The Manafort Indictment: one charge is bogus


The Department of Justice unveiled indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort today (Oct. 30).

The indictment contains 12 counts. conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

One charge in particular intrigued me, that Manafort acted as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal under the the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), enacted in 1938 to counter Nazi propagandists and amended in 1966 to regulate political and economic lobbyists.

The fact is FARA is a paper tiger, frequently ignored and rarely enforced.

FARA requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. There are about  2,000 foreign agents registered under the Act representing more than 100 countries.

The Center for Public Integrity released a study, “The hired guns who advocate for the world’s worst human rights abusers” – a research report that highlighted the PR firms that make the most money representing clients that violate human rights.

The study said FARA records revealed that “that the 50 countries with the worst human rights violation records have spent $168 million on American lobbyists and public relations specialists since 2010.”

The fact is, Washington, D.C. is packed with public relations professionals and lobbyists who work for foreign governments, many of them with reputations for corruption and human rights abuses.

Another fact is that the registration process under FARA  is often altogether ignored or treated as an afterthought, with many registrants filing retroactive registrations, or only supplying partial submissions.

An internal DoJ audit of the NSD’s enforcement and administration of FARA, conducted in 2016, found that only 23 percent of filings from 2013 to 2015 were filed on time—62 percent were submitted late.[6] Likewise, only 44 percent submitted their supplemental statements in a timely fashion, and 10 percent did not submit any follow-up supplemental materials.

“The Congress didn’t necessarily want to have a strong enforcement mechanism, ” said Kenneth Doyle, the Senior Editor for Bloomberg’s Money & Politics Report. ” There are principal reasons in terms of the First Amendment and not wanting to be too tough on people’s ability to petition the government, and then there are practical reasons of not wanting to be too tough on lobbyists who are important to the way that Washington works. I think they did it deliberately, saying, ‘Well, we’ll have a disclosure system, but it’s not going to have a strong enforcement mechanism and we’ll see what happens.”










Abuse of Power: Gov. Kate Brown’s PERS Payoff

Kate Brown

Why is Gov. Kate Brown laughing?

Co-conspirators Gov. Kate Brown (D), Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) have concocted a bipartisan scheme to enrich the legislators and fleece the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).

This while a task force appointed by Gov. Brown has been trying to determine the best ways to slash the the crushing PERS debt by $5 billion. The task Force’s report is expected to be submitted on Nov. 1. The PERS Board has predicted that if solutions aren’t found, PERS costs could rise from 17 percent of state and local government annual payrolls to 34 percent in 2021. That would be likely to force worker layoffs.

And you thought Oregon was a corruption-free state.

On Oct. 23, Brown nominated Devlin and Ferrioli to the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, a federally funded panel that provides policy and planning leadership on regional power, fish and wildlife issues. The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the nominations on Nov. 13.

Neither legislator will bring any expertise in regional power, fish and wildlife issues to the Council. Devlin, 65, is a retired corrections officer and private investigator. Ferrioli, 66, is a retired public relations executive.

But their lack of expertise is not the most egregious issue. It’s their exploitation of the public purse.

First, the council positions come with a $120,000 annual salary, substantially more than Devlin and Ferrioli have been making from their legislative salaries.

Second, as The Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger reported this past week, both men will be raiding PERS for big payouts.

The jobs “…will allow both legislators to double dip, turbocharge their public pensions, or both,” Sickinger reported.

This is how Sickinger put it:

“Ferrioli already draws a $33,083 annual pension from the Public Employees Retirement System. That benefit stems from 6½ years working for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs in the late ’70s and early ’80s…And because he is already at retirement age, he is allowed to double dip, continuing to collect it while working full time at the council.

Meanwhile, Ferrioli is eligible for a separate pension for his 20 years of legislative service. And if his Senate colleagues confirm him to the new position, that pension will be calculated using his new higher salary and the extra years of service he earns at the power council, according to PERS.

It’s unclear how much service credit Ferrioli earned during his years at the Legislature, given the part-time work. But assuming he sticks with the job for the first three-year term, the new salary could quintuple his legislative pension, which could translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra benefits over the course of his retirement (emphasis mine). And he could start drawing that while continuing to work at the council.

