Category Archives: Unions

Seattle Education Association fought for ex-teaching assistant charged with rape, despite troubled past employment

seattle education association

Apparently “great standards, great conditions, great engagement and great staff” are really important to the union. Because they are “devoted to the students of Seattle and the educators that support them.”

Lewis Kamb at the Seattle Times has a disturbing report about how the Seattle Public Schools’ union protected a really ineffective employee – one with multiple work engagement failures and more-than-questionable behaviors.

Why is it that proggies protect the unlawful and immoral (illegal aliens, criminal homeless, etc.) yet try to punish law-abiding citizens (lawful firearm owners)?

From Seattle Times: He missed work 21 times, routinely showed up late or reeking of alcohol, disrupted class with loud outbursts, even one time “playfully” put a special-needs student with impulse-control issues into a headlock, personnel records show.

Still, Seattle Public Schools kept Albert C. Virachismith — a man who would later be accused of child rape — working as an instructional assistant at John Muir Elementary School during the 2016-17 school year, pairing him with a special-education student who needed extra help.

In fact, only after Virachismith showed up smelling of booze yet again at the end of that school year did the district seek to fire him — but even that didn’t stick.

After Virachismith and his union, the Seattle Education Association, filed a grievance challenging his termination, the district agreed to a compromise allowing him to keep working with kids as a substitute during the 2017-18 school year.

Within two months, Virachismith had violated that “Last Chance Settlement Agreement” by failing two urine tests and repeatedly missing required alcohol-treatment sessions, records show. Still, the district held off on firing him.

Last school year, Virachismith subbed at seven schoolsfive of them after his violations came to light — until Jan. 29, when a 9-year-old told his parents about the five to six times Virachismith allegedly sexually assaulted him inside a bathroom at John Muir during the previous school year.

The district ultimately fired Virachismith on Feb. 7 — five days after his arrest for investigation of child rape and molestation. But his termination wasn’t due to the alleged sex crimes, but for breaking his last-chance pact — based on information district officials had known about for nearly two months.

Virachismith, 41, of Seattle, has pleaded not guilty to both felony counts. Since Feb. 2, he has been held in the King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to the jail roster. A trial has been set for later this month.

Neither the prosecutor handling the case nor Virachismith’s public defender returned messages Friday seeking comment. A police spokesman said Friday an investigation remains “active and ongoing.”

The details of Virachismith’s problem-plagued tenure as a school employee are contained in various Seattle Public Schools personnel records, some of which were released to The Seattle Times last week in response to a Public Records Act request.

In April, then-Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said in an email both the Muir school and the district “followed progressive disciplinary steps to address the absences, tardiness and indications of an alcohol problem.”

“Until Jan. 29, 2018, there were no indications or reports of inappropriate interactions of a sexual nature at SPS involving Virachismith,” Schmanke’s email added.

Once the rape allegations emerged, the district “immediately restricted him from taking any assignments and banned him from all schools grounds upon receiving the allegation. We also moved quickly to terminate his employment,” Schmanke said.

In a brief statement Friday, the school district said it “will continue to support the Seattle Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office on all criminal proceedings and investigations related to Mr. Virachismith.”

Virachismith, who earned $30,235 in pay and benefits for the 2016-17 school year, was hired in 2014 as a special-education instructional assistant, records show. For his first two school years, he worked at Martin Luther King Jr. elementary, before transferring to John Muir for the 2016-17 school year.

Virachismith received “unsatisfactory” ratings — the lowest possible grade — on every section of his employee-performance evaluation for the 2016-17 school year at Muir. The evaluation, completed in April 2017, is riddled by negative remarks and shows multiple problems were documented about Virachismith throughout the school year.

“Albert fails to accomplish the essential functions of the job,” one comment says.

“Albert’s judgment is questionable and his decision quality is poor,” says another.

Another remark bluntly described Virachismith as “not reliable,” requiring “significant supervision to complete assigned work.”

“He does not follow District policies by coming to work with an overwhelming odor of alcohol,” it added.

At least twice in the first half of the school year — in August and December of 2016 — staff members “documented that Albert reported to work with the odor of alcohol so pervasive that he was asked to go home,” according to the review.

