Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NYSUT and VOTE COPE: Dumb and Dumberer

If you weren't impressed yet with the yield of your Vote Cope donation here's yet another piece of their high octane strategerizing. Apparently the Vote Copers can't afford a spell check option maybe because they've dumped what? half a million plus into Marc Pannepinto the convicted voter fraud's campaign? Well, if you felt a little shortchanged by the battered woman ad that suggested Mark Grisanti would step over her with reptilian detachment on his way to a fundraiser then maybe this Mike Ranzenhofer slam is more your style:

Those Teutonic surnames can be tricky but this is Western New York where people ask reflexively when they learn your name -- What is that? Meaning, is it Polish, German, Irish, Cambodian, Sierra Leonean? We are ethnically obsessed and we can handle these euro names with ease. But the noobs of Vote Cope whoever the hell they are come stumbling into town and they can't even spell "RANZENHOFER? More to the point, they can't even spell LOSING? And they claim to be the political wing of the largest Teacher's Union in New York State? 

So Vote Cope shakes down hard working, tax paying, dues paying teachers for donations. Mind you these teachers are under siege from a sociopathic Governor who just yesterday declared he planned to break the teacher's union if and when he is reelected. I hesitate to mention that said Governor wears the emblem of the Democratic Party jackass, the one NYSUT pursues their abusive relationship with in something of a textbook abusive relationship tableau. 

...Curious to observe also that during the Governor's debate, Kathy Hochul sat with County Executive Mark Poloncarz (who is on record as saying Vote Cope should be embarrassed at their Abused Woman/Grisanti ad) and Byron Brown, Mayor. They sat away from the rest of the rabble in a direct eyeline with Cuomo. Meanwhile the two Dumbocrats who showed up at City Hall to express their deep concern for education were seated in another section. Sean Ryan sat a few rows ahead of us (Green Party invitees) and Tim Kennedy  sat in the seat to my left.  It struck me that these two are not part of the cool kids club and they won't be either as long as they keep up this pro-teacher posturing... 

These aforementioned teachers are also under fire from a Dumbocratic Party federal government that cheerleads the destruction of unions and plays open favorites to charter schools and the powers behind the school privatization movement. So when teachers hand over their hard fought money to a group that claims it will act in their best interests wouldn't you expect that they'd get a little better representation than a picture of a battered woman and another of a generic yogurt container with Halloween letters and two misspellings.

Instead of handing over your hard fought salary to these jackasses I suggest you invest in lottery tickets or take it the casino. The odds can't be any worse than what's coming out of NYSUT these days. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Could NYSUT Suck Any Worse?

Hey kids it's Vote Cope season in case you didn't get an email or a text message. And here's a handy suggestion for how much you should donate: Take the first two numbers of your annual salary and add a zero to them. So if you make $550,000.00 like AFT President Randi Weingarten does just send Vote Cope a check for $550.00. Why would I donate to something that sounds like a pain reliever for the election season? you might ask. Well, if you do you can claim your little piece of the brilliant strategery our bright bulbs at NYSUT's political wing are cranking out. Here's a sample:

I know you'd like to feel special that NYSUT took the time to smear a local hack whose reputation includes switching sides and parties more often than an Afghan warlord not to mention that embarrassing brawl he provoked trying to stick his nose into an argument between two Native Americans in the Seneca Niagara Casino. Ahh but don't get too carried away Western New Yorkers, NYSUT isn't that into you. The Mensa members of NYSUT's New York Post JV team used the same ad against two other candidates downstate Republican Sue Serino and Republican Terrance Murphy. I wonder if Sue and Terrance are polling better than Grisanti whose Republican endorsement was yanked in a primary by a self financed lawyer guy who goes door to door dressed like a character out of an F. Scot Fitzgerald novel, one Kevin Stocker. The overkill employed against Grisanti is vile enough on its own demerits. To imply that he'd blithely stand by checking his email and Facebook via iphone while battered women crawled at his feet pleading for help is the stuff of mudslinging with broken glass in the mud. 

And the real payoff comes when the Buffalo News and everyone else who's looking for a cheap shot at teachers gets hold of the ad, finds local Democrats like County Executive, Mark Poloncarz to denounce it for the rot that it is. This was his reaction to the flier Thursday morning on Twitter:

“Came home from debate to find this in the mail. Horrible. This makes people hate politics. Vote-Cope should be embarrassed.” ( I saw him at the debate sitting next to Kathy Hochul and Mayor Byron Squarepants).

