Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Evidence against Mr. Ben Austin of LA City and Green Dot Public [sic] Schools Part One

"It would force the district to learn how to run great schools by forcing them to COMPETE." -- Ben Austin (Executive Director LAPU/PR)

"There's nothing the matter with teachers that a little less unionization and more COMPETITION couldn't cure." -- Ann Coulter (racist reactionary right wing pundit)

Report Green Dot's Ben Austin on the City Ethics Commission Complaint Form OnlineNovember 9, 2009

Attn: Investigator currently assigned to Mr. Ben Austin Case # 2010-36

Enc: PDF file with scans of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official blog

I reported Mr. Austin of the City Attorney's office, for what I perceived as possible violations of the City's Code of Ethics, around mid-July of this year. While I finally received a response from the Ethics Commission in August, I have never once been contacted regarding evidence, nor asked why I reported Mr. Austin to begin with. While I find this highly irregular, I understand your department is probably understaffed and overwhelmed.

In light of this, I will begin sending evidence against Mr. Austin on a frequent basis, as my schedule permits. Some of this information I will republish publicly. Some information is sensitive in nature, so I will only send it to the Commission and select persons on the CC list. Given the breadth of my readership in the various publications I'm published in, the ones made public will find a large audience.

The first thing I want to submit is the enclosed attachment. It is a print out of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official blog from September 1, 2009. The post in question dates from August 12, which was the third page of the print out. I also have paper copies available for viewing.

Ben Austin being given carte blanche to post on the Mayor's blog is problematic on several levels. First off, the biography for Mr. Austin under the post makes no mention of Mr. Austin being a city employee. Many taxpayers would be furious to learn they subsidize Mr. Austin's efforts to privatize education, when he is really supposed to be working at his city job. However, it's more telling that Mr. Austin choose not to reveal his city employment since many would want to know if he used his connections to the Mayor as a member of the City Attorney's Office to press his political agenda on the Mayor's high profile blog. It's not as if Mayor Villaraigosa invited school privatization opponents to post their thoughts on his official blog, I know that neither I, nor any public school advocates were asked to contribute.

Another problem with Mr. Austin being able to shamelessly promote the organization he moonlights for on a public venue like the Mayor's official blog, is that Mr. Austin stands to gain financially from the outcome. His bonuses and continued employment with Green Dot (LAPU/PR) is entirely contingent on his ability to press through the political agenda of the CMOs and the wealthy benefactors that subsidize the CMO/charter/voucher establishment. Mr. Austin's role in the passage of the corporate charter school choice resolution was critical. The fact that he was able to use his status as a city employee to garner favors from the Mayor's office, obtain inside information from LAUSD, and manipulate public institutions is unconscionable.

While the damage to our communities as a direct result of Mr. Austin's actions will be difficult to mitigate, at least the citizens of Los Angeles deserve an explanation as to how such a seeming conflict of interest can continue unabated.

Please look forward to more such evidence being submitted in the near future.

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels


Friday, December 18, 2009

Grannan looks at Reactionary Schwarzenegger's Affinity for Green Dot Public [sic] Schools

"The Obama administration is using its unprecedented billions to advance a strategy of deregulation and deprofessionalization." -- Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThank you Caroline for your A sharp-eyed press view of Schwarzenegger and charter schools

Recently, Kenneth Libby of "Schools Matter" had a brilliant piece on how the sociopath Schwarzenegger spouts love for charters, choice, and other Milton Friedman cum Ayn Rand fantasies in Governator, Charter Schools, and the Market

While others here will take shots at the hard working women and men who teach children in our communities, a job teacher critics could never handle, your piece here is discussing the extreme right wing ideologues, charter-voucher charlatans, and corporate backers of the Governor and his failed charter-voucher vision. At least Schwarzenegger's close political ally, wealthy Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin, stands to gain even more financially, should their "race to privatization" package pass the state legislature.

Nor will teacher bashers speak to the millions upon millions in extra funding charters schools like Green Dot Public [sic] schools receive from nefarious right wing ideologues like AIG bailout recipient Eli Broad, convicted insider trader Michael Milkin, convicted predatory monopolist William Gates III, and the criminally exploitative Walton children. Sums so vast that the CTA figures mentioned above pale in comparison. I always love the contradiction of being told throwing more money at education won't solve any problems, while all the while the rich and powerful are throwing money into the democracy subverting kick back laden cronyism that is the charter-voucher school empire.

