Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SF teachers union elects first new president since 2003 | Education | San Francisco | San Francisco Examiner

SF teachers union elects first new president since 2003 | Education | San Francisco | San Francisco Examiner:

SF teachers union elects first new president since 2003 

Lita Blanc, the new SF teachers union president enters a Union meeting at Rosa Parks Elementary school on May 20,2015 in San Francisco, CA. - GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
GABRIELLE LURIE/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
Lita Blanc, the new SF teachers union president enters a Union meeting at Rosa Parks Elementary school on May 20,2015 in San Francisco, CA.


San Francisco’s teachers union has elected new leadership for the first time in more than a decade.
Lita Blanc, an employee of the San Francisco Unified School District since 1986, narrowly defeated incumbent Dennis Kelly, garnering 419 votes from United Educators of San Francisco members while Kelly received 394 in the election that concluded Monday.
Blanc has taught at George Moscone Elementary School for 27 years and is a member of the San Francisco Labor Council. She served on the union’s executive board for six years.
“I ran [for president] because I want to see the union be able to take a stronger stand, involve more members,” Blanc told The San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.
Blanc said she plans to bring a more progressive approach when she assumes office July 1.
“There are progressive teacher caucuses in Chicago, L.A., St. Louis that have taken over the leadership of unions and are pushing harder for a more progressive union politics,” said Blanc, who also ran for president in 2012. “We’re glad to be part of that movement. We think the teachers and paraprofessionals of San Francisco are ready for that.” The election results, however, caught some by surprise. Kelly, who has held the post since 2003, is “widely regarded … as a founding father of UESF,” reads a statement from the union. “Throughout his tenure as president, Kelly has had a string of successes … and [established] UESF as a powerful voice for students, educators and working people throughout San Francisco.”
Last year, Kelly led the union in its negotiations for new teacher and paraprofessional salaries, successfully achieving a double-digit raise for teachers of 12 percent over three years in what was considered one of the largest recent contracts for an urban school district in California. But some union members, including Blanc, felt the new contract fell short.
“We thought that the union should have held out for a higher raise for everybody, teachers and paraprofessionals,” Blanc said. “Two-thousand members voted for a strike in August. I thought that a strike would have resulted in a better contract for us.”
Blanc said she will work to gain support from teachers and parents to establish a greater consensus for a possible strike in the future, when the next contract is negotiated in three years. There is also room to reopen the current contract. “We will do our best to get the best possible deal to bring the dollars to our members,” Blanc said.
Superintendent Richard Carranza said he is grateful for Kelly’s work over the years and looks forward to working with Blanc to support teachers in The City.
“In collaboration with current UESF President Dennis Kelly, SFUSD has improved the compensation and professional learning opportunities available for our teachers,” Carranza said in a statement. “I appreciate the progress we have made together and look forward to working with President-elect Lita Blanc to ensure San Francisco Unified educators receive the support they need to equitably serve each and every one of our students.”
Meanwhile, Susan Solomon was re-elected to serve as vice president of the union.SF teachers union elects first new president since 2003 | Education | San Francisco | San Francisco Examiner:

Chicago Teachers Union | CTU Contract Talk Briefing

Chicago Teachers Union | CTU Contract Talk Briefing:

CTU Contract Talk Briefing



ILLUSTRATION: Broke on Purpose


 CHICAGO—As bargaining continues at a slug’s pace, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) offers this primer on our contract proposals and the fiscal crisis created by the District to weaken a new collective bargaining agreement. The CTU and the BOARD will continue labor talks on Thursday, May 14.

The Board of Education chose to not extend the current contract for 3 percent raises:

The 2012-2015 contract between the Board and the CTU contained a clause allowing the CTU to agree on a reasonable 3 percent raise for the 2015-2016 school year. Although the new CPS CEO Jesse Ruiz originally called the raise “well-deserved,” he then claimed salaries must be cut, not continued. This is based on a shortfall fostered by tax policies and misplaced spending priorities designed to make CPS “broke on purpose.”

The Board wants to take about 10 PERCENT of EDUCATOR salaries through benefit changes:

The Board wants to rescind the 7 percent pension pickup accepted by the CTU in the 1980s instead of the raises we are due. They also want to renegotiate health care premiums and co-pays with demands that would likely eat up about 3 percent of our salary.

The Board rejected the bulk of CTU proposals, such as:

  • Vermin removal and air quality control
  • library for every school
  • A proposal to help reduce the substitute teacher shortage by allowing and encouraging teachers to bank benefit days
  • Every single one of the CTU’s proposals related to class size or proper staffing for teachers, clinicians and PSRPs
  • Appropriate funding for special education students in the Least Restrictive Environment
  • Strengthened layoff rights and protections for rank and file union advocates
  • Moving excessive Teach for America fees to a successful program that supportsparaprofessionals (PRSP) pursuing teacher certification
  • Returning daily prep time before student arrival. In fact, they rejected every single proposal around prep time
  • Expanded Pre-K, despite Rahm Emanuel’s claim that he has already accomplished this goal
  • PSRP rights to have their evaluations fairly reviewed by a neutral evaluation board
  • Parental leave for four weeks
  • Limit compliance paperwork to a level that can be completed during the teacher prep time