Virachismith missed 13 of the first 65 scheduled days of school in 2016, and repeatedly arrived late — sometimes, by several hours — on multiple days, the document says.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

Washington state governor Jay Inslee running for president in 2020?

jay inslee and obama

Jay Inslee (r) and his buddy Obama

Demorat Jay Inslee has been governor of Washington State since 2013 and is a career politician. About his background, from Wikipedia:

“He served in the Washington House of Representatives from 1989 to 1993, and then represented Washington’s 4th congressional district, which included parts of the state around Yakima, in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995. Defeated for re-election in 1994, Inslee returned to private practice, and then ran for governor in the 1996 election, coming fifth in the blanket primary ahead of the general election, which was won by Democrat Gary Locke. Inslee then served as regional director for the United States Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Inslee was elected back to the House of Representatives in 1998, this time for Washington’s 1st congressional district, which included Seattle‘s northern suburbs in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. He was re-elected six times before announcing that he was running for governor again on June 27, 2011. He resigned from Congress on March 20, 2012, in order to focus on his campaign.”

Apparently some think he’s going to run for president in 2020. From SF Gate:

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee isn’t a household name outside the Pacific Northwest, but that could soon change — the 67-year-old Democrat is starting to be mentioned as a possible 2020 presidential candidate.

He’s got progressive cred as the head of a state that legalized same-sex marriage and recreational cannabis before California, although he was initially opposed green-lighting legal weed. Washington declared itself a sanctuary state before California, and Inslee and other state leaders were among the first to sue the Trump administration over its initial plan to ban travel to the U.S. from several majority-Muslim nations.

Now, as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Inslee travels the nation as one of its loudest critics of President Trump.

His central theme: denouncing the administration’s “eagerness to deceive the American public with what’s going on with their business. … (Trump) does it every day,” as he put it recently on The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast. “It is a threat to democracy when you have a president who is willing to use the bully pulpit to be a bully.”

Like other Democrats, Inslee argues that Trump is “grossly” and “repeatedly” exaggerating when he says his immigration crackdown along the southern border is necessary because of “an ‘infestation’ of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country.”

Inslee recently visited an immigrant detention center in his state and said the people there weren’t members of the fearsome Salvadoran gang. “These are the victims of the gangs,” Inslee said. “These are the people who are most angry and fearful of the gangs. These are the people that American policy has provided a legal means of asylum. So yes, there is gang activity. And these are the people you should be embracing, not victimizing with your distortion of reality.”

He called Trump’s argument “a propaganda exercise that this administration has embraced and used as a tactic.”

It’s just the sort of red-meat rhetoric that could appeal to voters in the Democratic presidential primaries in 2020, which happens to be the last year of Inslee’s second term as governor. Is that thought running through his mind? “I’m focused on 2018,” he said. “If you’re thinking about 2020, you’re not doing your job.”


While the SF Gate article touts Inslee’s TDS, let’s take a look at some of the governor’s accomplishments, shall we?

Under Inslee’s leadership the psychiatric hospital, Western State Hospital, recently failed a federal inspection and the place is called ‘hell.”

From the AP article: “Behind tall brick walls and secure windows, hundreds of patients at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital live in conditions that fail U.S. health and safety standards, while overworked nurses and psychiatrists say they are navigating a system that punishes employees who speak out despite critical staffing shortages.

They don’t have enough staff to protect patients, or provide them with the bare minimum of care,” said Lisa Bowser, whose mother spent two years at Western State Hospital and suffered dozens of falls and assaults.

“Going there was like going into hell,” said Bowser, who has sued the state-run facility. “I honestly thought they would kill her before I could get her out.”

Read the whole AP story here.

Under Gov. Inslee, homelessness has increased in Washington State. From the Department of Commerce: “After eight years of steady improvement, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Washington State began to increase in 2013.”

In November 2016, it was reported that the homeless population in Washington state increased by 7.3 percent. From the Seattle Times: Washington’s counts showed an increase of 1,408 people sleeping outside and in shelters — the country’s second-largest bump behind California. The state’s total number was 20,827.”

The homeless situation in Seattle is a crisis. I’ve done many blog posts about this: See here, here, here, here and here.

Earlier this year, Gov. Inslee rewarded SEIU by signing SB 6199 which requires caregivers to pay union dues as a condition of serving Medicaid recipients. As reported by the Freedom Foundation: The move sets the stage for the union representing the state’s 36,000 individual provider home care aides (IPs), SEIU 775, to force all caregivers to again pay union dues as a condition of serving Medicaid recipients. Under current state law, IPs contract with the state to serve specific Medicaid clients and are considered public employees only for the purposes of unionization. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn established that, under this arrangement, caregivers could not be forced to financially support a union against their will.

