Wednesday, March 10, 2010

“The Broad Effect”: Part Two

Read Part One here.
Because of his immense wealth and interest, billionaire Eli Broad is one member in a very small set of non-elected, extremely wealthy individuals who have acquired the power to determine U.S. public education policy and the future of our public education system. Most of the masses are not aware that public schools are being dismantled by the coup. For those who have caught on and are reading this, I offer you some information about him, all easily accessible on the internet. Just consider "The Broad Effect": Part Two my variation of the popular TV show, ""Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

The Inauguration Party thrown by Broad for President Obama
Broad, a longtime Democratic supporter, was so thrilled at the election of Barack Obama that he threw what was described as “the most exclusive dinner of the week” to salute his friends who are members of the new president's cabinet. As the New York Times reported:

Anyone who is anyone in Washington was at Tuesday night’s pre-ball dinner, thrown by the California billionaire Eli Broad at the Park Hyatt Hotel to honor members of the new Obama administration.
The guest list looked like a who’s who list of Washington old and new: Hillary Clinton, Mr. Obama’s choice for secretary of state and her husband, former President Bill Clinton; Lawrence Summers, the former treasury secretary and new White House chief economics adviser; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s pick for Education Secretary, Leon Panetta, the nominee for director of the C.I.A.; Vernon Jordan, the power lawyer, as well as media celebrities like Larry King and Charlie Rose.
Jim Horn at Schools Matter expressed the feelings of betrayal felt by many when Obama selected Arne Duncan:
While many of us were out busting our humps to gather up a few dollars and votes for the change we thought we could believe in, the Harvard boys were cutting backroom deals with the multi-billionaire oligarchs to fully engage their plan to corporatize American public education, beginning with the urban schools.

(If you clicked on Horn's link, did you enjoy looking at the photo of Arne Duncan hanging out with Broad at the party?)

Eli Broad’s living quarters, lifestyle, etc.

Eli Broad’s primary residence is on Oakmont Drive in Los Angeles. (Brentwood, zip 90049). This would give Broad about a 5 mile & 11 minute commute to the Broad Foundation’s headquarters located at 10900 Wilshire Blvd. (at the corner of Westwood and Wilshire, zip 90024).

In June 2009, Broad threw a party at his home in honor of the 40th anniversary of Art Basel, an international contemporary art exhibition ("the Olympics of the art world") held each year in Basel, Switzerland, and in Miami, Florida. W Magazine describes the event:
Almost everything about a recent dinner at Eli Broad’s Los Angeles home in honor of the 40th anniversary of Art Basel was outsize, starting with the estate itself. Visitors approached the mansion—designed in part by Frank Gehry—through a private sculpture park, then entered a sitting room the size of a hotel lobby before descending a stairway into a series of double-height galleries. “This is bigger than the Gagosian Gallery,” said fashion-world fixture Richard Buckley as he arrived at the first subterranean white cube, with its cranelike Calder sculpture and pair of giant Chuck Close portraits.
High-end art collectors like Eli Broad pursue collecting as a financial investment. The article continues:

Throughout the evening, Broad loomed almost as large. “Times are tough,” he allowed, when he rose to address his guests. “But we got a lot of great things in the early Nineties, which were also tough times.”
Look at a slideshow of the amazing art party here.

As an aside, Broad’s Brentwood residence is only about 10 minutes from the Getty Center, a stunning and relatively new major art museum. J. Paul Getty (1892-1976) was an American industrialist who founded the Getty Oil Company, making him one of the world’s richest-ever men. He was an avid art collector.

