Malloy and Wyman seek to turn their “Wisconsin Moment” into a Wisconsin Era

Elected on a claim that he would stave off a “Wisconsin Moment,” Governor Dannel Malloy and his “policy partner” and side-kick Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, have not only ushered in Connecticut’s own anti-public employee, anti-government service and anti-middle class “moment,” but Malloy and Wyman are making it clear that nothing less than a Wisconsin Era.

Malloy is saying that the only budget that will get his signature is a full-fledged austerity budget; a spending plan that destroys vital state services and lays off public employees while coddling the rich and shifting even more of Connecticut’s already unfair and inequitable tax burden onto the back of Connecticut’s middle class.

In his latest diatribe, the ever smug, sanctimonious and thin-skinned bully of a governor has announced that he will veto any spending plan put forward by the General Assembly’s Democratic majority that reverses Malloy’s record-breaking, mean-spirited and draconian cuts to the critically important services that Connecticut residents need and deserve.

Pontificating that Democratic lawmakers won’t consider “enough spending cuts,” Malloy has – yet again – telegraphed that when it comes to the state’s revenue and expenditure plan it is  his way or no way.  It is a strategy that will require unprecedented state employee layoffs, will reduce the availability of critically important services for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, will mean less funding for Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, and will lead to higher local property taxes for Connecticut’s middle income families.

In addition to harming Connecticut residents, the Malloy-Wyman approach to governance leaves the leadership of Connecticut’s unions with egg on their faces and blood on their hands.

As many will recall, during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s union leaders were only too proud to hoist Dannel Malloy onto their shoulders with the false claim that Malloy, and Malloy alone, would protect Connecticut from following the dark and devastating tactics being implemented by Wisconsin’s right-wing, Tea Party governor and legislature.

As the media and union representatives reported in June 2014,

Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention.

A union blog post at the time reported,

“AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16” roaring, “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”

Saunders added,

“This election is in our hands. If we turn out the vote of people who share our values, who want to preserve the middle class, who care about quality public services, then we will win.”

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) leadership explained,

We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,”

And the President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO echoed the rhetoric at a press conference to announce labor’s support for Malloy saying,

“In recent weeks we’ve heard candidates talk about Connecticut having a ‘Wisconsin moment.’ Well let me say unequivocally — we are not Wisconsin.”  

In response Malloy bragged about his commitment to a Connecticut moment,” explaining that,

“A Connecticut moment is when you stand up for your fellow citizens.”

In the weeks that followed, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was created to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.

Another $160,000 in union member funds was slid into the slush-fund that Malloy’s campaign operatives were using to get around Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.

Now, eighteen months later, Malloy and Wyman are standing up on these issues…

But rather than standing up for the People of Connecticut and doing their right thing, they are standing up, turning their backs and walking away from the very people who elected them.

To better understand the damage being wrought by Malloy, Wyman and their policies, one need only read some of the unsettling commentary pieces that have been published by many of Connecticut’s media outlets.  For example,

Connecticut must not balance budget by denying basic medical care

Looming Health Care Crisis Can Be Avoided by Restoring Funds to Community Health Centers

Connecticut position as leader in Children’s Dental Medicaid in jeopardy.

An aging Connecticut needs the Legislative Commission on Aging

Budget cuts threaten Connecticut’s progress in mental health

Governor puts low-income families at risk of losing health coverage

CJTS teachers lament ‘inhumanity’ of sudden staff layoffs

Short-sighted budget cuts undermine CT’s long-term prosperity

CSCU tuition increase no surprise, but is just as wrong

Seattle – What happens when teacher union leaders step up to support teachers, students, parents and public schools

For those union members, education advocates and parents who are consistently frustrated by the fact that some union leaders spend more time maintaining their close relationship with the power elite than fighting for their members and public education, the recent teacher strike in Seattle, Washington is proof that real champions have been stepping up in Seattle, Chicago, at the state level in New York and Massachusetts, and elsewhere.  These teacher union leaders are making a fundamental difference in the fight to improve public schools and provide greater support for teachers, students and parents.

For an update on the Seattle Teacher Strike check out, The surprising things Seattle teachers won for students by striking.