The Board ALSO wants to take away current provisions, such as:

  • Safeguards to defend against unfair discipline
  • The right of specialists and more experienced teachers to first refusal for summer school jobs
  • They even want to add mandatory after-school meetings requiring teachers stay two extra hours each month

The Board refuses to even bargain over key proposals:

  • Limits on standardized testing to only those tests mandated by the State.
  • $15 per hour for all CPS workers, claiming this is illegal
  • Removing costly police presence in schools where no written plan mandates their presence
  • Protection of promised pensions, claiming “no responsible stakeholder” would support
  • Moratorium on school closings, turnarounds and reconstitutions
  • Basic union rights for educators at charter schools, claiming they are powerless to make charter managers comply
  • Joint lobbying for an elected school board or for responsible revenue sources that fairly tax the biggest profit takers

The city and state are broke on purpose, and not because of pensions:

The average teacher pension annual benefit in Illinois is a modest $45,000 and we receive no social security. The Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund gets only a penny on the dollar compared to the Teacher Retirement System, though we are 20 percent of the teachers in the state. The CTPF has been undermined by politicians who have engaged in repeated pension holidays that increased pension liability. In the past few decades, this is typical for public service pensions.

Giveaways to the rich are the real cause of revenue shortfalls:

The top 11.8 percent of Illinois tax filers took away more than half of the revenue the State gave up with the January 1, 2015 tax cut for individuals and corporations. That’s more than $2 billion to the wealthy out of the $3.7 billion returned throughout Illinois. Gov. Rauner’s individual cut alone was over $700,000. Compare this revenue cut-off to the slashing of budgets for Illinois families: more than $100 million from CPS, more from seniors, the disabled and orphans. Rauner even cut the budget for autistic residents on National Autism Day—all while increasing special tax breaks for individual corporations.

The CPS budget deficit comes from misplaced priorities:

Like Rauner and Rahm, Ruiz and the entire Board of Education are totally unwilling to demand reasonable revenue from those who have plenty to spare. But CPS makes things even worse by throwing money away through outsourcing schemes that increase bureaucracy while rewarding business class insiders—like Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s scandals from SUPES to Synesi; like Tim Cawley’s filthy giveaway to Aramark; like Magic Johnson Sodexo’s magic contract; like Board President David Vitale’s subprime financial advice to lock in toxic swaps; and like the hedge fund charter operators who promise results but see only their own bottom line. Rahm’s appointed school board has thrown away enough money to fix most of its mess.

Illinois has options. Shortchanging schools and pensions shouldn’t be one of them:

Bruce Rauner is a major league tax dodger just like his buddy Ken Griffin (the richest man in Illinois). Illinois could go after offshore tax shelters and rake in $8.5 billion more per year. That would not only fix the deficit, it could greatly expand the services to children, seniors, the disabled and the average resident. Corporate tax breaks cost Illinois nearly twice as much as pensions and Chicago’s TIF surplus for the last five years would have completely covered normal pension payments. Wealthy campaign donors secured that money instead, digging the hole the mayor wants to put us in.

Casinos and red light cameras are not reasonable solutions:

Mayor Emanuel would rather make the easy choice to pick the pockets of regular Chicagoans than ask his closest friends and campaign donors to pitch in their fair share. Rahm promises his casino would benefit schools. We heard that about the state lottery years ago. Red light cameras similarly target everyday Chicagoans with a backdoor tax. On the other hand, a LaSalle Street tax of just $1 on big ticket commodities trades would bring in $30 billion per year for the state. Adopting an Oregon-style fair tax system that provides very low rates for the lowest paid and higher rates for the biggest profit takers would eliminate debt and provide more services that make Illinois a better place to live and work.Chicago Teachers Union | CTU Contract Talk Briefing:

Sacramento arena lawsuit unearths new emails, documents that suggest illegal collusion and gifts to the Kings Sacramento News & Review

Sacramento News & Review - Sacramento arena lawsuit unearths new emails, documents that suggest illegal collusion and gifts to the Kings - News - Local Stories - May 21, 2015:

Sacramento arena lawsuit unearths new emails, documents that suggest illegal collusion and gifts to the Kings

Is there now proof that majority owner Vivek Ranadive asked city for $100 million in ‘sweeteners'?



Newly acquired documents and emails from the lawsuit against the city imply that the city and the Kings colluded on an arena deal instead of negotiating.


