Thursday, October 31, 2013

Barneys’ racial profiling case gets complicated for Jay Z: New York Attorney General investigating; also, Ohio teacher's racist rant

Jay Z and David Spondike

See earlier post about Jay Z, Barneys New York, and false arrests of young black customers HERE.

What, you might ask, is a story about race doing on an education blog? What does racism have to do with education? Here's a hint:

Ohio Teacher Suspended For Racist Facebook Rant
By: Jamal Booker
Issue Hawk
October 31, 2013

Akron teacher Dr. David Spondike was suspended for his racist Facebook rant.

An Ohio teacher was suspended without pay this week for a racist Facebook post in which he repeatedly referred to African-Americans as “ni**ers.” Dr. David Spondike posted a racist Facebook rant about “ghetto” trick-or-treaters who urinate on telephone poles, but then promptly removed it after the post immediately sparked outrage. It was then brought to the attention of Black Firestone High School in Akron, who suspended Spondike while an investigation is taking place.

In the racist Facebook post, Spondike wrote: “When you whip out your teeny d*cks and piss on the telephone pole in front of my yard and a bunch of preschoolers and toddlers, you can take your ni**er-ass back where it came from. I don’t have anything against anyone of any color, but ni**ers, stay out!”

In a post written in the form of a list, Spondike acknowledged using the racist term in his Facebook rant and apologized. However, he also insinuated that it was hypocritical for black people to get upset about whites using the N-word. “I am not going to say that ’someone hacked my Facebook page,’ like most people do. Racism implies prejudging, which is clearly not what happened here,” he wrote. “Making any excuse for allowing one race to use a word and condemning another race for using the same word is institutionalized racism in and of itself, regardless of the justification used.”

[Maura Larkins comment: Dr. Spondike is most certainly guilty of prejudging. I'm guessing he did see one or two young boys peeing in front of his house. Then he indicted an entire race, half of whom aren't even male, and would therefore not be inclined to pee on any telephone pole, particularly not the one in front of Spondike's house. I would say Mr. Spondike is lying--to himself as well as everyone else--when he says that the N word has nothing to do with color.]

The racist rant marks the fourth time that Spondike has faced disciplinary action from the Akron Public School District. The former production assistant on The Jerry Springer Show also was punished throwing a chair against a wall and spitting on the floor in front of a student. He was also accused of physically assaulting a middle school student, but there was not enough evidence to file charges.”

(Photo: Black Firestone High School)

School attorney firm Best Best & Krieger sued for in City of Bell corruption: is similar corruption is going on in our schools?

Isn't this just business as usual taken to an extreme? The cronyism that makes this sort of thing possible can be found almost everywhere. My estimate is that only about 10% of public entities are run in an honest, open manner. The US seems to be becoming more corrupt and more divided between rich and poor. We're turning ourselves into a banana republic without the bananas.

Public entity attorneys have a tendency to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil when it comes to the public officials who pay them.

Bell sues its former city attorney, claiming faulty legal advice
LA Times
Jeff Gottlief
July 29, 2011

The city of Bell filed a malpractice lawsuit against its former city attorney and his two law firms Thursday, alleging that they were given faulty legal advice.

The suit contends that attorney Edward Lee provided legal advice that allowed Bell officials -- including former city Administrator Robert Rizzo and City Council members -- to receive extraordinary salaries and benefits. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges that Lee gave the city poor advice regarding a variety of subjects, including business license fees and loans that Rizzo gave to employees.

The lawsuit singles out Lee's most recent firm, Best Best & Krieger, for allegedly failing to properly advise Bell on a $35-million bond offering in 2007.

"The city attorney was responsible for preventing the abuses of power by the prior city government that left the city in its current difficult financial situation," Bell's attorney, William Stoner, said in a news release. "The lawsuit seeks to place responsibility for not protecting against those abuses of power where it belongs and obtain just compensation from those responsible."

Lee had been Bell's city attorney for 15 years, first with Oliver Sandifer & Murphy and, for the last four years, with Best Best & Krieger. He resigned from Best Best & Krieger shortly after The Times revealed that Rizzo's salary was nearly $800,000 a year.

Duff Murphy of Oliver Sandifer & Murphy said he didn't know about the suit.

BBK is a well-known firm with more than 200 attorneys in eight offices in California and Washington, D.C., and serves as city attorney for many towns.

BBK's general counsel, Richard Egger, said he had not reviewed the complaint, "however, the firm believes that it acted appropriately at all times and looks forward to vigorously defending itself."

[Maura Larkins' comment: Watch out, taxpayers. Public entity attorney are apparetnly not planning to change their ways. We haven't heard a peep from the California Bar Association, have we?]

Lee could not be reached for comment.

Ex-Bell city attorney unsure how his signature got on contracts Edward Lee, Bell's former city attorney, said he had no reason to suspect anything was amiss with city finances. By Jeff Gottlieb LA Times October 28, 2013

Bell’s former city attorney testified Monday that starting in 2005, the rapidly escalating contracts of Robert Rizzo and Angela Spaccia were never discussed nor approved by the City Council.

Edward Lee said that even though his name was on most of the contracts, he did not recall signing them, raising the possibility that his name was forged or that the papers were slipped to him in a stack of other documents that required his signature.

[Maura Larkins' comment: The third possibility is that he has a bad memory or a selective memory.]

Lee testified that in order for the Rizzo and Spaccia contracts to be legal, they would have to have been placed on council agendas, discussed in public meetings and then be approved by a council majority.

Asked if it appeared to be his signature on a July 1, 2008, addendum to Rizzo’s contract, Lee replied, “Unfortunately, yes.”

But, he added, he had no idea how it got there.

Lee's testimony came during the second week of Spaccia’s corruption trial, in which she faces 13 felonies. Rizzo pleaded no contest to 69 corruption-related charges and is expected to be sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison.

Lee, who served as Bell’s contract attorney from 1996 until shortly after the corruption scandal broke, said that after voters passed a city charter in 2005, he never saw Rizzo’s contract come before the council.

Asked by Spaccia’s attorney, Harland Braun, why he never brought it up, he replied, “I figured that was between Mr. Rizzo and the City Council… Either the council is going to raise it with me or Mr. Rizzo is going to raise it with me.”

The former city attorney said he had no indications of anything illegal going on in the city, “nothing that rang any alarm bells that said there was a legal issue I needed to look at.”

{Maura Larkins' comment: See what I mean about see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil?]

He said independent auditors didn’t bring up problems with finances and there were no questions from the staff.

“It all appeared from the surface the city of Bell was doing well,” he said.

Barneys’ racial profiling case gets more complicated for Jay Z: New York Attorney General investigating

Does anybody--anybody?--do anything on principle anymore? Jay Z has more than enough money. (In 2012, Forbes estimated Carter's net worth at nearly $500 million.) But is making even more money more important to him than making the US a better place for everyone? He could use his wealth and celebrity to accomplish something of real value, but it appears that his narcissism may have gotten in the way.

He complains that he was demonized for not speaking out quickly. Good heavens, Jay Z. It's not that complicated. See this post if you need help understanding the situation.]

And why isn't Barneys New York in trouble for making false police reports?

Shawn Carter aka Jay Z: End all partnerships with Barneys New York
By Derick Bowers
Brooklyn, New York

Right as Jay Z prepares to roll out a new partnership with Barneys New York for the holiday shopping season, I've been disappointed to hear new allegations about how the retailer treats young black consumers.