Schwarzenegger, Duncan, Romero, Villaraigosa, Barr, Petruzzi, Flores-Aguilar, Garcia, and Austin don't care at all about children or communities, as their vicious budget cuts have shown time and again! So why sudden enthusiasm about Duncan's blackmail plan? Follow the money:

"The education industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control... represents the largest market opportunity... the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada." -- Montgomery Securities prospectus quoted in Jonathan Kozol's "The Big Enchilada"

The Kozol quote pretty much sums up everything we need to know about the so called charter-voucher "movement." Rich executives keep getting richer, the sycophantic politicians keep getting donations, and our communities are left to languish in abject misery.

In response to an uneducated and unqualified comment following mine:

Is Mr. Krause serious? "there is nothing to skim off once expenses are paid" Have you seen the astronomical six figure salaries people like Austin, Petruzzi, Ressler, and Barr make? Have you heard about Green Dot's Steve Barr embezzling $51K, and then merely having to return it with no consequences once caught? Mr. Krause better warn all the CMO/EMO investors, as corporate charter-voucher schools are now all the rage for filthy predatory venture capitalists and hedge fund managers. There's far too much information available for people to claim charter-vouchers schools represent accountability, efficiency, or even public good. Available studies, statistics, and outrageous scandals like that mentioned above prove otherwise. Sorry, Green Dot hasn't "collected and folded up" just yet. In fact, Secretary of Education Duncan claims they've "cracked the code." I suppose he's right, the charter-voucher charlatans have cracked the code to malfeasance, mendacity, and MONEY!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

CCSA'S Jed Wallace's woeful corporate charter chicanery, defending the indefensible

Private money is paying for key senior staff positions... raising questions about transparency and the direction of reforms in the nation's second-largest school system. -- Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times Education Staff Writer)

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter Charlatans Like Jed WallaceWhile the Los Angeles Times is decidedly pro corporate charter-voucher in both concept and content, they are still a news source that needs a modicum of credibility in order to survive as a viable business. Their recent Learning about ethics discussing the utter unaccountability and lack of transparency in the corporate charter-voucher school syndicate was a major step towards exposing the kind of criminality school privatization opens the door to. Discussing the ethics issue (or in Barr's case the lack thereof) of charter school executive Steve Barr making off with a cool $51K was something we in the social justice community were heartened by. Howard Blume's brilliant Key L.A. Unified staff positions are funded privately exposed the incredible prospect that the billionaires club isn't satisfied with buying off politicians like Romero, Villaraigosa, Garcia, and Flores-Aguilar. The nefarious charter-voucher advocating plutocrats including the Waltons, Gates, Milkins, and Broads are now placing their "Made Men" inside public institutions that were at one time accountable to the tax payers. We public education activists knew Matt Hill was a bad guy with deep ties to Green Dot Public [sic] Schools, but we didn't know he was on Eli Broad's payroll. Great way to subvert democratic processes, Ben Austin must be proud.

In light of this tepid chastisement of their extremely profitable industry, Jed Wallace, the well heeled President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) launched an amateurish and fact free polemic entitled Who's watching charter schools [1] which the Los Angeles Times saw fit to publish in their online blowback section. Kenneth Libby of Schools Matter has fun picking apart Wallace's nonsensical Ayn Rand cum Milton Freidman fantasy land in Charter Lies.

Here's my letter to Mr. Wallace.

Mr. Wallace:

RE: "Who's watching charter schools" [1]

If regular working class people were "missing" $51,000 in receipts like Steve Barr, we would be FIRED and ARRESTED! What's more, Green Dot, like all EMO/CMO, suck up our tax dollars with the above-mentioned type of "accountability" going on. Only in the corporate charter-voucher school realm is such malfeasance and mendacity rewarded. Defending your fellow plutocrats in your fact-free diatribe is tantamount to being an accomplice to burglary.

In fact, we've been waiting for years to see a recent 990 come out of Green Dot's LAPU/PR subsidiary. Last one available was 2006 when Ryan Smith held the highly paid CEO post before moving on to Mayor Villaraigosa's education wrecking crew. I know Ben Austin wants his additional income to be kept secret, but rumor is his moonlighting gig at LAPU/PR pays more than his City Attorney day job. I guess that's the kind of "self policing" you are referring to here, no?

