teachers must buy supplies for their classrooms. That would not be the case if SDUSD budgeted needed teaching supplies first. Is it asking too much for an educational entity to budget for pencils and paper and calculators? It is the law - Hartzell v. Connell...

The burden of providing a steady stream of revenue for school supplies and activities has been shouldered by families - currently, suffering immensely in this poor economy - and no one bothered to inform them that their children were entitled to a free public education. Illegal school fees are still being collected despite staff being informed that they are violating the law. Some parents have paid the equivalent of a year of college tuition in illegal fees.

To be successful members of society, our children must be provided with an equal playing field in our public education system. All adults should insure that no child is labeled as a deadbeat or excluded from any school course or activity. Every child should enter San Diego Unified School District and never have to be the child looking in the window, empty handed, at the other children playing with the toys their wealthy parents could afford. For 26 years, everyone has looked the other way and 'wink,wink' collected "donations" and really, you say "Shame on you" to me?

When a student can take a math class without having to tell his teacher that "I can't afford a calculator" because every student is given a calculator, when no student has to draw out graph paper with a wooden ruler because his family doesn't have money to buy a pad of graph paper, when a student does not have to take his clay art piece and lump it back into a ball of clay and give it back while his wealthier peers pay the $25 and get to fire and paint their clay creation then we can talk about "salaries for teachers in san diego are 32nd out of 37 school districts in the county.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why is it so hard to fire a bad teacher?

The current evaluation system for teachers needs to be fixed whether or not anyone is ever fired. How can ineffective teachers be helped if no one bothers to find out what they're doing wrong?

Emily's story notes that an attorney for school districts admits that "it is even harder if a teacher has taught for a long time, especially if they have a history of good evaluations." Why are bad teachers getting good evaluations, Mr. Weiler? Because teacher evaluations are a joke! They could be improved even without using student test scores simply by setting up a system of observations by professionals from outside the school. School campuses are highly political, and principals are frequently afraid of the powerful teacher cliques in their schools. Political loyalty often leads to good evaluations for bad teachers, just as it often leads to campaigns to get rid of good teachers.

Also, schools could save huge amounts of money on teacher training programs if they found out which teachers actually know what they're doing and are capable of training other teachers.

Explainer: What Is Teacher Tenure, Anyway?
November 10, 2010
by Emily Alpert
Voice of San Diego

The lights went up in the Hillcrest movie theater.

Parents and business moguls murmured about Waiting for Superman, a film that took teachers unions to task for failing schools. The movie aimed some of its harshest barbs at teacher tenure, arguing that it makes bad teachers impossible to fire.

Bill Freeman, the teachers union president, was there to persuade them it was wrong. A business group had invited Freeman onto a panel after the film. The room was tense as he sat down below the darkened screen. Freeman wanted to debunk the whole movie, a film he believes scapegoats teachers.

He made an argument that just seemed to baffle the crowd.

Teachers here don't have tenure, Freeman argued. Tenure doesn't exist.

Welcome to probably the most toxic topic in schools. It's so polarized that educators even disagree over what to even call it. California law actually calls it "permanent status," which is why Freeman balked at the word.

Here's how it works:

It's a high-stakes decision that's made in a relatively short period of time.

A new teacher usually must spend two years in the classroom before becoming a permanent employee. During that probationary period, a teacher can be let go at the end of the year for almost any reason.

California has a shorter probation period than most other states.

"It's pretty hairy deciding someone's career. People tend to be conservative," said Bruce McGirr, school administrators union director. "Then you see a teacher three or four years down the line and you say, 'Who was the idiot who hired this person?'"

Some cull out poor performers more aggressively than others: Grossmont Union High School District estimated it turns away 7 percent of probationary teachers. Sweetwater denied tenure to 5 percent last year. In San Diego Unified, only two probationary teachers weren't given tenure, about 1 percent.