Marc Panepinto, who has a  2000 conviction for voter fraud involving invalid signatures is the Democratic Party candidate to whom NYSUT is funneling hundreds of thousands of Vote Cope dollars this cycle. According to the Buffalo News, "Panepinto’s campaign said that it has nothing to do with the flier but did not take issue with it." “Our campaign has nothing to do with independent expenditures, including this shameful mailer,” said campaign spokesman Conor C. McMahon. “But it’s clear that Grisanti’s ultraconservative opposition to women’s equality is out of step with Western New York voters.”

So they admit it's shameful, deny and any association with it but try to piggyback a free plug in making a follow up statement that actually elaborates on the message they just referred to as "shameful." 

In case the Fullbright Fellows of Vote Cope aren't aware, Buffalo Schools are currently under siege from nearly every corner of the globe. The Buffalo Board of Ed is now run by a majority of wealthy white men with friends in the charter school business. The titular head of the parent group in Buffalo just co-authored a letter to the editor clamoring for more of the wealthy white mens' agenda, more charters, more closings, more teacher and union bashing. Board member Carl Paladino was recently heard explaining his educational philosophy to a group of Erie County businessmen in the following terms: 

By no coincidence school closer, charter promoter, non educator "Education Expert" Dr. Terry Ross is coming to Buffalo to share his vision of closed schools, high graduation rates through attrition and mandatory entrance exams to anyone willing to show up at Waterfront School on a Friday night or Saturday morning in December. It's been said Eva Moskowitz is looking to gain a foothold for her despicable "Success Academies" here. In short, the few of us left who get it and are willing to fight find ourselves in something of an Alamo situation. 

One might expect given the current climate, with teachers in desperate need of all the friends we can find that our state union would refrain from doing something so egregious, so completely stupid and reckless that the average jerk on the street would be hard pressed to disagree when The Buffalo News unloads in one of their trademark teacher bashing editorials under the headline:

Teachers Should Be Ashamed of Union's Unseemly Efforts to Unseat Grisanti followed by "...it is rare that Western New Yorkers are subjected to a campaign as vile and devious as the one leaving its trail in the 3 way race to represent the 60th Senate district and driving the dishonest and distorted contest are New York's school teachers or more specifically New York State United Teachers the largest of the state's teacher unions." 

A friend the other day made what I took to be a darkly comic remark when he said it. I am now re-thinking the comedy end of it and looking at the possibility that he is onto something. Do you ever wonder, he asked, if Buffalo is being offered up as a sacrifice?  Now I am not one for conspiracy theories and I have always gritted my teeth when the end of the bar gasbags pronounce all unions to be corrupt and in league with the powers they are supposed to be doing battle with. It's getting harder and harder to argue with these kinds of gasbags when even the Buffalo News is able to pimpsmack teachers then qualify it later by saying "Oh, we meant their union, not them" it's pretty hard to see where my union has my best interests at heart. Their motives are their own and they operate in a thick layer of insulation from anyone I know. Call me conspiracy theorist, call me "divisive" as they do any time you object to Mulgrew or Weingarten's self serving hijinx. Just call me in a really loud voice cause my tinfoil hat is going to have some gigantic earflaps. This is Buffalo, it gets cold here. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Buffalo Board of Education A Confederacy of Abomination

Charter Supporter Rallies His Troops

Rarely have I found myself with so much to hate in a given post that I almost couldn't write it. Today my poetry club girls wanted a topic or theme to write about so I suggested "Ambivalence." Since these are bright motivated kids they quickly dove into it. I am not enjoying the same quick acceleration as this is beginning to remind me of why I haven't watched one episode of House of Cards, Season Two. Namely, I find all of the characters unbearably Hobbesean, insufferable and odious. Hate waits for no man as I well know though so let's get this party started.

Commencing with a crazy exchange of correspondence I tripped across in a scurrilous little blog operated by a rich kid opportunist (Matthew Ricchiazzi)from what I can gather and aided by someone named Mike Madigan whom I saw described thusly in Artvoice by the inimitable Michael Caputo (with whom I suffered through a UB class called Literary Journalism back in the Dark Ages) :  "Mike Madigan is a crazy scumbag, a lying piece of shit, completely clueless about politics, convinced 9-11 is an inside job, and clearly knows absolutely nothing about the League or much else. He's the guy who protested about abortion while selling fetal stem cells for a living. No self respecting Republican would be caught near him and I wouldn't wipe my ass with him if he was 2-ply. Fuck him."