Devlin, too, could see a similar multiplier in his legislative pension if confirmed. He, too, has 20 years of legislative service and is eligible to start drawing his pension. But if he holds off, the new salary and service at the power council would balloon those benefits after three years.”

This brazen attempt to exploit PERS, which Brown, Devlin and Ferrioli know is already in deep trouble, needs to be cut off at the pass.

If they want to maintain their reputations as public servants, Devlin and Ferrioli should either decline the Council appointments or they should refuse any additional PERS benefits that may arise because of them.

Gov. Brown needs to stop taking Oregonians for rubes. It’s time to put a stop to this abuse of the system.






The Path to Riches: Ron Wyden’s Journey


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), an outspoken critic of the Republican tax reform plan for including gifts to the wealthy, is one of the wealthy himself. A review of his finances shows he has done darn well in his 36-year Congressional career.

When he first ran for the House of Representatives in 1980 at the age of 31, he had been earning a modest living teaching gerontology and serving as co-director of the Oregon chapter of the Gray Panthers, a senior advocacy group.

He served in the House from 1981 to 1996, then won a seat in the Senate, where he has served since 1996. In other words, he has spent almost his entire his adult life in Congress.

By 2005, Wyden’s net worth was estimated at $4,929,507 by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a non-profit, nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C., that tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy.

That same year, he married Nancy Bass, a wealthy co-owner of the well-known Strand Book Store in New York City.

By 2010, CRP estimated Wyden’s net worth at $6,847,018.

By 2015, Wyden was the 18th wealthiest Senator, with an estimated net worth of $13,070,041, according to the CRP.

When members of Congress file their annual personal financial reports, they’re allowed to list the value of their assets and liabilities in broad ranges,” according to CRP. “In practical terms, that obscures exactly how much each member of Congress is worth. And the larger the value of the asset, the broader the allowable range.

To account for those ranges, CRP’s researchers establish a minimum and maximum net worth, and then use the average as an estimated net worth for each member of Congress.”

Other than his Strand assets, Wyden’s 10 largest assets held for investment or the production of income were:

Asset                                                                 Minimum Value           Maximum Value

Edith Wyden Trust FBO Ronald L Wyden Trust [Amended Report] Brokerage, IRA, 401k $500,001 $1,000,000
DFA US Large Company I [Amended Report] Mutual Fund $500,001 $1,000,000
Oregon College Savings Plan Age 5-8 Age Based Port [Amended Report] Brokerage, IRA, 401k $200,002 $500,000
Oregon College Savings Plan [Amended Report] Brokerage, IRA, 401k $200,002 $500,000
Merrill Lynch Deposit Program [Amended Report] Cash/Money Market/Savings/Checking $250,001 $500,000
Fidelity Investment Cash Brokerage Account [Amended Report] Brokerage, IRA, 401k $250,001 $500,000
American Funds Europacific Growth Fund [Amended Report] Mutual Fund $250,001 $500,000
US Senate FCU Money Market Account [Amended Report] Cash/Money Market/Savings/Checking $100,001 $250,000
US Savings Bond Series [Amended Report] Government Bond $100,001 $250,000
TIAA/CREF IRA Cash Accounts [Amended Report] Cash/Money Market/Savings/Checking $100,001 $250,000






Dereliction of duty: How bad does it have to get before you shut down a failing virtual charter school?



Millions of taxpayer dollars! Appalling test scores! Horrific graduation rates!

Why are Insight School of Oregon – Painted Hills and Oregon Virtual Academy, both virtual charter schools run by K12 Inc., a for-profit, online education company, still operating?

Why are we letting this happen to our children?

Insight opened its doors in Oregon in 2012 as Insight School of Oregon Charter Option, sponsored by the Crook County School District in Central Oregon.

To operate the school, its board contracted with K12, Virtual Schools LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded for-profit K12 Inc. (LRN [U.S.:NYSE] ). K12 Inc. runs 58 separate virtual charter schools across the country. The company reported revenues of $888.5 million for the Year Ended June 30, 2017.

Insight’s Oregon headquarters was located in a nondescript one-story office building at 603 NW. 3rd St. in Prineville.

