More on Steve Perry’s plagiarism

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Steve Perry has set up a private company and is actively working to use the corporation as a vehicle to build a lucrative charter school management company.

The problem is that he is using concepts, materials and intellectual property that belongs the Hartford Board of Education.  Using someone else’s property is called plagiarism and is illegal.

Perry may have violated state and federal laws as well, but the initial issue rests with the Board of Education policy that reads,

Materials created by staff at the instigation and/or direction of superiors and/or during work-time shall be considered “work made for hire” under Sections 201(b) and 101 of the Copyright Act and shall be solely the property of the school district.

It is also understood that educational materials created by an employee during the employee’s leisure hours when the employee is not fulfilling his/her contractual duties to the school district are the property of the employee.

A review of Mr. Perry’s application to open a charter school in Harlem, New York highlights the extent of Perry’s violation.  The application itself can be found at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/psc/documents/CapPrepFAR.pdf

A week ago, the New York Board of Regents approved Perry’s application.

Here are just a few of the examples in that application in which Mr. Perry uses the property of the Hartford Board of Education for his own personal gain.

“The founders of Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School (“Capital Prep Harlem”) seek the opportunity to replicate our successful flagship school, the Capital Preparatory Magnet School – Hartford, CT (“Capital Prep”), in New York City’s Community School District 5”  (Page 2 of the pdf submitted to the New York Board of Regents.)

CPS will support Capital Prep Harlem through its oversight of the principal, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and its overall monitoring of fidelity to the Capital Prep model.  CPS will also utilize its two other schools in Bridgeport and Hartford to provide professional development and to share resources. The three schools will act as a ‘boutique’ network in which faculty, staff, parents and students participate in academic and social exchanges. (Page 4 of pdf)

“Capital Prep Harlem is designed as a replication of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (“Capital Prep”) in Hartford, Connecticut” (Page 7 of pdf)

‘CPS will also utilize its two other schools in Bridgeport and Hartford to provide professional development and to share resources. The three schools will act as a ‘boutique’ network in which faculty, staff, parents and students participate in academic and social exchanges.’ (Page 7 of pdf)

“Capital Prep’s curriculum is being replicated in the form of the Capital Prep Harlem charter. It is a unique curriculum that has been created by the founders of Capital Prep in Hartford and will be implemented, monitored and measured by CPS. (Page 21 of pdf)

“Capital Prep Harlem’s program and curriculum designs are based on the internationally recognized, research-based model developed by the founders of Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS) and implemented over the past ten years at Capital Prep in Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Prep in Hartford (Page 42 of the pdf)

‘Over the past two years, members of Capital Prep Harlem’s founding group have formally collaborated on this proposal through regular meetings and ongoing interim communications.  CPS enlisted its founders, current teachers at Capital Prep in Hartford, and strategic consultants to codify the mission, vision and key design elements of the Capital Prep model and operationalize the educational philosophy of the school in order to facilitate replication and training.’ (Page 42 of the pdf)

“The Capital Prep model, created in Hartford, CT over a decade ago, is expanding to New York City. Capital Prep Harlem is a proposed free, open-enrollment, college preparatory public charter school and is targeted to open in Community School District 5 in Harlem.” (Page 76 of pdf)

Attachment 3b School Calendar – exact replica of the calendar on Hartford Board of Education’s Capital Prep Magnet School (Page 96 of pdf)

Attachment 6a: CMO Information – ‘Capital Prep Harlem’s program and curriculum designs are based on the internationally recognized, research-based model developed by the founders of Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. (CPS) and implemented over the past ten years at Capital Prep in Hartford, CT.” (Page 175 of pdf)

“CPS is designed to be a fiscally fit “boutique” charter management organization (“CMO”) ….Geographic clustering will allow us to stay small yet generate the revenue necessary to effectively maintain a CMO. Hartford, Bridgeport and Harlem are the three cities in which we have decided to manage schools. It is our hope that we will manage two schools in Harlem. The first is to be Capital Prep Harlem, 6-12. The second would be a kindergarten to 5th grade school in or near the first in CSD 5. Managing four schools in three cities that are within a two–hour drive of each other allows us to support the schools without having to hire completely new staff for each school.

Our anticipated enrollment across all four CPS network schools is approximately 2,500 students between 2015 and 2020. Capital Prep Hartford has 700 students. The Capital Preparatory Harbor School in Bridgeport Connecticut will have 765 students at full enrollment. Capital Prep Harlem will have 600 students in the next five years, and we hope to open a companion kindergarten to fifth grade school in Harlem that will serve another 600 students. (Page 180 of pdf)

Ten founding group members from Capital Prep came together to launch CPS as the school management organization to lead replication of the Capital Prep model. Each founding member brought a unique background and set of skills to the process. (Page 180 of pdf)

Founding members of the charter management company are then listed. Nine of ten are full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education (Pages 180-183 of pdf)

The management team of the charter management company is then listed.  Two of three are full-time employees of the Hartford Board of Education (Page 183 of pdf)

“FINANCIAL PLAN – Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015. The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected. Conservative five year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.

We are focused on running a right-sized CMO. Operating within a small geographic region affords us the opportunity to create efficiencies that will ensure that CPS staff can effectively support all three schools and the students therein. The revenue will be used to enhance professional development for all staff. Key opportunities will be sought to use revenue to identify best practices among the schools. Revenue will also be used to create opportunities for students and families to engage in meaningful learning among schools. Effectively using resources to enhance students’, families’ and staff experiences as well has to identify best practices will be the primary emphasis of the revenue secured by CPS.” (Page 188 of pdf)

In addition to the violation of the Hartford Board of Education’s policies, the copyright law of the United States provides in section § 506, “Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed — (A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.”

