union busting

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

We need to learn a lesson from history when it comes to natural resources.  Money, labor, privatization, and politicians operate the same.

Some things never change.

At the time of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, the oil companies, particularly Sinclair Oil was given our nation’s oil resources for a sweetheart deal – no bidding necessary. The oil was in reserve for the Navy in case of war – the Republicans in charge arranged for it to go to oil corporations for profit.

Some things never change.

In our day, international mining corporations are allowed to enter Nevada and stake claims for very small fees . The current Governor of Nevada most recently worked at Jones Vargas – the firm hired to mining lobby. Elected officials on all levels take campaign donations from mining. Mining pays barely anything for billions of dollars in gold and other minerals.

It is estimated that one trillion dollars worth of gold is in the center of the state.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 239-240

Out west, one of the navy properties was a great oil field that lay under a butte, officially Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 but known as Teapot Dome for the butte’s funny shape. Some engineers were arguing that the surrounding private companies were tapping the oil out from under the Dome. The best thing to do might be to grant a concession to drill there; that would both allow commerce to take over the business there and reduce the United States’ dependence on oil drilling in Mexico …. Granting oil concessions to private companies was like granting a great company the right to operate Muscle Shoals, the dam that had been constructed to produce nitrates during the war. It was important to do this now, Harding and Coolidge believed. If they did not then these sectors might forever stay in public hands.

Some things never change.

Resource Land: international mining corporations are staking claims all over Nevada in a mighty land grab. They are allowed by fee simple to patent the land converting public land into private property. At least at teapot dome, there was a lease and they had to pay something. They are not paying anything to tie up the land.

Resource Water: The ancient water is dumped by mining into the the desert while Vegas fights with the North and other states over water rights.

Resource Clean Environment. British Petroleum owns the superfund site in Yerington. The radioactive site will cost billions to clean up. Water has to be brought in from outside for the people living close by to drink. Mercury is polluting the water, fish are not edible, and the EPA is fining the mining industry. Thousands of holes are dug all over the state and abandoned.

Corporations are costing the government and the tax payers billions in Nevada; corporations are reaping only benefits and profits.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Albert Fall, intended to lease the valuable Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 without putting the project out for bids. The transfer to Interior from Navy had already taken place with the seeming endorsement of all, including the navy secretary and the navy assistant secretary, Theodore Roosevelt, the president’s son and Alice’s half brother …. The Wyoming reserves, some 200 million barrels of high-grade oil, would be leased to Mammouth Oil Co., a company created by Sinclair Oil, the company of a Harding campaign donor, Harry Sinclair

Some things never change.

Nevada is a leading producer of high quality gold. A cash cow for the billion dollar mining industry. Barely a soul spoke against their monopolies hidden out in the desert for decades. Campaign donations were hefty for many Nevada politicians.

Mining does employ a few mostly transient workers and adds some benefit to the immediate communities. It is by no means comparable to the benefit the corporations receive.

Nevada has become a place for out-of-state profiteers.

While leadership is asleep at the switch.

Nevada also has its own “Keystone Pipeline”. This huge natural gas line crosses Nevada leaving a huge scar on the old ground. Yes, we had temporary jobs and a short term boost in the economy. That boost is history. The federal government smoothly permitted the 48″ gas line. Nevada politicians can be proud that Nevada got the burden of the pipeline but not the benefit of buying one gallon of natural gas. North Dakota is not the only state that is covered with pipeline. If you really want to generate and sell electricity, cheap natural gas is the way to do it. Ask California – they got the gas.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin was moving with alacrity to spotlight the transaction and demanded an investigation of the teapot Dome concession …. Coolidge watched from the Senate president’s seat.

Tax issues — the rich did not want to pay.

Some things never change.

The people of Nevada have to take the matter into their own hands because the politicians would not. SJR15 is before the Nevada Legislature. This would remove a cap placed in the Nevada Constitution by miners in ancient times. We hope this will be placed on the ballot and the people will vote — doing the job that our elected officials should have done.

