Author Archives: DCG

Chicago Public Schools admits to ‘overstated’ graduation rate months after Mayor Emanuel’s re-election

Well, what do you know.


The College Fix: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had heralded the improved graduation rate of students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) during his re-election campaign … right up through his February triumph.

But there’s a problem: It wasn’t true.

Last Thursday, the CPS admitted that the graduation figures were “overstated.” This came after a Better Government Association/WBEZ investigation showed “thousands of students were being counted as transfers when they should have been counted as dropouts.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

CPS previously claimed that 69.4 percent of students who started high school in 2009 graduated by the summer of 2014. But on Thursday, officials revealed that the rate is, in fact, 66.3 percent.

Asked whether the numbers were fudged on purpose, CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said when she was a principal, she knew how to properly categorize transfers.

Jackson also acknowledged that some principals might feel pressure to boost their graduation rate on paper so their school ranking is better.

CPS also revised the graduation rate for 2013, from 65.4 percent to 62.5 percent; for 2012, from 61.2 percent to 59.3 percent, and for 2011, from 58.3 percent to 56.9 percent.

The BGA and WBEZ reported in June that a review of CPS’ own records showed at least 2,200 students from 25 Chicago high schools were wrongly counted as “transfers” – departing the system for another school district from 2011 to 2014 – when they should have been considered “dropouts.”

CPS officials initially said they had no plans to go back and adjust the numbers. It’s unclear why they changed minds.

Breitbart’s Warner Todd Huston notes that Mayor Emanuel had “repeatedly cited” the inflated stats as “shining examples of the promise of Chicago’s future.”

Huston points out, too, that the CPS Inspector General had “raised the alarm over the falsified stats early this year.”

Read the full Chicago Sun-Times and Breitbart articles.


It takes more than 14 minutes to get an ambulance in the Bronx

As if I needed another reason to avoid New York.

Heckuva job mayor!

Heckuva job mayor!

NY Post: If you’re really sick, avoid The Bronx. City EMTs and paramedics took almost 15 minutes to get to Bronx patients who called 911 this year — four minutes longer than it took in Staten Island, according to city data analyzed by The Post.

And despite 21,764 fewer medical emergencies in the city — and the de Blasio administration’s pledge in February to speed up response times — the citywide average so far this year has been 12 minutes, 23 seconds, or 37 seconds slower than it was in the first eight months of 2014.

In The Bronx, ambulances arrived at emergencies in an average of 14 minutes, 29 seconds, according to city 911 data. Staten Islanders, by comparison, waited 10 minutes, 26 seconds for an ambulance.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

“The lack of EMS services is dangerous and puts countless lives at risk,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens), who demanded more ambulance tours. “If you live in The Bronx, these numbers say your life is just not as important, which is unacceptable.”

The average response times so far this year were 11 minutes, 36 seconds in Brooklyn; 11 minutes, 38 seconds in Queens; and 12 minutes, 8 seconds in Manhattan.

Last winter, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, who oversees the Emergency Medical Service, blamed frequent snow and ice for sluggish response times and promised the City Council in February that he would speed up the average response by 20 seconds in 2015. In the same month, Mayor de Blasio pledged to spend $18 million to hire 149 new EMS dispatchers and add 54 ambulance tours with an emphasis on improving Bronx medical care.

But response times have only gotten slower.

Bronx EMS workers arrived at emergencies an average of 40 seconds slower in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2014, even though medics and EMTs handled 2 percent fewer cases. EMS took 1 minute, 4 seconds longer to get to emergencies in Manhattan, even though there were 2,818 fewer incidents to treat.

FDNY officials would not address the slower response times but said an additional 45 ambulances tours will help. They noted that for life-threatening emergencies, the average response time in The Bronx was 7 minutes, 51 seconds.

But that figure comes with a caveat, because the FDNY measures the time from when an EMS dispatcher receives a call to when a unit arrives on the scene. City 911 records calculate response times differently — from the moment the 911 call is made to when a unit arrives. By that measure, life-threatening emergencies in The Bronx took much longer to get to — 9 minutes, 53 seconds.

By either calculation method, the average response time in The Bronx for life-threatening calls was slower this year than last, a Post analysis of the data found.

A rapid EMS response significantly increases a patient’s chance of survival. Brain death can occur in four to six minutes in respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest and overdose cases. “When you overdose, you stop breathing,” an EMS source said. “What makes a world of difference whether you live or die is how quickly I can get to you.”


