Archive for transparency

Wisconsin families who already have kids at taxpayer-funded private schools are still sending in voucher requests


public school sinking cartoon via Philly.comVia

Wisconsin gets a lot of voucher requests for their private schools. However, there appears to be a teeny weeny little glitchette. Families who already have kids at those schools are still sending in voucher requests. Gee, ya think someone should take a second look at Gov. Scott Walker's cherished privatizing efforts?

Via the Leader-Telegram:

Earlier this year, in a controversial move, the state Legislature expanded the voucher program to include 500 students outside the Milwaukee and Racine school districts and grow from 500 to 1,000 the number of students in those two districts eligible for taxpayer-funded private school educations for the 2013-14 school year.[...]

The program would pay for K-12 students to attend private schools if income eligibility requirements are met rather than the public schools where they live. Private schools would receive taxpayer funding in the form of state aid for each eligible student.

When pushing for private school voucher expansion, Gov. Scott Walker said the plan would allow students from underperforming public schools who couldn’t afford to attend private schools to do so. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said using state money to pay for students whose families already send them to private schools wasn’t part of those discussions. She said she raised the issue of that possibility earlier this year when the Legislature discussed vouchers but was told that wasn’t the intent of the program.

Oh, but it was. Using public money to pay for students who already attend private schools was indeed the intent. Democratic members of the state legislature are "troubled by the lack of fiscal transparency by private schools, who are not required to provide school-related information as are public schools." Too many loopholes in the law, say they.

And they would be correct.

walker world


Judge throws out rule forcing oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments


that's oil folks smaller

Gee, what a surprise: A victory for Big Oil.

Via The Hill:

A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a controversial Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would force oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.

The decision is a victory for oil industry and business groups that claim the requirements would have imposed costly burdens and forced disclosure of commercially sensitive information. [...]

The decision is a defeat for human rights groups, who say the rule provides “transparency” that can help prevent corruption and ensure the public benefits from energy development in Africa and elsewhere.

The rule was required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Chamber of Commerce couldn't be happier that it was tossed.

It's safe to say that this time around, the GOP won't refer to the decision as judicial activism.


Vice President Biden backs public disclosure of torture report


biden big f'ing deal

This is one of the reasons I'm a Biden fan. Roll Call:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday night that he supports making a classified Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and enhanced interrogation more available to the public. [...]

"I think the only way you excise the demons is you acknowledge, you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward,” Biden said. He explained his position that issues related to torture must be laid out before a country can move beyond them, citing the war crimes committed in the Balkans and other acts of torture overseas.

“The single best thing that ever happened to Germany were the war crimes tribunals, because it forced Germany to come to its milk about what in fact has happened,” Biden said. “That’s why they’ve become the great democracy they’ve become.”

That's a whole lot saner than New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R) suggesting the use of torture on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Now if only the vice president would back a full investigation and eventual prosecution of those in the Bush administration who “indisputably” practiced torture and had “no justification” for doing so.

Biden made his remarks at the same forum in Sedona, Arizona at which he said to John McCain, if the  2008 economy had been better “I think you probably would have won.”


Lawmakers write letter to President Obama asking for details on drone policy


drones mcchrystal

drones letter

"Authorizing the killing of American citizens and others has profound implications for our Constitution, the core values of our Nation, our national security and future international practice. The executive branch's claim of authority to deprive citizens of life, and to do so without explaining the legal bases for doing so, sets a dangerous precedent and is a model of behavior that the United States would not want other nations to emulate."

drones letter 2Link

drones robert gibbs

Former Press Sec. Robert Gibbs was told, “You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”

Next thing we knew, Rand Paul was filibustering for close to 13 hours, "droning on" if you will.

Now eight Democrats have written a letter to President Obama asking him to declassify documents that would clarify the legal basis for all those drones the Obama administration has been increasingly employing. There have been more and more questions about using them to kill foreign nationals and even U.S. citizens.

The letter was organized by California Rep. Barbara Lee and Michigan Rep. John Conyers, and also signed by Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Donna Edwards of Maryland, Mike Honda of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey and James McGovern of Massachusetts.

H/t: Politico


VIDEO: Former Press Sec. Robert Gibbs was told, "You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists."


drones robert gibbs

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Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who is now an MSNBC contributor, was on Up with Chris Hayes talking drones and secrecy. He wasn't even allowed to acknowledge the existence of the drone program.


“I think you’ve seen recently the president discuss the need and desire to be more forthcoming..."

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, 'You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists...' So I would get a question like that and literally I couldn’t tell you what Major asked, because once I figured out it was about the drone program, I realize I’m not supposed to talk about it.

“But here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition: you’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program-- 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.'”

"... I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful, this is my opinion, but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program, when it’s obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”


The Obama administration has vastly stepped up the use of drones and targeted killings of suspected terrorists in countries like Pakistan and Yemen over the past four years, even targeting American citizens, a policy that has come under intense criticism from civil liberties advocates... The Obama administration has continued to withhold information about the program, including the secret memo prepared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to justify the program’s legality.

Finally, in 2012, counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan acknowledged the program’s existence.


So much for Bobby Jindal's "transparency": His top aides use personal emails to strategize on Medicaid cuts


The next time any Republican gets hot under the collar when you call one of their own a hypocrite, or gets a tingle up their leg over their new BFF and potential presidential candidate Bobby “If we want people to like us, we have to like them first” Jindal, ask them to defend this:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Top officials in Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration used personal email accounts to craft a media strategy for imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid cuts - a method of communication that can make it more difficult to track under public records laws despite Jindal's pledge to bring more transparency to state government. [...]

It's unclear whether he knew his top staff used private accounts to conduct public business. The practice folds into a national debate over the use of personal email accounts by government officials to discuss official business. [...]

When running for office in 2007, Jindal campaigned on improving government transparency in a state known for its backroom political deals, imprisoned elected officials and ongoing investigations into public corruption. Since then, the governor has opposed attempts to open more of his office's records to public scrutiny, and agencies in his executive branch have exerted new claims of privilege to shield documents.

Seems Ba-ba-ba-Bobby's knack for keeping promises and being transparent is only surpassed by his knack for public speaking. (Click on link for explanation of Ba-ba-ba. Hint: Rachel Maddow.)

Details at the link.


Paul Ryan's "phoniest piece of baloney" photo op could hurt soup kitchen


So this happened:

Paul Ryan barred reporters from his convo with homeless in Ohio, and washed dishes “that did not appear to be dirty”

Charity president on Paul Ryan soup kitchen photo op: “Did not have permission. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken.”

VIDEO: Paul Ryan’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Soup Kitchen Fake Clean-Up

The charity's president, Brian J. Antal, has been a volunteer for five years and isn't about to quit now. But ever since Paul Ryan's fake-dishwashing photo op, he's getting angry calls and threats from "donors" that they'll stop supporting the soup kitchen.

Via the wonderful Connie Schultz (wife of Sen. Sherrod Brown who is running for re-election):

When I talked to Antal on Tuesday afternoon, he said he was starting to worry "a little bit" for the safety of his family. [...]

"They keep accusing me of being partisan," he said. "They say they're donors who will never give again because of what I said." None of them would give a name.

Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent's Saturday coordinator for the dining hall:

"It was the phoniest piece of baloney I've ever been associated with... In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door. ... They couldn't have cared less. The advance man said Paul Ryan wanted to come and talk to our clientele, but he didn't."


"My objection to Paul Ryan's visit has nothing to do with his being a Republican. I'm trying to protect our charity..."

Please consider lending a hand by sending a check to:

Society of St. Vincent de Paul, P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, OH 44501

H/t: Greg Ostravich