Recently, we have learned the shocking news that a young college student Trayon Christian (a black male) was arrested in NYC after making a $350 purchase at Barneys New York. According to The Post, following his purchase, he was stopped by police officers, allegedly called by a Barneys sales clerk, who believed the transaction was fraudulent. After being held in a precinct cell, Trayon was released with no charges.

Just days later, Kayla Phillips, a 21-year-old black woman, came forward with her similar story of discrimination. Kayla says that she was surrounded by police and questioned after she purchased a handbag from the store. She was also incorrectly accused of using a fraudulent card.

We can no longer tolerate blatant prejudice and discrimination. It is clear that the minority buying power is devalued by some. We must withdraw support to those who will not support us.

I've been a lifelong Jay Z fan. Jay Z is currently in partnership with Barneys New York for the release of his holiday collection -- called "A New York Holiday" (or BNY SCC). Barneys lacks any connection with the black and hip-hop community. And without his vast wealth and brand power, they would see him the same as they see Trayon Christian. Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer.

Please join me in calling on Jay Z to withdraw his support from Barneys New York because of this discrimination.

Sign Derick's Petition

Barneys’ racial profiling case gets more complicated for Jay Z: New York Attorney General investigating
By The Reliable Source: Roxanne Roberts with Emily Yahr
Washington Post
October 29, 2013

Jay Z’s big promotional deal with Barneys got more complicated this week, when New York state’s Attorney General opened an investigation into charges of racial profiling at the luxury retailer, Al Sharpton met with the CEO of the store, and Brooklyn pastor Clint Miller planned a picket in New York Wednesday.

Sharpton said he had a “candid” meeting Tuesday with CEO Mark Lee at the activist’s National Action Network office in Harlem. On the room: Hazel Dukes, president of the New York chapter of the NAACP, former Gov. David Paterson, other civil rights leaders, pastors and elected officials, reports CBS New York. But no sign of Jay Z.

The superstar mogul is at the center of a growing controversy about race and money — aka “shopping while black”– sparked when Barneys and Macy’s both came under fire last week for racial profiling African-Americans purchasing high-end items. Jay Z has a holiday promotion deal with Barneys and has been pressured by fans — using Twitter and an online petition — to sever ties with the store.

“I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys,” he said in a statement posted on his website Saturday. “Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?”

The partnership with Barneys included sales of products by top designers “inspired by Jay Z” with a portion going to his Shawn Carter Foundation, and his involvement in creating its holiday window displays. He said erroneous news reports and “attacks on my character, intentions and the spirit of this collaboration” forced him into addressing the issue before he was ready.

The facts so far: Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips said they were stopped by police after buying expensive items from Barneys Manhattan store. After Christian purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt in April, he was followed by two undercover officers, accused of debit card fraud, then handcuffed and detained at the police station, reports New York’s Daily News. Phillips said she was stopped by detectives after buying a $2,500 Celine handbag in February. CEO Mark Lee offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies,” but Christian has sued the store and NYPD.

Last week, two shoppers made similar complaints about shopping at Macy’s, including “Treme” actor Rob Brown who claims he was handcuffed and held after he bought a $1,350 gold Movado watch for his mother.

New York’s attorney general sent letters to Barney’s and Macy’s asking for their policies for stopping, detaining and questioning customers based on race, reports the Daily News. The stores have until Wednesday to comply.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Science is prevailing in the latest battle over Texas schoolbooks

Texas Textbook Publishers Say No To Creationism: Watchdog Report
The Huffington Post
By Rebecca Klein

It appears that science is prevailing in the latest battle over Texas schoolbooks.

Though earlier this year several of the state’s textbook reviewers called for biology textbooks to discuss creationism, publishers are not complying with those requests, according to the Texas Freedom Network. The nonpartisan watchdog examined material made public by the Texas Education Agency and found that publishers are sticking with teaching evolution.

Citizens who serve on the Texas review panels are charged with making suggestions about proposed classroom texts that are being considered for the state's list of “approved” schoolbooks. While most reviewers on this year’s biology panel made routine, noncontroversial suggestions, some took issue with the fact that the proposed books did not include information about creationism while focusing on evolution.

However, information that publishers submitted to the Texas Education Agency show they are not incorporating the suggestions about "creation science" and plan to print books free of references to the theory of intelligent design.

“This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” said Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller in a press release. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.”

Josh Rosenau, the programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, also declared the publishers' response a victory for science.

“They didn’t put in anything creationist or dangerous, so I’m prepared to call this a victory for the publishers,” he told The Huffington Post. “They stood strong against the pressure of the reviewers.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The public has a right to know about the dismissal of Larry B. Anderson

By Kathleen Sterling

The public has a right to know about the dismissal of Larry B. Anderson, yes, however what about the investigation report which triggered the dismissal of the Gonzalez et al team (Brown Act case - Sanderson et al vs. Reno et al, the Coleman et al vs Reno et al)? How about the settlements for the TCHD vs. Citigroup, Scripps, and the Hammes cases? Each one is very important as the former CEO Anderson hooked his lawyer friends to garner lots of public resources - Did we win any of them? In the grand scheme of things probably not, but rest assure the Procopio law firm and those Anderson favored gained much from the billable hours. How much was spent by the taxpayers to settle any of those cases?

Great article in the Coast News by Kirk Effinger: People deserve answers on high-profile dismissals

Kathleen Sterling: Thank you Mr. Effinger - the public has the right to know - Tri-City gets an "F" in transparency. I'm hopeful your added visibility, and the interest of persons like Mr. Page and Cozad, the public will be ignited to help what I've always believed - When Tri-City is truly transparent - the public will rally and we will all WIN!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The prison industry predicts how many cells they'll need by asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds can't read

How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? ...[T}hey found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn't read.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens
15 October 2013
Neil Gaiman
The Guardian

It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members' interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I'm an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living though my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So I'm biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

And I'm here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And it's that change, and that act of reading that I'm here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it's good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn't read. And certainly couldn't read for pleasure.

It's not one to one: you can't say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I've seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy. Enid Blyton's Famous Five book Five Get Into a Fix No such thing as a bad writer.

It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's Carrie, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it's this:

The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Another way to destroy a child's love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children's library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children's' library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we've moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That's about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a haven from the world. It's a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the "only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account".

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I'd try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it's the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers' throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we've lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I'm going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It's this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. "If you want your children to be intelligent," he said, "read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

If God had wanted poor Americans to have health care, he would have given them money, right?

Either that or he would have chosen any other industrialized nation for their birthplace. But maybe it's not that simple. Maybe it's Republicans, not God, who don't want poor Americans to have healthcare.

See all posts on health care coverage for everybody.

Idaho tea party candidate wants government out of health care, has 10 kids on Medicaid
by Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Oct 18, 2013

This is how Greg Collett, a two-time Republican candidate for Idaho's state House, defends himself against charges of hypocrisy for the fact that, while "I don’t think that the government should be involved in health care or health insurance," his 10 kids are on Medicaid:

Am I a hypocrite for participating in programs that I oppose? If it was that simple, and if participation demonstrated support, then of course. But, my reason for participation in government programs often is not directly related to that issue in and of itself, and it certainly does not demonstrate support. For instance, I participate in government programs in order to stay out of the courts, or jail, so that I can take care of my family; other things I do to avoid fines or for other financial reasons; and some are simply because it is the only practical choice. With each situation, I have to evaluate the consequences of participating or not participating.

