Author Archives: bucktownpirate
Leadership and Crisis in Education
In the fight over Common Core, Louisiana state government is failing its citizens and the governor is chiefly responsible
Louisiana state government is failing its duty to provide leadership and accountability for public school education in the upcoming academic year. The situation has reached a crisis level with serious potential consequences for students, parents, teachers and all of us as stakeholders in the future of Louisiana. This was a crisis of choice and the clearest responsibility for it lies with the governor.The current dispute between the governor on one side and the state education board on the other is on the verge of rendering a dysfunctional process to administer accountability tests to students this school year. This mess is potentially significant enough to damage the national profile of the state.The dispute is centered on differing views of whether the state should implement the Common Core standards, a path decided by laws signed by the governor as well as policy set by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The governor’s actions so far appear to be an attempt to thwart the law and the Common Core implementation by creating a bureaucratic contest over state procurement practices and contracting law.Fortunately, many solutions are available to address the immediate concerns of implementing accountability tests, which have been central to the state’s progress on key educational measures in recent years. The assessments could be handled in-house by the education agency, by adjusting the current contract for the next year or by a new contract competitively bid. Members of the state education board have proposed several worthwhile solutions.Though time is short, competitive contracting is a good policy principle that still could be employed in the current circumstance. The administration and its bureaucrats should carry on their role to review state contracts to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the procurement process and to meet the state’s legal requirements. But those bureaucrats, with the governor influencing their every move, should not be in the business of using that process to determine the state’s education policy and academic standards. That domain belongs to BESE and the Department of Education.The governor and his administration have been inconsistent on public contracting. After years of reviewing and approving Department of Education testing contracts, only now has the administration raised serious concerns about them. If the past contracting methods were faulty, the administration as well as the education agencies bear a responsibility. Although the governor now insists that competitive bids be used for a testing contract, he has endorsed no-bid contracts for major initiatives he has favored. His sudden zeal for competitive bidding is welcome but apparently is selective.From cutting-edge supporter to virulent enemy of Common Core, the governor’s inconsistent path on educational standards is becoming the defining issue of his gubernatorial and leadership legacy. The governor’s change in stance began with ambiguous statements about his commitment to the new standards, which he helped birth. Only a year ago he was pushing hard for faster implementation of Common Core, and yet now he shows intolerance for those who want to proceed with Common Core even slowly. When he decided to oppose the standards, he made a limp effort during the recent legislative session and proved to be a weak ally of his fellow Common Core critics. The Legislature rebuffed efforts to change the law in the direction he wanted it to go. Now the governor is on the presidential campaign trail loudly attacking Louisiana and its consensus implementation of Common Core.Anyone can change his mind, but Jindal’s oscillation on this issue combined with his apparent political calculations are affecting his image as a sincere and reliable leader here in Louisiana. Years of work brought us to the point where the state is ready to start a new set of standards, a process the governor until recently sought to accelerate. The current problem – finding a way to conduct assessments for the next academic year – was in no way created by the federal government. This is a fully state-created crisis. The governor has the main responsibility for creating this crisis and a failure of the system would be on his shoulders.The governor should not use his bureaucracies for harassment and ultimately allow bureaucrats to make policy decisions that are clearly and rightly delegated to state education leaders and the Legislature under Louisiana’s constitution and statutes. The governor regularly criticizes the federal government for this type of executive over-reach.The governor’s new opinion on Common Core is his business and his right, even though his opinion is not consistent with the laws he endorsed and signed into effect. It is unfortunate that the governor is traveling the nation criticizing his state on this issue. But his potential use of executive over-reach and bureaucratic interference to stop Common Core is a more serious matter and would be damaging and punitive to schools and taxpayers.If the governor wants to persuade the state to take a new direction on educational standards, then he should use a good, foundational democratic decision-making process to do that. If he forces the state in that direction with disruption and interference, then he lets slip the state’s steep climb out of its past era of autocratic rule. Is this demonstration of leadership an indication what kind of president he would be?For now, the governor has the opportunity to address the immediate problem of student academic assessments by demonstrating he has the skills to work with others and to allow Louisiana’s government to proceed with implementing state law and policy in a proper legal manner. In doing so, he could more likely be seen as a leader worthy of high office and not just a political candidate who blows with the latest wind.
