Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Parson's Tale : His Name is Richard but You'll want to Call Him Dick.

In November 2008, lifelong Republican Dick Parsons was brought into President-elect Obama’s transition team, thanks to then-Citigroup chairman Robert Rubin. There was talk that Parsons might be Obama’s Treasury Secretary; instead, in January 2009, he replaced Rubin as Citi’s chairman.

Any undecideds out there still trying to figure out  Governor Cuomo's regard for teachers and the state of education in New York need look no further than Cuomo's selection  of Richard Parsons the educzar to head Governor Andrew Cuomo's Commission for Education Reform. I imagine a guy in charge of even a non swing state like New York must still know a fair number of men and women who could safely be called experts in the field of education. Imagine the list of Educational bon vivants Andrew Cuomo could throw together from the various fund raisers, ribbon cuttings, Dyngus Day parades and power breakfasts he's attended since he started his merry run in politics. Yet in spite of all that our Governor dug up a three time failure as corporate CEO with a mysterious/questionable educational past and a love child scandal just for good luck.  In true reformer/privatizer fashion though Parsons' wedlock-free child was born to his 32 year old "model/philanthropist" mistress, one Della Cooper. 

In a sane world one might expect someone in charge of an education reform commission would have 25 to 30 years in education as teacher, administrator, Superintendent, you know the usual track we see from ed vets. But in keeping with the Privatizer's handbook, Cuomo follows one of the most crucial tenets of his caste : make sure the person you put in charge doesn't know shite about education, They should have never wasted one second of their infinitely more important lives teaching iffy kids in a dingy classroom or trying to maintain order and education in the busy hallways of a real school. To maximize insult and minimize the value of those overblown greedy phony teachers, always appoint people with absolutely no facility whatsoever in education to make important decisions about education, kids and teachers. It's so easy and idiot with a bachelor's in sociology can do it, right Arne Duncan?

If Cuomo looked under a thousand rocks he couldn't have found a better representative of what he stands for better yet what he fails to stand for, in the failed upward, Rockerfeller enabled, law suit and lovechild addled personage of three time disgraced CEO Dick Parsons.

Dick, it turns out, was always a slacker and was busily engaged in shooting pool chilling and failing out of college, (same as he did with High School) in Hawaii when it was revealed to him that his grandfather had been a favorite domestic employee of Nelson Rockerfeller. I am working primarily from the authoritative article written for by Mark Ames : 

So Parsons dropped out of high school with a “C” average, earning a GED certificate. He enrolled in the University of Hawaii for reasons he could never really explain, joined a frat, and became their social chairman. As one of Parsons’ frat brohs recalled to journalist Nina Munk, “Here’s this guy who’s at the bar sixty-seven days in a row and, as you can imagine, he did very poorly in school.” Parsons did worse than poorly: He flunked out of U. Hawaii. Without earning a degree. And then slacker Dick Parsons met oligarch Nelson Rockefeller, and from here on out, Parsons lived out a Cinderella fairytale for the One Percenters. As luck would have it, Dick Parsons’ grandfather was once a favorite groundskeeper at the famous Rockefeller Compound in Pocantico Hills and lived in a hut on in the shadow of the oligarchs’ mansion. Soon, Dick Parsons and his wife would move into one of those same groundskeepers huts under Nelson Rockefeller’s patronage.

And in typical charter/reformer/shameless political hack fashion (Katie Campos anyone?) Parsons was somehow admitted to Albany Law School even though he never finished his undergrad at Hawaii. It's cool to have Nelson Rockerfeller behind you I guess even when Rocky's pal Harry Albright is in charge of scoring the Bar exams and Dick Parsons who couldn't even finish high school or college somehow pulls off the highest score of the Bar of anyone that year. Sorry to all you Harvard and Yale guys, the scoring just wasn't weighted your way I guess...Oh and in case you're wondering who the Valedictorian of Albany Law was that year I'll give you one guess and a clue - he flunked out of college and quit high school. 
And in yet another stroke of nepotistic good fortune for Dick, Harry Albright, Rockerfeller's major domo was head of Dime Savings at the time and held the door for Dick to come in and take over when he left. 
61 Year old Dick Parsons 3 time failure as CEO poses for  posterity with his baby mama the model/philanthropist 30 years his junior.

