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Gender: Female
Hometown: Florida
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 82,603

About Me

Retired teacher who sees much harm to public education from the "reforms" being pushed by corporations. Privatizing education is the wrong way to go. Children can not be treated as products, thought of in terms of profit and loss.

Journal Archives

Locations of US prisons. Wow look at Florida. From the WP Jan. 6

Florida's numbers on the graph are astounding.

The U.S. has more jails than colleges. Here’s a map of where those prisoners live.

From WP: SOURCE: 2010 U.S. Census. Published Jan. 6, 2014

As you can see in the map, states differ in the extent to which they spread their correctional populations out geographically. Florida, Arizona and California stand out as states with sizeable corrections populations in just about every county. States in the midwest, on the other hand, tend to have concentrated populations in just a handful of counties. Prisons tend to leave an unmistakeable mark on the landscape, as artist Josh Begley has documented.

Because of the mix of state, federal and local correctional facilities in each county, it doesn't make sense to express these numbers as a rate -- X prisoners per Y number of adults. The presence of a federal or state facility in a given county will greatly inflate that county's prisoner count relative to the general population. And in many instances, large correctional facilities are located in sparsely populated regions, like Northern New York. In some of these counties, prisons account for 10, 20 or 30 percent of the total population.

In recent years criminal justice reform has risen to prominence in the national conversation, with both Democrats and Republicans looking for ways to dial back the incarceration-focused policies of the '80s and '90s. This map shows one reason why the issue is gaining traction: prisoners are literally every where you look in the U.S. Nearly 85 percent of U.S. counties are home to some number of incarcerated individuals. Localities spend tens of thousands of dollars per prisoner each year -- and often much more than that -- to house, feed and provide them with medical care. Most counties would doubtless prefer to spend this money elsewhere.

I don't see a mention of the fact that so many are now privatized. If you build it you must fill it, right?
Posted by madfloridian | Wed Jan 7, 2015, 01:25 AM (1 replies)

Not-so-moderate Jeb Bush of the 1990s. Plus his full op ed 1994 on same sex marriage.

The then St Pete Times carried an article in 1998 about many of Jeb's business dealings and failures.

Make the Money and Run

The son of former President George Bush has followed the family's patrician play book: Hurry up and get rich, then go into public service.

Jeb Bush and his parents at a rally in Orlando in 1994. (Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel)

But Bush's hurried quest for financial success also reveals a naive reliance on his benefactors and a lack of scrutiny of those around him. He tapped his father's Washington connections to recruit help for some questionable businessmen, including one felon who remains a fugitive wanted by the FBI. He embraced business deals that have prompted lawsuits alleging mismanagement, stock manipulation and special treatment.

Armando Codina, a Coral Gables Cuban-American real estate investor who was one of George Bush's earliest supporters. He was so tight with the president that he gave Jeb Bush more than his first job in Florida. Codina put Bush's name on the company and gave him 40 percent of its profits.

Thomas Petway III, a Jacksonville insurance magnate, Republican fund-raiser and a leader on Jeb Bush's campaign finance committee. He invited Bush to an exclusive club to invest in the new Jacksonville Jaguars football franchise. He also lobbied to get Bush appointed to the board of Ideon Corp., a company that -- before its collapse -- paid its directors $50,000 a year, twice the average amount paid to directors at much larger public companies.

David Eller, a Broward County Republican fund-raiser who partnered with Jeb Bush to market water pumps to poor countries around the world. The company relied on pump sales financed by U.S.-backed loans when President Bush was in the White House. Jeb Bush's take: $648,250.

There is more at the link.

On Monday BuzzFeed posted the entire opinion piece Jeb Bush wrote in 1994 in The Miami Herald.

The Miami Herald
June 22, 1994 — Wednesday


Re the June 20 Herald editorial Bigotry and its mouthpieces about the gubernatorial candidates’ position on homosexuality and special legal rights for homosexuals: Homosexuality is wrong, but it is also wrong to discriminate against homosexuals in employment, housing, etc., solely on the basis of sexual preference. I have employed homosexuals and continue to do so. Therefore, I take vigorous exception to your characterization of me as a bigot.

