Friday, January 29, 2016

Drawing Straws

I have no doubt that insurance, the patient's net worth and overall long term viability be that in living or in fact donating may factor in who gets the medicine or not. Or maybe they just go, "eany meany miney mo" to determine the bleak situation described below.

As Patients to make informed consent you need information, without information you cannot consent, I suspect therre are waivers in place to ensure that the liability of the Physician and Hospital are well in place and given the inability to sue under most states medical malpractice laws this is a no brainer if you still have one after this.  You will be like the Strawman, the Tin Man and the Lion only there is no Oz to save you.

What the article does not go into is the issues surrounding the FDA and their problems approving drugs (without the fast track method that comes when Congress who gets checks and designs laws to prevent generics, compounding or competition), or the reasons behind the manufacturing shortage, or the proprietary rules that govern medications and why there are no generics and alternatives available in this age of great advancement in technology. Where are those Silicon Valley rats when it comes to saving the world? Is Shrkelli the example of the hedge fund pharma bro?

Where is that Thereanos woman with her life saving turtleneck wearing skills that had all the VC world a flutter? Whoops she too hit a dead end when it comes to actually having a working safe product.  Perhaps buying a former Puerto Rico drug manufacturing plant and getting it up and running might be a win-win for everyone.

Drug Shortages Forcing Hard Decisions on Rationing Treatments



CLEVELAND — In the operating room at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Brian Fitzsimons has long relied on a decades-old drug to prevent hemorrhages in patients undergoing open-heart surgery. The drug, aminocaproic acid, is widely used, cheap and safe. “It never hurt,” he said. “It only helps.”

Then manufacturing issues caused a national shortage. “We essentially did military-style triage,” said Dr. Fitzsimons, an anesthesiologist, restricting the limited supply to patients at the highest risk of bleeding complications. Those who do not get the once-standard treatment at the clinic, the nation’s largest cardiac center, are not told. “The patient is asleep,” he said. “The family never knows about it.”



In recent years, shortages of all sorts of drugs — anesthetics, painkillers, antibiotics, cancer treatments — have become the new normal in American medicine. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists currently lists inadequate supplies of more than 150 drugs and therapeutics, for reasons ranging from manufacturing problems to federal safety crackdowns to drugmakers abandoning low-profit products. But while such shortages have periodically drawn attention, the rationing that results from them has been largely hidden from patients and the public.



At medical institutions across the country, choices about who gets drugs have often been made in ad hoc ways that have resulted in contradictory conclusions, murky ethical reasoning and medically questionable practices, according to interviews with dozens of doctors, hospital officials and government regulators.
Some institutions have formal committees that include ethicists and patient representatives; in other places, individual physicians, pharmacists and even drug company executives decide which patients receive a needed drug — and which do not.

An international group of pediatric cancer specialists was so troubled about the profession’s unsystematic approach to distributing scarce medicine that it developed rationing guidelines that are being released Friday in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“It was painful,” said Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. “We kept coming back to wow, we’ve got that tragic choice: two kids in front of you, you only have enough for one. How do you choose?”



At the Cleveland Clinic, which has been unusually proactive in dealing with shortages and allowed a reporter access to personnel making decisions about them, one scarce leukemia drug, daunorubicin, was saved for patients in clinical trials, to avoid making the results invalid by substituting another drug. But when a different drug, methotrexate, was in short supply, pediatricians stopped giving it to all patients who required high doses, including those in research trials. “We didn’t want to say just because you’re on a clinical trial you get an advantage,” Dr. Rabi Hanna said.

Patients’ weight can be taken into account. Obese patients, who researchers found needed up to three times the amount of an antibiotic before surgery than average-size patients, were given only the standard dose at the Cleveland hospital until a shortage subsided.

Some institutions prioritize based on age; others do not. Marc Earl, a Cleveland Clinic pharmacist, said children were not favored over adults during chemotherapy shortages. But at other hospitals, they have been, because of their potentially longer life span or because they sometimes require smaller doses of a drug.
“We do play the pediatric card for sure,” said Alix Dabb, a pharmacy specialist in pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Kenneth Cohen, director of pediatric neuro-oncology there, and his colleagues were close to being forced into making “very, very hard decisions,” he said. “The discussions became, ‘Why are two kids more important than one adult?’”

Ning-Tsu Kuo, a pharmacist at the Cleveland hospital’s home infusion pharmacy, said children came first during shortages of nutritional products such as intravenous vitamins and fats for patients who cannot absorb food. The logic was that adults have more reserve. But after one man pleaded not to have his dose cut, Dr. Kuo agreed. When reprimanded by colleagues, she recalled saying: “Patients are not equally the same. You need to look case by case.”

'Downright Scary’

Such decisions have real consequences. For some shortages, doctors can soon see the effects of rationing, such as increased pain or nausea when drugs typically used to control symptoms are withheld, or patients who have to undergo invasive surgery to control cancer when anti-tumor medications are delayed.

Studies have associated alternative treatments during drug shortages with higher rates of medication errors, side effects, disease progression and deaths. For example, children with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who received a substitute to the preferred drug had a higher rate of relapse, researchers found, and adults with a genetic disorder called Fabry disease had decreased kidney function when their medication was cut by two-thirds. One alternative guideline adopted during a shortage of intravenous nitroglycerin “was downright scary from a clinical perspective,” according to Dr. Nicole Lurie, a senior federal health official.



Physicians say that many of the changes they are compelled to make appear to do no harm. But, they acknowledge, typically no one is tracking outcomes in patients who get a drug and others who get a substitute or delayed treatment.

Doctors and hospitals often do not tell patients about shortages and the resulting rationing because they do not want them to worry, especially when alternative drugs are available, or because they feel it would stir up too much anger.

Dr. Ivan Hsia, an anesthesiologist in Ontario, Canada, said many physicians in his field adopt what he called “the paternalistic model — like I’ll inform them when I think it’s unsafe enough to inform them.”
When he and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of patients at the Mayo Clinics in Arizona and Florida and others in Canada about their preferences, the results surprised him. Most wanted to know about a drug shortage that might affect their care during elective surgery, even if there was only a minor difference in potential side effects, and many said they would delay surgery.

When the study was published last year in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, an accompanying editorial urged health professionals to disclose shortages and their implications. “Patients want to know and they should know,” the editorial said. “There is no ethical ambiguity.”



Dr. Eric Kodish, a children’s cancer doctor who heads the Cleveland Clinic’s center for ethics, humanities and spiritual care, said patients should be told. “It’s their bodies and their lives that are on the line.”
Indeed, Beverly Smith, a Cleveland patient who has Crohn’s disease, said she had no idea that an important ingredient had been removed from the daily intravenous nutritional treatments she depends on until she developed side effects from the deficiency. “Why didn’t anybody tell me?” she asked.

Who Gets Preference?

In a basement storeroom filled with plastic crates and cardboard boxes, Chris Snyder, a Cleveland Clinic pharmacist and the point man for drug shortages, spends part of each workday poring over the hospital’s drug orders.

He tracks a list of shortages that included more than 75 drugs the first week of January. Dr. Snyder moves stocks among the hospital’s campuses, identifies alternatives, and — in the most dire situations — helps devise and enforce restrictions on which drugs can be ordered for which types of patients.



Many drugs are made by only one manufacturer, so production or safety problems at a single plant can have big effects. For another company to begin making the products and getting them approved by regulators requires the right combination of manufacturing capabilities and economic incentives.

The chances of getting a drug also depend in part on where a patient happens to live, how adept the local hospital is at finding — and hoarding — scarce drugs, or a patient’s access to a major medical center.

The Cleveland Clinic, for example, has an advanced compounding room where workers swaddled in disposable gowns, bouffant caps and blue gloves mix up remedies from raw ingredients. During a shortage of papaverine, a drug used for surgery on blood vessels, the clinic produced its own version. When other hospitals began asking about it, Dr. Snyder said he had to tell them, “It’s a franchised recipe we can’t give out.”

At Cleveland, decisions about conserving, substituting and allocating scarce drugs typically are made by small groups of doctors and pharmacists; Dr. Kodish’s ethics committee is not involved. But such decisions are not always made by doctors or hospitals. One company, Janssen, chose to ration its ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma drug Doxil on a first-come-first-served basis during a prolonged shortage.

Another company, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, recently consulted a small group of oncologists to recommend how to allocate its cancer drug, Erwinase, if it ever became necessary. “Who deserves the drug more than anyone else?” said Dr. Wendy Stock, a leukemia specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine, who participated in the discussion. “We gave them some guidelines on that. ”





The threat of future shortages in children’s treatments is serious enough that Dr. Peter Adamson, who leads the Children’s Oncology Group, the largest international group of children’s cancer researchers, assigned his organization to set priorities. “We’ve been forced into what we think is a highly unethical corner,” he said in an interview.

The effort, led by Dr. Unguru, the Baltimore oncologist, recommended that the drugs be rationed based on the ability to save lives or years of life, including curability of a child’s cancer and the importance of the drug in improving the chances. It also recommended that children participating in clinical research should not get priority over those who are not, because of concerns about coercing families into trials. The group also advised that allocation decisions be public.


