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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Public Pensions Faulted for Bets on Rosy Returns

Few investors are more bullish these days than public pension funds.
While Americans are typically earning less than 1 percent interest on their savings accounts and watching their 401(k) balances yo-yo along with the stock market, most public pension funds are still betting they will earn annual returns of 7 to 8 percent over the long haul, a practice that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently called “indefensible.”
Now public pension funds across the country are facing a painful reckoning. Their projections look increasingly out of touch in today’s low-interest environment, and pressure is mounting to be more realistic. But lowering their investment assumptions, even slightly, means turning for more cash to local taxpayers — who pay part of the cost of public pensions through property and other taxes.
In New York, the city’s chief actuary, Robert North, has proposed lowering the assumed rate of return for the city’s five pension funds to 7 percent from 8 percent, which would be one of the sharpest reductions by a public pension fund in the United States. But that change would mean finding an additional $1.9 billion for the pension system every year, a huge amount for a city already depositing more than a tenth of its budget — $7.3 billion a year — into the funds.
But to many observers, even 7 percent is too high in today’s market conditions.
“The actuary is supposedly going to lower the assumed reinvestment rate from an absolutely hysterical, laughable 8 percent to a totally indefensible 7 or 7.5 percent,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a trip to Albany in late February. “If I can give you one piece of financial advice: If somebody offers you a guaranteed 7 percent on your money for the rest of your life, you take it and just make sure the guy’s name is not Madoff.”
Public retirement systems from Alaska to Maine are running into the same dilemma as they struggle to lower their assumed rates of return in light of very low interest rates and unpredictable stock prices.
They are facing opposition from public-sector unions, which fear that increased pension costs to taxpayers will further feed the push to cut retirement benefits for public workers. In New York, the Legislature this year cut pensions for public workers who are hired in the future, and around the country governors and mayors are citing high pension costs as a reason for requiring workers to contribute more, or work longer, to earn retirement benefits.
In addition to lowering the projected rate of return, Mr. North has also recommended that the New York City trustees acknowledge that city workers are living longer and reporting more disabilities — changes that would cost the city an additional $2.8 billion in pension contributions this year. Mr. North has called for the city to soften the blow to the budget by pushing much of the increased pension cost into the future, by spreading the increased liability out over 22 years.
Ailing pension systems have been among the factors that have recently driven struggling cities into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Such bankruptcies are rare, but economists warn that more are likely in the coming years. Faulty assumptions can mask problems, and municipal pension funds are often so big that if they run into a crisis their home cities cannot afford to bail them out.
The typical public pension plan assumes its investments will earn average annual returns of 8 percent over the long term, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Actual experience since 2000 has been much less, 5.7 percent over the last 10 years, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. (New York State announced last week that it had earned 5.96 percent last year, compared with the 7.5 percent it had projected.)
Worse, many economists say, is that states and cities have special accounting rules that have been criticized for greatly understating pension costs. Governments do not just use their investment assumptions to project future asset growth. They also use them to measure what they will owe retirees in the future in today’s dollars, something companies have not been permitted to do since 1993.
As a result, companies now use an average interest rate of 4.8 percent to calculate their pension costs in today’s dollars, according to Milliman, an actuarial firm.
In New York City, the proposed 7 percent rate faces resistance from union trustees who sit on the funds’ boards. The trustees have the power to make the change; their decision must also be approved by the State Legislature.
“The continued risk here is that even 7 is too high,” said Edmund J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a research group for fiscal issues.
And Jeremy Gold, an actuary and economist who has been an outspoken critic of public pension disclosures, said, “If you’re using 7 percent in a 3 percent world, then you’re still continuing to borrow from the pension fund.”
The city’s union leaders disagree. Harry Nespoli, the chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group for the city’s public employee unions, said that lowering the rate to 7 percent was unnecessary.
“They don’t have to turn around and lower it a whole point,” he said.
When asked if his union was more bullish on the markets than the city’s actuary, Mr. Nespoli said, “All we can do is what the actuary is doing. He’s guessing. We’re guessing.”
Vermont has lowered its rate by 2 percentage points, but for only one year. The state recently adopted an unusual new approach calling for a sharp initial reduction in its investment assumptions, followed by gradual yearly increases. Vermont has also required public workers to pay more into the pension system.
Union leaders see hidden agendas behind the rising calls for lower pension assumptions. When Rhode Island’s state treasurer, Gina M. Raimondo, persuaded her state’s pension board to lower its rate to 7.5 percent last year, from 8.25 percent, the president of a firemen’s union accused her of “cooking the books.”
Lowering the rate to 7.5 percent meant Rhode Island’s taxpayers would have to contribute an additional $300 million to the fund in the first year, and more after that. Lawmakers were convinced that the state could not afford that, and instead reduced public pension benefits, including the yearly cost-of-living adjustments that retirees now receive. State officials expect the unions to sue over the benefits cuts.
When the mayor of San Jose, Calif., Chuck Reed, warned that the city’s reliance on 7.5 percent returns was too risky, three public employees’ unions filed a complaint against him and the city with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They told the regulators that San Jose had not included such warnings in its bond prospectus, and asked the regulators to look into whether the omission amounted to securities fraud. A spokesman for the mayor said the complaint was without merit.
In Sacramento this year, Alan Milligan, the actuary for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Calpers, recommended that the trustees lower their assumption to 7.25 percent from 7.75 percent. Last year, the trustees rejected Mr. Milligan’s previous proposal, to lower the rate to 7.5 percent.
This time, one trustee, Dan Dunmoyer, asked the actuary if he had calculated the probability that the pension fund could even hit those targets.
Yes, Mr. Milligan said: There was a 50-50 chance of getting 7.5 percent returns, on average, over the next two decades. The odds of hitting a 7.25 percent target were a little better, he added, 54 to 46.
Mr. Dunmoyer, who represents the insurance industry on the board, sounded shocked. “To me, as a fiduciary, you want to have more than a 50 percent chance of success.”
If Calpers kept setting high targets and missing them, “the impact on the counties won’t be bigger numbers,” he said. “It will be bankruptcy.”
In the end, a majority decided it was worth the risk, and voted against Mr. Dunmoyer, lowering the rate to 7.5 percent.