However, I do not believe that government should create a new class of citizens with special legal rights.

It is disingenuous of you to write that “the governor must stand up for and represent all the people of the Sunshine State on all matters.” You imply that discrimination is always wrong, yet government and individual Floridians discriminate every day in innumerable ways. Government discriminates against bank robbers, drug dealers, litterbugs, and homeowners who repair their seawall without a permit, just to name a few. Yours is not a reasoned argument reflecting reality.

The governor — and the government — do not defend the conduct of every Floridian with equal verve and enthusiasm. Polluters, pedophiles, pornographers, drunk drivers, and developers without proper permits receive — and deserve — precious little representation or defense from their governor. The statement that the governor must stand up for all people on all matters is just silly.

The public policy question is whether homosexuals deserve special legal protection from otherwise legal, private acts of discrimination, which protections are not available to smokers, drinkers, children, redheads, Midwesterners, Democrats, veterans, nudists, etc. Or, to put it another way, should sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No. We have enough special categories, enough victims, without creating even more.

Jeb Bush
Coral Gables

A lot of bad things happened while he was governor, though it was often whitewashed by the media. The Florida pension fund suffered greatly for just one example.

The Enron Scandal Grazes Another Bush in Florida

The Enron scandal, which has become the consuming interest in Washington and around the country, is starting to have a particular resonance in Florida, where it is touching another Bush: Governor Jeb Bush.

Mr. Bush particularly has been able to steer clear so far of the enormous damage to the state employees' pension fund, which lost more than any other public pension fund. Almost until Enron collapsed, the Florida fund continued to pour money into Enron stock. As governor, Mr. Bush is one of the fund's three trustees, although the fund has said that Mr. Bush never ordered the purchase of Enron shares or the hiring of the money manager who did.

''You've got to credit Jeb Bush,'' said Richard Scher, professor of political science at the University of Florida at Gainesville. ''He's been wonderful in keeping the issue quiet. Nothing has been coming out. He's been very shrewd in how he's handled it politically and lucky the legislature is in session and drawing attention away. The Enron Florida angle has not come home to roost yet.''

Even Mr. Bush's decision to travel to Houston and raise money on Jan. 17 at the home of Richard Kinder, a former Enron president, has yielded no political advantage for Democrats.

Jeb was one of 3 trustees of the pension fund, yet he managed to get by with very little bad publicity.

Seems to me his background is again being whitewashed, and he is being made to sound like the very most moderate Republican. That is not true. He was not a good governor, and he does not deserve to be president.

Modern conservatism is "search for a superior moral justification for selfishness"...

Liberalism is the alternative..according to John Kenneth Galbraith. More quotes about liberals at the link.

There are some unkind and unpleasant quotes at the link. But I am choosing just some pleasant ones. There's been too much unkindness around lately.

Quotes about liberals

Walter Cronkite 1973

“I think being a liberal, in the true sense, is being nondoctrinaire, nondogmatic, non-committed to a cause - but examining each case on its merits. Being left of center is another thing; it's a political position. I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they're not liberal, by my definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen. If they're preordained dogmatists for a cause, then they can't be very good journalists; that is, if they carry it into their journalism."

― Walter Cronkite

George Washington

“As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”
― President George Washington

John Kenneth Galbraith...this one is powerful.

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness... &
... Liberalism is, I think, resurgent. One reason is that more and more people are so painfully aware of the alternative.
― John Kenneth Galbraith

Hubert Humphrey

“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”
― Hubert H. Humphrey

Bill Maher

“New Rule: Now that liberals have taken back the word "liberal," they also have to take back the word "elite." By now you've heard the constant right-wing attacks on the "elite media," and the "liberal elite." Who may or may not be part of the "Washington elite." A subset of the "East Coast elite." Which is overly influenced by the "Hollywood elite." So basically, unless you're a shit-kicker from Kansas, you're with the terrorists. If you played a drinking game where you did a shot every time Rush Limbaugh attacked someone for being "elite," you'd be almost as wasted as Rush Limbaugh.

