Friday, June 17, 2016

Sweet Bird of Youth

I am at my last day in Seattle at an alternative school and it was originally set up to be a voc tech training school for kids at risk to work in the engineering field at Boeing. That dream long gone and another high school in another district got that off the ground and is now a waiting list to get into, and this is within a district with its own set of problems. 

Right now at this "school" a kid is sleeping at his computer, the other is rapping vulgar lyrics to the screen and talking on the phone,  ah yes the sweet bird of youth.

This is an ALE, alternative learning environment school. They are set up for kids at risk who have been kicked out, withdrawn or at risk of dropping out so this is the last chance saloon. The reality is that they are dumping grounds spread out across the district and while they have supposed focus and purpose, they use online learning with some fake social work taught by unlicensed professionals to supposedly help the kids get on the right track. Two of them murdered a homeless man a few weeks ago, and when kids are killed in the same type violence the school quickly takes ownership of them but when they are the perpetrators they are never mentioned. So much for actually admitting that you failed them and learning as to how not to.

I just met a first year Teacher who got his degree to teach in the same way, his BA however is in applied Physics and Math but he felt that he wanted to Teach and teach kids who were "troubled" as he too had similar issues when he was a kid.. over a decade ago. What I told him that was then, this is now and that you are not them, and you cannot compensate make up or change what life dealt them, you can however teach them an amazing skill set and knowledge that could be useful for them and in turn find work and perhaps a career where that would be of import. He realizes that he is babysitting them and he is frustrated, afraid and confused. Ah the sweet bird of youth and the trials of a first year Teacher.

That first year is appalling and without appropriate mentors and support you will be as misguided, angry and confused as he is. I feel bad for him and know that he has no idea what he is doing but thankfully the damage he is causing through bad teaching is minimal. If he was in a mainstream school he would be eaten alive. But the reality is that most Teachers in public education are it is swimming in the Amazon with the Piranhas biting you on the ass.

He wanted 'dirt" on their Principal, a bitch whom I have known for decades and her path across the district is quite wide.  I said honey at this point it is a matter of public record and it is not my job to "teach" you.  I said that I only want to Teach, not kids of a certain "kind" but just kids but I only want to teach English and History.  As for your problems here there is one solution, leave.  There are more than ample jobs for those with your skill set and if you want to be a Teacher, then be one.

 I am not interested in making it more than a learning experience about the subject, the curriculum, I am not paid to be a Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor or friend, I am a Teacher. You cannot be a Jack of All Trades and a Master of None. You need your own mentors and master teachers who can help you excel as a Teacher and in turn your students will excel with that and that is where the idea of being a good teacher of any "kind" of kid matters. The second you have to distinguish and segregate kids into types you are doing just that segregating them and in turn excusing them from what your job should be preparing them for real life in the real world. Poverty is a much bigger problem than a 43K year Teacher is to overcome in 50 minutes of a Math class.  If you want to teach, teach if you want to mentor, mentor but if you want to both you need to do it elsewhere as this not the place for that. 

So when I read that the lunatic in Orlando was a problem from day one I was not surprised. The same has been repeatedly told over and over again from Columbine to the shooter in Oregon. Why anyone would think a Teacher alone would resolve nor should is insane. The reality is that the system is a failure and it does not offer the appropriate resources in which to handle said behavior. The lack of funding to schools, the demonizing of the Education profession and the endless push to testing does nothing to change this and may in fact contribute to it.

Blame Islam, blame sexual confusion, blame his family, his wife blame mental illness, but in reality the ease of which a clearly psychotic troubled youth was able to get guns more easily than get a mental health assessment there is your problem.



Records: Orlando gunman talked about violence in 3rd grade

By HOLBROOK MOHR
and MITCH WEISS
The Associated Press
June 17, 2016

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — As early as the third grade, the Florida nightclub shooter talked frequently about sex and violence and before finishing high school was suspended for a total of 48 days, including suspensions for fighting and hurting classmates, school records showed.

In the years since, other people reported having disturbing run-ins with Omar Mateen, including a bartender who said he stalked her nearly a decade ago and sent so many uncomfortable Facebook messages that she blocked him on the social network.

Mateen, whose attack on the Pulse nightclub left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, enrolled in Florida public schools after his Afghan immigrant parents moved in 1991 from New York City to Port Saint Lucie, on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Teachers “couldn’t seem to help him,” said Dan Alley, retired dean of Martin County High School. “We tried to counsel him and show him the error of his ways, but it never had the effect that we were hoping for.”

At least some of the suspensions were for fighting that involved injuries. Others were for unspecified rules violations, according to the records.

For elementary and early middle school, he attended class in neighboring St. Lucie County, where teachers said he was disruptive and struggled academically.

A third-grade teacher wrote that Mateen was “very active … constantly moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive.” The teacher described “much talk about violence & sex,” with Mateen’s “hands all over the place — on other children, in his mouth.”

The same teacher wrote that Mateen and another student sang the words “marijuana, marijuana” rather than the school’s song, “mariposa, mariposa.”

In seventh grade, school administrators moved Mateen to another class to “avoid conflicts with other students.” That same report said Mateen was doing poorly in several subjects because of “many instances of behavioral problems.”

In a 1999 letter to Mateen’s father, one of his middle school teachers wrote that the boy’s “attitude and inability to show self-control in the classroom create distractions and become a main source of difficulty for him.”

“Unfortunately, Omar has great difficulty focusing on his classwork since he often seeks the attention of his classmates through some sort of noise, disruption or distraction,” the letter said.

Mateen attended high school and part of middle school in Martin County, spending time on three campuses in all, including one alternative facility.

He withdrew from Martin County High School in 2003 and eventually graduated from Stuart Adult Community High School with a standard diploma, records show.

In 10th grade, he received a five-day suspension on Sept. 13, 2001 — two days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The records offer no details except to call it a “rule violation.” But in recent media reports classmates have said it was because he celebrated the attacks.

Alley said Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, was an enabler.

“He would not back up the school, and he would always take his son’s side,” he said.

Mateen’s father has suggested his son had anti-gay feelings after recently seeing two men kiss. But others have said he was a regular at the Orlando club and that he tried to pick up men there.

After high school, Mateen attended Indian River Community College, graduating in 2006 with a degree in criminal justice technology.

It was around that time that he met a bartender from Fort Pierce.

“He was one of those guys who wouldn’t leave me alone,” Heather LaSalla told an Associated Press reporter in an interview Friday in the doorway of her home. She worked at a bar in Port St. Lucie at the time, and Mateen started coming there, mostly by himself.

“He was always like a loner,” LaSalla said.

The tone of Mateen’s Facebook messages made LaSalla uncomfortable, she said, but she never filed a criminal complaint.

She ran into him again at a park in November while she was with her young son and Mateen was with his, she said.

“He still had that weird vibe to him,” LaSalla said, but she did not feel threatened as Mateen told her had a wife and talked about his son’s soccer league.

In the aftermath of the shooting, she said she recognized Mateen immediately from his picture on television.

Asked whether she believed Mateen was gay, LaSalla said she “never noticed.” She said he never exactly propositioned her in his messages.

The Big Move

I often include stories of my own life to connect or resonate on why I find some stories more relevant than others. The blog started as a business focus when I had my remodeling business, Vida Verde, that dissolved when the economy did the same; this evolved into a coaching/consulting business and lastly writing about the industry. That business is now closed and done and I leave Seattle in 48 hours and that journey takes me to new places and new business ideas that will mark another adventure in what has to say the least been an interesting life.

The blog too as evolved and it now discusses issues that I think are relevant - the Medical Industrial Complex, that includes Doctors, Hospitals, Health Insurance and of course Big Pharma and the other related businesses that make this truly a complex industry.

The other issue of import is that of our Legal system, primarily Criminal Justice but I have addressed Civil issues as those two have also touched my life and I feel that my experience is one shared by many in both courts.

The last is about Education and as I contemplate a return to the classroom on a full time basis I believe that is the key to what encompasses all the issues that again I believe make America great (not again as it has always been great) - the prime issues of income inequity and that of "social justice." I find that phrase a white persons re-branding or euphemism of simply what are all the "isms""ations" "phobias" that make America not so great - Racism, Ageism, Sexism, Homophobia, Islamaphobia, fill in the blank -ism, phobia, etc. that define and make up most of the institutions that comprise the American way of business - both in government and private industry.

And as I get ready to move it became part of the process to once again rid myself of things that define and confine me and in turn decide what to keep, why and how to part with that which clutters my life.

The first was offering it to others who did not follow through or make any concerted effort to actually do so, then selling it via auctions and consignment with the same people going, "I would have bought it." Then we had the charity give away and lastly literally leaving things on my neighbors doorstep. I chose the Latino immigrants who had moved here from Florida the past year, we never spoke or exchanged words until I did so and they are good people but this is Seattle and you do not do more than ever exchange pleasantries and certainly not often. The Seattle Freeze is not a myth.

Then came the actual move. Not one to shy from either Antiques, Art and books, my estimator came by and warned me to not buy anything else after I rid myself of the promised units. Well I lied (not intentionally) and instead rid myself of some other things, refurbished another that I was planning toss, repairing a vintage table that too was going to toss (when quoted $500 bucks to fix it, I did for $20 and was thrilled with my endeavor so they stayed) and bought a vintage cubby, but I figured the trade off with weight was approximately the same. That is how an interstate move is handled, by weight. I have done it enough that while I would say I have to a fine art form that is impossible as it often falls to the hands of humans. Here is where I would welcome tech's creation of the moving robot and self driving car for this as it takes the guess out of estimate and has less emotion to add to an already emotional experience.

Despite my love of Marie Kondo's book on the Joy of Things, at times you do struggle with what is too much and way too much and we Americans love stuff. But I had the mantra in my head of the estimator, Dave and thought dude I am so going to hit your target number. So boxes to charity, free on the street and stuff to my neighbors and I was going to do this. And 6 weeks later moving day arrived and I thought I was ready.

My mover, Dennis, was a burly bald headed dude with the personality to match. It began amicably enough but by hour one I was no longer called by name, I was referred to as "lady" and later addressed as ma'am. There was no order to the move, which truly would be a walk through, use that opportunity to find out what is not essential and start tagging those and move the larger bigger items out immediately as that time to take apart or down said items will take time and enable him then go into the largest staging area, my garage and tag all those smaller items while they are doing the big stuff. This was not the Dennis way. He tagged items as he went, moving items into other items and reprimanding me when he found something he did not like. Had we had walk through the property and discussed the plan of attack I could of started where he did and worked in tandem finishing that as his crew moved through. But the best part was his demand when we started was "I need to use the bathroom" and did so when I asked him repeatedly to keep he and his crew to the toilet downstairs as I was using this bathroom as storage for my personal things they were not moving.. coats, suitcases, purse etc. No, and they continued to do so and locked the door to the point I had to finally realize they had literally locked me out of my own bathroom as they shut it locked. I thankfully was able with a screwdriver I did keep for emergency's in my purse to rig the other pocket door to open after they left.