A recent shortage of a therapy for bladder cancer, BCG, demonstrates how the lack of national guidance can lead to very different decisions. One Cleveland Clinic urologist, Dr. Andrew Stephenson, said he came up with BCG rationing guidelines that were used with dozens of patients after being shared with colleagues. “We tried to reserve the BCG for those patients who needed it the most,” he said.

Merck, the manufacturer, said it filled requests from a waiting list in the order received, and left rationing decisions to doctors. Some cancer centers reduced the length of BCG treatment from three years to one, because the benefit may be smaller after the first year. Others restricted BCG to patients whose tumors were mostly likely to spread or recur. And still others decided to reduce the typical dose so that each vial could be used for three patients instead of one, which some experts say raises questions about efficacy. Some outpatient clinics just ran out.

In interviews and comments on a support website, Inspire, patients seemed confused about why they were or were not getting BCG. “I found out people were getting it in different parts of the country,” said Don Keating, whose bladder cancer was diagnosed in 2014. He was told by his doctor in Boston that he needed BCG, but that it was not available.

Mr. Keating had to wait about six months before obtaining the drug, during which time his cancer recurred. “I believe if I had gotten it when it was first prescribed, I wouldn’t have had to go through those operations,” he said.

Many urologists said they saw similar recurrences possibly due to the shortage, and that some patients underwent high-risk bladder removal surgery that probably would have been avoided if BCG had been fully available.

Dr. Kamal Pohar, a urologist at Ohio State University’s cancer hospital, said he remembered driving home, wondering if he was making the right calls for his patients. “I can still feel the stress,” he said. “I’ve never been faced with this.” Supplies of BCG are again adequate, Merck and doctors report.

 The vagaries in distribution and inconsistencies in rationing have led to calls for change. Doctors and others have suggested the creation of a clearinghouse of scarce drugs and voluntary sharing to promote equitable access for patients. Others argue that there should be a registry of patients given nonstandard treatments so the results can be tracked.

Dr. Lurie, the federal health official in charge of emergency preparedness and response, said that the government was working to encourage hospitals to conserve and substitute drugs to avoid a crisis and trying to fill gaps in manufacturing. Steps taken by the Food and Drug Administration have also helped reduce the number of shortages, she said.

Still, she argued that tools developed for disaster response, including ethical and procedural guidelines, should be applied. “Different places around the country are each doing their best to patch together their own guidelines,” she said, adding, “if they’re doing anything at all.”

Re-wounding the Warrior

When I read the article below about the misuse of funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, my first response, "oh really?"That is my patent trademarked response to anything about foundations, charities and well most anything to do with big money.

Wounded Warrior has now entered the illustrious group of MADD, PETA, Susan G. Komen, RAINN, Greenpeace, Livestrong, and many other companies that start out with a great idea, a TOMS shoe or FEED bag and then frankly are really not about the charity as we have no real clue what is donated and to whom but about consumerism and marketing.

 This article susses it up rather nicely. But most end up being a political arm that uses endless lobbying and access under the guise of charity to put forth an agenda, an issue that transcends the organizations original mission.  MADD is the first that comes to mind but there are others.

 Nor is what the Wounded Warrior Project a first either. This is about those charities in Britain but this is a global economy remember?

Or low end charities that appreciate fraud as the next Medicare Doctor does.

 I have written about personal foundations and now LLC's that are under the guise of the charity umbrella, with their tax exemptions and ability to write off costly trips and the absurd overheads, the Clinton Foundation comes to mind, but there too again are others.

 This is why we no longer should have these as my mother used to say, if you can't take care of it then you shouldn't have nice things.

 Wounded Warrior Project Spends Lavishly on Itself, Insiders Say 
  By DAVE PHILIPPS
THE NEW YORK TIMES
JAN. 27, 2016

 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In 2014, after 10 years of rapid growth, the Wounded Warrior Project flew its roughly 500 employees to Colorado Springs for an “all hands” meeting at the five-star Broadmoor hotel. They were celebrating their biggest year yet: $225 million raised and a work force that had nearly doubled.

 On the opening night, before three days of strategy sessions and team-building field trips, the staff gathered in the hotel courtyard. Suddenly, a spotlight focused on a 10-story bell tower where the chief executive, Steven Nardizzi, stepped off the edge and rappelled toward the cheering crowd. That evening is emblematic of the polished and well-financed image cultivated by the Wounded Warrior Project, the country’s largest and fastest-growing veterans charity.

 Since its inception in 2003 as a basement operation handing out backpacks to wounded veterans, the charity has evolved into a fund-raising giant, taking in more than $372 million in 2015 — largely through small donations from people over Today, the charity has 22 locations offering programs to help veterans readjust to society, attend school, find work and participate in athletics.

 It contributes millions to smaller veterans groups. And it has become a brand name, its logo emblazoned on sneakers, paper towel packs and television commercials that run dozens of times. But in its swift rise, it has also embraced aggressive styles of fund-raising, marketing and personnel management that have many current and former employees questioning whether it has drifted from its mission.

 It has spent millions a year on travel, dinners, hotels and conferences that often seemed more lavish than appropriate, more than four dozen current and former employees said in interviews. Former workers recounted buying business-class seats and regularly jetting around the country for minor meetings, or staying in $500-per-night hotel rooms.

 The organization has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years on public relations and lobbying campaigns to deflect criticism of its spending and to fight legislative efforts to restrict how much nonprofits spend on overhead. About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead, or about $124 million, according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator.

While that percentage, which includes administrative expenses and marketing costs, is not as much as for some groups, it is far more than for many veterans charities, including the Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group that spent about 8 percent of donations on overhead.

 As a result, some philanthropic watchdog groups have criticized the Wounded Warrior Project for spending too heavily on itself. Some of its own employees have criticized it, too. William Chick, a former supervisor, spent five years with the Wounded Warrior Project.

 “It slowly had less focus on veterans and more on raising money and protecting the organization,” he said. Mr. Chick, who was fired in 2012 after a dispute with his supervisor, said he saw the Wounded Warrior Project help hundreds of veterans. But like other former employees, he said the group swiftly fired anyone leaders considered a “bad cultural fit.” Eighteen former employees — many of them wounded veterans themselves — said they had been fired for seemingly minor missteps or perceived insubordination.

 At least half a dozen former employees said they were let go after raising questions about ineffective programs or spending. A spokeswoman for the charity said it fired those people because of poor performance or ethical breaches, and that each of them was given the opportunity to address their work problems.

The spokeswoman, Ayla Tezel, said that more than a third of the charity’s employees are veterans, and that the organization is rated one of the top nonprofits to work for by The NonProfit Times. “Sometimes employees make poor choices that can’t be overlooked,” Ms. Tezel said. “And sometimes those employees are veterans.”

 A For-Profit Model

 Veterans organizations in the United States often reflect the era in which they were created: After World War I, they resembled fraternal orders. After Vietnam, many focused on advocacy in Washington.

 The Wounded Warrior Project cuts a different profile. Under Mr. Nardizzi’s direction, it has modeled itself on for-profit corporations, with a focus on data, scalable products, quarterly numbers and branding. In an interview at the organization’s four-story headquarters in a palm-lined office park in Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Nardizzi, 45, said spending on fund-raising and other expenses not directly related to veterans programs has enabled the Wounded Warrior Project to grow faster and serve more people.

 It estimates that 80,000 veterans have used its services. “I look at companies like Starbucks — that’s the model,” Mr. Nardizzi said. “You’re looking at companies that are getting it right, treating their employees right, delivering great services and great products, then are growing the brand to support all of that.” The charity recently pledged to raise $500 million for a trust to fund lifetime supplemental health care for severely wounded veterans.

And on Tuesday, it started a program to provide care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, two of the most common injuries for veterans of recent wars. Such ambitious programs would be impossible without significant spending on fund-raising and staff, said Mr. Nardizzi, who has become a vocal advocate of the idea that charities should be able to spend what they want on travel, fund-raising and executive salaries.

 “How many others are not scaling up to cure cancer, to help the environment, because there is a belief we shouldn’t invest in those things?” said Mr. Nardizzi, who was given $473,000 in compensation in 2014. The Wounded Warrior Project’s roots are more humble. Its founder, John Melia, was a Marine veteran who had been injured in a helicopter crash off the coast of Somalia in 1992.

When wounded troops began returning from Iraq in 2003, Mr. Melia remembered how he had arrived in a stateside hospital with only his thin hospital gown, and began visiting military hospitals to distribute backpacks stuffed with socks, CD players, toothpaste and other items.

 As the backpack project grew, Mr. Melia hired a few employees, including Mr. Nardizzi, a lawyer who had never served in the military but was an executive for a small nonprofit, the United Spinal Association, which served disabled veterans.