What's next Mr. Wallace? A defense of the AIG and Goldman Sachs' bailout financed bonuses? They claimed they'd do an adequate job "self policing" after deposing Glass-Steagall. They too fleeced the tax payers. No wonder hedge fund managers love charter-voucher schools!

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels

PS: $51K is a lot of fancy lunches with Romero, Garcia, and Flores-Aguilar. I hope your fellow country club elitist, Barr, enjoyed each and every one of them. It (privatization) is broke, and must be fixed!




Justice for Nativo Lopez and Overhill Farms Workers

Justice for Nativo Lopez and Overhill Farms WorkersFact Sheet

"An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

INTRODUCTION. Nativo Lopez is known nationally for his organizing and support of immigrants, workers, and students. As president of the Mexican American Political Association and national director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Nativo is a vocal advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants who face persecution because of their status: be it at their workplace, school, or communities. Most recently he founded a new independent union, the General Brotherhood of Workers International Union, and has been working closely with terminated employees from the company Overhill Farms and assisting in their fight against unjust firings. Overhill Farms is the largest food processing and manufacturing company in California with between 800 and 1,000 employees, based in the city of Vernon, and supplies packaged food product to companies such as Jenny Craig, Panda Express, El Pollo Loco, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Safeway, and many other super-market chain stores.

  • Nativo faces eight felony charges by the Los Angeles District Attorney, Steve Cooley, that include: fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury, and fraudulent voting. On July 8th, 2009, Nativo declared himself "NOT GUILTY" to a judge during his arraignment. These charges are based on allegations that he used a business address (of his organization) to register to vote and vote in an election, while allegedly residing at a different location. The period in question was January 2006 to March 2008. He voted on one single occasion, and never in multiple jurisdictions. The California Secretary of State investigated the case for one-and-a-half years, while the department could have decided to take administrative action, instead turned it over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney for prosecution.
  • These charges could have been resolved administratively due to their technical nature. Instead, they are being pursued as felony charges. It is a clear example of selective prosecution. Where others have never been prosecuted for similar infractions, Nativo has been targeted at a time that he has been vocal against the broken immigration system and stood up in defense of the workers at Overhill Farms, and the 1,800 workers terminated recently at American Apparel.
  • An arrest warrant was issued on June 22, 2009, however, false reports of his arrest have painted a flawed image of the actual nature of these charges and the events that followed. Nativo in fact presented himself to a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court on June 24, 2009, the day before reports were made, and allowed to leave on his own recognizance.
  • The workers at Overhill Farms that stood up against their unfair boss have also been targeted by a lawsuit of the company. On July 1, 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed against Nativo Lopez and six worker leaders - charged with extortion, defamation and intentional interference with the company's customers, employees, and the union, which represents the majority of the employees. The company claims that they are being pressured to rehire the terminated employees but fails to mention anything about the procedure it took to select the almost 300 employees who were accused of a discrepancy in their social security numbers and given only 30 days to clear up the matter. These 300 employees had worked for the company between 5 and 20 years and had established their seniority and benefits under their union contract. When the employees questioned the company about their discriminatory practices, the company changed their story a few times and terminated them. Overhill Farms was not under any obligation by the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, or any other government entity to fire the employees. The company also chose to terminate workers who presented evidence to correct the discrepancy. Overhill Farms turned around and hired part-time employees (so classified), but works them 50 to 60 hours weekly, at minimum wage and provides them absolutely no benefits. This was clearly the scheme of the company to eliminate seniority employees and replace them with lower wage part-time workers.
  • The charges (both the felonies and civil charges) against Nativo and the workers are a clear attempt to distract them from their call for a national boycott against Overhill Farms until the company rehires the dismissed workers. The charges are aimed at distracting the public from the real issue at hand.
  • Nativo's preliminary hearing will be on December 17, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. at the Los Angeles Superior Court at 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 90012, Dept. 36 on the 3rd Floor.