I don't get it: In other fields--outside of government--elite is a good thing, like an elite fighting force. Tiger Woods is an elite golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an elite doctor. But in politics, elite is bad--the elite aren't down-to-earth and accessible like you and me and President Shit-for-Brains.

I really appreciate that Bill Maher quote because I remember that the centrist Democratic think tanks used the word "elite" as an attack on party liberals.

And then there are these amazing wprds from Lee Atwater himself. He launched some of the most vicious attacks on liberalism ever.

"My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul....I was wrong to follow the meanness of Conservatism. I should have been trying to help people instead of taking advantage of them. I don't hate anyone anymore. For the first time in my life I don't hate somebody. I have nothing but good feelings toward people. I've found Jesus Christ – It's that simple. He's made a difference. (Reagan's campaign manager "death-bed confession" in Feb. 1991 article for Life Magazine )”
― Lee Atwater

Cleveland pays TFA $4000 for each recruit 1st year, $5000 2nd year. In addition to salary.

Of course the upfront payments likely benefit Teach for America more than the teacher/trainee/recruit.

Of course that lessens the amount that is received by local public schools, and it leaves laid off local teachers with few job prospects...even though they cost nothing to hire.

In case you fail to see the benefit of those millions going to TFA, join the club of the similarly confused.

Here is the Cleveland contract.

Sorry about the format, just copied pasted it.

School District shall pay Teach For America an annu
al fee for each Teacher
employed under this Agreement to defray expenses Te
ach For America incurred in
recruiting, selecting, providing pre-service traini
ng and continuing professional
development services to the Teachers employed by Sc
hool District under this
agreement. School District agrees that all payment
s for fees shall be in the form of
check delivered to Teach For America or wire transf
er to an account designated by
Teach For America in writing.
With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Sc
hool District is to commence
in the 2013-2014 academic year, School District sha
ll pay Teach For America an
annual amount of $4000 for the first academic year
in which such Teacher is
employed by School District and $5000 for the secon
d academic year in which such
Teacher is employed by the School District, up to t
wo years employment is to commence].

Non-refund. Teach For America shall have no obliga
tion to refund to School District
any amount paid by School District in respect of an
y Teacher for any reason whatsoever.

For the avoidance of doubt, School District will be
invoiced fees for each of the
individual Teacher(s) initially employed by the Sch
ool District

SO a TFA teacher can be lousy and ineffective, but the district can not get their money back. SO TFA will not be held accountable?

Here is the link to the Chicago Public Schools contract

They will pay $3000 to TFA for each 1st year referral, $2500 2nd year. Not to exceed 465 qualified referrals. Not to exceed $1, 587, 500.

Want to hear what others are paying to the private company Teach for America instead of hiring teachers locally for free?

From the Cloaking Inequity Blog

We reviewed the documents provided by the three large, urban districts in Texas. As an example of the types of information that a public information request will yield, we have highlighted some of the facts gleaned from our Texas district requests. For example, in terms of financial information, it appears from the contracts that we obtained that TFA allows inequality in the amounts that they charge in fees to districts for TFA placements. In Houston, each TFA teacher costs the district $2,000 annually in finder’s fees, while in Dallas and San Antonio the cost is $3,000 per teacher annually. In San Antonio, TFA “finder’s fees” total about $483,000. Also, even though TFA teachers have less experience, the San Antonio’s expenditures for TFA teachers are the same per FTE as for non-TFA teachers, $59,513. (Note: There will be allot more information on TFA’s cost in the upcoming brief)

The dependence on short-term TFA teachers varies from community to community. The data gathered from the public information requests show that the penetration of TFA teachers into the largest urban districts in Texas is substantial. The district data revealed that 30% of all new teachers hired in San Antonio ISD were TFA. In Houston, 9% of all teachers were TFA.