Why has it taken Nevada so long? Mining law from 1872? These laws need to change.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 241

In June, the administration won a key case against violent strikers: United Mine Workers v Coronado Coal affirmed that strikers were liable for the damage they inflicted on companies property. On July 1, 300,000 rail workers walked out, shutting down commerce. The strikes halted the upward trend of business; the strike was taking the recovery hostage. The administration had begun to appoint conservative judges who would be a help in the endless battles between companies and unions.

Some things never change.

Under conditions of austerity, labor is taking to the streets, protesting, and becoming unsettled. Activists are activating. Organizers are organizing. Regular people are asking: Why are we giving resources away while we are experiencing severe financial crisis? Vegas experiencing the recession in many ways worse than the rest of the nation. Highest foreclosure. Highest unemployment.

Union busting was and is the primary goal. Profit margins widen as the rich take advantage of the work of people’s hands. In a right to work state, unions stand between working people and oblivion.

Resources are allowed to be siphoned away.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

It was becoming clear now that the interior secretary had accepted cash via an intermediary. “Not in my time has the country been so startled by the act of a public servant as it has been by the disclosure that Secretary Fall actually took money in a satchel, ” wrote Morrow….

Some things never change.

Closed door legislative meetings. Decisions made at the last minute. Horse trading. Mining lobbyists boldly meeting in the middle of the legislative building as if they owned the place. Some people getting richer and the disadvantaged not part of the discussion.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

Longworth’s compromise was worse than the White House feared. Republicans teamed up with Democrats, 408-8, to pass a bill that diverged sharply from the Mellon Plan.

Some things never change.

In a move that surprised everyone this Nevada Legislative session a few Republicans are leading the charge to do something about remedying the taxation of Nevada Mining. They are questioning and standing up to the lobbyists.

Where are the democrats?
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

But there again, despite the special prosecutors and the recent resignation of Navy Secretary Denby, the shadow of Teapot Dome was still long. If leasing Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair had been a corrupt mockery of privatization, then was not the sale of Muscle Shoals to Ford the same? Governor Gifford Pinchot, who had negotiated the coal situation the prior autumn, opposed the sale. Progressives in the Senate found endless reasons to block it.

Some things never change.

In Nevada the progressives are activating around the mining issues. Sheila Leslie and Representative Steven Horsford worked on SJR15. US Representative Steven Horsford participates in the Mining Accountability and Oversight Committee, MOAC.

But the situation is progressing slowly, with the Nevada Governor appointing MOAC auditors and inspectors of the billion dollar mining industries – who do not attend the meetings. It’s lip service to oversight but it is not meaningful.

This reminds me of the Anderson Firm auditing Enron.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 295

The Teapot Dome investigations continued: the federal grand jury indicted Albert Fall, Sinclair, and Doheny.

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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 296

“We are often told that we are a rich country, and we are,” Coolidge told the crowd. But as in the Gospel of Luke, “where more is given, more is required.” The President laid down the law for those departments that would not cut. “I regret that there are still some officials who apparently feel that the estimates transmitted to the Bureau of the Budget are the estimates which they are authorized to advocate before the Committees.” The only lawful estimates were the president’s Finally Coolidge again stressed his theme: “I am for economy. After that I am for more economy. At this time, and under present circumstances, that is my conception of serving the people.”

Some things never change.

Governor Sandoval is a leader in a state full of gold. The billionaires are allowed to hide, hoard, and stash the wealth. While the Governor cut 5,000 jobs his first months in office. Schools, hospitals, social services, mental health, are all cut cut cut. This definitely serves a few people – it is not serving THE people.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 305

La Follete and Davis might be able to use Teapot Dome to bring Republicans down.

Some things never change.

Scandal will bring politicians down. Careful politicos – ethical consideration and disciplinary rules may bite you.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 321

The big question in the Veterans Bureau and Teapot Dome scandals was how much information Coolidge himself had picked up in the cabinet meetings. When Dawes made a show of avoiding the meetings, he raised the question of whether Coolidge had been compromised by attending. The alternative was that Coolidge had been ignorant of what had gone on among men he saw at the White House …. That surmise kept Coolidge’s name clear but also suggested that he was a simpleton.

Some things never change.

