Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Continuing Implosion of the MORE Caucus

The MORE Caucus is at it again. Well, really the de facto leader of the MORE Caucus and his sidekick, but they are the faces of what is left of the MORE Caucus and one can't really see either without thinking of the MORE Caucus so ipso facto.

At last night's UFT Delegate Assembly, there was some old putz handing out what some considered anti-Semitic literature entitled, "Why the UFT Should Not Partner With the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) on Anti-Racist Initiatives." This was due to a resolution that was to be voted on last night (and ultimately passed)...
"Resolution to unite with orgs against toxic political atmosphere. Supports. News stories horrible, frequent, don’t want it to become norm. Sacred spaces, of religion, and schools under attack. Don’t even want to talk about 45’s role. Let us stand against all kinds of discrimination and with orgs that speak out against it." 
So the UFT wished to join with the ADL in this battle. Gee, why not? But come to think of it, what timing it was to show some people's true colors in passing this literature.
I mean just about six weeks after 11 Jews were slaughtered in their own synagogue in Pittsburgh while praying and celebrating a new life.
But six weeks later many are still awaiting to hear an official statement from the MORE Caucus condemning this barbaric act. I guess no one should be holding their breath, right?

Enough of that. Let's get into the flyer, as well as the accusations thrown, that was being handed out in front of 52 Broadway last night. Apologies to one MORE Caucus member for my rejoinders.

I'm getting tired of this Israel/Jew bashing from the MORE Caucus. First, it absolutely has ZERO to do with anything that the 75k+ members of the UFT want or need. Secondly, I have the same disdain for those from the right that continue to sycophantically support Israel. Both the MORE Caucus and it polar opposites on the Right don't have a clue in what they are talking about nor the good grace and knowledge on when to keep their moths shut and when to open them.

Has the ADL done some not good things? Yes! Has it done a lot of good things? Yes! But has the MORE Caucus, whilst looking at the world in it's ISO hazed glasses, fails to see, as does the Rightists in this country, is that there is something called nuance.
noun: nuance; plural noun: nuances

a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound.

The world is not a vacuum.Let's just look at Venezuela.


But the MORE Caucus just decides to live in its own purity bubble. That those who are not pure are cast out, calling out others who don't think like the collective (BORG), while refusing to look inward to wonder why at a MORE Caucus meeting 95% of the attendees are WHITE!! And of these WHITE MORE Caucus members, most of these members work in schools that a certifiable wet dreams to work in. 

I despise the Israeli government and Bibi with a passion. I KNOW the Settlements are illegal and wish it would stop. Israel is so far from its roots and it's core beliefs now I am saddened.

But I shall not back down from Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. And I shall not back away from my belief that Palestine should have a state. But, it takes two to tango and I know for a fact that Israel has done much more tangoing.

Can those in charge of the MORE Caucus have this kind of nuance and thinking when it comes to other matters? Such as BLM, cops, Unity, capitalism, or dare I say...MORE Caucus members that disagree with the "ideals" of some fruity little ISO club? 

Not only was handing out the flyer and the motion to amend not working with the ADL done in the wrong place, at the wrong time (Many teachers are Jews!!!), but it shows yet again, that the needs and wants of the rank and file are way down the list of those at the MORE Caucus.

Yeah, yeah, I know, you guys were out there supporting the OT/PT chapter last night. Big deal. Anyone can be opportunistic. It doesn't take much effort. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Been Thinking of My Blood Sugar, The UFT, and the MORE Caucus

In the summer of 2012 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In retrospect I think I had
been having symptoms, constant thirst and always running to the bathroom, for two years before that.

At the time of my diagnosis my blood sugar level was nearly 500 as as my cholesterol level. My A1C was over 13. And my weight was 30 pounds heavier than it is now. I went from a size 38 waist to 32.

I am not on insulin, yet I am on Metformin, Glimepiride, and Jardiance for the Diabetes and Lipitor for the cholesterol. My cholesterol is now normal and my blood sugar, well it can always be improved, but my A1C is usually around 7 (it should be less, closer to 6.5) but I have cut out a lot from my diet.

I'm saying this because I remember several years ago talking about going on a hunger strike. Hunger strikes are hard. No food at all. Only water.