A little more from The American Prospect.

But while TFA reckons with its model and its future, the growing national debate is taking a toll on the organization. Over the past year, two large school districts, Pittsburgh and Durham, North Carolina, rescinded hiring contracts with TFA. In September, the national student labor organization, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) announced a campaign aimed at kicking TFA recruiters off college campuses. In a open letter sent to the CEO and board chair of Teach for America, USAS leaders wrote:

TFA’s shift from an organization providing volunteers to overcome teacher shortages to an organization that de­professionalizes the teaching career and displaces veteran teachers has forced us as students to ask our universities to reconsider relationships with Teach for America.

In December, TFA announced that it is having trouble recruiting candidates to teach in New York City schools—a problem organization leaders attribute, in part, to the “contentious national dialogue” surrounding TFA’s impact on school districts and the teaching profession. In anticipation of declining corps members, TFA plans to close its New York and Los Angeles training sites.

There's an argument going around that some districts claim to get private outside money for these lavish payments to TFA. If true they should be upfront and clear about the sources and should make information readily available to the local out of work teachers and general public.
Posted by madfloridian | Mon Jan 5, 2015, 04:29 PM (3 replies)

Speaking of PNAC...read Max Boot's "Doctrine of the 'Big Enchilada'" 2002


Doctrine of the Big Enchilada

The National Security Strategy released last month by the White House may be the most significant U.S. foreign policy statement since NSC 68, the 1950 paper that codified the containment doctrine. Yet oddly most of the debate has focused on only one of its aspects -- the promise that America will strike preemptively against potential threats. Almost no one is criticizing President Bush's pledge to maintain American military hegemony.

This silence is curious, considering the flap that occurred the last time such an assertion was made. In 1992 staffers working for Paul Wolfowitz (then the No. 3 Pentagon official, now No. 2) drafted a planning document that suggested the United States should "maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." This mild language -- which referred to "mechanisms," not brute strength -- provoked fits in official Washington. As Andrew Bacevich reminds us in his forthcoming book "American Empire," Sen. Alan Cranston of California attacked the Bush administration for proposing to make the United States "the only main honcho on the world block, the global Big Enchilada." An embarrassed administration hastily retracted this indiscreet language.

Now the Big Enchilada doctrine is back.
The new Bush strategy proclaims: "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." This is even stronger language than that used a decade ago. But now the reaction is . . . pretty much, zip. Why?

....Democrats, for their part, can't be too happy with a second implication of the predominance doctrine: Any nation with so much power always will be tempted to go it alone. Power breeds unilateralism. It's as simple as that. Oh, sure, American presidents may pay lip service to allies, but when push comes to shove, we just don't need anyone else's help very much. It's not just George W. Bush who feels this way. Judging by his unwillingness to defer to the United Nations in Bosnia (1995), Iraq (1998) and Kosovo (1999), so did Bill Clinton.

Get used to it. If the non-reaction to the National Security Strategy is any indication, we're all hegemonists now.

The writers of the Project for the New American Century said that we needed a New Pearl Harbor

Many of us have felt that 9/11 met that goal and more.

Further, the process of transformation,
even if it brings revolutionary change, is
likely to be a long one, absent some
catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a
new Pearl Harbor.

The Rebuilding Defenses link also states that Iraq was only the immediate justification for our Middle East presence. It's all spelled out.

The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power. It says: "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.

This 'American grand strategy' must be advanced for 'as far into the future as possible', the report says. It also calls for the US to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' as a 'core mission'.

And that is happening also.

Most anything was okay to keep us safe after 9/11. Now a new terror threat seems to pop up whenever the powers that be think they need stronger laws. It works very well.

Posted by madfloridian | Sun Jan 4, 2015, 10:35 PM (2 replies)

Letter to Editor FL..speaks against Pam Bondi and hypocrites over same sex marriage.