 They began raising millions of dollars and broadening their services to include adaptive sports for disabled veterans, employment and benefits help, and retreats to teach veterans to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. By 2009, the group had grown to about 50 employees and $21 million in revenue. But by then, Mr. Melia and Mr. Nardizzi were fighting over the charity’s future, with Mr. Nardizzi pushing for more aggressive expansion than Mr. Melia, former employees said.

 In January 2009, Mr. Melia resigned. Mr. Nardizzi said in an interview that Mr. Melia left to pursue business ventures. But Mr. Melia’s ex-wife, Julie Melia, who worked at the charity at the time, said in an interview that her former husband felt like the organization was “stolen from him.” “He didn’t want to leave, but it was obvious something was going to happen,” Ms. Melia said. The organization paid Mr. Melia at least $230,000 after he stepped down, according to tax forms. He has never spoken publicly about his disagreements with Mr. Nardizzi, and declined to be interviewed.

Today, on a list of 27 founders that was created by the charity’s current leadership and handed out to all new employees, Mr. Melia’s name appears well below the name of the charity’s for-profit fund-raising consultant. Rising in a Downturn When Mr. Nardizzi took over, in the depths of the 2009 economic downturn, most charities had dialed back their fund-raising efforts, figuring that the nation was in no position to give. Mr. Nardizzi doubled his spending on fund-raising and has increased it an average of 66 percent every year since.

 The Wounded Warrior Project spent more than $34 million on fund-raising in 2014, according to tax records. The organization began producing inspirational ads featuring wounded veterans fighting to recover.

“The secret sauce was the brand, and the mission,” said Dave Ward, a vice president who left in 2015. “We put warriors on a pedestal and the nation wrapped its arms around that concept.”

 But as donations poured in, many former employees say the group became wasteful. “People could spend money on the most ridiculous thing and no one batted an eye,” said Connie Chapman, who was in charge of the charity’s Seattle office for two years. “I would fly to New York for less than a day to report to my supervisor.” All staff members flying to the charity’s office at a military hospital in Germany traveled in business class, employees said. One current employee said her last-minute ticket cost $7,000.

Mr. Nardizzi fired Ms. Chapman, an Iraq veteran with PTSD, in 2012 as part of a “management restructuring,” she said. By 2014, the group was spending $7.5 million per year on travel, according to tax forms. The Wounded Warrior Project asserts that it spends 80 percent of donations on programs, but former employees and charity watchdogs say the charity inflates its number by using practices such as counting some marketing materials as educational. The spending began to attract attention.

Charity Watch, an independent monitoring group, gave Wounded Warrior Project a “D” rating in 2011 and has not given it a grade higher than C since. Mr. Nardizzi fought back. In 2013, according to tax forms, the Wounded Warrior Project gave $150,000 to a nonprofit called the Charity Defense Council and Mr. Nardizzi joined its advisory board. The council’s mission includes defending charity spending on overhead and executive salaries, its website says.

 In 2014, the Wounded Warrior Project lobbied in California and Florida to fight proposals that would have required nonprofits to increase financial transparency. Both bills passed in amended forms that did not significantly affect the charity, Mr. Nardizzi said.

 Also around that time, the group hired the global public relations firm Edelman, which has represented Starbucks, Walmart, Shell and Philip Morris, to improve public perception of the charity and its overhead spending. Former employees said they questioned the charity’s focus on money and marketing techniques. Erick Millette, an Iraq veteran, said he quit after growing disillusioned about his work with a program called Warrior Speak, which involved veterans’ telling their stories of healing to audiences.

The veterans collected donations at those events. “I wasn’t speaking anywhere unless I was collecting a check,” said Mr. Millette, who worked for the program for about two years, until he left in 2014. Mr. Millette said the charity encouraged him to highlight its role in helping him recover from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. “They wanted me to say W.W.P. saved my life,” he said. “Well, they didn’t. They just took me to a Red Sox game and on a weekend retreat.”

  A Focus on Metrics

As donations increased, Wounded Warrior Project executives began using data to measure staff productivity. The metrics were intended to improve efficiency and help fund-raising. But some employees assert that the productivity goals were set so high that they eroded program quality.

 The Warriors to Work program, for instance, was intended to provide one-on-one counseling to develop résumés and interview skills, then place veterans in suitable jobs. But executives quadrupled the number of job placements the program was expected to make each year, reducing the amount of time specialists had to find good ones, said Dan Lessard, who ran the program for about two years. He was fired in 2014 for what executives told him was insubordination.

 “They would just come up with numbers based on nothing,” Mr. Lessard said. “I would push back and they would get very frustrated and yell. By the time I left, we were just throwing guys in jobs to check off a box and hit the numbers.” The same push for numbers hit a program that brings wounded veterans together for social events. Former staff members said they had less time to develop therapeutic programs and so relied on giving veterans tickets to concerts and sporting events.

To fill seats, they often invited the same veterans. “If the same warrior attends six different events, you could record that as six warriors served,” said Renee Humphrey, who oversaw alumni outreach in Southern California for about four years. “You had the same few guys who loved going to free events.”

 Ms. Humphrey, an Iraq veteran with PTSD, was fired in 2013. Her termination was so abrupt that her work phone and credit card were shut off while she was leading an event. Mr. Nardizzi said his staff was constantly monitoring metrics to try to get the most out of every dollar donated. “It’s a hard balance, but I think we strike the right balance,” he said. He said that the organization regularly followed up with veterans who receive Wounded Warrior Project services and that the vast majority reported having good experiences. Multiple Terminations Part of the organization’s drive for growth has been a tough stance toward workers considered unproductive or disloyal.

 After Jesse Longoria recovered from a roadside bomb blast that nearly killed him in Iraq, he got a job with the organization training veterans to help other veterans. “I loved it,” the former Marine sniper said. “By giving back, I was helping myself and helping other vets.”

 In 2012, after he had been working for the charity about a year, he had to have his right arm amputated because of lingering damage from Iraq. Soon after the amputation, he said, he was racked by haunting emotions from Iraq and checked himself into suicide watch at a psychiatric ward. A week later, he was back at work when a fistfight broke out between veteran mentors who had been drinking after one of his training sessions. He was not in the room at the time but was held responsible for the fight, his boss at the time, Mr. Chick, said in an interview. Mr. Chick’s own supervisor told him to fire Mr. Longoria. Mr. Chick said he refused, but was ordered by his boss to write an email recommending the firing. “He said you better do this or you are going to look disloyal to the organization,” Mr. Chick said. “It was a very coercive conversation.”

The Wounded Warrior Project said Mr. Longoria was terminated at Mr. Chick’s recommendation. The organization fired Mr. Chick later the same day for insubordination. Mr. Longoria said he was offered money in exchange for signing a nondisclosure agreement, but refused. Other former employees said they had signed such forms, and could not speak. Mr. Longoria said after he was fired, he fell into depression but was also relieved. He said he felt guilty about what he saw as widespread waste.

Once a child came by the office to donate a piggy bank. Another time a woman called to donate part of her son’s life insurance after he was killed in Afghanistan, he said. “It got under my skin, started eating at me,” he said. “I knew where the money was going to. It seemed to me like it was a big lie.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Glass, The Steagall, The Wall

I never understood President Obama's fascination with the Clinton crowd once he took office and appointed many to prominent Cabinet and staff positions.  These were the individuals whose very economic policies contributed to the economic meltdown in 2008. 

I have no horse in the race and frankly will vote in November knowing that unless an act of God occurs, the status quo will remain firmly in place and it will be business as usual the following day.

I found this essay and he has his bias and that is apparent, but there is truth in his observations with regards to financial reform - it.will.not.happen.


I worked on Wall Street. I am skeptical Hillary Clinton will rein it in 

 Wall Street is very much intertwined with the Clinton's. I doubt that will change anytime soon as Hillary Clinton continues to receive large donations from top bankers

Chris Arnade
The UK Guardian
Thursday 28 January 2016


 I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clinton's. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clinton's it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

 That is why when I recently went to see Hillary Clinton campaign for president and speak about reforming Wall Street I was skeptical. What I heard hasn’t changed that skepticism. The policies she offers are mid-course corrections. In the Clintons’ world, Wall Street stays at the center, economically and politically. Given Wall Street’s power and influence, that is a dangerous place to leave them. Salomon Brothers hired me in 1993, seven months after President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

Getting a job had been easy, Wall Street was booming from deregulation that had begun under Reagan and was continuing under Clinton. Hillary Clinton: my speeches for Wall Street haven't led to conflict of interest.

When Bill Clinton ran for office, he offered up him and Hillary (“Two for the price of one”) as New Democrats, embracing an image of being tough on crime, but not on business. Despite the campaign rhetoric, nobody on the trading floor I joined had voted for the Clinton's or trusted them. Few traders on the floor were even Democrats, who as long as anyone could remember were Wall Street’s natural enemy. That view was summarized in the words of my boss: “Republicans let you make money and let you keep it. Democrats don’t let you make money, but if you do, they take it.”

