Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sandy Parker: OK. So I Lied. So What?

Two weeks ago we told you that the motive behind the Rochester Business Alliance's "Vote, Be Heard" campaign has nothing to do with the City School Board elections, as the RBA has claimed.   We noted:

In the City, the Democratic primary is the real election.   Mary Anna Towler of City Newspaper nails it when she asks, "If the RBA ... were really pushing for more voter involvement in school board races, why didn't they do this campaign before the Democratic primary ...?"

Yesterday RBA announced that it's not endorsing candidates for City School Board.   This even though it claims to have been so concerned about turnout in that election that it organized the "Vote, Be Heard" campaign.   Didn't even hold endorsement interviews.   Moreover, RBA President and Joe Morelle crony Sandy Parker admits that Mustard Street's take on "Vote, Be Heard" is correct.

Compare Parker's own words, in the Democrat and Chronicle's online story yesterday, to the excerpt of Mustard Street's own piece, above:
"We really had no intention of endorsing," Parker said. "Whoever won that primary, you're looking at the school board.   That was a done deal...I don't think any of them felt this was an endorsement process."
Someone who so clearly understands the City school board race knows that explaining "Vote, Be Heard" as a means to encourage voting for school board candidates is transparently deceptive.

Sandy Parker blew her cover.

The local Democratic establishment swung into action immediately.   The D&C spiked the quote in its print edition, running instead a bland and circumlocutory "clarification" from Parker.   By mid-day today it had scrubbed its online story as well. (It's great being part of the Democratic-Media Complex.   You get a re-do on quotes to the newspaper!)

The paper also scrubbed from both the print and online stories the line, "The campaign did not kick off until after the primary."

Anticipating this, we got a screen shot of the excerpt of the original story showing the Parker quote.

It also shows that inconvenient line in the original story, that "The campaign did not kick off until after the primary," which followed Parker's quote, "Whoever won the primary, you're looking at the school board.   That was a done deal."

Now seeking cover, RBA and its partner in "Vote, Be Heard," the Faith Community Alliance -- another dead giveaway of a liberal purpose -- say in today's sanitized print story that "the campaign aims to increase voter registration and turnout in all races." Which segues away from the stated purpose of "Vote, Be Heard" that Parker's own words revealed as false, but that confirms exactly the true nature of their campaign, as we described in our recent posting.

The purpose of "Vote, Be Heard" is to increase voter registration and turnout -- but only in the City, where it means increasing Democratic turnout in the county-wide races.

Better for Parker and the County Democratic Committee had they gone through the motions of endorsements for School Board candidates.   They could have kept hiding behind the "school board" pretext.   Before she can be Democratic candidate for Congress, Parker needs more instruction from Joe Morelle in the art of political dissembling.

And people, there's no more certain indicator that "Vote, Be Heard" is organized to help the Democratic county-wide races than this:   the total silence of the Democrat and Chronicle and other constituencies of the local Democratic archipelago over "Vote, Be Heard's" offensive graphics showing black children and adults with their mouths taped shut.

Imagine the commotion if the same graphics appeared in a Republican election effort.   Or in a campaign by a group unlike the RBA -- one that actually promotes the interests of local business.


Anonymous said...

Sandy Parker does the bidding of Dutch Summers, who does what Tom Richards and Joe Morelle tell him to do.

I own a business and will not join RBA because of Sandy Parker's blatant political stances. She has become an embarrassment to her organization and has lead them down the road of failure after failure! Just review their role in Mayoral control...

Willa Powell said...


Taking a screen shot of the D&C online article of Oct 11 was a good idea, but apparently an unnecessary one. I compared it to what comes up on the D&C (search RBA) and they are still identical. I fear you are assigning editorial intent (on the part of the D&C) - and even coverup - that just isn't there.

You do make an entirely valid point in your column heading, and I think that needs to be investigated further. How does the RBA accept such blatant equivocation from their most senior staff person? Parker's statements give the RBA a black eye, and undermine the credibility of whatever they are trying to accomplish with the Vote, Be Heard campaign.

