Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Crooked pol Calderon, tied to Michelle Rhee, finally going to jail

Michelle Rhee, former D.C. school chancellor and darling of the far-right and corporate reformers, used Students First money to buy politicians like former CA State Sen. Ron Calderon. Now it looks like Calderon is finally on his way to prison while Rhee has ended up at a fertilizer company. 

Good riddance to both.
More than three years after FBI agents raided the Capitol office of former state Sen. Ron Calderon, the corruption case against the Montebello Democrat finally comes to an end.
Calderon, who pleaded guilty in June to one count of mail fraud for accepting tens of thousands of dollars and jobs for his children in exchange for official acts, is set to be sentenced at noon in federal court in Los Angeles. Originally charged with 24 counts, including bribery, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns – allegations that could have netted Calderon a maximum 396-year sentence – prosecutors are now requesting that he serve five years in prison. -- Sacramento Bee
Calderon would never have been elected in the first place were it not for Michelle Rhee. She funneled $371,000 to him, which helped put his losing campaign over the top. In exchange, he agreed to sponsor anti-union, charter school legislation, SB441.

He went on to make similar quid pro quo deals with payday loan companies, the fireworks industry and others, until finally taking a bribe from an undercover FBI agent posing as a filmmaker calling himself, "Rocky Patel".

Okay, so he's not the brightest bulb on the tree.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Billionaire pipeline investor Hamm is also a big charter school backer

Billionaire Hamm is Trump's main energy advisor. 
Billionaire Harold Hamm is the founder CEO of energy giant, Continental Resources. Continental is the largest leaseholder in the nation’s premier oil play, the Bakken Play of North Dakota and Montana. Based in Oklahoma City, the company also has a leading presence in the Anadarko Woodford Play of Oklahoma and the Red River Units Play of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

Hamm recently announced to investors that oil it obtains via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin is destined for transport through Standing Rock Sioux territory via the Dakota Access pipeline.

MORE ABOUT HAMM... He's Donald Trump's energy adviser and a likely pick for U.S. Energy Sec. should Trump be elected.

As you might have already guessed, Philanthro-capitalist Hamm is also a big player in the world of school privatization and charter schools. His favorite seems to be ASTEC charters, the first charter in Oklahoma.

He's also appealing his divorce settlement which called for him paying out $1B to ex-wife Sue Ann. He claims a drop in oil prices negatively affected his finances. It seems that $18 billion doesn't go as far as it used to.

Will ASTEC be next on the chopping block?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wall St. investors make a killing at CPS

The Chicago public school system needed money—fast. Never letting a good crisis go to waste, Wall St. investors stepped in to save the day -- and make their day.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Chicago-based Nuveen Asset Management have made realized and paper profits exceeding $110 million on purchases this year of $763 million in Chicago Public Schools bonds. The school system has said it needed the money to replenish its dwindling coffers before the new school year and to build and repair facilities.

The terms of the bond sales highlight the choices the school district faces after years of pension shortfalls and relying heavily on borrowing. The 397,000-student school district struggled to sell municipal bonds in February until Nuveen bought about one-third, and the district decided in July to borrow directly from J.P. Morgan for fear that investors might balk again, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Board of Education said.

J.P. Morgan, the country’s largest bank by assets, made a 9.5% profit on $150 million in bonds it bought in July and sold in September, or 82% annualized. Nuveen, an investment firm managing $160 billion, has bought $613 million in bonds since February for a total return, including price gains and interest payments, of about 25%. That is almost 50% on an annualized basis, an especially large gain at a time of near-zero interest rates.

The school system’s bonds are a favorite for John Miller, Nuveen’s co-head of fixed income, who said the firm bought when the market feared a default, a concern he called overblown.
“At the end of day, this school system is critically important to Chicago—to the whole country really,” he said.