Hey look – there goes $22 million…

Yesterday, CNBC reported that with more than $100 billion under its management, Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates is once again the world’s largest hedge fund.

Tomorrow, Governor Dannel Malloy and his appointees on the Connecticut Bond Commission will approve a corporate welfare package for Bridgewater Associates that will cost taxpayers $22 million plus.  The plus “part” is due to the fact that Malloy is actually borrowing the money to give to the giant hedge fund, meaning Connecticut taxpayers must pay back the money, along with the associated interest.

As for the entire debacle, long-time Wait, What? readers will remember that this is actually Plan B of Malloy’s effort to subsidize one of the most successful companies in the world.

The Connecticut Bond Commission agenda explains the latest version of the plan as follows:

These funds are requested to provide a grant-in-aid and loan, under the First Five Program, to Bridgewater Associates, LP to assist with expansion of its facilities in Westport, Wilton and Norwalk. The company will retain 1,402 jobs and create 750 new jobs. The loan will be provided at an interest rate of 1% for ten years with principal deferred for five years. The company will be eligible for loan forgiveness if it creates the 750 jobs and retains the existing jobs by the end of 2021. Also included are a $2 million grant to assist with training and a $3 million grant for installation of alternative energy systems.

As an aside, Dalio’s pay – last year – dropped to $1.6 billion, down from the $2.3 billion a year he collected a couple of years ago.

Things are tough all over… Malloy’s solution;

While middle class families across the state struggle with massive costs, such as student loans with rates of 8% or more, not to mention rising energy costs, as a result of Malloy’s economic development strategy, Connecticut taxpayer will be loaning one of the 1%’s most elite members with a $17 million dollar loan at 1% [go –figure] with no payments due for five years  – and, should the company stick to its present business trajectory – they don’t have to pay back the loan at all.  In addition to the $17 million, Dalio and his company will get $2 million to help subsidize their worker training program and $3 so that they can install some “alternative energy systems.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s state budget deficit is about $250 million and growing, The Malloy administration has laid off about 1,000 state employees in the last few weeks and Malloy’s new budget counts on his ability to ax as many as 3,000 more state employees in the coming couple of months.

Called by some, the Reverse Robin Hood Strategy, were in Connecticut we know it as Dannel Malloy’s approach to the advanced capitalist system, one in which taxpayers work extra hard so that their government can give money to successful businesses.

For those who want to know more about Malloy’s horrendous Bridgewater give-a-way program, some of the details can be found in previous Wait, What? posts on this issue.

Yes, you heard right…CT taxpayers give $115 million to Bridgewater, world’s biggest hedge fund (8/19/2012)

Slam-Dunk! Touch-down! Goal!!!! Taxpayers come through for American’s highest paid CEO (1/11/2013)

Damn process gets in the way of the Bridgewater Associates corporate welfare give-a-way (10/2/2013)

“This is stealing from the poor and middle class to make a billionaire even richer” (Pelto, August 2012) (6/27/14)

To Hell with Connecticut’s Middle Class – Someone needs to subsidize the Billionaires (9/16/2015)

Oh, and as for the $2 million Connecticut taxpayers are giving to help Bridgewater Associates train their staff?  Check out,

Bridgewater’s Co-CEO Once “Supervised Subordinates Stripping Off Articles Of Clothing And Setting Them On Fire During A Team-Building Exercise”

As long-time Dealbreaker readers know, we have been writing about the slightly unorthodox culture at Bridgewater Associates since 2010, when we received a spiral-bound copy of Principles, the hedge fund’s unofficial company handbook penned by founder Ray Dalio. At the time, it was surprising to learn of an asset management firm that explained its reasoning for why employees shouldn’t hesitate to identify and eliminate weak colleagues via a discussion about “a pack of hyenas [taking] down a young wildebeest”; told them that failing to confront a person about their shortcomings to their face made you “a slimy weasel”; pushed them to ask themselves if they’d “earned the right to have an opinion”; insisted that “firing people is not a big deal”; and quizzed them on all of the above and more.

Amazingly, though, the Westport-based hedge fund continues to surprise us with the new and innovative ways it conducts its business, many of which are on display in Wall Street Journal article today, examining life under the Tao of Dalio..