Parsons did something right at Dime Savings. Something wrong for everyone else, but something right for those who mattered. A handful of executives pulled off what looks remarkably like the sort of “control fraud” scheme described by Bill Black: Quickly saddle the thrift with enormous amounts of bad mortgage loans, inflate the assets, loot, cash out, and dump the problem on the public.
Parsons proved himself useful in that scam. He played wingman for Harry Albright as they loaded Dime up with bad mortgage loans in warp-speed time, practically doubling the asset base from less than $7 billion in early 1987 to over $12 billion in late 1988. At the same time, as reported in the New York Times, “Checks from thousands of homeowners stopped coming.”
Suffice it to say that Dick Parsons continued on his merry way dodging responsibility for his unethical and shitty business practices while continuing to fail upwards with the help of his Rockerfeller Get Out of Shit Free card. Parsons moved to Time Warner after Dime came crashing down and while there he managed more of the same strange "successes" that got him this far :

Michael Eisner of Disney, which battled with Time Warner for access, praised Mr. Parsons: ”He handled himself in such a gentlemanly and reasonable way that he got the job done.”
Everyone else would disagree of course—as revealed in the dozens of lawsuits against Dick Parsons and his fellow execs at AOL Time Warner. But they don’t count—and besides, all those settlements and legal fees were covered by AOL Time Warner, meaning Parsons and the executives were able to plunder the company to pay for their previous plunder of the company. No skin off Parsons’ back, and no skin off of the backs of those whom he “owes.”
It all reads like some half-baked hippie’s paranoid Bilderberg-obsession—and yet, Parsons’ failure up to the top, guided all the way by his “network” of oligarchs, is just the flat, unvarnished reality.
In 2007, as Citigroup director in charge of the compensation committee, it was Parsons who approved the obscene pay for outgoing CEO Chuck Prince. Parsons also played a key role in hiring current CEO Vikram Pandit, and in Citi’s awful decision to buy Pandit’s failing hedge fund, Old Lane, for $800 million in 2007—netting Pandit a cool $80 million. Shortly afterwards, Citi shut down Old Lane, collapsed, and turned to taxpayers for a $50 billion bailout and hundreds of billions more in guarantees and the like.

So it doesn't matter that the guy is a first rate empty suit or a thief, a liar and a confidence man who dumps his mistakes on taxpayers while stuffing his suitcase with millions as he runs out the back door. What matters is that he's a darling of the 1%ers who benefit every time some new scam arises where taxpayers end up paying for the frat boy orgy and the frat boys all go home with the strippers phone numbers while the public gets stuck paying for cleaning up their latest mess. 
 It’s time to admit it once and for all: Failure is the whole point. Failure makes looting easier and quicker. In that sense, Dick Parsons has been rewarded for a job well done. The game is rigged, and Dick Parsons’ rancid story gives some insight into how the rigging operates, and why failure is so valuable. What looks like failure to us, like losing our jobs and our future and our democracy—is success and riches to the One Percent who profit from this dystopian setup.
Here in the Empire State this is the kind of character our governor thinks we need to make important decisions about education, about playing hardball with teachers unions and closing public schools to open more for profit charters staffed by greenhorns whose paltry salaries will contribute to the profits of those running them. In a state where teachers are fired for extemporaneous remarks on Facebook this is the best our governor thinks we can do to instill a sense of integrity and pride in our schools. Or more to the point, Dick Parsons is exactly the caliber of unqualified hanger on and general utility stooge that people like the governor love to have on hand when they need to trot out a crony with no conscience to do some hatchet work for them.

 I want to see what Dick Parson's expert recommendations are for the state, I am fascinated that such a lowbrow shithead could be launched into such an influential position. But then again why should this be a surprise ? This is how the Privatizers do it in their inimitable arrogant stridency, facts and reason be damned, full reform ahead. In the words of Mark Ames : Sorry Kids.  