Christians Being Hypocrites

A recent letter from a Mulberry resident declared gay marriage to be "non-Christian." They went on to urge praise for our Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for her ongoing stand against gay marriage.

Perhaps that writer is unaware Bondi has been twice married and divorced. Then she held a mock wedding to her fiance in the Cayman Islands in 2012 apparently because a third marriage might appear excessive to her Republican political base.

I am not writing to judge Bondi for her multiple marriages. I respect her legal rights to marry and divorce as many times as she pleases and to enjoy all the family and financial benefits associated with marriage.

However, I do not tolerate the hypocrisy of so-called Christians who arbitrarily decide what is and what is not a sin according to their Bible. If Christians are going to use that old book of fables to point fingers, at least use it consistently and urge people to shun Bondi for her divorces.

Fortunately, religions and Bible stories do not get to decide what is legal in America. And our U.S. Supreme Court has already decided marriage is an important American civil right.

Fortunately the Clerk of Courts in that county has decided to follow the ruling of Judge Hinkle.

Butterfield: Polk Licenses for Same-Sex Marriages Start Tuesday

Following weeks of uncertainty, Polk County Clerk of Courts Stacy Butterfield declared Friday that her office will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. The announcement came a day after a federal judge issued an order stating that clerks of court throughout Florida must issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

U.S. Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle had previously struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional but had stayed the ruling through Jan. 5. Voters approved a constitutional amendment forbidding same-gender marriage in 2008.

Even after that New Year's Day order, Butterfield said Thursday evening she wanted to consult with her general counsel and the law firm advising the Florida Association of Court Clerks. She issued a statement early Friday afternoon saying all doubts about her legal obligations had been resolved.

"We appreciate the swift response from Judge Hinkle," Butterfield said in a statement. "My job as clerk is to follow the law. Judge Hinkle's order states that the constitution requires issuance of same-gender marriage licenses. In accordance with our mission, we will comply with the order and look forward to providing excellent service to all our customers as we enter a new era in the state of Florida."

Nice to hear this from a very conservative area of inland Florida.
Posted by madfloridian | Sun Jan 4, 2015, 12:10 AM (7 replies)

These guys fished for schools. Got a whole city. Perfect image of a corporate coup in America.

The owners of Charter Schools USA out of Florida were so arrogant they named their yacht Fishin' for Schools.

Hage and Pozzuoli’s yacht in back of Hage’s Coral Ridge Country Club home in Fort Lauderdale.

In fact they have apparently staged a coup that we once would have thought would not happen here. They have been given all the public schools in the city of York, Pennsylvania.

The people of the city are against it. But as late as yesterday a judge gave it the go ahead even though an appeal has been an appeal has been filed by the district.

"I will be looking for a new job," Hoover said Sunday. "I do not want to be involved in a for-profit charter. I don't think that they're in it for the students. I think they're in it for the money, and I don't want to be a part of that."

She is not alone. A York County judge's ruling Friday paves the way for a state appointee to follow through with his plan, unveiled in November, to convert the district to charter schools operated by a for-profit company called Charter Schools USA.

.....The decision of President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh gives everything but taxing power to David Meckley, a Spring Garden Township businessman who has steered the district's financial recovery process for two years. His tenure started after the state placed York City in moderate financial recovery status.

Attorney Marc Tarlow, representing the district, said he filed an appeal to Linebaugh's decision

...Bolt, a teacher in the district's Cornerstone intervention program, said she's also placed her hope in Wolf.

"I know that Wolf can't reverse receivership. But at the very least I'm hoping he can appoint someone that is a little bit more friendly to the idea of keeping the public school system for York City," she said. "At the very best, I'm hoping that Wolf kind of swoops in and makes the problem go away."

It seems Meckley prefers for Charter Schools USA to take over the York schools.

That means, if a district appeal is unsuccessful, that Meckley will assume all responsibilities of the locally elected school board except the ability to set the tax rate.

Though the judge's ruling gives him leeway there, too.

Meckley spent the past two years developing and implementing a financial recovery plan heavily focused on the need to improve the district's academics.

