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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

StudentsFirst-B4K & Fulop: A Hustle in Jersey City

One sure sign of a hustler is that he denies the obvious truth while telling you it's your own eyes that are lying. Take, for example, the leap that StudentsFirst's "partner" in New Jersey, Better Education for Kids (B4K), is making into Jersey City politics:
An advocate of teacher tenure and schools reform, Better Education for New Jersey’s Kids, Inc. has intensified efforts this week in support of Downtown Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop in the Jersey City mayor’s race.
A television ad went up last Tuesday, building on a mail campaign that accelerated last week.
It will run through Election Day.
Co-founded by hedge billionaire David Tepper, the ads target incumbent Mayor Jerry Healy’s record.
“We are an education reform group, and we were very involved with the tenure reform bill, which passed unanimously. That’s what we are about. We have supported candidates – Democrats and Republicans,” said Mike lilley, executive director.
In response to the ad campaign, Bruno Tedeschi, spokesman for Fulop, issued a statement.
B4K has nothing to do with Steven Fulop, other than like most residents, they think Healy has been a failure,” Tedeschi said. [emphasis mine]
Really? "B4K has nothing to do with Fulop"? Are you sure you want to stick with that answer, Bruno? Or should I remind you of this, from back in 2009?
Today, Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop announced that he will run for re-election for his Ward E council seat as an independent candidate.

Fulop, 31, also named community activist and former council candidate Shelley Skinner as his campaign manager and announced that he will be making endorsements of other candidates after the March 19 filing deadline. [emphasis mine]
Shelley Skinner, Fulop's former campaign manager, is currently the Deputy Director for B4K; yet his spokesman says Fulop has "nothing to do" with the group. 

Nice try, Bruno; now let's go a little deeper...

Back in February of 2012, Skinner, who had started working at B4K, tried to put a little distance between herself and Fulop. Fulop was surprised at Skinner's move - perhaps because, as we all later found out, the two had been involved in secret meetings in 2011 between members of the Jersey City Board of Education and NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf:
The same week that Ward E City Councilman (and future mayoral contender) Steven Fulop had to explain more than $18,000 in campaign donations from a law firm with ties to Spectra Energy, an e-mail was leaked from the 2013 mayoral candidate's personal gmail account in which he invites an inner circle of school board members to what appears to be a secret meeting.

Sent under the subject heading "Cerf meeting," the May 2, 2011 e-mail from Fulop reads: "Please keep in confidence as always. We are meeting at 274 Arlington Ave. tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. See you then."

According to one source, 274 Arlington Ave. was a vacant residential property at the time of the meeting. Chris Cerf is the acting commissioner of education for the state of New Jersey.

The e-mail was sent to Sterling Waterman, who at the time was president of the Jersey City Board of Education; Carol Lester, vice-president at the time of the meeting; Carol Harrison-Arnold and Marvin Adames, who had been elected to the board just days earlier, on April 27 - but had not been sworn in yet; Ellen Simon, founder of Parents for Progress; and Shelley Skinner, deputy director of Better Education for Kids, a school choice advocacy group. Fulop's e-mail was also sent to Leda Duif Shumbris, Mohamed Akil, and Tine Pahl. [emphasis mine]
Cerf was clearly pushing to get his choice for superintendent of schools installed in Jersey City; the attendees of this meeting were obviously all in agreement. Let's be clear: Steven Fulop facilitated a secret meeting in 2011 that included B4K's Shelley Skinner and Education Commissioner Cerf, yet his campaign now claims he has "nothing to do" with B4K.

This meeting would have normally violated sunshine laws, but the weaselly excuse given was that the board members had not yet been sworn in. The next year, Fulop supported yet another slate for the board; care to guess how those board members financed their campaigns? Yes, of course - with help from the man who funds B4K:
Lyles is a graduate of the controversial Broad Superintendents Academy, and Wahid alleges that Livingston billionaire David Tepper “directly” and “indirectly” offers financial support for Broad. Tepper funds education-reform group Better Education for Kids. [otherwise known as B4K - JJ]
Given Tepper’s $7,800 contribution to the three Jersey City school board members, and the $7,800 contribution from Jeffrey Kaplan, who runs Tepper’s hedge fund, the school-board trio should not be allowed to vote for Lyles’ appointment, Wahid says. [emphasis mine]
Yes, it's true: the slate of BOE candidates endorsed by Steven Fulop got thousands of dollars from the founder of B4K, yet his campaign says Fulop has "nothing to do" with the group.

Let's recap, shall we?

- Steven Fulop's former campaign manager, Shelley Skinner, now works at B4K.

- Fulop organized a secret meeting, which included Shelley Skinner, to facilitate the removal of the schools superintendent.

- B4K's founder gave thousands of dollars to a slate of candidates, backed by Fulop, for the JCBOE election the next year.

And yet, despite all this, Fulop's spokesman says: “B4K has nothing to do with Steven Fulop."

If you're gullible enough believe that, you'll believe that Steven Fulop is a friend to teachers...

When I'm Mayor of Jersey City, I'll be a great friend to teachers! Really, I swear!

ADDING: More about Tedeschi. No wonder newspapers are dying...

ADDING MORE: B4K already has a history of bringing chaos to Jersey City.


paig55 said...

Oh, what a tangled web we weave!!

Walt S, said...

In the end it's all about the privatization of public schools!
"There's gold in them there schools!"http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/http://freebooksbywalt.blogspot.com/

cselabservice said...

Share something about upcoming Jersey City City Council Election 2013. Cast your vote for Team Fulop
Nidia R. Lopez