  1. All any public school teacher needs to do today to get the full picture is read the above article by Sean Crowley and combine it with the nasty news spin on the front page of today's Buffalo News by Mary Pasciak. This is how the game is played and Mary Pasciak will throw the teachers under the bus EACH and EVERY time.
    ALL reform efforts are nothing but an attempt to privatize schools, bust unions, and remove any shred of professionalism and autonomy from teachers.
    And if, by chance, Mary Pasciak is reading this blog today:
    Mary, Dick Parsons is just one of the many people that you hold up to the public in such high regard. You know exactly what you are doing, who you work for and how much $$$$ it is worth to you. Journalistic ethics??? Not for the education reporter of the Buffalo News.

  2. 3rd grade in the burbsOctober 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Well, I am not even sure where to begin with this one. It is obvious to many of us who follow this blog and others the that public education is being sucked into a deep, dark vortex. We are treading water and helpless to reverse it.
    I knew that Cuomo's Education Commission was merely interested in education reform in name only (and probably a "good ole boys' club). Each time he named someone new to the commission, it was not anyone with a background in public education. After I read the original post I looked up the Commission. The members read as a veritable alphabet soup with higher learning credentials. BUT NOT in education. I consider myself pretty logical and rational and it doesn't make sense to me that the "experts" who are going to SAVE (ha!) public education are not educators. Why is it that the public is not questioning this as we are? As has been stated many times by others before me, "I would not presume to tell my doctor or dentist how to treat me, why are non-educators telling me how to teach?" People with less than stellar backgrounds (dishonest) are being propelled to higher positions, salaries, and power. And people with conflicts of interest (school board members recieving financial support from DeFORM Groups. Really?
    Isabella, I think many public school teachers are reading and know what is really going on. But not all are aware (at least that has been my experience as I am talking to more teachers at my school) and hopefully, those of us that have been vocal will continue to spread the word and provide the others with the proof that they need to also believe us and join in the effort to stop privitization. Some colleagues are even telling me that I seem angry this year. Ya think!? It's not my students, it's all this other garbage I am being told to do because "When you went to school to become a teacher this is what you signed up for." No, I didn't I signed up to help children learn and love learning like I did when I was in school. Naive, I know.
    I do not know how we circumvent this problem of the media, such as, Mary Pasciak and others who refuse to investigate and report the entire story. I have emailed her providing links to excellent articles requesting that she read them and then do a real investigative piece. I have also asked her to do this on the BPS live board meeting blog. Others have also asked her to do similar reports. We have had the same results: no articles that reveal what is really going on, the real motivation behind the privitization movement (money).
    Stand together.

  3. Clearly, the politicians and 1%ers behind the "reform" label own the media too. Therefore, as they destroy public education, they "hide in plain sight" and the general public is none the wiser. They call it reform, must be good. The governor appoints people, he must know best. The tests say students fail, schools low perform, and teachers are ineffective - must be gospel truth. The charters only want to help the children, lets hand them the keys to the schools (ex. Bflo Common Council cheering for the Chameleons). Mary Pasciak will never pass on an opportunity to make the BTF and Phil Rumore look like obstructionists. Why did today's article not name the other area districts which do not have an approved APPR? Why not get some feedback from people in those districts? Why not ask Albany about the process of approving APPRs (and how many temps they hired to help them sift through the paperwork)? Why not turn the spotlight on the architects of these policies and investigate their true agenda? What??? Now that would require some real journalism. The News would never sacrifice a chance to bury Bflo teachers just to engage in some real journalism. They'd rather have the readers [BN] the dark, so their "reformer" friends can [BN] charge, and education funds can [BN] the accounts of the already rich and powerful.

  4. I really do not have the desire to go to work after reading all of this. All of this is so daunting. Not sure I have the desire to be so dedicated anymore. Even for the kids. How can a teacher possibly inspire the love of learning when we are being forced out of a job or situation that we chose to be a part of. My heart aches for the students of Buffalo and for all new teachers.