 Despite Wall Street’s reticence, key appointments were swinging their way. Robert Rubin, who had been CEO of Goldman Sachs, was appointed to a senior White House job as director of the National Economic Council. The Treasury Department was also being filled with banking friendly economists who saw the markets as a solution, not as a problem. Hillary Clinton proposes several new taxes 'to rein in Wall Street'

 The administration’s economic policy took shape as trickle down, Democratic style. They championed free trade, pushing Nafta. They reformed welfare, buying into the conservative view that poverty was about dependency, not about situation. They threw the old left a few bones, repealing prior tax cuts on the rich, but used the increased revenues mostly on Wall Street’s favorite issue: cutting the debt

 Most importantly, when faced with their first financial crisis, they bailed out Wall Street. That crisis came in January 1995, halfway through the administration’s first term. Mexico, after having boomed from the optimism surrounding Nafta, went bust. It was a huge embarrassment for the administration, given the push they had made for Nafta against a cynical Democratic party. Money was fleeing Mexico, and much of it was coming back through me and my firm. Selling investors’ Mexican bonds was my first job on Wall Street, and now they were trying to sell them back to us. But we hadn’t just sold Mexican bonds to clients, instead we did it using new derivatives product to get around regulatory issues and take advantages of tax rules, and lend the clients money.

Given how aggressive we were, and how profitable it was for us, older traders kept expecting to be stopped by regulators from the new administration, but that didn’t happen. When Mexico started to collapse, the shudders began. Initially our firm lost only tens of millions, a large loss but not catastrophic. The crisis however was worsening, and Mexico was headed towards a default, or closing its border to money flows. We stood to lose hundreds of millions, something we might not have survived. Other Wall Street firms were in worse shape, having done the trade in a much bigger size.

The biggest was rumored to be Lehman, which stood to lose billions, a loss they couldn’t have survived. As the crisis unfolded, senior management traveled to DC as part of a group of bankers to meet with Treasury officials. They had hoped to meet with Rubin, who was now Treasury secretary. Instead they met with the undersecretary for international affairs who my boss described as: “Some young egghead academic who likes himself a lot and is wide eyed with a taste of power.”

That egghead was Larry Summers who would succeed Rubin as Treasury Secretary. To the surprise of Wall Street, the administration pushed for a $50bn global bail-out of Mexico, arguing that to not do so would devastate the US and world economy. Unmentioned was that it would have also devastated Wall Street banks.

 The bailout worked, with Mexico edging away from a crisis, allowing it to repay the loans, at profit. It also worked wonders on Wall Street, which let out a huge sigh of relief. The success encouraged the administration, which used it as an economic blueprint that emphasized Wall Street. It also emphasized bailouts, believing it was counterproductive to let banks fail, or to punish them with losses, or fines or, God forbid, charge them with crimes, and risk endangering the economy.

The use of bailouts should have also been a reason to heavily regulate Wall Street, to prevent behavior that would require a bailout. But the administration didn’t do that; instead they went the opposite direction and continued to deregulate it, culminating in the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999. It changed the trading floor, which started to fill with Democrats.

 On my trading floor, Robert Rubin, who had joined my firm after leaving the administration, held traders attention by telling long stories and jokes about Bill Clinton to wide-eyed traders. Wall Street now had both political parties working for them, and really nobody holding them accountable. Now, no trade was too aggressive, no risk too crazy, no behavior to unethical and no loss too painful. It unleashed a boom that produced plenty of smaller crisis (Russia, Dotcom), before culminating in the housing and financial crisis of 2008.

 The response to that crisis was Mexico 1995 writ large: bailout the banks and save Wall Street. This time executed by an Obama administration filled with veterans of the Clinton administration, including Hillary Clinton and Larry Summers. Prior to joining Obama’s administration as a senator, Hillary Clinton voted to bail-out the banks, a vote she still defends. More than 23 years following Bill Clinton’s election, Wall Street is very much intertwined with the Clinton's: they helped fundamentally change Wall Street, and Wall Street fundamentally changed the Democratic party.

So maybe they really do know what it takes to reform both. Maybe. Except that Hillary Clinton continues to receive large donations from top bankers. Ask anyone who has spent the last two decades on Wall Street which politicians have worked for them the hardest and most will grudgingly admit it’s the Clinton's. I doubt that will change anytime soon.

Life at the Top

I have long complained that few people understand the difference between micro and macro economics using such charming expressions as "tightening one's belt" with regards to Government spending and in turn sure that CEO's and Executives 'work hard' to somehow justify salaries that over 300 times the average worker. Yes they are fully capapble of doing 300 times more work as they employee 300 people to assist them in doing so.

 But every now and then the curtain of Oz is pulled back and we get an idea of what is the day-to-day in regards to what Chief Executives do and more importantly don't when it comes to leading a business.

 At times I often think Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon are exhausted at the end of their 23 hour day, I give them an hour of sleep. I might be generous.  Well in between golf rounds, bullshit phone calls and shit that just demands so much that their compensation package seems almost inadequate. 

  What CEOs Do for a Living
 Harold Meyerson
 The American Prospect
 January 28, 2016

Not to put too fine a point on it: Disinvesting in productive enterprise and rewarding themselves for doing it What do CEOs do to earn their pay? Presumably, something very valuable, since the average CEO pay at Fortune 500 companies in 2014 was a cool $13.8 million. Yet even as CEO paychecks have ballooned to roughly 300 times that of their median employee (up from just 20 times 50 years ago), their achievements have become harder and harder to discern.

 Time was when CEOs put their companies’ capital into projects that produced new technologies that bettered their compatriots’ lives, and that employed vast numbers of workers at middle-class wages.

Yet as their incomes soared, CEOs stopped doing that.To be sure, the tech sector—Silicon Valley, et al.—has indeed invested in innovation and generated new products that have revolutionized communications, the distribution of entertainment, and a lot of what was formerly back-office paperwork.

But as Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon documents in his lightning bolt of a new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, no comparable breakthroughs have emerged in recent decades in the other, more basic spheres of life.

Electric power, jet planes, autos, indoor plumbing, food processing, movies, television, air conditioning—innovations that transformed existence and boosted productivity as they spread across the West during the first 70 years of the 20th century—have not been superseded or improved by something significantly better in the past half-century. Nor is the corporate sector beyond Silicon Valley trying all that hard to reach the next breakthrough. Publicly traded companies devote just half the percentage of their assets to investment that their privately held counterparts do, according to research by economists John Asker, Alexander Ljungqvist, and Joan Farre-Mensa.

What do our CEOs actually do with their companies’ assets, then? They stash a lot of it—more than $2 trillion—overseas, where their companies can pay lower tax rates or defer taxation altogether. Of late, they buy foreign companies and relocate their corporate citizenship to those companies’ homelands in order to cease paying U.S. taxes altogether—even though, in almost every case, their headquarters and main facilities remain in the United States. Or, they merge with another U.S.-based company, combining existing product lines rather than developing new ones. The funds going to mergers and acquisitions, foreign and domestic, hit an all-time high last year. Increasingly, however, what CEOs do is funnel money to shareholders. Increasingly, however, what CEOs do is funnel money to shareholders.

 University of Massachusetts economist William Lazonick has documented that 91 percent of the net earnings of the corporations on the Fortune 500 list from 2003 through 2012 was sent to shareholders in the form of dividends or share buybacks. In a paper for the Roosevelt Institute, economist J.W. Mason showed that the amount that the U.S. corporate sector showered on shareholders over the past decade was equal to all corporate borrowing.

 In the 1960s and 1970s, about 40 cents of every dollar that a corporation either borrowed or realized in net earnings went into investment in its facilities, research, or new hires. Since the 1980s, however, just 10 cents on the dollar has gone to investment. Advertisement Indeed, when corporations take on debt, they do so increasingly to pay off shareholders.

 “The businesses that have been borrowing the most since the end of the recession have not been those with the highest levels of investment, but rather those with the highest dividend payments and share repurchases,” Mason writes. “Finance is no longer an instrument for getting money into productive businesses, but instead for getting money out of them.” In rewarding shareholders, of course, CEOs are compelled to reward themselves, as, beginning in the 1990s, the pay and bonuses that the overwhelming majority of CEOs receive either comes in the form of shares or is linked to the share price, or both.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. And by depressing workers’ incomes, they also depress consumption, creating a vicious circle in which the diminished buying power of the American public justifies diminished investment in expanding product lines or developing new products. Corporations are governmentally chartered institutions, of course; the theory behind that is that in the broadest sense, having corporations serves the public good. To whatever degree that may once have been the case, it’s clear that today, corporations serve a much narrower stratum of the public than they once did.

They no longer devote as large a share of their resources to investment; they often prefer to subcontract or offshore work rather than having to pay employees decent wages and offer them benefits; they have failed, outside the tech sector, to improve the quality of most people’s lives for the past half-century. And by depressing workers’ incomes, they also depress consumption, creating a vicious circle in which the diminished buying power of the American public justifies diminished investment in expanding product lines or developing new products. There are ways out of this vicious cycle, but they’re not to be found within the confines of the existing corporate world. The investment gap needs to be filled by public investment.