[…]

Trustfalls…ON STEROIDS: “Mr. Jensen also cut a distinctive path as a manager. About three years ago, he supervised subordinates stripping off articles of clothing and setting them on fire during a team-building exercise at an official company retreat.

No doubt Ray Dalio and his company need the money more than we do.

New York’s “New Visions for Public Schools” is coming to save Connecticut

Brace yourselves … Yet another New York corporate education reform organization has decided to open up shop in Connecticut.

What is that line about robbing banks because that is where the money is…?

In this case, the group is calling itself “Connecticut RISE School Partnerships” but it is really a New York based organization that is known as New Visions for Public Schools.

This latest Connecticut education reform savior is hiring staff in order to “partner” with the East Hartford, Meriden and New Haven public schools systems.

What the “partnership” is or even how the deal to “partner” with an out-of-state entity was cut hasn’t been revealed, but a series of Freedom of Information requests have been sent to the various school districts in an attempt to find out exactly what is going on.

Some of the funding for the endeavor appears to be coming from the Ray Dalio Family Foundation.  Ray Dalio is the billionaire who Governor Dannel Malloy showered with scarce taxpayer funds in a failed effort to help subsidize Dalio’s desire to move his company, Bridgewater Associates – the world’s largest hedge fund from Westport to Stamford.  In the end, Dalio decided to stay in Westport, for the time being, although he did keep in the range of $52 million in public money to cover some of his costs.  (See Yes, you heard right…CT taxpayers give $115 million to Bridgewater, world’s biggest hedge fund, Slam-Dunk! Touch-down! Goal!!!! Taxpayers come through for American’s highest paid CEO and To Hell with Connecticut’s Middle Class – Someone needs to subsidize the Billionaires.)

While details are scarce, New Visions for Public Schools’ website suggests that students, parents, teacher and public schools in East Hartford, Meriden and New Haven will benefit from “partnering” with them because the New York entity is;

“Dedicated to ensuring that all New York City public school students, regardless of race or economic class, have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the rigors of college and the workforce. Further, we are committed to sharing innovative tools, strategies and lessons learned in New Visions schools with others in New York and throughout the country to prove that meaningful change is achievable at scale and success is possible for every child.”

[As a side note – never trust an education group that uses the words rigor or grit.]

New Visions for Public Schools further reports that the core of their work is to,

“Promote data-driven, peer-to-peer learning to support continuous improvement.”

The entity’s Board of Trustees includes Founder and Co-Chairman Richard Beattie who is the Chairman of Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., Chairman and Partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a large New York law firm,  and a leading member of the Harley Davidson Board of Directors.

According to Bloomberg News, Beattle, “concentrates on mergers and acquisitions; leveraged buyouts; and corporate law and finance. He has counseled numerous boards and non-management directors on governance issues, investigations and litigation involving corporate officers and other crisis situations. He has also participated in some of the larger and more complex financial transactions, including the merger of America Online and Time Warner, the merger of WellPoint Health Networks with Anthem Inc. and the merger of J.P. Morgan Chase with Bank One.”

New Visions for Public Schools’ other Co-Chairman is Roger C. Altman, the founder and executive chairman of Evercore. (He is the same Roger Altman who served as President Carter’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of the Treasury until he resigned amid the “Whitewater controversy”).

Until recently the President of New Visons for Public Schools was Robert Hughes, who has since left to become the Director of K-12 Strategy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In addition to the money from the Ray Dalio Family Foundation, major supporters of New Visions for Public Schools include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies and a long list of other charter school industry and corporate education reform foundations, companies and donors.

The job postings associated with New Visions for Public Schools and their Connecticut RISE School Partnerships report that the organization will;

  • Collaborate with RISE district teams comprised of the district superintendent, school supervisor, district data administrator, high school principal, high school teacher, and other school and district staff.
  • Cultivate strong partnerships with RISE schools and districts, building strong relationships with teachers and leaders.
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of district strengths, priorities, and growth areas.
  • Provide embedded and consultative support in RISE schools and districts aligned to the Network common aim.
  • Support each school and district on its unique path to advance student outcomes.