It hasn't always been that sparing. San Diego Unified once cut 38 teachers in a single year by one count.

It's once a teacher becomes permanent that they get harder to fire.

California requires school districts to give teachers who are accused of poor performance at least 90 days to fix it. They get less time if they're accused of "unprofessional conduct" such as being drunk in class or harassing a coworker.

Fired teachers can take their case to a panel that includes one educator chosen by the union, one chosen by the school district and an administrative law judge. Teachers can then appeal to Superior Court and an appeals court. School districts are reluctant to press cases they might not win: If the district loses a case against teachers, it must pay their legal fees.

Labor leaders dislike calling it "tenure," which refers to job protections for university professors. Tenure is supposed to give professors total academic freedom. Teachers don't have that.

Critics of the system argue that despite the differences, it still amounts to the same thing.

"Imagine you put in a couple of good years and you're guaranteed a good job for the rest of your life. Why should teachers have that?" asked Larry Rosenstock, CEO of the High Tech High charter schools.


It isn't impossible to fire a permanent teacher, but it can take time and money.

Long before the school board votes to fire a teacher, principals need to back up a case against them by documenting what they're doing wrong. Sometimes that's easy: Teachers accused of serious abuses or crimes, such as molesting a child, are ejected from the classroom immediately while the district or police investigate.

It can be much more difficult if a principal believes a teacher is ineffective, apathetic or lazy. Clifford Weiler, an attorney for school districts, said it is even harder if a teacher has taught for a long time, especially if they have a history of good evaluations.

McGirr estimated that building a successful case against an ineffective teacher takes two or three years and at least 20 evaluations, even though the rules don't require it.

Labor attorney Fern Steiner said it can be done in a year, but principals usually take longer.

Time stops some principals from even trying. "Administrators are incredibly busy," said Rich Gibson, a professor emeritus of education at San Diego State University. He argues that tenure is reasonable and doesn't bar principals from firing teachers, but many principals have no idea how to do it.

Principals and superintendents who oppose tenure say the exacting process and high burden of proof go too far. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported that one teacher allegedly told a boy who tried to commit suicide to cut deeper. Another stashed porn in his desk. Both protested their firings and won.

Most tenure rules are in state law.

Local school districts also sign agreements with their unions, which can complicate the process. In San Diego Unified, for instance, a principal must meet with a struggling teacher, create a plan to help them improve, and give them at least 50 work days to shape up before a final evaluation.

If they don't do that properly, their evaluation can be overturned.


Now here's what can happen at a school without tenure: Two years ago, almost all of the teachers at the struggling King-Chavez Arts Academy were dismissed after test scores had stagnated. Teachers were stunned and said it was unfair because they got little explanation and little help before they were cut loose.

Unions say the rules are strict for good reason and prevent principals from making rash decisions or not spelling out reasons for a firing. "It protects whistleblowers. Schools just can't retaliate and say, 'You're gone,'" said Chula Vista teacher Jim Groth, a California Teachers Association board member.

Firings are rare in local school districts: No permanent teachers were fired in Grossmont, Sweetwater or Poway schools last year.

In San Diego Unified, only 17 out of more than 7,000 teachers were dismissed over the past five years. More than half of them were employees who just didn't show up.

Teachers unions and school district officials alike argue that the numbers are deceptive, since many faltering teachers leave on their own.

For instance, in 2003, 16 out of 18 San Diego Unified teachers who were warned that they would be fired for poor performance decided to resign instead, according to a University of San Diego study. The others were fired.

A small number of teachers are paid to resign to avoid firings. Teacher attrition tends to be high anyway, but research is unclear on whether it tends to be good or bad teachers who leave.

Weakening tenure is in vogue with some reformers and the Obama administration. Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek, who champions tenure reform, argues that just firing the worst teachers could put U.S. schools near the top worldwide. Other states are trying to make it harder to get tenure, including tying it to student achievement.