The day progressed to worse when they managed to take boxes before I was finished packing them, despite no shortage of others that were ready, nearly leaving behind an oriental rug which I did get them to take despite their protests that it was damaged and why should I. Then the issues around outdoor garden pots and candles in tin cans with lids on them (travel candles that I use in the yard) as they would cause a fire. (Uh they are in tin cans with lids they would what burn through metal and do what exactly?)

The argument over the garden pots which I had been told that if clean they would simply be wrapped in moving blankets (all 12 of them) which again Dennis did not understand why I wanted nor supported that idea (a consistency that I came to recognize)so I finally agreed to buy some dish boxes to put the pots in but not all the paper that Dennis suggested I put in the boxes. This was now getting to the point of the absurd, so hey I know I will used broken up cardboard to wedge between the pots, something Dennis did not like, maybe because it kept the weight down?

It was this which finally led up to the final argument about a vintage phone booth about 300 lbs in weight that is a garden piece. It became such an ugly exchange that I left it.. and frankly it was an albatross, so selling it would have cost me as much to transport it and moving it was the same so let someone else have it.. my gift to my landlord, whose own agenda added to the chaos as he too was suggesting that he be there to do the final walk thru in some bizarre attempt to either help me and make sure we got it all or make sure we don't get it all such as his appliances.  Well surprise he was the one who benefited from the leaving not the taking. (In all reality his only query when I said we were done and I was gone by 4 was about the garage door opener, so there was his priority.)

I felt bullied, maligned and worried about the people whom I hired to orchestrate my move and handle my belongings to move across the country. The endless nasty nature and inability to effectively communicate was the massive issue and when one is on the receiving end of what is already a stressful situation it adds to the anxiety. As what was more distressing was realizing that I had to deal with this man again on the other end and that truly worried me. And it became clear when the one tub of electronics from my office that I was packing (saving the best for last) was taken and whisked into the truck and leaving the surge protector with the plugs to the modem and my MAC still on the floor. They were to go into the same box that I had already run out to put the modem in and when I came back to put the other items, I was told they were not going to fit so he would shove them between two moving blankets. He already informed that my modem did not fit in the basket and that he let me put in there despite it but was not going to allow me to add these. So instrumental and essential items that I need and depend on are wedged between two blankets. There were not shortage of even small boxes that I could have put them in and had added to the bill of lading and tagged.. but Dennis knows better.

I shudder to think how the TV was packed despite my buying all the appropriate cushions and wedges they were left behind and the box I had to put that surge protector was also left behind making me wonder about that TV box and the state it was in. My Sonos wireless speaker and Sub had the original boxes and let us hope they made it in there. I would have again packed them myself as well I unpacked them myself so I do actually know how to do this it is just the TV lifting that I cannot nor would not even if I could.  I had all the appropriate boxes and padding but the boys did it without my supervision and I am hoping for the best as that is what one does when you leave others to do things you can do but did not for whatever reason.  

There were many snide remarks about getting the Hansen team (that was the local contracted company with a stellar reputation) to finish packing for me, as what that was was not clearly explained; the stuff I had left for me to actually finish packing was by intent to keep me busy on moving day,  as I had done ALL of it on my own, with no help what.so.ever so why at this point would I? If I got in there alone and managed to fill my garage and still have it accessible who do you think did the real heavy lifting, my invisible husband who was vaguely referred to and inquired about?

So when Dennis arrived it was after 9 am  and it was approximately 1:30 when they finished. I was the one who dragged it out because I had to get the helper to walk through with me to get the oriental rug, the vacuum they had ironically tagged but not taken but  left the patio umbrella pole but took the umbrella (I found the pole on the garage floor ignored after they left so I pay for the umbrella which will be utterly useless and have to be tossed once it gets there great) while Dennis the lead was doing his paperwork and endlessly bitching and muttering.     Again the reasoning and oblivion was amazing about what movers thought I should and should not take and the constant criticizing and demeaning me in passive aggressive manners was obviously more important that actually doing the job, a complex and time consuming one on EVERYONE's end.

 Does it matter if it is mine and if I am paying for it then move it?  As a friend suggested, if I had Ikea the true mover's friend of shit then it would make sense but pointing to a 200 year old dresser and going, " see the feet on this they are scratched up you know that it, its damaged," was utterly hilarious. Yes Dennis it as old as the two of us and lived this long with just some scratches, wow just wow. And that was Dennis' assessment of my furniture, old and damaged, like the owner.

As it had started slightly positive with my attempts to bond and connect to this man and his adorable dogs deteriorated from "you can put your things in storage in transit it costs more but is better than putting it in storage only to get things out a week or two later since you are actively looking for a place or just renting a dump to only move out weeks later," to ending with the comment, "well not to be negative but you are not going to find any place in Nashville to rent so you should think about what to do with all of this as you aren't going get a place"   No Dennis you are not negative at all, this whole day you were a warm breath of air and sunshine.  But the best part is when he told me he would be in Nashville on Monday which he later changed to Tuesday after he was in Missouri on Sunday.  HUH? The estimator said I had until the 28th before I needed to get my ass in gear and then have a clear and final address, but what amazed that I ,who is flying, literally as in a plane, was actually finding out that Dennis was beating me there driving. Wow he must drive fast and shit with no sleep putting the dogs at risk, himself and damaging my entire set of belongings, to get there so that my stuff will go into storage, the street, in transit into a dump apartment (one or all them)  so this will be great for that future mediation claim.

So Dennis knowledgeable about antiques, my idiocy in packing and of course housing availability in Nashville then informs we he know that my weight is over 8300K. Really? Wow he is like Kreskin! He forces me to sign a change order without any verification of this, then not being negative at all gives me the bills of lading to sign with of course my missing power surge and cords and some other minor items like the oriental rug not on there either but hey half of a patio umbrella is, so maybe that is the difference, who knows and who cares? Well I do.

The final weight was 7300, perhaps that was taking Dennis off the truck an his fat ass that made up that difference.  Irony that it was right on the estimator's target, which I took quite seriously and jiggered with knowing that if it was wrong, my secret hoarding furniture would be exposed!     But what it also says that I was the one who did most of that figures' heaving lifting.   I knew exactly which  pieces topped that weight scale, and they are only 6 items - W/D, King Size Bed, Antique Bookshelf, Antique Cabinet (that once again the master of Antiques told the helper to remove the shelving.. it does not remove one is actually slightly damaged and can be removed but should not.. but whoops until he realized it wasn't the helper nearly fucked up that piece right in my house with me watching him and telling him no.. yes my no was not the master of the domain, that is now Dennis' job) and a table.  This old worn out antique herself did almost half that weight.  Welcome to old broad moving, we pack hard and know our shit.

The horror stories of moving abounds. The reality is that you have little recourse should items be "lost" or damaged. This is an industry long acquainted with the mediation process and that you sign your life away when your possessions are loaded into a third parties truck owned and operated by one individual who in turn often contracted by another. And perhaps that too explains Dennis, his demeanor and frustration with my use of small boxes, plastic tubs and my unfinished packing strategy. In past moves I have had time to do so as it gives me something to do while they are literally doing the heavy lifting. But I was so distracted, so off put that I was moving in several different directions, leaving tasks unfinished only to find them gone when I returned, lids missing or items shoved into drawers and told that I needed to take care of that. Well I would if we had some order to the disorder you asshole.. but you cannot say that as this man is now in possession of every single thing you own.

I did contact the agent in charge at Hansen Brothers and hopefully some of the issues I brought up to them as critical and essential will be resolved.  I am sure they are right now talking about the crazy white bitch and her shit.  Yes there was an old woman who lived in a shoe.... 

I never in my life thought it mattered that I was a woman. I was wrong it does and and as we approach this election with the hair club for men equivalent to Dennis running for President versus a woman who has her own men's issues I wonder if we truly get that America will never change, be the same or return to anything. We are just what we are as we move forward - constantly in transit, constantly in motion and going somewhere we just start it over in the same way we left it.

And when you are a woman there are times in life when you can find yourself either in collaboration and cooperation with the forces and powers that be and other times in full collision with the same, it all changes in the wind.






Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guns Baby Guns

Ah I recall the last Presidential election campaign, the most controversial thing a woman said then was "Drill baby drill."  Ah the good times.

We have had so many shootings that I am tired of the fake rebranding of them as '"terrorist" "Autism" (that one I personally loved), "the blacks" and so on.

Getting a gun is easy and irony that most gun owners have a history of violence.  This article discusses the patter of domestic violence and other volitality that has many with a record yet still able to get guns.  Again, last week a felon was waiting to go to a local high school and kill his former girlfriend who was employed there.   I'm sure that would have gone well as planned and exactly what happened with those guns we Teachers were supposed to get from the NRA?

And yet after a mass shootings it is apparently way easier to get a gun so maybe I will just get one myself!

Well this column below mentions that the whole idea of someone with a gun can be present and that doesn't actually do anything to save anyone.  So good people with guns vs bad people with guns, the bad people seem to win every time!


The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times


A Pistol for Every Bar Stool

Gail Collins
JUNE 16, 2016


The nation hasn’t exactly joined hands in a united response to the Orlando massacre. But since this terrible mass shooting happened in one of the most weapons-friendly places in the country, maybe we can at least all agree that having wildly permissive gun laws does not make a city safer.

O.K., probably not.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump took time out from vilifying Muslims and put some of the blame on gun control. If the patrons of Pulse, the gay bar in Orlando, had been carrying concealed weapons, he said, they could have taken control of the situation. The gunman would have been “just open target practice.”

(This was at the same speech where he congratulated himself for his stupendous relationship with the gay community, suggesting he didn’t “get enough credit” for having a club in Palm Beach that was “open to everybody.” This is a little off our topic today, but I have to once again point out that Trump’s club is open to everybody with $100,000 to cover the membership fee.)

But about guns. Let’s follow Trump’s thought. It’s easy to buy a gun in Florida and supereasy to get a permit to carry around a concealed weapon. Even the Florida Legislature, however, doesn’t allow people to carry guns into bars. Trump did not specifically say that we need to uphold Americans’ freedom to drink while armed. But there doesn’t seem to be any other way to interpret his argument.

