Saturday, November 24, 2007

The race is still Mitt Romney's to lose

Iowa a 'four-letter word,' Republican race still 'fluid'

by Mark Silva
Republicans: (37 pledged delegates)

The race is still Mitt Romney's to lose but has turned more competitive as voters begin to focus. Many Republicans still are undecided, and a lot of those who have picked a candidate say they are willing to switch.

Romney had held a double-digit lead in polls for months here after spending some $4 million on advertising. By far, he has the strongest organization and the most money in a state where both are essential. But Romney's advantage now is threatened by Mike Huckabee, a deft communicator with a rock-solid record opposing gun control, abortion rights and gay marriage. A Southern Baptist minister, he lacks money but his message is resonating with voters craving a true conservative. He just started running TV ads on cable.

Rudy Giuliani, a thrice-married abortion-rights and gay-rights backer, has made strides in recent months in part by a direct mail and radio advertising campaign telling voters about his conservative approach to spending and security. But Iowa clearly is not a priority state for him, and many Republicans believe his support here has reached its ceiling. Thompson recently started running a ton of TV ads billing him as the most consistent conservative in the race, but he has not caught fire. McCain is a bit player here.

Immigration is a key issue.

Romney calls for judge to resign

Tuttman released killer without bail

By Michael Levenson Globe Staff / November 24, 2007

Twenty months after he put a career prosecutor on the Massachusetts Superior Court bench, confident in her law-and-order credentials, Mitt Romney called yesterday for the judge to resign because she released without bail a convicted killer who went on to allegedly kill again.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman, said yesterday that Judge Kathe M. Tuttman should never have freed Daniel T. Tavares Jr. on personal recognizance in July, after he was charged with assaulting two prison guards. Tavares, 41, was near the end of a 16-year sentence for stabbing his mother to death in 1991 and had threatened in a letter - intercepted by prison officials in February 2006 - to kill Romney and other state officials, Fehrnstrom said.

On Monday, after five months in hiding, Tavares was arrested for allegedly shooting to death Brian Mauck, 30, and Beverly Mauck, 28, newlyweds who lived near him in a rural area south of Tacoma, police said.

Full Story:

Returning From Iraq, McCain Focuses on New Hampshire

Nov. 23, 2007

When he talks about his national security credentials, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., likes to point out that he already knows foreign leaders like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that he has traveled the world extensively.

Almost as an aside, he says former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has never been to Iraq and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has gone only once. This week marked McCain's seventh visit to Iraq.

Quotes for the Week

Quote of the Week #1. "The fact that you can do something awesome with $15 million does not mean that you could do something super-awesome with $150 million." – Megan McArdle, discussing the problem of scaling, particularly in public education. Read it, now. (November 14 The

Quote of the Week #2. "There's an awful lot to be said about not being in the bubble. In the bubble, your world is aides and speeches, and you're not living a real life, and it's very hard to understand how real people feel about things. I've yet to find a single person, from a busboy to a janitor to a middle manager to a partner in a law firm to a CEO, who wants to give Sacramento disposable income. Not one human being." – former California Gov. Gray Davis, the latest in a series of retired career politicians who finally learn about life on the other side of government. November 15 Sacramento Bee)

Three Headlines, One Newspaper, Same Day

"Audit of Albuquerque Public Schools shows errors plague district" – Albuquerque Tribune, November 13.

"New Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent to be paid $260,000 annually" – Albuquerque Tribune, November 13.

"New Mexico task force proposes school funding boost" – Albuquerque Tribune, November 13.

It was a busy week in court for NEA affiliates:

* Claraliene Gordon, the former president of the Camden Education Association in New Jersey was indicted for using her union credit card to pay for $15,000 in personal expenses. She faces up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine for each offense.

* Ohio Education Association UniServ director John Avouris was charged with lying to police about a picket line altercation. He faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

* Maine Education Association staffer Joan Morin is suing the union for gender discrimination, imposition of a hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision. Morin claims MEA communications director Keith Harvie repeatedly "cast derogatory statements as to her work and her gender" and that MEA executives did nothing about it. The union claims Morin's charges were internally investigated and "found to be without merit."

Share It Fairly But Don't Take a Slice of My Pie.

Proposition 92, which will be on the California ballot in February 2008, would guarantee state funding for community colleges. On one side is the California Federation of Teachers, a large part of whose membership includes community college faculty. On the other is the California Teachers Association, the K-12 juggernaut, who worry that elementary and secondary school funding could be adversely affected by the initiative.

According to the Sacramento Bee, CTA has already contributed $290,000 to defeat the initiative. Additionally, the California Faculty Association, which represents employees of the state university system, opposes Prop 92. But CTA is far from united on the issue.

The CTA-affiliated Community College Association broke ranks to support the measure, as did the independent California School Employees Association. But the biggest blow to CTA came when its largest local affiliate – United Teachers Los Angeles – voted "overwhelmingly" to endorse Prop 92.

There's no one to root for here, but I am very curious to see what campaign tactics will be unleashed with teachers' unions on both sides. Will they pull punches? Or will they be especially brutal, knowing so well the capabilities of the other side? Get your popcorn ready.