Claiming particular expertise in “Data-Driven Innovation,” East Hartford, Meriden and New Haven should prepare to “benefit” from a program that will;

  • Support districts in designing and implementing local RISE Innovation Grants, piloting unique local initiatives designed to advance the Network’s common aim.
  • Facilitate quarterly Learning and Innovation Cycles, convening RISE teams to discuss Innovation Grant undertakings, review progress data, and refine/strengthen implementation.
  • Support the roll-out of new collaboratively-develop RISE data dashboards, providing school and district leaders with access to real-time and user-friendly data visualizations.
  • Build staff capacity around the use of data to systematically drive decision-making.
  • Focus intently on creating school and district systems, structures, and protocols to allow for regular data-driven learning cycles.
  • Support districts in implementing data tools and strategic data check-ins around college and career readiness indicators.

In addition to a the RISE Program Coordinator and the RISE School Partnership Manager, Connecticut’s newest corporate education reform industry group will also be adding a RISE Director Of Data Strategy, whose job will be to “play an integral role designing and leading RISE’s data strategy, overseeing research, development, and capacity-building functions.”

Check back for more information about New Visions for Public Schools’ Connecticut RISE initiative as it becomes available.

Families for Excellent Schools, Luke Bronin and the expansion of the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry in Hartford Connecticut.

Families for Excellent Schools (FES) is a major New York City based, corporate funded, charter school and education reform advocacy group.

In recent months the group and its allies have played an increasingly powerful role on behalf of Greenwich native and political newcomer Luke Bronin’s campaign for mayor of Hartford.

The work for Bronin is only part of the organization’s effort to expand into Connecticut.

So far this year FES has spent well in excess of a $1.5 million to push Governor Malloy’s successful effort to divert scarce public funds to charter schools rather than adequately funding Connecticut’s public schools.  The net effect of Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher agenda is that charter schools are getting even more public funds while local Connecticut communities are being forced to raise property taxes and cut public school programs just to balance local budgets.

Families for Excellent Schools also have their hand in Luke Bronin’s recent win in the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Hartford and a recent job post announces that the group is also hiring a Hartford, Connecticut organizer “to work with its Connecticut team.”

Andrew Doba, Governor Dannel Malloy’s former mouthpiece, who also served as Hartford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin’s spokesman, is the lead consultant for Families for Excellent Schools in Connecticut.  Doba works for a New York based public relations group that is headed by the former spokesperson for Michael Bloomberg.

Not only has Families for Excellent Schools been paying Malloy/Bronin’s spokesperson but the organization has also handed hundreds of thousands of dollars over to Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s top advisor and the managing director in Connecticut for another New York-based public relations firm called Global Strategies.

Occhiogrosso, who played a key role in Malloy’s 2010 and 2014 campaigns and worked in the Governor’s Office during Malloy’s first term, collected millions from Malloy’s various re-election campaign accounts in 2014. Occhiogrosso and his firm are also one of the highest paid consultants to Luke Bronin during his recent campaign for Mayor.

Formed in 2011, the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry advocacy group Families for Excellent School’s fundraising has skyrocketed from $642,042 in 2011 to $1,000,053 in 2012 to $12,264,668 in 2013.  The entity’s IRS 2014 filing is not yet available.

According to a recent article in the Nation magazine entitled, 9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools—Here’s Their Story, both the Chair and Vice Chair of the Families for Excellent Schools Board of Directors are among the super elite that are funding the extraordinary effort to undermine public education in the United States.

Though Families for Excellent Schools presents itself as a grassroots parent education reform organization, four of its five original board members are Wall Street titans like Bryan Lawrence and Paul Appelbaum, who made their millions in the hedge fund and private equity worlds respectively.

Other FES Board members also come to the table having made millions as hedge fund and private equity managers.

Of the $12.3 million that Families for Excellent Schools collected in 2013, $9.1 million was spent on television, radio and direct mail campaigns in support of pro-charter school initiatives like those proposed by Democrat Governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy.

Since its inception, Families for Excellent Schools has been involved in some of the most controversial pro-charter lobbying efforts in recent years.