Hmm. Okay, the staying out of jail thing makes some sense. But that hardly explains the "taking government health care for your kids" part, which seems to fall under his much broader category of using government services "for other financial reasons." Or "because it is the only practical choice." No discussion of why one might oppose something despite finding it to be the only practical choice. If you're curious what government services Collett uses even though he opposes them, assess how much time you have, because the list, it is long...

Idaho tea party candidate criticized for having 10 children on Medicaid
October 17, 2013

Greg Collett, a two-time GOP legislative candidate in Canyon County, is defending enrolling his 10 children in taxpayer-funded Medicaid while he declines to buy his own insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Collett got 25 percent of the vote in the 2010 GOP Senate primary against then-Sen. John McGee and 34 percent in 2012 against Rep. Gayle Batt, R-Wilder.

He is featured in an Oct. 4 NBC News story, "Health care holdouts: Uninsured but resisting," telling the network, “I don’t think that the government should be involved in health care or health insurance.”...

Remembering the San Diego Union-Tribune expose of Dan Puplava

Current SDCOE board members Mark Anderson, Susan Hartley, Lyn Neylong, Gregg Robinson and Sharon Jones still don't require that Diane Crosier, executive director of SDCOE's Risk Management Department, report the gifts she receives.

Remember this story? Here's how the San Diego County Office of Education's Dan Puplava scandal started four-and-a-half years ago. SDCOE Superintendent Randolph Ward and the SDCOE board allowed Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava to silence whistle-blowers and anyone else in their way.

“He's getting paid a salary by the taxpayers to manage the registered representatives, not to be a registered representative..."

Benefits manager’s work questioned
County employee also acted as a broker
By Jeff McDonald
San Diego Union-Tribune
March 17, 2009

A San Diego County Office of Education employee tasked with managing a retirement program for thousands of teachers and administrators supplemented his salary for years with commissions on outside investments he sold to those same clients.

Daniel Puplava makes $100,000 to $108,000 a year as the deferred compensation manager for a consortium that serves public educators in three counties. At the same time, Puplava has been allowed to pursue those clients for his private broker business.

In 2006, Puplava collected at least $355,000 in commissions as a broker for AIG Financial Advisors Inc., according to documents obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune. He was named to the 2008 Achiever's Council, an honor reserved for agents of AIG Financial Advisors whose commissions and fees exceed $250,000 a year.

His attorney said Puplava shared that money with other brokers.

[Maura Larkins comment in 2013: Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava never produced any evidence that Puplava "shared that money with other brokers." Their lawsuits seem to have been intended to intimidate their critics into settlement rather than to have their day in court to prove their innocence.]

Officials at the county schools office said they knew about Puplava's broker business and saw no conflict of interest because he has done the work on his own time.

“It's not unheard of for public employees to have a business on the side,” spokesman James Esterbrooks said.

The arrangement does not appear to violate federal securities laws, but it tests the limits of the state education code and has become one of the main sticking points in litigation involving the office.

Puplava's work as a broker also appears to have been done at county offices. Client statements obtained by the Union-Tribune list Puplava's phone number at the county schools office as his primary contact.

“It certainly strikes me as an apparent conflict of interest,” said Ronald F. Duska, director of the Mitchell Center for Ethical Leadership at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It just sets up incredible temptations for the guy who's supposed to be acting as a manager.”

Puplava, who is 47 and lives in Escondido, declined to be interviewed. His attorney, Randall Winet, responded to questions with a March 6 letter to the newspaper stating that Puplava has divested himself of his personal clients and received only a portion of the commissions cited in documents.

“The funds from financial services companies were paid directly to him, which he then was required to distribute to a number of brokers working for him,” the letter says.

Winet also said Puplava had “a significant, thriving practice prior to ever joining the County Office of Education.”

Puplava is a registered broker for SagePoint Financial Inc. in Phoenix, which until recently was called AIG Financial Advisors.

His full-time job is to manage the deferred compensation retirement program for the Fringe Benefits Consortium, which provides access to health insurance, annuities and other services for school employees across San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.

The consortium was created in 1982 to help school employees negotiate better deals on health insurance by pooling resources.

Twelve districts representing 2,500 or so teachers initially joined the self-insurance partnership, but the client roster grew to 72,000 as the consortium attracted more districts and expanded its services.

When the Office of Education hired Puplava in 1997, he was permitted to keep his “book of business,” or private clients, county schools officials said.

Puplava also was allowed to grow his client base by soliciting teachers he met through his county job.

Four years after his hiring, the county schools office was among the first agencies in the country to organize an umbrella retirement program for teachers, who as public employees receive government pensions but often supplement those benefits by setting up individual investment accounts.

The idea was to give teachers the opportunity to buy investment products without paying the high fees and commissions normally associated with individual transactions.

Puplava was put in charge of the deferred compensation program. He contracted with outside financial advisers to promote the services, and together they hosted hundreds of informational seminars outlining the various products and services.

About 6,000 teachers and administrators have bought supplemental investment products offered through the deferred compensation program.

Consortium director Diane Crosier said that after a new superintendent was hired in 2006, a decision was made to allow Puplava to keep existing clients but restrict him from accepting new teachers and educators as customers. But by then, even incoming Superintendent Randolph Ward had bought an annuity from Puplava.

[Maura Larkins comment: Did your employee give you a good deal, Randy?]

Running an outside business is legal for full-time county Office of Education employees. But according to the California Department of Justice, a deferred compensation program manager is supposed to be a neutral party – not someone who profits from marketing financial products.

“The statute prohibits school employees from acting as sales agents for 403(b) vendors in return for commissions,” according to an August opinion from the Attorney General's Office analyzing the state's education code.

Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Service doe allows public and nonprofit employees to pay into tax-deferred supplemental accounts to boost their retirement nest eggs, much like 401(k) programs in the private sector. Former employees and independent advisers say the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Puplava's dealings. Crosier said the SEC has looked into Puplava, but that was more than a year ago and nothing has happened.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office requested copies of related civil case files but closed its investigation in July after finding no evidence of criminal conduct.

The SEC and the District Attorney’s Office declined to discuss the situation, as did Ward.

In August, the consortium terminated the contracts of six brokers who had been enrolling and serving clients for years. Three weeks later, the schools office sued those brokers, claiming they had stolen clients and business from the consortium.

The brokers fought back, filing a 26-page cross-complaint last month that lodged numerous allegations against Puplava, Crosier and county schools office officials.

Among other things, the cross-complaint says Puplava opened a partnership with three of the fired advisers – Barry Allred, Christopher Dougherty and Michael Zeiger – that operated as FBC Insurance Services.

The partners shared tens of thousands of dollars in fees and commissions paid by FBC clients, the cross-complaint alleges.

Court papers also say Puplava negotiated a deal with Aviva Life and Annuity Co. that paid him 30 percent of all commissions the partnership received from Aviva. In 2006, Puplava personally collected more than $26,000 in Aviva commissions from February to October, the cross-suit says.

Citing the ongoing litigation, Crosier declined to address specific allegations, including why Puplava was permitted to sell his clients financial products not available under the consortium when the fired brokers were sued for the same activity.

“There are huge inaccuracies in that lawsuit,” Crosier said. Kris Kertzman, who worked as a consortium broker from 2002 to 2007 but is not part of the pending litigation, said Puplava's clients think he “has their best interests in mind because he works for the county.”

