Seriously, What Is Up at UFT?

February 28, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I’m catching up on this a little late, but ALELR has connected a couple of dots and drawn a picture of things at the UFT that can only make you say “Epic Facepalm.”

OK, you do remember the whole Cue Card Check scandal? At the time, Randi Weingarten was so embarrassed that she was forced to go out and claim she knew nothing about all this – cue cards? what cue cards? – and would “make some changes in the union.”

I missed this at the time, but last summer Elizabeth Green (who also broke the Cue Card Check story) reported that Marvin Reiskin, the UFT political director, had taken early retirement in the aftermath of the scandal. He was lined up for retirement at the end of the year anyway, but forcing him out early – even a month early – beats doing nothing. It sends an internal signal, however muted.

Obviously UFT had to be looking for a replacement who would restore credibility. Their number one priority after such a humiliation must have been to bring in someone who would restore adult supervision – and, more importantly, be seen to do so – show the watching world that the grownups were back in charge at UFT.

So get this: the person tapped to play that role was Paul Egan.

I think the question now becomes: why does UFT have an organizational culture in which people like this consistently rise to the top, no matter how strong the external incentives against it?

More Teacher Union Sock Puppetry

April 29, 2009

Henson and Kermit.jpg

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Recently we had a lot of fun with the Leo Casey/UFT “cue card check” story. But one fact that I don’t think got a lot of attention (here or elsewhere) is that this is far from the first instance of teacher union sock puppetry.

In this week’s Communique, ALELR highlights another one – the NEA’s longtime practice of setting up dummy organizations that are entirely controlled by the union, but conceal this fact and present themselves as independent voices. This week he highlights ROVE (Republicans Opposing Voucher Efforts), which, from the evidence ALELR presents, sure looks a whole lot like it has the NEA’s arm sticking out the bottom.

Apparently their strategy is to pay a whole chorus of voices to sing out of the union songbook, while hiding the singers’ union connections.

Say, I think I feel a song coming on myself…

Why are there so many songs about unions?
And choruses on their side?

The singers are honest and independent
And they have nothing to hide

So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Someday we’ll find it – the union connection
The reformers, the reporters, and me!

Questions for Leo-The Final Chapter

April 23, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

In my final question for Leo, I ask: Leo, do your puppets have Taco Flavored Kisses?

Questions for Leo: Do you smell what the Blob is cooking?

April 21, 2009


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In today’s installment of our ongoing series Questions for Leo, we feature this 1997 photo of Leo Casey subtly indicating to the members of the New York City Council education committee that it’s time for them to pick up their cue cards and start asking the prearranged questions.

Since his appearance before the committee was more phony than a pro wrestling match, today’s question for Leo is: Do you smell what the Blob is cooking?

Below, the latest embarrassing expose on the UFT – yet another hilariously misspelled cue card.


Edited to correct a misspelling – I put an “e” in “subtly.” Yes, I have submitted my job application to the UFT and expect to hear back shortly.

Questions for Leo: Is It Easy Giving Green?

April 17, 2009

Henson and Kermit.jpg

(Guest Post by Greg Forster)

Today’s installment of the ongoing series Questions for Leo features this 1974 photo of Leo Casey on vacation in the Everglades with the then-chairman of the New York City Council education committee.

The Daily News coverage of union financial contributions to the puppets on the education committee reminds us how much green the unions have to give. So our question for Leo today is, “Is it easy giving green?”

I mailed him the question (on a cue card, of course) and he replied:

It’s not that easy giving green
Having to wish each day my conscience would leave
When I think it could be nicer
Being a thief, or a con artist, or a pro wrestler
Or something much more honest like that

It’s not easy giving green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary lobbyists
And people tend to pass you over
‘Cause you’re not standing out like GSEs that destroy the economy
Or stars in Hollywood

But green is the color of nastiness
And green makes politicians cool and friendly-like
And green can make you big, like a tyrant
Or important, like a monopolist
Or walk tall like you had dignity

When green rolls in from union fees
It could make you wonder why you hate children
But why wonder? Why wonder?
I have green, and it’ll do fine
It’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what you want from me

Photo courtesy The Jim Henson Company via the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Famous Steakholders, Volume One

April 16, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Could this be what Leo was talking about?

The UFT’s “Cue Card Check”

April 15, 2009


All images from GothamSchools, whose Elizabeth Green broke the story

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Last week, the UFT got caught handing out cue cards to New York City Council members before a public hearing of the council’s education committee. The council members dutifully asked the questions they had been given, which pointedly invited anti-charter diatribes from the teacher-union and DOE witnesses.

The members then unanimously voted to make Grigori Potemkin their new committee chairman.

Internet wags are calling the scandal “cue card check.” ALELR has consulted his deep moles within UFT and offered an intriguing report on the union’s strategy for the Council’s next hearing.

The cue cards have to be seen to be believed:




That’s “questions for Leo” as in our dear friend and Sith apprentice Leo Casey, who testified at the hearing. My pledge to you, the reader: from now on, every time Leo posts calumnies about Jay, I will post a link to this story.


And that’s “questions for DOE” as in officials from the Department of Education. The cue cards were handed out by the UFT, but is it plausible that the department officials had no idea they were being asked scripted questions?

HILARIOUS UPDATE! When I first posted this, I didn’t look closely at the handwritten edit made to this cue card. Check it out – note the spelling. And this is from an organization of teachers!

This story doesn’t seem to have broken out of the local circuit yet, but it’s getting a whole lot of attention in the city media. The Daily News is leading the way, documenting the extent of UFT political contributions to the council members who got cue cards and covering Randi Weingarten’s attempts to deflect blame by claiming that a charter school organizer once did the same thing. (Not true, says the organizer – and who has more credibility here?)

But ALELR notes that props are not being given to Elizabeth Green of the blog GothamSchools, who broke the story and snapped all the pictures you see above (and more, which you can enjoy in all their glory by following the link).

Green wryly notes that the cue cards with accusatory anti-charter questions were handed out by “a representative of the city teachers union, which describes itself as in favor of charter schools.”

%d bloggers like this: