Friday, February 18, 2011

Mr. Mulgrew, Tear Down This Wall

Last update, Friday, Feb. 18, 11:45AM

"Who would ever think you guys could make such a big deal out of one stinkin' dinner? It's beyond belief."- UFT lead lobbyist Paul Egan in NY Daily News

If the union refers to the PEP Bloomies as "puppets" are Unity Caucus Clones any different?

By now, most readers will have heard of the Paul Egan Albany restaurant caper. If you didn't, you can catch up on my post the other day, which I have updated with the latest links: Everyday Math: How Many Quail Does it Take to Fill a Union Leader?

I know I had a little fun at Paul's expense but before I begin, let me say that I like Paul Egan. From what I hear he is one of the more capable Unity Caucus people. When he was Bronx District 11 rep I only heard good things. He put up a great web site with a number of resources that people say was the gold standard for providing information. He has charm and charisma and that Irish brogue doesn't hurt. I'm sure he does good work as the UFT's chief lobbyist. And the unfair attacks on him for a supposed cheating scandal are extremely unfair. For the Daily News and NY Post ((DN, Post) to connect a 10 year old cheating scandal is shameless. Especially when they ignore the official and unofficial rampant cheating going on every day, cheating winked at by Tweed and the State Ed Dept. (The Dirty Secret of Regents Cheating ...).

Egan was the guy who got up to oppose endorsing Bill Thompson for mayor, saying that at most a union effort on Thompson's behalf could move the needle no more than 2 or 3 points.

See below the fold for a  defense of Paul from retired UFT Bronx District rep Lynne Winderbaum.
Now, Lynne is one of the most respected people in the union, even by the opposition. I've never heard one bad thing said about her.

But both she and Paul just don't get it.

Paul may be right about making a bid deal about a stinkin' dinner. But this is not about a stinkin' dinner. It is about 24 people going out and using COPE money contributed by the members to spend $1800. The fact that Egan makes around $150,000 a year must also be noted. As one commenter said:
Teachers who attend the UFT dog and pony show called “Lobby Day” get up at 5 A.M, travel to Albany on a bus, get a box lunch and a bag of pretzels and come back the same night. Unlike the Mul-Dew flunkies, they don’t get to spend two nights in Albany, eat three or four meals a day and put their Egan-sized bar bill on their UFT padded expense sheets
This is about the arrogance and feelings of self-entitlement of power. That is what you get when you have a one party system running the union with no checks and balances with a rubber stamp Executive Board and Delegate Assembly.

For 3 years, from 2004-2007 when ICE/TJC had 6 members of the EB, there as actually a voice of the members even though they were only 6 out of 89. But when New Action and Unity teamed up to push them out, Lynne Winderbaum was one of the Unity people who replaced them. I wasn't there all that often, but did she step up and play a public role to check the excesses of power or challenge one disastrous policy after another that has led us to this abyss? Of course she couldn't because she would have been removed from Unity.

In 2005 there was a major battle over the contract that opened the door to the massive assault on seniority (ATRs were born in that contract). Unity send out hordes of people to steamroller people into voting for that contract and stifle debate within the union, even going so far as to stop us from getting literature into teachers mailboxes so they could hear the other side. Many of us were stopped at the door, not by principals but by Unity chapter leaders. I maintain that the DOE has to end seniority rules before they could start closing schools en masse, a first step before going after LIFO 5 years later. (Remember how when ATRs complained about being forced to be subs while first year teachers had jobs and the UFT told them to be happy they still have a job?) What did Egan and Winderbaum do during that battle?

Democracy is not an abstract concept. The lack of it is why the UFT and the AFT will never be a force opposing the ed deform movement because the membership has so little voice. If the members could vote do you think the UFT would have two charter schools invading public schools? Would they have gone along with UFT policy that led to us sitting by while one school after another was closed? Signing an agreement with the State Ed Dept. on test data being used to evaluate teachers?

Until the UFT begins to function in a democratic manner, some of the most eloquent and passionate voices in the UFT will oppose Unity Caucus no matter what words they say that makes them look militant. So I say:
Mr.  Mulgrew, tear down this wall.
But that will never happen and the UFT power and influence will continue to shrink. But the leadership's prime directive is to maintain power.

If the union refers to the PEP Bloomies as "puppets" are Unity Caucus Clones any different?

Below is Lynne Winderbaum's comments to the Daily News. I just wonder where she and other decent Unity people were when Unity did a vicious red-baiting attack on ICE/TJC presidential candidate Kit Wainer in the 2007 elections.

(See Breaking News: March 29, 2007 "Randi then gave Unity head Jeff Zahler the floor to engage in another round of red-baiting, saying he was proud to have sent that out and reading excerpts in an attack on Kit Wainer. He said accusations of mccarthyism are not true ...")

They all sat on their hands at that DA.

Also see: NYC Educator
What Your COPE Dollars Buy
  Winderbaum response online to the Daily News editorial and the recent articles in the News and the Post:

In all fairness, I am rather disturbed by the innuendo in the reporting on Paul Egan and the incident in Albany. I believe that every news outlet has the vital right to assemble information from reporters and informants on the scene and file a report based on that information. But when these news outlets extend their stories to include discredited allegations to assassinate character, they have exceeded the bounds of ethics.

I was not at the Albany restaurant and do not know what occurred there. But I do know that the allegations of cheating on tests for all the teachers involved were found to be the result of a flawed investigation by Stancik’s office years ago. Each article regarding Mr. Egan mentions the word “accused” repeatedly because the writers are aware, although they apparently seek emphasize the inference, that there was never a finding of guilt.

An independent investigation conducted by Thacher Associates, headed by a former inspector general at the Board of Education, did an audit of the investigation that included the accusation against Mr. Egan.

It found: “the report was so incomplete, so unfairly conducted, and so unprofessional that the evidence it produced could not have supported reliable or credible findings. In addition, we found that the errors of the investigation were compounded by writing and releasing an unfair and inaccurate report that distorted some evidence, ignored other evidence that did not support its position, and in the process unjustly destroyed reputations and discredited numerous educators and the entire New York City public school system. Because of the tainted evidence gathering process and the fatally flawed report, the Special Commissioner’s findings, both as to individual educators and the system as a whole must be rejected as unsound.” As a result, the Department of Education agreed to immediately place all the affected teachers back in the classroom in return for a simple, although undeserved, reprimand.

There is a responsibility in news reporting that is to inform the public.

When facts are presented side by side with false allegations, the intent is to do more damage to the individual than is justified.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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