Also, there actually was an off-duty police officer working in the club who tried to shoot the gunman but failed. This is important, because the myth of the cool and steady shooter is one of the most cherished beliefs of the National Rifle Association and its supporters. Trump himself has bragged that if he’d been in Paris on the night of the attacks there, he would have shot the terrorists. (“I may have been killed, but I would have drawn.”)

This is an excellent example of delusional gun thinking. Although Trump frequently reminds us he has a permit to carry a gun, there’s no indication he’s ever done so. And there’s certainly no evidence whatsoever that he has any skill in hitting things.

It’s very, very difficult to draw, aim and shoot accurately when you’re under severe stress. It’s one of the reasons that police officers so often spray fleeing suspects with bullets. They can’t hit a moving target, even though they get far more weapons training than your normal armed civilian.

In Florida, people who want to carry a gun merely have to be able to demonstrate they can “safely handle and discharge the firearm.” Nowhere does it say anything about accuracy.

A few weeks ago in Houston, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran named Dionisio Garza walked up to a stranger sitting in a car at a carwash and shot him in the neck while railing about “homosexuals, Jews and Walmart,” according to local reports. He fired off 212 rounds, mostly from an assault rifle, hitting a police helicopter and a nearby gas station, which burst into flames. The police said a neighbor who heard the shooting came running with a gun, but was shot himself.

People who hear this story may draw different morals. The way we’ve been going, it’ll be a miracle if some member of the Texas Legislature doesn’t submit a bill requiring employees of carwashes to be armed at all times. However, others might note that the weapon in this case was an AR-15, the same type of military-style rifle that was used in the Orlando shooting, the Newtown school shooting and the terrorist attack in San Bernardino. It would seem as if the best way to cut down on mass shootings would be by eliminating weapons that allow crazy people to rapidly fire off endless rounds of bullets

The possibility of banning assault weapons like the AR-15 is most definitely not on the table in Congress, although Hillary Clinton supports it, and has brought it up a lot since Orlando. No, the current debate in Washington is over whether people on the government’s terror watch list should be kept from purchasing arms.

The fact that even people who aren’t allowed to get on a plane can buy a gun in this country is obviously insane. Yet most of the Republicans in the House and the Senate regard changing the status quo as an enormous lift. “I think you’re going too far here,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the backers during one of the bill’s pathetic trips to nowhere.

Since the Orlando shooter had actually spent some time on the terror watch list, the pressure seems to be growing. Trump says he’ll meet with the N.R.A. to talk over the matter. Perhaps, after all this time, we’ll get some pathetically minor action. Then only apolitical maniacs would have the opportunity to buy guns that can take out a roomful of people in no time flat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Suck it!

If you follow the road you will find it is neither covered with yellow bricks nor lead to OZ but it will reveal a curtain of deceit by many American employers

The pattern began with Disney but they added the special insult to injury on that plan. Then we have other U.S. Companies gaming the system. And yes even retail feels the pain of a burn.

The myth of a tech shortage is just that a myth. There are more than ample qualified tech professionals who are finding themselves priced out of a job. Those that make a decent living that is oft touted in the media as in the six figure bracket are expensive skilled laborers, emphasis on labor. So you are finding more and more of these on the upper tier being laid off, pushed out or re-assigned. Boeing just let go over 1,500 workers in the field and there is supposedly a great boom here regarding that field so they should have no problem finding work, right? Wrong.

I try to explain this to the angry unemployed youth who I try to encourage to have well kindness, empathy compassion, some emotion other than anger, and nope. This young woman thinks that taking a lesser salary or doing a lesser job is what they have to do and should live with it. Yes I see, you have the degree, you have the work history and a good employment package but you are a disposable cog in a big wheel and suck it up, says the girl whose family are highly paid lowly educated union workers in Government jobs, soon retiring with full pensions. (It is like talking to a member of the Paul family who sucked on the Government teat longer as employees of said Government they hate then they ever did as private Physicians) As I say frequently the new breed of Millitard (millennial/libertarian) never runs out of angry from that tap.

The article below discusses how some are not only shown the door, they sign their rights away as well. Ah it is good to be in America today.


Laid-Off Americans, Required to Zip Lips on Way Out, Grow Bolder


By JULIA PRESTON
THE NEW YORK TIMES
JUNE 11, 2016


LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. — American corporations are under new scrutiny from federal lawmakers after well-publicized episodes in which the companies laid off American workers and gave the jobs to foreigners on temporary visas.

But while corporate executives have been outspoken in defending their labor practices before Congress and the public, the American workers who lost jobs to global outsourcing companies have been largely silent.

Until recently. Now some of the workers who were displaced are starting to speak out, despite severance agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers.

Marco Peña was among about 150 technology workers who were laid off in April by Abbott Laboratories, a global health care conglomerate with headquarters here. They handed in their badges and computer passwords, and turned over their work to a company based in India. But Mr. Peña, who had worked at Abbott for 12 years, said he had decided not to sign the agreement that was given to all departing employees, which included a nondisparagement clause.

Mr. Peña said his choice cost him at least $10,000 in severance pay. But on an April evening after he walked out of Abbott’s tree-lined campus here for the last time, he spent a few hours in a local bar at a gathering organized by technology worker advocates, speaking his mind about a job he had loved and lost.

“I just didn’t feel right about signing,” Mr. Peña said. “The clauses were pretty blanket. I felt like they were eroding my rights.”

Leading members of Congress from both major parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements, which are commonly used by corporations but can prohibit ousted workers from raising complaints about what they see as a misuse of temporary visas. Lawmakers, including Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-highest-ranking Senate Democrat, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, have proposed revisions to visa laws to include measures allowing former employees to contest their layoffs.


“I have heard from workers who are fearful of retaliation,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. “They are told they can say whatever they want, except they can’t say anything negative about being fired.”

Lawyers said the paragraph Mr. Peña and other workers object to in their separation agreements is routine in final contracts with employees who are paid severance as they leave, whether they were laid off or resigned voluntarily.

“It’s a very, very common practice,” said Sheena R. Hamilton, an employment lawyer at Dowd Bennett in St. Louis who represents companies in workplace cases. “I’ve never recommended a settlement that didn’t have a clause like that.”

But former Abbott employees said the provisions had stopped them from speaking openly with elected officials or appearing at congressional hearings.

“It is very frustrating that you can’t share your story with the public,” said one former Abbott manager, who had worked for the company for 13 years, rising to an important supervisory position. He had prepared a 90-page manual for his foreign replacements showing how to perform every detail of his work. With a disabled child who requires medical care, he said he had to take his severance and its nondisparagement clause, since it extended his medical benefits. So he asked to remain anonymous.

“I’ve been laid off before, I can understand that,” he said. “But these visas were meant to fill in gaps for resources that are hard to find. This time the company actually asked me to transfer my knowledge to somebody else. That changes the equation.”

According to federal rules, temporary visas known as H-1Bs are for foreigners with “a body of specialized knowledge” not readily available in the labor market. The visas should be granted only when they will not undercut the wages or “adversely affect the working conditions” of Americans.

But in the past five years, through loopholes in the rules, tens of thousands of American workers have been replaced by foreigners on H-1B and other temporary visas, according to Prof. Hal Salzman, a labor force expert at Rutgers University.

In March, two Americans who had been laid off in 2014 by a New England power company, Eversource Energy, spoke at a news conference in Hartford even though they had signed nondisparagement agreements. Craig Diangelo, 63, and Judy Konopka, 56, said most of the 220 people facing dismissal had been required as part of their severance to train Indian immigrants with H-1B and other visas.

In a protest, departing employees posted American flags outside their cubicles. As they left, they took the flags down. Mr. Diangelo took a photograph of the flags in his final days at the utility. At the time, he and Ms. Konopka spoke with reporters, including from The New York Times, but they did not want to be quoted, even without their names.

In January, Senator Blumenthal spotted the photograph in an article in Computerworld, a tech industry publication, and was dismayed to learn of the layoffs so long after they happened. In a letter to the company, the senator questioned whether the dismissals were “accomplished through apparent abuses” of visas, and he demanded assurances that former employees would not be sued if they spoke with government officials.

In a forceful reply, the Eversource general counsel, Gregory B. Butler, said the company had not violated any laws, and its nondisparagement provisions were a “standard form release” that did not restrict former employees from discussing their layoffs “with you or anyone else.”

Mr. Diangelo said he was not so sure the company would refrain from legal action if he spoke to the news media. But, he said, “I finally got to the point where I am tired of hiding in the shadows.”
Photo
Sara Blackwell, a lawyer representing former Abbott employees, spoke at the gathering of workers in April. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times

Two years later, his work with a local tech contracting company pays $45,000 a year less than his Eversource salary. Many of his former co-workers are also struggling, Mr. Diangelo said, but stay quiet to avoid provoking the company.

At Abbott, executives announced in February that technology jobs would be taken over by the Indian company Wipro. Senator Durbin, who is from Illinois, criticized the layoffs and said Abbott’s nondisparagement clause was “overly broad.”

According to a copy of the agreement, that clause read, in part: “You agree to make every effort to maintain and protect the reputation of Abbott and its products and agents.”

A spokesman for Abbott, Scott Stoffel, said the changes were part of its efforts to “remain globally competitive and a strong U.S. employer.” He said the company would retain “the vast majority” of its tech jobs in the United States. Nondisparagement clauses like Abbott’s are “very common” in severance agreements, he said.

Mr. Peña said he could afford to turn down his severance payment because he is single and has no children. “I was the only one with the ability to put my foot down,” he said.

He received consistently positive work reviews, and a merit raise weeks before his layoff, he said. With no indication that poor performance was a factor, he believed it was a measure to cut costs.

“Anything that had to deal with technology and resolving problems, that was my satisfaction, my passion,” Mr. Peña said. “But these days that has no bearing on the decision making of the executives in the higher positions.”

Abbott tried to reduce the role of foreigners in the layoffs. Only about 20 percent of the workers brought in by Wipro would be foreigners on H-1B visas, Mr. Stoffel said, while the rest would be American workers.

Mr. Peña said he had been told at first that he would train his Wipro replacements. But after Senator Durbin’s rebuke, Wipro workers were trained only by employees who would be remaining with Abbott, he said.

He and 13 other former Abbott employees filed federal claims saying they faced discrimination because of their ages and American citizenship, said Sara Blackwell, a lawyer representing them. Those claims are confidential. Ms. Blackwell organized the tavern meeting where Abbott workers were invited to mourn their jobs. Of the small group that came, only Mr. Peña spoke up.