O.k. now that we've got that ball rolling... MM and MR operate this bloggish enterprise called The Buffalo Chronicle whose gothic scripted masthead recalls the age old banner of the Courier Express or Pac's Thug Life tat depending on your frame of reference. There's definitely a right leaning odor coming off this thing but I can't say it's Republican, Caputo won't for damned sure. I can't exactly call it Libertarian either but maybe that's closer than anything else. I have recently coined the derogatory term Teapartarian to describe any sensibility that tends to towards anger, intolerance, excessive violent over reaction and am irrational execration towards anything that could be construed as "liberal" or "Democrat." Tom Bauerle, pm drive time rightie of WBEN AM's suggestion that the Canadian government videotape the Ottawa shooter's body being stuffed inside of a pig carcass and interred somewhere on the steppes of Manitoba is a good example of the Teapartarian pulse. This, according to Tom is meant to offend his recently converted Islamic sensibilities and deny him a respectful burial. As it were.

The "Who Do I Hate More?" daisy petals begin to fall with one of Carl Paladino's (School Board member, Charter School Landlord to the 3rd power with no less than 2 more charter leasees in the pipeline) lawyers sending a Buffalo School Principal a letter on Paladino's Law firm stationery and identifying herself as a lawyer using an Ellicott Development email address. The contents of the letter essentially challenge the Principal for telling a parent active in the Opt Out movement that she is no longer welcome on school grounds. Oh wait now. I do think Carl is a scumbag but where does this Principal get off telling a parent such illegal, bullying garbage? The Principal in question, Tonja Williams, served as administrator of Home Instruction for a few years, a  job usually given to someone of marginal talent with a few years until retirement. I am not aware of her chops as a Principal nor her acquisition of that City Hall shortcut doctorate the dreaded EdD by which one is able to ascend the payscale without incurring much of the edification ordinarily involved in a real doctoral program. As director of H.I. she existed on paper but operated in full stealth mode invisibility and nobody was calling her "Doctor."

To fully enjoy the byzantine depths of invidiousness of both sides in this ping pong of the malignancy one should really read the exchange in all its  putrid entirety HERE. If you fear for the moments of your life you will surrender and never get back I can tell you the Principal forwarded the letter to the Board of ed attorney's office who then wrote back to the Carl's employee who forwarded that letter to Carl who responded to the Board's attorney asking:

Rashondra, I would assume you have some unusual  legal basis for your response.  The State allowed opt out.  What did Mary Bishop (parent)  do wrong?  Does Tanya Williams set her own policies?

I found this pretty reasonable even coming from a guy who sent horse porn to his friends. The Board lawyer responds and CC's Interim Superintendent Ogilve as well as all the other Board Members. And now, it is, as they say on the corner, officially "ON BITCHES!"

Nevergold calls out Carl for using an employee from his private practice to essentially intimidate an employee of the school district for which he serves as a board member. She exhorts Carl's Majority Ally James Sampson the current Board President to address the matter. At this point Carl is out of rational cards to play so he creates a verbal mural like one of those bizarre billboards he slaps up along the 90 downtown on the side of his building. I think the last one was Brian Higgins dancing marionette like on Pelosian strings. Here is the Carl money shot in all its glory:

Ms. Nevergold, you never cease to amaze me.

You have in the past looked the other way when your sisters Ms Cottman and Cassandra Wright acted as the sisterhood muscle to intimidate those teachers at Bennett who dared to speak up at a Board meeting to denounce the incompetent Principal.

Now you complain and blindly defend when one of your sisters is asked why she ignored State Law giving parents the right to opt out of testing and why she imposed sanctions on a parent. In the recent past, the Administration had been impossible to approach, incompetent, dysfunctional and not transparent. As a result,  many parents, administrators and others contact Board members with their problems. We get a huge amount of complaints and I try to answer every one of them.  My assistants always carry themselves professionally.   In this case, I was approached by a parent regarding an incompetent principal, who achieved tenure only by way of chicanery, administered the lowest rated priority school in the district.  She is so unskilled that it has been necessary to pay a full time assistant to follow her around and tell her what to do. She had specifically instructed teachers not to take attendance.  Violence is rampant because there is very little discipline.  She is obviously part of the sisterhood friends and family club.  She was given a fraudulent, exaggerated and incomplete APPR and recommendation for tenure by a Chief of School Leadership who has in the past lied, schemed and acted as the muscle for the past majority/present minority. Intending to respond, I was in the process of getting both sides of the story necessary to do so.