Ken Futernick, who directs a school turnaround center, argues retaining more teachers and helping them improve would do more to help schools than firing.

While Waiting for Superman has stoked the debate, it has stayed theoretical for now. "The chances of changing it are not very realistic. Even if you did change it," said Frank Kemerer, a University of San Diego education law professor, "what would you change it to?"

A woman beloved for speaking out is freed in Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi released

Burma democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi released
The Associated Press
November 13, 2010

Myanmar democracy heroine Aung San Suu Kyi tasted freedom Saturday for the first time in 7 1/2 years, as jubilant supporters stormed the lakeside compound that was her home and prison minutes after the country's military rulers authorized her release.

After the national police chief read Suu Kyi the official order, several thousand supporters at her residence began singing the national anthem when the Nobel Peace Prize laureate poked her head over the gate.

Wearing a traditional Burmese jacket, Suu Kyi was given bouquets of flowers from admirers. She removed one and put it in her hair as the crowd clapped and cheered.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Einstein Started Solving Its Math Problem

I have long believed that too many teachers teach kids math formulas instead of basic concepts.

Why do they do that? Because they don't understand math concepts! Over the years I heard quite a few of my fellow elementary school teachers complaining about how they couldn't do the sixth grade math that their own children were doing. Actually, the teachers were bragging more than complaining. Rather than studying their child's math book, the cool teachers bonded over the incomprehensibility of the problems. They seemed to think the curriculum should be made easier. But sixth-grade math wasn't where the problem began. A teacher once stood up in a staff meeting in Chula Vista and declared that no one on the staff could pass the the test she had just given to her fourth grade class. Well, I think that is a statement that should be tested. Teachers should be held accountable for their ability to understand basic math concepts. We don't need to spend millions on standardized tests. Why don't principals simply hand out math tests once a year to teachers, and grade the tests themselves?

How San Diego Unified's Math Scores Suffer

November 16, 2010
by Emily Alpert

I wrote last week about how Einstein Academy and its sister middle school boosted algebra scores by changing how math is taught earlier on.

Before it figured out what to do, though, the charter school noticed a familiar pattern: Its algebra scores on state tests were surprisingly low compared to its stellar scores in elementary school math. A similar pattern exists throughout San Diego Unified schools:

How Einstein Started Solving Its Math Problem
November 11, 2010
by Emily Alpert

The math scores at Einstein Academy didn't add up. Kids aced math in the younger grades at the South Park school, a respected charter with enviable test scores.

Yet when they hit algebra, their scores plummeted. Three years ago, just 9 percent of eighth graders in its sister middle school were proficient in algebra on state tests — even kids who seemed to be math whizzes before.

Instead of jumping on algebra and assuming that something was amiss in eighth grade, Einstein stepped back and examined its whole math curriculum from kindergarten up.

What it found was surprising. The problem started much earlier than eighth grade, back when kids were acing math. Einstein's students were developing too many shortcuts and not enough understanding. While that had worked in the short term, it ultimately shortchanged kids.

To tackle the problem, Einstein revamped its whole approach to teaching math last year. Its algebra scores have already jumped, a case study for hundreds of other San Diego County schools struggling with the same problem...

Judge Salcido to resign after public censure

Harold Coleman Jr. is incorrect when he states in the story below that "voters returned her to office believing that she was fit for another term." I didn't think Salcido was fit--I just thought that her opponents were less fit. I would have voted against Salcido if I'd thought that there was a preferable replacement candidate. I now feel vindicated in my decision. I hope that one day soon we will stop having elections for judges. Judges shouldn't be worrying about pleasing voters or campaign donors. They should be applying the law without regard to the popularity of their decisions or the desires of those who give money to their campaigns.

See all DeeAnn Salcido posts.
See all bad judges posts.