“He's getting paid a salary by the taxpayers to manage the registered representatives, not to be a registered representative,” Kertzman said.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mother of girl accused of bullying is arrested; girl recently said she didn't regret causing suicide of her target

Vivian Vosburg, mother of bully / Polk County Sheriff's Office

Rebecca Sedwick Update: Online video led to arrest of mother of girl accused of bullying 12-year-old who committed suicide
By Julia Dahl
CBS News
October 18, 2013

(CBS) - Police say a video of the mother of a 14-year-old girl charged with stalking a Fla. teen who later committed suicide shows the woman punching several juveniles and screaming obscenities.

Vivian Vosburg, 30, was arrested Friday and has been charged with two counts of child abuse with bodily harm, and four counts of child neglect.

Polk County police released a statement late Friday saying that they received tips leading them to the video which was posted on Facebook in July 2013.

According to the affadavit, the video depicts "what appear to be two juvenile boys fighting on a bed. An adult female then enters and begins to punch and hit victim #2...the suspect then leans over and punches victim the face who then slides off the bed and onto the floor."

The affadavit continues with the officer who interviewed Vosburg writing: "Vivian repeatedly stated that she was not feeling well that day, that she had a long day at work...Vivian admitted she did go too far..."

Vosburg's 14-year-old daughter, who CBS News is not naming because of her age, was arrested on Oct. 14 and charged with aggravated stalking related to the death of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, who committed suicide after allegedly being bullied by the teen and a 12-year-old who was also charged.

Twelve-year-old bullying victim Rebecca Sedwick recently killed herself.

Sheriff Judd is assuming that adults are nicer than children. It would appear that the parents of these bullies aren't much concerned about what their children did, or are doing. (Update Oct. 18, 2013: It seems I was right about this, as arrest of the mother shows--see above).

And what about the boyfriend? What's his deal?

Sheriff: Taunting post leads to arrests in Rebecca Sedwick bullying death
By Michael Pearson. Kim Segal and John Couwels
October 15, 2013

Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death on September 9.

Two girls, 12 and 14, charged with aggravated stalking of Rebecca Sedwick
One of the girls posted Saturday that she had bullied the girl and didn't care, sheriff says
The bullying began with anger or jealousy over a boy, sheriff says
Rebecca jumped to her death in Florida last month

Winter Haven, Florida (CNN) -- It all started with a boy.

The intense bullying that led 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick to jump to her death last month stemmed from a dispute between her and a former classmate over a boy they had both dated, police said Tuesday.

And it didn't even end with Rebecca's September 9 death, said Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County, Florida.

Authorities arrested two girls, including the 14-year-old girl alleged to have been Rebecca's chief tormenter, on Monday after the girl posted a taunting message on the Internet about what had happened.

"Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF," the Facebook post read, according to CNN affiliate WFTV. Judd said the initials meant "I don't give a (expletive)."

Judd said the 14-year-old girl's family claimed her account had been compromised, but he said investigators don't believe that to be true.

After the girl's family refused to bring her in for questioning, Judd sent detectives to arrest her and a 12-year-old friend at their homes. The girls, whom CNN are not naming, are charged with aggravated stalking. They were booked Monday and the 12-year-old was released to her parents, Judd said. The 14-year-old remains detained.

"She forced this arrest today," Judd said of the 14-year-old's decision to post the message Saturday.

According to Judd, the girl was upset that Rebecca had once dated her current boyfriend and began bullying and harassing her more than a year ago when they were both students at a Florida middle school.

In addition to sending harassing messages over the Internet, the girl physically attacked Rebecca at least once, Judd said. She also recruited the girl's former best friend -- the 12-year-old charged Monday -- to bully her, Judd said.

Are we too quick to cry 'bully'?

Among the online messages that drove Rebecca to jump to her death from the top of an abandoned concrete plant were, "You should die" and "why don't you go kill yourself," according to Judd.

The night before Rebecca killed herself, authorities say she messaged a boy she had befriended online, writing, "I'm jumping. I can't take it anymore."

Judd, clearly upset over the incident, expressed frustration that neither girl's parents were willing to bring them in for questioning. He said he was astonished to find out that the 14-year-old in the case was still being allowed to post to the Internet after what had happened.

He said he would charge the child's parents if he could, but said investigators were aware of no "obvious charges" against them.

"I'm aggravated that the parents aren't doing what they are supposed to be doing," he said.

While bullying Rebecca was not in itself against the law, Judd said, the girls' actions harassing her in school and online formed the basis for the stalking charge. He did not expect any other charges would be filed.

No court date has yet been set for the girls, who Judd said will likely not see any time in juvenile detention because they have no previous criminal records and the charge is a class 3 felony, one step up from a misdemeanor under Florida law.

Had Rebecca been 17 or older, he said, authorities could have filed nothing more than misdemeanor charges.

He implored parents to take more responsibility for the actions of their children online.

Student drunk at a party? This high school acts to make sure students drive themselves home instead of calling a friend

See all posts re zero tolerance.

Police e-mail surfaces backing high school athlete suspended for aiding drunk friend
By Michael Jaccarino
Published October 18, 2013

As the Massachusetts high school volleyball player suspended for coming to the aid of a boozed-up pal served out the final game of her punishment Friday, an e-mail penned by a police officer that appears to exonerate her has come to light.

North Andover High School’s Erin Cox was on the sidelines Wednesday for the Scarlet Knights’ most recent outing against rival Tewksbury, reports. The 17-year-old suspended for five games and stripped of her captaincy reportedly cheered on her teammates in a straight-set win.

Meanwhile, the North Andover Citizen newspaper reports it obtained an e-mail sent by Boxford Police Officer Brian Neeley to the North Andover Public School administration in the wake of the party that sparked the national brouhaha.

In the electronic note, Neeley reportedly writes: “I responded with several other officers to an under aged party 732 Main St., Boxford. Erin Cox was one of many people under the age of 21 at the residence. I had the opportunity to speak with and observe Erin Cox while waiting for her mother to arrive.

“Erin did not have the slightest odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her person. She was polite, articulate, steady on her feet, and very remorseful for her decision to go into the residence but was only helping out a friend that had called her for a ride. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.”

Cox was suspended for five games after coming to the aid of the drunken friend, who had requested a ride home. Minutes after Cox arrived, Boxford police did, as well. Students were either arrested or cited for underage possession of alcohol.

North Andover Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson has remained intransigent despite the officer’s e-mail.

In a statement to, Hutchinson wrote, “While some may decry the Administration’s actions as unfair or inconsistent with the principles of due process, our Administration wholeheartedly disagrees.

“To be clear, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that participation in interscholastic athletics is a privilege. Rather than simply revoking the privilege, our Administration has consistently afforded its student-athletes a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a disciplinary decision is made."

In another twist, a lawyer representing the Cox family tells the suspension could derail Cox’s intent to play collegiate volleyball. Cox, according to statistics from, is an outstanding player who has accumulated 835 assists, 82 aces, 185 digs and 59 kills over 108 total varsity sets played.

“They aren’t sure and have gotten mixed answers,” says Wendy Murphy, the lawyer who sued the North Andover School District last week.

In response to the suit, a state judge ruled he had no jurisdiction. However, Murphy and Cox’s family have vowed to pursue the case – including actions against Principal Carla Scuzzarella and the District Attorney, Geoffrey Bok – in federal court.

The imbroglio has roiled community members such that a North Andover High School alum has begun an online petition drive in Cox’s name.

CBS News reports 33-year-old Matt Holland, himself a one-time school athlete, created the so-called, “Erin Cox Award for Exemplary Action,” on the site

Holland told the news outlet his goal is to raise $1,000, which could then be used as a quasi-scholarship for Cox.