In this case, the direct beneficiaries of this plagiarism are Mr. Perry and his associates, including nine full-time employees of Capital Prep Magnet School.

BREAKING NEWS – Capital Prep Steve Perry – Above the law and deserves it all

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As Wait, What? readers know, while employed as a full-time employee of the Hartford Board of Education, Capital Prep Magnet School Principal Steve Perry has been engaged in an on-going effort to build a lucrative charter school chain using the name Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. and materials he and his senior staff developed while being paid with taxpayer funds by the City of Hartford.

Perry’s proposal is to open a chain of privately run, publically funded charter schools starting with a school in Bridgeport, Connecticut and one in Harlem, New York.

The proposals for both schools openly admitted that the plans were based on Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, that the materials used will be the same as those used at Capital Prep Magnet School and the management team that will run the Bridgeport and Harlem charter schools will be the same group of senior administrators and teachers that are presently running Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford.

The proposals even included many of the written materials that can be found on Capital Prep Magnet School’s present website.

But of course, Steve Perry and his team know perfectly well that such a move is blatantly illegal.

The law is very clear, materials and concepts developed by public employees during the course of their work belong to their employer – the government that pays them and its citizens.

Steve Perry and his employees know the law because it is clearly defined in the written policies of the Hartford Board of Education which states,

Materials created by staff at the instigation and/or direction of superiors and/or during work-time shall be considered “work made for hire” under Sections 201(b) and 101 of the Copyright Act and shall be solely the property of the school district.

It is also understood that educational materials created by an employee during the employee’s leisure hours when the employee is not fulfilling his/her contractual duties to the school district are the property of the employee

But those laws haven’t stopped Steve Perry or the government officials who are supporting his effort to achieve financial success.

With the support of Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, the State Board of Education approved Perry’s plan to open a charter school in Bridgeport next fall.  The plan includes the fact that Perry’s private charter school company would start collecting a multi-million dollar “management fee.”

The State Board of Education approved Perry’s plan despite the fact that there is no money in the budget for any more privately run, but publically funded charter schools and the state of Connecticut is facing a massive deficit.

Last Friday, the pro-charter New York Board of Regents also approved a proposal allowing Steve Perry and his Capital Preparatory Schools, Inc. to open a charter school in Harlem next fall.

Neither the Connecticut State Board of Education nor the New York Board of Regents took note of the fact that Perry did not have the legal authority to use the materials or concepts outlined in his proposals.  According to that plan, Perry will collect a $2.5 million management fee per year, for the first five years.

While the initial issue is why officials are allowing Perry to break the law and steal materials and concepts that belong to the people of Hartford (it is called plagiarism), the second key question relates to how Perry’s ploy to open his charter school management chain would impact his role as head of Capital Prep Magnet School.

When the Connecticut State Board of Education was considering Perry plan to use his private company to open a charter school in Bridgeport, Perry said that he would be able to take on the task of opening and running a new school because he would be leaving Hartford.

However, in his proposal to open a charter school New York City, Perry told the New York Board of Regents that that he already owned the Hartford public school in which he work and revealed that his corporate business plan included making money from Hartford’s public school, as well as the yet to be opened Bridgeport charter school in the years to come.

Perry’s application explained:

“Surpluses are projected in each year beginning in 2015.   The annual ending cash balance per year for CPS will be just over $500,000 in management fees collected.  Conservative five- year estimates have our year end cash balance at $2 million by year five between Hartford, Bridgeport and our Harlem 6 to 12 school.”

For details about Perry’s New York charter school plan read the Wait, What? article entitled, “Steve Perry’s plan – Turn Hartford’s Capital Prep into a charter, open charters in Bridgeport and New York

So is Steve Perry leaving Hartford Prep as he told the Connecticut State Board of Education or is he going to own Hartford Prep as he reported to the New York Board of Regents

Well now the truth is finally coming out…

Despite telling Connecticut state officials that he’d be giving up his role at Hartford’s Capital Prep Magnet School, Perry’s plan appears to be that he will take over private control of Hartford’s public Capital Prep Magnet School

In a letter this week to parents, Steve Perry said that he intends to keep full control of Hartford Capital Prep, apparently by convincing the Hartford Board of Education to allow him to turn it into a charter school or allow his private charter school company to run the school.

Perry told parents to join him at a meeting on Monday, November 24, 6pm in the Sheff Center to continue the discussion about the future of Capital Prep.  He reported that, “joining us will be Jonathan Shaw and Oliver Barton who will meet with us on behalf of the Superintendent.”

At the same time, Perry wrote the following letter to parents,

From Dr. Perry:

Capital Prep is not going anywhere. We are simply expanding to two other cities. Neither students nor staff need to look for a new school, at all!

I have offered to continue to lead Capital Prep as we expand. We would oversee the daily operations, as we always have, as Capital Prep expands to Bridgeport and Harlem. The cost to Hartford for us, the founders of Capital Prep, to continue to operate our school would be $1.

Yes, for $1 our non profit has proposed to keep our school’s founders together but Hartford’s new superintendent Dr. Beth Narvaez and school board are not supporting our efforts to continue to run the school that we have made into one of the most successful in America. Their expectation is that at the end of this school year we walk away. At which time they will take responsibility for operating Capital Prep, starting with selecting a new principal.

Our parents, faculty and students have overwhelmingly supported our plan for continuity and expansion for years. Other Hartford schools have selected who and how their school will be operated. Yet the new superintendent, Dr. Beth Narvaez, and the board are saying Capital Prep will be treated differently. When we go to expand, they intend to take over our school.