For more information on assisting in the Justice for Nativo and Overhill Farms Workers Defense Committee please contact Taina Reyes at or call (323) 269-1575.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sadly, it's not Sayonara for the Silver Lake Snake Oil Salesman Steve Barr

"It's like me saying, 'Duffy's a pig fucker.' Have I seen him fuck a pig? Do I have photos?" -- Steve Barr (Founder and (former) Chairman, Green Dot)

To be sure, Steve Barr lost his position because of the malfeasance of the missing $51,000 scandal, his embarrassing falling out with Michele Rhee during Green Dot Public [sic] Schools' negotiations in D.C., and his constant wrangling with the one man at Green Dot who is greedier than he is -- Marco Petruzzi. The money grubbing Green Dot Public [sic] Schools machine would have discarded the Silver Lake snake oil salesman completely, except their decade long public relations campaign portraying Steve Barr as the "friendly face" of the neoliberal dismantling of public education by corporate interests has been so successful, it would have harmed the corporate charter-voucher establishment in the long run. In the interest of "market share" Green Dot kept Barr on to serve as the corporate spokesperson for the sycophantic right wing business press and other corporate sociopaths to dote on him while they eliminate the last vestiges of the public commons, and give themselves bailout financed bonuses.

Steve Barr's corporate charter-voucher establishment in Los Angeles, like all EMO/CMO factory schools with their unelected and unaccountable boards, have been a paradigm of parent and community disenfranchisement. Recent definitive studies citing both charter school racism and CMO charter-voucher school discrimination and exclusivity toward children with special needs are further proof that the decades long failed experiment of the corporate CMO supporters must end.

Steve Barr's astro-turf parental "involvement," via LAPU/PR under wealthy Ben Austin is highly suspect as well. Aside from unsavory incidents of class oppression and racism the Green Dot/LAPU/PR tactic of organizing parents in front of LAUSD was typified in that he allowed parents to count it against their contractual "community services" clause they signed to get their children into Barr's factory schools. In addition to paying massive salaries to executives like Ben Austin Green Dot and its marketing division LAPU/PR is funded by nefarious billionaires like the Waltons, Gates, Milkens, and Broads, who dump millions into corporate CMO/EMO charters since it furthers their extreme right wing agenda and fuels their Milton Friedman cum Ayn Rand fantasies.

"We need to say no to the neoliberal fatalism that we are witnessing at the end of this century, informed by the ethics of the market, an ethics in which a minority makes most profits against the lives of the majority. In other words, those who cannot compete, die. This is a perverse ethics that, in fact, lacks ethics. I insist on saying that I continue to be human...I would then remain the last educator in the world to say no: I do not accept...history as determinism. I embrace history as possibility [where] we can demystify the evil in the perverse fatalism that characterizes the neoliberal discourse in the end of this century." -- Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo, "Ideology Matters"


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Universal Human Rights Day - Calling for the immediate release of Alex Sanchez

This press release was held at noon today along Wilshire. Alex Sanchez is a friend and a fellow activist, so I'm sad I was only able to spend about 15 minutes there. Here's the letter announcing the event:

The We Are Alex Chapters of LA, NY & DC invite you to join us this Thursday Dec 10th - Universal Human Rights Day - to call for the immediate release of Alex Sanchez.

The circumstances under which Alex has been detained are in direct violation of multiple articles stated within the UN's mandated Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore we call upon the U.S. Department of Justice to issue the release of Alex Sanchez and the complete restoration of his human rights.
If we are truly a democracy then it is imperative that we uphold human rights and due process -- once we start denying rights for one individual or group of people, it puts all individuals' rights at risk.  We hope you will you will join us.

In Peace & Justice,

We Are Alex

We Are Alex Site
We Are Alex Twitter
We Are Alex Facebook

Free Alex SanchezFree Alex Sanchez
Free Alex SanchezFree Alex Sanchez


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where was the Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin and his Blue Shirts contingent?

"This is a legitimate threat to the school district. And this is how we have to play to be heard. This is going to steamroll." -- Mary Najera (hostile takeover specialist, Green Dot Corporation)

Stand against Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher cash cowsYesterday LAUSD voted to harm thousands and thousands of kids through further unconscionable cuts which will balloon already bloated class sizes. Where was wealthy Ben Austin and his throngs of Green Dot Parent Revolutionaries? In fact why haven't Beverly Hills Ben Austin and his shock troops been at any pro-parent-student-community protest, hunger strike, rally, or event that was held by the community? Why is it that Austin only mobilizes parents or writes op-ed pieces full of sophistry and rhetoric for issues only effecting Green Dot, Alliance, and Bright Star? Oh yeah, Austin and Green Dot/LAPU/Parent Revolution are in it solely for the money!