How This Trans Woman Is Making #FreeTheNipple As Inclusive As Possible

I still don’t realize the power of #freethenipple.

demone2 Courtney Demone is a trans woman currently undergoing hormone replacement therapy and, as such, is starting to grow breasts. This experience, she wrote in a Mashable essay published Wednesday, has led her to realize the power of #FreeTheNipple in a new way — and how it can truly benefit others.

Courtney Demone/Free All Bodies (Facebook)

Courtney Demone/Free All Bodies (Facebook)

“When people start to consistently see me as a woman, my privilege to be comfortably topless in public will be gone for good,” she writes. “We can challenge that.”

Demone’s solution? She’s launching the hashtag #DoIHaveBoobsNow and will post topless images of herself on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. She will do so, she writes, “until those networks decide that my breasts have developed enough to be sexualized and worthy of censorship” or, ideally, change their policies.


A history of censorship: As Mic‘s Zak Cheney-Rice reported earlier this year, gender-nonconforming performance artist Jason Green’s photos were removed from Facebook in June because of a sensuous nipple peaking out of Green’s top. While Facebook allows users to choose from a very long list of gender identities, the network still decides which nipples must be censored based on the male/female binary.

“It’s decent on a surface level that Facebook has recognized there’s not a gender binary,” Jenn Pozner, founding director of Women in Media and News, told Mic in June. “But their community standards still show all kinds of binary thinking.”

Why it matters: In the context of transitioning visibly from male to female, and the many types of losses of privilege, Demone noted the fact that she doesn’t feel as comfortable as she once did being topless is not the most jarring loss of privilege, but it’s still an example of “sexism that comes with living in a female body.”

Before she came out, Demone said, she rarely ever felt unsafe in public. “Now, it happens almost every time I leave the house,” she writes. “It’s my femininity, not my being transgender, that has brought about much of this privilege loss, and it’s misogyny that robs women of these privileges.”

I’m sick of these whiny women who claim being a woman makes them feel unsafe. Maybe if they felt more empowered, they wouldn’t be burdened by their own perceived victimhood. I’ve got a solution for you gals:

Practice, practice, practice!

Practice, practice, practice!


Calif. mom claims retailer booted her for complaining about man in girls’ restroom

All hail diversity!


Fox News: A California mom who says she was recently kicked out of a sporting goods store after alerting a manager that man had frightened her young daughter in the women’s restroom is demanding answers – and a policy change – from the Washington-based chain.

The woman, who spoke to but asked not to be identified, said she was shopping with her 12-year-old daughter and the girl’s younger friend when her daughter told her what had happened moments earlier at an REI sporting goods store during a shopping trip in late August.

“We started to drive to another store and she said to me, ‘Mom, I need to tell you something,’” said the woman. “I asked her what was wrong and she told me ‘A man used the bathroom while we were in there and it scared me.’”


When the mother turned the car around and went back to the store to confront the manager of the Santa Rosa store, she said she was stunned to learn that the man, who she said was not dressed in women’s clothes and did not appear outwardly to be transgender, had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the employees and other customers. “I spoke with the manager and told her what happened,” the mother said. “She didn’t skip a beat. She told me that REI does not decide who people are or what they can do.

The exchange didn’t stop there, according to the woman, who said the unidentified store manager lectured her in front of customers before ordering her to leave. “She told me that if a man came back into the bathroom that they would do nothing,” she said. “That they had no right to tell someone which bathroom to be used. Then she told that if it happens again that I shouldn’t expect anything to be done about it.

The angry mom contacted The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based law advocacy group, which has fired off letters to both the Santa Rosa store and company headquarters calling for an apology and a clear policy to protect the safety and privacy of customers using public restrooms. The legal nonprofit cited California’s civil rights laws, a building code mandating gender-specific restrooms and the right to privacy set forth in the state constitution.

“It’s one thing for a stranger of the opposite sex go into the ladies bathroom and traumatize young girls,” Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, told “It’s another to have the sanction and blessing of the store manager.

“Any reasonable person would feel shocked and emotional violated with a member of the opposite sex coming into their restroom,” he added. “This man’s intention, whatever they may have been, in no way negates the shock.”

A spokesperson for REI, which stands for Recreational Equipment, Inc. and has 140 stores in 33 states, said officials are are looking into the alleged incident. “Everything REI does is for our members and customers, so we pay close attention to all customer comments,” REI spokesman Mike Ferris said. “Walking into an REI should always be a great, positive experience that helps you explore the outdoors. REI customers can be assured that safety in our stores is paramount. We are looking into this report to get the facts and understand the circumstances fully.”