The issue, therefore, is not if there will be a Capital Prep. It is who will run it? Either we, the family who have been doing so for over 10 years or they, the new superintendent and board. The question is not, should you look for a new school? The question is would you rather keep our family of educators together as we grow to include more children or would you rather be operated by Hartford Public Schools?

We are, and always will be, Capital Prep.

With deepest love,

Dr. Steve Perry

As far as Perry’s plan is concerned, the only possible hindrance would be if Connecticut Governor Malloy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, the Connecticut Board of Education, the Hartford Board of Education, Connecticut’s Attorney General, Connecticut’s State Auditors or Connecticut’s Chief State’s Attorney decided to actually do their job and put an end to Perry’s outrageous game.

Of course, if they do… watch out…

Remember, Perry is the who, when he didn’t get his way last year, Tweeted,

  Dr. Steve Perry‏@DrStevePerry
“The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.

 

But of course, at the time, officials looked the other way and Perry got away with a Tweet that would have escorted any other school administrator, teacher or student to the door and into the hands of awaiting police officers.

Budget Cuts – Round #1, More to Come

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On Thursday, Governor Malloy’s budget director announced a series of significant budget cuts to existing state programs.  The problem is not only the damage the cuts will do but that they solve only a portion of this year’s growing state budget deficit which is now projected at about $100 million.  However, the magnitude of the budget deficit is closer to twice that number, a fact that Malloy can’t keep secret for more than another month or two.

Still Malloy’s initial cuts fly in the face of his repeated promises that Connecticut’s fiscal health is good and that we do not need to cut vital services if the voters of Connecticut granted him a second term in office.

But his actions tell a very different story.

Topping his list of budget cuts was, as expected, Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, along with critically important human services.

CT Mirror has the details at “Malloy’s emergency budget cuts fall on social services, education,” CTNewsJunkie at “Malloy Makes Cuts To DCF, Higher Ed,” and the Courant at “Malloy Makes $47.8M In Budget Cuts To Ease Deficit.”

The most revolting of Malloy’s budget cuts are aimed at Connecticut most vulnerable citizens, children facing severe challenges and those with developmental disabilities.

Malloy cut $9.2 million from the Department of Children and Families and $5.5 million from the Department of Developmental Disabilities.  Since there are only seven months left in the fiscal year, these cuts will hit key programs especially hard.

As reported by CT Mirror and others, Malloy has been limiting access to DCF’s residential treatment programs (group homes for extremely troubled children).   His latest cut will effectively close the door on new placements and lead the closure of even more DCF group homes.

While a Malloy official explained away the problem to the CT Mirror by saying that DCF was, “committed to maintaining youth in their communities in the least restrictive settings that can meet their needs,” the reality of the situation is that there are many parents and children that desperately need residential options.  In far too many cases, the failure to provide a residential placement puts the family and child in danger.

However, in what only can be described as an immoral move, the Malloy administration turns its back on these Connecticut families and children.  If Malloy’s action is not illegal, it should be.

In an equally inappropriate blow, Malloy is cutting the Department of Developmental Services including day services and employment programs for those with developmental disabilities.  Sad and ironic that Malloy reduces residential treatment options and then reduces options for those who need day treatment and employment services.

Malloy’s human service cuts also include $3.2 million cut from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The cuts to that agency will mean vitally important positions will go unfilled, leaving remaining employees unable to meet the present demand for services.

At the same time the governor is going after human services, he is also cutting an additional $6.5 from Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, this despite the fact that Malloy has already made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s system of public higher education.

Rather than speak out against these dramatic cuts, the spokespeople for the universities and colleges rolled over in appeasement, thereby assuring that Connecticut students and their parents will be paying even more and getting even less from UConn, CSU and the community colleges.

As Malloy pretends to claim that he is adhering to his “no new taxes” pledge, Connecticut college students and their parents will be paying higher tuition – which is nothing more than a user tax.

But perhaps the most offensive move of all is Malloy’s failure to come clean about the magnitude of the budget problem, even though the election is safely behind him.

While the present budget deficit is officially pegged at about $100 million, Malloy’s budget office is holding back evidence of additional budget problems.  The reality of the situation is that this round of cuts solves less than half of the documented budget deficit and more like 25 percent of the real budget problem facing the state.

Even in victory Malloy remains unable or unwilling to tell the people of Connecticut the truth.

The stench coming from the Board of Regents

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The October 9th Wait, What? post was entitled, “There is something very, very wrong going on at Connecticut’s Board of Regents.

But no, it was not a blog post about the growing controversy surrounding the effort to jam through the ill-conceived and damaging “Transform CSCU 2020” plan that is being pushed by Regent President Gregory Gray and the members of the Connecticut Board of Regents.

The Wait, What? blog with that title was posted more than two years ago (October 2012) and dealt with the myriad of problems that surfaced when the previous president of the Board of Regents, Robert Kennedy, illegally hand out nearly $300,000 in pay raises to employees in the central office despite state law and the SEBAC labor agreement that prevented such a maneuver.  Three days later, Kennedy submitted his resignation and was gone.

But the sad and shocking reality is that the notion that “there is something very, very wrong going on at Connecticut’s Board of Regents” is even truer today than it was two years ago.

In fact, the action being pursued by the Board of Regents and its current president may well be the worst proposal for public higher education in Connecticut history.

Rather than improve the quality and accessibility of a college education for tens of thousands of Connecticut students, their new plan, would leave Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges a sad empty shadow of what they once were and could be with the proper leadership and support.

To begin to understand the situation, all you have to do is read some of the recent news stories in the CT Mirror and Hartford Courant.