Mr. Austin, you've proven time and time again, through your actions, not your grandiose speeches, that you are completely disingenuous and don't care about kids at all. Did your absence at yesterday's LAUSD vote to immiserate and victimize Los Angeles children reflect your hackneyed policy of advocating "what's good for kids, not grown-ups?" Please tell us Mr. Austin how Green Dot Public [sic] Schools and Parent Revolution view yesterday's board vote as giving "children the education they need and the future they deserve."

We're waiting.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Stop Gloria Romero's Corporate Charter Trigger aka SBX5 1 Race to the Abyss


Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsWhile spending more than 3.6 billion a month (which will increase with their bellicose "surge") on the vicious occupation of Afghanistan, trillions on bailing out the banksters, this administration doesn't seem to have much left over in terms of education spending. Instead of discarding the failed NCLB laws of their extreme right wing predecessor and fully funding public education, President Obama and Secretary Duncan have decided to force feed their own abject failure of Renaissance 2010 to the rest of the country. Rather than investing public bailout funds with no strings attached, like what was done for AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al, Duncan's Orwellian-named "Race to the Top" funds are only available to states that implement reactionary policies that the extreme right wing has been clamoring about for years.

All of this for just a pittance, the President is merely offering the entire State of California just 700 million for the year. A drop in the bucket compared to his massive war and defense budgets. While any money would certainly help at this point, we should be taxing the rich instead, and absolutely not give into the "pound of flesh" funding demands "rac[ist] to the top" requires.

State Senator Gloria Romero, a former liberal, who just passed a bill (SB 592) handing public school property over to private corporations [2], is pushing a version of a new bill in Sacramento. SBX5 1 aka SB 1, which doesn't just give in to Duncan and Obama's demands, tantamount to blackmail, but adds Ben Austin and Marco Petruzzi's anti-democratic corporate charter-voucher trigger language. Here is what SB 1 would codify if passed.

  1. A regressive merit pay system to discourage hard working teachers

  2. A removal of the already ridiculously high cap on corporate charter-voucher schools displacing public schools

  3. A wholly undemocratic corporate charter-voucher trigger mechanism that would let corporations like Green Dot seize public schools with greater ease than they do now

The first two have been discussed at length, and with the exception of fake academics at right-wing think tanks including Cato, Hoover, and Hudson, have been thoroughly discredited.

The last one was snuck into SB 1 on December 3rd, as a favor to Senator Romero's right wing friends at the Parent Revolution [3], and to the appease the likes of the Gates, Broad, Walton, and Annenberg foundations.

Here's the anti-democratic corporate charter-voucher trigger language of the bill:

1116(b)(8)(B) of the federal Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) ,
including those activities required in the regulations and guidelines
for the federal Race to the Top Fund, authorized under the federal
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5),
and the guidelines for the federal School Improvement Grants,
authorized under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) .
(b) For any other school which, after one full school year, is
subject to corrective action pursuant to paragraph (7) of Section
1116(b) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20
U.S.C. Sec 6301 et seq.) and continues to fail to make adequate
yearly progress, and where at least one-half of the parents or legal
guardians of pupils attending the school, or a combination of at
least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending
the school and the elementary or middle schools that normally
matriculate into a middle or high school, as applicable, sign a
petition requesting the local educational agency to implement one or
more of the five federally mandated alternative governance
arrangements pursuant to Section 1116(b)(8) of the federal Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.), the local
educational agency shall implement the option requested by the
parents unless, in a regularly scheduled public hearing, the local
educational agency makes a finding in writing why it cannot implement
the specific recommended option and instead designates in writing
which of the other federally mandated alternative governance
arrangements it will implement in the subsequent school year
consistent with requirements specified in federal regulations and
guidelines for schools subject to restructuring under Section 1116(b)
(8) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C.
Sec. 6301 et seq.). If the local educational agency indicates in
writing that it will implement in the upcoming school year a
different alternative governance arrangement than requested by the
parents, the local educational agency shall notify the Superintendent
and the state board that the alternative governance option selected
has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate
yearly progress as defined in the federally mandated state plan under
Section 1111(b)(2) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.).

I'll get back this the topic soon, but it is imperative we fight back against this disgusting right-wing legislation. Contact your assembly person and tell them you oppose SB 1!

