I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Incompetent Corporatists Shouldn't Run Schools!

When I see that America's business titans are making education policy while teachers are kicked to the curb, it makes me crazy. Partially because I'm angry that we're being excluded; partially because these guys shouldn't get tax gifts to amass the billions they spend to remake schools the way they want them.

But what really makes me nuts is that these "titans" shouldn't be allow to run anything until they clean up their own messes! Take James Crown of Chicago:
It remains unclear how much JPMorgan's risk committee knew about the trades that led to the massive loss, and whether a chief risk officer was reporting to the committee, Clayton said.

His group wants the bank to replace James Crown and Ellen Futter, who are members of the board's three-person risk policy committee, with individuals who have deeper experience in banking and financial regulation.

"Having somebody with regulatory experience - whether it's the SEC or the Fed or another regulator is very valuable," Clayton said.

According to JPMorgan's annual report, a chief risk officer oversees risk management at the firm. The official reports to Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, and is accountable to the board of directors, "primarily through board's risk policy committee." Responsibility for overseeing liquidity and interest rate risks is a duty of the chief investment office - the unit that ran the "London Whale" trades.

Crown, the policy committee's chairman, is a lawyer and former vice president at Solomon Brothers who heads the private investment firm James Crown & Co.

Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, is a former director at the New York Fed who served as its chairman between 1992 and 1993. A corporate lawyer by training, she also served as a director at American International Group Inc before its near-collapse in 2008.

JPMorgan's 2012 proxy statement says Crown's experience on many boards gives him exposure to issues encountered by JPMorgan's board, such as risk management, investment management and executive compensation.

His legal training gives him "enhanced perspective on legal and regulatory issues," the statement said. He worked at Salomon Brothers in 1983 before joining Henry Crown and Co, his family's investment firm in 1985.

The proxy statement said Futter's experience on corporate boards and the board of the New York Fed have given her experience with regulated industries and risk management.

But Clayton said Futter gained no supervisory experience from her role at the New York Fed and lacked professional experience as a regulator. Her experience there is also dated, he said. "That's a good 6 or 7 years before credit default swaps were invented. It's hard to see how that provides experience to oversee risk management at a major bank."

In March 2011, CtW sent a letter to the bank urging an overhaul of the risk committee's responsibilities and Futter's replacement. That letter and another a led to an April 2011 meeting with Crown, the head of JPMorgan's risk policy committee. During the meeting, CtW's representatives urged the bank to hire outside experts to review its risks. According to Clayton, Crown said: "Why would we want to do that? We have the best risk-management people in the world."

CtW is now also calling for Crown's replacement as chair of the risk committee, because he has shown "a lack of modesty" over the company's potential problems, Clayton said. "Part of risk management is to recognize the role of luck," Clayton said. "You need to build oversight of risk management not around confidence. He didn't seem to know what was about." [emphasis mine]
Got that? James Crown was asleep at the wheel of JP Morgan when traders decided to turn the international markets into a game of roulette. He is directly responsible for a huge mess.

He is also directly responsible for screwing over Chicago's teachers, because he is one of the sugar daddies of the insufferably smug Jonah Edelman:
I've been doing this long enough to detect certain patterns. One near certainty is that corporate reform tools like Edelman always have a group of sugar daddies to fund their little adventures. Sure enough...

An out-of-state education reform group raised a whopping $2.8 million in the days leading up to historic state caps on campaign contributions. 

All of the money raised by Stand for Children’s Illinois PAC came in five- or six-figure contributions from some very major Chicago-area business types. Members of the famed billionaire Pritzker family kicked in a total of $250,000 on Dec. 29, two days before the end of the old campaign finance system, which allowed for unlimited contributions to groups like Stand for Children’s PAC.

Ken Griffin, the CEO of the Citadel Group, contributed $500,000 on Dec. 15. Griffin gave hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to Illinois House Republicans and GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady’s campaign. Sam Zell, the owner of Tribune Co., contributed $100,000 on Dec. 20. Members of the Henry Crown family kicked in $400,000. And Paul Finnegan, the co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, contributed $500,000. 

The group’s political action committee made history last year with the single largest non-leadership contribution in modern Illinois times – a $175,000 check to Republican state House candidate Ryan Higgins, who ended up losing his race. The PAC contributed a total of $610,000 during the fall campaign to legislative candidates in both parties. [emphasis mine]
Edelman admitted he bought and paid for Illinois legislators to pass a bill that screwed them out of their collective bargaining rights. His lucre came from folks like Crown, who want to remake our schools in their corporate image.

In a sane world, Crown wouldn't have money to throw around like this; he'd be paying his fair share of taxes, and we'd all be voting on what to do with that money to improve education. In a sane world, billionaires like Crown couldn't get smarmy little jerks like Edelman to buy off politicians, because campaigns would be paid for by the taxpayers and broadcasters would be compelled to give airtime to candidates for free. In a sane world, plutocrats like Crown would be happy to see teachers get paid decently and would defer to them when we create education policy.

And, in a sane world, aristocratic failures like Crown would have enough modesty to stay out of remaking civic institutions until they got their own damn houses in order.

I know - I'll give it to Jonah Edelman!

ADDING: Mike Klonsky reminds me that Crown is actually the dude sitting next to Edelman in the infamous video confession at Aspen. So he was traveling around with his stooge Jonah, bragging about screwing teachers over, two months after he was denied there was a problem at JP Morgan Chase.

Were I a shareholder, I'd be asking why in the hell was he going off on these little excursions when he should have been doing his fiduciary duty. Maybe the London Whale knew he was busy with all of these side projects and wouldn't have time to do his job.

Seriously: is it so far-fetched to make that connection?


tjmertz said...

always fun to look at Whitney Tilson's funds also.



Duke said...

Ha! Always fun to see old Whitney squirm. Thx for that!

jcg said...

Wow. The NYTimes should employ you, Jazzman, to expose the rotten underbelly of these billionaire edu-reformers. Thier concern for quality public eduction extends as far as it hits them in their wallets.

It's time for a new flow chart.

BTW, TN is a cesspool of reformyness. Public colleges of education are the next frontier for these tapeworms. Our universities are being systematically excluded from high level conversations about pre-service teacher evaluations. Our teacher ed graduate's VAM scores are used to grade Colleges of Ed. Guess which education prep program had the "best" VAM scores in TN's First to the Top? Teach for America!!!! (TN commissioner of Ed is a TfA cult member and Rhee's ex-hubby)

Teacher Rich said...


Join Jersey and me May 27 at 5/8pm