Judge Salcido to resign after public censure
State Commission on Judicial Performance had accused her of 39 instances of misconduct
By Greg Moran
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 10, 2010

San Diego Superior Court Judge DeAnn M. Salcido will resign from the bench and accept being censured by the state judicial discipline agency for a series of comments that were alternately mocking, rude and snarky to litigants, lawyers and court staff.

Salcido agreed to 39 instances of misconduct brought by the Commission on Judicial Performance, including that she used her El Cajon courtroom to audition for a hoped-for reality television show. She also will never be allowed to hold judicial office again.

The agreement approved Wednesday avoids a public hearing that would have occurred early next year.

The public censure is the second most serious punishment, behind removal from office, that the commission can impose.

The panel said that from April 2009 to April 2010, Salcido kept up a running commentary from the bench. After finding out that one man with mental health problems was hearing voices, she said, “You’re going to tell me if they say ‘hurt the judge, hurt the judge.’ ” She once encouraged the audience to chant “woo-woo-woo” when she was questioning a defendant and led them in reading aloud a motivational sign posted in her courtroom.

Few escaped her commentary. She referred to court staff as “cucumbers,” and belittled Richard Longman, a public defender, as the “slowest public defender we have” and “Mr. Federal Case.”...

In its censure order, the commission came down harshly on Salcido, saying her conduct made a mockery of the judicial system and demonstrated a “temperament ill-suited for judicial office.”...

Joel Burns tells gay teens "it gets better"

Watch video: a message to teens who are being bullied.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Former Glaxo Lawyer Indicted

I don't think our Judge Judith Hayes of San Diego is going to be happy about this. The Justice Department has indicted a lawyer, Lauren C. Stevens of Durham, N.C.. Hayes doesn't even want lawyers to be criticized on the Internet, much less indicted for concealing evidence and obstructing justice.

Here's what our Judge Hayes had to say on the subject to a woman who criticized a law firm on the Internet:

"Take this law firm off the yourself some trouble. A lawyer does what a lawyer does in every case, and if we had people putting up websites for every lawyer they didn't like we'd have so many websites the Internet would be boggled, if that is something that can happen electronically."
--Court Reporter's transcript April 6, 2009 Dept. 68 San Diego Superior Court

Note to Judge Hayes: The Internet seems to be doing just fine despite the burden of the millions of people who express their views online. What would happen if every victim decided to expose wrongdoing by lawyers? I think the result would be a more reliable justice system in which lawyers turn over evidence instead of hiding it.

November 9, 2010
Former Glaxo Lawyer Indicted
New York Times

A former vice president and associate general counsel for the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has been indicted on charges of making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into illegal drug marketing, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

The criminal charges are part of the government’s long-promised crackdown on individual executives for their roles in pharmaceutical company cases, which have resulted in billions of dollars in fines and payments by the companies.

Lauren C. Stevens of Durham, N.C., is accused of lying to the Food and Drug Administration in a series of letters in 2003 denying the company had promoted a drug for off-label uses, according to federal prosecutors. She had claimed the company did not have promotional slides the F.D.A. had sought during its investigation, the indictment said...

Districts Try Out Revamped Teacher-Pay Systems

November 9, 2010
Districts Try Out Revamped Teacher-Pay Systems
By Stephen Sawchuk
Education Week

A handful of districts, some with the approval of their local teachers’ unions, are experimenting with alternatives to the fundamental components that govern teachers’ base-pay raises.

Ranging from a long-standing plan in Eagle County, Colo., to a contract ratified earlier this year by teachers in the Pittsburgh district, the systems tie raises more closely to classroom evaluations, rather than granting automatic increases for each year of service or the completion of an advanced degree.

The moves have generated some strife as well. Eagle County officials overhauled their plan recently, and teachers in the 82,000-student Baltimore school system last month rejected a tentative contract that would have codified the changes to their pay system.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Are parents cheating with homework helpers?