Friday, May 25, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: KTRS's McGraw Milhaven's Report on Pay-for-Play Politics Starts Political Backlash

UPDATE at 2:56:Friday, 25 May 2012 06:50 -

A St. Louis councilwoman delivers the winning bid to operate a state license facility in spite of her personal financial troubles. KTRS's McGraw Milhaven broke the story Wednesday morning. Now, Gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence's campaign is calling for an investigation into what they say is the unethical rewarding of political contributors.
According to a report made public by Milhaven, councilwoman Kathleen Burkett declared bankruptcy in December with over $139,000 of credit card debt.     
In the public filing, it was also discovered that she owed over $8,000 in back federal taxes in 2008 and 2009.  Her bid won out over several other independent companies for the coveted license by the Missouri Department of Revenue, with Burkett scoring the highest despite her financial problems. 
The Maplewood fee office is considered to be one of the highest producing offices in Missouri.
Last month, Milhaven obtained audio of Burkett discussing patronage jobs at a budget meeting in December of 2009.
"I understand the system and I support that system and that's the way it's been forever and ever," Burkett said. "To me, it's like paying union dues.
Jared Craighead, Spence's campaign manager, told KTRS News that his candidate believes this activity must be investigated. Craighead says, "We are calling on the Attorney General and the US Attorney to investigate, it's incredibly troubling, but not inconsistent with Governor Nixon's pattern of rewarding supporters."
When KTRS called Attorney General Chris Koster's office, they had not received any official request from the Spence campaign.
Governor Nixon's campaign has not yet responded for requests for comment.
A St. Louis County councilwoman wins a bid to operate a state license facility locally --even though she filed for bankruptcy months before.
KTRS' own McGraw Milhaven broke the story during his show Wednesday morning that democratic St Louis County councilwoman Kathleen Burkett's company, Deer Creek License Office Management, was awarded a contract Friday to run Maplewood's licensing fee office.
Milhaven reports five months ago, Burkett declared bankruptcy with over 139- thousand dollars of credit card debt.  
In the public filing,  it was also discovered that she owed over 8,000 dollars in back Federal Taxes in 2008 and 2009.  Her bid won out over several other independent companies for the coveted license by the Missouri Department of Revenue, with Burkett scoring the highest despite her financial problems. 
The Maplewood fee office is considered to be on of the highest producing offices in the State.  
County Executive Charlie Dooley and County Assessor Jake Zimmerman were both named as references in her request.  
 Milhaven last month obtained audio of Burkett talking about patronage jobs at a budget meeting in December of '09.
Burkett says "I understand the system and I support that system and that's the way it's been forever and me it's like paying union dues."
The Dept of Revenue, headed by Alana Barragan-Scott and Governor Jay Nixon signed off on her bid.  
All those involved are Democrats.

St. Louis County Council Member Gets Contract Despite Bankruptcy

BY PAUL HAMPEL > 314-727-6234 | Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012 12:05 am

CLAYTON • St. Louis County Council member Kathleen Burkett has been selected to operate the Maplewood License Office, one of the top revenue-producing fee offices in the state, even though she was in bankruptcy last year and owed federal income taxes dating to 2008.
The Missouri Department of Revenue last week approved the application from Burkett, a Democrat from Overland, over eight others. The state gave Burkett the highest overall score, and also scored her highest in a category that included financial stability and experience.
Through bankruptcy, Burkett was able to shed about $130,000 in credit card bills to such retailers as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Macy's. Burkett filed for bankruptcy in March 2011 and her debts were discharged in July. Her petition also noted that she owed $8,356 in federal income taxes, which cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, for 2008 and 2009.
Burkett, 66, has served on the County Council since 2002 and is running for re-election.
She said Thursday that decades of experience working in license offices qualified her to serve as the fee agent in Maplewood, her financial problems notwithstanding.
"This is what I've done my entire life, for 47 years," Burkett said. "There's nobody — and I'm saying this with complete confidence — in the state of Missouri who has more knowledge or capability to run a license office than I do."
When Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon took office in 2009, he vowed to reform the Missouri tradition of awarding fee offices to political allies as patronage plums.
Nixon could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
A spokesman for Dave Spence, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, asserted that the Burkett selection was purely political.
"It is beyond comprehension how someone who recently filed for bankruptcy could receive the highest score for financial management," the spokesman, Jared Craighead, said. "The fact is that one of Nixon's political cronies was in financial trouble and they found a way to help her by giving her a fee office."
Burkett said she was acquainted with Nixon, "but we're not close personal friends."
Burkett's application listed as references two fellow Democratic officials, County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, and two lawyers, Thomas Campbell and Thomas R. Green.
Spokesmen for Dooley and Zimmerman said Thursday they had not applied any political pressure on Burkett's behalf. Campbell is with the firm of Polsinelli Shughart, having departed last month as managing partner of the Gallop firm. Green runs a firm bearing his name in Maryland Heights.
Ted Farnen, spokesman for the state Revenue Department, hung up on a reporter before a question could be asked regarding Burkett's selection. Farnen later sent an email statement that read: "This was a competitive bid process, and the contract was awarded to the bidder with the highest score. This was the same process that has been used since an open and competitive bid process was established in 2009."
The request for proposal that candidates were required to complete noted that criminal background checks would be conducted and that candidates could be considered ineligible for such findings as "theft, embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion or any offense related to those listed."
Burkett's contract was first reported by McGraw Milhaven on his talk show on KTRS Radio.
Burkett said she has reached an agreement with the federal government to pay off her taxes in monthly increments. She said she still owes about $4,000.
She blamed her credit card debt on a decline in income related to her family's loss of the contract it had held for years to run the license office in Overland.
"My mother was the fee agent for that office and I began working for her there in 1965," Burkett said. "She was the agent but I did most of the work and made a fairly decent salary, over $60,000."
Burkett said that, in 2005, representatives of then-Gov. Matt Blunt gave notice that it planned to award the Overland office to a different entity.
From there, Burkett found work as a consultant with a license office in the city of St. Louis. But she said city officials steadily cut her hours until she was making only a fraction of her former salary.
However, she said she had continued to spend money as if her salary had never declined.
"I was living high on the hog," she said. "I was single. I had a nice life. I could afford to pay for things.
"But then I quit making any money and I couldn't afford to pay for them. And you'd be surprised how fast you can get in debt."
In 2010, after she lost her contract with the city of St. Louis, Burkett found work managing the license office in Ferguson for $36,000 a year.
"I tried to handle my financial affairs," she said. "I went to a counselor but I had too much debt." She said filing for bankruptcy was traumatic.
"Do you know how demeaning it is, knowing full well what would come about and how that would look for me as an elected official?" she said. "Bankruptcy was the only choice I had left. Was it stupid of me (to get in debt)? Yes. But it was a learning experience."
Candidates for the license office were also required to provide documentation to the state verifying credits and/or assets of at least $105,000.
Asked how she had managed to raise such funds after emerging from bankruptcy, Burkett said: "I had some people that were willing to co-sign on a loan for me." She declined to identify her backers.
Last year, the Maplewood office (formerly known as the Deer Creek office) collected $418,000 in fees. Burkett estimated her operating budget would be about $417,000 and that she would pay herself a salary of $40,000 to $45,000.
Those estimates would put her well below the $60,000-plus that she had once earned working for the family business.
"You don't drag a lot of money out of these offices, believe me," she said. "But if you run it properly and serve your customers well, word gets out that it's a good license office and you can build up a clientele and, yes, make a little money."
Burkett said that, before applying for the job, she checked with County Counselor Pat Redington and was told there were no legal obstacles preventing her from working as a fee agent while serving on the County Council. The council job pays $20,000 a year.
Burkett's score on the state's application was 73.64 of a possible 100. She edged out the second-place finisher, the nonprofit Mid-America Transplant Services, which scored 73.07.
In her application, Burkett said she would return about $29,000 in revenue annually to the state from the operation. Mid-America had estimated an operating budget of $360,000 and proposed giving $62,000 back to the state.
Molly Culp, the finance director at Mid-America, said winning the contract would have helped the organization raise awareness of its efforts to coordinate organ and tissue transplants.
She said, "We're sorry that we're missing this opportunity to reach people."
Editors note: Propping up an inept and corrupt Democrat hack like Burkett is more important to the governor than helping the sick and poor. Charlie Dooley and Jake Zimmermann are emblematic of the further Chicagoization of St. Louis County into a political patronization paradise. Disgusting!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eads Bridge Restoration Plagued by Delays, Labor Squabbling