"I don't think they have the legal authority to do this," Holland reportedly said in reference to the school district, adding that as of Wednesday morning, his online effort had raised a total of $485.

As for Cox, reports she will return to action Friday against Billerica. The senior, who has largely remained silent since the story broke, did speak to The Boston Herald on Sunday.

“I wasn’t drinking,” she reportedly said. “And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home…I just feel very defeated. When you’re in high school you’re supposed to stay perfect and be perfect, but everyone makes mistakes.”

The Herald wrote that when asked whether should repeat her actions, Cox answered that she wouldn’t change a thing.

Tri-City Healthcare directors fire CEO Larry B. Anderson

See all posts on Tri-City Healthcare.

Tri-City board fires hospital CEO
Oct. 17, 2013

Tri-City directors say investigation led to action but decline to provide details..."The board voted 6-0 to terminate the executive’s contract, with long-serving member RoseMarie Reno abstaining. Reno sat outside Thursday as the board discussed the decision in closed session. When asked why she wasn’t in the room, Reno said: “I am an adverse witness. That’s all I can say."

COMMENT BY Kathleen Sterling:
Reno's been out of the discussions since back when the board first talked to put [Larry Anderson] on Admin Leave w/pay!!! At the time the board kicked her out informing her of her "adverse position."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Parents need to teach estimation--and it can be part of Halloween fun. (Teachers are too busy teaching computation.)

Here's a great way to lower math anxiety, and give your child a big boost in understanding math concepts.

Estimating with Halloween Goodies
Inner Child Learning
October 14, 2013
by Leann

Halloween can be a fun time of year, filled with pretend play, decorating, and an over-abundance of candy. Why not put the candy to use, with a little learning exploration? Here’s a fun estimation activity that you do can do with just a bag (or two) of Halloween candy and a few glass jars.

Materials needed:

different types of candies or other related goodies
4 glass Mason jars
4 small jars or containers

The set up:

Start by putting different candies or goodies into each jar. I choose chocolate eyes and pumpkin candies, Halloween sweet tarts, and a bag of spider rings from the dollar store.

Count out a designated amount of items and place them into the small containers. I would recommend starting with containers that have the same width as the bottom of the Mason jars, so the kids can easily estimate using the height of the container (or height of the items).

How to teach estimating:

To begin, state how many items are in the small container. Try to keep it simple, by starting with simple multiples that they can count by. (We started with groups of 10 items.) Point out the height of the items in the small container. Then speculate “how high” the large jar is in comparison to the height you measured in the small container.

When we did this activity, I actually measured the height of the small container using my fingers. Mimicking me, my son did the same. He then easily count the height of the mason jar, and then count by 10′s to get to the approximate answer.

For example, I started by telling my son that there were 10 pumpkins in the small container. I pointed out how tall the container was with 10 pumpkins, and then showed him that I could estimate that 3 and a half more containers stacked up would equal the height of the large Mason jar. So, that would mean 10+10+10+5=35 would be how many were in the Mason jar.

After we made our predictions on the numbers in the jar, we then poured them out and counted them together. Amazingly, our predictions were almost exactly the number in the jar!

If this seems to be a little easy, then try a different approach — use 25 items rather than 10 in the small container. Or change up your containers so that they have a different width compared to the Mason jars. We also tried this, and it was equally as fun to try to guess the number, by trying to estimate how many might be inside. Another idea, which also builds “number sense,” is to make the questions multiple choice…. “Here’s 10 items. Do you think there are 50, 100, or 500 inside the jar?”

Saturday, October 12, 2013

South Bay judge upholds majority of indictments in pay-to-play

See all posts on South Bay indictments.

South Bay judge upholds majority of indictments in pay-to-play
New charges were dismissed in three South Bay school districts' alleged pay-to-play charges--the bulk still hold
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
October 10, 2013

Twenty-two charges were dropped for defendants in a South Bay corruption case during hearings held on October 8 and 9. Twenty charges were dropped by the people, as represented by Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr, in a pre-trial paring of 232 indictments handed down by the Grand Jury in January 2013.

The case initially became public when high-ranking school officials, trustees, contractors, and a bond salesman linked to South Bay school districts, had their homes or offices raided by the DA's office in 2011. By December 2012, as a result of a broadening investigation, the Grand Jury charged 15 defendants with charges which included perjury, bribery and filing a false statement.

Most charges relate to alleged pay-to-play activity which involved Sweetwater Union High School District's Proposition O for $644 million and Southwestern College's Proposition R for $389 million.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Judge Ana Espana listened to the defendants' attorneys' arguments for additional dismissals; however, in the majority of cases she remained unconvinced.

After the October 9 hearing Schorr commented, "We are very pleased with the outcome of the hearings. Judge Espana's rulings confirm the hard work of the grand jurors and their desire to hold these defendants accountable for their actions."

Two additional charges were dropped for Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quinones following arguments presented by her attorney Marco Carlos, one perjury count and one count for filing a false instrument.

In an October 9 interview Carlos said the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence. Carlos feels confident that when his defendant comes before a jury, the jury will understand "that my client was doing what every other elected officials does."

Carlos also believes that the former program manager for both Sweetwater's and Southwestern's bond construction, Henry Amigable, who has provided a lot of the testimony on which the charges are based, will prove to be "a weak witness."

Carlos said, "Amigable's memory is horrible, and on direct testimony before 8 or 9 experienced lawyers he will not be able to stand up."

That all politicians do this kind of wining and dining seemed to be a common argument presented by several attorneys.

Paul Pfingst, attorney for former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara, took issue with the much-publicized lobster dinner that Gandara received--paid for by Amigable. (The lobster was flown in for the occasion and described as "still kicking.")

Pfingst argued that there were no business discussions at the meal and that it was a social occasion and should not be considered bribery.

Schorr countered that the $1,383 dinner at Bacis, which was also attended by Sweetwater's former trustee Greg Sandoval and current trustee Arlie Ricasa, was intentionally lavish to demonstrate "this is how we will take care of you if we are selected."

Schorr also noted that this meal and many others were not disclosed on Gandara's 700 conflict-of-interest form.

Espana did not dismiss the bribery charge. She said that the meal appeared in the context of other meals or events that happened prior to Sweetwater trustees selecting Amigable and his company.

The lobster dinner in question took place in March 2007. The company which Amigable worked for at that time, Gilbane, along with Seville Group Inc. were selected to manage Sweetwater's Proposition O in April 2007. R

"My life would be worthless without music"

LINK TO VIDEO: Brilliant children find music at the landfill

Watch The First 54 Seconds. That’s All I Ask. You’ll Be Hooked After That, I Swear.
Who cares what it smells like, it's what it sounds like that matters.
Adam Albright-Hanna

Sometimes the biggest bully at school is the teacher. Or the coach.

Bullying by adults is pervasive in schools. The preferred target is children, but adults are a close second. Teachers bully their fellow teachers--and they also badger weak administrators. Administrators abuse teachers, and engage in office politics in whcih bully other administrators. School board members pretend to look the other way, but in reality most of them rely on bullies to keep schools running while board members worry about the next election.

What is needed is some mental health care for adults in schools--and an end to the coverups of wrongdoing by politically powerful teachers, administrators and board members.

See all posts on bullying by adults and bullying tolerated by schools.

‘Most Parents Just Give Up’
By: Christie Ritter
Voice of San Diego
August 27, 2013

Sometimes the biggest bully at school is the teacher. Or the coach.