California is grappling with the issue of transgenders and public restrooms, passing a recent, controversial law mandating that public schools allow students to choose the restroom associated with their own gender perception. The city of West Hollywood in 2014 began requiring all businesses to make their single-stall restrooms gender-neutral. Similar laws were passed in Washington, D.C., in 2006 and Philadelphia in 2013, where it was required that new or renovated city-owned buildings must include unisex bathrooms.

The California law has been met with opposition, with a counter bill being proposed for a November 2016 ballot. The Personal Privacy Protection Act aims to mandate that people in government facilities would use a restroom according to their biological sex and not based on which gender they may identify with, The law also aims to protect business owners from potential lawsuits for requiring that employees use bathrooms based on their sex.


Seattle VA office lost records; veterans told benefits ending

War on our military.


Seattle Times: Dozens of West Coast military veterans incorrectly received letters indicating they’d lose unemployment benefits after an overworked Department of Veterans Affairs office in Seattle lost track of records the veterans had submitted, according to a VA Inspector General report released this week.

The mail audit stemmed from a complaint that suggested about 1,000 pieces of unread mail from veterans were being stored indefinitely in a yellow bucket without a response from employees assigned to evaluate benefits claims. In some cases, the complaint alleged, veterans were told they’d lose unemployment benefits because they had not returned information to the office in a timely manner, even though they had met their deadlines. The unemployment benefits are given to veterans who can’t hold a job because of a service-connected disability.

Auditors who visited the Seattle office in April did not find a bucket loaded with unread letters, as had been alleged in the complaint. But they took a sampling of 132 employment questionnaires and determined that one-fifth of the veterans had been sent letters indicating a reduction or cancellation of benefits, even though they’d mailed forms that should have allowed them to continue receiving money.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Friday wrote a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald asking him to immediately implement reforms recommended in the report, such as increasing training and demanding a high-level corrective-action plan from a VA undersecretary to address broader problems with record management.

“I am shocked by the findings of this report and I hope you will agree this situation is entirely unacceptable. This is exactly the type of mismanagement and negligence that further complicates the benefits process for veterans, leading to unnecessary stress and unacceptably delaying benefits to which these veterans are entitled,” Murray wrote.

The VA Office of Inspector General publishes reports on issues at different VA hospitals almost daily. This week’s report focusing on unread employment questionnaires fits into a series of audits the IG launched last year centered on mismanagement of veteran records.

Others in the set included:

  • A Baltimore supervisor stockpiling 8,000 documents, including 1,500 records with sensitive personal information about veterans.
  • An Oakland, Calif., office that neglected to act on thousands of claims.
  • Employees at different offices who manipulated internal records to falsify reports on the processing of claims.

In Seattle, managers of the regional office that processes veterans benefit claims acknowledged it had fallen behind in processing unemployment records. It hired a dozen more employees in April to catch up on the backlog, the report said.


See also:


Obama goes beyond mere gun control, hints at confiscation

He did promise fundamental transformation.


Breitbart: When President Obama spoke in reaction to the heinous October 1 attack on Umpqua Community College, he went beyond his usual calls for more gun control and suggested instead that America consider following the path blazed by Australia and Great Britain.

In the mid-1990s Australia and Great Britain both instituted what were virtually complete bans on firearm possession.

Obama referenced the bans thus:

“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings.  Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.  So we know there are ways to prevent it.

And Obama is not the only one who suggested taking a gun-free approach to American life. The anti-Second Amendment message was also pushed by Slate, Vox, and Dan Savage.

For example, on October 1 Slate ran a story reminding readers that Australia enacted their gun ban in response to an attack on April 28, 1996, wherein a gunman “opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania.” Thirty-five were killed and 23 others wounded in the attack. Twelve days later Australia’s government banned guns, period.

On October 2 Vox explained that Australia “confiscated 650,000 guns” via a “mandatory gun buyback” program which forced gun owners to hand their firearms over for destruction. Vox claims the result was that “murders and suicides plummeted’ and suggested such a path might be an option for America following “the murder of at least 10 people at Umpqua Community College.”

Vox did not mention that “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” began plummeting in America in the mid-1990s as well. But in America, the decrease in violent crime did not correlate with a gun ban but with a rapid expansion in the number of guns privately owned. The Congressional Research Service reported that the number of privately owned firearms in America went from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million privately owned firearms in 2009. Subsequently, the “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate fell from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 and finally to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.

But none of this made any difference to Dan Savage, who responded to the attack on Umpqua Community College by calling for the Second Amendment’s repeal. Savage tweeted, “Fk the NRA, fk the gun nuts, f**k the Second Amendment — better yet, repeal the Second Amendment.