BY KEN LEISER • > 314-340-8215 | Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 12:10 am
ST. LOUIS • The Metro transit agency’s restoration of the historic Eads Bridge — a key “shovel ready” project financed by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package — has been delayed more than two years while its costs soared.
Records and interviews show the cost of replacing track supports, track and rail ties, patching masonry, along with sandblasting then repainting the structural steel, has ballooned to $36.3 million from the agency’s original $23 million cost estimate.
Delays on the Eads project drew a terse warning last fall from the Federal Transit Administration and a reminder that the project — like others paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — was supposed to be ready for construction shortly after the money was granted in July 2009. The act sought to immediately boost the economy and create jobs, while upgrading infrastructure.
What’s more, a whistleblower’s lawsuit, unsealed last month, asserted Metro went too far to accommodate labor unions by illegally tossing out a contractor who entered the lowest bid but was not "union-affiliated." The suit contends Metro failed to abide by federal laws when it required a "mandatory, union-only project labor agreement.” 
Metro engineer Eric Fields withdrew the filing after U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan declined to join the action. Fields is Metro's project manager on the Eads Bridge rehabilitation.
What emerges from Metro’s files is that labor organizations on both sides of Mississippi River didn’t see eye-to-eye on the type of project-labor agreement to use.
Project labor agreements generally require contractors to negotiate with trade unions and set standards for wages, hiring and benefits. In exchange, unions agree not to halt work on a project.
Members of the two-state agency’s governing board stepped in to settle the dispute.
"This issue revolves around a disagreement between the Illinois and Missouri building and construction trades councils about which labor agreement to use to govern any contract we would approve for the Eads Bridge," then-Metro Board Chairman Vincent Schoemehl told board members in an Oct. 7 email.
The Missouri and Illinois labor councils pushed for different project-labor agreements, Schoemehl wrote. Metro's management team expressed concern that the Illinois project-labor agreement would result in higher costs. The Missouri council voted not to accept the Illinois agreement, Schoemehl wrote.
"Several commissioners have been working on this and I have done everything I can think of to find a mutually acceptable way to move forward," he wrote. "I believe we have to proceed with this project for the fiduciary health of the agency and the safety of the community."
Metro President and CEO John Nations said Friday that the Obama administration encouraged project-labor agreements on federally funded projects costing more than $25 million. Metro decided to move forward using the National Maintenance Agreement, a project-labor agreement that had been ratified by international unions.
Nations said the Eads project is on firm financial footing and that the St. Louis-based transit agency has the money to pay for the project. The City of St. Louis has assigned its $6 million grant to Eads Bridge rehabilitation, and much of the remainder will come from other federal funds.
Nations defended the decision to re-bid the Eads Bridge rehabilitation project after the initial round of bids came in well above Metro’s initial estimates. Metro’s consultants had underestimated the costs of paint and a protective containment system for stripped paint.
The Eads Bridge opened in July 1874. Designed by Capt. James Buchanan Eads, it cost nearly $7 million and took seven years to build. The bridge is now used to get MetroLink trains across the Mississippi River. It also provides a vehicle crossing between St. Louis and the Metro East.
"The lowest bid was 50 percent more than the initial cost estimate," Nations said. "We had to look at why that was. And ultimately the board determined that the most prudent thing to do was to go back and look at it. Restructure our bidding. And rebid the project."
The original bids ranged from $33.6 million to $44.7 million. When Metro rebid the project, the bids came back even higher, between $36.3 million and $49.5 million.
Gail Svoboda, president of Abhe & Svoboda, Inc. of Prior Lake, Minn. -- the original low bidder at $33.6 million in December 2010 -- said Metro’s process left him "very upset." The two other bids were $40.3 million and $44.7 million.
Svoboda said he spoke to a lawyer about Metro’s process but was advised that public agencies have the latitude to reject bids in such cases. He did not protest, recalling that he thought it would be an "uphill battle." Svoboda did not participate the second time around because he won't bid "where a project-labor agreement is a condition of bidding a job."
Svoboda said it was "obvious" from the start that his open-shop status posed an obstacle to winning the job. His firm was the only one not union-affiliated in the original round of bidding.
Both Nations and Schoemehl said Abhe & Svoboda’s status as a non-union firm played no role in the decision. In an interview, Schoemehl recalled that the board was concerned about Metro's original cost estimate, which appeared to leave "a big chunk" of the work out. 
"The bids were all over the board," he said. "What we didn't want to do was to have a project that ended up with a bunch of change orders. We had just come off that cross-county (MetroLink) mess. That was one of the problems. You had all these cost overruns. We did not want to go back and relive that."
The cross-county MetroLink extension between Forest Park and Shrewsbury opened 15 months late and $126 million over budget. Metro unsuccessfully sued its original design and construction management companies.
In September, Regional Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad of the Federal Transit Administration wrote Nations to "express concern regarding the continual schedule delays" on the Eads project and to stress that it remains "one of the White House top priority ARRA projects."
"The objective of ARRA is to stimulate the economy by creating jobs with ‘shovel ready’ projects," Ahmad wrote. "The grant indicated that a construction contract would be awarded in September 2009 and the total project cost would be $24 million."
Ahmad added that stimulus funds that weren’t spent by September 2015 would have to be returned to the U.S. Treasury and would not be available for Metro’s use on the project. He could not be reached last week.
Nations downplayed the conversations and letters with the FTA.
"We deal with FTA deadlines all the time on a variety of funding sources – not just ARRA, but on every grant funding source that we use," he said. "So we are always mindful of the timelines."
Metro officials on Tuesday will gather with local dignitaries and a top Federal Transit Administration official will gather near the bridge to mark the long-awaited launch of the Eads rehab project.
The St. Louis Bridge Construction Co., of Arnold, was hired to do the work after entering a $36.3 million bid in December. The company has begun taking measurements and work should begin in July, said Chris Poehler, Metro’s senior vice president of engineering and new systems development. The National Maintenance Agreement will serve as the project-labor agreement, Metro officials said last week.
It is expected to be complete by late 2014 or early 2015, he said.
Nations said the Eads rehabilitation work also had to await completion of track improvements near the east riverfront that will allow Metro to shut down one of the two tracks being replaced. All traffic will be reduced to a single track across the river during the project.