You should find something else to do with your time.  Any Board member who would take money and support from the union, the chief adversary of the Board, and not see it as a conflict is seriously lacking in good judgment.  Your actions opposing matters involving charter schools clearly indicate that you are a pawn of Phil Rumore.  If you really wanted to help the kids you would get Rumore to give up the management prerogative that paralyses the Administration’s ability to function.  You refused to appoint me to the Joint Schools Construction Board when I was the only person on the Board of Ed who had any experience in Construction and now we find that the real reason for not appointing me was that you and Florence Johnson violated the public trust as fiduciaries and were complicit with others to deny transparency on the lack of any reasonable due diligence before certifying payments to the Program Manager during the entire term of the 12-year $1.4 billion contract.  Although the lack of such reasonable due diligence and oversight demands a complete and through independent audit that any knowing and responsible fiduciary would recognize, you chose to lead the minority of the Board to vote against the audit.  Your motivations are highly suspect.  Last year when the Board was considering the discharge of Pamela Brown, you , as President of the Board, conspired to pack the Board meeting with your friends and family club and allow a number of your trained activist friends to spew venom and racist remarks at me during the public speaking portion of the meeting.

I recognize that it is difficult to become irrelevant but the system failed dramatically under the watch of you and your former majority cohorts’.  You are blind to your incompetence and the dysfunction that your racist and union oriented  attitudes brought to the Buffalo Public Schools.  You are obviously more interested in enjoying the power of the office than doing anything positive for the kids.  You should resign.

The Sorority Majority has pretty much been rendered toothless by the May election results where Carl's developer pal and former part owner of the Sabres Larry Quinn breezed into office on a "throw the bums out and bring in the rich connected white guys" ticket. The Sorority Majority were a shiftless, cronyistic and race driven coven, make no mistake. The real damage they did was in creating an "Anyone but Them Mentality" among the 2% of people who actually vote in school board elections. Nobody bothered to ask why Larry Quinn all of a sudden gives a flying fuck about education. Nor did they ever ask Patty Bowers Pierce if she'd ever had an original idea in her vacuous head or if her only contribution to the children of B-Lo would be to vote however Quinn, Sampson and Carl told her to vote. Nobody gave a shit. All voters wanted was to unload this corrupt, self serving, race card playing Sisterhood as Carl loves to call them. They chalked up a 6 year reign of terror hiring thug jackass James Williams and two more years of circling the edu-drain under Pamela Pearls Brown, PhD Harvard. They stuffed their faces on catered meals before and during meetings, they took trips to conferences other members described as shopping and restaurant tours with no report on the conference materials and no feedback to other members who weren't part of their junkets. They hired multiple unqualified incompetents and ran off Amber Dixon a competent knowledgeable Super because she wasn't black. And now they've made it possible for a cadre of moneyed pompous asses to start making deals with Rookie Commissioner King, with Frank McGuire and likely Steve Polowitz and his Chameleons as well. Word has it Eva Destruction and her Suckcess Academy is probing the possibility of a Buffalo franchise. The Sorority Majority's legacy of sucking continues even though their own influence is dead and gone. As I told you a while ago, there is almost too much here to adequately despise all of it. But we'll give it a shot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ed Reformers/Charter Profiteers Put on Notice in B-Lo