As part of its 2015 effort to support Governor Malloy’s charter school funding initiative, the group bussed in charter school parents and students from as far away as New York and Boston for a rally on the lawn of the State Capitol in Hartford.  More recently, the group sent out glossy mailings to voters in a number of Connecticut legislative districts “thanking them” for their pro-charter school vote – a vote that will actually end up costing state and local property taxpayers even more money.

Families for Excellent Schools also spent approximately $6 million in 2014 to “prevent Mayor Bill de Blasio from regulating the charter school sector and won passage of a law that forces the city to pay the rent of charters “not located on public school grounds.”

Like many of the leading Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry front groups, the organization uses a series of loopholes to keep from having to divulge its list of donors.  In addition, these groups often set up more than one corporate entity to hide donations, reduce the potential to track funds or use the tax code to get around restrictions on lobbying.

In the case of Families for Excellent Schools, they actually have two different entities; Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. and Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy, Inc.

In Connecticut, both organizations have filed with the Office of State Ethics as lobbying entities, although the two groups are used very differently under the law.

According to research conducted by fellow education blogger and activist Mercedes Schneider, some of the biggest donors to Families for Excellent Schools are:

The Walton Family Foundation, Inc.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

StudentsFirst New York, Inc.

Tapestry Project, Inc.

Moriah Fund, Inc.

Hertog Foundation, Inc.

Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Inc.

Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program

You can find out  more about FES’s fundraising operation via a WNYC story by reporter Robert Lewis – WNYC March 2014 report:

WNYC’s Robert Lewis determined that The Walton Family Foundation provided much of the early start up money for Families for Excellent Schools.

Even Connecticut’s richest billionaire and recipient of well over $50 million from Governor Dannel Malloy’s taxpayer funded corporate welfare program, Ray Dalio, is a donor to Families for Excellent Schools.

While it is difficult to determine where Families for Excellent Schools and other Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry groups get all their funding, some of the major players behind the organization are much easier to identify.

For example, as WNYC reported, the Tapestry Project is one of the organization’s major donors.  As Mercedes Schneider noted in her research, the Tapestry Project’s Executive Director is Eric Grannis who is the husband of the infamous charter school operator, Eva Moskowitz.

The Tapestry Project’s Board of Directors also includes Gideon Stein, who is a member of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy board. Stein is also a member of the Moriah Fund Board of Directors, another major contributor to Families for Excellent Schools.

And not only is Students First NY a donor to Families for Excellent Schools but the group shares an office with Families for Excellent Schools and Eva Moskowitz is a member of the Board of Directors for Student’s First NY.

A number of the other Board members of Families for Excellent Schools have equally incestuous relationships with other entities in the charter school industry and the corporate education reform effort.

So…

Look out Hartford, not only is the newly crowned Democratic Mayoral nominee Luke Bronin basking in the sunshine thanks to the money and players behind Families for Excellent Schools, but the charter school lobbying group is now hiring political operatives to “organize” in Hartford.

To Hell with Connecticut’s Middle Class – Someone needs to subsidize the Billionaires

Here we go again!

As tens of thousands of Connecticut families struggle to pay their local property taxes due to the state’s inadequate funding of public education, Governor Dannel Malloy is giving scarce public funds to some of the wealthiest companies in the country.

As the Hartford Courant reports today in their article entitled, “State Proposes $52 Million In Subsidies To Giant Hedge Fund,”

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, can qualify for up to $52 million in tax credits, grants and a loan from taxpayers as it renovates and expands its headquarters in Westport, state officials say.

Bridgewater Associates, which has about 1,500 employees, originally was offered a $115 million incentives package in the state’s First Five program, but it abandoned its plan to build a new headquarters in Stamford after local residents’ opposition. (See: Bridgewater Associates Abandons Plan To Build in Stamford.)

Although it has not been widely reported, before Bridgewater Associates “abandoned” their move to Stamford, the Malloy administration spent millions to help Bridgewater Associates facilitate the move.

But today’s news means that while Governor Dannel Malloy effort to “lure” Bridgewater Associates from Westport to his pet project called Harbor Point in Stamford with that $115 million publicly financed corporate welfare package failed, Connecticut’s taxpayers are now being put on the hook to give Ray Dalio and his gigantic Hedgefund $52 million to help subsidize a half-billion dollar upgrade to their Westport corporate headquarters.