Rebuilding the nation’s increasingly shabby infrastructure is a good place to start, and that’s a task toward which Hillary Clinton has pledged to spend roughly $350 billion over the next decade, and Bernie Sanders, nearly three times that. (Of course, in both cases, that would require persuading what is likely to be a Republican House either to appropriate the funds or vote to establish a public bank, or both.) The other way would be to change the governance of corporations so that major shareholders don’t hold a monopoly of power.

The German laws, which require corporations to split their boards between shareholder and management representatives on the one hand, and worker representatives on the other, provide a model for doing this—a model that’s enabled Germany to thrive in the global economy by retaining a high-value-added manufacturing sector within its borders.

Absent these kinds of reforms, however, the job of the modern American CEO will remain simply to reward himself (they’re usually guys, these CEOS) and people like him, largely by suppressing the kinds of activities that would benefit a far greater number of his compatriots, his own employees very much included. Nice work—particularly for narcissists—if you can get it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Volta

The Volta is the arrangement of lines into patterns of sound serves a function we could call architectural, for these various acoustical partitions accentuate the element that gives the sonnet its unique force and character: the volta, the ‘turn’ that introduces into the poem a possibility for transformation, like a moment of grace.

The Volta is the turn is the dramatic and climactic center of the poem, the place where the intellectual or emotional method of release first becomes clear and possible. And for education we are at that moment of climax. The issues surrounding standardized testing, the charter vs public schools, the issues in states regarding funding of education be it K-12 or higher ed is being played out in state houses across the country. The absurd new Ed bill that was No Child Left Behind then evolved into Race for the Top and now the ESSA,(Every Student Succeeds Act) taking the acronym favored by the reformer set as it obscures meaning is just more of the same but less of the money.

With the debate over charters and that they are a succubus on an already bled dry carcass, there is no easier end to the dance. The reality is much more complex as our the children that education is intended to serve. We all agree that education needs change but to do so it needs commitment and money and those are things in short supply. The revolving door of Teach for America, Teaching Fellows and the charter turn and burn of staff who are asked, no demanded, to do more with what appears more is a fallacy.

They simply use strong disciplinarian tactics more akin to the military than one sees in public education for fear of a lawsuit. And the reality is that silence is not golden in classrooms that have such a veneer of "grit". Not saying please and thank you on either end - student or Teacher - says we are learning less about empathy and compassion and more about compliance.

 This story on NPR discusses the new dynamic in our classrooms. And the compliance is not just about the students but about the Teacher as well. Is this what we want and need? That debate is another as discussed in this article - Teacher as Robot.  I am not sure anymore what works and doesn't but I am willing to risk it and head to ground zero in Ed reform, Tennessee, to see what does.

As for the below article it shows that 60 years after Brown vs the Board of Education we have not accomplished that goal and the reality is that even those who felt it was necessary may be rethinking it as you will read in the below article that separate for some may mean better, but that means what as well? Living in bubble and never experiencing another culture just to ensure that a kid does well on a test or is about education and learning at all? I cannot believe that any student of any color depends on the color of the Teacher to expedite and insure education.

As I like to say to children of color - then only white people should teach white people then? Funny how when you reverse that the looks on faces. Yes we need more role models of all colors, genders and cultures in schools and we do not have them. We need diversity in education and careers and we need money. Then suddenly green becomes the level equalizer of all of the above. Money is the volta.

  School Desegregation Lawsuit Threatens Charters
 A provocative civil-rights case in Minnesota could influence school integration efforts nationally. 
By: Rachel M. Cohen American Prospect

Alex Cruz-Guzman, who came to the United States from Mexico as a teenager, lives in a poor, minority neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota. Determined to provide his five children with a quality education, he and his wife were able to send their two oldest daughters—who are now in college—to desegregated St. Paul schools. But it’s become more difficult to find such schools in St. Paul today, and the Cruz-Guzmans were told they would likely be unable to send their three younger children to integrated institutions, even when they offered to transport their kids themselves. So Cruz-Guzman became a plaintiff in a lawsuit—one that may shape the future of American education.

 Filed against the state of Minnesota by two veteran civil-rights attorneys, Daniel Shulman and his son John Shulman, the suit accuses the state of allowing schools with high concentrations of poor and minority students to proliferate.

A 2015 Minneapolis Star Tribune analysis found that elementary school students in the Twin Cities attend more racially segregated schools than they have in a generation. Children who attend such schools, the lawyers argue, achieve far less than their peers in integrated institutions. The lawyers also say that the growth of charter schools, which are even more racially segregated than traditional public schools, have exacerbated these trends.

 The Shulmans are seeking a metro-wide integration plan to satisfy what they argue is the state’s constitutional obligation to prevent segregated schooling. They cite the state constitution’s education clause, equal protection clause, due process clause, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act to make their case. Not everyone agrees that this kind of integration is legally necessary or the best way to meet children’s needs. Some see the suit as a threat to parents’ right to choose the schools that would best serve their children. This is particularly true for parents of color, who sometimes send their children to charters in the hopes of avoiding what they see as hostile traditional schools.

 John Cairns, one of the most experienced charter school attorneys in the nation, is working against the lawsuit. “If the state is going to do anything, then they’d have to attack parental choice,” says Cairns. “While the plaintiffs are inexplicit about what their remedy would be, in our view, they’re explicit that their remedy would address charter school enrollments. The only way they could do that is to have some conclusion that parental choice is unconstitutional.” Daniel Shulman sees in this argument an echo of Plessy v. Ferguson.

 He thinks charter school advocates are arguing, in effect, that separate schools can be equal. “We don’t think that’s true or the law. If they follow the law, they’ll say separate is not equal, and not equal is inadequate,” he says. “All the data will support that … test scores, graduation rates. School segregation is a national tragedy and disgrace.” It’s fitting that this fight would take place in Minnesota It’s fitting that this fight would take place in Minnesota, which is both the birthplace of the charter school movement, and a longtime champion of civil rights. Minneapolis enacted the nation’s first fair housing and fair employment ordinances, and Minnesota passed one of the first state laws banning housing discrimination.

In 1948, it was an impassioned speech to the Democratic National Convention by Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey that led the Democratic Party to pass its first civil-rights platform plank. In the early 1970s, under a court order, Minneapolis moved to integrate its public schools. This prompted the state to issue desegregation rules applicable to schools across the state

. By the early 1990s, Minneapolis and St. Paul had not a single racially segregated school, and the Twin Cities metropolitan area was one of the most desegregated regions in the United States. “We had no segregated schools because we had strong civil-rights laws and we enforced them,” says Myron Orfield, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the director of its Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. Today, the educational landscape looks quite different.

While the number of people of color living in the Twin Cities metropolitan region—defined as Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding suburbs—has increased considerably over the past two decades, integration advocates say that demographic shifts alone are insufficient to explain the growth of segregated schooling in Minnesota. And grown it has. Since 2000, the number of elementary schools in St. Paul educating more than 90 percent students of color grew from 2 to 18, while the overall percentage of students of color in the district rose only 11 percent. Similar shifts occurred in Minneapolis. In 1995, the Minneapolis School District was 63 percent nonwhite, but had only two elementary schools that were 90 percent segregated. Today the district has 13 such elementary schools, and 26 percent of district students attend schools with over 90 percent students of color.

The demographics of the 164 charter schools in Minnesota—which roughly 50,000 students attend—have also impelled the state to argue, for the first time, that charters should no longer be exempt from state integration laws. (An administrative judge will rule on this separate dispute in late February.)

 The resegregation of the region’s schools, critics say, was the product not just of demographic change but also of conservative pressure in the 1990s to weaken desegregation mandates, coupled with the rise of a charter sector that targeted specific races and ethnicities, thereby accelerating the isolation of poor and minority students. The growth of charter schools, they add, also created new opportunities for white children to congregate in separate schools

. Charters attended by predominately white students grew by 40 percent between the 2007-2008 school year and the 2012-2013 one. Researchers found that more than half of these white charters are located in attendance zones with racially diverse traditional schools.

 Opponents of the state’s proposal, and of the Shulmans’ lawsuit, argue that their proponents—state officials, Myron Orfield, and his allies—misapply the label of “segregation” when talking about charter schools. “I find it offensive and insulting to compare parents of color making choices to send their kids to schools that are better addressing the academic needs of their kids with segregation, a system that was set up by white supremacists decades ago to force students of color to inferior schools,” testified Alberto Monserrate, the first Latino ever elected to the Minneapolis School Board, in early January. Whether or not one thinks these schools should be considered segregated, the rise of schools with high concentrations of racial minorities—both in traditional schools and in charters—means an increase in the number of schools serving high concentrations of poor students.

 Researchers at the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity find the poverty rate at Twin Cities minority-segregated schools to be two-and-a-half times greater than the poverty rate at integrated schools, and five times greater than the poverty rate at predominantly white schools. They also find that math and reading test scores for black students at highly segregated schools are lower than test scores for black students at less segregated schools.

