1) Follow the Journey with Bernie?
The American Federation of Teachers
administratorship over the Broward Teachers Union is approaching its end.
The last major detail to be taken care of is the election of new local union
officers, including the president. Whoever wins will benefit from grading on
the curve. The previous president, Pat Santeramo, is
the cause of the administratorship, after his alleged racketeering and
embezzlement of union funds. His predecessor, Tony Gentile, served jail time
for attempting to entice a minor into a sex act. After those two, any
candidate would look clean by comparison.
It seems as though that theory will be
put to the test.
Four candidates are running for BTU's top office, including the
incumbent vice president, Bernie Schultz. You may recall that
Schultz was the first to plead to receiving reimbursement out of union
dues for a political campaign contribution she made. She is currently on
probation for that offense. In her
campaign statement to BTU members, Schultz touts her experience: "In
this period of transition, we need someone with the experience to continue
moving the BTU forward. I am that person. It is time for us to come together
and unify our efforts. Follow the Journey with Bernie."
Schultz has not been implicated in
Santeramo's alleged crimes, but the union's own documents note that BTU
records "have been subpoenaed pursuant to an investigation by the U.S.
Department of Labor. The investigation appears to be of one or more officers
or former officers of the union related to expenditures." Schultz and other
members of the board and staff don't have to be criminals to have been
negligent with the union's money. Just as was the case with the
United Teachers of Dade during the Tornillo scandal, the union
president's misappropriations were only partly responsible for the overall
BTU had $357,000 in liabilities in
2007-08. By the time Santeramo was arrested, the union held $2.4 million in
assets and $2.8 million in liabilities. That's what happens when payrolls
and pension costs balloon while revenue is falling.
Santeramo's alleged kickbacks didn't
occur in total secrecy either. BTU's accountant, Richard M. Kagan, produced
a financial statement in February 2008 that should have led to action back
then. Kagan delivered an income vs. expenditures report for the first six
months of fiscal year 2007-08. The union had budgeted $150,000 for "building
expenses" for the entire year, and nothing for "building renovations." But
in six months, BTU spent $167,663 on the former, and $55,724 on the latter.
We now know that during this six-month period, almost $78,000 went to David
Esposito of Marstan Construction, who has testified
he kicked back $20,000 of that amount to Santeramo.
Perhaps none of this will matter to the
BTU members who will vote by mail the last two weeks of this month, but
there are at least some signs that there is opposition to business as usual.
One of the candidates for president,
Sharon Glickman, is one of the four members of the BTU executive board who
blew the whistle on Santeramo to AFT last year. Another, Bryan Caletka,
assumed this statement would resonate with voters: "I am also the only
candidate that is not a BTU insider. I am not a BTU insider. I am not a BTU
There is another reason to be hopeful.
After the fall of Tornillo in Miami, his hand-picked successor, Shirley
Johnson, ran for president after the AFT administratorship expired. She was
defeated by a margin of 52%-48%. She later filed election fraud complaints,
but her appeals were denied (see item #3 in the
December 20, 2004 EIA Communiqué).
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from August 28-September 4:
Now a Running Joke. It is possible to make an honest mistake about what
your marathon time was 20 years ago. But not by an hour, and not if it was
your only one.
Paul Ryan Marathon Kerfuffle: Beware the Lesson of Nathan Noy. Ryan was
caught, but it's always best to be sure of your facts before making
Ossify Wall Street. Dissipation into anarchy... literally.
Temporary Insanity. When is a tax hike not a tax hike?
AFT Drops Anchor in Mystic. Short-lived challenge.
Labor Day Toils. Hard worker.
Quote of the Week.
"When voters instituted changes (for current employees) in San Diego, the
unions didn't really fight the campaign. They saved money for lawyers." -
Michael Shires, political scientist at Pepperdine University, describing
what is likely to happen to California Gov. Jerry Brown's public pension
reform bill. (August 29