What's easy is going off my medications (OK, I have opened myself up to a litany of jokes!) . Flush it down the toilet. Stop going to CVS once a month for refills (except my Lipitor which comes mail order).

Why am I sharing this? Because something needs to be done with how our union elections and how decisions are made.

The UFT is calling, or at least exploring, earlier than usual elections for 2019. ATRs still have no voice, no functional chapter, no nothing. All teachers, all members of the UFT vote for every single officer. Why as an elementary teacher am I voting for HS VP? What purpose does an at-large executive board serve? Why at the DA is modern technology not used for voting of resolutions (simple, use an app to vote yes or no). There are a slew of other things to complain about.

That is one group. The other group is the MORE Caucus.

The MORE Caucus has gone bat shit crazy of late and is controlled by its patróns at the ISO and Gus Hall Superfriends Club, not to mention some truly demented human beings there. Worse yet, the purges of earlier this year in which the MORE Caucus stuck to the playbook of Stalin, Mao, and Saddam Hussein. The MORE Caucus still cares more for all this extraneous bullshit stuff rather than for the rank and file.

So what am I thinking.

I am really think choosing one of these two groups, that if things don't change I am going to go off the meds and set myself if I go hypoglycemic, or worse, so be it. But at least I will be doing it for for change, for the rank and file, a for a cause that means something.

If I do this I will be all in. Live on camera and streaming I will take my blood sugar. Instead of seeing between 90 and 150 2 hours after I eat, what will be seen are numbers like 600, 700, 900 or higher two hours after I eat. If I stroke out let it be on the UFT or the MORE Caucus.

I'm getting tired of the bullshit. I don't know what else to do. I am open to other ideas.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Is the MORE Caucus About to Defraud Members of the UFT?

Imagine if you will that the MORE Caucus (Movement of Rank and File Educators) has a baseball team. The team is down by a run, bottom of the ninth, no out, and a runner on third. The opposing team is so inept they are not even playing the infield in. A fly ball, a safety squeeze, a ground ball to the right side of the infield, almost anything will get that run home to tie the game. Heck, a dinger will win it. What would the MORE Caucus do?

In all probability refuse to send the next batter, or any batters up. This will necessitate a forfeit and the MORE Caucus will lose the game. Clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Crack Team was sent what appears to be the MORE's 2019 UFT election strategy. Not only does it follow the above scenario but worse. It is perpetrating a serious fraud among the rank and file. Read (click on image to enlarge)...

Some highlights of the fraud...

We did not want to exhaust ourselves in an election campaign to eke out as many votes as possible for the dubious goal of winning some seats on the UFT Executive Board. Instead, we want to organize, reach out and expand the caucus.

Why run then? Why give people false hope that the MORE Caucus finally gives a damn about the rank and file when all the MORE Caucus wishes to do is toe expand the brand? This can be done without giving the rank and file false hope. Want to expand the brand. Sit the election out and in the meantime expand the brand. Again, this is nothing other than the MORE Caucus putting themselves over others. 

If we agree at our next meeting that trying to capture the high school seats on the Executive Board should not be our priority, that frees us to run in a variety of different ways and to better use of the campaign to further the kinds of organizing we all want to do. First, it could make petitioning easier. 

So if it is not a priority to win HS exec seats why run? Why waste time of so many. Why waste the time and energy of those who sign the petitions? Why waste the money of those who give? Wait a minute. Will the MORE Caucus share with those that give money their real intentions? If not, is that not fraud? 

In 2016 we ran a joint slate with 300 candidates, including candidates for all 100 seats on the Executive Board. That meant we had to get petitions filled out for 300 people, many of whom were unwilling to help with petitioning themselves. 

Yeah, you know who put in the grunt work? Thanks to the trade unionists those petitions were filled out. Guess those who were unwilling for to busy supporting something tpotally irrelevant to the rank and file of the DOE or shopping for artisanal mayo in Brooklyn.

However, if we are not targeting particular seats, we could choose to run a much smaller slate (maybe 45-50) candidates for the officer and “at-large” seats on the executive board. Any UFT member can sign those petitions or run for those spots so it is much easier to get that petitioning done.

There you go. Yeah, go for the at large seats in which there is ZERO CHANCE of winning. God forbid if one has to take time from an ISO activity to do something for teachers. 