  5. Last Sunday ( 10/21/12) I was happy to read an excellent article about education in The News. I thought that finally one of their education reporters had done some valuable research. The title is "Address challenges of poverty, build trust with teachers to improve schools".
    Larry Scott 's article hit the nail on the head in every paragraph . Imagine my chagrin when the little "credit" after the article stated the author of this wonderful article is a school psychologist in the Kenmore- Tonawanda School District and not the skilled replacement for Mary Pasciak.
    In today's paper there is another very informative article entitled "Cuomo's solution is to dump the problem on districts". I knew from the title that Mary P. had nothing to do with this article, which was written by Kathyann Lorka, a member of the East Aurora School Board and chairwoman of the Erie County Association of School Boards Legislative Team.
    If The News is looking for writers who are working to provide educational excellence for our children, don't bother with the Governor's appointees to any position, we have the answer right here in Western New York. The icing on the cake is that they are not political appointees of either Big Political Party .

  6. I am appalled at the "Dick”Parson pick to head the collection of businessmen/ investors , golf buddies, country club friends, and political wanna- bees that Emperor Andrew has appointed to his non -education Deform Committee. Actually Dick will probably fit right in with that group, since none of them are professional educators either. Not much time will be wasted on discussing policies that will positively affect the education of any students ,let alone those children who are most affected by the insanity of the "Reform" movement. ...More time for free lunches, dinners, and parties to celebrate their new access to the pork in the barrel.
    Andrew has been very generous with the taxpayer's money in the past. With only four years until the next presidential election, he has a lot of palms to grease, and nests to feather..(.because he Reeally Waants to be President..baadly!. )

    Actually, it would be better for us if the committee members do "eat, drink, and be merry" instead of writing more suggestions for the schools. Those that have already been proffered include schools segregated by socioeconomic status and race, TFA teachers with five weeks training, and no masters degrees, poor services for ELL and Special Needs students, TFA and Broad Academy week-end wonders in leadership roles, and billions of wasted taxpayer dollars funneled to corporations who supply the furnishing and materials to the unproven Charter Management Organizations. (like the Chameleons).

    Isabella ,
    you are absolutely "spot on" as usual. Mary P. won an "award" must have been for faithful reproduction of the political biases of the billionaire owner of The News.

    I share your frustration too. It looks as though the
    "privateers" have bought and paid for The News reporters. I'd call them "journalists" but that would imply a lack of bias...

    Even though they hired a lot of folks for 50 bucks an hour, it will take them all year to sift through the thousands of documents submitted. Dr.the KIng and his inexperienced cohorts
    ( who do not meet the requirements they imposed on applicants for the job of evaluating the documents submitted by the school districts) did not have a clue about the enormity of the task they invented. Their lack of forsight for unintended consequences affecting teachers and students is sickening. Aargh!

    Anon, since I have no brilliant words of encouragement, I'll join you in your heartache and your empathy for the younger teachers...four of whom are mine.

    Sean, you are "The Man! " Thanks for the opportunity to join with others for support and information.

  7. Thanks to everyone who waded through this mess. I tried to edit it and I did edit quite a chunk but the story is so bizarre I was hard pressed to take out what needed to be known about this dope who's been given the keys to the education bus of NY State and told to fill it up with fellow hacks and do a little drive by on the public schools. I struggled with the following and I realize I should have left it in, it's just another snapshot of where this guy comes from and it really demonstrates the type of low character shiftless hack our Governor thinks is good enough to call ina few air strikes on public schools once he and his fellow clowns get done with their "phoney meetings." This selection is worth the read -- It picks up with his appointment as CEO of Citi :

    Almost immediately, Parsons went to work fighting executive compensation limits, and obstructing banking reforms and making sure that FDIC chief Sheila Bair was unable to do her job effectively. Using taxpayer dollars, Parsons hired one of the darkest operators in DC, lobbyist Richard Hohlt, to fight against the interests of the same taxpayers who had bailed Citi out and who now effectively owned the bank. Hohlt’s impressive resume includes his role in drafting the 1982 savings & loan deregulation bill that most agree made possible the S&L collapse possible—a bill that helped make Dick Parsons and his Dime Savings pals rich. Hohlt lobbied for the scandal-ridden Fannie Mae (where Parsons served as a board director), for Washington Mutual (which took over Dime Savings), for Time Warner… Hohlt even played acentral role in the Valerie Plame scandal, serving as go-between in the leak between Karl Rove and Robert Novak.