Incidentally, the Getty Center was designed by Richard Meier, the same architect who Broad commissioned to design a Malibu beach house in 1999. On Meier’s Web site, scroll down near the end to see several photos of the house which is located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu (zip 90265) along the famed Carbon Beach, “…the highest value beach neighborhood on Pacific Coast Highway…” where:

Homes here tend to be carefully designed by leading architects and adhere to very tasteful standards. Privacy has a high value along with insulation from PCH noise. Money, of course, is no object. When billionaire entrepreneur Eli Broad planned his Carbon Beach house he employed Getty Center architect Richard Meier to design a home on two adjoining parcels. Broad paid $2.5 million for one lot, then owned by Freddy DeMann, Madonna's former manager. It had 45 feet of beach frontage -- the 1952 three-bedroom 3,000-square-foot house was demolished. Next door was another 55 feet of beach frontage Broad bought for $2.6 million, including an 1,800-square-foot house built in 1955, also demolished.
But back in Brentwood...

In 2002, Barry Munitz sold a piece of Getty Trust-owned land to his close friend Eli Broad at a substantial discount. The LA Times reported the story:

The J. Paul Getty Trust sold a valuable piece of Brentwood real estate in 2002 for $700,000 less than its appraised value to billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a close friend and professional associate of Getty Chief Executive Barry Munitz, according to trust documents and officials.
Munitz directed his aides to delay listing the property so that he could discuss a transaction directly with Broad, despite what Getty records call "many requests to purchase the property," which is adjacent to Broad's hilltop estate.


Not long after Munitz took the Getty's helm, Broad invited Munitz to sail along the coast of southern France on his yacht, mixing recreation with visits to a string of small museums.
" 'Don't you think it would be nice if you actually knew something about what you are about to get into?' " Munitz recalled Broad, a noted art collector, teasingly asking him. Munitz came to the Getty with no background in the art world.
It was Munitz's first invitation to join Broad's "boat trip summers" and travels to such places as Croatia, Greece and Cuba with a circle of entrepreneurs and philanthropists. The group sometimes included then Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan and billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle.
Back in Los Angeles, Munitz and Broad's collaborations in the arts, education and politics continued.

Did you notice Richard Riordan’s name popping up?
Riordan (b. 1930) is a longtime and good friend of Eli Broad (b. 1933). They have a strong common interest in LA civic and business affairs. Both are also strong promoters of charter schools and school choice, and, in particular these days, with supporting the candidacy of State Senator Gloria Romero for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Riordan served as Mayor of Los Angeles (1993–2001) and as the California Secretary of Education (2003–2005). Originally trained as a lawyer, he had become wealthy by founding a series of private equity firms which focused on venture capital investments and leveraged buyout transactions. Riordan ran for Governor of California unsuccessfully in 2002. The funding priorities of his foundation are listed as “…technology, school choice, and leadership development programs.”

Ravitch (p. 197) reminds us that, “Foundations exist to enable extremely wealthy people to shelter a portion of their capital from taxation...”

It is important to mention, that when Riordan was mayor, he employed Ben Austin as one of his Deputy Mayors. Austin, also once employed by Green Dot, has been serving as the Executive Director of the Parents Union (aka LAPU/aka Parents Revolution, a phony grassroots organization) for nearly two years. All those connections are reviewed here and here. (Maybe someday I'll write a book!)

In addition to yachting together in exotic locales, Riordan once owned a house next to Broad’s beach house along Malibu’s Billionaires Beach (aka Carbon Beach). It seems to now be officially owned by Riordan’s estranged wife, Nancy. At times, residents in this neighborhood have been annoyed with noisy, paparazzi-attracting parties thrown by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton at beach houses which they've rented:
"On any given Monday morning, Eli Broad would be calling city hall with a list of what he'd had to put up with the previous weekend," said Jay Marose, a PR guru who worked alongside Fingerprint Communications in developing the Polaroid Beach House.