About 4,000 IPs in any given month do not pay SEIU 775 dues, costing the union about $2.8 million per year.

However, by making IPs “employees” of a private company, SEIU and union-backed policymakers seek to subject caregivers to the federal National Labor Relations Act, which would arguably remove caregivers’ Harris protections and allow SEIU 775 to again force IPs to pay union dues and fees.”

In January of this year, Gov. Inslee proposed a carbon tax in Washington State.  Inslee is a big believer in climate change and wants more taxpayer dollars to address it. From the Seattle Times: “Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday urged Washington lawmakers to embrace his ambitious plan to tax fossil-fuel emissions in Washington state.

“It is time to step up,” Inslee told lawmakers at the Capitol. The impacts of climate change, he added, “will be carried by our children, our economy, our security and our quality of life.”

Inslee’s proposal would levy a $20-a-ton price on carbon emissions, said Reed Schuler, an Inslee policy adviser. That price would rise over time.

The state would start collecting the revenue in the 2020 budget year, with $726 million generated that year. The tax would raise a total of $3.3 billion over four years.”

gov insleee

Gov. Inslee ignores federal law and harbors illegal aliens. On July 4th he met with illegal aliens to hear their concerns about President Trump’s immigration policies.

In 2017 a Washington State Trooper helped ICE find a wanted criminal illegal alien with a warrant who had been deported FOUR times. Washington State Patrol then conducted an administrative review of the Trooper’s action at the request of the governor. From Breitbart: “The governor’s office confirmed to the Olympian that an administrative review is underway. “The governor takes very seriously the need to make sure all residents of Washington feel safe in their interactions with the men and women in our state Patrol, particularly given the anxiety that many in our state are feeling right now,” Spokesperson Jaime Smith told the local newspaper.”

I could go on about the progressive tactics of Gov. Inslee and his partisan politics. If this is the best that demorats can offer in 2020, make way for more of this:

DCG

Judge rules there’s no fundamental right to learn to read and write

public_education

Kill your babies via abortion? That’s a right!

Educate your babies to read and write via compulsory, taxpayer-provided education? Fuhgetaboutit!

By Lori Higgins at Detroit Free Press: Few could dispute the importance of literacy. But children have no fundamental right to learn to read and write, according to a federal judge whose ruling in a closely watched lawsuit Friday left some disheartened and others raising questions.

“I’m shocked,” said Ivy Bailey, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers. “The message that it sends is that education is not important. And it sends the message that we don’t care if you’re literate or not.”

The ruling came in a federal lawsuit that was closely watched across the U.S. because of its potential impact: Filed on behalf of Detroit students, it sought to hold a dozen state officials — including Gov. Rick Snyder — accountable for what plaintiffs said were systemic failures that deprived Detroit children of their right to literacy.

The lawsuit sought remedies that included literacy reforms, a systemic approach to instruction and intervention, as well as fixes to crumbling Detroit schools. Earlier this month, officials with the Detroit Public Schools Community District said it would cost $500 million to bring school buildings up to par.

The City of Detroit, the American Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, the community group 482Forward, Kappa Delta Pi, the International Literacy Association and the National Association for Multicultural Education all filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was filed by Public Counsel, a Los Angeles-based law firm that is the nation’s largest public interest law firm. Mark Rosenbaum, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment Saturday, saying he wanted an opportunity to first speak with his clients.

Spokespeople for Snyder couldn’t be reached for comment.

The ruling also comes as the state ups the stakes for third-graders. Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, schools must begin holding back third-graders who are more than a grade level behind on reading assessments. Last year, just 44 percent of the third-graders who took the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress passed the exam; the year before, it was 46 percent. In Detroit, far fewer students are proficient in reading.

The state had argued in its motion to dismiss the suit that there is no fundamental right to literacy. Lawyers for the city, in a brief opposing the motion to dismiss, said city officials are “all too familiar with illiteracy’s far reaching effects.”

“Widespread illiteracy has hampered the City’s efforts to connect Detroiters with good-paying jobs; to fill vacancies on its police force, and to grow its tax base. Illiteracy, moreover, has greatly exacerbated the effects of intergenerational poverty in Detroit.”

U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III (appointed by George W. Bush), in his ruling Friday, noted the importance of literacy.

“Plainly, literacy — and the opportunity to obtain it — is of incalculable importance,” Murphy wrote in a 40-page opinion. “As plaintiffs point out, voting, participating meaningfully in civic life, and accessing justice require some measure of literacy.”