Second, once the petitioning is over, if our goal isn’t to win particular seats, we can campaign however we want.

Face palm. Why does this remind me of tee ball when my son was 4 1/2 and everyone got a trophy or the Wall of Gaylord

What we won’t have to do is figure out how to blanket every high school in the city with leaflets. That is the part that is exhausting and spreads us very thin.

Or find someone (a trade unionist) to stay in the South Bronx late and blanket practically every school in District 7.

Yes, there will be menial labor involved. Petitioning involves some tedious record-keeping and planning. 

Menial? Hard work? Isn't that the opposite of what we try to teach our offspring? That no work is menial. That we grow from tedium. 

Ya know, it is about sales. Selling yourself and selling what you believe in. Look like the MORE Caucus can't do neither. 

But frankly, I think we’ll be better off for the future if a few members from the younger generation get trained in how to do it. And somebody will have to represent us on the UFT election committee. But, usually, that isn’t much work.

Seriously, I can go down to the chimp house at the Bronx Zoo and train the chimps in about 5 minutes. The work is not hard, it is the dedication. And yes, it is difficult to be dedicated to something when you have lived a life of white privilege, gone to the best private high schools, gone to top notch universities and mummsy and dada, as well as Jeeves are shelling out for your apartment in Brooklyn. 

How can anyone trust the MORE Caucus now? How can anyone see any leadership qualities? The MORE Caucus is about to pull off the biggest con on the members of the UFT ever.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Francesco Portelos Puts Foot in Mouth Yet Again

Oh geez, it's coming up to that time. The UFT elections. Here we go again.

ICE has been meeting contemplating whether or not to run in the upcoming UFT elections. Recently members of Solidarity have reached out to us hoping to form a joint slate. Most of us, including myself, were amiable to this.

At one meeting, speaking only for myself, I took the position that for any "joint slate" to move forward that Portelos cannot be involved at all, though I left room open for something for him running downslate. Even him politicking for the election did not sit well for me. But I was open. One pre-condition was for Portelos to actually show up at an ICE meeting and eat crow, mend fences, and be a mensch. But curiously, each meeting in which we were told he will be there something always came up for him at the last minute.

But the more things change the more the stay the same.

Here we go again with alternative facts and whining. I'm not well informed about Portelos' accusation about Shulman to comment. I do know that Portelos did creepily show up at his house in 2016 to whine about not getting his way. But Mike, remember this. New York State has the Castle Doctrine. But I digress. As for the second paragraph, it will be revisited later on in this post.

But bashing Arthur Goldstein? Come on. I have had my disagreements with Arthur. But to accuse him of wanting to be a Unity hack, come on.

If there is an offer for Arthur to join with Unity for HS executive board, it's fine by me and if he doesn't want to, again, it is fine by me. In fact, I hope if he is offered he takes them up on it. With Arthur on exec board I am sure he'll keep Unity's feet to the fire and teachers will continue to have a voice. Portelos, Arthur has something you want. Actually two things you want and will never have, Being on the exec board and integrity.

And being a hypocrite. Portelos, come with me down memory lane (click here).

"You miss the point. Unity is laughing at the Portelos spectacle - they know he is nuts but are happy to be using him to divide the opposition. They even brag privately how Solidarity is doing their work for them - and they also spill the beans that Portelos was asking Unity for a job and when he didn't get it he figured he could win favor by creating a caucus that could prevent MORE from winning executive board seats. Is that what the meeting with Randi was about? Play the tape."
No onto the second paragraph and this little whine from Portelos...

It is you. It is always about you. That's the way you want it. Yes, we heard the right things. "Portelos is not involved," "Portelos is too busy," "Yada, yada, yada..." But face facts. You are the face and heartbeat of Solidarity. And you love it. But even if it is not true this is the perception others have. Remember, there is no such thing as reality only perception. 

I spoke to a revered member of NA a while back. Under no circumstances will this person work with Solidarity as long as you are involved. There are many who share the same thoughts at MORE and several with ICE. Are you noticing a pattern? 

Portelos, if you truly, truly care about the welfare of teachers everywhere perhaps it is time you fall on your sword? Divest yourself of Solidarity. Ride off into the sunset and let those who are not seeking fame and glory take the reins. You have some good people at Solidarity, it's time to set them free. You are the one holding back Solidarity.