Assemblyman Ryan Shortly Before M.O.B. Brought the Thunder

Today's rally against the corporate takeover of Buffalo Public Schools was a good old fashioned (and long overdue) shot in the arm for me and I think a lot of other people who are weary and wary of the creeping creeps who've emerged as the "New Majority" of B-lo's Board of Education.
It was good to hear that so many other people are hip to the games being played behind closed doors among the NYSED friendly, wealthy insider's Caucasian Caucus.
I was glad to hear others laughing out loud at Larry the Liar Quinn's lame assertion that neither he nor any of his Brahmin associates has had any talks with charter school operators. Hearken back to school board election night as the Buffalo News reported breathlessly on Quinn sitting in an elevated table at Bacchus wine bar shoveling prawns and scallops down his gullet seated alongside Frank McGuire, the guy whose company is teaming with Paladino's to convert the Holy Angels building to a charter school. Yeah, that's who he's chilling with on election night but we are all supposed to believe that they haven't been sharing spread sheets on Lafayette, Bennett and the rest. Get real.
It was great to hear the teachers and Principal Naomi Cere from Lafayette, the kids from Lafayette with signs in Arabic and Burmese asking Can You Pass this Test?
It was good to hear someone point out that Carl Paladino a sitting board of education member is collecting over a million per year in rent from just one of the three charter schools he leases property to. I am not happy about it but I am thrilled to hear a Parent Teacher Group representative talk about it. Curious too that the Buffalo News wrote a fawning fellation of said school for Sunday's feature yet somehow neglected that tiny detail in their reportage.
I enjoyed watching idiot Dumbocrat Assemblyman Sean Ryan being eviscerated as he tried to talk by local educational loose cannon and gadfly Michael O'Bowen. Ryan didn't seem to know what to do as Michael strode toward him his trade mark top hat and monopoly character costume in full effect roaring "You are a disgrace! You don't stand for kids! How dare you stand up here!"It was a little like watching Beth Dimino of PJSTA lay into Tisch and King and tell them to resign last year during their star crossed and ill fated barnstorming of the Empire State. Phil Rumore eventually intervened to belly bump O'Bowen aside but not before Michael made his point. I truly hope the smattering of people who tried to shush him have looked into Ryan's antics on both sides of the argument to comprehend why Michael ambushed him as he did. It more than paid for my downtown parking.
I am no fan of Dumbocrat Sean Ryan's as he invited Dowager Empress Tisch here last year supposedly to prove to her that our international schools are thriving and the failing schools myth is exactly that. At least that's what NYSUT Regional Poobah Deely told me when I asked for his support in organizing a protest against Tisch showing her face on B-lo turf. He is bringing her here to show her that the failing schools story is bullshit, why protest that? Deely wrote back. But when the day came and Ryan went to say something to Tisch she interrupted him, attacked low scores of Buffalo's immigrant kids and said I know what success looks like, come to Brooklyn. So instead of putting her in her place, he got punked by Tisch and silenced like a twerpy bell hop with a wave of her imperious hand. Fortunately, loose cannon Bowen was once again on hand outside to fling monopoly money in Tisch and Bennett's faces as they scurried like rats to their CIA-ish black Suburban.
After Ryan we heard from South Buffalo blogger and political analyst Mike Blake's favorite chewtoy, NYSUT darling and Dumbocrat Tim Kennedy. Kind of comical that Phil Rumore had to introduce Kennedy as some stalwart friend of public education when any sentient being in the 716 knows Phil is a dyed in the wool Betty Jean Grantophile to the point that NYSUT's ensorsement of Kennedy and their nifty $10K donation to him last cycle likely had everything to do with Phil's eager endorsement of the current crew of stooges running NYSUT as it offered a chance to bury an axe in what remained of outgoing Prez Dick Ianuzzi's career. Ianuzzi, the story goes, is the one mainly responsible for giving the nod to Kennedy instead of Grant. Custom previously allowed the local Prez to make the call in such matters but for whatever reason, Ianuzzi put the wood to Phil and handed it to Kennedy over Rumore's objections. And while Timmy bloviated his way through a list of memorized data bullets, essentially hitting all the right notes for the assembled crowd, it was not lost on the assemblage that this SB resident may have overdone it with the bloody blarney. For all of his public education blather Tim surely hoped nobody remembers as far back as a week ago when a charter school proposal with his big fat Imprimatur all over it was shot down by NYSED.  Here's a little quote about the SMART charter getting denied from our champion of public schools Timmy K: Senator Kennedy said, "The indication that we've gotten is that the application is not only viable but very strong and that the denial should not have happened, and we're trying to figure out exactly where the application went wrong and get those answers over to those folks." Mmmm yeah. I am thinking of an old Pete Seeger tune about now can you guess which one it is?
In spite of the gasbaggery and specious blarney from Ryan and Kennedy, the other speakers were highly energized, on point and eager to take the fight to the boys' club who are looking all too eager to cozy up to rookie amateur John King and privatize as much of B-Lo as they can sink their hooks into. Once the politicians were disposed of the message was loud and clear. The energy was good, the focus was 20/20 and the kids from Bennett and Lafayette were a joy to behold. We are apparently stuck with the Dumbocratic Party and NYSUT in a strangely selective symbiotic waltz. I say strangely symbiotic as it only seems to benefit the hacks who've attached themselves to teacher's unions and the hacks who serve as administrators of those unions. Double strange that the governor himself claims to be a Democrat but could give Scot Walker a run for his Republican money on any given day. I look forward to reclaiming our unions, reclaiming our schools and ridding ourselves of parasites who show up for photo ops and to collect endorsements and donations then run out and work very very hard against us. If we can keep this moving and maintain a shred of the energy I felt this afternoon in Niagara Square I believe the Rich Guys' Charter School Club may be headed for the dustbin.