Billionaires Beach residents have also been annoyed by members of the masses who have demanded public beach access. That particular conflict seems to have been resolved:

Last Monday, two white wooden doors swung open for the first time onto Carbon Beach, courtesy of David Geffen, the DreamWorks co-founder, who owns a large shingled compound on the ocean and has the option of borrowing suntan lotion from billionaire neighbors like Eli Broad and Haim Saban. The mile-and-a-half-long beach, among the first glimpses of Malibu on the drive up from Los Angeles, is public by law, but to get to it, visitors must find a way to penetrate a wall of multimillion-dollar homes. [Here’s the solution to that puzzle, just in case you're in the area and feel like going for a beach stroll.]
Lastly, Broad has a New York City residence located on the 33rd floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on 5th Avenue (zip 10022), adjacent to the bottom of Central Park on the east side. He had been trying to sell it and had even reduced the asking price, but ended up taking it off the market last June. Of course it is lovely, with a view of Central Park. Photos of the interior can be seen here

UPDATE: More than two years after listing it, Broad's luxury apartment was finally sold in March 2011 for $8 million. Its original asking price was $15 million.

Eli Broad’s wealth was most recently listed at $5.2 billion. Imagine that you are a person with a net worth of $50,000, and you happen to drop a penny and watch it roll away. No big deal, right? Broad would have the same relative mental response as you did, if he tossed $1040 up in the air and watched it blow away.

By this comparison I am just trying to describe the degree of relative wealth; it's nearly incomprehensibly vast, which is why Broad is winning, and public school devotees are loosing.

Hopefully, the picture I’ve now painted sufficiently illustrates the nature and lifestyle of Broad, the man. It doesn't seem right to me that this unelected individual should get to control so much of the direction of the future of our city’s, my state’s, and my country’s public education, education for which ALL taxpayers, each of them as hard-working as Eli Broad, are paying their fair share, and know about the realities and needs in the public schools much more than he ever will. Does it seem right to you?

Is there anyone with political power who would be willing to stand up and stop this anti-democratic force?

“The Broad Effect”: Part One

(These postings originally appeared on The Perimeter Primate. Part One and Part Two.)

“The Broad Effect” is behind the recent events in Rhode Island (the Central Falls firings ), and in Detroit, where the Detroit Public School Board has just unanimously voted to file a second lawsuit against Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, saying the extra $145,000 in private foundation support he receives is an unlawful conflict of interest. Bobb's base salary is $280,000.
The Detroit News reports:
“Bobb's supplemental income from private foundations increased from $84,000 last year to $145,000 this year, under a one-year contract extension signed by the governor and state superintendent this month. The only philanthropic donor publicly identified is the Broad Foundation, whose support of charter schools has stirred controversy among some members of the DPS community.”

Naturally, Robert Bobb (or Bob Bobb, as he was known in Oakland when served as the City Manager under former Mayor Jerry Brown) is a member of the Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2005. 
When the Broad Foundation plants one of its elements in a school district, it is highly likely that another element will be planted along with it, in order to maximize the Effect.

For instance, an element might be:

  • The presence of a Broad-trained superintendent, or even more (the salaries of which might even be covered by the Broad Foundation partially, or in full)
  • The presence of Broad Residents in important central office positions (the salaries of which might even be covered by the Broad Foundation partially, or in full)
  • An "invitation" to participate in a program spawned by the Foundation (such as CRSS's Reform Governance in Action program)
  • An offer from the Broad Foundation to provide the district with a FREE "audit" or "assessment" of some sort (eg. a "Performance Management and Diagnostic and Planning" experience), which issues a report with "recommendations." NOTE: This "diagnostic" is similar to the technique used by unscrupulous auto mechanics to drum up more business.

    The Broad Foundation likes to infiltrate its targets on multiple levels so it can manipulate a wider field and cause the greatest amount of disruption. Venture edu-philanthropists like Gates and Broad proudly call this invasive and destabilizing strategy "investing in a disruptive force."To these billionaires and their henchmen, causing massive disruption for families with school aged children in (disadvantaged) communities (primarily of color) across the nation is no big deal.

    “The Broad Effect” has been playing out in Rhode Island, where State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, a 2008 Broad Superintendents Academy graduate, worked in tandem with Frances Gallo, the district’s superintendent, to fire 93 teachers and staff members at Central Falls High School. Learn much more about the whole story here.