The people involved in Nevada Mining issues and allowing the corporations to take American resources like this are either not paying attention or not understanding?
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 391

Charles Forbes, Harding’s original Veterans Bureau chief, was still in Leavenworth Prison for the fraud he had committed with federal moneys. All over Washington could be found the detritus of war-related scandal, such as the Teapot Dome decision relating to naval reserves.

Some things never change.

Enough is enough. We need to use our Nevada resources wisely and be responsible stewards.

This post was written by Angie Sullivan

E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials

E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials

jeb and george bush                                    George and Jeb Bush (Jason Reed/Reuters)

A nonprofit group released thousands of e-mails today and said they show how a foundation begun by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and national education reform leader, is working with public officials in states to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders.

A call to the foundation has not been returned.

The e-mails are between the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and a group Bush set up called Chiefs for Change, whose members are current and former state education commissioners who support Bush’s agenda of school reform, which includes school choice, online education, retention of third-graders who can’t read and school accountability systems based on standardized tests. That includes evaluating teachers based on student test scores and grading schools A-F based on test scores. John White of Louisiana is a current member, as is Tony Bennett, the new commissioner of Florida who got the job after Indiana voters rejected his Bush-style reforms last November and tossed him out of office.

Donald Cohen, chair of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, a resource center on privatization and responsible for contracting in the public sector, said the e-mails show how education companies that have been known to contribute to the foundation are using the organization “to move an education agenda that may or not be  in our interests but are in theirs.”

He said companies ask the foundation to help state officials pass laws and regulations that make it easier to expand charter schools, require students to take online education courses, and do other things that could result in business and profits for them. The e-mails show, Cohen said, that Bush’s foundation would often do this with the help of Chiefs for Change and other affiliated groups.

The e-mails were obtained by Cohen’s group through public record requests and are available here, complete with a search function. They reveal — conclusively, he said — that foundation staff members worked to promote the interests of some of their funders in  Florida, New Mexico, Maine, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Louisiana.

The Web site of the Foundation for Excellence in Education used to list some of their donors but no longer does and is not required to list all of its donors to the public under tax rules for 5013C organizations. However, it is known that the foundation has received support from for-profit companies K12 and Pearson and Amplify, as well as the nonprofit College Board.

There are strong connections between FEE and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy:

Aptly named FEE, Bush’s group is backed by many of the same for-profit school corporations that have funded ALEC and vote as equals with its legislators on templates to change laws governing America’s public schools. FEE is also bankrolled by many of the same hard-right foundations bent on privatizing public schools that have funded ALEC. And, they have pushed many of the same changes to the law, which benefit their corporate benefactors and satisfy the free market fundamentalism of the billionaires whose tax-deductible charities underwrite the agenda of these two groups.

 

FEE and ALEC also have had some of the same “experts” as members or staff, part of the revolving door between right-wing groups. They have also collaborated on the annual ALEC education “report card” that grades states’ allegiance to their policy agenda higher than actual student performance. That distorted report card also rewards states that push ALEC’s beloved union-busting measures while giving low grades to states with students who actually perform best on standardized knowledge tests.

Here is some of what the e-mails released today by Clark’s group say, taken from the Web site of In the Public Interest:

* In New Mexico, FEE acted as a broker to organize meetings between their corporate donors and individual Chiefs.

* Maine moved the FEE policy agenda through legislation and executive order that would remove barriers to online education and in some cases would require online classes – including eliminating class size caps and student-teacher ratios, allowing public dollars to flow to online schools and classes, eliminate ability of local school districts to limit access to virtual schools.

*In Florida, FEE helped write legislation that would increase the use of a proprietary test (FCAT) under contract to Pearson, an FEE donor.

* Foundation for Excellence in Education CEO Patricia Levesque urged state officials to introduce SendHub, a communications tool, into their state’s schools. News reports indicate that Levesque’s boss, Jeb Bush, is an investor in SendHub.