Are parents cheating with homework helpers? Not unless the helpers are doing it wrong. Some kids will simply get failing grades and fail to get an education if they don't get help with focusing on homework. They shouldn't be deprived of an education because they don't yet have self-discipline. In fact, they shouldn't be deprived of an education if they have ADD and won't have self-discipline until well into adulthood. Of course, the helper shouldn't do too much for the student, and any sensible person will do it right.

Are parents cheating with homework helpers?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 8, 2010
by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

The New York Times had a fascinating story about a new trend in parents hiring homework helpers/monitors to help their kids get through their homework. They’re not necessarily subject tutors. They are more there to help with organizational and motivational issues and to make sure the homework is done by the time the parents get home.

The indication from the story is that parents are often at work and can’t be there to make sure the homework gets done. Having the homework helper gets the homework done in the afternoons and allows the family to enjoy dinner and a happy evening without fighting over what is left to accomplish.

From The New York Times:

“As schools have piled on expectations and career paths have sucked in both mothers and fathers, this niche industry is catering to “students who are capable of doing the work,” but “need someone there who can just be there with them to consistently do the work in a regular manner,” said Mike Wallach, who along with Ms. Kraglievich runs Central Park Tutors.”

“But it has also led some educators to question whether this trend might simply be a subcontracted form of “helicopter parenting,” depriving children of the self-reliance they will need later in life.”

“ ‘I think it really came about as a result of very, very busy parents who needed some additional care given for their children after school and saw the opportunity to meld that with some academic support,’ said Robert Lauder, the principal of Friends Seminary, a Manhattan private school. But, he said, ‘with any kind of support, there is the possibility of it becoming a crutch.’ ”

Besides being concerned about the help becoming a crutch another worry is the homework helper doing the work for the kids.

Some helpers in the story were earning $100 an hour. Other parents were advertising to pay between $15 to $30 an hour for this help.

I’ve recently met a nanny who is basically doing this for her family. She gets the kids from school and deals with all the same homework issues I am dealing with. She has to cajole them to get started, make sure they are doing it and that it is actually right. She even gets calls from the teacher. When the parents get home the fighting over the homework is usually done and they get to enjoy happy time with their kids.

I told her we are re-writing her resume to include all this. She’s not just taking “care” of the kids. She’s doing one of the hardest parenting tasks there is!

So what do you think of homework helpers? Are these normally parents or day care workers in regular families? Would these services be worth the money for working parents whose kids are too old for day care and would just be home not doing their homework? Would it avoid potential fights?

Is the homework helper like a teacher where they will work harder for them than for you? Does it keep your relationship with the child clean and fight free so you can enjoy your dinner and evenings together? Are parents shirking their own involvement in their child’s academic development?

At what point should kids have these organizational and self-motivational skills down for themselves?

States face huge deficits; Now in Power, G.O.P. Vows Cuts in State Budgets

Now in Power, G.O.P. Vows Cuts in State Budgets
November 7, 2010
New York Times

States face huge deficits, even after several grueling years of them, and just as billions of dollars in stimulus money from Washington is drying up.

With some of these new Republican state leaders having taken the possibility of tax increases off the table in their campaigns, deep cuts in state spending will be needed...

Doing It Again

New York Times
November 7, 2010

“You’re right,” said Mr. Bernanke, “we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

Famous last words. For we are, in fact, doing it again.

It’s true that things aren’t as bad as they were during the worst of the Depression. But that’s not saying much. And as in the 1930s, every proposal to do something to improve the situation is met with a firestorm of opposition and criticism. As a result, by the time the actual policy emerges, it’s watered down to such an extent that it’s almost guaranteed to fail.

We’ve already seen this happen with fiscal policy: fearing opposition in Congress, the Obama administration offered an inadequate plan, only to see the plan weakened further in the Senate. In the end, the small rise in federal spending was effectively offset by cuts at the state and local level, so that there was no real stimulus to the economy.

Now the same thing is happening to monetary policy.

