Hillary is a Chamaleon

Chamaleons change their skin color to blend with the surface they stand on. They can go from green to brown (or viceversa) in seconds.

Hillary Clinton supported TPP and TTIP (The Asia and Europe Free Trade Agreements, respectively, that Obama has been pushing through,with their contents kept secret from the public) as Secretary of State and after. Then, under attack from Bernie, she switched to a NO position about two months ago. But have no doubt she will reverse to YES if nominated, when it becomes convenient. I am certain she will claim to have “reconsidered”.

TPP and TTIP will further decimate American manufacturing, deplete good paying jobs, and thin labot unions. They will increase the GDP with the money going to the multinational corporations and the 1%.

We all know HRC is the favorite puppet of Wall Street. As Bernie Sanders put it, “She talks to Wall Street in the morning and to labor unions in the afternoon.” She is an uprincipled opportunist.

Speaking of labor unions, their myopia is enough to make one weep; most of them have shunned the only candidate (Bernie) who would stand for them. Endorsing somebody who already won is a worthless proposition. Endorsements that count and are never forgotten are those that happen during the contest, when there is risk in them.

If Clinton becomes the nominee, the unions will sheepishly line up to endorse her, she will accept the endosements with her plastic smile, and go on to thrown them under the bus at the first moment it is expedient.

Elizabeth Warren has missed a historic opportunity – so far – to participate in this battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Well, too bad for her because sitting by the sidelines is the direct path toward irrelevancy and oblivion. Ideologically she seems akin to Bernie but has decided not to help him while it can have an impact.

I hope Bernie does well today. His campaign is a historic opportunity that won’t repeat itself. He is an extraordinary man, above all for his decency and integrity. I am proud of supporting him.

Reports of 18,000 NYC Teachers Are Released

City Teacher Data Reports Are Released – SchoolBook.

The study involves almost 18,000 teachers in all 5 boroughs of NYC. To put in in a few words: There was no evident relationship found between teacher “quality” and student achievement. Bad teachers (according to the tests results) were teaching in both high achievement and failing schools. Similarly, good teachers, graded in a similar manner, taught everywhere as well.  The tests used a value added system where previous years data was used as a cumulative baseline to determine the progress. There was a correcting factor for race, poverty, etc.

The margin of error of the ratings is so wide that in any serious scientific research, the data would be discarded as useless and un-supporting of the theory to be proven. Some teachers were evaluated with as few as 10 students. Some teachers only taught the students the subject for a portion of the year. Only 35% of the math and 53% of English findings met confidence limits (that is what percentile means in this case). Nonetheless the teachers’ names have been publicized with tag of value now.

The data is so inundated with randomness that it is essentially useless except for the most biased researcher.

Regardless of such lack of reliability, the report has been made public after the teachers union exhausted all its legal avenues to prevent the disclosure. Despite of the warnings of the Chancellor of Schools of NYC that the results should be taken with a grain of salt, there is no doubt that this will have a devastating effect on teachers, on their morale, and on the inclination of current college students to pursue a career in education. It is also evident that the data will be used to justify further privatization of public education.

Pointing to the latter is the fact that the push to release the individual rankings began in August 2010, when New York City education officials contacted the reporters who most closely cover the city’s public schools and encouraged them to submit Freedom of Information Act requests for the teachers’ rankings.

Of the activities that I contemplated in late 2009 for my post-retirement years, one was to teach chemistry in NYC where the need for math and science teachers is always high, notably outside of Manhattan. The work would involve teaching and at the same time following a fast-track certification process through New York University. With a son living in Manhattan, spending a few days of the week in NYC was not a problem.

With the current rumblings, there is no way I would set a foot in a classroom in NYC or anywhere for that matter.

Nonetheless the NYT writes in Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, NYC Ratings Indicate – NYTimes.com  today (page 2) that:  “However, the teacher data reports tended to be highly correlated to the schools’ grades. Last year, 79 percent of high-performing math teachers worked in “A” or “B” schools, according to the Education Department. But there was no relationship between a school’s demographics and its number of high- or low-performing teachers: 26 percent of math teachers serving the poorest of students had high scores, as did 27 percent of teachers of the wealthiest.”

But how were the A’s and B’s determined? Were they determined through the same standardized tests included in the published data? In such a case it is obvious that there would be a correlation of teacher quality and grades because the A’ and B’ were the data used to evaluate the teachers in the first place. It is like if I tell you that X equals Y because Y equals X; I have not proven anything – independently of X and Y.

Or were the A’s and B’s determined through other means, say, the regular final examinations at the end of the academic years, when the exams are not standardized?

The entire enterprise of education reform has such an increasing stench of sham that I can not help but to be more and more suspicious of hidden designs and its ultimate consequences.

Port Authority of NY & NJ ‘Challenged and Dysfunctional’ – So Is New Jersey

Audit: Port Authority ‘challenged and dysfunctional’ – NorthJersey.com.