Faculty decry provost’s departure, president’s plan for CSCU’s future and ECSU faculty union gives president’s plans an F and Faculty push back on president’s plans for Connecticut State Universities and Regents Provost Resigns Abruptly After Less Than 8 Months and ECSU Faculty OK Organizing ‘No Confidence’ Vote On Regents President and Smart Classrooms Discussed At Board Of Regents Meeting

But the real problem behind the proposed “Transform CSCU 2020” is far more serious than the media coverage has yet explained.

When William Cibes served as the Chancellor of the Connecticut State University System and Mark Herzog served as the Chancellor of the Connecticut Community & Technical Colleges, the two not only worked to include faculty, staff, students, alumni and the greater community in the decision-making, but they stood as strong advocates for their institutions, rather than tools of any sitting governor.

When push came to shove, these higher education administrators understood that while they were part of the state government, their primary duty was to serve their institutions and their respective missions.

However, the focus of the leadership all changed when Governor Malloy decided to merge the two systems into one entity called the Board of Regents.

Malloy’s disastrous proposal would not have passed but for the lobbying effort of Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman who called Democratic members of the Education Committee to tell them to overrule their chairperson, State Representative Roberta Willis, who was rightly demanding significant changes to the legislation.

The merger of CSU and the Community Colleges was a bad idea to begin with and the situation has only gotten worse over the last three years.

Rather than recognize the importance of both systems, including the growing quality of the Connecticut State University System and the vital importance of the Community College System, the Malloy administration – through its state budgets and appointments to the Board of Regents – has consistently undermined the fundamental mission of those institutions.

The plan to “transform” CSU and the community colleges is but the latest and most profound reminder of Malloy’s disastrous approach to public higher education in Connecticut.

Instead of appointing people who appreciate and understand the vital role that the Connecticut State University and the Community Colleges play, the Malloy administration and the people appointed to the Board of Regents have been engaged in a full-scale effort to limit the institutions’ ability to succeed while transferring the costs of running these public institutions onto the backs of the students and their families.

The problem is that the “Transform CSCU 2020” plan was developed by people who don’t appreciate the role these colleges and universities play in the fabric of Connecticut.

Incredibly, the Board of Regents appears equally blind.

Faced with the need to develop a strategic plan for these public institutions, the Board decided to overlook the expertise here in Connecticut or properly include the input of the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the universities and colleges.

Instead, President Gray and the Board of Regents paid $1.8 million to a multi-national consulting company called the Boston Consulting Group.

The Boston Consulting Group is an entity dedicated to the notion of privatization and implementing “efficiencies.”

One of the Boston Consulting Group’s “claims to fame” is the recent plan to privatize Philadelphia’s public school system, a plan that was adopted by a right-wing governor and has led to the closure of public schools across that city and the rapid expansion of privately-owned, but publicly-funded charter schools.

Some are rightly focused on the question of why the Boston Consulting Group would be allowed to develop such a disastrous “Transform CSCU 2020” plan?

But an equally important question is why the Board of Regents would even hire the consulting group in the first place and whether the majority of the board even knew about the Boston Consulting Group’s history or the appearance of what could be considered serious conflicts of interests?

Insiders at the Board of Regents report that Boston Consulting Group came via the endorsement of President Gray and Nicholas M. Donofrio, the chairman of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

When announcing their decision to hire the Boston Consulting Group to develop the plan to transform the state university and community college system in April 2014, Regent President Gray said he was confident that the private company with 81 offices in 45 countries had the credentials to do the job.

An Executive Steering Committee was also named to oversee the process, a group whose membership failed to include any faculty, staff, students or alumni members.  Instead the Executive Steering Committee consisted of Board of Regents Chairman Nicholas Donofrio; Board of Regents President Dr. Gregory Gray; J Puckett, Boston Consulting Group Partner and Managing Director; Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; and John Rathgeber, President of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

As the controversy surrounding the Boston Consulting Group plan grows, the role of the Board of Regents, and especially its Chairman Nicholas Donofrio, become increasingly important.

The question now is whether the Board will stand up for what is in the best of the state and its citizens or will it continue to align itself with the corporate junk being delivered by the Boston Consulting Group.

The answer may very well rest with Nicholas Donofrio, the Chairman of the Board of Regents.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy nominated Nicholas Donofrio, a former high-ranking IBM executive, to the Board of Regents when the Board was created in 2011 and made him Chairman of the Board on December, 12, 2013.

Despite Connecticut’s Campaign Finance System that was supposed to keep pay-to-play and big money out of politics, Donofrio is what could best be described as one of Malloy’s “super donors.”

After Donofrio was put on the Board of Regents, he and his wife donated $20,000 to the Connecticut Democratic Party’s “federal account,” the entity that Malloy and his campaign operation used to funnel $4.6 million into his re-election campaign on top of the $6.5 million he got from the taxpayer funded State Elections Fund and the $15 million in out-of-state money that was spent to support Malloy’s candidacy this year.

After Donofrio was named chairman of the Board of Regents, he donated another $20,000 to the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee’s “federal account,” making him one of Malloy’s largest donors.  During the same period, Donofrio and is wife also gave the Democratic National Committee more than $103,000.

At the time Malloy appointed Donofrio to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Regents, he praised him for his connections to the “business community” noting that “Donofrio consults and speaks nationally and internationally on a broad range of topics including innovation, technology and education for a broad range of clients and audiences.”

What Malloy didn’t explain was the depth of Donofrio’s real or potential conflicts of interests when it came to serving as the chair and as a guardian of Connecticut’s state universities and community colleges.

Some of those issues might explain how Boston Consulting Group got a lucrative $1.8 million contract to develop a plan that is counter to what is in the best interests of Connecticut and its citizens.

But the record fails to indicate whether Malloy or Donofrio even informed the Board of regents about the potential conflicts of interest.