In its first three years, Insight’s K-12 enrollment grew to more than 500 students from around the state.

But all was not well.

K12 Inc. says its education program “is proven effective,” but the numbers told a different story to the Crook County School District. Even though the district netted $231,592 in the first year of its contract with Insight and $436,554 in the second, it began to have serious reservations about continuing the relationship.

In Nov. 2014, the Crook County School District sent a blistering letter to Insight expressing grave concerns about the school’s operations and academic performance.

School Superintendent Dr. Duane Yecha and school board Chair Doug Smith told the school they had major concerns about Insight’s: inadequate tracking of student attendance and enrollment; academic achievement; poor test participation; low four-year graduation rate (16.18 percent in 2013-2014); and failure to meet financial requirements stipulated in the district’s contract with Insight.

“…these issues have given the district reason to consider whether Insight is able to meet its ongoing obligations under the Charter Agreement and under ORS Chapter 338,” the letter said.

In 2015, even though the district was set to net $480,710 from its sponsorship of Insight in the 2014 – 2015 school year, it decided not to renew the sponsorship.

So Insight went shopping.

It quickly found a new partner, signing a sponsorship contract with the Mitchell School District 55 on April 29, 2015. The district had just one school serving a few local kids, some teens from around Oregon and high school students from Germany, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The 20 international and regional students all lived in a school dormitory at the school.

With a new sponsor in hand, Insight changed to a grade 7-12 school and renamed itself Insight School of Oregon – Painted Hills.


According to an audit by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, Insight’s contract with Mitchell School District 55 removed school performance goals included in the the Crook County School District’s charter contract. Also removed was a requirement that Insight submit a written plan of correction if it did not meet the performance goals.

Academic performance didn’t change for the better, based on Report Cards by the Oregon Department of Education.


In the 2014-2015 school year, the last with the Crook County School District, only 16.4 percent of the students tested in Mathematics and 48.1 percent of those tested in English Language Arts met the state standard for college/career readiness. Just 37.8 percent met or exceeded state standards in Science.

On top of all this, the graduation rate was a horrific 19.1 percent.

In the 2015-16 school year, the first under the Mitchell School District, scores in Mathematics and English Language Arts got worse and science scores were only marginally better

Only 8.0 percent of the students tested in mathematics and 36.7 percent of those tested in English Language Arts met the state standard for college/career readiness. Just 45.5 percent met or exceeded state standards in Science.

Poor academic performance may have been due, in part, to the high absentee rate, the percentage of the school’s students who missed more than 10 percent of school days during the 2015-2016 school year. Insight’s rate was an extraordinary 66 percent, compared with 18.7 percent statewide

The lowest rate of absenteeism, 45 percent, occurred with 7th grade students, the highest , 86 percent, with 12th graders.

In 2016-17, with the school reporting enrollment of 390 students, performance in English Language Arts improved to 47.1 percent meeting the state standard for college/career readiness, though this was still far below the 60.9 percent performance of all schools statewide. Mathematics performance increased, but from an abysmal 8.0 percent to an abysmal 14.9 percent. Science dropped precipitously from 45.5 percent to 25.0 percent, compared with 60.5 percent statewide.

Other 2016-17 numbers were pretty weak, too. Only 34.5 percent of freshmen were on track to graduate in four years, up from  13.2 percent in 2015-16, but still pitiful compared with 83.4 percent of students at all schools statewide.

Meanwhile the percent of the school’s students that dropped out during the school year and didn’t re-enroll leaped to an almost unbelieveable 75.6 percent in 2016-17, compared with 49.8 percent in 2015-16.

To top it off, the graduation rate, students earning a standard diploma within four years of entering high school, sank from an already horrific 19.1 percent in 2014-15 to 11.8 percent in 2015-16. The graduation rate for 2016-17 is not yet available.

Even the share of students earning a regular, modified, extended, or adult high school diploma or completing a GED within five years of entering high school was just 27.7 percent, challenging the assertion that low 4-year graduation rates are due to credit deficiencies when students enroll.