Mayor Kevin Johnson and friends traveled to the Tribeca Film Festival last month for the premiere of the ESPN-produced documentary Down in the Valley, which recounts Team K.J.’s triumphant campaign to keep the Kings in Sacramento. For many, that is the only version of the Kings arena story that needs telling.
But a different story is spooling out in Sacramento Superior Court right now. Three Sacramento residents and their lawyers are suing the city, claiming Sacramento officials committed fraud by giving Kings investors as much as $100 million worth of “sweeteners,” including the rights to build digital billboards, and the city-owned parking garage beneath Downtown Plaza. The city gave these assets to ensure the team’s profitability, while never disclosing the real costs to the public.
In this version of the story, the mayor, the city and the Kings colluded to shift millions of dollars in costs away from NBA owners and onto taxpayers, without the public catching on.
The city of Sacramento’s attorneys call this story “salacious,” “slanderous” and a “work of fiction.” But emails and other documents submitted to the court show the Kings’ majority owner, Vivek Ranadive, did ask the city for millions in additional revenue, above and beyond the city’s contribution to the arena, because he felt he overpaid for the team.
And while city officials told the public that assets like the billboards and underground parking garage had no monetary value, court documents show these assets were worth tens of millions to Kings investors. Those court documents also suggest the mayor and other city officials believed the assets were worth considerably more than the public was told.
Judge Timothy Frawley has agreed to hear the plaintiffs out in a trial starting on June 22. Ironically, if the city loses the lawsuit, it could come out ahead: If Frawley agrees there was fraud, plaintiffs say the Kings may be forced to return millions of dollars to city coffers.
Ranadive became the majority owner of the Kings two years ago, in a deal which valued the team at $534 million. The price set an NBA record at the time. But the city of Sacramento insisted it could contribute no more than $258 million to a new arena—the same amount offered to the Kings’ previous owners, the financially struggling Maloof family.
When the arena deal was finalized in May 2014, the city’s contribution included $223 million in cash—from bonds the city would pay back by diverting revenue from parking garages, meters and tickets—and $32 million worth of land in Natomas and downtown. Officially, the city’s entire contribution to the arena deal is $255 million.
But the city also agreed to give the Kings its parking garage under Downtown Plaza. And the city agreed to lease six city-owned parcels of land to the Kings, along with the rights to build jumbo-sized digital billboards on each site. (The Kings would pay nothing for these leases for 35 years.)
The city acknowledged giving these assets, but at the time claimed they had no monetary value. According to the plaintiffs, the assets amount to a hidden subsidy for the Kings.
Why did the city give these assets to the Kings? Ranadive may have summarized it best, in an email to other potential investors Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle, in February 2013:
“The problem is that while 525m may be a justifiable price for the Seattle market it is not for Sac … Leaving aside our ask on the arena we have to make the Kings price tag more in the 325m to 350m range. So we need almost 200m in value separate from the arena.”
An internal city memo explains: “Investor group wants $258 million plus additional City assets (land, entitlements, etc.) to offset the difference in the purchase price of the Kings vs. their perceived value of the Kings.” The memo goes on to say that the investors “may want the 3,700 parking spaces at the Downtown Plaza.” But this request was never disclosed to the public.
Patrick Soluri and Jeff Anderson, attorneys for the plaintiffs, say the city fulfilled the request, thereby making an illegal “gift of public funds.” It’s one thing for the city to contribute money to a project like an arena, with a public benefit, says Soluri. But government may not give money or property to an individual or business to help make a profit. “I can’t just ask the city for money so that I can buy a McDonald’s franchise,” Soluri said.
Assistant City Attorney Matt Ruyak told SN&R earlier this year that the city’s financial help “had nothing to do with the purchase of the team.” (Calls and emails to the city attorney for this story went unreturned.)
Still, the Kings’ request, and the reason for it, was known around City Hall—though never disclosed to the public.
Assistant City Manager John Dangberg testified that the Kings owners explicitly asked for more than the $258 million for the arena, because Ranadive and company, “felt that the overpayment for the team might require the city to play a larger role,” Dangberg explained. “We said, ’That isn’t going to happen,’” he added.
But plaintiffs say it did happen, because those revenue-producing assets were in fact given to the Kings, on top of the city’s contribution needed to build the arena.
The city claims its contribution to the arena deal was only $255 million, because the additional assets offered by the city had no value.
According to the city, the Downtown Plaza parking had no value because the garage needed to be refurbished. Likewise, city officials claimed that the digital-billboard rights had no value because the land isn’t making money for the city now, and the billboards might not ever be built.
But Soluri and Anderson point out Johnson’s handwriting on an internal memo, noting the underground parking spaces are worth $30 million to $40 million. The handwriting also says, “Can’t put in writing. Politically tough.”
In an April 2013 email to Ranadive, Kings arena developer Mark Friedman says the value of city’s assets given to the investment group were, “worth well in excess of $100 million.”
In the email, Friedman writes that the city’s land in Natomas was likely worth $40 million, much more than the $19 million value disclosed to the public. Friedman goes on to say the revenue from the gifted parking garage could be worth $60 million or more. He said the billboards had a potential value of $18 million to $24 million.
Friedman declined to answer SN&R questions about his estimates, saying, “Unfortunately, I cannot discuss pending litigation.”
Another email prepared by an employee at Burkle’s Yucaipa Co., sent to Burkle, Ranadive and Mastrov, says revenue from the city’s additional assets could help ensure a return on their investment for the team. Soluri and Anderson say this shows the direct relationship between the city’s sweeteners and the profitability of the team.



Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 5/20/15


Special Nite Cap 

CORPORATE ED REFORM





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