Is this about you, or is it about the teachers? 

Monday, November 12, 2018

UFT President Mulgrew Gets $8,250 in US Open Tickets for Free

Dang. Our venerable UFT Presidenté Mike Mulgrew was in the Post yesterday. It seems that he has accepted...
...two tickets worth a total of $1,250 in 2012, and two tickets worth $1,300 in 2013. In 2014, he received $2,700 in tickets. In 2015 and 2016, he got tickets worth $1,500 each year.
That's a total of (Hang on The Crack Team is crunching the numbers.) $8,250. Who did he get these tickets from? According to the New York Post these tickets were obtained through.
a that firm represents the UFT and other city unions in litigation. In 2017, it collected $2.9 million in legal fees from the UFT...Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, the firm that collected $15.5 million in fees from the UFT in that time.

Yes, I get it. The UFT needs a law firm to do whatever it does. Virginia LoPreto, while probably less costly, can't do everything herself. I also understand that a business wishes to reward clients and throws them tickets. My dad had a business for years, and he would get tickets for his clients as well. It's the price of doing business.

But running a union, especially the UFT where time and time again it's leaders come across as tone deaf to the masses this is bad optics. James Eterno as quoted on the Post article as saying...
“It doesn’t pass the smell test. Your average teacher isn’t getting these kinds of perks — and nor should our union leaders.”
No, it doesn't James. Yes, Mulgrew can do this, but should he? That is the bigger question.

Just as out to lunch is Stoock partner Charles Moerdler who said he was unaware of the ticket exchange and went on to say...
“We have season tickets to a whole variety of sporting events, and we give them to clients who ask for them.”
So Uncle Mike asked for US Open tickets? Why? I used to the men's finals every year when  when I was a kid. I had to sit through a 5 1/2 hour match between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in 1980 (I think).

Sorry Norm, no raffle for winter coats. Technically, myself and every single UFT member are clients of Stroock. I am putting my request for tickets to Mr Moerdler. Other UFT members should do the same. Let's see if he comes through.

In order of preference this is my wish list I will present (I will accept two tickets please.).

Super Bowl LIII (I will find my own way to Atlanta.)

Opening Night (Can you believe? Game is scheduled at 6:35!) for Yankees April 1. If game is moved to the afternoon please disregard. And no substituting with Opening Day Mets tickets. I only watch Major League baseball. 

Giants vs Cowboys last game of 2018 and possible Eli's last game as a Giant. 

Any home Rangers game or a Devil's game. 

The 2020 US Open (golf) at Winged Foot. Final round. Mickelson might finally atone for his 2006 disaster.

2019 Masters.

Knicks or Nets home game. 

Islanders, only at the Coliseum. 

Oh, if Rush somehow starts touring again, Rush moves to top of the line.

If Mr Moerdler is kind enough to give me four tickets, I will take two UFT along with myself and my son. Beers on me. 

With Janus looming over the UFT and all public sector unions like the sword of Damocles the optics of our union leaders must improve.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The NYCDOE Has Stolen Retro Monies From Me and Other Teachers

I've Been laying low. Having to deal with Dr Evil and Mini-Me.

So, what's new? Tell you what's new from me. The DOE stole money from me, and it seems others as well. Not once but twice.

My son had saved up money to buy a car over the last six months. I promised him that I would kick in some cash towards the purchase but it would have to wait until the retro came in. When it came in, it was a real kick to the groin...

RESTR SETTL PR is probably "restructured settlement". But what is the PR?

Yeah, I am out $727.33. Why? A bit of a backstory first. I was under suspension when my the retro was dispersed. Last year when I got my first retro almost everyone else was getting there second retro check. As I was told, the checks are divided by 1/8, 1/7, and so on, or something like that. Anyway, the amount I received last year was equivalent to if it had been my second (Like everyone else) retro check. The amount I was blessed with this year is equivalent to what I would receive (which should have been my first) in 2015, which would have been less than last year's check. Therefore, last year I received more than I should have. So due to some bookkeeping method I am out over seven hundred dollars.

But if I received in the proper ordinal order...1st, 2nd, and so on, I never should have been out these monies. But looking at it with my non-mathematician mind, shouldn't the checks have the same total amount in whatever order they were dispersed? This seems like it is straight out of Abbott and Costello.