That’s the charge made a group of parents who took their complaints of abuse to the San Diego County Grand Jury.

On Thursday, parents met with San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten and law enforcement officials to discuss ways they could work together to close gaps in the system that allow abuse to go unpunished.

“When it’s just you, complaining all by yourself, people just call you a nut,” said Sally Smith, a longtime parent activist. When she complained about battery by her daughter’s teacher at Serra High School in 2010, she said she was sent in circles, from the school to the city police. No one wanted to investigate.

“It’s very frustrating, most parents just give up,” Smith said.

Soon after taking over as schools chief in July, Marten invited parents to join a focus group to address child abuse within the school district.

Marten told parents and law enforcement officials Thursday that they all need to work together to improve current investigation and reporting procedures when allegations are made against school employees or volunteers.

Representatives from the city attorney’s office, district attorney’s office, San Diego Police Department, Child Protective Services and school police acknowledged that holes in the system can allow abusers to go unpunished.

Parents say children are being abused by teachers and other adults and current policies are inadequate. Charges range from negligence to full-fledged verbal and physical abuse, including sexual abuse.

And parents say the problem isn’t just the abusers, it’s school administrators who fail to report or properly investigate complaints.

That was one of the criticisms leveled in the grand jury report, released in May.

In 2007, John Kyujoon Lee, a teacher at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, was convicted of statutory rape of a student. The student’s lawyer, John Gomez, said his client brought a civil lawsuit to force districts to pay attention to abuse of students by teachers.

“During this case, we were shocked to learn that the district does virtually nothing to prevent teacher-student sexual abuse,” Gomez said. In 2009, San Diego Unified was found liable for $650,000 of the $1.25 million in damages awarded to the student because adults had reasonable suspicions about Lee, but none reported them despite a mandate to do so.

Judy Neufeld-Fernandez said her son was verbally abused by his teacher at Hardy Elementary. Susan Hopps-Tatum’s daughter experienced similar emotional abuse from the same teacher.

Neufeld-Fernandez, who worked as a substitute at Hardy, said she complained to the principal about the teacher’s behavior, and eventually to the district. During the process, Hopps-Tatum and Neufeld-Fernandez learned they were among nine families who had filed complaints against the same teacher. The case led to the grand jury investigation. The teacher is still on the staff at Hardy.

“I don’t know the history of that particular case,” Marten said Thursday. “The past administration has solved that case. I’m not going to second-guess administrative decisions that were made by people that were doing their jobs at the time.”

It can be an arduous task to fire a teacher, even with evidence of abuse, due to tenure and teachers union policies.

The parents want the school district to take abuse allegations seriously and to implement a set of guidelines that will allow outside investigations. “No one is taking jurisdiction,” Neufeld-Fernandez said. “San Diego Unified has no training on sexual predation.”

The grand jury report includes similar recommendations:

San Diego Unified School District should develop a policy to address adult-to-student bullying, harassment or intimidation, whether physical or emotional, by employees or volunteers.

The district should revise its appeal and review process to forbid Area Superintendents or other administrators from reviewing their own original findings and recommendations.

The district should provide timely and continuing feedback to those who file complaints.

Marten responded to the recommendations in a letter, disputing many of the report’s findings, including one that said district administrators reviewed their own decisions.

She said the district already has a policy to address adult-to-child bullying, and that there are already procedures in place to respond to parents who file a complaint, but the district is legally restrained from revealing confidential employee information.

But Marten is acting on other recommendations.

She said her goal with the focus group is to “engage stakeholders and create a broad public agency coalition to create consensus for best practices for investigation of complaints alleging adult-to-child bullying and other forms of child abuse.”...

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lots on the line for Dumanis in South Bay

See Robert Brewer story below the Dumanis story.

Embezzlers of school booster club funds and PTA funds have been prosecuted all around the county, but  two separate embezzlements at Castle Park Elementary (where I taught) were not prosecuted. They occurred within a period of eight years.  The second incident involved $20,000 held by the PTA.  The PTA president was arrested, then let go almost immediately and never prosecuted.  Was this crime kept quiet so as not embarrass Cheryl Cox and her fellow board members?

Lots on the line for Dumanis in South Bay
By Aaron Burgin and Katherine Poythress
JAN. 11, 2013

...Since 2007, only one case lodged by the unit against an elected official has resulted in criminal punishment. Former Encinitas Councilman Dan Dalager was fined $1,000 in 2011 after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor conflict of interest charge stemming from accepting deeply discounted appliances from a store owner, then voting in the owner’s favor in a dispute with the city. His case was prosecuted after the transaction was exposed by The Watchdog...[Dalager is conservative]

Allegations of corruption at Sweetwater schools stretch back as far as the 1980s, when officials were accused of misappropriating lottery funds, attempted bribery and the unauthorized sale of computers to schools in Mexico. These allegations ultimately led to the fall of then-Superintendent Anthony Trujillo and started the political career of Jim Cartmill — one of the officials accused of corruption today...

Slater-Price accepted free tickets while dispensing grants to the opera and the Old Globe Theatre. After The Watchdog revealed she failed to report the gifts on state forms, she was given a $2,000 administrative fine in 2010.

Slater-Price’s beneficiaries were charities, not for-profit companies. And prosecutors in South County are gathering evidence of quid pro quo arrangements. But Carlos said the parallel of taking entertainment while giving government largesse is there.

“It’s the same conduct,” Carlos said. “It’s crazy. If it is illegal for someone, it should be illegal for everyone. Apparently, however, that is not the case.”...

[The same could be said for the entire $200,000 yearly slush funds that supervisors used to award themselves to be used to give to the non-profits of their choice. They got plenty in return, including lots of free publicity.]

Salas said while she doesn’t believe the case is a conspiracy, she hopes Dumanis’ public integrity unit will probe other school districts.

“We are a very diverse community, and we are way beyond that type of thinking in California and San Diego,” she said, “but it seems to me that the kind of problems that we are facing here are something that his happening countywide, and there does seem to be an extraordinary focus on South Bay.”

Robert Brewer

Leslie Devaney's and Dan Shinoff's endorsements of Robert Brewer can be found HERE.

“I have had the great privilege of knowing Mr. Brewer for over 30 years. He is an outstanding individual who is the consummate professional who treats everyone he deals with with great respect and always is a person of tremendous integrity. The County would be most fortunate to have Robert Brewer as District Attorney.”

--Daniel R. Shinoff

I imagine Mr. Shinoff is quite incensed at Bonnie Dumanis for indicting his clients Manuel Paul, Bertha Lopez, and others at Southwestern College, Sweetwater Union High School District, and San Ysidro School District.

Of course, it's sort of strange that Dan Shinoff feels he has to muzzle a retired teacher in order to protect his own reputation as person of integrity. (See my San Diego Education Report blog posts re Stutz v. Larkins.) Does Mr. Shinoff really think that people who have worked with him for years will think his ethics are questionable just because of something I say? Haven't these people already formed an opinion?  They probably know him better than I do.  Most of the facts that I discuss have been published in newspapers, or at least in court documents, and few people read my websites, anyway. Why does Mr. Shinoff see me as a threat to his reputation?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Tom Anthony, a favorite of San Diego County Office of Education, and a long-ago high school election

Superintendent Tom Anthony

Mia Wenjen

When a lowly student confronts a powerful school official 30 years after a wrong was committed, it's like a high school reunion--only better.