Another virtual charter school in Oregon powered by K12 Inc. is Oregon Virtual Academy (OVA), sponsored by North Bend School District 13.  “Oregon Virtual Academy awakens the power of learning in students through a personalized program of engaging courses, caring teachers, and a vibrant school community,” says the school’s website.

But, as at Insight, that awakening doesn’t appear to have brought about academic excellence, or even middling success.

For the 2015-16 school year, the North Bend School District received ​$14,874,303 ​from the State School Fund because of its sponsorship of OVA. The District retained $961,681 of that money and forwarded $13,912,622​ to OVA. OVA’s distribution was likely larger in 2016-17 because of increased enrollment.

But who was being taught with all that money? During the 2015-16 school year, OVA’s absentee rate was 41 percent. The lowest rate of absenteeism, 12 percent, was with 1st graders, the highest rate, 68 percent, with 12th graders.

And its academic performance is dreadful, contrary to an assertion by Interim Head of School Dr. Debbie Chrisop that “ORVA provides an education that meets or exceeds state standards, and students demonstrate their knowledge and skills through state standardized tests.”

With enrollment of 2,142 students from nearly every county in Oregon during 2016-17, only 47.9 percent of those tested in English Language Arts and 23 percent of those tested in Mathematics met the state standard for college/career readiness. Fewer than half, 44.1 percent, met or exceeded the state standard in Science. Worse, the Mathematics and Science scores have been going down each year for the past three years.

OVA’s graduation rate for in 2016 was just 28.3 percent, placing it among the worst performing 5 percent of all public schools in the state. Its 2017 rate has not yet been released.

Jessica Schuler, K12’s Corporate Communications Manager, offered the same explanation for the low graduation rates as other virtual charter schools. Every high school student enrolled in Insight School transferred in from another school or education program, she said. Furthermore, high percentages of these students enter behind in credits and not on track to graduate on time. The federal four-year cohort graduation rate does not account for this, she said.

The four-year cohort graduation rate unfairly penalizes schools with high mobility that serve under-credited transfer students (The grad rate of the sending school/district is not affected), Schuler said.  Even though these transfer students successfully earn high credits at Insight, they are unable to graduate “on time” in their four-year cohort, thus negatively impacting Insight’s grad rate.

A problem with this explanation is that even the share of students earning a regular, modified, extended, or adult high school diploma or completing a GED within five years of entering high school was just 42.8 percent, compared with 81.9 percent at all public schools statewide. Again, this challenges the common assertion that low student performance is due to the enrollment of many students who are credit deficient.

Excuses, excuses.

The fact is, full-time virtual schooling is the wrong solution for many young people, particularly those who are already struggling in a traditional hands-on school.

“Current online charter schools may be a good fit for some students, but the evidence indicates that online charters don’t serve very well the relatively atypical set of students that currently attend these schools, much less the general population,” said Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) in a 2015 report. “Academic benefits from online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule.”

In the same vein, a 2017 report from the Colorado-based National Education Policy Center (NEPC) concluded, “There is…little high-quality systematic evidence that the rapid expansion of (virtual charter schools) the past several years is wise. Research has …consistently found that students enrolled in full-time virtual schools have performed at levels well below their face-to-face counterparts.”

A 2016 Fordham Institute study of virtual charter schools reached similar conclusions. “Online schools offer an efficient way to diversify—and even democratize—education in a connected world,” the study said. “Yet they have received negative, but well-deserved, attention concerning their poor academic performance, attrition rates, and ill capacity to educate the types of students who enroll in them.”

Gov. Kate Brown and state legislators constantly reaffirm their commitment to ensuring Oregonians receive a quality education and that public dollars are spent wisely.

If these politicians mean what they say, why are these two schools being allowed to continue sucking up Oregon taxpayer dollars while failing to adequately educate Oregon children?

It’s time for the Oregon Legislature to act on failing virtual charter schools . The next session, which starts Feb. 1, 2018, will be a good time to start.


READ MORE about Oregon charter schools:

Virtual Charter Schools Don’t Compute

Too many Oregon virtual charter school students skip state tests

PERS problems? Some charter schools say, “Fugettaboutit”


PERS problems? Some charter schools say, “Fugettaboutit”


Oregon’s traditional public schools may be struggling with escalating pension costs, but some charter schools aren’t worried. They’ve figured a way out.