    When news first hit that Parsons had hired Hohlt, former banking regulator Bill Black commented: “It is singularly obscene that any recipient of taxpayer assistance through the TARP program during the current financial crisis would hire one of the most infamous lobbyists in the world to represent them.”

  8. Peg ( the nauseated one)October 29, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    I'm trading my "fannypack" purse for a "fanny pack barf bag"...there are so many reasons to vomit!

  9. 3rd grade in the burbsOctober 29, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    I think the most disturbing part of the whole privitization movement is that it is a reflection of society. Dishonesty (even if it's by omission of vital information or the whole truth, as we witnessed at the Chameleon meeting last week), back room deals, obscene amounts of money changing hands and being made by the wrong people, stepping on human beings (especially children) in the race to make more money is becoming more and more prevalent. People are not complaining, they are accepting of all this, they are not questioning, they are complicit with this acceptance. We have lost our way. Last week my class and I had to start over as if it was the first day of school, rewriting our classroom rules. I felt like I had no control (and I am not a new teacher and I have a great class this year). We were not getting much accomplished so we talked about our struggles. We counted up all the tests we have had since the first day of school (13) all the assemblies (we didn't add these up but my school has a lot of assemblies). I said some of the problems were my responsibility, some were the students, and some were due to the fact that we have not been able to establish any kind of routine. We sat on the floor and rewrote our list of class rules. Towards the end of our list one of my little girls suggested we add the golden rule to the list. We did. When did we lose sight of this fundamental but so important rule?
    I don't think we should go back to the 50's and 60's but June and Ward Cleaver were doing something right because Wally and the Beav respected adults, their teachers, and understood that they needed to work for what they wanted. And they didn't try to get ahead at the expense of others.
    By the time America wakes up and realizes they've been had by these privitizers, it is going to take a fight like they've never experienced to get public education back.
    Thanks to Sean for keeping this blog going on top of all your other responsibilities. There are teachers who are reading what you are explaining and exposing. And thanks to everyone who posts here, you have all helped me get a voice and get the word out to my colleagues (even if they don't always believe). The frustration is here and we are living it. Sean said it once before and I am a believer, too. Karma. It will catch up to the privitizers.

  10. Last week ,or so, the News contained an article about the Lackawanna School Board selling an old building for $35,000 a few years ago. Global Concepts Charter School circumvented the State Ed department and made a deal to "rent to buy" and remodel the building for a really inflated price. i think it was $20,000,000 but it could have been $ 200,000,000. ( Senior moment). Since this deal making was accomplished without following the protocol, the State Ed. Dept is perturbed...
    How much else is going on because there is very little financial oversight of the Charter Management Organizations and the "Administrators" ? ( I hope it is not the big figure, but it is going to take 20 years to pay it off.)
    I read about another Charter School that lasted a few years and then closed. The CMO the sold the building at a great profit and the principal left with a (over $300,000) "Golden Parachute", and her $200,000 salary buyout.

    Diane's blog had another one this week that was cleaned out of every piece of equipment and all materials that had been purchased from "the brother" of one of the "founders". Are these folks considered "investors" ? Maybe the Steelers can donate the uniforms from yesterday's game to the jail these guys end up in. Stripes are "Bee"-coming.

    Well it's all for the sake of the poor little kids in the inner city. The Charterizers love them more than they love the kids in Amherst and Williamsville. That is why they don't try to flim- flam the folks who live out there in the burbs and "save" those kids using their innovative ideas.
    Does anyone ask the Charterizers why they are after our kids in the city?
    Oh, I forgot..they "care"! ... Yep...and I've got a bridge...

    Gotta grab my new "Bag"... urp!

  11. Third,
    Your little students need a teacher like you.
    It is very sad that they have to waste so much valuable time taking useless tests.

    Hang in there, and in 30 years they will remember their favorite teacher who had them sit on the floor together and figure out rules to live by... and they'll teach their little ones those rules too.
    Have fun's like throwing a stone in the lake...the circle keeps going on...

  12. 3rd grade in the burbsOctober 29, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    Thanks so much for your kind words. We are all in this together.
    On another note, my district closed about an hour ago. I noticed that Dr. Brown has not closed Buffalo yet. Many of the students don't go to school when the weather is good, does she think parents will send them in this bad weather? What is she waiting for?