But those points, Murphy said, “do not necessarily make access to literacy a fundamental right.” And, he said, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that the importance of a good or service “does not determine whether it must be regarded as fundamental.”

A similar lawsuit claim was made in so-called “right to read” litigation the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed in 2012 alleging Highland Park students had been denied a benefit guaranteed under Michigan’s constitution.

That constitutional provision states that “the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” and “the Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free elementary and secondary schools.”

But the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed that lawsuit in 2014, saying:

“The cited provisions of the Michigan constitution require only that the Legislature provide for and finance a system of free public schools. The Michigan constitution leaves the actual intricacies of the delivery of specific educational services to the local school districts.”

The ACLU appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which opted not to hear the case.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

Liberal utopia: Chicago leads US in underwater homes

emanuel

From MyFoxChicago: The U.S. housing market has been on the rebound in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, but one major city has thousands of homes that remain underwater.

A recent report from the real estate website Zillow shows Chicago leading the country with 254,000 homes in negative equity. Twenty percent of the quarter million people with underwater mortgages owe double the current value of the home.

Los Angeles, the only other U.S. metro area bigger than Chicago, had 74,000 underwater homes, while San Francisco had 20,000.

Cities that were hardest hit by the housing crisis have rebounded. Less than 10% of homes in Las Vegas are underwater, and Miami has an underwater rate of 8.7%.

The appreciation of home values in the Chicago area has decreased over the years in part by crime, unfunded pensions and taxes.

DCG

Dodging bullets and sexual predators: Chicago Public Schools failed to report abuse cases by school employees

cps janice jackson

CPS CEO Janice Jackson: Has been “immersed” in CPS her entire life…

From the CPS web site:

“Protecting Chicago’s Students: CPS Plan of Action. Nothing is more important to Chicago Public Schools than the safety and well-being of your children.

From MyFoxChicago: Chicago Public Schools officials failed to protect hundreds of students who were sexually abused by school employees, according to a newspaper investigation.

The Chicago Tribune says its investigation revealed teachers and principals often failed to alert child welfare investigators or police when students disclosed abuse despite the state’s mandated reporting law.

The newspaper found that the district’s Law Department has investigated 430 reports of employee sexual abuse, assault or harassment of students since 2011. The district said it found credible evidence of misconduct in 230 cases.

The newspaper examined more than 100 cases and identified about 70 school employees involved, including teachers, coaches, security workers, administrators, custodians, school bus drivers, counselors and lunchroom workers. Cases occurred at schools throughout the city, including Simeon Career Academy and Payton College Prep high school.

Morgan Aranda reported that a teacher at Payton College Prep touched her inappropriately when she was 14, leading to the teacher’s dismissal from the district. She encouraged others to speak up about abuse. “If more survivors speak out about their assaults, ultimately fewer students will be harmed,” Aranda said.

Ineffective background checks and disclosure failures led to students being exposed to educators with a history of sex crimes against children, the investigation found.

Some employees failed to immediately notify authorities when allegations were made, the investigation found. Others conducted investigations of their own before informing experts. In cases where employees did act on allegations, students often endured additional psychological pain through repeated interrogations.

Issues occurred within the schools, at the district’s central office and even at the state government level, the newspapers said. The state’s weak laws and slow discipline process can protect predators, according to the newspaper. A sexual relationship can be illegal in Illinois [even] if the student is older than 17 and no force is involved. (The word “even” is not included in the original article. Seventeen is the legal age of consent in Illinois.)

The district acknowledges its current practices are flawed, but said officials are working to implement a series of policy changes. The district said it’ll make reforms in hiring, criminal background checks, investigative processes, disciplinary decisions, staff training and support for victimized students.

“Any type of violence against a student is always going to be a top priority for me,” said district CEO Janice Jackson.

The Schiff Hardin law firm and former Illinois Executive Inspector General Maggie Hickey have been given a $500,000 contract to review the school system’s response to sexual violence. The review will be made public and the district plans to act on the findings, Jackson said.

The district also plans to work with state legislators to improve the state’s child protection laws.

DCG

Trump signs order making it easier to fire federal employees

maga

Works for me.

From NBC News: President Donald Trump began fulfilling a promise to facilitate the firing of federal workers Friday, quietly signing a set of executive orders to rewrite the government’s employment rules.

The three actions, two of which crack down on federal employee unions, are designed to “make it easier for agencies to remove poor-performing employees and ensure that taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used,” Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters.