And guess what? I am not the only one this has happened to! I have heard from many teachers that feel that they have been robbed and want their money back. Like now!

My question is how do I, or those in the same predicament as I know that the numbers, or rather, the math is correct with what we are owed? Or for that matter what anyone is owed? Why has there not been something on the payroll portal a clear and concise accounting for each teacher, how much total money they are owed and the amount of each year's payout? This would solve so many problems and help teachers to plan accordingly.

Though the UFT has been quite helpful to me and has been on top of it, I've been cautioned that though I might get the seven hundred dollars back there is a chance that I might have it again deducted down the road.

That is why I filed a payroll grievance and hopefully I will not only get my money back but if and when it goes to arbitration it can be ruled that there will be no further deductions. Not to mention the hope, there will be accountability on the decision and the logic behind why I lost this money but a full accounting on how my retro is decided.

Fortunately, my son has a car. But not to soon after we had purchased the car, we learned that he needs a passenger side axle along with an inner tied rod.

The parts won't cost me much. I delivered auto parts during my suspension and can by the parts at the same price the garages pay (The mark up is obscene!). As for the labor, I know some good street mechanics in the Bronx and have a garage in White Plains that'll do the job for $200 (Gustavo's on Ferris Ave in White Plains---Shameless plug!).

"Not to worry," I told my son, "this can be fixed for on November 1 I shall be receiving yet another blessing from the DOE, my retro per session check."

"Oh blessed be Mayor de Blasio and Mike Mulgrew," my son said whilst smiling.

November 1 came. So did November 2. November 3. November 4. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing.

For some reason my per session retro is "not showing in the system." Why did this happen? No one knows. However, there is good news. I have been added to the list "of people who need to be paid." Let's see here. The definition of people is...
plural : human beings making up a group or assembly or linked by a common interest
The main takeaway from this definition is that people is plural. So ipso facto many a person (meaning many people) has yet to receive their retro per session.

I even called per session pay roll on Thursday. Iouldn't get an answer. What a surprise.

This is really from the files of "You Can't Make This Shit Up!" I'm out over $800. I am sure there are those that are worse off. But there is no transparency. No communication. No nothing.  

But UFT members have been in the dark since 2014 when this contract was ratified and we were told it will take until 2020 (And myself and others in 2021) to be made financially whole again. I want my money.  Maybe I will have it in time for Hanukkah. In 2020. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

BREAKING!! The ATRs and the New Contract!!!

Today was exciting. There is a new contract agreed upon between the UFT and the
NYCDOE. Yippee! We all got the emails today from Uncle Mike Mulgrew which was more or less highlights which barely touched on details.

But right now I just want to touch on the part of the contract that will pertain to ATRs.

First, I want to dispel the rumor that I have read first hand that ATRs will be disbanded, not by layoffs, but rather than placing ATRs in schools. Like forced placements. That is not happening.

As James Eterno and Arthur Goldstein mentioned, the date that ATRs are placed in openings in the license area has been moved from October 15 to day one of the school year. This makes sense. Does no one any good to start in October.

But there is more.

The Crack Team has learned through sources within the UFT that schools won't be penalized financially anymore for hiring an ATR with a high salary. For instance: Say a school has all first year teachers and 22 year ATR is hired. Ordinarily that ATRs salary would raise the average of the school's teachers salaries. Now, that ATR, that expensive ATR's salary will be seen as on par (Haven't a clue how this is being worked out) with the 1st year teachers salaries. That teacher making $119k won't skew the schools budget. Again, the devil is in the details.

Something else that is new is a new program that will hire ATRs into a program called 4x4. ATRs will be hired into schools (This will start of as a pilot program) in which ATRs will work with small groups of students in group literacy intervention. You won't need a reading license to do this. The curriculum will be scripted out and the cost borne by the DOE. In my opinion this is a long time coming. I have always wondered why ATRs are forced to do menial sub work when they could be better used to target in need students either individually or in small groups. But as usual, the devil is in the details.

But we don't have the details and neither will the DA tomorrow night until after a vote. Why the UFT couldn't wait until Monday to have the DA ratify the contract boggles the mind. Shabbas candles are lit tomorrow at 6:02 PM. It would be safe to assume that some CL's and delegates are Observant Jews.