    The April 2009 press release announcing Gist’s appointment as the new R.I. Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education stated:
    “We are thrilled that Rhode Island is the first state to attract a Broad Fellow as not only the superintendent of its largest schools system, with Tom Brady in Providence, but also a Broad Fellow as a State Commissioner who can partner in addressing the challenges of transforming the state's educational systems to a position of international leadership."

    As we learn from a March 2005 press release:
    “The Mayor [Cicilline of Providence] today met with the School Board Monday night to discuss a plan that installs Fran Gallo as Transition Superintendent and calls for the formation of a search committee by next week. The plan is informed by counsel from the Broad Foundation (pronounced “brode”), a nationally-recognized consultant for superintendent searches.”

    And as Providence Public School District eventually acquired Thomas M. Brady (Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2004), he was joined by Sharon Contreras (Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2010) as his Chief Academic Officer. Gallo took a position at Central Falls, an impoverished community 5.7 miles north of Providence. Read more about the Broad-in-Rhode-Island synergy here.

    So now do you understand how it all works?


    ANTIOCH, CALIFORNIA: Deborah Sims (BSA 2005) was asked to resign. The previous year, their school board had started in the Reform Governance in Action program via the Center for Reform of School Systems (CRSS) which is very heavily funded by Broad. After Sims' exit, the CRSS terminated its ties with the district. It was , "...a blessing in disguise," as one board member stated. 

    BUFFALO, NEW YORK: This city was targeted early on, now they are land-o-the-charters.
    CAPISTRANO, CALIFORNIA: In March 2009, this school district terminated its superintendent, Arnold Woodrow "Woody" Carter (BSA 2002), for material breach.

    FRANKLIN COUNTY, OHIO: It seems that Bart G. Anderson (BSA 2006), Superintendent of the Franklin County Board of Education was calling himself “Dr. Bart Anderson” years before he earned a legitimate doctorate degree in 2006. He also got mixed up with a diploma mill called St. Regis University, which issued him a bogus doctorate in 2002.

    JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Joseph Wise (BSA 2003) was given a four-year contract as the superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in the fall of 2005. Twenty-three months later, his spending habits were being questioned. He and the school board parted ways in October 2007, but not before he implemented a controversial reorganization plan. Read local community opinions here. In February 2008, he became the new Chief Education Officer for EdisonLearning. Legal problems persisted even after he left DCPS. Trouble had followed Wise from Delaware, where he had been the superintendent of Christina School District, the largest in Delaware. This is what he's doing now.

    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: As you would suspect, all sorts of intertwining connections are here. Read this report about Broad taking Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to dinner.

    MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: More suckers in Memphis (or are the school district officials just sucking up?). As usual, parents are pissed off but have little idea about what has hit them. As usual, New Leaders for New Schools is right in the midst of things.

    OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA: In January 2008, twenty-one allegations of improper behavior were made against John Q. Porter (BSA 2006), who had been serving as the superintendent of OKCPS for only six months (more here). He was suspended and then resigned in March amid accusations of financial mismanagement and poor job performance. Porter's spending habits were questioned during his previous work for Montgomery County Public Schools. I've looked for him online, but he seems to have disappeared. His Wikipedia page was deleted in 2008.

    OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: In the summer of 2003, Jack O'Connell, the State Superintendent of Instruction (the recipient of a large campaign contribution from Eli Broad), assigned Randolph Ward (BSA 2003) as State Administrator of OUSD. Ward appointed Arnold Woodrow "Woody" Carter (BSA 2002) to be his Chief of Staff (see Capistrano above). Ward's slash-and-burn actions produced so much anger from the community, he hired a full-time body guard. Barak Ben-Gal (Broad Resident 2004-2006) implemented a controversial system called Results Based Budgeting in OUSD, then went into the private sector in Silicon Valley. Kimberly Statham (BSA 2003) hopped from job to job for years and is now at the NewSchools Venture Fund. Statham departed after only one year, and arrangements were made for Vincent Matthews (BSA 2006), who used to work for SF's (now failed) Edison school, to fill the State Administrator position. These three Broad Superintendents within five years left the district in a bigger mess, and in considerably more debt, than in which they had found it. The district regained full control in 2009, but since the district is still in debt to the state, Matthews was assigned as State Trustee.