In the past six months, he's transitioned to advocating for a full conversion of district schools to charter schools operated by a for-profit company called Charter Schools USA.

I would like to believe that this will soon be called an attempted coup that failed.

Arne asked a pathetic question. He got way more responses than he expected.

I bet he wishes he had phrased his words differently.

From the Washington Post:

Arne Duncan asks ‘what if?’ Here’s the response.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan tweeted this to his followers on Dec. 30:

What if every district committed both to identifying what made their 5 best schools successful & providing those opps to all their students?

— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) December 30, 2014

What followed on Twitter in reaction to that tweet was probably not what he had hoped to see. Critics sent some of their own “what if” thoughts to Duncan #whatif. Here’s a sampling:

#Whatif teachers were respected rather than disparaged by this country’s wealthy and elite — Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) December 31, 2014

#WhatIf the public realized that our @usedgov has plenty of money to properly fund schools but they choose to channel $ to corps instead? — TeacherReality (@TeacherReality) December 31, 2014

... #WhatIf Every family & student boycotted @arneduncan ‘s high-stakes testing & we moved to a well-rounded education w/ authentic assessment. — Chris Cerrone (@Stoptesting15) December 31, 2014

Here's my own #what if:

As teacher was told to start teaching where the child is and take him as far as he can go. #whatif we did that now? @arneduncan #education

And another one or two from that #whatif twitter page:

Erin Rafferty Warner ‏@Teachercat2 13m13 minutes ago

#whatif all the proud "rotten apples" rose up and fired @arneduncan? @BadassTeachersA @DianeRavitch

ProgTeacherCat! and 5 others retweeted
TeacherReality ‏@TeacherReality Dec 31

#WhatIf the American public finally realized that Duncan's #edreform is a complete fraud full of moving cut scores, subpar tests, curriculum
0 replies 28 retweets 13 favorites

What if Arne Duncan and President Obama read the Politico article saying the Republicans may slash the number of federally required tests.

“We are actively exploring the question of whether the federal mandate on annual tests is warranted,” one GOP aide said. The goal is to give states more flexibility in how they track student progress, report those results to the public and hold schools accountable for all kids.

A bipartisan bill gaining momentum among lawmakers would give states grants to audit their testing regimes — and weed out unnecessary exams.

“Annual statewide assessments are critical to ensuring that all students are held to the same high standards and parents, teachers and communities have the information they need about how their children are doing every year,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said when the bill was introduced. “However, in many places, the amount of testing that is redundant or simply not helpful for instruction has become a real problem.”

While Duncan supports that bill, he and President Barack Obama oppose ending the annual testing requirements in NCLB, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. They argue that the yearly tests are vital for assessing student progress and holding schools accountable for making sure every child advances.

What if Arne admitted that the reason for all the overtesting is his own policy.

What if we were finally honest about the harm being done to public schools by corporations determined to get richer.

Robert Redford says time for Dick Cheney to defend himself not on TV but in court of law.

American Democracy and Torture

And some candid remarks about Cheney.

When U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently released the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the U.S. use of torture, like many, I was both moved by her tenacity and shocked by the picture it painted of American democracy. America tortured people after 9/11 and here was the proof. You can debate whether or not it "worked" but it appears in most cases we never tried anything else so we'll never know. You can't debate what a hit this is on the moral imperative inherent in American democracy.

It's no secret that former Vice President Dick Cheney has never been one of my favorites. And I will admit that when I saw him rise again on the Sunday morning shows and other television outlets around this torture report a few weeks back, my first reaction was "Why are they talking to him? Shouldn't he be on trial for violating international law?" So, of course he should have been there. We live in a democracy! And, as he sits square in the middle of this whole controversy I had to admit I was curious as to his reaction.

There he was in all his glory, in all his arrogance, defending torture, or rather enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and rectal feeding -- which he said he believed was done for medical reasons. Really? He defended it all. I couldn't help but think that maybe it's time Vice President Cheney move from defending his actions on Fox News and Meet the Press, and be asked to defend it in a court of law.