If you're looking for your next fix or you missed this one you will have to attend A Forum on Corporate School Reform and a Public Vison for Public Education on Saturday November 15 at 12:30 pm. The location is the Karpeles Library Manuscript Museum 453 Porter Ave. Buffalo NY. Be There and Bring a Friend. Local educational savant Professor Mark Garrison and NYC Parent Advocate extraordinaire Leonie Hamison will share their invaluable insights into dealing with the ed reform class. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cronies and Phonies in the Philly School Mess

When the crony stacked School Reform Commission decided to cancel the Philly Teachers' contract in one of those clever clandestine ed reform meetings here is a sampling of the bullshit rhetoric Commissoner Goodhair ejaculated for the cameras:

“We can’t say to students, ‘We would like to give you millions of dollars to improve schools, but the PFT won’t let its members pay for some of its health insurance,’” School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green said, referring to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. It is time for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to share in the sacrifice,” Green said in an interview before the vote.
Lawyer, Stooge and Corbett Appointed Douchebag Bill Green

And when Governor Tom Corbett took office he issued similar rumblings, surely aiming to rouse the teabagger sentiments of Keystone staters: 

"If government is here to share the taxpayer's wealth then everyone needs to share in the sacrifice," said the new governor, whose relaxed posture and shock of white hair threw off an aura of imperial calm, even as he metaphorically jabbed a budget dagger so sharp that would have made Caligula proud. "Educators, Pennsylvanians await your decision."

A lot of "tough talk" and "rugged individual responsibility" being shoveled around in PA. Time for teachers to get a haircut as one of our local ed reform erections likes to suggest would happen if he and his pals ever get their hands on a public school. Here, Corbett calls teachers out directly, much the same way Commissioner Goodhair his handpicked lawyer and stooge who runs the "Reform Commission" in Philly. (The other members of this bogus "commission" include another lawyer, an HMO executive, The Principal of an Honors School and a "Parent Advocate" of some sort. We have a similar situation here in B-Lo with a so called Parent Advocate who serves as the ed reform stooge and poop boy.)

Yes, no doubt Governor Tom Corbett is a weapons grade asshole when it comes to public employees. He seems to be a much nicer guy to some folks though. And at this point we see there are certain rules for some and vastly different rules for others in Pennsyltucky. If you are a teacher in PA you are part of the problem, you steal money from kids and their classrooms and Governor Corbett is going to put you in check, fast. If you don't like it that's just too goddamned bad. 

If you are an out of state hydrofracker though your rules are a lot more accommodating. And if by some chance your business friendly rules put you ahead by a few billion there's nobody in the Governor's mansion who's going to refuse a little baksheesh toward the campaign fund: 

The companies take in hundreds of millions of dollars without paying any dedicated Pennsylvania tax -- even as such levies are imposed in the other 14 of the top 15 gas-producing states, even in red-state bastions of free-market libertarianism like Dick Cheney's native Wyoming and George W. Bush's Texas.

In a remarkable coincidence, 2010 gubernatorial candidate Corbett received a whopping $835,720 from oil-and-natural gas interests, including his largest single contributor - Marcellus Shale driller Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who gave $305,000 to the Republican's campaign at the same time Pegula was selling his exploration firm to Royal Dutch Shell and pocketing a $3 billion check. Indeed, Corbett's career in elective Pennsylvania politics was launched in 2004 when an Oklahoma gas driller - Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy - funneled most of the dollars for an eye-popping $480,000 donation that went to Corbett's attorney general campaign from an obscure GOP fund.