Suspension rates, too, are substantially higher in racially segregated elementary schools than in less segregated ones. “Yes, there's a difference between segregation that's imposed by the state versus segregation that is through choice, the first is worse than the second,” says Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a longtime researcher of school integration. “However, the negative effects of concentrated poverty obtain even when concentrated poverty is a matter of constrained choice.”

 This is not Daniel Shulman’s first time filing a school segregation lawsuit against the state. In 1995, Shulman sued Minnesota, arguing that segregated schools in the Twin Cities metropolitan area violated both the state and federal constitutions. The case settled five years later, and as part of the settlement Minnesota established a voluntary integration program between Minneapolis and ten neighboring suburban districts. Most participants were poor minority students who enrolled in predominately white suburban schools. “But the segregation in Minneapolis and St. Paul is worse today than when I started the first case 20 years ago,” says Shulman. “That’s why I brought the case again, and I'm sorry I waited this long to do it.”

 Shulman’s legal strategy rests on a theory that, at this point, is still very much untested. In the past few decades, it’s become increasingly difficult for civil-rights advocates to win federal school desegregation lawsuits.

 Following the 1978 Supreme Court case Milliken v. Bradley, courts began to draw sharper distinctions between de jure and de facto segregation; the Supreme Court said unless it could be shown that a district deliberately sought to discriminate against students by race, it could not be held responsible for school segregation.

 “Federal desegregation rulings are about racial discrimination, which looks at intent to discriminate,” says Derek Black, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, who studies education law and policy. “Since the 1980s and 1990s, it’s become more and more difficult to prove intent, which means more and more districts have been released from their desegregation obligations.”

“What they’re saying is that the actual existence of segregated schools creates an educational harm, and the state ought to correct that harm, regardless of why it came about,” explains Black. By suing the state, rather than the federal government, the Shulmans aim to bypass all those sticky questions about intent. “What they’re saying is that the actual existence of segregated schools creates an educational harm, and the state ought to correct that harm, regardless of why it came about,” explains Black.

 Their strategy has been tried once before, in a 1989 Connecticut lawsuit known as Sheff v. O’Neill. The plaintiffs argued their constitutional rights were violated because the concentration of African American students in a particular district was a violation of the state's right to equal education. The case made its way up to the state Supreme Court, and in 1996, the justices ruled that Connecticut had an affirmative obligation to provide its students with equal educational opportunity.

This constitutional right, they concluded, necessitated providing students with integrated educations, and so the state moved to establish an array of voluntary integration options. Though Sheff is not controlling law in Minnesota, it is expected that Minnesota judges would consider it if they adjudicate the Shulmans’ suit. “I think the more courts that say an idea is a good one, the more likely it is that courts that follow after them will agree,” says Black, pointing to school funding lawsuits as an example. However, Sheff was notably litigated before the rise of charter schools. In 1993, Minnesota’s Supreme Court ruled that all students are guaranteed a fundamental right to an adequate education.

 In their new suit, the Shulmans seek to argue that no education could possibly satisfy the state’s adequacy requirement given the highly segregated environments. Lawsuit opponents argue that “adequacy” should be measured not by the composition of student bodies, but by demonstrated achievement. “What we're saying is the first thing to look at is whether kids are learning, not who is sitting in the classroom,” says Cairns, the attorney representing the charters.

“And once you establish that kids are learning, then that's the measure of an effective and adequate education.” Derek Black says most states do consider achievement “outputs” when determining whether students are receiving adequate educations. Such outputs could be scores on standardized tests, graduation rates, or college readiness measures. Though variance exists from state to state, Black says most courts would look at both outputs and inputs. “The question would be whether the failure to provide certain inputs is the cause of an inadequate education, as measured by various outputs,” he says. If Minnesota’s judiciary takes up this groundbreaking case, they will have to decide whether racially and economically integrated schools are necessary inputs.

“I think there’s an increasing recognition that equal education is the constitutional responsibility of state governments, and therefore [states] have to promote policies to avoid racial and economic segregation,” says Phil Tegeler, the executive director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, and a leader in the National Coalition on School Diversity.

Tegeler hopes lawyers in other states will follow the Shulmans’ lead. “We really need to see more creative, affirmative litigation,” he says. “This is huge, you could potentially have 50 state lawsuits on this issue,” says Kahlenberg. Opponents of the lawsuit, and of the state’s plan to include charters under statewide integration rules, say that there’s been a fundamental misinterpretation of what segregation is.

They deny that charter schools targeting specific races or ethnicities are illegal or unjust. Rather, they say, these schools provide students with “culturally affirming” environments in which to learn. Bill Wilson founded one such “culturally affirming” charter in St. Paul—known as Higher Ground Academy. Though Higher Ground’s student body is more than 90 percent East African immigrant and low-income, it’s one of the highest performing schools in the region.

Advocates say the school’s success is due to its unique, and culturally sensitive education strategies. “I know people who brought this lawsuit against the state use the word ‘desegregation’ but let’s find the intentional action,” Wilson says. “I won’t call this segregation, I won’t call it racial isolation, because it’s not true.”

“It’s a false analysis that’s being applied to culturally specific charter schools, that tends to consider those schools to be segregated,” testified Nakima Levy-Pounds, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter. “That flies in the face of civil-rights history and also the fact that we have historically black colleges and universities around the country that are specifically designed to affirm, enrich, and enhance the educational experiences of African Americans who we know have faced historical discrimination throughout our time in this country.”

 Darrick Hamilton, an urban policy professor at the New School, says his research suggests there certainly could be instances where predominately black schools may be better learning environments for black students.

Quoting W.E.B. Du Bois, he says, “The Negro needs neither segregated schools nor mixed schools. What he needs is Education.” Even among those in the Twin Cities who advocate for integration, the civil-rights community remains torn over how to think about charter schools. Even among those in the Twin Cities who advocate for integration, the civil-rights community remains torn over how to think about charter schools.

 While the St. Paul NAACP welcomes the Shulmans’ new lawsuit, for example, its leaders have not taken a position on their charter school argument, or on whether charters should be exempt from statewide integration laws. “It’s hard enough to get a broad coalition of people to say we want to integrate the schools, and when you add the charter school issue, the politics just become much more challenging,” says one Twin Cities civil-rights leader.

“There are definitely some advocates who say we should focus on desegregating the traditional schools, and if the districts can get their act together then demand for charters will [naturally] go down, because parents will trust that traditional schools can take care of their kids.” But researchers at the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity say that segregated charter schools perform even worse than segregated traditional schools.

With the exception of a few high performing networks—including Bill Wilson’s Higher Ground Academy—they find that most charter schools that serve high concentrations of impoverished racial minorities produce poorer academic results than traditional schools, even after controlling for variables like poverty and race.

The Star Tribune also found that slightly more than half of all students in Minnesota charter schools were proficient in reading, compared to 72 percent in traditional public schools. Defenders of “culturally affirming” institutions don’t spend much time talking about white charter schools.

Yet white charters are on the rise. “One of the problems with allowing culturally focused schools to become single-race enclaves is that, once you create a legal justification for these schools, it becomes very difficult to prevent white parents from adopting the same language to create white segregation,” says Will Stancil, an attorney with the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity.

“Integration isn't about exposing kids to some magic aura of whiteness, it's about the importance of universal inclusion in education: providing all children full access to the teaching, resources, and networks that the most privileged kids currently have.”

 Those who do support including charters in the lawsuit and under statewide integration rules point to a “Dear Colleague” letter that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent around in 2014. Duncan’s federal guidance said charters must be included in court-mandated or state-administered desegregation plans.

 “You just can’t exempt charter schools from the basic civil-rights laws of the state; they’re supposed to be publicly funded public schools, and they should be subject to the same civil-rights requirements as other public schools,” says Phil Tegeler. Myron Orfield says Minnesota is the only state that he knows of that explicitly exempts charters from its civil-rights laws. The rhetoric surrounding these legal battles will likely grow even more charged in the coming weeks and months. By the end of February, an administrative law judge should make her final decision on whether charters will be exempt from statewide integration rules. However, if the Shulmans ultimately win their lawsuit, some say this could render any charter school exemptions moot.

 “I think ultimately the lawsuit could trump the rule,” says Derek Black. “It could require the state to do a whole variety of things. Daniel Shulman isn’t worried about what the judge will decide with regards to charters and the state rule. “It would be nice if there were a rule that effectively desegregated Minnesota’s schools—that’s one way the state could begin to remedy the result of its past constitutional violations,” he says. “But this rule is not going to affect the lawsuit.”

 The state of Minnesota has filed to dismiss Shulman’s lawsuit, and a judge will consider this motion in a hearing in April. (A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Education told The American Prospect that the Department cannot comment on the case, but is “committed to helping every student achieve academic success.”)

 If the case is not thrown out—and it can be appealed, if it is—then the trial will likely be scheduled for late 2017. “I know for a lot of leaders it's convenient to not do anything or to not talk about these issues, but for the children who are kept separate, it’s wrong,” says Cruz-Guzman. “We feel we’re doing the right thing by bringing the lawsuit.” Minnesota is not the first state to wrestle with the challenges of balancing school choice and desegregation. And it surely won’t be the last.