It turns out that Nicholas Donofrio not only serves as Chairman of the Connecticut Board of Regents but he is a twenty-year veteran of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Board of Trustees and a long-time member of Syracuse University’s Board of Trustees.   He also chaired a special committee that recommended that the University of Vermont have more private trustees and fewer appointed by public officials.

In addition to his relationship with other universities that recruit students from Connecticut,  Donofrio serves on a long list of corporate boards including of The Bank of New York, Wigix, Inc., The MITRE Corporation, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Liberty Mutual Holding Company, Inc., TopCoder, Inc., Sproxil, Inc. and Delphi Automotive PLC.  He also serves on the boards of StarVest Partners, L.P, Atlas Research LLC., and O’Brien & Gere Limited.

Interestingly, this year State Treasurer Denise Nappier used her voting authority as head of the state pension fund to cast votes for Donofrio for the lucrative board positions on Delphi Automotive plc, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.  The State Treasurer did the same thing in 2012.

Donofrio also served as one of the members of the Bush administration’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, thanks to the appointment he received from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

Thanks to a number of these positions, Donofrio has had extensive contact with Boston Consulting Group and those associated with the company.

For example, after leaving her position as Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings formed an education consulting firm and now serves as a senior adviser to the Boston Consulting Group.

Donofrio’s role on the board of The MITRE Corporation also puts him in contact with another senior Boston Consulting Group adviser, Michèle Flournoy.

And other companies Donofrio is affiliated with have retained the services of the Boston Consulting Group, including Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. who brought in the Boston Consulting Group to advise the company on strategy when it decided to restructure and lay off thousands of employees.

While these connections may or may not rise to a conflict of interest, the decision to hire the Boston Consulting Group to “transform” CSU and the Community Colleges is extremely troubling.

And the decision is made worse because of the unlikelihood that Regent President Gray or Regent Chairman Donofrio will do the right thing and throw out this flawed proposal so that a proper plan can be developed with the true input from faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community.

Perhaps even more troubling is Malloy’s conflict of interest.

For someone who claims to be right even when he is wrong, there is ample reason to believe that he won’t demand that the Board of Regents do the right thing when one of his biggest donors is Nicholas Donofrio, who as Chairman of the Board of Regents appears committed to the flawed “Transform CSCU 2020” plan.

Lesson NOT learned!

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The headline in today’s Hartford Courant – Malloy: No ‘Meaningful’ Cuts In Business Aid.

FACT:   As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf has consistently explained in his news articles, Connecticut faces a $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget and the projected state deficit over the next three years exceeds $4.5 billion.  [Compare that to the $3.7 billion deficit that Malloy “inherited” when he took office in 2011…a deficit that led to a record breaking $1.5 billion tax increase.]

But instead of telling the truth about Connecticut’s growing fiscal crisis during his recent re-election campaign, Malloy claimed that there was no deficit, that he would not propose or accept any tax increases in his second term, that he would actually implement more than $260 million in targeted tax cuts for certain groups, that he would preserve the level of funding to cities and towns, that he would not make cuts to “vital” state programs and that he would not need to talk to the state employee unions about concessions.

And now, after the election, when even his own budget office is finally telling the truth about this year’s $100 budget deficit, Malloy continues to deny the reality of the fiscal crisis that is facing the state and its residents.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting, Malloy went before the MetroHartford Alliance (chamber of commerce) yesterday to proclaim that the “State budget shortfall won’t hit business aid “in any meaningful way.”

When the Courant’s Dan Haar asked Malloy how his massive corporate welfare program could go unscathed in the face of the upcoming budget deficits, Malloy explained that “One reason is that most of the economic development spending is “capital-based,” meaning it is financed with borrowed money. ‘We’ll be in good shape with respect to the business programs,’ Malloy explained.

Translated to English, Malloy was telling the Hartford Courant that since his Corporate Welfare Program is put on the State’s credit card, he has no intention of cutting back on its largess.

Apparently in Malloy’s mind, his ongoing and excessive taxpayer funded program to give successful corporations large financial gifts isn’t made with “real” money.  It is simply borrowed money that only adds to Connecticut’s long-term debt.

But what about the fact that Connecticut’s state debt and obligations already exceed $68.4 billion, an incredible sum of money that Connecticut taxpayers will have to pay back over the next twenty to twenty-five years –  in addition to their regular federal, state and local tax payments?    (See yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, “WARNING!  WARNING! The state of Connecticut’s Fiscal Health”)

For Malloy’s answer to that, we need only turn to headline #2: Commission Poised To Exceed Malloy’s Self-Imposed Bonding Cap (CTNewsJunkie)

“The state Bond Commission is expected to borrow $267 million in general obligation bonds Wednesday during its first meeting since July. The amount will exceed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s voluntary bonding cap by about $167 million.

The governor, who controls the Bond Commission’s agenda, has set a “soft” annual borrowing limit of $1.8 billion for the last two years. Although he stayed under the soft cap in 2013, he is poised to exceed it after Wednesday’s agenda, which puts state borrowing at about $1.97 billion for 2014.

‘Governor Malloy has prioritized projects that were long overdue because they improve our quality of life and create jobs. The agenda reflects both the readiness of current projects and the importance of making these investments in infrastructure, public education and job creation right now,’ Malloy’s spokesman Andrew Doba said in a statement Tuesday.”

Among the bond items that will be voted on today…

  • $25 million more in borrowing for Connecticut Innovations, Inc. to support more venture capital “investments” in companies
  • And another $19 million for the Manufacturing Assistance Act program, the largest beneficiary being a $10 million gift to Electric Boat/General Dynamics, a multi-billion dollar company that paid its new CEO $18.8 million last year.