    NEW YORK CITY: Broad Foundation press release states that Broad "played a key role in former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein's appointment as New York schools chancellor." And here's Broad schmoozing with another N.Y. billionaire.

    PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND: This troubled school district thought it was finally going to get a long-term superintendent when they hired John Deasy (BSA 2006) in May 2006, but by September 2008 he was being investigated for having improperly received his doctorate. He resigned in short order and went to work for the Gates Foundation. Deasy's replacement was William R. Hite Jr. (BSA 2006) who appointed Bonita Coleman-Potter (BSA 2008) as his deputy superintendent.

    ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: Jean-Claude Brizard (BSA 2007) is alienating people there. People are catching on.

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: This group isn't too pleased with Maria Goodloe-Johnson (BSA 2003).

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Arne Duncan invited Broad Residents into his department so they can be in control at the the top.

    WASHINGTON D.C.: Reporting that Michelle Rhee meets with Broad on a regular basis, including making multiple visits to his Fifth Ave. apartment in NYC.

    WILMINGTON, DELAWARE: A 2006 article stated that Broad "plans to virtually take over the Delaware school system in 2007, pending approval from that state's legislature." He backed the winning slate of candidates for the local board of education in 1999 and helped hire the new superintendent. His energy was focused on the Christina School District. Their first Broad superintendent was installed in July 2003 ( see Joseph Wise under Jacksonville above). This is what he's doing now. In April 2006, Wise was succeeded by Lillian Lowery (BSA 2004) who served until May 2009. Lowery walked into her position and shortly discovered a huge district deficit. This is what she's doing now. Her replacement was Marcia Lyles (BSA 2006). This district is home to the incident with six-year old Zachary. His sentence was later reversed.

    Note: Not all Broad Superintendents Academy graduates (called Fellows) are included on the Academy's Web site as "Featured Alumni."

    This map will show you where the Effect has spread, and will link you to its players. More information is available at The Broad Report. Doing a perfect job of keeping track of “The Broad Effect” would be a full-time job!

    I now share with you an excerpt from the Billionaire Boys' Club chapter of Diane Ravitch's book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education"(pp. 200-201):

    But the offer of a multimillion-dollar grant by a foundation is enough to cause most superintendents and school boards to drop everything and reorder their priorities.

    And so it happened that the Gates, Walton, and Broad foundations came to exercise vast influence over American education because of ther strategic investments in school reform. As their policy goals converged in the first decade of the twenty-first century, these foundations set the policy agenda not only for school districts, but also for states and even the U.S. Department of Education.
    Before considering the specific goals and activities of these foundations, it is worth reflecting on the wisdom of allowing education policy to be directed or, one might say, captured by private foundations. There is something fundamentally antidemocratic about relinquishing control of the public education policy agenda to private foundations run by society's wealthiest people; when the wealthiest of these foundations are joined in common purpose, they represent an unusually powerful force that is beyond the reach of democratic institutions. These foundations, no matter how worthy and high-minded, are after all, not public agencies. They are not subject to public oversight or review, as a public agency would be. They have taken it upon themselves to reform public education, perhaps in ways that would never survive the scrutiny of voters in any district or state. If voters don't like the foundations' reform agenda, they can't vote them out of office. The foundation demands that public schools and teacher be held accountable for performance, but they themselves are accountable to no one. If their plans fail, no sanctions are levied against them. They are bastions of unaccountable power.

    Read more about Eli Broad, the man behind the Broad Effect. Find out what makes him chuckle. Learn why he is described as a “billionaire philanthropist whose beneficence comes with not just strings but with ropes.” My previous postings with additional information are here.

    (The Broad Foundation regularly monitors this blog, both directly and, more recently, via services provided by BurrellesLuce. When it occurs, I post the confirmation in my comments.)
    And as eighth-grade students have learned at a public middle school here in Oakland, "Jefferson believed in the People. They can make good decisions when given enough information."