For those harboring illusions about State Senator Gloria Romero, her ideology, and her intentions. Long time immigrant rights activist Alvaro Maldonado, who led the fight against the racist Prop 187, had this to say about State Senator and Privatization Pontiff Gloria Romero:

I just saw her the other day! She use to be a left liberal, now she's just a plain capitalist liberal! Gloria Romero was an 1970's activist turned Democratic politician just like Fabian Nunez. I think, it should be a good lesson to all that those liberals who tie themselves to the Democratic party are almost without exception, turn into promoters for the capitalist system; be they co-opted, sold out, or just believe that there is no alternative (I generally I don't buy the argument on practicality claimed by the "progressive" Democrats... Their excuses generally hide their opportunism). The UFW traditional leadership (Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, etc) gave us years of union and Democratic party opportunism in their stances on many an issue... but thats too long a story to get into on this comment page... it should suffice to be weary of "progressives" keeping close ties to the Democratic party.

[1] More on race to the abyss, er, top: Resisting the blackmail of "Race to the Top," three articles

[2] More on SB 592: Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47 Part 2, Good News for Charter School Chains in California: Asset Stripping Gives Them Titles to Public School

[3] Ben Austin was a Republican Deputy Mayor, for those who don't remember.

[4] The Debate Over Differentiated Pay: The Devil is In the Details


Friday, December 04, 2009

Another racial profiling incident at Green Dot Public [sic] Schools?

"There are people who think, 'The school is too black, the school is too Mexican,' and all of a sudden you see a lot of ugly things about people. Prejudice still exists. For a lot of people, that's a very uncomfortable zone." -- Robyn Ritter Simon (quoted in "Healing the World, One School at a Time")

Marco Petruzzi. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism
Rev. K. W. Tulloss. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism
Wall Street privatization darling Marco Petruzzi (above) leads a beleaguered Green Dot through charges of racism, embezzlement, and now assault. Rev. Tulloss (below) faces a dilemna.

Beleaguered Green Dot and proxy group LAPU/PR have been getting a great deal of press lately. Whether we're discussing the malfeasance of Steve Barr pocketing a cool $51,000, and then having to pay it back when caught, to LAPU/PR's discriminatory organizing tactics on the west side, past incidents of staff violence towards students, or the new UCLA study just released revealing charter schools like Green Dot violate civil rights, foster racial isolation, and exacerbate segregation, there's an overwhelming amount of information finally revealing what Green Dot Public [sic] Schools is really about -- profit and profiling.

I've been researching a Green Dot story from rumors I heard about a week ago that has been covered up for weeks. As part of my research, I had to contact the parties involved. This made me realize that if the story is true, then Green Dot would have a chance to spin the incident before the truth came out. I've decided to share my letter exposing the rumor to LAUSD, and another letter I wrote to one of the parties involved in order to keep Green Dot Public Schools from trying to cover this ugly situation up. I'll be following up on this post and the subsequent story shortly.

Ms. LaMotte and staff:

Something has come to my attention that I think you should know about. Feel free to share it with anyone you want.

Several social justice minded people have contacted me regarding some Locke parents who witnessed an incident with Locke's security three of four Fridays ago following the football game. Ironically, the incident involved one of Green Dot's most ardent supporters, Rev. K. W. Tulloss.

From what I've been able to piece together from various sources, Locke security had detained one of Rev. Tulloss' relatives. Rev. Tulloss and his mother approached security who then roughed up and handcuffed his mother, while threatening to use a taser on Rev. Tulloss if he interfered.

Clearly this is yet another incident of racial profiling perpetrated by Green Dot's outsourced security thugs, we have all heard about students being pepper sprayed earlier this year. From Kenneth Libby and Dr. Danny Weil's recent article: "A major assumption lies behind this praise of order, discipline, and security: militarized environments are acceptable – even necessary – for urban youth, particularly youth of color.  At a recent event, high-level Green Dot employees revealed the Locke school operated with a $1.2 million security budget in its first year, employing subcontracted security guards armed with handguns and pepper spray.[5] The charter chain hopes to reduce security expenditures to a mere half a million dollars within the next few years." --

I think that sums up everything that needs to be said about Green Dot's view of our communities and people of color.