 Cairns, who serves on a litigation panel for the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, says that he and his colleagues recognize the “wide-ranging implications” of this case. Though it’s not a federal suit, Cairns believes its outcome will be “hugely important to provide direction” to the rest of the country.

Take out the Trash

I write this today with a heavy heart. I am tired of passing one homeless person over another. I am tired of the fights, the feuds and the mental health problems that I see on a daily basis. I am exhausted from thinking about how many children I meet that may be one of them one day or are one now. I see futility and hopelessness and I am tired of the pearl clutching, the ignorance and the sheer bullshit about the "soul of the city."

 In the last month Seattle continues to debate and in turn deteriorate in the quest to attract the young and the MEllinneal class and that is designating two parking lots as residential lots for homeless living in a car Two dead in 'very targeted' shooting at camp for homeless people in Seattle which follows a declaration of a state of emergency akin to a natural disaster like the snowstorm on the Eastern seaboard with regards to homelessness. And now this tragedy...
Police hunt two suspects in connection with attack that also wounded three others on Tuesday night No one has been arrested for the shooting at a Seattle homeless encampment but police are searching for two ‘persons of interest’.
Associated Press Wednesday 27 January 2016
Two people were killed and three others wounded as shooting erupted on Tuesday night at a Seattle encampment for homeless people, in what police said was a “very targeted” attack.
Police responded to reports of shots fired at the camp – known as the jungle – about 7.15pm near Airport Way South and South Atlantic Street, south of downtown.
They did a search of the wooded area and found five victims, police said. Assistant Seattle police chief Bob Merner said at a news conference the victims lived at the encampment. He said of the shooting that police “have reason to believe it was very targeted”.
Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole said officials did not believe anyone else was in danger. The stories you need to read, in one handy email Read more No one has been arrested. Police interviewed witnesses and were searching for two people they said were “persons of interest” in the case.
“We are working furiously to identify a suspect,” O’Toole said. Police said an unidentified woman died at the scene. Four others who were hurt were taken to Harborview medical center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said a man brought in at 7.50pm also died.
Two women and a man, ranging in age from 25 to 45, were in surgery on Tuesday night, Gregg said. She said their gunshot wounds were to the chest, abdomen and back. Seattle mayor Ed Murray had called the shooting an active crime scene and urged people to stay away from the area.
He and King county executive director Dow Constantine declared a state of emergency regarding $7m to address the crisis. At a press briefing later on Tuesday night, Murray said: “I can’t help but wonder, did I act too late?” He said the encampment “has been unmanageable and out of control for almost two decades”.
Officials said police would remain in the area overnight and would also check on other homeless encampments.
There are several factors in place here: One, the living wage issue which seems to be a confusing one as to how much the minimum wage is in the city. It is not $15/hr - yet.

This is a phased in issue which is having problems simply being enforced and with regards to service jobs that have tips, size of workforce, there are exemptions. But we are being lauded in the press as this savior for working poor and that is not necessarily true. It is in baby steps but regardless, the wages are not commensurate with the housing crisis that has resulted from the push to draw the disposable and by that I mean those who are here on H1B1 Visas or here to meet a contract or temporary work agreement that they sign to get a job at the company by the Amazon.

 There is a distinct myth and belief that these are all six figure jobs and that is regardless of the gig. Check Glassdoor for the horror stories regarding the company. But the leeches have also set up satellite offices to get the rejects and in turn the revolving door of the leech set, whoops I mean the tech set, are doing what they did to the Bay Area as quickly as they can. And it shows with the rising tide of homeless that is crashing the boats.

The second:  legal marijuana.  All for it but in reality when you are from bumfuck Wyoming the idea of smoking pot openly (which again you cannot but the misinformation is a source of reality in America) is tempting.  And many of the young we see here seem to think begging and camping adjacent to an on ramp is acceptable and tolerable when you are 22.   I heard a young woman ask for a cigarette and in reality she admitted to the man she requested it from she wanted actually dope.  Yes welcome to the dollhouse.

The Third is the hipster factor.  The belief that one can come here and make artisan chocolate, create art or artisan brew is part of the attraction.  Or as I call it the Williamsburg invasion.  Our streets are filled with Quaker beard, man bun wearing dipshits and the sad pierced, multi hair colored heavy girls that tote the bags and trudge along with dreams of what I am unsure. But yesterday I saw another implosion of said couple on the corner they were panhandling adjacent to the Amazon offices. That area is akin to the gold mining I believe of the 1800's which happened where? San Francisco. Some things never change.

I spend most of my days counting the ones until I leave. That is what they want. Anyone not in the tech fields, over 40 and of course with a vagina, Seattle wants you gone. People of color are fine as long as they meet the checklist of diversity or play sports.

The funny obsession over sports is truly a laugh as the second the Seahawks go the way of losing, the pullback will be faster than a man following ejaculation. We have never been a loyal city in any stretch of the imagination.

To let people think this is a liberal city with such great options and opportunities means that it is one less city or town that might offer the ability to work and function and build community. It is akin to a natural disaster that enables the cities to clean out the poor and the disposable. Katrina did that to New Orleans and it appears that unless we have one here this is what Seattle will be - a trash bag.

And that is what we do with the people here, we throw them out like trash. I know this personally, and I have said many times that I am the shit beneath your shoe not even fit to wipe so you throw them out. Seattle you can go fuck yourself. This is my last post I will write about this hellhole it is not worth it. Now I will go to a white school in a white neighborhood and not have to worry about it for a few hours until later. So until then....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fried or Scrambled?

When you bite into that egg you are having for breakfast do you ask yourself is this from a cage free hormone free fill in the blank good organic egg and that the harvester/collector/wrangler is a charming local farmer with your best interest at heart?  Or do you just stop and pick up an Egg McMuffin and don't give it a further thought?

I suspect for everyone it is the latter, unless you pay over $6 dollars for eggs at the local farmer's market then no, no one spends a great deal of time concerning oneself with the minuate of egg farming.

This is human trafficking.  The salacious aspects of what has defined human trafficking as some innoncent young girl smuggled into a country and forced to have sex in exchange for eventual freedom is hard to substantiate and often largely exaggerated but it makes for a better story.  In reality human trafficking is happening across the Middle East, Europe and here south of our borders as many women and children desperately seeking freedom are exploited in much more profitable manners.

Failures in handling unaccompanied migrant minors have led to trafficking


By Abbie VanSickle
The Washington Post
January 26 2016
This video is not available

NEW BLOOMINGTON, Ohio — On the phone, the boy was frantic. After traveling hundreds of miles from a village in Guatemala, he had made it across the U.S. border and into a government-funded shelter for unaccompanied minors.

But then something went terribly wrong.

Instead of sending him to his uncle, Carlos Enrique Pascual, a landscape worker in Florida, authorities said the shelter released the teenager to traffickers who took him to central Ohio, held him captive in a roach-infested trailer and threatened to kill him if he tried to leave.

“Please, how can I get out of this?” Pascual’s nephew begged him during a stolen moment with a telephone. “I’m hungry, and my heart is bursting with fear.”

Pascual called police and, in December 2014, authorities found his nephew, then 17, and seven other boys living in cramped, dirty trailers about an hour outside of Columbus. Authorities said they were working at Trillium Farms, one of the country’s largest egg producers, debeaking hens and cleaning cages nearly 12 hours a day, six days a week, for as little as $2 a day.

The boys were part of a surge of children flowing across the U.S.-Mexico border over the past four years, overwhelming federal officials responsible for their safekeeping, child advocates say. Since 2011, more than 125,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have been stopped at the border, many placed in shelters funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has demanded a response from the Obama administration to whistleblower claims that thousands of those children have been released to sponsors with criminal records that include homicide, child molestation and human trafficking. Legal advocates for the children say many have wound up in abusive situations, where they have been forced to work to repay debts or living expenses. Some children simply stop showing up for immigration hearings and vanish.

“We have a large percentage of these kids that disappear, and I don’t know what happens to them,” said Jessica Ramos, a lawyer with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, an Ohio nonprofit group that represents children in immigration proceedings.

Andrea Helling, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said the inspector general is investigating the whistleblower allegations. She acknowledged that the agency briefly relaxed identity requirements for family members collecting children at the height of the surge in May 2014 to help place children more quickly.

Since then, she said, the agency has strengthened its protection efforts by reinstituting a fingerprint requirement for many people who claim children from federally funded shelters, expanding a hotline to report abuse, and requiring caseworkers to call and check up on children within 30 days of their release.

“We are committed to placement of unaccompanied children with appropriate sponsors that serve the best interest of the child,” Bob Carey, the agency’s director, said in a statement.

Still, the agency conducted post-release checks on only about 6,500 children in fiscal 2014, Helling said. Once the children are settled with sponsors, she added, state and local child protection agencies are responsible for their well-being.

“Once a child is placed with a sponsor,” she said, “the local community becomes very important.”

Helling declined to discuss the agency’s handling of individual children, including Pascual’s nephew. Federal prosecutors indicted six people in connection with the trafficking scheme; five have plead guilty.