The case for a more expansionary policy by the Fed is overwhelming. Unemployment is disastrously high, while U.S. inflation data over the past few years almost perfectly match the early stages of Japan’s relentless slide into corrosive deflation...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Obama is now willing to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy

November 7, 2010
Obama on "60 Mins": "Basis for Conversation" to Extend Tax Cuts for Wealthy
CBS News

Days after the Republican Party regained the House majority, President Barack Obama tells "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft that there is now "a basis for a conversation" over extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rachel Maddow on suspended Keith Olbermann: MSNBC should reinstate him

MSNBC ends suspension of host Keith Olbermann
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 8, 2010

Keith Olbermann's "indefinite" suspension from MSNBC turns out to be definitely short: two days.

The liberal host will be back on the air Tuesday, the cable news network said Sunday night. Which means that Olbermann's punishment for violating NBC's policy against making contributions to political candidates amounted to being taken off the air for only two shows, on Friday and on Monday...

Rachel Maddow on suspended Keith Olbermann: MSNBC should reinstate him
BY Christina Boyle
November 6th 2010

Rachel Maddow came to the defense of her suspended MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann, saying network chiefs have made their point and the "Countdown" host should be reinstated.

Maddow also sought to dispel claims that MSNBC is a left-wing version of Fox News, saying the Murdoch-owned broadcaster has a history of "not just giving money to candidates, but actively endorsing campaigns and raising millions of dollars for politicians and political parties."

"Their network is run as a political operation. Ours isn't," Maddow said during the final segment of her show Friday. "Yeah, Keith's a liberal, and so am I. But we're not a political operation - Fox is. We're a news operation."...

Friday, November 05, 2010

'Non-Toxic' Scented Products Emit Toxic Chemicals

'Non-Toxic' Scented Products Emit Toxic Chemicals
By Emily Sohn
Discovery Channel

From hair products to laundry detergents to diapers, we live in a world of fragrance that might be making us sick, suggests a new study, even when those scents come from products that claim to be natural and pure.

In an analysis of 25 of the most commonly used scented products -- including ones labeled "organic," "natural" or "non-toxic" -- scientists identified at least 133 chemicals wafting off of them. A quarter of those chemicals were classified as hazardous or toxic. Virtually none were listed on product labels.

Along with prior evidence that nearly a third of Americans develop headaches, breathing problems and other symptoms when exposed to scented products, the new findings suggest that efforts to smell nice threaten both your health and the health of people around you...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Justices appear skeptical of violent video game law

Justices appear skeptical of violent video game law
Supreme Court justices raised specter of censored fairy tales, rap music
By Stephen Totilo

The Supreme Court justices appeared highly skeptical of the State of California's arguments today that certain violent video games should be illegal to buy, questioning whether such exceptions would need to be applied to rap music and even Grimm's fairy tales.

The justices were hearing arguments in California vs. the Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, a five year battle in the courts that so far has tilted in favor of the video game industry...

Who saved the day in Yemen bomb plot? Once again, a Muslim.

Jabr al-Faifi provided the tip that led to the thwarting of the Yemen bomb plot
Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Who saved the day in Yemen bomb plot? Once again, a Muslim.
By Dan Murphy
November 2, 2010

One of the key lessons emerging from the Yemen bomb plot is that, in the shadowy world of tracking militants and winnowing out rumors from the real thing, some of the most vital intelligence comes from countries and individuals in the Muslim world.

To be sure, the failure of what US, British, and Yemeni officials say was a plot by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to deliver its bombs is the latest in a long string of militant efforts that have come up short thanks to dramatically improved coordination of international intelligence and security efforts since 9/11.

But many of the key pieces of intelligence that set those networks into action came from Muslims – some former militants themselves – who have stepped forward to stop Islamist militants.

Front and center in foiling the Yemen bomb plot was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the native land of most of the 9/11 attackers. In particular, former Guantánamo prison inmate and AQAP turncoat Jabr al-Faifi played a key role, according to the BBC and others.

