Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mary is doing OK

Good to see her keeping busy
Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has been hired by the lobbying firm Van Ness Feldman (VNF), the company announced today. Landrieu's title will be "senior policy advisor," and a release from VNF said Landrieu would "advise clients on various public policy, strategic, and regulatory issues with an emphasis on energy, natural resources, and infrastructure matters."

According to the website Open Secrets, VNF's client base includes several companies dealing in oil and gas, as well as the energy field in general — a natural fit for Landrieu, who served as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in 2014. The company has offices in Washington D.C. and Seattle.
That isn't very surprising. We've all figured Mary's Senate career was prelude to a future in oil & gas lobbying since pretty much forever.  She'll be well taken care of.

Actually, she's already doing well.  Last month it was announced that she had agreed to accept money from the Walton Family Foundation in order to advocate for more charter schools.
"I'll be working directly as a strategic adviser for the Walton Education Foundation promoting reforms in public schools, promoting choice and expansion of high quality charter schools," Landrieu said. "Most people are recognizing that New Orleans is one of the most exciting models for variety and choice that are producing new options and opportunities for educational success."
Is she lying or just out of touch? If anything, "people are recognizing" that New Orleans's experiment with charterization is problematic at best.
Charter school supporters and advocates frequently point to the broad choices that families have when seeking a school in New Orleans, where most of the 82 public schools are charters and most accept applications from across the city. But the concept of choice butts against the reality of supply and demand in a city where many schools rate only average or below.

Nearly 12,000 children in New Orleans chose their desired schools through the city’s mostly unified enrollment system this spring — but only half got their No. 1 choice, according to recently released results.

About 30 percent got their second, third or up-to-eighth choice, the most applicants can rank. The remaining 20 percent or so were not matched to any requested school; half of them will stay at their current school and the other half will go through the second round of the enrollment process.
Many others are becoming frustrated with what is looking more and more like a deliberate shell game.  
OneApp, the centralized enrollment system for the New Orleans schools, is supposed to make it easy for parents in the city to have their choice of schools. But parents aren’t going to have real choice just because they filled out the OneApp application. For example, you can’t see a school’s discipline guide before you register your child. And if I want my child to go to a school that has recess, art or educates the whole child, I have very little choice at all. I can try for one of the high-performing charters—the magnet schools that existed before the storm—but which are now even harder to get into than they were before Katrina. Parents of special needs kids, by the way, have even less choice, because so few of the schools will accept their children at all. What OneApp does is ensure that the various charter operators get the enrollment that they were promised. No matter how bad the school is, or how terrible the climate, we’re going to make sure that you get those kids.

And no one disputes that the way for this experiment was cleared by the firing of  7,500 New Orleans teachers in 2005 even before the flood waters had receded from the city.
WASHINGTON (PAI) - The quest of 7,500 fired New Orleans teachers and school staffers for back pay and damages - union members summarily let go through a state takeover after Hurricane Katrina smashed their city and their schools almost a decade ago - ended May 18 in a loss at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Without comment and with votes unreported, the justices turned down the teachers' appeal of a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling denying them class action status to sue for millions of dollars as a result of the firings.

Before the losses at the two Supreme Courts, in D.C. and in Baton Rouge, the teachers and staffers, members of the American Federation of Teachers, had won in lower courts.
The teachers represented a significant slice of pre-Katrina middle class in New Orleans.  But that's "old" New Orleans.  We're replacing that now with.. whoever can afford to buy all these $700,000 houses and not actually live in them. Who needs all those boring old wage earning families anymore. All they do is take up too many choice seats in the One-App lottery anyway.

Indeed, the "school reform" movement nationwide is frequently criticized as a union busting initiative first and an education reform movement... you know.. somewhere down the line, maybe.  Mary Landrieu received fairly solid support from organized labor throughout her career in politics right up to last year's bitter end.  That must not have meant a whole to her.

My favorite aspect of last year's Senate election were the multiple opportunities I got to hear people who had personally met her talk about what a truly great person Mary Landrieu was.  I don't mean to pick on Lamar here. He wasn't the only one talking this game. But here's a sample.
I’ve met Mary Landrieu several times over the course of the last few years, but most of what I knew about her was based on what I’d read in the news. I just wish y’all could have seen and heard the Mary Landrieu I met today at lunch, and I hope you’ll take my word: This woman is fearless and righteous. I may disagree with her on some things, but I will never discount her love and passion for the people of Louisiana. I will never again question her bona fides as a champion of civil rights, because it’s absolutely impossible to fake what she expressed to me today. She spoke from the heart about racism and sexism and the need for all of us to come together. She talked about the toxicity and divisiveness of our political and media culture, how it manufactures outrage and discourages cooperation, compromise, and compassion.
That's actually a sidebar in the post. The point of that article was Lamar was going to vote for Mary even though he doesn't agree with her all the time.  Nothing wrong with that.  If we waited for a candidate we actually agreed with about most things, we wouldn't vote at all.  But, if we go around pretending the candidates we've settled for are likeable humans (or, in the case of 18 year US Senators, humans at all anymore) we're making the same mistake.

Elections aren't about who you like. They're about supporting whichever terrible person will be less likely to completely squash you as soon as they get the chance. Over the course of four senate election cycles that terrible person was Mary Landrieu. When she lost last year, we were made ever so slightly the worse off because of it.  But she's doing fine now. Don't waste any time worrying about her. She obviously could not care less about you.

1 comment:

Nolaresident said...

(sigh) Just a time-honored tradition isn't it? The politician loses their seat and will mosey over to K Street afterwards.

John Breaux didn't lose an election but just retired before he wanted to rake in the bucks and of course the same for Billy Tauzin and his job with Big Pharma.

Of course my fave was Bob Livingston who was up for Speaker of the House and excoriated Bill Clinton over the Presidential b.j. only to have his own marital faux pas brought to light by...Larry Flynt! And after resigning did he tuck tail and head back to Louisiana? Of course not, he formed a lobbying firm! Just can't make this shit up can you?