On April 20, about two dozen employees of EmblemHealth, a health insurer, protested outside its offices in Manhattan after the company announced that it would transfer about 200 tech jobs to Cognizant, another technology outsourcing company. Even though they were in the street holding signs, the employees declined to have their names used in news reports.

Monday, June 13, 2016

More Guns More Dead

Orlando was a dead zone in many ways this week.   First was a young woman who had been a finalist on The Voice,  Christina Grimmer.  Her death was an assassination, was it not? When someone is fixated on you and wants to kill you, stalks you and thereby finds you and acts upon the wish is an assassination. 
Orlando police identified the suspected gunman as Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mina indicated the suspect planned to leave Orlando by some form of public transportation, such as plane, train or bus. "There is is no car that we are looking for," Mina said. "He did make travel arrangements to get back where he was going."
Police said the suspect was carrying two handguns, additional ammunition and a large hunting knife. The shooting occurred near the back of the venue around 10 p.m. while Grimmie was hosting a meet-and-greet for fans. There were about 120 people in the theater at the time.

Had he opened fire on the theater or the crowd he too then would be a terrorist, no?

 Then we have the mass shooting at the Gay nightclub, Pulse,  and opened fire killing as we know close to 50 people immediately.

This is remisicent of San Bernadino not Paris as the latter was clear organized planned terrorist attack, the only similairity was it was a dance club.

There has been no link to any terrorist group even casually with regards to San Bernandino, there was however illegal immigration and mass murder that has been confirmed.  The two married individuals had quite an arsenal of prepared arms to actually commit a large scale attack but instead chose a Christmas Party of the male half's employers.  We will never know the truth as I still have not figured out how they died on the street in a hail of supposed gunfire.   The months that followed over the phone provided a nice distraction from having the Police explain what happened on that street in detail.

The attack Saturday night is another fucking douchebag who pledged allegieance to the flag, to ISIS, to Smokey the Bear, he happened to be Muslim, a faith that says we pledge peace but to those acting upon violence they forgot that part and in turn has lead to a demand they not be allowed in this country.  A presumptive nominee for President of the United States wants a ban from them entering the country, next up I suspect rounding them up and what then?   The more informal incarceration like internment of the Japanese or more sinister like Hitler did to the Jews?  Unclear on that and of course it is only speculation.

As I wrote in my last blog post, Angry Much, I get anger and I get why we respond to that emotion in a myriad of ways. But what I don't get is the whole getting a gun, getting more than one and going on a killing rampage to act upon that rage.

The real issue is that not one but TWO men, again I want to point out that they are at that sweet spot of just under age 30 which seems to be the new millennial, violent, aggressive, angry and sex obsessed.

What is already known has left a host of questions, including the scope of FBI probes during at least two past investigations into the shooter, 29-year-old security guard Omar Mateen, for alleged terrorist sympathies.


Mateen had legally purchased the two guns — which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said was a ­AR-15-type and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol — within “the last few days,”

Meanwhile, Sitora Yusifiy, Mateen’s ex-wife, said in an interview Sunday that he beat her repeatedly during their brief marriage and that Mateen, who was a Muslim, was not very religious and gave no indication that he was devoted to radical Islam.

So now the new comparisons are of course with the Boston Marathon Bomber whom we still know little about that agenda other than angry angry boys who were Muslim and in fact angy, displaced and had little else to to tether to the community.   Or how about the Colorado shooting or Sandy Hook, Santa Barbara,  a Community College in Oregon,  a Church in Charleston, SC, or any city in America.    I don't recall the label terrorist on those but today of course we will slap that label on to evade the real problem - access to guns, to arsenal  and the ability to legally get guns.

And in Los Angeles another fucking lunatic thought he would up the anty and combine the two and hit up the Pride Parade there and to be thankful he did not make it is saying much.  But his reasoning is actually unclear as he was bisexual so maybe he was doing what Wayne LaPierre suggested, "the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun."  But then again the question is why he had a gun in the first place

According to Indiana court records, Howell was charged in October 2015 with intimidation and felony pointing a firearm at another person. On April 19, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation, and prosecutors dropped the charge of pointing a firearm. Court records show he was sentenced to a year in state prison and placed on probation. Under the deal, He agreed to forfeit all weapons during his term of probation.
 His Facebook  site includes political posts, including one in which he compares Hillary Clinton to Adolf Hitler. In another, he repeats conspiracy theories that the government was behind notorious terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11, 2001. That post shares a video claiming that last year’s terror attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a hoax and attributable to the “New World Order.” 

Here is the data base that records the number of gun killings across the America.  It is missing Christine Grimmer's death as it was only a solo death,  it is missing the deaths in Chicago that were singular in nature but large on impact on a city wracked with gun violence.  The New York Times article that covered that city over the past Memorial Day weekend is here and they name all the victims of that deadly weekend. 

So to matter you must be shot in a mass murder, then it will be labeled terrorist attack and then it will be found that it was fucking hate crime. That a sick fuck whose religion professes to love babies and attacks a Planned Parenthood, a Movie Theater or a place of business will be excused as that was the primary problem and not the one about guns and access to them.  Yes the founding fathers were protecting assault weapons when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.  They were not just founding they were psychic as well.

This is not about Islam or Terrorism or Politics - it is about GUNS and the ability to get them. 


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Step Up

As the campaign to recall Judge Perksy ramps up here is the story of Prosecutors who are more than willing to step up to wear the robe.

Ask yourself if you wished to be 'judged' by such people?  And this is another reason why we need non partisan Judicial committees to appoint Judges with full transparency and limited terms with Advocates assessing the Judges and their court.



The Scandal-Singed DAs Who Want to Be Judges
For decades, California prosecutors covered up unethical deals with jailhouse informers.
By Beth Schwartzapfel  The Marshall Project
 06.09.2016

On Tuesday, two longtime Orange County prosecutors who admitted to illegally withholding evidence as part of an ongoing scandal there won election to superior court judgeships. Michael Murray and Larry Yellin both won overwhelmingly: Murray garnered almost 75 percent of the vote and Yellin almost 70 percent. The majority of voters turned out to vote for the presidential primary. Only about a quarter of voters cast ballots in the judges' race, according to data provided by the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

For the past year, the district attorney's office in Orange County, Calif., has been battling the fallout from revelations of a decades-old scheme of planting secret informants near defendants' jail cells.

Under this practice, prosecutors gathered information from informers in the county jail — information they were obligated to reveal to the defense but didn't — and then lied about it in court. Once these unethical and unconstitutional practices became known, the DA's office was forced to dismiss or reduce charges or re-try cases for more than a dozen people accused of murder and other serious crimes. In the process, the DA's office and the county judiciary have ended up in a protracted legal sparring match.

Now two longtime prosecutors from that same office — Michael Murray and Larry Yellin — are running for Superior Court judgeships, aiming to take the bench alongside judges who have called them out for misconduct. Neither prosecutor has been formally sanctioned in the scandal. But both are supervisory-level district attorneys in an office that a judge recently ruled "habitually ignored the law over an extended period of time." Both, by their own admission, have withheld evidence. And both are considered shoo-ins by the local press. (Two other prosecutors are running for judgeships, but they have not been implicated in the scandal.)

If elected, Murray and Yellin won't be the first prosecutors to join the bench after withholding evidence or being accused of misconduct. Legal scholars and critics have long noted how rarely prosecutors are publicly accountable for misbehavior. A recent investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, for example, identified 120 Massachusetts criminal convictions that were reversed in the last 30 years because of prosecutorial misconduct; at least seven of these prosecutors went on to higher posts, including judgeships, the reporters found.

"The idea that an individual responsible for such serious misconduct could effectively stroll into the office of judge is deeply disturbing," says Laura Fernandez, a Yale research scholar who studies prosecutorial misconduct. No one has yet faced charges related to the scandal, but one deputy district attorney resigned and four sheriff's deputies refused to testify in a related hearing, citing their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. "More troubling still, this appears to be the tip of the iceberg," John Van de Kamp, a former state attorney general, and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California-Irvine, wrote last year in a letter to the Justice Department, requesting a federal inquiry1. "Compelling evidence of pervasive police and prosecutorial misconduct in Orange County...has caused us grave concern."


The judicial election is June 7.

At the heart of the scandal is a database the Orange County Sheriff's office uses to track the placement of informers in the jail. Use of jailhouse informers is constitutional, as long as the informer happens to hear the defendant talk, unprompted. But the Supreme Court said informers can't elicit information from someone who already has a lawyer — that would too closely resemble an interrogation. What's more, any deals brokered with informants, and any information that might undermine the informants' credibility — say, that they were informants in other cases, or that they have lied on the stand in the past — must be turned over to the defense.

The database first came to light when Orange County Public defender Scott Sanders combed through thousands of pages of records and pieced it together. Sanders was representing confessed mass murderer Scott Dekraai, whom DAs targeted with the scheme. Documents and subsequent hearings revealed that it wasn't just Dekraai—the DA's office had been violating these constitutional prohibitions for years. In a searing ruling issued last March, Orange County Superior Court judge Thomas Goethals removed the entire county DA's office — all 250 attorneys — from Dekraai's case, the highest-profile murder case the county has ever seen, ruling that the DA had proved himself incapable of achieving "compliance with his constitutional…obligations in this case."

The DA's office then retaliated by seeking to have Goethals removed from almost every murder case it tried in the months that followed. In that instance, one of Goethals's colleagues, Superior Court Judge Richard King, ruled that the DA's actions "have substantially disrupted the orderly administration of criminal justice in Orange County, the sixth largest county in the nation." This legal battle is ongoing, as the DA's office fights to maintain its ability to disqualify Goethals from cases at will.

Now, armed with new revelations from the database and its fallout, defense lawyers have begun to unravel other cases in which jailhouse informers may have been used illegally against their clients. A handful of these cases raise questions about Murray and Yellin.

In one case, Murray didn't turn over a jailhouse recording of an informer named Oscar Moriel, who had served as a snitch in several other cases. The recording could have helped the defense team of Alberto Martinez, accused of a gang-related killing. In the tape, Martinez's co-defendant Armando Macias downplays Martinez's role in the gang, undermining the prosecution's theory at trial that Martinez was a high-ranking member of the gang. In a hearing related to the snitch scandal, Murray admitted on the stand that he violated the law by not turning over these recordings to Martinez's or Macias's legal teams. Both men were later sentenced to death.

In another, continuing case, the defense has argued that Murray conspired with the California Highway Patrol to hide evidence of doctored police reports.