The report reads: “We note that the Report finds an “organization at a crossroads” and indicates that the Port Authority needs a top-to-bottom overhaul of its management structure. Navigant’s preliminary review revealed, in their assessment, “a challenged and dysfunctional organization suffering from a lack of consistent leadership, a siloed underlying bureaucracy, poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight of the World Trade Center program that has obscured full awareness of billions of dollars in exposure to the Port Authority.”

The PA of NY and NJ is just a reflection of the state of affairs in New Jersey – and perhaps of NY as well although New York is none of my concerns. Everything said about the PA of NY and NJ could also be applied to New Jersey, just by changing names and titles.

How can we expect the the New Jersey Government will clean up a subdivision when it itself is rotten to the core?

Even before this damning report surfaced today, I have considered the PA of NY and NJ non-salvageable. If elected governor of New Jersey in 2013, it is my intent to seek the separation of New Jersey from the agency and passing all pertinent duties on the New Jersey side to the New Jersey Department of Transportation. New Jersey would adopt all the existing union contracts and dismiss the bureaucracy appointed by governor Christie and his democratic predecessors. New Jersey would share with New York any revenue collected on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river. New Jersey would only accept financial responsibility for maintenance of the tunnels and bridges up to the borderline between the two states.

Washington Liquidating Private Sector Labor Unions Through the Back Door

Crippling the Right to Organize – NYTimes.com.

The National Labor Relations Board, NLRB,  was created by FDR in 1935 and is for the private sector what the Public Employment Relations Commission, PERC, is for public employees in New Jersey. The NLRB covers the entire nation and it is indispensable in arbitrating contract disputes, violation of labor laws by both employers and unions, organizing,  etc.

U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the NLRB can not function without a quorum.  As of January 2012 it will lack a quorum.

We are not eliminating labor unions by decree like fascists states did or putting puppets at the head of unions like the communists do. We are pulling the legal platform from under the unions. The  methods may be a bit more refined but the end-result is the same

As the writer notes, the republicans have the bulk of responsibility in this situation but then president Obama shares a great deal of that responsibility as well. In what I perceive as a Machiavellic move, he has proposed two very pro-union candidates for the board, most likely knowing full well that those nominations are going nowhere. So he can tell the unions he tried to place their friends in the board and at the same time renders the board inoperable by default – which is the ultimate goal of the other side. But of course, that is only if there is other side. Perhaps there is only one side.

The NLRB, like PERC, should be populated by civil service professionals, and not political appointments. Healthy labor relations are fundamental for the revival the this nation’s economy.

If the NLRB falls, and if elected governor of New Jersey in 2013, I will propose to the legislature to create a NJLRB or PERC doubling for both public and private sectors. We must never forget that the worker is also the consumer and that without consumer demand there is no economic growth.

New Jersey Governor Puts Up Show With Sick-Time Payouts Issue

Gov. Christie pushes to end payouts for public employees’ unused sick days | NJ.com.

Of course limiting sick-time payouts makes sense. The State of New Jersey already has a limit already agreed upon. I believe it is 2 weeks max. Setting limits on payouts has always been possible through contract negotiations, or if there is no union, by council (towns), commissioners (independent authorities), or freeholders (counties) resolution. Where there are no limits, it is often because the politicos benefit the most.

Now, from the view point of the sums of money involved, limiting political patronage is much more significant because a political hack will make every year much more than what the average  retiring worker will take in sick-time payout just once in-a-lifetime.

Why is the governor not addressing political patronage or nepotism?

Obviously, Christie would not touch the latter with a ten-foot pole because those are the perks of the political caste in power; he is part of it. I mean: Christie making a real effort to correct the eternal abuses in public employment in New Jersey at the expense of the taxpayers; it is not going to happen. The governor is very apt to put up a theatre show and take down a couple of fall-guys as he did in the Passaic Valley Sewage Authority. But he will not – ever- attempt to fix the system in a comprehensive manner.

To do so, Civil Service Law of New Jersey must be strengthened. Christie is proposing the opposite.

This is what occurs when there are political appointees in a government unit:

http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2011/12/jersey_city_administration_giv.html

You can bet the family farm that many or most of these positions are political patronage appointments.

I propose to strengthen Civil Service Law in New Jersey and also reforming the section of the statute that covers the sick time allowance. From my experience as union president, I do believe that leaving the current allowance of 15 days will lead to absenteeism if the payouts are ended. Sick time issues were always a pain during my tenure as union president, because it was a gray area.  Therefore the best approach, in my opinion, is to change to a system of occurrences which would be much lower that 15 but would also cover a serious illness event that could keep the employee off work until short term disability kicks in. Nonetheless, a fair system requires some more fine-tuning.

Once a system of occurrences is the law, there would be no payouts at all except for those current employees who have accumulated time already.

More groups participate as Wall Street protest grows

More groups participate as Wall Street protest grows | The Asbury Park Press | APP.com.

These could be the first baby steps of a nation-wide movement or it could fizzle with the winter – the weather was not among the problems the Egyptian protesters encountered.

There is also the danger that the democrats may try to high-jack this incipient movement just as the republicans sequestered the original, grass roots, tea party.

In the end, the two parties are part of the problem; not of the solution.