As we sit on the deck of this ship with no lifeboats, perhaps the most serious question is whether the Democrats will stand up to Malloy and finally use their authority to turn this ship of state away from the iceberg field that lies ahead?

Sadly the answer to that question is almost definitely a big NO!

Watch the Democratic Constitutional Officers and the Democratic Legislators on the State Bond Commission vote in favor of Malloy’s plan today to speed up rather than turn away from the extreme financial danger that lies straight ahead.

By noon, Connecticut taxpayers will be in debt another $297 million, an amount that includes the $10 million so that Malloy can send that check to Electric Boat/General Dynamics, a company that had $32 billion in revenue last year.

$32 billion in revenue last year —-  Connecticut’s entire annual state budget …. $20 billion.

Lesson NOT learned!

 

Update:  The State Bonding Commission “swiftly and unanimously approved borrowing nearly $267 million to fund dozens of new capital projects.”   So there you go, after criticizing the practice of excessive borrowing, even the Republican members of the Bond Commission voted to borrow more.

WARNING!  WARNING! The state of Connecticut’s Fiscal Health

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WARNING!  WARNING! The state of Connecticut’s Fiscal Health

Last Friday, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis issued its annual Fiscal Accountability Report.  The report serves as the definitive independent assessment of the fiscal health of the state of Connecticut.

Unlike the “projections” produced by the Office of Policy and Management, which are designed to protect a sitting governor from criticism, the work done by the Office of Fiscal Analysis is widely respected and noted for its accuracy.

Those truly interested in understanding the Connecticut state budget and the issues surrounding taxes and spending in Connecticut should begin by reading OFA’s Fiscal annual Accountability Report.  The OFA report not only provides a review of the status of this year’s state budget but they also provide a detailed assessment of what will occur over the next three fiscal years.

Unlike the rosy picture painted by Dannel Malloy during the recent gubernatorial campaign, OFA’s report is stark and disturbing.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis reports;

  • This year’s state budget (FY15) is running at least an $89.1 million deficit. (Although Malloy repeatedly claimed, up until Election Day, that there will be NO state deficit, his budget director has finally admitted that this year’s state budget deficit is closing in on $100 million.)
  • The projected state deficit for FY16 (next year) is $1.3 billion.
  • The projected state deficit for FY17 is $1.4 billion.
  • And the projected state deficit for FY18 is $1.7 billion.

The single most important factor to understand when reviewing the OFA projections is that they take into account the expected growth in the economy.

For example, this year the state of Connecticut was expecting an additional $350 million in revenue due to growth in the economy.   However, one of the reasons the state is now facing a deficit is that Connecticut’s economy is not growing as quickly as the experts expected.

According to OFA, the factors driving this year’s growing state deficit is that state revenues are $59.1 million lower than originally budgeted and state spending is $30.4 million higher than originally budgeted.

The increased spending is due, in part, to the Malloy administration’s failure to allocate sufficient funds to pay the healthcare costs for state employees retiring from the Department of Corrections and Malloy’s decision to intentionally underfund Connecticut’s magnet schools.

The harsh reality is that Connecticut is short about $4.5 billion in revenue from what it will need to maintain “current services” over the next three and a half years and that this number already takes into consideration an on-going improvement in the economy.

While OFA’s Fiscal Accountability Report is immediately relevant because of its projections about revenue and spending over the next three fiscal years, the report also covers Connecticut’s long-term “obligations” or “liabilities,” otherwise known as the money that taxpayers will need to come up with in order to make the state’s debt payments and fund the state’s other obligations, such as pensions.

It is in this area that the news is even more troubling.

The following chart highlights Connecticut’s Unfunded Liabilities.

Liability Amount in Billions
Debt Outstanding $21.3 Billion
State Employee Retirement System (SERS) $12.3
Teachers’ Retirement System $10.8
State Post Employment Health and Life $19.5
Teachers’ Post Employment Health $2.4
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles Deficit $1.1
TOTAL $68.4 Billion

 

The total amount in long-term obligations means that Connecticut taxpayers will need to come up with $68.4 billion over the twenty to thirty years, in addition to their federal, state and local tax payments for existing governmental expenses.

In essence, the state’s long-term debt saddles taxpayers with an annual payment in addition to any payments they have for a home mortgage, student loan debts or consumer debts.

With about 1.2 million taxpayer households in Connecticut, the state’s extraordinary level of debt and long-term obligations means that each taxpayer family or household, on average, will be responsible for paying in about $57,000 in addition to their regular tax payments over the next twenty years or so.

And unlike debt at the Federal level which can be easily pushed off, Connecticut MUST pay these obligations during the next two decades or so.  This means that the burden to make these payments will fall on the state’s existing taxpayers and those that are already born but have yet to become taxpayers.

You can read more about the latest budget news at CT Mirror -Budget chief: Some tax cuts may have to wait; CT colleges likely to face cuts and NewsJunkie Gov’s Budget Office, Nonpartisan Analysts Project Deficit.

The reports include confirmation that Governor Malloy will be announcing budget cuts soon and that those cuts will probably be disproportionately aimed at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

The CT Mirror story also reports that the Governor’s operation is already backpedaling on nearly $220 million in tax cuts that Malloy pushed through before the election and another $40 million in tax cuts that he promised to put into law if he were re-elected.

The list of new and proposed tax cuts that Malloy promoted during his campaign are now in  jeopardy include;

  • Restoring the sales tax exemptions on clothing and non-prescription medications.
  • A new income tax credit for retired teachers.
  • Returning the Earned Income Tax Credit for working poor families to its original level.
  • And putting an end to the corporation tax surcharge.
  • Plus new tax cuts, including a special tax break for urban businesses and an income tax credit for those who are paying interest on their student loans.