 

Florida 

• FEE staff sought legislation that would count the state test, known as FCAT, as more than 50% of the state’s school accountability measure. FEE staffer Patricia Levesque wrote to a state official that she had negotiated the related language with state legislators, who were now “asking for the following, which the Foundation completely supports: FCAT shall be ‘at least 50%, but no more than 60%’ of a high school’s grade.” Pearson, the company that holds the $250 million FCAT contract and sponsors FEE through its foundation, has an obvious financial stake in ensuring that FCAT continues to be at the center of Florida’s education system.

• Levesque writes, “I think we need to add a sec onto this bill to give you/the department authority to set a state?approved list of charter operators or private providers so districts can’t pick poor performers to implement turnaround.” At least one FEE donor, the for-profit Florida-based Charter Schools USA, could benefit from being placed on such a state-approved list.

• Charter Schools USA also could benefit from a “parent trigger” law, the passage of which, as Nadia Hagberg of FEE wrote, was the goal of a partnership between Bush’s Florida-based organization (the Foundation for Florida’s Future) and Parent Revolution: “The Foundation for Florida’s Future worked closely with [Parent Revolution] throughout the process in Florida and they proved to be an invaluable asset.” Parent trigger, which failed to pass during Florida’s last legislative session, is a mechanism to convert neighborhood schools to charter schools.

Louisiana

• An April 26, 2011, e-mail indicates that Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, through its Chiefs for Change project, had engaged John Bailey, a director of Dutko Grayling. CEO Patricia Levesque wrote to State Schools Superintendent Paul Pastorek:

“John Bailey, whom you met over the phone, will be on the call to provide an update on reauthorization discussions on the Hill. He is going to be on contract with the Foundation to assist with the Chiefs’ DC activities in light of Angie’s departure.

“Dutko has been accused of working with industry front groups in the past. For example, Dutko worked with AIDS Responsibility Project (ARP), an industry-supported effort described by an HIV/AIDS policy activist as a ‘drug industry-funded front group. ‘”

• There are records of the Foundation for Excellence in Education reimbursing Paul Pastorek and John White, the two men who led the state’s education department, for their travel to Orlando and Washington, D.C., for events sponsored by FEE and the Chiefs for Change.

Maine

• As the Portland Press-Herald has reported, the e-mails were evidence of “a partnership formed between Maine’s top education official and a foundation entangled with the very companies that stand to make millions of dollars from the policies it advocates.”

• FEE Deputy Director Deirdre Finn wrote, “We can definitely help develop an executive order,” referring to what became a February 2012 executive order by Gov. LePage directing his education commissioner to develop a plan to open the door to more cyber-schooling in Maine. The elements of the order originated with the Digital Learning Council, a group co-chaired by Bush and funded by FEE donors K12 Inc, the Pearson Foundation and McGraw-Hill.

• The Foundation for Educational Excellence also acted as a conduit for ALEC model legislation and policies. LePage’s order originated at ALEC, was tailored for Maine by the FEE and sent to Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, who subsequently forwarded it to LePage to release unchanged. “Resolution adopting the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning” is a model bill introduced by Arizona Sen. Rich Crandall at the 2011 ALEC Annual Conference.

New Mexico

• FEE provides its donors — including for-profit digital education companies — access to the chiefs. A draft agenda for the Excellence in Action 2011 Summit blocked off two hours for “Chiefs for Change donor meetings.” Another draft agenda for the meeting allocated nearly three hours to “Chiefs for Change donor meetings.” The donors for the summit were the Walton Family Foundation, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Carnegie Corp., Susan and Bill Oberndorf, GlobalScholar, Target, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Microsoft, State Farm, IQity, McGraw-Hill Education, Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, Intel, Pearson Foundation, Apex Learning, ETS, Electronic Arts, Koret Foundation, SMART Technologies, K12, Morgridge Family Foundation, Charter Schools USA and Connections Academy. Demand for donor time was so high that Patricia Levesque wrote that she had to turn down opportunities for the chiefs to meet other representatives from companies.

• FEE staff served as advisers to acting education commissioner Hanna Skandera. FEE, and, by extension, its donors, had great influence over New Mexico legislation. In a Jan., 2011, e-mail, Skandera directs a staffer from the legislature to forward all education bills to FEE’s Christy Hovanetz for edits: “Can you send all Governor’s office ed bill language to Christy, including social promotion?” Another FEE staffer, Mary Laura Bragg, wrote to Skandera, “I’m at your beck and call.”