Forced-Dues Fed Fat Cats

On May 18, 2012, By NRTW Committee Staff
The salaries, perks and benefits of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is raising eyebrows — to say the least — among the 59,000 members of the union.  It appears that union members are finding their union due’s money spent on the personal benefit of the union bosses including family members on the payroll; Outrageous salaries among the union bosses and suspicious travel reimbursements.
McClatchy Newspapers has the story:
First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the 132 officers and staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.
Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.
The union, with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., represents about 59,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada who make and repair boilers, fit pipes and work on ships and power plants. The recession has hit their trade hard, reducing union membership.
At the same time, the president’s salary has surged 67 percent in the past six years, not counting a recent raise. Add in travel and some other expenses, and Newton B. Jones received more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the presidents of the dozen biggest unions in the country.
Many relatives of union officers also ride the payroll.
Totaling the pay to just the families of Jones and two other executives, the union and its affiliates gave them more than $2 million in annual salary, according to the most recent financial reports filed by the organizations.
In an interview, two union spokesmen defended the spending and hiring practices before requesting other questions in writing. Although they did not respond to every question, Michael Stapp, the union’s general counsel, provided a written response that included praise for the Boilermakers.
In April, an anonymous letter, mailed purportedly by Boilermakers members and obtained by The Kansas City Star, sharply criticized union leaders.
“While members and their families struggle to make it through this recession, our IBB (International Brotherhood of Boilermakers) leaders have been living high off the hog at members’ expense,” the letter said.
“We regret that we have to be anonymous at this time because we fear retribution from a leadership that regrettably values its own personal and financial interests above the rank and file’s.”
All together, the total disbursements last year to the top nine Boilermakers officers ” $4.1 million ” were $182,000 more than the total disbursements to the 29 executives at the national headquarters of the Teamsters union.
Stapp added that union leadership has reduced annual expenses by more than $10 million over the past nine years, including the elimination of three officers. Shortly after the 2011 convention, Jones and other officers made an additional $3 million in cuts, with more being considered, he said.
“Those kinds of benefits seem extraordinarily high,” Owens said. “That’s just over the top.”
Taxpayers have a stake in the Boilermakers’ spending, he said.
The union, like most, is structured as a nonprofit organization, which means it qualifies for exemption from federal income tax. But the law prohibits union officials or key employees from benefiting from the tax-free money they raise.
“They’re not paying income tax,” Owens said. “So in a sense, we’re all supporting them. I don’t mind tax-exempts that are doing what they’re supposed to do, but if they aren’t, I’d kind of like them to pull on the oars, too.”
The union is principal shareholder of Brotherhood Bank & Trust. Three of the bank’s 11 board members are union officers, and one is a retired union officer. The bank’s chairman? Boilermakers President Newton Jones.
In calendar year 2010, Jones received $52,945 as chairman of the bank’s board of directors in addition to his union pay, according to the most recent report he filed with the Labor Department. The previous year, Jones earned $79,775 as bank chairman and $260,000 as the bank’s chief executive officer and interim president. In 2008, he received $230,000 from the bank.
International Secretary-Treasurer William Creeden reported earning $258,650 from the bank in 2009, the last year he filed. He also received $252,098 in salary from the Boilermakers union in fiscal 2010.
When the union’s officers get away, they do it in style.
The union has an 18.75 percent ownership in a Piaggio airplane, which holds up to nine passengers. Today, a new one sells for about $6 million. The Boilermakers also have a 6.25 percent share in a second airplane, according to its Labor Department filing.
In 2011, the Boilermakers paid $521,160 to Avantair, its aviation service provider, for maintenance and other fees associated with the planes.
The union also paid $12,854 in 2010 to Alaska Fly Fishing Adventures in Sterling, Alaska, but it is unclear who enjoyed the service, described as an “outfitter and tour guide.”
That year, the union held an Alaska conference at which union officials met with contractors and owners.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Your County Tax Dollars at Work!

