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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oversight of Education Dies In NJ

Here's an interesting tidbit I haven't seen reported in the local press:
Bill Would Require Public Disclosure of Private Funding of State Services
Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto and Assembly Education Chairman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. announced  December 14 that they have introduced legislation to establish legislative oversight of private money being used to pay for state services. 
The legislation comes on the heels of press coverage outlining several grants provided by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to the New Jersey Department of Education in recent months.  The grants total over $430,000 education grant, and include a stipulation that the funding is available only as long as Gov. Chris Christie remains in office (Private education grant tied to Gov. Christie staying in office, NJ Star Ledger, December 13, 2012).
The bill,A-3617, matches language proposed by the Legislature in this fiscal year's state budget to establish oversight protections for donated or private funds. The provision was line-item vetoed by the Governor. [emphasis mine]
You mean Christie gutted a provision that would have stopped the practice of allowing private donors like Broad to withhold their money if pols like Christie get voted out of office?

Gee, there's a shock...
The legislation establishes budgetary oversight authority over state government expenditures of private donations and expenditures for advising and consulting services. The bill requires agency and department heads to provide notice and an accounting of such spending practices to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year.
The bill also requires private money used to pay for the discharge of the duties or responsibilities of an agency or department employee be reported to the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Senate President. The notice shall identify the person by name and title, the services provided by the person and the private source of funding from which the person was paid.
Can you believe that we don't already require this in New Jersey? That private donors can give unlimited amounts of money to state agencies as they see fit, and the Legislature doesn't have to be informed?

The reorganization of Newark into a two-tiered system of segregated charters and public schools was conceived using funds provided by Eli Broad. Interns paid by Broad came up with the plan to disenfranchise citizens in Camden and elsewhere. Broad paid for a consultant to reorganize the NJDOE; he also got the NJDOE to install one of the graduates of his book club unaccredited superintendents "academy" as the superintendent of Jersey City.

George Norcross funded the installation of KIPP, the charter management group, into Camden on a site that was originally designated for a public school. Mark Zuckerberg's money funded the installation of merit pay in Newark as well as the expansion of virtual charters in the district.

All of these radical changes to New Jersey's outstanding public schools were made without appropriate consultation with and oversight from the duly-elected Legislature. All were funded with private monies that the Legislature had no control over.

A-3617 is a no-brainer, if you believe in transparency and accountability in government. This bill should be flying through the Assembly and the Senate. It speaks volumes that it is not.

Just keep smiling and don't answer any questions about where the money is going...

4 comments:

Superfluous Man said...

Another reason not to join the calls for Christie to switch parties

Cris said...

It is too bad that this is limited to state level donations. I would like to see it expanded to include all public agencies. For example, charter schools should be required to disclose all of their spending on the school, not just the expenditures paid for by public dollars. For example, in East Brunswick, Hatikvah charter school operates a 501c3 called the "Friends of Hatikvah." All donations to and spending of the money in that account is kept out of the public eye. Meanwhile, the school's Board of Trustees are beholden to the donors of that account and specifically to the Hebrew Charter School Network who is also not required to be accountable to the public.

Jon Awbrey said...

And then the profits that the profiteers make off public dollars get fed back into their private slush funds that they use to bribe and bully for the diversion of more public dollars. You can hear the feedback howling for more, but there is too much cash stuffed in politicians’ ears for them to give a hoot.

Susan said...

The problem is both political parties are being run by and for gangsters. Christie would feel just as home in the Democratic Party as the GOP. Both parties despise public education.

I consider Eli Broad a gangster as bad as anybody in the mafia or on Wall Street. Ditto for all of the members of the Billionaires Club who are out to steal from the taxpayers.