The post appears on Valerie Strauss’s blog, The Answer Sheet.  Strauss is a reporter with the Washington Post and her bog is one of the most important resources in the nation for information about education policy and the unprecedented assault on public schools and public school teachers by the Charter School and Corporate Education Reform Industry.

If you don’t read Strauss’ blog you should book mark it and sign up for her regulator updates at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/

In The surprising things Seattle teachers won for students by striking, Strauss writes;

Seattle teachers went on strike for a week this month with a list of goals for a new contract. By the time the strike officially ended this week, teachers had won some of the usual stuff of contract negotiations — for example, the first cost-of-living raises in six years — but also some less standard objectives.

For one thing, teachers demanded, and won, guaranteed daily recess for all elementary school students — 30 minutes each day. In an era when recess for many students has become limited or even non-existent despite the known benefits of physical activity for children, this is a big deal, and something parents had sought.

What’s more, the union and school officials agreed to create committees at 30 schools to look at equity issues, including disciplinary measures that disproportionately affect minorities. Several days after the end of the strike, the Seattle School Board voted for a one-year ban on end suspensions of elementary students who commit specific nonviolent offenses, and called for a plan that could eliminate all elementary school suspensions.

Other wins for students in Seattle’s nearly 100 traditional public schools include:

Teachers won an end to the use of student standardized test scores to evaluate them — and now, teachers will be included in decisions on the amount of standardized testing for students. This evaluation practice has been slammed by assessment experts as invalid and unreliable, and has led to the narrowing of curriculum, with emphasis on the two subjects for which there are standardized tests, math and English Language arts.

Special education teachers will have fewer students to work with at a time. What’s more there will be caseload limits for other specialists, including psychologists and occupational therapists.

Seattle teachers had said they were not only fighting for pay raises but to make the system better for students. It sounds like they did.

Every teacher union leader in the country should be looking to Seattle for guidance on how to fight back against the forces seeking to destroy public education in the United States.

Working Families Party put politics before policy by endorsing Malloy – Uses endorsement to mislead voters

Here is the statement I released in response to the news that the Working Family Party has endorsed “four more years” of Governor Dannel Malloy.  You can read the WFP statement below;

Pelto: “Working Families Party put politics before policy by endorsing Malloy – Uses endorsement to mislead voters”

While it is unfortunate, the Working Families Party’s endorsement of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is not surprising.  Rather than hold Malloy responsible for his anti-working family policies, the group has thrown their support behind an incumbent who has squandered the opportunity to stand up and do the right thing for the real working families of Connecticut.

Worse, the WFP leadership is using their endorsement to mislead the people of the state.

In their endorsement, the Working Party falsely states;

  • We were one of the few states to balance the budget by asking the super-rich to pay their fair share instead of cutting essential services.
  • And while some states eliminated workers’ rights to collectively bargain, we expanded that right to more workers

But the truth is Governor Malloy IS THE ONLY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR IN THE NATION to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in so-called “turnaround schools.”

Not only did Dan Malloy fail to support the fundamental rights of unionized workers but he has consistently worked to undermine the teaching profession and the rights and work of state and municipal employees. Malloy’s corporate education reform industry proposals were in opposition to everything the WFP is supposed to stand for.

And the WFP’s claim that Dannel Malloy asked the “super-rich” to pay their fair share would be funny if it wasn’t such a serious example of how Malloy has failed during his time in office.  When Connecticut’s families were asked to pay higher income tax rates, Malloy actually FAILED to increase the rate on those making more than $1 million because, as he told a  joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly, he didn’t want to “punish success.”  Malloy’s failure to promote a fair and equitable tax structure is legendary and revealing.  Coddling the rich and burdening the middle class working families with a disproportionate tax burden, such as the state’s largest gas tax increase in history, are just two examples of Malloy’s failure when it comes to his tax policies.

The Working Families Party endorsement is disappointing but not surprising.  They have proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they put politics before policy and that is a sad commentary indeed.

 

Statement from Working Families Party – July 29, 2014

Governor Dan Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman have just earned the endorsement of the Connecticut Working Families Party!