Two take leaves of absence from St. Louis County assessor's office

BY PAUL HAMPEL • > 314-727-6234 | Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 2:29 pm

ST. LOUIS COUNTY • Two members of St. Louis County assessor Jake Zimmerman's staff are taking extended leaves of absence.

Deputy assessor Sara Howard is going on leave for unspecified personal reasons.

Chalana Oliver, the department's director of community engagement and policy review, will step away from her county job to work for the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

Howard, who also serves as the department's spokesperson, said Oliver will remain with the McCaskill campaign through the November election.

Howard said she will take leave for several months beginning the week of May 28.

Howard and Oliver, who joined Zimmerman's staff last year after he won election to the post, have backgrounds in Democratic politics.

Howard had been a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

Oliver, an attorney, had worked for Zimmerman in his campaign as the Democratic candidate for assessor.

From editor: If these two highly paid St. Louis County political appointees can just walk away from their jobs to work on a political campaigns or a long vacation, did we REALLY need them in the first place? Jake Zimmerman: More political corruption from St. Louis County government.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The National Education Association - EXPOSED!

1201 16th Street, NW
Suite 421
Washington, DC
Phone :202-822-7013
Fax :202-822-7974

  • America's largest labor union
  • Advocates leftist positions on a host of issues, including abortion, sex education, teen pregnancy, school prayer, socialized medicine, affordable housing, drug testing, prisoner rights, bilingual education, global warming, and health care
  • Opposes merit pay for teachers
  • Opposes school vouchers
  • Ranks among the leading funders of the Democratic Party
  • Has contributed vast sums to many leftwing organizations
  • Assets: $143,563,347 (2009)
  • Grants Received: $352,393,169 (2009)
  • Grants Awarded: $114,391,503 (2009)

Based in Washington, DC, the 3.1 million-member National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union in the United States. It represents public school teachers and support personnel; faculty and staffers in colleges and universities; retired educators; and college students preparing to become teachers. The NEA’s mission is “to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”

The NEA pursues these goals through its 14,000+ local affiliate organizations (which are active in fundraising, conducting professional workshops, and negotiating teacher contracts); its 51 state affiliates (which “lobby legislators for the resources schools need”); and its Washington, DC-based national headquarters (which “lobbies Congress and federal agencies on behalf of its members and public schools, supports and coordinates innovative projects, works with other education organizations and friends of public education, [and] provides training and assistance to its affiliates”).
The NEA was founded in 1850 as the National Teachers Association, and adopted its present name in 1857. Promoting government-owned public schools and “modern” pedagogical ideas, this union permitted no private school teachers to join its ranks. These government-owned-and-run schools were modeled on statist European education in Prussia, and attracted socialist activist teachers who saw public school students as perfect subjects for re-engineering society. That remolding began with the anti-Catholic objectives of Horace Mann (1796-1859) and expanded to the anti-religious humanism of John Dewey (1859-1952).

In a 1935 report presented at the 72nd  annual NEA convention, the union's future Executive Secretary Willard Givens wrote: “A dying laissez-faire must be completely destroyed and all of us … must be subjected to a large degree of social control…. The major function of the school is the social orientation of the individual. It must seek to give him understanding of the transition to a new social order.”

In a 2003 article titled “NEA Hastens Death of American Education,” veteran journalist Ralph de Toledano wrote that in 1938 “the Institute for Social Research, founded by the Comintern, appeared on the Columbia University campus, taking over the Teachers College, the country’s most influential school of education.” “Better known as the Frankfurt School,” de Toledano continued, “… [the Institute] eschewed the economic aspects of Marxism and promulgated a substitute based on Marx’s 1843 preachments. Later labeled neo-Marxism, the program called for the destruction of religion, the family, education and all moral values, along with the capture of the intellectuals and the instruments of mass communication such as the press, radio and films. To this it appended a new Freudianism, which reduced human relationships to rampant sexuality and the grossest pleasure principles -- a program its secret founder boasted ‘will make America stink.’”

Added de Tolenado: “The Frankfurt School’s program, implemented by the NEA, made the goal of education not to educate the young but to give them an anarchic ‘self-esteem’ and deprive them of any sense of what’s wrong or right ... [a]nd it preached the alienation of children from parental guidance, urging them to ‘inform’ on their families, as in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.”

The NEA’s explicitly stated quest to “foster positive self-esteem” in schoolchildren continues to this day. In his book Inside American Education, Thomas Sowell observes: “Perhaps nothing so captures what is wrong with American schools as the results of an international study of 13-year-olds which found that Koreans ranked first in mathematics and Americans last. When asked if they thought they were ‘good at mathematics,’ only 23 percent of Korean youngsters said ‘yes’ -- compared to 68 percent of American 13-year-olds. The American educational dogma that students should ‘feel good about themselves’ was a success in its own terms -- though not in any other terms.”

As of 1957, the NEA had more than 700,000 members. (By way of comparison, in 1907 the union's membership had stood at 5,044; in 1917 it was fewer than 9,000; and by the World War II era it was just over 200,000.)

In 1966 the NEA merged with the historically black American Teachers Association (ATA), which was originally founded as the National Association of Colored Teachers. The NEA and ATA had long enjoyed a close working relationship prior to the merger.