Shannon Watts, mouthpiece for Moms Demand Action, tweeted this yesterday: “The father of the gunman who killed 9 in #UCCShooting said this about his son’s actions today on @CNN. #gunsense (with the statement below).

ucc shooter dad response

I have two words for these people:

molon labe


California weighs banning concealed handguns on campuses

What could possibly go wrong?


Sacramento Bee: Already praised by many gun control advocates for having the strictest firearms laws in the country, California is once again considering a move to tighten its restrictions with a ban on the concealed carry of handguns at colleges and schools.

Last year, California was the first in the nation to let families and police act to temporarily remove weapons from those considered at risk of violence. This time, it would follow dozens of other states that previously put similar prohibitions in place – and a growing number moving in the opposite direction to expand gun rights on campuses.

The concealed carry legislation, now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, puts California in the midst of a policy debate gaining prominence as gun advocates such as the National Rifle Association, having won significant victories guaranteeing the right of ownership, turn their focus to the right to carry and the status of firearms in public spaces.

“There’s no question that the power of the NRA is at its height today,” said John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the effects of gun laws on public safety. “People who want guns don’t want to have restrictions that impede them going about their daily lives.”

Current California law makes it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or on a college campus without permission from administrators, but it includes exemptions for retired law enforcement and concealed carry permits.

Lois Wolk

Lois Wolk

Senate Bill 707, by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, would expand the prohibition on school and college grounds to include concealed weapons, while keeping the same rules in place for the 1,000-foot zone surrounding schools and for law enforcement. On a nearly party-line vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed, lawmakers approved the measure in early September; Brown has until Oct. 11 to act.

The idea for the bill came from university and college police, who say school officials should have more control over campus safety. Concealed handgun permits, which require residents to show “good cause” that they are in immediate danger, are handed out by county sheriffs, who vary in their interpretation of the policy.

Lurking on the periphery are two federal developments that could seriously undermine California’s restrictive law: Legislation proposed in Congress would require states to recognize concealed carry permits issued anywhere, though it has not yet advanced, and a lawsuit now at the appellate level has already seen one judge strike down the “good cause” requirement as unconstitutional. “If the decision of the 9th Circuit affirms the lower court, that will open the floodgates for people to get concealed carry permits,” Donohue said.

In a statement, Wolk said SB 707 “would put California more in line with most states that already forbid concealed firearms on school or college campuses.”

“This is one of the unusual cases where California law is more lax than other states,” she said. “Most people I hear from are astonished that someone could legally carry a concealed firearm on to school grounds.”

The 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech – still one of the deadliest in history with 33 casualties, including the perpetrator, and another 17 wounded – generated intense controversy over gun policy and brought the question of campus carry to the national stage. Eight years later, it continues to echo.

In a national address Thursday, President Barack Obama decried the lack of legislative effort to prevent further mass shootings, like the one that day at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where a gunman killed nine people before dying in a shootout with police. The Oregon higher education board had previously banned guns from college campuses, but a court overturned that policy in 2011, stating that only the Legislature had the authority to regulate firearms.

California has faced recent incidents like the 2014 Isla Vista rampage that claimed the lives of six UC Santa Barbara students and their killer, and a confrontation at Sacramento City College last month that left one dead.

gun free zone

Much of the fight over campus carry boils down to whether guns make us more or less safe. Advocates argue that students with firearms may be able to help prevent crimes such as mass shootings and rapes.

Shannon Grove gets it

Shannon Grove gets it

Speaking against SB 707 on the Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove said carrying concealed weapons could offer a “sense of protection” to young women. “If I’m walking down the street at night, my Glock puts me on even footing with anybody that would ever try to come and hurt me,” the Bakersfield Republican said. During a Senate deliberation, Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, suggested it could be “a very strong way to curtail some of the nonsense that’s going on” with campus sexual assaults.

Laura Cutilleta

Laura Cutilleta

Gun control supporters counter that throwing firearms onto a campus with young people, alcohol, mental health issues and strongly-held beliefs on controversial topics is a dangerous mix. “It’s a fairly volatile environment,” said Laura Cutilleta, senior staff attorney for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocated for SB 707. “To add guns to that is just alarming.”

It’s a debate that’s not likely to be settled any time soon. At least 14 states have introduced legislation to allow guns on campus in each of the past three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “We think it’s a really important issue,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said. “The right to personal safety doesn’t disappear the second you step on a campus.”