Breaking News – Watch for Malloy to announce cuts to vital services by end of day!

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[Putting aside myself-imposed break from blogging for a moment]….

The primary refrain from Governor Malloy and his political campaign was that there was no state deficit this year nor would there be one next year or the year after.

Malloy stuck to this false claim despite the fact that the Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis, the State of Connecticut’s independent fiscal operation had identified areas where the Malloy administration intentionally underestimated this year’s budget in order to make it appear balanced and went on to project that the state of Connecticut would be facing a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit next year and a budget deficit in the range of $5 million over the next three years.

Throughout the campaign, Malloy and his team mocked the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ projections.

Even in the last gubernatorial candidate debate, forty-eight hours before the polls opened, Malloy continued to claim that there was no deficit, there would be no deficit and that, if re-elected, he promised that he would not cut state services, raise taxes or need to engage in talks with the state employee unions about concessions.

To bolster Malloy’s false claims about the state budget, on October 20th, just days before Election Day, Malloy’s budget director even wrote,

“Revenue and expenditure trends remain consistent with the budget plan, and we continue to project a $0.3 million balance from operations.  [Translated to English that mean that the Malloy administration reported that the state was on track to have a $300,000 surplus for this fiscal year]

Considering that Malloy’s budget director knew his statement was a lie, if Connecticut was a corporation with stocks, the Securities and Exchange Commissioner (SEC) would have had the right to take action against the state for intentionally and fraudulently lying to stockholders.

But the harsh legacy of Malloy’s 2014 campaign is that the governor and his political operatives managed to make it through the campaign without having to tell Connecticut’s voters the truth about the state’s fiscal situation.

The truth then – and now – is that lower than expected revenues and additional spending due to Malloy’s decision to intentionally underfund certain programs meant this year’s Connecticut state budget contained a $100 million deficit.

Sadly, the truth was available to voters but in the blur of the final weeks of the campaign, few voters were aware of Malloy’s underhanded tactic to mislead the electorate about the growing budget deficit.

Now, ten days after the campaign is over, the Malloy administration is scrambling to put together a series of budget cuts.

Since these cuts will fly in the face of Malloy’s campaign statements watch for Malloy’s people to announce the cuts late today.

Traditionally politicians like to announce bad news late on Friday afternoons believing that most reporters have closed up their computers for the week, and that even more importantly, the public won’t be paying attention to state news on the weekend.

The true irony is that Malloy’s cuts are likely to disproportionately hit Connecticut’s state employees and programs that Malloy promised to protect.

During his first term in office, Dan Malloy made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut public colleges and universities.  In an attempt to win back the support of college students and their parents, along with faculty and staff at Connecticut’s colleges, Malloy repeated promised to make higher education a top priority.

But Connecticut’s college students will likely be among those who are most hurt by Malloy’s impending budget cuts, as will other state and unionized employees.

This after the union leaders spent millions urging their members to support Malloy’s re-election bid.

Those interested in knowing the truth about Connecticut’s budget situation should take the time to read the news articles written by CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf.

Nonpartisan analysts tracking $84M in potential cost overruns in state budget (Oct 31)

CT budget again faces red ink as federal grants, gaming revenues shrink (Nov 10)

Malloy to order emergency cuts, restrict hires to counter impending deficit (Nov 13)

Then watch for coverage tonight and over the weekend about Malloy’s budget plan.

1st piece in Truthout – Corporate America Steps Up for Maine’s Right-Wing Gov. Paul LePage

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Honored to have my 1st article published in the national website Truthout:

Corporate America Steps Up for Maine’s Right-Wing Gov. Paul LePage

http://www.truth-out.org/

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27389-corporate-america-steps-up-for-maine-s-right-wing-governor-paul-lepage

Vote today, but even more importantly, take action tomorrow for our very future depends on it…

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For nearly four years I have written and maintained the Wait, What? Blog as a vehicle to challenge the status quo and try, as best I could, to inform, educate and persuade my fellow citizens to question authority and demand better from those who hold positions of power in and outside of government.

In January of 2011, one of my first posts outlined the primary purpose behind Wait, What? – which was and remains – a belief that we must hold our own (in this case Democrats) to the same standards that we would hold our opponents.

Over the course of 1,761 posts, 26,778 comments and more than 1.5 million visits to this blog, I have tried to remain true to that purpose.

Many people have used their comments to add vitally important information to the discussion, others have simply added their support or observations, and some have vehemently criticized and condemned the content of some articles or the value and intent of the blog itself.

A common refrain has been that by criticizing Malloy and Democrats, among others, I have been siding with the enemy and promoting the success of the Republicans and those who are even more out of step with the needs of our citizens and our society.

As a true believer in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I fundamentally respect everyone’s right to articulate their beliefs.  That said, skimming back over the many blog posts, I will stand my ground and say that I have not wavered from my belief that we must hold our own to the same standards we hold our opponents and that the transgressions and errors that I have consistently sought to challenge deserved the attention and light of day that I have tried to provide.

We know that real change is not easy.  By its very design our government is slow and often cumbersome. While there are sometimes benefits to the notion that a steady pace wins the race, the problems facing our state, country and citizens are growing exponentially and our window of opportunity to change course is closing.

As regular readers of this blog know, a common practice has been to seek out and use a quote that helps to clarify and amplify the points I am working to highlight. With that in mind, I turn once again to one of the greatest Americans in history, Martin Luther King, Jr. who said,

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.”

King opened that speech by reminding his audience and the world that, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

I believe that we have reached that time and then some.

There are many battles ahead.

I am not sure to the extent that the Wait, What? blog will be part of the dialogue.  As of today I am putting the blog on “pause” as I tackle some other anti-corporate education reform industry projects and consider various options for restructuring Wait, What?