Here's the background on the powerful people in this story:

San Diego County Office of Education superintendents Rudy Castruita and Randolph Ward have kept the same interconnected group of people in positions of power at SDCOE. Among the most powerful positions are those of Diane Crosier and Lora Duzyk in the department that controls the SDCOE Joint Powers Authority ("JPA"). A small group of school superintendents is selected to run the JPA's legal advisory board.

For many years, Tom Anthony was one of those superintendents who worked intimately with JPA lawyers. See more on Tom HERE.

Here are memories of Tom Anthony by a girl who was a student at the high school where he worked as vice-principal thirty years ago:

A True Tale of Two Cheaters: 30 Years Later
Mia Wenjen
Pragmatic Mom Blog
August 19, 2013

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

When I went to college, my boyfriend informed me that I was provincial. From a province. He was from Queens, New York, and commuted an hour each way to a New York city magnet school. I protested that I was from a beach town. A suburban beach town! But he was right. I was provincial and my local politics prove it. Corruption is easy to pull off in a province.

The year is 1983. The month is June. Seniors are about to graduate but there is one thing left for me to do: I have to run the All Student Body Elections.

This cast of characters at Los Alamitos High School 30 years ago:

Tom Anthony: Vice Principal and in charge of Student Council. He’s going to University of Southern California (USC) at night to get his PhD in Education. He’s a young, affable guy and everyone really likes him, myself included, at least until THE CHEATING INCIDENT!

Mia Wenjen: I’m the Student Representative to the School Board. Admittedly, it’s a lame Student Council position, strictly for resume building. I may have even been appointed. I really can’t remember. My job is to attend School Board meetings which is harder than it sounds because it’s a snoozefest, and run the All Student Body elections for the next year’s student council.

Mark Abrams: A few years my senior, Mark at the tender age of 18 or so was the youngest person ever elected to the School Committee. He is a rising star in the politico world and in a different class than me. We, for example, never exchange words, even when we are sitting next to each other.

Phillip Swagel

Phillip Swagel: I describe him as the smartest kid in my high class but my husband would correct me to say that he’s one of the smartest people in the United States. With a PhD in Economics from Harvard, he was the Senate Confirmed Economist under Paulson who engineered the Investment Banking bailouts: AIG, Bear Stears, Lehman Brothers and the rest. Each blow up ruined his weekend. In high school, he was the only kid with a computer and, naturally, a wiz at programming.

John Orr: He was class of 1983 with me and on Student Council. Was he the treasurer? I can’t remember. His father is the Dean of USC’s School of Education where, you might have noticed, Vice Principal Tom Anthony is enrolled.

Shelley Sandusky: She’s the class of 1984 — one year younger — and John Orr’s girlfriend. They are both in band and drama club. She is running for ASB President and is a nice and smart person but not a “popular.”

Rich Morgan : He is the football quarterback who is also nice and smart. He’s running for ASB President as well. He’s popular as football star players tend to be who are also nice, smart and good looking.

I’m pretty burnt out of high school. I’m off to college back east and ready to blow this popsicle stand. It seems so confining. So many rules. So little freedom. But I need to run the elections as my final duty for my Student Council position. I wrangle Phill Swagel into writing a program for me that will count the scantron ballots which total around 1700.

The election process is fairly straight forward. Call for nominees. A round of speeches and then the voting and count the ballots. A scanner with Phill’s program makes quick work of it. Phill and I are done in less than an hour. We tally the winners, rubber band the ballots, and bring it to Mr. Tom Anthony who will announce the winners over the loudspeaker the next morning.

Only the next day, I can’t believe my ears. The ASB President winner is Rich (I can’t remember his last name) who won by a landslide. Only Mr. Anthony is announcing that it’s Shelley Sandusky.

Furious, I race to his office to confront him. I’m told by his secretary that I am not allowed to scream at him. I don’t care. I accuse him of cheating. That he’s just a loser shop teacher trying to social climb his way to Principal. That he can’t stop me from going to college. He claims that he did a recount that night and my tally was wrong.

“Liar!” I said. “There’s no way you did a hand tally. That would take hours. I am the only one with the computer program. There’s no way you spent hours counting ballots.”

I demand a recount. I get the ballots, find Phill and we’re off to the library for a recount using his program to rescan the ballots. Now it gets weird.

We are missing several hundred ballots (350?) but the winners of all the other offices — VP, Secretary, Treasurer, and rest of the offices — remain the same. Did Mr. Anthony throw out 350 ballots? If so, why didn’t the winners of the other offices change? Some of those positions were in close contention. Much closer than ASB President. Did he fill out replacement ballots with Shelley’s name keeping the other offices the same but ran out of time or motivation to complete the full number? He probably did not realize I had a total ballot count by way of the program. We could not figure out definitively what had happened. And where did those missing ballots go? I searched the waste basket but it wasn’t in his office. Maybe he took them home?

I track down Rich, the real winner. I tell him that he really won. By a landslide. By 4: 1 margins. He shrugs. I tell him to get his parents involved. He won’t. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is too humiliating to fight for the office. Maybe it isn’t worth the fuss to him. Would it make a difference for college? I don’t know. All the smart kids at my high school want to go to Stanford and only a small handful – 4 at the most — get accepted from our high school.

I’m tired. Tired of high school. It’s not my battle. I did my part and tried to run an honest election but it’s clear to me that this is truly what democracy is: corrupt. Those with power manipulate the results. India is like this and so many other countries that have “democracies.” I’m a jaded teenage. I’ve been reading too much Ayn Rand and Catcher in the Rye. I am sickened but there’s nothing I can do.

Why did Mr. Anthony do this? Is it for dinner invitations at the Orr house? Is his PhD dissertation defense in jeopardy? (He’s a nice guy, but truly not that smart.) Does he think he is doing right by letting Drama Nerd win over Popular Athlete? This is 1983, after all. Decades before High School Musical!

About five years ago, curiosity got the best of me and I called my old high school under an assumed name to find out what happened to Tom Anthony. Posing as “Helen Lee”, I chatted up his secretary. [An assumed name was necessary because I am persona non grata after my little incident.] She gushed about him saying that he was so successful, moving up from Principal to Superintendent in the San Juan Capistrano School District, about 30 miles south.

One of south Orange County’s leading school administrators may leave his post to head a San Diego County school district, officials said Monday.

Thomas R. Anthony, Capistrano Unified’s associate superintendent of secondary schools, is one of two candidates being considered for the superintendent position at Grossmont Union High School District, a suburban school system in eastern San Diego County. LA Times

If selected, Anthony will leave 37,000-student Capistrano Unified for a district of 22,000 high school students, one of the largest secondary school districts in the state.

Anthony, 51, has spent the past 11 years at Capistrano Unified as a district administrator and principal at Capistrano Valley High School.

“I would be sad, really sad” to leave Orange County if given the San Diego job, Anthony said. “I’ve developed a lot of great friendships with administrators, teachers and students here.”

I have a brief fantasy of faxing my story over to the local newspaper. Superintendents are sometimes elected positions. But I am busy raising three kids and though usually good for holding a grudge, it seemed a extreme, even for me.

Now I realized that it’s been 30 years so it’s time for the true story to be heard. Tom Anthony must be retired by now, and it seems that the lesson here is that cheating does pay off. Or does it?

I did a recent google search and found this doozy.

Superintendent Tom Anthony has been sent packing from Fallbrook, December 13, 2007

Along with Ed Brand, Tom Anthony exerted a lot of control over San Diego County Office of Education. Or would it be more correct to say that through Ed Brand and Tom Anthony, Diane Crosier of the SDCOE-JPA exerted a lot of control over school districts? Either way, the personal advancement of individuals in high places has taken precedence over the well being of students in San Diego County.