As a Buffalo Bills' fan I am in some real way glad the team is staying here. In a more abstract way I am glad the Sabres will remain here too for the foreseeable future. But the fact that the guy who owns both teams donated more money to a piece of shit like Tom Corbett than anyone else makes me wonder just how bad would it have been if the Bills ended up in Toronto? 

Tom Corbett thinks a teacher earning 50K with kids, a mortgage, car payments and college tuition to worry about needs to "share in the sacrifice." But somehow on Planet Corbett, a billionaire who writes him a  campaign donation for almost half a million is somehow exempt from sharing even one penny in state taxes in that same "sacrifice." Repeat that, teachers salaries are slashed, frackers pay not one cent in taxes on billion dollar earnings. "Wealthy drillers are making tons of money while dramatically changing the character of the countryside - and they ought to pay their fair share,"  Senator Greg Vitali said. "It's absolute insanity. It's absolutely indefensible." Governor Corbett, his Reform Commission and the Pegulas can all go fuck themselves. This is why we need a revolution. The sooner the better. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Move Over Ed Reformers, You Have Corporate Company

Hipster retailer Urban Outfitters, aside from being an overpriced boutique for  affluent young douchebags, has rung the Asshole Capitalism bell in a huge way this season. Obviously UO's not my kinda joint and what the hell does this have to do with Common Core, the abysmal state of American Labor or the Buffalo Board of Ed? both of my readers are asking. 

It's one of those coverups that's more egregious than the crime situations. And when all the shuck and jive, the spin and the heartfelt yet non incriminating mea culpas are issued, it's clear that this was never about anything more than making a buck. Not unlike the dazzling rifts of rhetoric our amusing friends from the ed reform industry concoct in an effort to paint their own motives as altruistic when we can simply plug our ears and follow the money as it flows into their already teeming coffers. 

If you've been living under the other half of the rock I usually use for cover here's what they did : 

In case your lasiks surgery is failing you, yes, they colored a Kent State shirt to look blood spattered, called it "Vintage" and put it up for $129.00. US. And when the blowback started, as I guess everyone but the snarky shitheads at UO knew it would they consulted the Michael Vick/ Rob Ford handbook for non apologies and offered this dubious ejaculation : 

Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.

"Any offense it may have caused". Assumed of course is that some hypersensitive knee jerk consumer watchdog with serious wood for these hapless hipsters went off the deep end about something that happened in Ohio for God's sake and it was decades ago...

"The red stains are discoloration and the holes from natural wear and fray" in case anyone thought we were trying to make it look like someone was shot while wearing it...

"We regret that it was perceived negatively..." How in hell that happened we will never know... "and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset..." big hearted sensitive slobs that we are.

Urban Outfitters are getting pretty skilled in this kind of damage control it turns out. Among the store's other misperceptions of reality were their t shirts picturing a 15 year old model Hailey Clauson in this pose. One her parents said the store had no permission to use let alone slap on a t shirt for $29.00. Any question what they're selling here? 

Cashing in on protesting college kids gunned down on a campus, underage girl crotch shots, promoting prescription drug and alcohol use and minting faux "Navajo" panties in China is how Urban Outfitters rolls. In Post Ferguson America it's no stretch to imagine any number of yahooized law enforcement agencies in their helmets and armored rigs mowing down a hell of a lot more than 4 kids with their battlefield ready equipage. Somehow, though, a corporate entity like Urban Outfitters manages to excuse itself from the larger contextual responsibilities the rest of us try to obey. We don't yell fire! in multiplexes or Bingo! in crowded smoke filled casinos. But then again if we were desperate to make a buck, desperate as the lilliputian minds at urban Outfitters we might just be yelling both of those things and worse. An article in Business Insider from May of this year points out three of the company's biggest problems including their tone deaf attempts at being edgy that all end up about as edgy as your drunken uncle groping your 12 year old sister on the dance floor of a family wedding. Here's yet another of their zany misfires.  