No legal action has been taken against Trillium Farms, whose executives say they were unaware that a subcontractor hired to provide manual labor was engaged in human trafficking.

“Our employment guidelines are strict, and we participate in all federal programs to verify employment,” chief operating officer Doug Mack said in a statement. “While we have the same requirements for our contractors, it is clear in this case we were misled by the contracting company, which intended to act illegally.”

Alarmed by the case, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, opened an inquiry into the government’s system for processing unaccompanied minors. The results are scheduled to be made public Thursday, when Portman plans to chair a hearing on the matter.

“Based on what I have learned to date, I am concerned that the child placement process failures that contributed to the [egg farm] trafficking case are part of a systemic problem rather than a one-off incident,” Portman said in a statement.

Holes in the system

In October 2011, federal officials began to notice a sharp spike in the number of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without parents or guardians. Many came from three countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse.

“The level of violence we’re seeing that these kids have suffered has steadily increased,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles. “The situation in Central America right now is a lot like a war.”

When minors are apprehended at the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection puts them into a detention facility, where they can remain for up to three days. They are then transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which houses them in more than 100 shelters scattered across 12 states, including California, Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia.

Typically, the children stay in the shelters for about a month. While there, each is assigned a caseworker, who asks the child questions to determine whether the child is a trafficking victim. The caseworker is also tasked with finding each child a “sponsor,” an adult who agrees to take responsibility for the child. Many already know the name of their preferred sponsor, often a parent or family member in the United States.

Sponsors are supposed to undergo background checks, fill out a two-page form about their relationship to the child, list the names of others in the household, and check boxes declaring whether anyone in the home has been convicted of a crime or accused of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or child abandonment. Sponsors who are not parents or guardians are supposed to submit fingerprints.

But that doesn’t always happen. In a November letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Grassley complained that background checks are often not thorough, sponsors are not properly vetted and many are not fingerprinted.

Helling said the agency stopped requiring fingerprints for sponsors only briefly, in May 2014. She said the agency still does not require fingerprints from parents who can provide proof of their identity and relationship to the child.

Although background checks have improved since then, service providers say many children still wait weeks, or even months, for follow-up visits from caseworkers.

“You go to pick up a case and sometimes the kids have already moved. Maybe the whole family has moved,” said Lavinia Limon, president and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide post-release services. “It’s fairly common that the kid won’t be there.”

These green pole barns are where more than 8 million eggs are laid a day at Trillium Farms in Johnstown, Ohio. Trillium Farms is one of the 10 largest egg producers in the country. (Ty Wright/For The Washington Post)
Repaying a debt

The teenagers at the egg farm were all from remote villages tucked into the mountains of the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, a few hours from the Mexican border. The region was the site of several massacres during Guatemala’s civil war in the 1960s and is still beset by drug trafficking and gang activity.

Pascual’s nephew, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he and his family have received death threats, was from one such village, where families live on small plots of land and earn money by chopping lumber or working on coffee plantations. Pascual described a life of poverty and hardship.

“People find their way however they can,” he said.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in the egg-farm trafficking case, a local man named Aroldo Castillo-Serrano became rich and powerful by smuggling Guatemalans into the United States, and by forcing them to work at the egg farm to repay smuggling debts that could total $15,000. Castillo-Serrano soon began trafficking children as well, prosecutors said, thinking they would be easier to smuggle into the United States, as well as easier to control and more hard-working.

“They were picked for their need and desire to come to the United States, and their vulnerability,” said Steven Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, whose office in Cleveland is prosecuting the case.

The first boy arrived in November 2013, and was settled in an isolated rural trailer park, a sprawling 50-acre complex that proved the perfect place to hide smuggled teenagers. Many of the 100 trailers were dilapidated and had broken windows. Sheriff’s officers came out frequently to break up fights and arrest people for dealing drugs.

“People won’t even let their kids go trick-or-treating in the trailer park,” said Jamie Johnson, 37, who has lived there for five years. “I don’t blame them. There are some nasty trailers out here. People keep to themselves.”

With winter approaching, prosecutors said, the first boy found his trailer dirty and unheated. He called a family friend and begged to leave. But the traffickers told the boy he had to stay until his debt was repaid.
What happens when an unaccompanied minor is caught at the U.S.-Mexico border View Graphic
Human slavery

In the spring of 2014, as the crisis at the border grew, prosecutors said, the traffickers attempted to bring a second teenager to the trailer park. But federal agents caught him at the border and he was placed in a shelter funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

On June 6, 2014, prosecutors say, Castillo-Serrano arranged for someone to file a Family Reunification Application, claiming to be a family friend of the teenager. The ploy worked, and the agency released the teen to the traffickers, who took him to the trailer park.

Over the next three months, according to the indictment, the traffickers repeated the process at least five times, filing false applications that fooled federal refu­gee officials into delivering the boys to them.

Pascual’s nephew was among them. The boy’s parents had paid smugglers to transport him across the U.S. border from Guatemala, Pascual said. The details about what happened after that are unclear.

The boy was stopped by border guards and taken to a shelter for unaccompanied minors, but neither the FBI nor prosecutors would say where. While his nephew was in the shelter, Pascual said that federal officials called and asked him to be the boy’s sponsor and that he agreed. But the boy was instead released to the traffickers — people, Pascual said, his nephew did not know.

Sometime in late summer, the traffickers took the boy to the trailer park. Pascual said they told him he had to work at the egg farm to repay a $20,000 debt; if he tried to escape, they said they would shoot his parents in the head.

Like the other boys, Pascual’s nephew allegedly handed over his paychecks to a woman named Ana Angelica Pedro Juan, 22, who gave him a little money for food and necessities and kept the rest, according to the indictment.

When he phoned Pascual in October, the nephew complained of being “starved,” of “sleeping in a rotting trailer full of cockroaches,” of waking up at night, fearful that “these people will come and hurt me.”

This trailer was one of the homes the FBI raided in December of 2014. They discovered that underage workers were living in the trailers and were being forced to work at Trillium Farms. (Ty Wright/For The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, the teenagers caught the attention of Scott Douglas, 56, a handyman, who shares a tidy trailer with his dog, Mona. He hammered boards together to build them soccer goals; in warm weather, they donned jerseys and played in the grass. He also gave them rides to a Mexican grocery store 10 miles down the road in Marion, Ohio, where they spent a lot of time making phone calls.

Douglas, who speaks no Spanish, said he didn’t know the boys were being held captive. “There was a language barrier,” he said.

The boys’ situation became clear on Dec. 17, 2014, when a team of federal and local officers staged a predawn raid of trailers that were smelly and strewn with trash. Later, people who moved into those trailers found troubling signs of the boys’ deprivations: One trailer had no toilet, just a five-gallon bucket filled with feces. It also had a trap-door in the kitchen, which opened to reveal mattresses and blankets spread in a dark crawlspace in the dirt below.

During the raid, agents pulled about 45 people from the trailers, including all eight of the boys working at the egg farm. Douglas watched from a window.

“The FBI told me that night: They said human trafficking, human slavery,” he said. “Everybody out here was surprised. We just knew they went to work all the time.”

Only one of the six defendants agreed to discuss the case. During an interview at the Pennsylvania detention center where he is awaiting deportation, Bartolo Dominguez, 55, of Mexico, acknowledged driving the teenagers from the trailer park to work at the egg farm, but said he did not realize they were being held against their will.

“If I would have known about the abuse of the teens, I would have told somebody,” he said. “I thought everything was fine. I never imagined this. They were working enthusiastically.”

One of the defendants, Pedro Juan, pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on charges of forced labor conspiracy, witness tampering and making false statements to the FBI. Her attorney, Merle Dech, declined to comment.

The alleged mastermind, Castillo-Serrano, 33, of Guatemala, pleaded guilty. He is awaiting sentencing in Ohio on charges of labor trafficking conspiracy. His attorney also declined to comment.

The suspects, from top, left: Aroldo Castillo-Serrano, Ana Angelica Pedro Juan, Bartolo Dominguez, Conrado Salgado Soto, Conrado Salgado-Borbon and Pablo Duran. (Lucas County Corrections Center; The Wright County Sheriff’s Office)
‘He’ll be safe’

After their rescue, the teenagers were driven an hour and a half east to a Hampton Inn, where they were given breakfast and allowed to make phone calls. Pascual said his nephew “was so happy. He wanted to come be with me in Florida. He’s my sister’s son, my flesh and blood, so I said, ‘Of course.’ ”

A social worker called Pascual and sent him an application to become his nephew’s sponsor. But then, Pascual said, a woman called and said the boy was being diverted again, this time to a foster home in New England.

“ ‘We’re taking him. Don’t worry. We’ll put him in a home. He’ll be safe, and he’ll be able to study, go to school,’ ” the uncle said the woman told him.

Reached by cellphone, the nephew confirmed that he is now safe; he declined to comment further.

Pascual, who remains in touch with the boy, said he is relieved.

“He sleeps without fear,” the uncle said.