Willa Powell
School Board candidate

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Now seeking cover, RBA and its partner in "Vote, Be Heard," the Faith Community Alliance -- another dead giveaway of a liberal purpose -- say in today's sanitized print story that "the campaign aims to increase voter registration and turnout in all races." Which segues away from the stated purpose of "Vote, Be Heard" that Parker's own words revealed as false, but that confirms exactly fthe true nature of their campaign..."

I have a completely different take. "Bishop" Davis and "Rev" Florence are sellouts, willing to allow themselves to be used by lilly-white elites to put a black face on a blatantly, racially offensive agenda. I've seen this tactic used before. The only problem this time is they couldn't find any truly credible black faces to put on this one. "Bishop" Davis went to jail a few years back for stealing from Baden Street Settlement House while employed there. What's his credibility on this?

RBA's agenda is to set the stage for mayoral control. How better to do that than to launch a get-out-the-vote campaign - that fails - then say, "see, those city folk don't vote, so they don't deserve to have an elected School Board".

Philbrick said...

Willa, Thanks for the heads up. I went to the web story yesterday with the intention of linking to it and it looked like it had been changed. Maybe I was wrong, or maybe it 's been changed back.

In any event, I'll check it again and if it reads as it did before (I thought) it was changed, will update the story appropriately.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for your comment.

Philbrick said...


I just checked the online story and it is as I described it yesterday: scrubbed of the Parker quote that appeared in our posting, and also of the reporter's observation that "The campaign did not kick off until after the primary."

Is it possible that your computer brought up a cached version of the page from before it was changed?

Here's the link to the story:

Also a link to the companion story naming the RBA's endorsements:

Neither contains the original Parker quote or the line cited above.

Am I missing something? Did you find the quote in a different article?

Willa Powell said...


Your blog post certainly got my attention. I hadn't thought of the possibility that a cached version was appearing, but that might explain why I'm not seeing what you are seeing. I'll wipe my cache clean and keep you posted.

Willa Powell said...


I scrubbed my cache, and looked again.


This is the online article posted Oct 11. You are absolutely correct that the article posted on Oct 12 ( has been sanitized, but the original Oct 11 article is still available and still contains both of the items you quote.

If your broader point is that the printed version is less critical of Sandy Parker and of the RBA, your point is well taken. But that points to another failing of the D&C: they hope to influence city readers, with their own endorsements etc... but they don't have any - city readers, that is. The may sell papers in the city (downtown) but my guess is not to city residents.

Philbrick said...

Thanks, Willa.

I think you've explained the mystery. I note that when one looks for the article using the search function on the D&C website, what pops up is the Oct. 12 version of the story, sans the Parker quote.

So the paper hasn't scrubbed the original article, so much as they have replaced it with what I'd call a sanitized version designed, as you suggest, to make Sandy Parker and RBA look not quite so bad by making it more difficult for the reader to connect the dots. Which the earlier version connected all too clearly.

And of course you grasp correctly my larger point, which is that, regardless of what else may have been scrubbed, the print version is less critical of Ms. Parker and the RBA, by omitting the quote that apppeared in the original online story.

Thanks again for your comments -- and for sorting out the confusion!

Monkeytoe said...

That's an interesting take about Mayoral control, and I wouldn't entirely discount it as the plan.

the one thing I would say though, is that a couple of years ago the teachers' unions got the state legislature to pass a law requiring "maintenance of effort" by the big-5 school districts' cities.

this means that the City of Rochester must continue to pay over to RCSD the same amount it paid in (I believe) 2008. This means that the City Council, Mayor etc. no longer have any say in how approx $53 million of its tax revenue gets spent - it must give that money to RCSD. this means that RCSD is getting its own tax revenues from the school tax and over 50% of the City of Rochester's tax revenue.

It seems to me that in such case, the mayor ought to have a large say in how the RCSD is run. You can't have your cake and eat it to. If I'm electing the mayor to oversee the City and its fiscal policy, I want him to have say in how over 50% of City tax dollars are spent.