• The foundation sought to make connections between Skandera (as well as the other Chiefs for Change) and the Hume Foundation for funds for digital learning projects from  Hume  that “must flow through the Foundation for Excellence in Education as a project-restricted grant.” The Santa Fe New Mexican reported  Oct. 21 that Skandera had indeed applied for such a grant, which ultimately could lead to digital learning legislation favorable to FEE funders Connections Academy and K-12 Inc.

• The e-mails indicate that FEE paid for Skandera’s travel, reimbursing New Mexico $3382.91 for her expenses, including trip to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress.

Oklahoma

• An Oct. 7, 2011, e-mail indicates that State Superintendent Janet Barresi was a guest of Louis A. Piconi — founder and SVP of Strategic Activities, Apangea Learning Inc., a distance learning company — at an event Piconi hosted for Jeb Bush and Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett. Apangea is not a known funder of FEE, but Apangea and Barresi contributed to Bennett’s campaign.

• As in other states, FEE staff had great control over state education policies, writing and editing regulations for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

*For unknown reasons, Barresi’s response to an e-mail from Patricia Levesque about SendHub was not included in Oklahoma’s response to the public records request. Instead, that was found in the documents from Louisiana. A Louisiana official was cc’d on the e-mail. A description of Barresi’s response is in the Rhode Island section of this document.

Rhode Island

• In February 2012, Patricia Levesque, using her Foundation for Excellence in Education e-mail address, urged state officials to introduce SendHub, a communications tool, into their state’s schools. News reports indicate that Levesque’s boss, Jeb Bush, was an investor in the start-up by the fall of 2012.

• An e-mail chain between RI Ed Commissioner Deborah Gist and FEE’s Patricia Levesque shows Gist trying to obtain a funding grant from the Kern Foundation, which was denied because of the “political environment” in RI.

• Gist also sought funding from the Hume Foundation for a digital learning initiative. FEE staff made it a point to connect Gist, as well as other state education commissioners, with Hume to launch digital learning projects.

This post was written by  Valerie Strauss  and posted in the Washington Post on January 30, 2013.  The original may be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

 

 

 

and this is why we call it, The Cabal – Uncovering the Other ALECs

ALEC, though, is not the only “corporate bill mill” playing this game.

“Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists” have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan “trade associations” for state government officials – in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. Through CSG and Friends, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agenda of their corporate clientele.

This, then, is part one of a four-party story about how the “real engines of government” work. First stop on the voyage: the CSG.

KUDOS TO SARAH BLASKEY AND STEVE HORN , TRUTHOUT

To read this entire Must-Read article, please click here.

CCI, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, SPN, Heartland Institute, Heritage Institute, Cato Institute, Mercatus Institute…Please see the photo called “Koch Controlled Foundations” in our Photo Gallery

Don’t Let Business Lobbyists Kill the Post Office

…But politics also plays a huge part in this. In 2006, in what looks like an attempt to bust the Postal Workers’ Union, George Bush signed into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. This law required the Postal Service to pre-fund 100 percent of its entire future obligations for 75 years of health benefits to its employees – and not only do it, but do it within ten years. No other organization, public or private, has to pre-fund 100 percent of its future health benefits.

The transparent purpose of this law, which was pushed heavily by industry lobbyists, was to break a public sector union and privatize the mail industry. Before the 2006 act, the postal service did one thing, did it well, and, minus the need to generate profits and bonuses for executives, did it cheaply. It paid for itself and was not a burden to taxpayers.

To read more of Matt Taibbi’s article, please click here

And please click here to go to our forum and discuss the USPS with others.  The Forum is moderated by Marty Townsend who is from a multi-generational USPS family.

KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut’s Owner Is The 12th Corporation To Drop ALEC

By Ian Millhiser on Apr 19, 2012

…”The loss of Yum! is also a significant loss for ALEC because the fast food giant held an important leadership role within the conservative group. YUM! co-chaired ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee which, among other things, fought to repeal laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers.”

To read this entire article, please click here.