And in 2007, in a case unrelated to the scandal over informers, Murray was cited for misconduct by a California appeals court, which identified multiple instances when Murray misstated the law and used improper tactics at the murder trial of Thai Ba Tran. The court upheld Tran's conviction for two 1996 murders, but wrote, "our conclusion Tran was not prejudiced by Michael Murray's numerous acts of misconduct does not mean we approve of or condone his tactics and behavior. The district attorney should take little solace in the fact we have affirmed Tran's convictions…We are troubled by the frequency in which we see prosecutorial misconduct."

Murray did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but on his campaign website, he says "I have a reputation as a determined, knowledgeable and ethical prosecutor."

Murray's colleague Larry Yellin, running for a separate seat on the same court, admitted in 2014 that he did not turn over key information from an informer in a murder case against Nuzzio Begaren. In that case, a jailhouse snitch named Raymond Cuevas not only elicited information from Begaren's accomplice, Rudy Duran, but Cuevas also threatened that the Mexican Mafia would go after Duran if he didn't inform against Begaren. Yellin admitted he never turned over these recordings to Begaren's lawyers, but he was unrepentant, telling a reporter it was "redundant" to other evidence. "It would have given [Begaren's lawyers] nowhere to go," he said. In the same article, Yellin's own boss conceded, "it should have been turned over."

"You're talking about a situation where the jailhouse informant threatened physical violence, even death, to elicit statements, conduct that is flatly unconstitutional," says Fernandez, the Yale research scholar.

Yellin also did not respond to emails and Facebook messages requesting comment. On his campaign website he describes himself as "a tough but fair prosecutor."

If Murray and Yellin are elected, they will be in a position to rule on cases related to withheld database evidence.

Angry Much?

I had just finished another sleepless night going over the day that was filled with anger not my own.

I have a great deal of anger that is related to me personally - a job that is utterly unfulfilled in ways that have little to do with the children I serve but the adults with whom I work; add to this having no relationships, friendships or connections to a community where I have lived and worked most of my life, legal matters yet unresolved and the hands of Attorneys whom I do not trust and acquaintances that seem to have more resolute anger that I can neither process nor no longer even remotely tolerate on even the most superficial level.

Does it mean I blow up and have a tirade?  No, but nothing wrong with that on occasion, however,   it does not mean I internalize or oppress it either. I like many compartmentalize my anger and try to find outlets that work to vent.  Shopping sadly, reading always good, working out or doing some physical exchange, having good coffee and a good movie and a good meal sadly coupled with too much wine are all coping strategies.   And I love art or theater so going to a Museum, a Gallery or a Play is another way of assuaging anger.

I had a good workout followed by coffee at a place I go just because I am a creature of habit and I stay consistent that can be either a good thing or bad thing as the revolving door of staff at times tires on one after awhile.

The one young girl who works there I tried to "befriend" and thought she might be a good person to which give my old clothes and items that would fit.. she was the right size frankly and I wanted the clothes to go to someone I thought would both appreciate them and well wear them.  I have always been a friend to the underdog, and this is a character trait that is both good and well bad as it opens the door to evil.

So went I went in I sat at the bar for awhile to peruse the paper and have my morning joe before returning home to pack.  I laughed at a hilarious article about how the Times worked with a Investment Advisory firm to remake a DJ into the prototype of "investment counselor."  This was a fascinating article as the editorial page had another terrible tale of a working class family being taken advantage by another said individual who decimated their retirement savings.  

When I laughed and showed the picture to her co-worker who resembles the DJ down to the dreadlocks, I said your career trajectory has just taken a leap, downward or upward is debatable but one has to laugh at that and the willingness of the DJ to go with it.

As I then shared it with this angry angry angry (triple digit level) young woman, she goes, "he looks like a serial rapist."  Okay then, so this is not going well.  And I said well it was done with a purpose to show that you can provide a minimal amount of information to someone and as long as they look the part people will swallow what you are offering. And I in turn shared the editorial about the family who lost a lot of their savings due to those who offer the same advice.

Her advice: Rich people problems and they deserve it.  Again, these are not rich people but working class people like her mother and step father who are retiring and have great state run pensions and having good advice can be essential if not necessary for those who don't have the ability, acumen or desire to do all the required labor with regards to financial investments.  Her response, "my parents will do it themselves."  Okay then.. again just using it as an example that is all and that ordinary people sometimes do need legitimate help and I am one such a person who has and does use said resources and those whom I jokingly call my "people" who frankly are invaluable when it comes to handling money, taxes, savings, and yes loans.

There was  a time when people bought homes, still do, by savings bonds, they still do, have retirement needs  and once had pensions that made it easier to plan but now with the move to IRA's and 401k's and the new boons waggle of crowd sourcing as a type of investment strategy, having an advisor to read the fine print is a worthy hire.  But that said there is no regulation no way of ensuring if they are in fact acting on your best interest.   You can look up a Doctor to see if they have any complaints or lawsuits, the same with many white collar professions but do most people? No. I hired not one but two Lawyers who came highly referred and acclaimed and I have zero communication with them.  Is that a rich persons problem?  Apparently. Yet my Accountant gets back to me within a few hours, sometimes I wish he wouldn't.

She once again said that she will never need it and that her family won't and there should not be any regulation at all.  Ah yes the solution that Libertarian America is assured is the problem.  Yes that is it. The anti Government free market economy solution that many of the poors are sure is the solution to income inequality.    There are times when I speak to that ilk their level of ignorance is so grand and so all encompassing I don't get angry I just feel sorry for them as they will never rise a rung on the ladder for the very reasons they accuse others of failing to do so - they like being there.  This little girl loves crying poor and being angry at rich people and anyone who has more than her she would have no identity or purpose for being without it.    I realized that I actually don't feel sorry for her in the least and with her rantings and anger I wish her constant lifetime of unhappiness as that is her happiness.

So after feeling drowned  in anger  versus coffee as in that 20 min exchange she went on about Johnny Depp and being vilified for life as a domestic abuser, and that women need to talk endlessly in public forums to ensure this.  And all of that rant was in response to the comment was that he was one caftan and bucket on his  head from turning into Marlon Brando.    I get the hating of men,  I do as I was nearly killed by one so bitch please trust me going on and on about it, not something I want to do and certainly not in public. But this is not about abusive men or Johnny Depp and his history of drug use and harming women (she was alarmed that Kate Moss was not defending the current wife due to her former altercation with him)   it honestly is about her birth father, his heroin addiction and her mother and that baggage.  One doesn't need a shrink degree to see that but honestly she is a troubled young woman and at some point needs to look into the baggage she is carrying and start to cull some of it.

So I escaped to the Seattle Art Museum and an Asian man was standing next to me touring the current exhibit of etchings.  I jokingly remarked that this takes the old line "would you like to come up and see my etchings to a new level."  He seemed close to my age or older and he had no familiarity with the line as he said I am Chinese. I laughed and said it probably loses something in the translation.  We walked along and looked at them and commented on some of the more darker images that Goya evoked and as I ended the tour, I thanked him for quasi joining me but I was off to have a coffee and read my paper, so he asked if he could join me.

At first I assumed he was a tourist but he shared he had lived her 20 years and lived in the Northgate area.  I said I live in Rainier Valley and then it went dark. The closet racism veiled in the comments about the neighborhood and the schoosl (which he named incorrectly and later this comes up),  the trashing of Obama and Hilary Clinton followed while praising Trump.  I don't get into my feelings on the subject of politics or my beliefs  when this trash talk starts I change the subject or find something of commonality on which to talk about.  This is something I stress in teaching kids, that you find the common ground and focus on that and part not enemies but "friends."  So this was more an excercise in me practicing what I preach but I knew it was a waste of time and effort so I got up from coffee said I have to go but I would like to finish my paper, so thank you and got up and moved to a chair as he exited or so I thought.  He returned a moment later came up to me where I was now sitting, noted that I was reading my papers as I told him I like to do on a Saturday afternoon and then claimed to have been a retired Teacher in Seattle Schools among other districts, naming them.  I asked where in Seattle he had worked and his response, "it doesn't matter."  Really it doesn't?  Well it mattered enough for you to leave and return to tell me this after being in my company for well over an hour and I had said I substituted in SPS, so it doesn't? I felt relieved that I was in a public place as that odd encounter disturbed me and confirmed that leaving Seattle cannot come fast enough.   There must be something toxic in the water here. 

I can't wait to rid myself of my cloak of anger.  As someone said "well the schools will be unsafe there too. " This after another lockdown at a school on Friday due to a felon going with the plan to kill his girlfriend who works in the school. Ironically thwarted because the school was on lockdown for another incident so he had to wait at the nearby Community Center to commence with his plan and while there encountered a student who was late and due to the lockout waiting at the Center,  who thankfully ratted him out and he was arrested. I had quit going to that school earlier this year and failing to get paid for the longer day they have at this supposed acclaimed restored revitalized IB school that the Principal quit and moved on before year end.  Yes I am sure I will encounter the same but at least it won't be here.

Our school district is a hot mess and it always has been and well always will be.  And yes it may well be the same elsewhere but it all be new to me.  

So when I read the below article I realized I am not alone it is just how I choose to vent and release my anger. What I also realize is that affordable mental health care is not available nor do we have appropriate community connections where to vent and release frustrations in a healthy acceptable manner.    And this is where road rage, homicidal venting, suicides, drug/alcohol addictions come from.  My last attempt at therapy was a Counselor who said, "I just want to vent." Yes and I am willing to pay $125/hour to do so, but that was not how he 'treated' clients.  Maybe that is why he had an ad on the very same community bulletin board at the coffee shop where little Miss Angry works.  How ironic. Or is that an oxymoron?




Who Gets to Be Angry?

Roxane Gay
The New York Times Opinion Page
JUNE 10, 2016


I AM an opinionated woman so I am often accused of being angry. This accusation is made because a woman, a black woman who is angry, is making trouble. She is daring to be dissatisfied with the status quo. She is daring to be heard.

When women are angry, we are wanting too much or complaining or wasting time or focusing on the wrong things or we are petty or shrill or strident or unbalanced or crazy or overly emotional. Race complicates anger. Black women are often characterized as angry simply for existing, as if anger is woven into our breath and our skin.

Black men, like black women, are judged harshly for their anger. The angry black man is seen as a danger, a threat, uncontrollable.

Feminists are regularly characterized as angry. At many events where I am speaking about feminism, young women ask how they can comport themselves so they aren’t perceived as angry while they practice their feminism. They ask this question as if anger is an unreasonable emotion when considering the inequalities, challenges, violence and oppression women the world over face. I want to tell these young women to embrace their anger, sharpen themselves against it.