Oregon’s charter school law says public charter schools are public employers, so teachers and staff are required to participate in PERS, the Public Employees Retirement System.

For charter schools, that has traditionally meant teachers and staff were required to contribute a percentage of their pay to PERS and the employing agency had to match these contributions with a percentage of total payroll. The problem is employer contribution rates have been escalating, imposing an increasing burden on charter school budgets.

In early 2011, after PERS announced an increase in the employer contribution rate, Kings Valley Charter School, sponsored by the Philomath School District, worried that increases would force the school to reduce its operations or even close.


In Sept. 2000, an opinion from Oregon Attorney General Hardy Meyers declared the following:

  1. Under ORS chapter 338, may a public charter school contract out its operations to a private, for-profit entity? Yes, assuming that the contract is consistent with the terms of the charter and all applicable laws.
  2. Would contracting out a public charter school’s operational responsibilities to a for-profit entity violate the Oregon Constitution because it would result in the loss of governmental accountability for the performance of governmental functions? No, but in order for a public charter school’s contracting out of the school’s operations to a private, for-profit entity to be constitutional, the public charter school must :(1) maintain a right of control over delegated governmental functions; (2) provide procedural safeguards to affected members of the public in relation to those aspects of the school’s operations that constitute the governmental function of providing a public education.

A non-profit group, People Sustaining Kings Valley (PSKV), was formed to come to Kings Valley’s rescue as an independent contractor. At the start of the 2011-2012 school year, the school contracted with PSKV to have it hire 35 of its 36 employees, everybody but the school’s director. The school subsequently agreed to pay PSKV $973,637 for specified services that school year, including providing instructors and teacher assistants.

With that move, the teachers and staff, as private employees of PSKV, were no longer required to participate in PERS, saving the school about $80,000 a year in PERS contributions.

This also allowed teachers and staff to participate in a pension program provided by PSKV. Under the new system, PSKV automatically contributes 6 percent of the employee’s salary to a 403b retirement plan and the employee can decide whether to contribute more.

“The school has received considerable positive feedback from the teachers and staff regarding the new arrangement,” reported a Jan-Feb. 2013 Charter Starters Newsflash, though it wasn’t at all clear whether the end retirement benefit with the 403b, which would vary with the market, would be better or worse than a PERS benefit.

As for PERS itself, the impact of decreased member participation resulting from any PERS employer engaging “independent contractors” who are not eligible for PERS participation rather than “employees” who are eligible for PERS participation is somewhat neutral, PERS says.

Generally speaking, to the extent any public employer has more “employees” participating as members of PERS it would help to decrease the unfunded actuarial liability (UAL) in the short term because of the corresponding contribution payments. However, it would also increase the future pension liability in the long run because of the increased benefit obligations accrued by those members. Conversely, if a public employer has less employees participating in PERS it would not help decrease the UAL in the short-term, however, neither would it increase the future pension liability.


Logos Public Charter School, sponsored by the Medford School District, has a similar arrangement with a private company, Western Collegiate Consulting (WCC). On its website, WCC says it is “a state certified Professional Employment Organization (PEO) that was specifically created to provide charter schools in Oregon… qualified teachers and staff …”

WCC registered with the Oregon Secretary of State as an Eagle Point, OR business on Oct. 28, 2015. In a rather interesting relationship that could pose a conflict of interest, the Chief Executive Officer of WCC is Joseph D. VonDoloski, who was a principal organizer of Logos and served as its Executive Director until Aug. 2017. VonDoloski left Logos and simultaneously, as CEO of WCC, hired all its teachers and staff.

Logos entered into a 30-page contract with WCC on August 1, 2017, according to Cassie Zimmerer, WCC’s Chief Human Resources Officer. Logos’ former business manager, she is the daughter of Logos’ current Executive Director, Sheryl Zimmerer.

“As part of the agreement, WCC onboarded the majority of Logos’ previous existing employees and hired approximately 10-15 more individuals to fit the school’s needs for next year,” Cassie Zimmerer said. She added that WCC WCC offers a benefit package to it’s employees which includes a 401k matching program (up to 6%) that employees are fully vested in day #1.