In his State of the Union address in January, Trump asked Congress to give Cabinet secretaries more power over the employees of their agencies. Even though, as president, he has tended to avoid firing top officials face to face — and these moves will certainly affect less high-profile cases — the president who made a name for himself by saying “you’re fired” contestants on his TV show “The Apprentice” has often spoken publicly about his desire to fire, and exultation in firing, well-known employees who aren’t doing his bidding (nice unbiased reporting there, NBC).

For example, when FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was removed from his post earlier this year, Trump called it “a great day for democracy.” He fired former FBI Director James Comey and has mused about getting rid of many of his Cabinet secretaries, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The first of the three orders directs the Office of Personnel Management to revise existing rules so that the time an employee under review has to show improved performance is reduced from a 60-to-120 day window to 30 days.

The second requires federal agencies to renegotiate union contracts with an eye toward cost savings, according to senior administration officials.

And the third is designed to reduce the amount of time federal workers can spend on union business, the officials said on a conference call with reporters. It aims to limit the non-agency work of federal employees to 25 percent of their time and prevent taxpayers from subsidizing appeals lodged by unionized workers and activities the administration said amount to “lobbying” by federal workers who are in unions.

“Federal employees will no longer be allowed to lobby Congress while in a paid-duty status, unless they’re doing it as a part of, say, legislative affairs or their official duties,” a senior administration official said.

It is already illegal for White House and agency employees to use appropriated funds to lobby Congress, even if they work in legislative affairs offices.

But a White House official said that the Federal Labor Relations Authority has ruled that “lobbying on union time” is not prohibited by anti-lobbying laws. In effect, the new rule could make it harder for federal workers to discuss policy and employment issues with lawmakers and their staffs.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, slammed the executive orders.

“It is shameful that this administration continues to undermine the important services and vital contributions our federal workers provide to the American people every day,” Saunders, whose union represents some federal employees, said in a statement. “These workers protect our national security and ensure that our communities run smoothly. For their service they deserve respect, not a constant barrage of attacks on their freedom to join together in strong unions and speak up together to deliver better services.”

DCG

California bill would create health care price controls

government solve all problems

But, but…I thought Obamacare was suppose to reduce the cost of health care?

From Sacramento Bee: California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.

The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state.

Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.

The proposal in California would affect private health plans, including those offered by employers and purchased by individuals. A nine-member commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders would set prices for everything from a physical exam to an allergy test to heart bypass surgery. No other state has such a requirement.

“If we do not act now, I’m concerned that health care prices will become unsustainable,” Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a freshman Democrat from San Jose who wrote the legislation, said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The measure faces an uphill battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are generally cautious about making drastic changes to the health care system and are already juggling a wide range of ambitious proposals.

The proposal is backed by influential unions including the Service Employees International Union, Unite Here and the Teamsters. The unions are frustrated that health care costs are gobbling an increasing share of employee compensation.

“Every dollar that we spend on rising health care prices is a dollar that comes out of a worker’s pocket,” said Sara Flocks, policy coordinator for the California Labor Federation, a union coalition. “This is something that is eating up our wages and it is increasing income inequality. This is a fundamental question of fairness.

Health care providers say price controls would encourage doctors to move out of state or retire, making it harder for people to see a physician when they’re sick, and force hospitals to lay off staff or, in some cases, close their doors.

The California Medical Association, which represents physicians, called the proposal “radical” and warned that it would reduce choices for consumers.

“No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” Dr. Theodore Mazer, the CMA president, said in a statement.

Under Kalra’s bill, prices would be tied to Medicare’s rate for a particular service or procedure, with that price as a floor. There would be a process for doctors or hospitals to argue that their unique circumstances warrant payments higher than the state’s standard rate.

Paying hospitals 125 percent of Medicare’s rate would cut $18 billion in revenue and force them to trim nurses and other support staff, said Dietmar Grellman, senior vice president of the California Hospital Association. Private insurers make up for the low payments from government-funded health care, which doesn’t cover the full cost of care, he said.

“That’s why their bill is such an empty promise,” Grellman said. “They take money out of the system with rate regulation, but then they don’t address the huge gaping hole that’s created by Medicare and Medicaid.”

In recent decades health care spending has risen faster than inflation and wages while employers and health plans have shifted more of the costs onto consumers through higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Americans spend more per capita on health care than other developed countries.

Meanwhile, a wave of consolidation by hospitals, physician groups and insurance companies has given industry players more power to demand higher rates.

DCG