If you really want to see my anger, you would have to join me in my car, when I am driving. I am afflicted by road rage. I have deeply held opinions on the driving habits of others. When I am alone in my car, and sometimes when I have passengers, I yell at other drivers. I gesticulate wildly. I mutter terrible things about the mothers of these others. I am not proud of this but it is cathartic to release my anger. There is no fallout beyond a rise in my blood pressure.

And still, it’s scary to recognize how much anger I have roiling beneath the surface of my skin and how few outlets I have for that anger, how I don’t feel entitled to that anger. I keep most of my anger to myself, swallowing it as deep as I can, understanding that someday, I won’t be able to swallow it anymore. I will erupt and then there will be fallout.

There are countless other moments when I get angry. Some are trivial — when the phone rings and I don’t want to answer, when my first name is misspelled, when someone says they don’t read. There is also the anger I harbor over far more serious things — a recent law passed in Indiana, where I live, further restricting abortion rights, and how reproductive freedom is being challenged across the country; the light sentence Brock Turner received this month in the Stanford rape case and the reality that he will receive more punishment than most people who commit similar crimes; the fractious political climate as we head into the general election.

Anger is a significant part of our cultural conversation. Sometimes, I see people log on to Twitter and ask, “What are we outraged about today?” In this, there is dismissiveness suggesting that the asker is bored with the injustices, small and great, that inspire anger within us.

In these circumstances, anger becomes an emotion that needs to be controlled, an inconvenience and an irritant. It gets confused for rage, which also has its uses.

There are consequences for both expressing and suppressing anger. In northeastern Brazil, women refer to suppressing their anger as “swallowing frogs,” which contributes to “emotion-based ailments,” according to L. A. Rebhun, an anthropologist who studied the connection between anger and illness in the region. The physical manifestations of anger, Professor Rebhun writes, “may also be seen as symptoms of the pain of bridging gaps between cultural expectation and personal experience in emotion, a process neither easy nor simple.”

In Dallas, a place called the Anger Room is set up explicitly for customers’ destructive pleasure. Clients can release their anger by taking a bat to the room. In Toronto, there is a Rage Room. One of the options is a date night package, for two. The couple that rages together, perhaps, stays together.

Beyoncé’s latest album chronicles heartbreak, betrayal and the anger that rises from those experiences. In the video for the song “Hold Up,” Beyoncé strolls down a city street, a placid smile on her face, as she carries a baseball bat. And then, without warning, she slams that bat against car windows, a fire hydrant, a surveillance camera. With each blow, her face falls into a mask of concentrated rage and then she’s on to the next target, with ever more bounce in her step.

In her keynote speech to the National Women’s Studies Association in 1981, Audre Lorde said, “Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being.”

Politics is one arena where anger is brought into being over oppression and other matters. President Obama is often accused of being angry. He is often accused of not being angry enough. Critics have written many pieces on why Mr. Obama cannot be or be perceived as an “angry black man” for fear he might alienate white voters who are, it would seem, so fragile as to be unable to handle human emotion. At the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner, there was a comedic bit where Mr. Obama brought on Luther, an “anger translator” who expressed the anger that the president himself could not.

In the Democratic primary this year, people flocked to Bernie Sanders because they were angry about campaign finance and excessive debt and too few opportunities to flourish. The candidate reveled in his anger, often wagging his finger and raising his voice. Together he and his supporters were angry. Their anger was celebrated, framed as passion and engagement.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton is not allowed to be angry though certainly some of her supporters are. Mrs. Clinton, once again, has shown how the rules are different for women. She cannot raise her voice without reprisal. When she appears as anything but demure, when she is passionate and sharp, she is attacked not for her ideas, but for her demeanor.

Amid all this anger, history is being made. She is the first woman who will serve as a major party’s nominee for the American presidency.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, is the angriest from a large field of angry contenders.

Many of his supporters seem angry about so many things — a black president, their lot in life, not getting their piece of the American dream or having to share that American dream with people of color, women, gay, lesbian and transgender people. This anger is discussed with no small amount of compassion or curiosity. It is allowed to flourish. At many of Mr. Trump’s rallies, this anger spills into violence.

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Mr. Trump himself revels in his anger or the performance of anger. He often shoots off angry tweets, insulting anyone who doesn’t submit to his petty worldview. Or he pulls out of a debate. On “Meet the Press,” in March, Mr. Trump said that his supporters were angry at the state of the world, and he was “just a messenger.”

There is a medical name for excessive anger — intermittent explosive disorder. A 2006 Harvard study suggested that up to 16 million people suffered from this disorder. When the study was published, there was a vigorous debate as to whether this disorder was real — discomfort in the idea that the inexcusable could be explained.

But anger is not an inherently bad thing. Most of the time, it is a normal and even healthy human emotion. Anger allows us to express dissatisfaction. It allows us to say something is wrong. The challenge is knowing the difference between useful anger, the kind that can stir revolutions, and the useless kind that can tear us down.

The Supporting Cast

While I have laughed my ass off at the absurd attempt to recall Judge Persky the infamous Brock Turner judge with numerous lawyers calling for his head regarding the sentence of 6 months in the county slammer, I want to again remind anyone that this Judge  was RE elected to the Bench, after already having a history of victim blaming and shaming and that he had no challengers so really?   But hey Judges who have done worse also RE Elected so bitch please. 

But it appears that Persky's courtroom is now assured of becoming a  Kangaroo one with prospective  Jurors now refusing to sit in his court thanks to this publicity.

But we cannot overlook the odd letters of support from the Defendant's family and friends which on one hand are natural but these were so egregious and inflammatory one has to ask did they have their Attorney review them prior to their submission or were they sent directly to the Judge in a serious breach of etiquette. And did the defense Attorney actually think they were a good idea? Even the coterie of rape apologists, "blawgers" who are defense Attorneys as well, questioned their relevance to an already inflammatory situation?  And did those have a role in the sentence? Even now they too are retracting their support but clearly they were somehow influential in that decision process.

But ultimately in a Court we have the role of the court jesters - the supporting cast; these can include the Prosecutors, the expert witnesses, investigators/Police and of course other court mandated reports that cast a wide net of determining either guilt, innocence and sentence.   And usually we are so used to the heavy hammer of excessive sentencing, such as life for stealing a car radio, that when something so lenient as the sentence in the Turner case,  it sets off alarm bells and hysteria such a this crazy recall petition.

Here is what people realize they should do - stop electing Judges. Have panels select Judges, have clear management and guidelines in place and in turn any Judge that has any possible conflict of interest or connection even tangentially to a defendant, say as in this case alumnus of the same school, etc should be recused. There is a great need of Judiciary reform but stopping elections is essential and a great place to start

But another is to look at who influences the Judge. We already know about Prosecutorial misconduct and their role and that immunity bullshit needs to end here but in this case even the Prosecutor was amazed. So who again was the secret voice behind the Judge given him this sentence structure, other than of course legislators who write many of these laws defining sentencing which includes both minimums to maximums that on either end seem utterly inconclusive as to how they got these time frames and what they actually mean. 

***(No, there is no conclusive logic, study or substantive reasoning behind sentencing guidelines or laws and read the ABA as they are the primary lobbyist with regards to the issue as do think tanks a and of course private prison/probation industry. None of which have any vested interest whatsover right?) 

Well in this case it was the Probation Officer who took a statement by the victim out of context and possibly those odd and seemingly equally outrageous and of course biased statements by family and friends in writing the recommendation for the Judge to use in his decision.  And oddly the information about Turner's own past drug and alcohol uses that seemingly was neglected in this individuals report; the also took no notice of the Prosecutors recommendations. So go figure. 

And who is that person?  Do you know? Is that not of pubic record?  What about shaming and blaming that individual.  There is someone who needs some public vilification as well. 

I want to disclose that I know someone whose parent is just such an individual and before becoming an "officer of the court" which is what these individuals are called,  this woman was previously a 911 operator.  She has no degree in Sociology, Psychology, Criminology or any law background whatsoever that would enable her to make any relevant if not critical assessments or evaluations with regards to individuals who come before her.   That brings cold comfort frankly.  So when this young lady does discuss her mother's workplace, her mother rightfully is a hero, but she discusses her mother's colleagues as both angry and incompetent.  Something makes me think he who accuses, excuses.    As I said, cold comfort indeed.



The unsung villain in Brock Turner's lenient sentence: probation officers

The officials strongly influence sentencing decisions, like the one in the Stanford sexual assault case, without accountability to the defendant or the public

Chandra Bozelko
The Guardian
Friday 10 June 2016

Judge Aaron Persky’s decision to sentence the former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to just six months after a conviction for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster has been vilified in the court of public opinion this week.

But Persky’s decision was predicated on the pre-sentence investigation report prepared and submitted by a nameless probation officer. That person is at the heart of this mess, because he or she recommended that Turner get less than a year’s sentence, and Persky followed their lead.

The public remains unaware of the considerable power wielded by probation officers in the criminal justice system. Seventy years ago, federal probation officers were assigned not only to supervise people, but also to conduct what was supposed to be an objective, third-party assessment of a defendant’s social, occupational, psychological, criminal and medical history to assure that any sentence imposed was tailored to the defendant, not necessarily the crime. While pre-sentence investigation reports aren’t mandated in every state, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and federal district courts allow probation officers to investigate and write the reports for sentencing defendants.

Judge Irving Kaufman, the jurist who imposed the first peacetime treason death sentences – on Irving and Ethel Rosenberg – praised the reports in an article for the Atlantic in 1960, saying that they enabled judges “to arrive at reasoned answers to troublesome questions”.

The reports can include evidence that was excluded at trial. The probation officers who write these them almost never appear at sentencing hearings, and they aren’t required to testify about their recommendations, which means they can’t be cross-examined on them, either. They drop off their reports and go.

I know first-hand that the probation officer calls the sentencing shots in modern criminal courtrooms. For several years, I have been battling the state of Connecticut over a probation officer’s report made to my sentencing court. The probation officer scheduled an appointment with me for an interview, then, as recorded in official case documents, after I requested a delay to secure new counsel, she went ahead and wrote the report anyway, including in it an accusation that I had refused to sit with her for an interview.

The officer also included other inaccuracies, such as reporting that I had lied about filing self-representation paperwork, or “appearances”. I had filed them on the day I said I did; she just couldn’t find them, so she concluded that I had lied. And that’s what she reported to the judge.

This manipulation may sound minor, but these representations ended up enhancing my punishment, ultimately made my sentencing illegal and cost the state thousands of prosecutor man-hours in defending my appeal, most of that time devoted to hearings about unsealing the report so even I, its subject, could read it.