In the 1960s and 1970s, teachers were becoming unionized at a faster pace than ever before. Precisely at this time, student SAT scores, a popular and objective achievement barometer, deteriorated dramatically. Confronted by this embarrassing fact, the NEA responded by calling for the abolition of standardized testing of students.

At the 1976 NEA Annual Conference, NEA president Catherine Barrett delivered a speech in which she made the following comments regarding what she viewed as the changing role of the teacher:
"[D]ramatic changes in the way we raise our children in the year 2000 are indicated particularly in terms of schooling, and ... these changes will require new ways of thinking...

"We will need to recognize that the so-called 'basic skills,' which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one quarter of the present school day. The remaining time will be devoted to what is truly fundamental and basic—time for academic inquiry, time for students to develop their own interests, time for a dialogue between students and teachers. When this happens—and it is near—the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher. Students will learn to write love letters and lab notes. We will help each child build his own rocket to his own moon....

"Finally, if our children are to be human beings who think clearly, feel deeply, and act wisely, we will answer definitely the question 'Who should make what decisions?' Teachers no longer will be victims of change; we will be the agents of change."
In recent decades the NEA has been outspoken about its positions vis a vis a host of social and political topics, including abortion, sex education, teen pregnancy, school prayer, socialized medicine, affordable housing, drug testing, prisoner rights, and bilingual education. In July 1997 the union formally adopted a series of resolutions that called for:
  • “making available all methods of [taxpayer-funded] family planning to women and men unable to take advantage of private facilities,” and “the implementation of community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel”
  • “sex education programs, including information on ... birth control and family planning ... [and] diversity of sexual orientation”
  • “programs for [teen parents] that include flexible scheduling and attendance policies, development of self-esteem, on-site child care services ...”
  • opposition to “any federal legislation or mandate that would require school districts to schedule a moment of silence”
  • a rejection of “efforts to legislate English as the official language, [which] disregard cultural pluralism [and] deprive those in need of education, social services, and employment”
  • “programs [that] increase acceptance of, and sensitivity to, gays and lesbians”
  • increases in Social Security funding
  • the prohibition of “mandatory and/or random drug and alcohol testing of employees and job applicants,” on grounds that it “is an unwarranted and unconstitutional invasion of privacy”
The NEA also specifically advocated:
  • statehood for the District of Columbia
  • the reparation of American Indian remains
  • a nuclear freeze by the United States military (Notably, the NEA currently endorses the anti-military-recruitment organization Leave My Child Alone, which is a project ofWorking AssetsACORN, and Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue.)
  • “affordable, comprehensive health care [as] the right of every [U.S.] resident”
  • the notion that “all members of our society have the right to adequate housing”
  • the idea that “incarcerated persons … are entitled to equal access to educational, recreational, and rehabilitative programs within all correctional systems”
Nine years later, at its 2006 national convention, the NEA proposed that all public schools should unequivocally support homosexual marriage and other forms of marriage (polygamy, etc.). In the NEA’s view, this perspective should be transmitted -- via classroom instruction and textbooks alike -- to all children at all age levels, without any requirement for the permission or knowledge of parents.

At its 2007 national convention in Philadelphia, the NEA passed a number of additional resolutions -- some founded on the axiom that American society is inherently discriminatory and unjust, and others advocating massive increases in taxpayer funding of school programs and extra-curricular activities. For example, the NEA stated that:
  • “funds must be provided … to eliminate portrayal of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identification stereotypes in the public schools”
  • “full-day, every day kindergarten programs should be fully funded”
  • “federal, state, and ... local governments should provide funds sufficient to make pre-kindergarten available for all three- and four-year-old children”
  • tax dollars should “suppor[t] early childhood education programs in the public schools for children from birth through age eight”
  • early childhood education programs should "be available to all children on an equal basis"; "should include mandatory kindergarten with compulsory attendance"; and "should include a full continuum of services ... including child care, child development, ... diversity-based curricula, special education, and appropriate bias-free screening devices"
  • “excellence in the classroom can best be attained by small class size … an optimum class size of fifteen students in regular programs and a proportionately lower number in programs for students with exceptional needs”
  • “to achieve or maintain racial diversity, it may be necessary for elementary/secondary schools, colleges, and universities to take race into account in making decisions as to student admissions, assignments, and/or transfers” (i.e., the NEA supports busing and similar measures to micro-manage racial balance)
  • “all members of the educational community [should] examine assumptions and prejudices, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, and homophobia, that might limit the opportunities and growth of students and education employees”
  • "any immigration policy that denies educational opportunities to immigrants and their children regardless of their immigration status" should be rejected
  • “financial aid and in-state tuition to state colleges and universities” should be accessible for students who are illegal aliens
  • “[illegal] students who have resided in the United States for at least five years at the time of high school graduation should be granted amnesty by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, granted legal residency status, and allowed to apply for U.S. citizenship”
  • “[non-English-speaking] students should be placed in bilingual education programs to receive instruction in their native language from qualified teachers until such time as English proficiency is achieved”
  • “[m]ulti-cultural education should promote the recognition of individual and group differences and similarities in order to reduce racism, homophobia, ethnic and all other forms of prejudice, and discrimination and to develop self-esteem as well as respect for others”
  • educational programs should promote: "an awareness of the effects of past, present, and future population growth patterns on world civilization, human survival, and the environment; solutions to environmental problems such as nonrenewable resource depletion, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, and acid precipitation and deposition; [and] the recognition of and participation in such activities as Earth Day"
  • “global warming causes significant measureable damage to the earth and its inhabitants,” and “humans must take steps to change activities that contribute to global warming”
  • “educational strategies for teaching peace and justice issues should include … activities dealing with the effects of ... weapons of mass destruction, strategies for disarmament, [and] methods to achieve peace"
  • "curricular materials should ... cover major contributing factors to conflict, such as economic disparity, demographic variables, unequal political power and resource distribution, and the indebtedness of the developing world”
  • “proven conflict-resolution strategies, materials, and activities” should be utilized "at all educational levels"
  • “home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience"
  • "home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools”
  • “every child should have direct and confidential access to comprehensive health, social, and psychological programs and services” which include “comprehensive school-based, community-funded student health care clinics” and, “if deemed appropriate by local choice, family-planning counseling and access to birth control methods with instruction in their use”
  • “hiring policies and practices must be nondiscriminatory and include provisions for the recruitment of a diverse teaching staff”
  • “affirmative action plans and procedures ... should be developed and implemented”
  • “affordable, comprehensive health care, including prescription drug coverage, is the right of every [U.S.] resident”
  • “the United Nations furthers world peace and promotes the rights of all people by preventing war, racism, and genocide”
  • “the United States should ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and recognize and support its authority and jurisdiction”
  • “the governments of all nations must respect and protect the basic human and civil rights of every individual, including equal access to education as embodied in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • “efforts to legislate English as the official language disregard cultural pluralism [and] deprive those in need of education, social services, and employment”
In addition to the foregoing resolutions, the NEA supports “the movement toward self-determination by American Indians/Alaska natives” and believes that these groups should control their own education. It further holds that all schools should designate separate months to celebrate Black History, Hispanic Heritage, Native American Indian Heritage, Asian/Pacific Heritage, Women’s History, Lesbian and Gay History. This proposal is founded on the premise that members of these demographics are victimized by persistent, widespread discrimination.

