Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mere Cracks in Democrat Leadership or Will Emanuel, Obama Attacks Lead Teachers, Other Public Workers to Sit Out 2012 Presidential Race?

On the one hand, we have this story that hints to cracks in Democratic leadership, suggesting that some Democratic Party leaders, or elites, are disgusted with Rahm Emanuel's fight against Chicago schools and teachers. (Chicago Mayor Emanuel is continuing predecessor Richard Daley's school closing program.) Rev. Jesse Jackson has called Rahm Emanuel's school policies, "educational apartheid." Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog reports that Nance Pelosi will appear this morning at Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition headquarters, where she is expected to endorse son Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s reelection bid to Congress to the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois.

But don't hold your breath for open breaches in the Democratic Party elite. The wind is blowing in the direction of more of the same public sector austerity. Take note:
In New York there is Governor Mario Cuomo who is on a holy war crusade against organized labor, government employees and their pensions: from Bloomberg Business Week, January 27, 2011: "Cuomo’s New York Budget Faces Union Fight on Pensions, Teachers".
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $132.5 billion budget that links an increase in education spending to a new teacher-evaluation system and raises the retirement age for future workers, a move already drawing opposition from unions.

Cuomo’s spending plan for fiscal 2013 closes a $2 billion deficit with no new taxes in part by finding $1.14 billion in savings from consolidating purchasing and human resources, he said yesterday in Albany, the capital. A tax deal reached last month that raised rates on those earning $2 million or more added $1.5 billion in revenue.

The proposal follows through on Cuomo’s pledge to raise spending on Medicaid and education by about 4 percent. The boost in school aid will be tied to compliance with a new statewide teacher-evaluation system, a plan similar to one proposed last week by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The governor suggested he expects opposition from the teachers’ unions.
One wonders what is driving Cuomo to do this. Most likely is a pandering to middle class voters wincing at taxes, and willing to cut living and retirement standards of public employees.

From public employee unions we do not hear much, but Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public-workers union said,
“The proposal for a new public employee pension tier is an assault on the middle class and a cheap shot at public employees . . . . It will provide no short-term savings and will mean people will have to work longer, pay more and gain less benefit.
. . . . . . . . .

Then we have Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, who apparently is now beginning to pursue a war against teachers. (This is an about-face to his pandering to teachers in his 2010 election campaign: "Malloy’s pitch to teachers: pensions to stay, binding arbitration a right, Foley would slash funds," from the Raising Hale site, September 22, 2010.) In his February 8, 2012 State of the State he said, “…only thing you have to do is show up for four years.” (No, he was not talking about being governor, he was speaking about teachers.) He is the state's first Democratic governor since 1991 and he is making this anti-tenure statement?
Malloy further said,
“Since 2009, 31 states have enacted tenure reform, including our neighboring states of New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. It’s time for Connecticut to act. ”
Jonathan Pelto's "wait, what?" blog pointed out that Malloy conveniently skipped over the fact that Connecticut with its four year probation length is one of the nine states with the longest probationary period for new teachers.

Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, "Quinn looks to shift teacher pension funding to local school districts", February 4, 2012.

And in Maryland, with Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley and Democratic-led Senate and House, we are seeing the impact of the kind of shift of pension funding to local districts. The effect is local layoffs, cuts to libraries: from CBS Baltimore, February 29, 2012, "Counties Warn Of Cuts If They Pay Md. Pensions,"
Montgomery County school officials say they would have to cut 600 teachers and increase class sizes if lawmakers in Annapolis approve Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs to the counties.

Board of Education President Shirley Brandman told the County Council on Tuesday that class sizes could increase by an average of 2.4 students per class. She says that would be the result if the school system has to pay $38 million in pension costs in the 2013 fiscal year.

Prince George’s County officials say they’re also worried the shift would lead to cuts in the workforce and services.

Politicians, Democratic and Republican, love to use the words, "cut," "trim." But they are skipping over the fact that those things mean the diminishing of the quality of life for public workers AND for the USERS of public services (schools, police, libraries, medical facilities).

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