Because they may contain sensitive information about victims, such as descriptions of injuries or impact statements, pre-sentence reports are sealed to everyone except defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge. That’s why no one knows the name of the person responsible for Turner’s sentence. Even though I represented myself at the appeal, I wasn’t a defense attorney under Connecticut’s practice rules. I couldn’t get a copy of the document that ultimately sent me to prison. Federal courts

Meanwhile, probation is being privatized across the country; more than 1,000 jurisdictions have implemented “offender-funded” probation departments even though 80% of defendants in state criminal courts are indigent. Private companies assess fees against probationers, and those who can’t afford to pay become re-incarcerated, so the paramount role of a probation officer in sentencing should trouble us all the more.

A fee-for-freedom scheme is unethical and counterproductive for sure, but it also makes the probation officer’s role in sentencing seem like self-dealing when the officer recommends probation, either instead of or after prison time.

A probation officer employed by a private company has a vested interest in placing people under this type of correctional control. This can increase crime and recidivism in a number of ways: defendants who should be incarcerated might be sentenced to probation that allows them to re-offend; defendants who can’t afford probation fees will be returned to custody, assuring that the overcrowding in correctional facilities continues. All the while someone’s chance at rehabilitation – and the public’s chance at safety – are being dictated by a private business’s profit motive.

Justice is not supposed to work this way. Many people have made that complaint about Brock Turner’s sentence, not knowing injustice in sentencing extends well beyond that Santa Clara County courthouse where a sexual assault went essentially unpunished.



Friday, June 10, 2016

Panama Jack

The Panama Canal has less controversy when it was built. The New York Times also did a comprehensive investigative piece about the new scandal called the Panama Papers,How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad. perhaps I think way more scandalous than Wikileaks or Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA. And why? Because this is how the rich dodge taxes legally. When you read the article in the Times I find it fascinating that one exchange with the Lawyers of Mossack Fonesca reflected sheer ignorance that one usually accompanies the phrase Donald Trump uses when describing his followers, "I love the uneducated."

Tracey Ponsoldt Powers, William Ponsoldt’s daughter, approached the firm in October 2008 with an urgent request for help in secretly moving some of her family’s money to Panama and then into gold coins. She feared political developments at home.

“I feel VERY unsettled with this election and how the media is censoring information and spinning the American Public to vote Obama,” she wrote to Mr. Owens at Mossack Fonseca. “It is so obvious to me, that they are setting us up with a Socialist — but most people can’t see it happening before their eyes! It’s like propaganda that is brainwashing Americans to forget the Principles of Hard Work, Ingenuity, Risk and Boundless Success!!"




Next up asking for Obama's birth certificate.

I want to point out that the rich are not as different apparently when it comes to ignorance and we have seen that repeatedly with the new Republican Candidate for President - Donald Trump. To paraphrase Mr.Trump, I love the educated and rich,they are stupid just like us!!

But the real tell is how Lawyers work in utter legality but without any demands for transparency; it is like a Superhero whose powers are to hide money and make it invisible.  But what is even more charming is that the firm is a non-profit, further avoiding taxes.  Too Rich!




How an obscure nonprofit in Washington protects tax havens for the rich

By Scott Higham, Ana Swanson and Debbie Cenziper
The Washington Post
June 10 2016


In May 2007, during a global crackdown on offshore tax havens, an obscure nonprofit lobbying group in Northern Virginia sent a fundraising pitch to a law firm in one of the biggest tax havens in the world — Panama.

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity promised to persuade Congress, members of the George W. Bush administration and key policymakers to protect the players of the offshore world, where hundreds of thousands of shell companies had been created, often to hide money and evade taxes.

To reach out to American officials and fund its U.S. operations, the center said it needed an infusion of cash for an eight-month campaign: at least $247,000.

“We hope you can support this effort with a donation,” the center wrote in a document sent to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of an international financial scandal known as the Panama Papers. The leak of more than 11.5 million documents, which came from inside the Panamanian law firm, has pulled back the curtain in recent months on secretive offshore tax havens and the people who use them to stash their money, including a rogues’ gallery of international criminals, money launderers and drug dealers.

The documents, which sparked an international outcry, were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and recently shared with The Washington Post.

In the eight-page fundraising document discovered by The Post, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity in Alexandria, Va., said that it had already persuaded the Bush administration to thwart an international effort to require more transparency from tax havens. Now the center was promising to derail similar reforms in legislation before Congress.

Among those it planned to contact: lawmakers, key figures in the Bush White House, the Treasury Department, the State Department and the Office of Management and Budget.

At the time, the center was leading a coalition of Washington’s most vocal anti-tax groups seeking to defeat the reforms.


The center said it counted “allies and friends in more than 50 countries” and had “a major impact on the international tax competition debate.” The document contained a contribution sheet with suggested gift levels ranging from $500 to $20,000, along with a routing number to the center’s Wachovia bank account in Northern Virginia.

The pitch, emails and other documents reviewed by The Post offer an inside look at how a little-known nonprofit, listing its address as a post office box in Alexandria, became a persistent opponent of U.S. and global efforts to regulate the offshore world. Led by two U.S. citizens — one an economist, the other a tax expert for a Republican congressman — the center met again and again with government officials and members of the offshore industry around the world, while issuing hundreds of funding pleas and peddling its connections to Washington’s power brokers.

“It’s sort of like fishing, you have to keep casting your lure,” said Daniel Mitchell, one of the directors of the center, in a recent interview with The Post.

It is not illegal for groups registered to lobby Congress to solicit money from offshore entities. But regulators and policymakers who have spent years trying to curb abuses in the offshore world criticized the center’s relationship with Mossack Fonseca, which created hundreds of thousands of shell companies that have been used by elected officials, heads of state, corporate executives and wealthy individuals, along with international fraudsters and criminals. An estimated $7.6 trillion in global wealth is held offshore.

Mossack Fonseca has said its business practices are legal and denied any wrongdoing. The law firm did not respond to requests to describe its relationship with the center or whether it donated to the center.

Former senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), once one of the leading voices in Congress on tax haven abuses, said in a recent interview that the center’s activities run counter to America’s values and undermine the nation’s ability to raise revenue.


“It’s like trading with the enemy,” said Levin, whose staff on a powerful panel investigating tax havens regularly faced public challenges from the center. “I consider tax havens the enemy. They’re the enemy of American taxpayers and the things we try to do with our revenues — infrastructure, roads, bridges, education, defense. They help to starve us of resources that we need for all the things we do. And this center is out there helping them to accomplish that.”

During the past decade, Levin repeatedly introduced legislation designed to rein in the offshore world. It never passed.

It is unclear how much money the center raised from entities in offshore tax havens. Tax returns for the center and a foundation set up in its name reported receiving at least $1.4 million in revenue from 2003 to 2010. The returns did not report the source of most of the income.

The directors of the center, Mitchell and Andrew F. Quinlan, two longtime anti-tax advocates, declined to reveal the identities of their donors, which they said is a common practice in the nonprofit world. They also declined to say whether Mossack Fonseca contributed to their cause or to disclose how much of the center’s money comes from offshore entities. They said that they have never accepted money from foreign governments and that their fundraising efforts were legal.

Quinlan and Mitchell said they are staunch advocates for libertarian ideals and “tax competition” between nations as a way to stimulate the global economy.

“As an advocate of limited government, I want to make it hard for governments to collect more money,” Mitchell said. “We believe in smaller government, so we like having politicians disciplined by tax competition.”

“We never made a lot of money at it,” Quinlan said. “We just did it because we loved the issue, and we think that privacy and tax competition is the way of the future.”

Congressional staffers and international experts on the offshore industry said the center was a formidable foe with access to key players in Washington.


“They’ve been around for years — they are very mysterious,” said Elise Bean, former staff director and chief counsel of Levin’s Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which started investigating tax havens in 2001. “They travel all around the world, and they have had a tremendous impact.”

In emails and documents sent to Mossack Fonseca between 2001 and 2012, the center said it had parlayed its access into action with the support of former House majority leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), high-ranking Treasury Department officials in the Bush administration, and members of key congressional committees that regulate U.S. tax and spending policy.

Armey, who left Congress in 2003, said he supported the center’s mission but did not know how it raised money.

“Being in the nonprofit business, you’re plagued to death with having to raise money,” Armey said. “But it’s a horrible world of bad temptation. So I just couldn’t really comment on it.”

A Rubio spokesman said the senator sided with the center on certain tax issues and so did numerous prominent pro-business organizations.

In its federal tax filings, the center said that it had briefed the prime ministers, presidents and finance ministers of more than a dozen Caribbean and Latin American nations, and traveled to the offshore havens of the Bahamas, Barbados, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Panama, to press its cause.

In the 2007 document emailed to Mossack Fonseca, the center said it was launching an aggressive campaign on Capitol Hill to protect the secrecy of tax havens, “specifically targeting members of the tax writing, banking, budget, appropriations and commerce committees.”

In a 2012 document sent to the law firm, the center said it had a long relationship with then-vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan dating to his days as a congressional aide and “with the ear of Mitt Romney’s economic advisors, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) is primed for influence.”


A spokeswoman for Ryan, now the House speaker, said in a statement that “Speaker Ryan has known them for many years. We couldn’t say how influential they are, but the Speaker’s position on these international tax issues has long been clear and consistent.”

A Romney aide said the center had no impact on Romney’s policies.

In the 2012 document, the center said that it had successfully blocked anti-tax haven legislation proposed by Levin and others. Bean, the former senator’s staffer, confirmed that the center had helped to rally opposition.

“It’s very, very discouraging that Americans would do that,” said Levin, who retired at the end of 2014.



Spreading the word

The man at the helm of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Andrew Quinlan, 53, is a former Republican congressional staffer who worked out of his home in Alexandria and spends much of his time on the road. Dan Mitchell, 57, is a widely known economist who worked for the Bush/Quayle transition team in 1988 and a leading tax expert at the Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington think tank. The two met in 1981 while undergrads and fraternity brothers at the University of Georgia.

Quinlan and Mitchell launched the center in October 2000. It is made up of two parts, the center itself, which is set up as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization “created to lobby lawmakers in favor of market liberalization,” according to the group’s marketing materials. The second part is called the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization set up to educate the public, lawmakers and the media on “the benefits of limited government” and “the need for competitive markets.”

Quinlan is listed in the center’s tax filings as president, Mitchell as its chairman. Two other board members are named — economist Veronique de Rugy, a co-founder of the center, and a man who died in 2014, John Blundell. Only Quinlan is listed as drawing a salary. His compensation has ranged from $122,000 to $23,000 in 2014, the last year of publicly available tax filings.

The center formed after dozens of the world’s richest countries, including the United States, demanded more transparency from nations considered to be tax havens for corporations and the wealthy. In 2000, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a “blacklist” of 35 tax havens around the world that were refusing to provide information about their account holders, including Panama.

From the start, the fledgling center received the backing of then-House Majority Leader Armey, whose endorsement was posted on the group’s website. “The Center for Freedom and Prosperity is protecting taxpayers, both in America and around the world,” Armey wrote.

The center had two stated goals. Overseas, the center set out to persuade countries on the blacklist not to cooperate with the OECD, which it derided as a “global tax cartel.” In Washington, the center lobbied the Bush administration to withdraw its support for the OECD and also worked to block anti-tax haven legislation on Capitol Hill. To spread the word, the center testified before Congress, published reports and opinion pieces in leading financial publications, and drafted letters to lawmakers and administration officials.

Representatives of the center crisscrossed the globe and sponsored discussions in 2000 and 2001, traveling to London, Paris, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Panama, Barbados and the British Virgin Islands, where Quinlan and congressional staffers met with the chief minister to discuss the placement of the Caribbean territory on the OECD’s blacklist, according to center documents and tax filings.

The center would soon start to fund trips to the Cayman Islands, Panama and the British Virgin Islands for staffers who worked for key lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate, according to congressional travel records reviewed by The Post. One trip was co-funded by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, another by the International Lawyers Association of Panama. The staffers reported receiving from $900 to $2,360 for the trips.

“One of our goals was always to try to get some members or some staffers to really buy in to the issue,” Quinlan said. “We raised a couple of these delegations, used the opportunity to feed them as much information as we possibly could.”

The staff members worked for at least nine members of Congress. They included Andrea Looney, who was a legislative assistant to Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) before he became majority leader, and Brook Simmons, who was a staffer for former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.). Another traveler was Jeffrey Janas, a legislative aide to Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), who served as chairman of the House Administration Committee before pleading guilty to charges stemming from the influence-peddling investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Mitchell and Quinlan also traveled to Barbados, where the center sponsored two briefings, one for government officials and one for the public. To provide the “perspective from Capitol Hill,” Elizabeth Tobias, who was a tax adviser to Armey, the House majority leader at the time, was one of the speakers, according to a center document.

The trips were permitted under congressional rules at the time. But in 2007, following the Abramoff scandal, Congress passed rules barring lawmakers and their staffers from accepting gifts, meals and trips from lobbyists.

Looney said the 2002 trip was designed to educate congressional staffers about economic and tax issues in Panama.

Simmons, now a government affairs manager for a Texas-based energy company, also said the trip was intended to be educational.

“Staff generally work hard to maintain a healthy level of detachment, regardless of who they are meeting,” he said. “My recollection is the program included a number of panels wherein we discussed the benefit of tax system competition and low-tax jurisdictions for the purpose of encouraging governments to lower rates.”

Janas and Tobias did not respond to requests for comment.

Quinlan also traveled to Panama. He met with Jürgen Mossack, one of the founders of Mossack Fonseca, a global provider of offshore accounts. In an email found in the Panama Papers, Quinlan said he “worked closely” with Mossack, discussing the OECD and tax issues.

Back in the United States, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation reported in tax filings that it had educated “key Bush administration officials from the White House and several cabinet level departments” about international tax issues. The foundation also said it had worked with more than 100 members of Congress.

In May 2001, the center claimed a key victory. In a dramatic departure from the Clinton administration, Paul O’Neill, the incoming Treasury Secretary appointed by Bush, announced that the United States would back away from the reforms pushed by the OECD.

O’Neill said in a recent interview that he was unaware of the center and worked to strengthen efforts to close down “the windows of tax evasion and avoidance.”

“I have never been in anybody’s pocket,” he said, “and I certainly wasn’t in anybody’s pocket when I was the secretary of Treasury, believe me.”

In July 2001, the center caught the attention of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Investigators asked the center whether it had received money from any of the foreign governments on the OECD’s blacklist, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

The center declined to answer questions about its donors.

A thriving offshore world

In early 2002, fewer than half of the nations on the OECD blacklist pledged to become more transparent in their tax systems, a victory for anti-tax forces such as the center.

“They were very effective at painting the OECD’s work as end-times are here for tax competition, and we’re going to have European tax rates imposed upon the whole world if the OECD’s work continued,” said Will Davis, the former head of OECD public affairs in Washington. “With that kind of inflammatory language, they were able to get their foot in the door.”

With many tax havens refusing to cooperate with the OECD, the offshore world continued to thrive. In 2003 alone, Mossack Fonseca created 8,471 shell companies. In the next four years, the firm set up 49,656 more, many of them in the British Virgin Islands.

In 2005, Quinlan wrote to Mossack Fonseca, asking the firm for the use of its apartment in Panama while he met with government officials in advance of an OECD conference in Australia. The firm paid for a hotel room, with one partner writing in an email now part of the Panama Papers: “They really will fight for our cause.”

In 2007, Levin introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which would have sweeping implications for customers of firms such as Mossack Fonseca. The 68-page bill would have shut down offshore tax schemes and required financial institutions to disclose the true owners of offshore accounts.

The coalition of anti-tax groups led by the center sent a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. decrying Levin’s bill and another measure on Capitol Hill that sought to curb tax avoidance schemes by U.S. companies operating overseas. Forty-five groups signed the letter, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, who is among the most vocal anti-tax forces in Washington.

The coalition argued that the measures would penalize U.S. taxpayers working overseas and unfairly discriminate against what it called “low-tax” nations.

“Both of these pieces of legislation are deeply flawed,” the letter said.

In May 2007, Quinlan sent Mossack Fonseca the eight-page fundraising pitch, promising to meet with members of Congress and Bush policymakers,“particularly those who are new to their jobs and unfamiliar with the tax competition issue.”

“Here is a copy of our most recent proposal,” Quinlan wrote in an email to Mario Vlieg, a lawyer at Mossack Fonseca. “What do you think? You are the only person I have sent it to in Panama. Let me know what you like and don’t like.”

On July 2, Mitchell, the chairman of the center, sent Vlieg an article written by economist Martin A. Sullivan in Tax Notes International, a trade publication. The article, headlined “Ah, Panama,” said: “If you want to find a place to stash your cash, Panama has to be high on your list. Maybe even higher than Switzerland.”

The article noted that “Panama is the complete package. It’s got everything you want in a tax haven” and concluded by saying, “Unless you are a really bad criminal or you have really bad lawyers, you should have little to fear from the government of Panama.”

Mitchell told The Post he sent the article to Vlieg to show him how Panama is perceived in the United States.

On July 3, Vlieg responded to Mitchell and Quinlan.

“It is very interesting to see how Panama is seen,” Vlieg wrote.

Six days later, Vlieg provided Quinlan and Mitchell with some advice about the center’s fundraising pitch.

“The paper you sent is interesting, easy to read,” Vlieg wrote. “It seems to be addressed to individuals or corporations that may be interested in the issue. This is fine, as that could be the bigger source of potential donors. However, when it comes to Panama and Panamanian lawyers, I believe that an even higher sense of urgency should be expressed. You know we tend to act when things are imminent. Perhaps, you can mention the upcoming elections and the tendency of the democrat candidates that are leading the polls.”

In an interview with The Post, Vlieg, who now works for a different law firm in Panama, declined to say whether Mossack Fonseca donated to the center.

“I don’t have anything to hide. Their goals were aligned with the jurisdiction’s goals,” he said. “I really don’t have any comment.”

Also in 2007, a fundraising pitch from the center surfaced in Asia. The director of a Hong Kong offshore company sent the letter to his contacts in the Cook Islands, a notorious tax haven in the South Pacific, pointing out that the center was trying to raise $250,000 to “stop the bleeding, build allies and go on the offensive” against efforts in Washington to regulate the industry.

“I personally think the efforts of CF&P should be supported by the Cook Islands given the impact [that] passage of current bills being considered in the USA Congress would have on the jurisdiction and industry,” the director wrote.

Following the 2008 election, with a Democrat in the White House, efforts to regulate the offshore world gained momentum.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law a significant tax haven reform. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires U.S. citizens to report overseas holdings.Foreign financial institutions must disclose the existence of American-held accounts or face stiff financial penalties. The center argued unsuccessfully against the measure.

That same year, the center’s foundation received $119,000 out of funds raised by a financial services company in Virginia, according to tax filings. The firm was founded by Richard W. Rahn, a former senior fellow at the Cato Institute, the think tank where Mitchell also works. Rahn served as economic adviser to George H.W. Bush during the 1988 presidential campaign, and he was a member of the board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. He also served as a vice president and chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rahn said in a recent interview that he has known Mitchell for 30 years and supported the center’s goals.

“I knew people around the world who were interested in this issue and wanted to help out,” Rahn said. “These are all very legitimate people. We’re not talking about criminals or money launderers or drug dealers or anything like that. I had argued for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity because they had very low overhead and they were very focused.”

In 2012, with a U.S. presidential election on the horizon, the center reached out again to Mossack Fonseca. On Aug. 15, Quinlan sent an email saying that he was planning to visit Panama.

“I can talk a little about what CF&P is doing in Washington, the current legislative climate on offshore tax and information exchange schemes, the OECD, FATCA, the upcoming elections or any other similar topic,” he wrote.

Attached to the email was a list of meetings the center said it had held with 42 U.S. senators and 181 House members. The list was a who’s who of the Washington political establishment, including then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Aides to McConnell and Cantor said the lawmakers didn’t recall any meetings with Quinlan or Mitchell. Quinlan said meetings were often held with staffers, not the lawmakers themselves.

Along with the email, the center sent a second document to Mossack Fonseca titled “Who We Are and What We Do.”


“We’ll also be educating members of Congress and laying the groundwork with receptive contacts within Mitt Romney’s economic team to take advantage of a potential change in leadership following November’s election,” the center wrote in the document. “This includes our relationship with Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, and we are prepared to hit the ground running should he be elected.”

In recent years, the center’s fundraising efforts have waned with the passage of the tax compliance act that Obama signed into law requiring foreign institutions to disclose American-held accounts or face severe penalties. More than 100 countries including Panama have committed to tax transparency standards developed at the OECD.

But with another presidential election looming, Quinlan and Mitchell said they are optimistic that they can loosen Washington’s hold on the offshore world and free up much-needed donations. After several years of declining revenue in 2013 and 2014, the center reported in tax filings that it had raised “at least $100,000 from more than six different entities” last year.

“I think when Obama was passing legislation by fiat and not going to Congress, everyone just lost the way,” Quinlan said. “But now, with the light at the end of the tunnel, with him leaving, we’re getting back to the point that maybe there’s hope out there.”