There's edgy. And then there's just being an asshole. Someone at this place doesn't seem to know there's a difference. And in the name of profit they keep blundering ahead offering denial after lame apology after denial. It's not like they can say, hey it's for the children, even though their target audience is the 18-24 crowd. It really is for the children. Well, more accurately, it's aimed at the children in the most cynical and prehensile vision of capitalism you can imagine. But in the end it's for the company, the wrong headed, assholic, overpriced and socially inept company who thinks no matter how insulting, insensitive, demeaning or stupid their message is, some dumbass with Daddy's AmEx card is going to walk out of the mall  $29.00 lighter pleased with himself and his edgy gear. Say it aint so America.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Refuse to Wear a Blue Shirt to School and Why You Shouldn't Either


Fifteen or so years ago I didn't mind wearing a BTF t shirt to school on Fridays, adhering BTF stickers to said shirt and parading back and forth across the parking lot before school carrying a picket sign. At the time it seemed we were in some sort of solidarity or at very least we were able to project the image of solidarity to the community, the school board and the odd parent or two who genuinely seemed to support us in our plight.

Currently, the school I teach in has 3 Buffalo teachers and assorted other teachers from BOCES. We are a treatment facility, a psychiatric day school and, technically, a hospital setting. So it wouldn't look terribly cool for us to march up and down on a very narrow sidewalk creating an obstruction for foot traffic and kids who already have enough on their plates that they don't need to start their day wondering what teachers are pissed off about. Phil Rumore's call to picketing is a non starter at my school. I see roll upon roll of those damned stickers jammed into an empty mail slot and I imagine if I was of a mind to I could probably cover myself in them on Fridays for dramatic effect as per Phil's recommendation. Today on Twitter I saw a pic of some teachers all wearing blue as a show of support for their students. I think this is nice. Teachers are generally nice people, if a bit know-it-allish, control freakish, chicken-shittish and possibly passive aggressive-ish. But still, nice people, teachers, for the most part.

It wasn't my intent to send a fastball into their wheelhouse but when I saw the NYSUT hashtag on the pic I couldn't resist asking if the teachers were also pressed into service making robocalls for Kathy Hochul too? Of course the response was confused. How would they know what the hell I was talking about and why was I being such an asshole? I am trying to be fair. The guy asked if I wore blue to support my students and I suddenly felt as though we were from different planets. He is from a place where they still do stuff like wear the same colored shirts so they can take a pic of themselves in said shirts and forward it to their regional NYSUT person who will then post it as a sign of the strong solidarity NYSUT engenders among those quaint, clueless rank and filers and a feather in his/her cap for managing the peons so adeptly. Sadly, on the planet I'm from in the current state of affairs --where NYSUT leadership still hasn't adequately explained a deal they cut to pad their retirements while they fought tooth and nail to keep an outgoing rep from enjoying the same benefit; where the President of AFT and the President of NEA both seem to have some addiction to Bill Gates money if not Gates his own self; where today it was reported that Randi Weingarten President of AFT was making robocalls on behalf of Andrew Cuomo's running mate thereby on behalf of Cuomo as well and where most of what union leadership does when it does anything seems to benefit them and exclude the membership -- when I hear of a group of teachers wearing blue shirts I visualize this:

While NYSUT members jeer CCSS powerpoint NYUST leadership supports CCSS at AFT Convention. This is known as Doublespeak.

As things stand I don't see our unions representing us, standing up for us or asking us what we think about issues and listening to our input. I see them throwing distractions at us like Pissed Off in the Pines where we were encouraged to sacrifice a Sunday from our families, ride a bus all day to Lake Placid, parade around in the rain for an hour or so while Randi Weingarten was handed a bullhorn to bloviate all of the usual rah rah bullshit they use to rile up the rubes then climb back on the bus wet and cold and spend the next 6 hours sodden and bedraggled wondering why we bothered. They distract us with stickers and rah rah and bullshit and make a bunch of fades like they are actually going to listen to us and then when it comes time they find a way to keep Zephyr Teachout from addressing the assembly no matter what kind of breach of protocol they have to commit. They simply don't give a fuck and they dare us to do something about it every time they shut us out or make excuses for their bullshit deals or for Weingarten being on the wrong side of every last goddamned issue that involves teachers getting bent over. They dare us to do something about it because they are certain we won't. And today they dared us again. I guess my question is what are we going to do about it? How do we got about replacing union leadership that refuses to unify and refuses to lead? What's the first step? I think it's time we let them know their 15 minutes are up and they are done screwing us to the wall and before we can get a word out they are asking us to wear t shirts decals and picket signs as some show of solidarity that doesn't exist to a community that largely has been turned against us by the very people our union leadership is in bed with. It's time to turn the page and make some history. Time to get rid of the self serving dead weight who think they can keep making backroom deals that benefit them and screw teachers. It's well past time. We, my friends, are long overdue for change.