The Medford School District subsequently raised the conflict of interest issue. It also questioned whether Logos had complied with state contracting statutes when it contracted with WCC. Those statutes, Medford asserted, require Logos to show using WCC is more cost effective than using its own personnel and resources or that it wasn’t feasible for Logos to use its own personnel.

According to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, the Medford School District has filed an ethics complaint with the Commission over the situation and the Commission is currently conducting a review.


READ MORE about charter schools:

Virtual Charter Schools Don’t Compute

Too many Oregon virtual charter school students skip state tests






The media as the resistance


Jill Abramson, a former executive editor of the New York Times, has a few things to say about the paper’s coverage of President Trump. In a Columbia Journalism Review piece, she warns that the paper needs to be careful not to “create the appearance of a pile-on… that needlessly inflame Trump loyalists.”

“Precisely because of its influence, the Times’s tone and sense of proportion in covering the president must be pitch perfect,” Abramson says. She notes statements by the paper’s current Executive Editor Dean Baquet, “Our role is not to be the opposition to Donald Trump,” and by David Sanger, a Washington correspondent for the Times, that it would be “the biggest single mistake . . . to let ourselves become the resistance to the government.”

To put it mildly, I’m far from a Trump loyalist, but I’ve seen the Times’ blatant bias in its coverage of Trump’s recent package of immigration proposals.

“White House Makes Hard-Line Demands for Any ‘Dreamers’ Deal”, the NY Times screamed on Oct. 8.


The paper went on to say Trump’s “demands” threaten a bipartisan solution.

“WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday delivered to Congress a long list of hard-line immigration measures that President Trump is demanding in exchange for any deal to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, imperiling a fledgling bipartisan push to reach a legislative solution.”

The Washington Post blared on the same day:
“Trump administration releases hard-line immigration principles, threatening deal on ‘dreamers’ “

RealClear Politics fell in line, too. “ “An array of hard-line immigration priorities the White House outlined to Congress Sunday were quickly rejected by Democrats as complete non-starters, jeopardizing the chances of striking a deal to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

 The Boston Globe, the L.A. Times, USA Today and multiple other news outlets piled on with the same “hard-line” cliché.

 Wait a minute. Why are Trump’s proposals “hard-line” and not the Democrats demands?

A little history is in order.

When President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals   (DACA) program in the Rose Garden on June 15, 2012, it hardly reflected a middle-of-the-road consensus. If anything, it represented hard-line hard-left thinking, but the media didn’t describe it that way.

This despite the fact Republicans vigorously denounced the move as an abuse of executive power. The action is “a politically-motivated power grab that does nothing to further the debate but instead adds additional confusion and uncertainty to our broken immigration system,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

And when Obama said in 2014 that he intended to expand DACA so more people would be eligible, 26 states with Republican governors went to court to stop him. Resistance broke out as well when Obama took executive action to grant deferred action status to illegal immigrants who had lived in the United States since 2010 and had children who were either American citizens or lawful permanent residents.

In both cases, courts blocked Obama’s actions and in June 2017 the Trump Administration officially rescinded the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans order.

In other words, Obama’s actions were pretty hard-line. But the media didn’t describe them that way.

Trump’s current package of immigration proposals includes a dozen proposals grouped into three broad areas — border security, interior enforcement and merit-based immigration. Key elements are:

  • Build a southern border wall and close legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration and swell the court backlog.
  • Enforce our immigration laws and return visa overstays.
  • Merit-based immigration system. Establish reforms that protect American workers and promote financial success.

The Democrat’s reaction? Immediate, unqualified, harsh, hard-line dead-on-arrival rejection of Trump’s plan. “This list goes so far beyond what is reasonable,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer  and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”

Why do the media label Trump’s proposals “hard-line”, but not apply the negative appellation to the Democrat’s outright rejection of them and insistence on their positions? Why aren’t the opening positions of both sides simply described as starting points for negotiation? Then we can decide what we think of them.

That would be more responsible than the major media becoming the resistance.