For those of you following the most important story in Louisiana politics (cause nothing beats a Governor’s race), David Vitter’s campaign non-campaign SuperPAC packed away $1.79m for Vitter’s 2015 race. You can now count the SuperPAC as one of the largest campaign purses in the state, around the same size as other Gubernatorial candidates-in-waiting MAIN CAMPAIGN accounts of bigtimers such as John Kennedy, Jay Dardenne, or Mitch Landrieu.
In essence, a headless SuperPAC, the Deus ex machina of political campaigns, is tallying up the big money without Vitter’s such much as dialing a number (although to be fair, Vitter has appeared on behalf of the Fund for Louisiana’s future at least once, and of course transferred some of his own campaign funds to the cause). And how is this thing garnering so much cash without a candidate pushing the oarsmen?
In May, New Orleans federal judge Martin Feldman ruled that, based on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, Louisiana can’t enforce its limit of $100,000 donations for advocacy groups. The High Court ruled that spending money on advocacy is an exercise of free speech, which cannot be regulated. Less than two months later, the American Chemistry Council broke the $100,000 donation threshold for the Vitter Super PAC.
Overall, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future took in $623,968 in the three months through June 30, on top of $157,500 received in the first three months of 2014. That’s brought the group’s cash on hand to a robust $1,796,733.
Among the biggest donors for 2014, were $100,000 each from Tracy Krohn, CEO of W&T Offshore Inc. of Houston; and Daniel Heard, a retired investor from Houston. Since its creation in 2013, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future has received five donations of $100,000 or more. Galliano Marine Services of Cut Off and GMAA LLC of New Orleans gave $100,000 in 2013.
Other top donors during 2014 included Hilcorp Energy Co. of Houston, $45,000; 4K Marine LLC of Morgan City, $40,000 and Texas Petroleum Investments Co. of Houston, $30,000.
Oh, that whole “no limits” thing.
The Fund For Louisiana’s Future: No limits, Setting Records.
Need more evidence of money’s influence on legislation? We break down contributions between ayes and nays on SB 469
Breaking it down. Dollar for oily, greasy dollar.
Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:
Gov. Bobby Jindal, with the signing of House Bill 799, has continued his assault on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E), underscoring the importance and power of special interest money over the welfare of the state.
HB 799, authored by Rep. Stuart J. Bishop (R-Lafayette), bars the Louisiana attorney general from hiring plaintiff attorneys on a contingency-fee basis to pursue litigation against corporations like Chinese dry wall manufacturers responsible for millions of dollars in damages to new homes in Louisiana, pharmaceutical companies accused of price fraud at the wholesale level and of selling pharmaceutical products not approved by the federal government, companies found to be improperly handling underground storage tanks, or tobacco companies whose seven top executives (to evermore be known as the “seven dwarves”) lied under oath to Congress in saying nicotine was not addictive.
Bishop cited fees of $51.4 million paid state-contracted attorneys in a case against…
View original 1,690 more words
Jindal con-profit Status: Criminal activity suspected by @Cenlamar
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Four years ago, an otherwise dull case concerning a pay-per-view documentary about the former and future Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton provided a divided United States Supreme Court with the opportunity to issue its most consequential and most controversial ruling since it halted a ballot recount in Florida ten years prior. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in simple terms, allows corporations to spend unlimited money in order to influence elections. To Chief Justice Roberts and the court’s other reliably conservative members, the previous limitations on corporate spending represented an improper restraint on speech and, therefore, a violation of the First Amendment. But for the Court’s more liberal members, limitations on corporate spending were critical in ensuring a fair, effective, accountable, and- most importantly- participatory system of democracy.
In my opinion, the free speech rights of corporations should not be entitled to the same protections as the free speech rights of citizens. Despite what the…
View original 2,180 more words
Exactly who is donating to Bobby Jindal’s 501(c)4 group? And why?
Originally posted on CenLamar:
Last Friday, against the vehement and public urging of his own Attorney General and nearly one hundred of the nation’s most respected legal experts, Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 469 into law. Quoting his press release (bold mine):
Governor Jindal said, “This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law. It further improves Louisiana’s legal environment by reducing unnecessary claims that burden businesses so that we can bring even more jobs to our state. The bill will also send future recovered dollars from CZMA litigation to coastal projects, allowing us to ensure Louisiana coastal lands are preserved and that our communities are protected.”
If you’re wondering who, exactly, the law benefits, all you need to do is keep reading Jindal’s press release, which contains this amazing confession. Quoting (again, bold and…
View original 3,018 more words
Jindal is confused again.