In the NEA's estimation, America's alleged inequities are by no means limited to the domestic sphere but extend also to U.S. foreign policy. After 9/11, for instance, the union's position was that America had long mistreated and exploited the peoples of other nations, and thus essentially had sown the seeds of the rage that ultimately found its expression in the 9/11 attacks.

Immediately after 9/11, the NEA issued guidelines on how teachers should discuss the topic with their students. These guidelines stressed the need for children to be tolerant and respectful of all cultures -- and said virtually nothing about the fact that the U.S. was at war with an enemy that was aiming to annihilate it. The NEA came so close to blaming America for having provoked the 9/11 attacks, that a public outcry ensued and the union was forced to remove the teacher guidelines from its website.

In the summer of 2002, as the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks neared, the NEA again posted guidelines on its national website stating that classroom teachers should not “suggest any group [was] responsible” for the previous year's atrocities. Rather, the union advised teachers to have their students “discuss historical instances of American intolerance.”
The NEA directed special praise to a 9/11 curriculum designed by Milwaukee fifth-grade teacher Robert Peterson, who explained the importance of helping students to: (a) “understand that they live in a global village”; (b) ask “why” the attacks may have been aimed against America; and (c) develop empathy for people elsewhere in the world. The NEA summarized what it considered to be one of Peterson's exemplary lesson plans:

“[Peterson] leads the children in a study of world population and distribution of income, and then takes them outdoors to illustrate their research on a large world map drawn on the playground blacktop. With each child representing 240 million people, the kids spread out—15 students in Asia, three in Europe, three in Africa, one in North America, two in South America, none in Australia. Chocolate cookies are then distributed according to each continent's gross domestic product. Six cookies are shared by the 15 people in Asia. Nine are shared by three Europeans, one cookie for South America, just half a cookie for Africa, eight for the lone North American.  Most students have strong reactions and many questions. Why are there so many people in Asia? Why are the Europeans and Americans so rich? Some try negotiating with other ‘nations,’ while others even suggest war to even the odds. Peterson says his students begin to glimpse how the world's enormous inequalities could lead to animosity.”

Of course the NEA concerns itself not only with social and political issues in the U.S. and abroad, but it also is actively involved in negotiating the terms under which its member teachers work. For example, the union adamantly opposes merit pay (or "performance contracting") for public school teachers -- characterizing such a system as “detrimental to public education." Delegates to the summer 2000 NEA convention openly declared their categorical opposition to “any … system of compensation based on an evaluation of an education employee’s performance.” In 2007 the union elaborated, “competency testing must not be used as a condition of employment, license retention, evaluation, placement, ranking, or promotion of licensed teachers”

Not only is the NEA opposed to merit pay, but for decades it has manifested a marked hostility toward outstanding teachers. The example of world-famous math teacher Jaime Escalante is instructive. According to Escalante (the subject of the 1988 Hollywood movie Stand and Deliver), who developed the most successful inner-city math program in America, teacher union officials chastised him for attracting “too many” students to his calculus classes. When Escalante finally resigned from the high school which he and his students had made famous, local teacher union officials circulated a celebratory note that read: “We got him out!”

The NEA is similarly opposed to vouchers which would permit parents to divert a portion of their tax dollars away from the public school system, and to use those funds instead to help cover the tuition costs for private schools to which they might prefer to send their children. In the NEA's calculus, such voucher programs "compromise the Association's commitment to free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student.” (Helping the NEA to lobby against vouchers and parental choice have been such organizations as People for the American Way, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the NAACP.)

The NEA ranks among the most influential entities in modern American politics. Wrote journalist Ralph de Toledano in 2003: “The NEA’s openly avowed goal today: ‘To tap the legal, political and economic powers of the U.S. Congress. [It wants] … sufficient clout [to] roam the halls of Congress and collect votes to reorder the priorities of the United States of America.’”

Specifically, the NEA's closest political ties are with the Democratic Party. In 1976 the union used its financial resources and manpower to help elect Jimmy Carter to the U.S. presidency. After the election, Carter in turn thanked the union by creating the Department of Education in 1979, prompting one NEA executive to boast that this was the only union in the United States with its own cabinet department. At recent Democratic National Conventions, up to a quarter of the delegates have been members of teachers unions.

Today the NEA is a member organization of the America Votes coalition of get-out-the-vote organizations. America Votes is itself a member of the so-called Shadow Party, a nationwide network of activist groups whose agendas are ideologically Left, and which are engaged in campaigning for the Democrats. NEA’s fellow America Votes coalition members include: ACORNAmerica Coming Together, the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations); AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees); the American Federation of Teachers; the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (renamed the American Association for Justice); theDefenders of Wildlife Action Fund; Democracy For AmericaEMILY's List; the League of Conservation Voters; the Media Fund; the Voter Fund; the NAACP National Voter Fund; NARAL Pro-Choice AmericaPeople for the American Way; the Planned Parenthood Action Fund; the Service Employees International Union; the Sierra ClubUSAction; and 21st Century Democrats.