Lake Oswego man a big player in charter school movement


The News & Observer newspaper of Raleigh, North Carolina, recently ran a comprehensive story about Bryan’s actions with respect to charter schools and conservative groups:

A rich donor’s money backed NC’s charter takeover law, and his school network expands


Politicians are laundering Harvey Weinstein’s filthy lucre

Disingenuous – “Not candid or sincere; giving a false appearance of simple frankness”


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Democrat of New York, is shocked, shocked to find that Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual harasser of women (And even more egregious, the New Yorker reported today that three women had told a writer there that Weinstein raped them). So shocked is Schumer that he’s going to show his purity by getting rid of the money Weinstein has given to him over the years.

“Sen. Schumer is donating all of the contributions to several charities supporting women,” Matt House, a spokesman for the Democratic leader told the Washington Post.

Other Democrats have gotten religion, too. Lawmakers who have said they will be donating Weinstein’s contributions include: Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

No word yet from dozen of other Democrats who have gleefully taken Harvey Weinstein’s money over the years. The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit, nonpartisan research group that tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy, has a record of those donations.

According to the Center, recipients of Weinstein’s money include the Democratic Party of Oregon, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and such Democratic luminaries as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and even, in an odd twist, the Midwest Values PAC. Weinstein has also made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation’s website  says Weinstein gave $100,001 to $250,000 through June 2017.

Weinstein has also served as a bundler, collecting contributions from other wealthy donors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he was a bundler for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, raising millions for both.

But here’s the rub.

The contrite Democrats are being more than a little disingenuous.

Many of the Democrats who say they will be re-gifting Weinstein’s contributions plan to give the money to organizations that support Democrats. In other words, the money’s going to be laundered through liberal groups right back to Democrats and their causes.

The Democratic National Committee, for example, has said it will give some of Weinstein’s donations to Emily’s List, Emerge America and Higher Heights. Emily’s List’s entire focus is on electing more pro-choice Democratic women. Emerge America’s focus is on increasing the number of Democratic women leaders in public office. Higher Heights works to elect Black women, a primary constituency of the Democratic Party (94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016).

Chuck Schumer has said he’ll donate Weinstein’s money to women’s rights groups. You can safely bet that means liberal women’s rights groups that support the Democrats’ agenda, not the National Pro-Life Alliance or The Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative think tank.

Most money laundering is dangerous because it can lead to a criminal investigation. But don’t count on any of the Democrats caught in Harvey Weinstein’s web to face such consequences. They’re politicians. They’re protected.










Too many Oregon virtual charter school students skip state tests


The evidence is clear. Public virtual charter schools, also called cyber and online schools, are failing Oregon’s children.

But too many parents, blinded by the certainty of their ideological convictions, still commit their children to failing institutions.

Making it worse, they aren’t insisting that their children take tests designed to determine whether they are on track to be ready for college and the world of work.

In the 2016-17 school year, 95 percent of Oregon students took the English Language Arts tests, 94 percent took the math tests and 88 percent took the science tests.

bakerwebacademylogoBut at Baker Web Academy, sponsored by Baker School District 5J, just 74.5 percent of students took the English Language Arts exam and 74.1 percent took the math tests, according to Oregon Department of Education Assessment Reports. Only science participation exceeded 90 percent, coming in at 91.2 percent.

orcalogoParticipation rates at Oregon’s largest virtual charter school, Oregon Connections Academy, renamed Oregon Charter Academy in the 2020-2021 school year, were deficient in 2016-17 as well. Just 72.3 percent of students took the English Language Arts exams, 72.1 percent took the math tests and 70.3 percent took the science tests.


Another poor performer is Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), part of a virtual charter network affiliated with for-profit company, K12 Inc. The company has come under heavy criticism for the academic performance of its schools across the country.

At ORVA, sponsored by North Bend School District 13, just 69.1 percent of students took the English Language Arts exam in the 2016-17 school year, 68.1 percent took the math tests and 65.4 percent took the science tests.

So many virtual charter school students skipping the tests seriously compromises the reliability of the test scores. It also makes if difficult for the virtual charter schools to systematically use performance measurement information to enhance learning.

But maybe the schools don’t care.


READ MORE about how public virtual charter schools are failing Oregon’s children:

Virtual Charter Schools Don’t Compute