Moreover, the mayor and city counsel are elected by Rochester residents, same as the School Board - so it is hardly as if the residents would not be represented or that it is anti-democratic.

Finally, I'm not sure a mayor can do any worse than the RCSD school board does in terms of results. RCSD has been controlled by the same people and party for years - with the same tired ideas and philosophy. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Electing the same democrats over and over to RCSD and expecting different results is, well, insane. They are going to continue to pursue the same policies, hire the same types of individuals, and generally get the same results.

Willa Powell said...

Response to Monkeytoe... not sure I can cover all points in a single post, and not sure folks want to read a response to all anyway!

First, you are correct that MOE became law in 2008, but it was not a union invention. It was Gov Spitzer's idea to protect NYS's increased investment in aid to high needs districts (Contract for Excellence or C4E) from being undermined by an equivalent withdrawal of local support. (Nevermind that subsequent state budgets froze C4E implementation when it was only 25% funded!)

Second, school taxes in dependent districts are collected "on behalf of" schools. Those taxes appear on your tax bill separately, same as school taxes in the suburbs are billed and collected separately. How come nobody does the math to determine how much of their Brighton taxes are town vs. school?

Third, property tax levy only makes up 15% of RCSD budget. 2# is STAR funding which came from the state, but the city includes it in their compliance with MOE. 70% of RCSD funding comes from NYS formula aid. By your logic, the governor should appoint the School Board, not the Mayor.



Monkeytoe said...


First, yes the school taxes are separate - but that is not what I am talking about. The City does collect those taxes and turn them over to the school. But again - irrelevent. I'm talking about the portion of the $$ that the city's collect for themselves but then DECIDE to turn over to the RCSD. That was a political decision to continue pouring $$ into the school districts using City revenue. (putting aside for the moment that we spend more per pupil then ever, even adjusting for inflation, with much, much, much worse results, therefore belying any claim that we need to constantly dump more and more money into a failing syste).

The governor decided for some reason that he was going to pass a law to FORCE the City to continue those payments. RCSD had no entitlement to that money. RCSD should be made to live within its property tax means. It doesn't matter what reasoning the governore used. The governor took democracy away from City residents by taking away their elected representatives ability to use City tax revenue as the city officials determined was appropriate.

As far as who appoints the school board - perhaps it should be the governor if it is state money mostly funding RCSD. If it is all state taxpayers' money funding this failure of a district, why should only City residents decide how that money is spent? How is that democracy?

My point is a) the School Board has been an abysmal failure for the last 40 years or so based on results and money spent with no results (and they are horrible, horrible stewards of taxpayer money); and b) considering where thet funding comes from, it is actually undemocratic for the City to have control over how the money is spent.

The MOE is ridiculous, anti-democractic, and throws good money after bad. Why is the City forced to pay that money to the School District? Because the governore said so?

And finally, if you think teh unions, who basically control Albanay, weren't behding it - you are pretty naive for a politician. Why is more money being poured into schools? where does it go? Teacher salaries and ridiculous benefits as well as administrator salaries and benefits. Teacher pensions. top of the line free health insurance. And the list goes on and on.

So, you are right, by my logic the school board should not be elected by City residents as the rest of the state has just as much right to determine how the money is spent.

I'm sure you are a good person who really wants RCSD to succeed. But, by an metric, the Board, which you have long been a part of, is a miserable failure.

Willa Powell said...

I'm sorry this blog post is aging in place... there is so much ground to cover.

Let me just make a couple of blanket statements, because too many threads in each response make detailed response impossible.

I concede that unions were delighted with the MOE law and will defend it with all available means. But I also contend that Gov. Spitzer committed to increasing aid to high needs districts because of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. Gov. Pataki fought it every step of the way, but lost at every step as well. Spitzer's choice was resolve it for NYC only, or do what was right for ALL high needs districts.