Let's face it, turning this kind of microscope on our own actions brings with it a lot of controversy, calls that we are endangering or damaging the CIA, or opening a can of worms that is best left closed. The dilemmas of a free society are many, and this is one of them. And the dilemmas of a free society are messy. But we should never walk away from them because of that.

Judge gave all of York PA city schools to these guys from Florida?? Frightening.

The city of York, Pennsylvania is set to make all of its schools for-profit charter schools. It wasn't exactly their choice. A court sealed the deal.

In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to carry out a two-year-old plan to turn all of York’s schools over to for-profit charter corporation Charter Schools USA, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education filed a petition in a York County court earlier this month to take away almost all local control from the school board, and put the district in the “receivership” of state-appointed York education official David Meckley.

Meckley, a local businessman who once served on the board of a nearby school district, was appointed in 2012 to oversee York’s financially beleaguered school system under a 2012 law that allowed the state to appoint “recovery officers” for any school districts with significant debt. His plan for York involves a slew of concessions from the district, from teacher layoffs to extracurricular cutbacks. But the most controversial part is the handing over of the entire operation of the district to Charter Schools USA.

While placing struggling school districts in state control is relatively common across the U.S., a state has only converted an entire school district to a charter system once before — in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Well, these are the guys who will profit.

From Coral Springs Talk back in March.

Charter Schools USA Founder Sets Sail for Riches

Charter Schools USA founder Jonathan Hage and his first mate Edward Pozzuoli, attorney for Charter Schools USA who is also president of the law firm Tripp Scott, have registered a yacht under the name of “Fishin’ 4 Schools” as well as formed an LLC under the same name.

Hage and Pozzuoli’s yacht in back of Hage’s Coral Ridge Country Club home in Fort Lauderdale.

This begs the question: What other assets do they own that are hidden under aliases?

Charter schools are public schools that receive state tax dollars, but function with their own boards of directors and enjoy substantial independence from state and local regulations. Charter Schools USA is a for-profit company which operates 58 schools in several states, including Florida, for a combined 48,000 students, however, both Hage and Pozzuoli send their children to Pine Crest Schools – a private school located in Fort Lauderdale.

There are big dollars in those students numbers. If Hage and Pozzuoli make $100 off each of those 48,000 students, that would be a $4.8 million dollar annual payday.

They later put the Yacht up for sale for $349,500.

As Jersey Jazzman points out at his blog...Charter Schools USA have not exactly set a shining example in Florida.

Our shining local examples in Hillsborough County are owned by Charter Schools USA. My first glimpse of Winthrop Charter School in Riverview in November of 2011 was during a scheduled visit with then Rep. Rachel Burgin. When told the two story brick building was a charter school, I was mystified. The site on which it was built was purchased from John Sullivan by Ryan Construction Company, Minneapolis, MN. From research done by the League of Women Voters of Florida all school building purchases ultimately owned and managed by for-profit Charter Schools USA are initiated by Ryan Construction. The Winthrop site was sold to Ryan Co. in March, 2011 for $2,206,700. In September, 2011 the completed 50,000 square foot building was sold to Red Apple Development Company, LLC for $9,300,000 titled as are all schools managed by Charter Schools USA. Red Apple Development is the school development arm of Charter Schools USA. We, tax payers of Hillsborough County, have paid $969,000 and $988,380 for the last two years to Charter Schools USA in lease fees!

And what kind of performance have the good people of Florida received for all of that money?

The chain was considered high-performing until this year. And on Tuesday the Orange School Board voted 7-0 to deny its applications for three new campuses.

Because charters are publicly funded per pupil, Charter Schools USA would receive about $27 million a year to run the three schools at capacity if approved.

"Their performance in Orange County is abysmally poor," board Chairman Bill Sublette said of the Renaissance schools. "They're underperforming the schools in the area that they're drawing from. How can we look taxpayers in the eye and approve them?"

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