Over the past four years, Governor Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Wyman have been critical to important victories for working and middle class families and the unemployed. They championed Connecticut’s historic paid sick days program. Now they’re facing a tough re-election — and they’ll need your help to win.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Wyman, Connecticut is a national leader when it comes to economic justice:

  • We became the first state to guarantee paid sick time off to hundreds of thousands of service industry workers.
  • We were the first state to raise our minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
  • We were one of the few states to balance the budget by asking the super-rich to pay their fair share instead of cutting essential services.
  • And while some states eliminated workers’ rights to collectively bargain, we expanded that right to more workers.

Over the past few months, we’ve been carefully considering who to endorse: scrutinizing candidate’s records, asking you, our members and activists, and hearing directly from the candidates at our Forum. When we asked you what we should do it was crystal clear: you wanted us to endorsed Governor Malloy and work to reelect him.

A vote on the Working Families Party line counts for the best candidate, and also sends a message that you want the Governor to focus on building an economy that works for everyone, not just the super wealthy.

Thanks for all you do,

Lindsay Farrell
Executive Director
Connecticut Working Families Party

 

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Connecticut Labor Leader attacks Pelto/Murphy (including on education)

Yesterday, the Political Director of the Machinists Union posted a commentary piece at My Left Nutmeg (http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/) belittling Ebony Murphy and my effort to give voters an alternative to the Democratic and Republican candidates in this year’s election for governor.

My Left Nutmeg then provided me with the opportunity to respond.

If you don’t read MLN on a regular basis, you should.  The blog is Connecticut’s premier site for learning about, and participating in, the on-going effort to push a liberal/progressive agenda in Connecticut.

The two pieces are also reprinted below, but the Political Director for the Machinists Union lays out his case by making the following claims;

  • “Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.” 
  •  “Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education.” 
  • “A Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.
  • These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results

 His full commentary piece is as follows.  After you’ve read the two pieces, please feel free to weigh in on this important debate at http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/ and here at Wait, What? 

GUEST POST: Jon Pelto and the challenge to the Connecticut Left

In an effort to have a discussion regarding Jon Pelto and the potential his candidacy could have on the race for governor, Bill Shortell, Political Director Eastern States Conference of Machinists and Carol Lambiase, International Rep, UE, retired, wrote the following guest post.

The biggest trend in US politics today is the growth of the Right: the flood of right-wing big money into elections at every level; right-wing populism in the form of the Tea Party; the broad attack on the unions; the explosion of the reactionary firearms obsession; the proliferation of small white supremacist groups; the domination of neo-cons in the State Dept….all fed by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In Europe there is a dangerous reassertion of fascism.

This is not to say that the left is dead, especially in places like Connecticut, but given our defensive posture, we must be carefully strategic in the allocation of our slender resources.

EDUCATION

Lately a key battleground has been the schools. The “achievement gap,” and the absence of a root cause analysis, has opened the door for privatization and teacher-bashing.  It is a fundamental principle that there will be no equality in educational achievement in the face of drastic economic inequality. In Connecticut especially, the contrast between the poverty of the cities and the wealth of the suburbs is shocking.

Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap. Neither can the governor of a small state, of course. In spite of Dan Malloy’s best efforts, the lingering Great Recession, and the pre-existing desolation of post-industrial cities, is a national, even an international crisis of capitalism.

THE DANGER OF TOM FOLEY

Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

Pelto’s candidacy, and the support  he is getting from the left, is a sign of frustration. We have no strong independent voice, and are rarely able to make policy. Nationally, hamstrung by a Republican majority in the House, the Dems are unable to implement even the narrow jobs program they espouse.

SPOILER?

There is room, even in these dangerous times for 3rd party candidacies. The minority party representation statute has been successfully used by Working Families in the cities. The Dems, who today have a comfortable majority in the General Assembly, cannot complain if 3rd parties run against right-wing legislators. In a safe Congressional district they would not be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties.

But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education. Let’s not forget all the national pressure there has been for this misguided “ed reform,” including among some inner-city people, who cannot wait for an end to the entire achievement gap to find a path out of joblessness.