Why Rev. Tulloss hasn't gone public with this is beyond me. I wrote him and he responded "Mr. Skeels thank you for the email of concern." I'm also shocked this hasn't made the front page of the Daily News or Los Angeles Times, but given both those papers' ideological attachment to charters, it's understandable they wouldn't want to publish such an incendiary story, especially on the heels of the recent UCLA study on charter school racism. If Green Dot and its racist security represents the best of corporate CMO charter-voucher schools, then we need to fight even harder against this current wave of privatization.

I'm writing a story about the incident, despite limited information. I have left a message with Locke's principal requesting an interview and have done the same with Rev. Tulloss. While it is doubtful either will do so, it is at least worth the attempt.

I'll be happy if I learn this entire story is just a rumor or a misunderstanding. All of the people who contacted me demanded anonymity, and said Locke has threatened expulsion of any student talking about it. This makes it hard for me to write an article with quotes and references. However, my years of research into Green Dot lead me to feel the story is entirely genuine and needs investigating.

In closing I want to thank you Ms. LaMotte for your courageous defense of our communities, children, and schools.

In struggle and solidarity

Robert D. Skeels

My note to Rev. K. W. Tulloss

Requesting an interview regarding the recent Locke incident

Rev. Tulloss

I've written you in the past about my concerns for your enthusiastic support of the reactionary, and frankly racist organization Green Dot and it's proxy group LAPU/PR. I understand you choose to ignore my concerns, as that is your prerogative.

Imagine my shock, however, when several social justice minded parents informed me of the horribly racist incident involving Locke security attacking you and your family. Although the details are sketchy since only a handful of people witnessed the incident, it's clear the thuggish, racist, outsourced security at Green Dot's Locke has added another incident to their list of egregious treatment towards people of color.

I've called Locke's principal and left a message to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. I am writing you for the same reason, to get your side of the story before my article gets published. I've also notified my friend Ms. LaMotte of LAUSD that I'm working on this story and provided her with an outline of what I know.

You can contact me at

In solidarity

Robert D. Skeels


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cynthia McKinney: Is President Obama’s Surge A Trap?

Is President Obama’s Surge A Trap?

By Cynthia McKinney

December 2, 2009

Money for schools and education, not for war and occupation!Last night, President Obama announced both his decision to add 30,000 U.S. troops to the mire in Afghanistan and his desire to see other countries and N.A.T.O. match his surge. Thanks to U.S. taxpayers, mercenaries will continue to be a part of the foreign presence in Afghanistan. The Republicans support the President’s move and are expected to reward President Obama with the bulk of their Congressional votes to pass his plan.

However, there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters. In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign. But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.

Already, according to a Daily Koss report written by Steve Singiser: “Two in five Democratic voters either consider themselves unlikely to vote at this point in time, or have already made the firm decision to remove themselves from the 2010 electorate pool. Indeed, Democrats were three times more likely to say that they will ‘definitely not vote’ in 2010 than are Republicans.” By contrast, Republicans are happy today. Almost giddy with glee as far as I can see. Warmonger John McCain and most Republicans will make sure the President gets what he wants. And in 2012, they will abandon their support of this President and support the candidate that comes from their base.

War-weary voters in this country are committed to peace. They reject the notion, as put forward by Vice President Dick Cheney that “the American way of life” is something worth fighting for when that means that war becomes an energy policy.

Tragically, the major unstated U.S. interest in the region that the President has bought into is the unacceptability of a proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (I-P-I) pipeline at a time when our country is saber-rattling against and threatening Iran with more sanctions. Earlier this year, Iran and Pakistan decided to move forward with their pipeline even if India decides to drop out. Ironically, I-P-I is also known as the “peace pipeline.”

The alternative pipeline route, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (T-A-P-I), is supported by Washington because it denies an important economic benefit to Iran. Sadly, nowhere in the President’s remarks did he mention the pipeline on which construction is slated to begin in 2010.

U.S. policy is not only guided by pipeline politics. There is also the consideration of chessboard geo-positioning necessary to contain Russia, China, and ensure U.S. empire—for those inclined to traditional Cold Warrior “containment” thinking. Apparently, behind what some are calling a “shadow war in Muslim lands,” are targeted assassination teams that have wreaked tri-border havoc in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Fortunately, this time around, I’m convinced that U.S. voters will vote for peace. President Obama has now ensured this outcome. Imagine, John McCain and Joe Lieberman have just been made very happy by the President’s choice while that same choice leaves swing voters, independents, and some Democrats who enthusiastically supported Obama’s campaign looking for somewhere else to go.