Colorado Public Employees Unions' Secret Agreement

Colorado's largest public employees unions announced a historic agreement last Thursday to form one merged organization to represent state workers in accordance with the "partnership agreements" created by Gov. Bill Ritter's November 2 executive order.

In fact, the secret merger agreement, obtained by the Education Intelligence Agency, reveals the new organization, christened Colorado WINS, has one primary purpose: to create and enact a collective bargaining law for Colorado public employees, and then make Colorado WINS their exclusive representative.

The 26-page document, posted on the EIA web site at, sheds light on a number of questions that have occupied Coloradans and their media outlets.

The agreement sets out goals, structures, finances and timetables for the achievement of the national unions' agenda for Colorado. Included are:

* "Unified Legislative Action. The parties pledge to work together to draft a comprehensive state employee collective bargaining bill and to jointly urge that it be enacted by the State Legislature and approved by the Governor."

* "Unified Organizing Campaign. The parties pledge to work together in a coordinated organizing campaign to seek joint certification as the exclusive representative of all state employees covered by this Agreement."

* "Unified Representation of State Employees." The parties pledge to establish the Colorado WINS as a unified structure with unified leadership representing all state employees. Colorado WINS will have the sole authority to advocate for legislation affecting state employees., including but not limited to legislation affecting PERA, the State Personnel System, employee accountability and state employee protections."

Job One is already underway. "As soon as practicable following the effective date of this Agreement, the parties shall reach final agreement on the specifics of comprehensive collective bargaining legislation for Colorado state employees which shall be endorsed and supported by the three unions," the agreement states.

Colorado WINS seeks to eliminate all other representatives of public employees, with the exception of the state Enforcement and Protective Services Unit. The new organization will seek to represent all of those employees other than the 500 state troopers, who will remain under the jurisdiction of the Association of Colorado State Patrol Professionals.

Funding responsibilities and dues income (including PAC money) will be divided among the three national unions – 50% for SEIU, and 25% each for AFT and AFSCME. The organization will also belong to the AFL-CIO. No mention is made of the Change to Win federation, despite the signature of CTW co-founder Andrew Stern on the document.

In the first phase of the plan, which runs from the present to August 2008, current Colorado local unions will remain autonomous, but will have to enter into a servicing agreement with Colorado WINS. Assuming a collective bargaining law is passed, those locals will then be incorporated into Colorado WINS by July 1, 2009. At that point, the new union will hold a constitutional convention and elect officers.

The agreement runs until December 30, 2012, but if there were any remaining doubt as to the overriding purpose of the organization and the transitory role of Gov. Ritter's partnership agreements, it is erased by the provision that allows the member unions to terminate the merger and dissolve Colorado WINS "in the event that no state employee collective bargaining legislation is in effect by July 1, 2009."

There is also a hint that Colorado WINS hopes to establish an agency fee requirement for state employees who choose not to join. "Colorado WINS shall establish a dues trust fund and shall make arrangements to have employer-withheld membership dues and agency fees (if applicable) deposited directly into the trust account," the document states.

The organization will be run by a four-member Permanent Coordinating Committee, consisting of SEIU's Robert Lawson and Eliseo Medina, AFSCME's Paul Booth, and AFT's Phil Kugler. Lawson was named Campaign Director, and AFSCME's Steve Kreisberg was named Chief Negotiator.

Union involvement in the crafting of Gov. Ritter's executive order has been a matter of some controversy for months – from the public records release of September 4 to questions about the Ury memo. Nevertheless, the governor's issuance of the executive order in the afternoon of Friday, November 2, generated surprise and outrage and a page one editorial excoriating the move in the Denver Post.

But it's obvious the executive order didn't surprise the unions.

Though the formation of Colorado WINS wasn't publicly announced until November 15, the final agreement had already been signed by November 6, a mere four days after the executive order, belying claims that this was cobbled together last week and is still being worked out.

Additionally, the creation of the document not only pre-dates the attempt of the Colorado Federation of Public Employees (CFPE) to disaffiliate from the American Federation of Teachers, it appears to be the cause of it. The merger document is an agreement between the national SEIU, AFSCME and AFT. Neither AFT Colorado nor CFPE are signatories. The agreement specifically states its provisions are "intended to be binding on the three International Unions and on all of their subordinate bodies and affiliates" and that "Colorado WINS is the lawful successor to their existing local unions with respect to representing Colorado state employees covered by this Agreement."

Fall Into the Gap

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John Rogers and Jeannie Oakes, co-directors of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, found that the problem with public education in California isn't the racial achievement gap, it's the gap between the rest of the nation and California.

Rogers and Oakes write:

"For example, for years, people have been describing and lamenting California's general decline in education. We've all heard it. Test scores of California's Latino and African American students are, on average, among the lowest in the country. However, white students don't do well either, and by a wide margin: California's white eighth-graders score below white eighth-graders in every state but West Virginia and Nevada on the NAEP reading test."

If it's bad, it's bad for everybody, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, English language status, income, parent education or teacher experience. What a great way of looking at the problem. Wish I had thought of it.

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.


By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.