Mr. Faifi, a Saudi national, was released from the US-run Guantánamo facility in 2006 to Saudi Arabia, where he went through the Saudi government's rehabilitation program for former militants. Soon after his release from the program, he fled to Yemen and joined up with AQAP, the Al Qaeda offshoot that is determined to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and has largely been pushed out of the country into Yemen's hinterlands.

According to the BBC, citing senior British officials, Faifi returned home to Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago and turned himself in, soon telling Saudi interrogators that AQAP was planning to use international air freight to ship bombs to the US. The Saudis quickly informed the US and the United Kingdom, managing to provide the exact tracking numbers of the packages in question, and the packages were stopped in Dubai and the East Midlands airport in the United Kingdom.

Investigators are still piecing together precisely what happened in the thwarted plot, which involved bombs being sent from Yemen to Chicago, possibly to detonate them in mid-air over the city. Security officials around the world are considering new layers of security at airports, particularly for air-freight companies whose security appeared to be the weak link.
Report: In US, 1 in 3 Al Qaeda plots exposed by Muslims

Al Qaeda has organized no successful attacks on the US since 9/11. In the US, as abroad, cooperation from the broader Muslim community has been crucial.

Often, the whistleblowers are simply friends or associates of a plotter. Failed underwear bomber Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab was originally fingered by his own father, who approached US authorities and warned them that he feared his son was planning to attack the US. The younger Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, obtained his explosives and some rudimentary training in Yemen.

Farooque Ahmed, the Pakistani American arrested last week for seeking to bomb the DC metro, was also brought to the attention of authorities by a source in the Muslim community.

The FBI then set up an elaborate sting in which at least two individuals working undercover for the government posed as Al Qaeda operatives and engaged his help in organizing an "attack" on the metro system, until enough evidence was collected to carry out an arrest.

Mr. Ahmed's fellow Muslim wasn't the only one to thwart a bomb plot in the US recently.

A report released last month by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a US-based lobbying group, found that 1 in 3 Al Qaeda plots targeting America since 9/11 have been exposed by Muslim Americans. The report argues "this highlights the importance of law enforcement partnering with citizens through community-oriented policing."

Monday, November 01, 2010

"We cannot ask of the North, what we are not doing in the South"

Racism is a problem in Mexico as well as in the United States, as anyone who has flipped through the TV channels and come across a Mexican news program knows. (The anchors tend to be lily-white. You're much more likely to see American reporters with brown or black skin.)

Years ago, researchers sent Mexican Indians to ask for rooms in Mexico City hotels. If they were wearing western clothing, they got rooms. If they were wearing Indian clothing (which, ironically, is worth more than the average western outfit, due to the extensive embroidery on the women's huipiles), they were usually denied a room.

Enrique Morones of Border Angels writes that he's "...Teaching tolerance at High Tech and will also continue organizing with USC...Then head to Chiapas "we cannot ask of the North, what we are not doing in the South" will be joined by fellow National Human Rights Winner Olga Sanchez..."

I'm glad to hear it. I've often wondered why Mexican-Americans so rarely take an interest in fixing the elitist system that controls Mexico and its government. It's appropriate to work to change the oppressive system that forces so many individuals to leave home in order to obtain the basic necessities of life.

Arkansas school board member who said that he wanted homosexual students to kill themselves has resigned

Arkansas school board member quits after anti-gay rant
Associated Press

An Arkansas school board member who said on Facebook that he wanted homosexual students to kill themselves has resigned from the panel.

The Midland School Board said Monday that Clint McCance has submitted a resignation letter.

McCance announced Thursday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that he would quit because of the condemnations that followed his comments.

McCance posted his remarks in reaction to a campaign asking people to wear purple Oct. 20 to show solidarity after several gay and lesbian youths killed themselves after they were bullied. McCance said the dead children "killed thereselves because of their sin."