Your argument that RCSD has TOO MUCH money is provably false in many ways. Every think tank that ever developed an aid formula says we need more. Perhaps I can go into detail on that when future posts go down this path again. Dividing our revenues by the number of our children is not accurate. Those funds also pay for all the charter school students, AND transportation for them and parochial students as well. Those funds pay for special ed in a district with 17% special ed population (can you say lead poisoning?), and a huge population of foreign refugees with formally interupted education speaking 32 different languages. Our suburban neighbors don't have any of that to deal with.


Philbrick said...


We also regret that your insights regarding the issues raised here are confined to an aging post.

Would you care to do a blog post about them? If so, please contact us at the blog's e-mail address and we can give you the access information to enable you to post.

Our e-mail appears in the right-hand column of the blog, as well as at the foot of the page.

Monkeytoe said...


Public school districts argue every time that they don't have enough money. It's the same argument every year. Per pupil spending is higher than its ever been with worse results. there are many reasons for the bad results, but more money won't do a drop to change the results. It is policies, from hiring policies, to state laws making it nearly impossible to fire or discipline teachers, to social engineering curriculum that doesn't focus on the basics - math, English, history, science and instead focuses on feel good "esteem" issues.

Of course, the issues of values in the community is the largest driver of the failure of RCSD - family breakdown, etc. More money for RCSD won't ever change that.

As for "think tanks" I'm sure that every think tank report you have ever read (i.e., liberal think tanks") argue that more money is needed. there is no other argument liberalism every makes except we need more government and more spending. So of course, that is the argument you are familiar with.

Regardless, it is provably true that spending on RCSD is higher per pupil - even accounting for inflation, etc - then ever. You can throw around argument about transportation, etc., but it does not refute my point. Every district transports students to parochial schools, etc. Every district has special needs students. (that's a whole separate issue by the way - we are way over-diagnosing children as special needs). Foreign born students only increase costs to the extent you do ESL instead of simple immersion (i.e., putting them in the same classes as everyone else). Study after study shows immersion is better long-term than ESL. We've heard this over and over as an excuse - RCSD is more expensive because we are so different. It's not accurate. the cost drivers are administrators to teacher to pupil and the high cost of benefits and salary. There are some costs RCSD bares that other districts don't, but not so much as to keep throwing good money after bad.

You state that you can't simply look at per pupil spending. That is very convenient to say. B/c then there is no metric by which you can judge the spending and can always say "it's not enough money".

Regardless, it does not address my main point that the Board is a failure and that b/c the $$ comes from the state or the City, it is actually undemocratic for there to be a separately elected school board.

The MOE was very undemocratic for the City. To the extent that anyone is against Mayoral control of RCSD, they should also be against the MOE or they are simply inconsistent in their interpretation of democracy.

Willa Powell said...

Thank you Mustard Street for offering the opportunity to guest post. I'll seriously consider it. I am much more comfortable reacting to other people's posts, but I'll see what I can do.


The Roch City School Board joins Monroe County School Bd Assoc and New York State School Bd Assoc in calling for reduction in mandates that tie our hands as to how we must spend aid to education, whether it is state or local taxes. So, you and I agree that government is "too big".

The cost of education is unnecessarily high because there are too many regulations that do nothing to improve education. Our state legislators like to pass these sorts of laws because it makes them look like they are doing something to improve or safeguard. They don't like to repeal regulatory laws - in part because of special interests - but also because they genuinely think those rules at value. Their egos demand that they believe so.

Part of those unnecessarily high costs are associated with Special Ed. NY has 200+ regulations above and beyond Federal IDEA laws and regulations. So, high special ed percentages are absolutely tied to high cost of urban education. If we had no special ed students, our per pupil spending would be about $17,000 per student, which is very much in line with, or less than, what other districts spend.

I agree with you that kids are overdiagnosed. But - the issue of lead poisoning simply doesn't exist in suburbs like Farmington that nearly didn't exist until after lead was banned from paint in 1972. And - the dysfunction and violence of those living in the crescent leads to some profound emotional disturbances that the School District has to deal with before the kids can pay attention to lessons.