Fallbrook has gotten rid of Tom Anthony. But has the rest of the county gotten rid of him?

and this …

FALLBROOK — Tom Anthony, the embattled leader of the Fallbrook Union High School District, will resign as superintendent Jan. 11, 2007 under a $319,931 buyout agreement that took effect Tuesday, officials said.

The arrangement requires the district to pay Anthony 18 months of salary — or $281,000 — plus health and other benefits through June 2010. Those figures are spelled out in Anthony’s contract, which would have ended then.

While no one contacted for this story would discuss the reasons behind Anthony’s departure, district teachers have complained for years about what they call his intimidating leadership style.

When polled in March, 122 of the district’s 150 teachers answered ”Strongly disagree” to the statement “I have confidence in the leadership of the superintendent.”

Anthony, who is 62, took over as superintendent in 1997.

The friction extends as far back as 2001, when then-technology director Doug Newton was fired after accessing the telephone voicemail of several teachers who were protesting salary issues.

Newton later charged that Anthony ordered him to gain access to the district-owned voicemail system…

Fallbrook High School Teacher’s Association President Tim Oder accused Anthony of running the campaigns of Fran White and Jim Hutcherson, who are both seeking re-election for the board in November.

“We have a tremendous problem in the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District —- it is people who have abused their power and abused taxpayers’ money,” said Oder.

Oh, Tom Anthony. You are the same person when I was in high school! The more things change, the more they stay the same. You are still up to your old tricks! It seems election fraud is your speciality!

Thomas Anthony, retired in 2009 as superintendent of the Fallbrook Union High School District, San Diego, receives $173,812 or 89 percent of his salary.

[Rudy Castruita, retired in 2006 as superintendent to the San Diego County Office of Education, receives $281,034 or 107 percent of his salary. Rudy was the principal of my high school during this same period.]

Castruita receives the region’s top educator pension of $281,034 a year, or 107 percent of his final salary. That pay in retirement exceeds U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s 2009 base salary of $196,700. Castruita, a 1992 state superintendent of the year, did not return several calls. --San Diego Education Report

After a little more Googling, I found out what happened to Tom Anthony…

The Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District will have a new superintendent starting in June, 2011.

The school board voted last week to hire Michael Reid to replace Interim Superintendent Thomas Anthony at the end of the school year, according to the district. Anthony is a retired administrator from San Diego and was brought in to act as interim superintendent after former Superintendent Douglas Oliveira left for a coaching position at College of the Redwoods.

So that is cheater 1. What do you think? Despite being thrown out, he seems to have fared pretty well. Cheating agrees with him.

Cheater 2 is that promising politco Mark Alan Abrams. He became a real estate broker in the Los Angeles Beverly Hills area where he conducted a series of mortgage frauds affecting Lehman Brothers that went down like this:

Buy the cheapest house in a nice area. For the sake of illusrtation, we’ll call this $500,000.
Do nothing to the house.
Sell it for an inflated price (We’ll call this $1,000,000) to a buyer you are in cahoots with.
Have the house appraised by a crooked appraiser for $1,000,000.
When the bank runs a computer appraisal, it will check out as the homes in that area are in the $1,000,000 range.
Have the new owner take a second mortgage on the house. Default on the mortages. Take the money, split it among yourselves and run.
Do this over and over again.

For a long time, Mark and his partner in crime lived high on the hog, Bernie Madoff style. When it came to a head, his partner tried to escape to Mexico but was captured and extradited. Mark is now serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in jail.

Mark Alan Abrams, 49, of downtown Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson. In addition to the prison term, Judge Pregerson ordered Abrams to pay more than $41 million in restitution to two federally insured banks.

Abrams and Fitzgerald ran a wide-ranging and sophisticated scheme that obtained inflated mortgage loans on homes in some of California’s most expensive neighborhoods, including Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Malibu, Carmel, Mill Valley, Pebble Beach, and La Jolla. Members of the conspiracy—real estate brokers, appraisers, and mortgage bankers, who all shared in the profits from the fraudulent sales—sent false documentation, including bogus purchase contracts and appraisals, to the victim banks to deceive them into funding mortgage loans that were hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the homes actually cost. Lehman Brothers Bank alone was deceived into funding more than 80 such inflated loans from 2000 into 2003, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in losses.

February 15, 2005 | From Times Staff Reports

A week after the city Ethics Commission levied a record $270,000 fine against developer Mark Alan Abrams for laundering political contributions, the panel’s executive director accused six former Abrams associates Monday of participating in the scheme.

Mark Abrams isn’t making any friends either by the comments from this post:

I owe this guy a SERIOUS beat-down from when he used my friend’s dad’s name and literally almost ruined him. My friend’s dad had a severe heart attack because Mark Abrams defrauded him and my friends family back in 1989-1990. My friend’s dad trusted Mark and he drove my friend’s dad to almost ruins health wise. Listen up chump, if I ever find you Mark, I will, with my own bare hands rip your throat out and piss in your neck. Comment by Mark Abrams Hater — April 4, 2007 @ 6:31 pm Hey Mark, remember the white BMW you “sold” me? Remember me making payments to you that you never paid the lien holder to the car? Remember disappearing on me and sending my credit to the toilet because of this and the BMW you “sold” me was repossessed? I swear if I find you or if I find out where you are jailed, I will make sure the rest of your life is miserable. If I do find you before you go to jail, I will stuff every bill you left me with up your ass. You will pay for what you did to me and my family. I GUARANTEE that, you crooked ass loser. Comment by Mark Abrams Hater — April 5, 2007 @ 3:45 pm

I would guess that he is getting some serious beat downs in jail but maybe that doesn’t happen in white collar jail?

You remember that my friend Phillip Swagel was in charge of figuring out what to do when the sub-prime mortgage economic meltdown happened. How strange that a kid from our high school had a role in this. Phill ultimately decided not to bail out Lehman Brothers.

The world is small and everyone is connected. And it seems that character flaws that seem small continue on their path of destruction, leaving many, many victims in its wake.

As for Shelly Sandusky, she got into Stanford. Would she have been admitted had she not been ASB President? Who knows? Would Rich have gotten that coveted spot if he had claimed his rightful position thus demonstrating Leadership which all top colleges love to see? I think he ended up at U.C.L.A.

We’ll never know. Like many kids at top schools who wonder how the heck they got in, she should know that she caught a break. But it’s not so much how you got in, as what you do with it. Shelly is currently an attorney at The Habeas Corpus Resource Center (HCRC), located in San Francisco, which represents indigent men and women under sentence of death in California. The HCRC’s mission is to provide timely, high-quality legal representation for indigent petitioners in death penalty habeas corpus proceedings before the Supreme Court of California and the federal courts.

As for my provincial high school, I have to say that things are pretty exciting in the sleepy town of Los Alamitos where my high school is. We may be country bumpkins, but we aren’t boring!

Los Alamitos High School Swim Team, 1981. I’m the far right in the front row.

p.s. My thanks to Stacy Pollard Zuanich and Andy Morrissey for their help on Facebook recalling the names of the cast. Is it Rich Hernandez who was denied his ASB Presidentship? Also thank you to Rhonda Schwandt for the swim team photo. Good times!

p.p.s. Final thank you to Shelley Sandusky for identifying Rich Morgan as the person who really was elected ASB President and for weighing in.