This is a period for those of us on the left, to work within mass organizations, like the unions and the Democratic Party. We need to build our numbers and hone our ideology before grasping for a ring as heavy as a governorship.

And my response:

Pelto:  Labor Leaders to the Left:  ‘Shut up and sit down’

In an effort of fairness, Jon Pelto requested to publish a repsonse to today’s guest post…here it is.

While reasonable people can debate whether Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy deserves another four years in office, the discussion about my challenge to Malloy’s policies and his re-election aspirations took another odd turn with the publication of a commentary piece written for the blog, My Left Nutmeg, by the Political Director of the Eastern States Conference of Machinists.

My Left Nutmeg is Connecticut’s premier blog when it comes to presenting a platform for discussions about the ongoing efforts to further a liberal or progressive agenda in Connecticut so it comes as no surprise that Connecticut labor leaders would seek to use the blog to defend Malloy and belittle the challenge being mounted by the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign.

What is surprising is that Connecticut labor leaders would use MLN to continue their effort to mislead their members and Connecticut’s progressive community into believing that Malloy’s very likely loss in November will mean that Connecticut will became the next Wisconsin – and that we will see a successful Koch Brothers effort to destroy Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws and undermine the existence of the state’s public employees and public services.

In the piece entitled, JON PELTO AND THE CHALLENGE TO THE CONNECTICUT LEFT, the Machinists’ political director and his colleague write,

“Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

But of course, the authors fail to reveal that Wisconsin Tea-bag Republican Scott Walker achieved his goals thanks to the support of Tea-bag Republican majorities in both the Wisconsin State Senate and State Assembly.

Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, known as 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, passed because the ultra-right controlled the Wisconsin State Senate by a margin of 19-14 and the Wisconsin Assembly by a margin of 51 to 45.

The truth is that regardless of who becomes Connecticut’s next governor, as a result of the legislative re-districting of 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives will remain safely in the hands of the Democratic Party.

While few really know what a Tom Foley administration would be like, one thing we can be sure of is that an effort to repeal collective bargaining in Connecticut would not receive the legislative support necessary to become law.

We can also safely say that Connecticut has already witnessed a “Wisconsin moment.”

It occurred in February 2011 when Governor Dannel Malloy become the ONLY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR in the country to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for unionized teachers in so-called “turnaround” schools.

In response to Malloy’s historic, unfair and unwarranted attack on teachers, the Connecticut General Assembly stripped out those two provisions, before unfortunately passing the remainder of Malloy’s inappropriate corporate education reform imitative.

But as if their claim about Connecticut becoming Wisconsin wasn’t misleading enough, the labor leaders use their commentary piece to mock our ongoing effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and re-take control of our system of public education.

The authors claim,

“Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.

Offered no solutions?

Such a statement is so absurd, that it doesn’t even deserve a response but I’d urge the labor leaders to take the time to read through the 1,636 Wait, what? posts that I’ve written on these subjects over the past 3 ½ years

Finally, as to whether a “left candidate” has a right to run, the Malloy apologists opine,

“In a safe Congressional district [we would not] be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties…But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000.”

And they conclude their attack on our fundamental right to stand up and speak out by actually writing,

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. ”

So let us truly understand what these Connecticut’s labor leaders are telling their members and the majority of citizens who oppose Malloy’s re-election.

They appear to be suggesting that my candidacy in opposition of Malloy’s effort to undermine state employees and teachers, destroy public education, coddle the rich, place an unfair tax burden on the middle class and institute a record breaking system of corporate welfare in which scarce public funds are being diverted from vital services to support multi-million dollar corporations is not only inappropriate but nothing short of a precursor to the events that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the 3rd Reich.

Let no one be mistaken, these are, in fact, dark times.

However, the growing array of people who are willing to stand up and demand change are not the problem.  The problem is that some insiders, including some in leadership positions, remain committed to the notion that the “left” can best serve our nation by shutting up and sitting down.

If there was ever an effective argument for why I decided to create the Education and Democracy Party and run for governor in 2014, the new commentary piece submitted by the leadership of the Machinists Union is that treatise.

Upon reading their piece, one can’t help remember the wise words of Woody Guthrie who wrote, “Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto