Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are School Privatizers Employing Fabian Núñez and Mercury Public Affairs to Champion Charters?

"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)

In the long run, charter schools are being strategically used to pave the way for vouchers—Jonathan Kozol

Mercury Public Affairs, LLC, is in its own words, "a high-stakes public strategy firm," given to "win at all costs" strategies, regardless of how unprincipled the means or the end. Fabian Núñez, a huge school privatization advocate, is a right-wing "Schwarzenegger Democrat" much like DFER's privatization pusher Gloria Romero.

From Gains for Fabian Núñez, Personal and in Business, Spark Talk and Questions

Mr. Núñez left the Assembly in 2008 because of term limits and went directly to Mercury Public Affairs, a Sacramento lobbying and advisory firm with ties to Mr. Schwarzenegger. A former Los Angeles labor official, Mr. Núñez sought a first-year salary of $1 million as he re-entered the private sector, according to a political operative who has known him for more than a decade.

In addition to being connected to district privatizers like the vile Yolie Flores, he and his firm are rumored to have been hired by Los Angeles charter-voucher school corporations. There is also talk that he and his firm may have have had some recent dealings with Camino Nuevo Charter Academy's wealthy Ana Ponce.

Insidiously damaging to public school advocates, Núñez has insider ties and connections to LAUSD because of his former employment.

From 2000-2002, Fabian was government affairs director for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Not content with their own lucrative business, Mercury's managing director Glenn Gritzner is trying to jump on the windfall bandwagon that is school privatization by trying to found a charter-voucher school in Los Angeles called Prosper Academy.

As if all these affiliations with school privatization weren't enough; Michael DuHaime, a managing parter with Mercury, was on Teabagger Chris Christie's education transition team in New Jersey.

Given the "high stakes" nature of the PSC process of handing public schools over to private corporations, it wouldn't be surprising if Mercury Public Affairs, LLC had been brought in to sway LAUSD Board Member votes towards their paying charter clients. The Charter Management Organizations have market share at stake, and highly paid executives demanding annual raises after all.


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