But I have learned much from this process and assure my readers, both supporters and opponents, that I will continue to do all I can to raise awareness of the problems we face and force the changes we need in order to beat back those who seek to destroy the middle class, create a permanent underclass and continue their efforts to undermine the most basic values that are should be guiding our government and society.

I am but a foot soldier in this larger battle, nothing more. But like all good foot soldiers, I will not be dissuaded for doing all I can to do my part in the effort to create the change we need.

While I recognize that my posts have generated insults, condemnation and even blacklisting from groups and individuals who claim to be the “true” representatives of the people, I honestly believe that I am doing what I can to stand up and speak out about the important issues and challenges we face.

It cannot be compared in any way to what I’ve personally witnessed, for this battle here is minor compared to the truly greater battles that have taken place in our nation’s history, but I can’t help but be reminded by what occurred to Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke out against the Vietnam War in his famous speech at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967.

In an editorial in the Washington Post two days later, the newspaper wrote that by opposing the Vietnam War and speaking out against our nation’s constant use of war, violence and destruction, King “has done a grave injury to those who are his natural allies … and … an even graver injury to himself.”

The Washington Post added “Many who have listened to him with respect will never again accord him the same confidence. He has diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country and to his people. And that is a great tragedy.”

Thus has been the message to those who seek to speak the truth and seek to force a true accounting of the problems we face and the solutions our citizens need and deserve.

It has always been that way and it will undoubtedly continue to be that way, but no matter how small our contribution may be to the greater effort, we must never shy away from standing up and speaking out.

I close this chapter by thanking all of you who have been part of Wait, What? and my associated activities these past few years.

I look forward to continuing to work with you in the months and years to come.

For as I am especially fond of saying to those who criticize our work, upset now?

Just wait for “We have not yet begun to fight!”

Your thoughts, advice, guidance and suggestions are always welcome,

And thank you for all that you have done, all you are doing and all you have yet to do in the future,

Jonathan Pelto
[email protected]
 

A final 2014 campaign shout-out to Connecticut teachers and their supporters

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First and foremost, I want to thank the thousands of teachers, parents and public school advocates who have taken the time to read Wait, What? over the past few years.

Your camaraderie and participation in this endeavor has been a primary reason I stuck with the task of trying to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out on behalf of our public education system.

The last three years have been truly extraordinary as we have watched the corporate education reform industry set its money and political muscle on working to undermine Connecticut’s teachers, parents, students and public schools.

As we know all too well, driven by his devotion to the corporate education industry, in February 2012, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy became the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating tenure for all public school teachers in Connecticut and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in the poorest school districts.

No other Democratic governor in the country proposed such an anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education initiative.

With Election Day finally upon us, one of the greatest mysteries of our time is why Malloy has been completely and totally unwilling or unable to apologize for his inappropriate, unfair and outrageous attack on Connecticut’s educators.

Over the last few months, Malloy’s supporters have tried every excuse under the Sun to explain away Malloy’s outrageous behavior…but Malloy himself has refused to step up and publicly admit or correct his statements and actions.

In fact, when Malloy tried to clarify his position this fall he actually managed to make it worse.

Asked about his statement that teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy explained,

“I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure…”

Wait, What?  the problem is really tenure?

Fair due process for teachers is the problem??

Considering Malloy’s policies, it is fair to say that one of the more bizarre moments of the 2014 campaign was when the New Haven Register reported that, “Randi Weingarten, the national president of the American Federation of Teachers, told an enthusiastic group of union members Tuesday that the only way to stop the reach of the conservative Koch brothers and the new restrictions on labor is to re-elect Dannel P. Malloy as governor of Connecticut, and not vote for her friend Jonathan Pelto.

Strange considering Malloy’s anti-tenure, anti-collective bargaining proposal was right out of the Koch Brother’s anti-teacher, anti-public education playbook.

Not far behind the AFT leadership’s approach was that of the leadership of  the Connecticut Education Association who endorsed Malloy claiming that Malloy was the “First governor in Connecticut’s history to annually fully fund teacher pensions during his term in office and guarantee full funding in the future.”

However, as we know, Malloy had absolutely no role in ensuring that the Connecticut Teacher Retirement Pension Fund is being fully funded.  The credit for that goes to Governor Rell and the members of the 2007 Connecticut General Assembly who guaranteed that the teacher pension fund would be given the proper funds for 25 years starting in 2008.

But the most remarkable development is not that the AFT and CEA would endorse Malloy but that Malloy would make no meaningful effort to pivot back and address the concerns being voiced by Connecticut’s teachers, parents and public school advocates.

As if to prove his unwillingness to listen to Connecticut’s public school proponents, Malloy has told two newspaper editorial boards, in recent weeks, that he intends to “stay the course” on his corporate education reform agenda.

And last week, when asked if there was anything he would have done different over the past four years, if he was given the chance, he said there was nothing he would have done differently.

Nothing he would have done differently?

Nothing he would have changed over the last four years?

Putting aside his decision to skip the perfect opportunity to set the record straight on his attitude toward Connecticut teachers, what kind of person says that – given the chance – there is  absolutely nothing he would have done differently over a period of four years?

I understand that there are plenty of reasons for someone to cast their vote for Malloy or Foley tomorrow, but as a proud graduate of Connecticut’s public schools and now being a public school parent, I will not support any candidate who so callously denigrates and belittles the people who devote their lives to providing our children with the knowledge and skills they will need to deal with our increasingly complex and difficult world.

Malloy’s approach has not only been an embarrassment but it is a sad commentary on how far some of our Democratic officials have strayed from the most fundamental principles and values of our society.

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