Originally posted on CenLamar:
As a general rule, when the government enacts a law that infringes on a fundamental right, particularly when the law targets a specific group or class of people who…
View original 919 more words
‘Bobby Jindal: the Man, the Legend’ (but mostly legend), by LouisianaVoice (via couple of Forbes magazine puff pieces)
The Legend, Bobby Jindal
Originally posted on Louisiana Voice:
Any successful stage magician must be adept at the art of misdirection so as to be able to successfully pull off his sleight of hand maneuvers while the audience’s eyes are focused elsewhere.
That being the case, just call Gov. Bobby Jindal the aspiring-but-not-quite-there-yet magician: the wannabe.
Rather than coming off as an inept stage magician, however, Jindal more closely resembles the old traveling snake oil salesman standing on the back of his wagon full of patent medicine as he assures the crowd gathered around him to “Try this: it’ll cure what’s ailing you.”
“It’s guaranteed to fix education, health care, the economy, deteriorating roads and bridges, crumbling college and university physical plant, pensions, prisons, budget deficits, the environment, poverty, coastal erosion, and population loss—all while reducing your taxes and giving more corporate tax breaks and handing out more consulting contracts.
“But don’t look at me when I’m telling you…
View original 1,211 more words
Waiting to exhale? Great, go ahead and breathe. David Vitter’s SuperPAC (VitterPAC or the “Fund for Louisiana’s Future”) has successfully bulldogged a Federal judge to rule Louisiana’s STATE contribution limits are unconstitutional:
A New Orleans federal judge Friday barred Louisiana from enforcing its $100,000 limit on donations to a Super PAC formed by a lawyer who has said it will advocate for Sen. David Vitter’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign. Charles Spies, the Washington lawyer who founded the Fund for Louisiana’s Future (FFLF), praised the ruling Friday by District Court Judge Martin Feldman as an “important win for the right of political participation and First Amendment protections in Louisiana.”
To review, we’ve talked at length about how transparent and evil this whole VitterPAC thing is for Louisiana’s democracy. It’s the imposition of DC-style political money games on the gret stet in a way that we’ve never seen before. Now, they’ve gone as far as to attack and strike down Louisiana law to push through their unlimited money machine. Unleashing this PAC on Louisiana will change the game forever. If they’re successful, Louisiana’s elections will become as cynical and vapid as the national ones. SuperPAC bombers will hover on the airwaves dropping unlimited amounts of TV ads to influence voters in an unprecedented assault.
Worse, they’ll do it under the guise of “non-coordination,” like they’re just some good ole friends of David’s, acting on his behalf but not by his direction. As if it matters. All hail our new overlords, Governor SuperPAC!
This isn’t parody. Bobby Jindal welcome CGI Federal, the company responsible for the total meltdown that was the first month of the Affordable Care Act launch.
We all recall Jindal’s knee-slapper during the roll-out, right?
CGI Federal executive James Peake announced in a press conference Monday that the company has selected the UL Research Park to establish a technology center…
CGI, the fifth-largest IT company in the world, selected Lafayette after a two-year nationwide site-selection process, according to a press release. The total investment, including government incentives and contributions, is about $25 million…
LED offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based grant of $5.3 million to reimburse personnel relocation, recruitment, training and building operating costs. CGI will receive the comprehensive workforce solutions of LED FastStart and is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Digital Interactive Media and Software Development incentives.
Local incentives for the project will include a grant not to exceed $1.1 million from LEDA, for the reimbursement of relocation costs and operating costs in a temporary location.
Ah, good deal. Jindal gives millions to incompetent Canadian contractor while mocking their incompetence.
For the 100th time. @BobbyJindal is some sort of religious zealot unfit to govern a polytheistic country.
Originally posted on CenLamar:
In his very first term in office as Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal signed the nation’s most absurd and most regressive “science education law” in modern America, the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act. Ostensibly, the law is merely about introducing supplementary materials in public school classrooms in order to undermine the validity of both the fact and the scientific theory of evolution, offering impressionable school children with an alternate explanation of the nature and origins of our vastly complex universe by attempting to teach kids that the observable, repeatable, and peer-reviewed knowledge and data that the world’s brightest minds have perfected for hundreds and hundreds of years are merely metaphors to be forcibly, painfully implanted into a choice series of 2,000 year old oral history books.
That’s why you’ll hear Creationists claim that Dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark. Apparently, he even drew up a little model to support his thesis…
View original 881 more words