For those who haven’t followed the saga, the following Wait, What? posts are worth a read;

See: NEWSFLASH – I gave a billionaire $115 million today (and if you’re from CT, so did you!) (8/15/2012); Yes, you heard right…CT taxpayers give $115 million to Bridgewater, world’s biggest hedge fund (8/19/2012); Slam-Dunk! Touch-down! Goal!!!! Taxpayers come through for American’s highest paid CEO (1/11/2013) and “This is stealing from the poor and middle class to make a billionaire even richer” (6/27/2014)

The background to this latest development is that for more than three years, Malloy has been working to hand taxpayer money over to Ray Dalio, one of Connecticut’s 16 billionaires.

According to Forbes Magazine, Dalio is a high-ranking member of the list of “The World’s Billionaires.”

Dalio’s worth is estimated at $15.5 billion, bolstered by income of more than $1 billion last year.  His annual salary is down sharply from 2011 when Dalio earned $3.9 billion, making him the highest paid person in the United States.  As of now, Dalio ranks #30 on Forbes list of the richest 400 and #2 among Hedgefund owners.  The number of billionaires who call Connecticut home has actually jumped from 9 to 16 since September 2014.

According to the latest announcements, Malloy’s new plan is for the state of Connecticut to borrow $17 million at about 3 percent a year and lend it to Dalio’s company with a rate of 1 percent interest.

The Courant reports added that,

“The entire loan could become a gift, depending on how Bridgewater meets its job creation targets. But the exact terms are still being negotiated”

In addition to the $17 million loan, the Malloy administration will be giving Dalio and his company $2 million for employee training and $3 million to subsidize the company’s energy costs.  Apparently these funds would also come from money that the state has borrowed as part of its economic development activities, meaning the long term cost to taxpayers is actually significantly higher than $5 million.

Finally, Dalio and his company would also be given $30 million in tax credits over the next 10 years under the “Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Program.”  The actual impact of the tax credits would be that Bridgewater’s tax liability to the state of Connecticut would drop by $30 million.

As to how Malloy can get away with using money for urban renewal on a project in Westport, the Hartford Courant explains,

“Westport is not a distressed city, and the office park is not a brownfield, but because Bridgewater Associates’ investment is so large, it qualifies for the credits.”

Malloy’s rationale appears to be his ongoing reliance on the old theory of “trickle-down” economics which claims that if government uses its taxing and expenditure policies to redistribute wealth from the Middle-Class to the rich, the wealthy will be able to create even more wealth which will then trickle down to the rest of society via more jobs and higher tax revenues.

As if to reiterate how the economic strategy as consistently failed, Reuters is reporting today that;

“Hewlett-Packard Co, which is splitting into two listed companies later this year, said on Tuesday it expects to cut another 25,000 to 30,000 jobs in its enterprise business as the tech pioneer adjusts to falling demand.

The latest cuts, on top of layoffs of 55,000 workers previously announced under Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman.”

As the independent think-tank, Citizens for Tax Justice has reported, Hewlett-Packard Co, has been a major recipient of taxpayer funded corporate welfare.  In addition to direct subsidies, HP ranks #13 on the list of major corporations that have the most money hidden in “off-shore investments” in order to avoid paying federal and state taxes (See: Offshore Shell Games 2014 The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies.)

Citizens for Tax Justice notes,

“As of 2013, the 287 Fortune 500 companies that report holding offshore cash had collectively accumulated close to $2 trillion that they declare to be “permanently reinvested” abroad. That means they claim to have no current plans to use the money to pay dividends to shareholders, make stock repurchases, or make certain U.S. investments. While 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies report having income offshore, some companies shift profits offshore far more aggressively than others. The thirty companies with the most money offshore account for nearly $1.2 trillion. In other words, six percent of Fortune 500 companies account for 62 percent of the offshore cash.”

Corporate Welfare didn’t work with Hewlett-Packard Co,  and won’t work with Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates…but that fact certainly isn’t stopping Governor Dannel Malloy from giving one of Connecticut’s billionaires $52 million more of our money.