Of the $341 million the NEA received from September 2004 to August 2005, some $295 million came from member dues. In turn, many of those revenues were used to promote political agendas and candidates -- almost all of them Democrats. For several decades the NEA has been among the largest contributors of money and personnel to the Democratic Party and its candidates. Between 1990 and 2008, 93 percent of the union's political donations went to Democrats. (And virtually all of the rest went to the most liberal Republicans running in primaries, not in general elections, to tilt the political playing field even farther left).

As reporter Lowell Ponte puts it,  “The astronomical amount of political money thus coerced from workers is the lifeblood of [the] Democratic Party.... The NEA functions as a giant money-laundering machine for the Democrats. Democrats impose laws that let the union take a big piece of every employee’s paycheck, which in public schools comes from the taxpayers. And the unions pay for this power and privilege by splitting this taxpayer money with partisan Democrat politicians to keep the machine operating. Public schools are an ultimate example of this synergy, not only because they are government monopolies but also because already-taxed parents are required by law to school their children, to offer their offspring as hostages to this money-extorting government-union machine.” Because the NEA works so closely with the Democratic Party, it promotes the leftist ideologies and worldviews reflected in its aforementioned resolutions.

Studies have shown that as few as 40 percent of NEA members are Democrats, the remaining 60 percent splitting evenly between Republicans and independents. According to the NEA’s own internal polling, half of the union's members identify themselves as conservative. Yet the NEA, like other unions, claims an absolute right to spend dues as it sees fit, regardless of the viewpoints of the teachers it nominally represents.

The NEA has a permanent, paid, full-time staff of at least 1,800 United Service (UniServ) employees who function as political operatives -- more than the Republican and Democratic Parties combined. In a presidential election year, this army of union foot soldiers is tantamount to a political donation of more than $100 million to Democrats. They are trained at radical boot camps, paid and typically given graduate school credit for attending. One NEA handbook is titled Alinsky for Teacher Organizers and teaches activists how to use the confrontation and pressure tactics of the late radical leftist Saul Alinsky.

As Joel Mowbray reports in a Capital Research Center study, the Virginia-based Landmark Legal Foundation (LLF) in recent years has investigated the NEA for possible illegal use of tax-exempt funds. According to LLF President Mark Levin, the NEA has “kept information from its dues-paying members and the general public that clearly shows improper use of tax-exempt money to influence elections.”

LLF’s investigation traces its path back to the 1996 presidential election, when the NEA was a key constituent of a “National Coordinated Campaign Steering Committee” (NCCSC) whose function was to help Democrats win as many national, state, and local elections as possible; to determine campaign strategy for Democratic candidates at all levels of government; and to coordinate spending on their behalf. Joining the NEA on this Committee were the AFL-CIO, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the 1996 Clinton-GoreCampaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Leadership Campaign Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, and EMILY's List.

Because the NEA is a tax-exempt organization, the federal government places certain restrictions on how the union may use its immense revenues. Specifically, the government requires that whatever funds a union earmarks for political activities designed to influence an election, must be disclosed on IRS Forms 990 and 1120-POL. The latter of these must be filed by any tax-exempt group whose political expenditures exceed $100 in a single calendar year, and requires some disclosure about the details of those donations.

Yet from 1994-96 the NEA reported that it spent no money at all on politics. This is because an honest disclosure of its political expenditures would have entitled union members, if they objected to having their mandatory dues used to finance Democrat causes, to recover the portion of those dues that had been so earmarked. Also, union revenues used for partisan political purposes were taxable in certain cases.

Contrary to its claim that its political expenditures were nonexistent, the NEA not only spent millions of dollars on issue ads and get-out-the-vote drives for Democrats, but it also coordinated its campaign strategies with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Confirming this was a key piece of evidence acquired by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) -- an unsigned Coordinated Campaign memo from Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge. This memo stated: “When the DNC and its national Partners including … the AFL-CIO and the NEA … agree on the contents of a plan, each national partner will give their funding commitment to the state.”

In other words, if the NEA disapproved of a particular state strategy, it could prevent its "partners" -- the DNC and AFL-CIO -- from funding it, and the measure could effectively be stopped. This was akin to a veto power over Democratic Party political action plans. In other words, the NEA dictated terms to the DNC, not vice versa.

“Those of us who have long dismissed the National Education Association as a tool of the Democratic Party have been badly mistaken,” wrote columnist William McGurn in 2001 in the Wall Street Journal. “Apparently it’s just the opposite ... it’s the Democratic Party that is the tool of the NEA.”

Beginning in 2005, new federal rules required large labor unions like the NEA to report in greater detail (to the U.S. Department of Labor) how they spent their money. Under these new disclosure regulations, it was confirmed that an immense amount of NEA money was being spent for purposes having nothing to do with the union's purported priorities (i.e., better wages, benefits, and working conditions for teachers and school staff). For example, the NEA reported that during the 2004-05 fiscal year, it had spent $56.8 million on "union administration," $25 million on "political activities and lobbying," and $65.5 million on "contributions, gifts, and grants." In other words, it is possible that up to $90.5 million (the sum of the latter two categories of expenditures) was earmarked for leftist political candidates, organizations, and causes. Among these expenditures were the following:
  • $5,070,192 to various Democratic political consultants and strategists
  • $500,000 to Protect our Public Schools, to campaign against public charter schools in Washington state
  • $300,000 to Citizens United to Protect Our Public Safety, to oppose property tax limits in Maine
  • $25,000 to the National Coalition on Health Care, which supports a taxpayer-funded system of socialized medicine
  • $5,000 to the National Conference of Black Mayors, a group representing the ideals of its overwhelmingly leftwing members
  • $75,000 to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which seeks to help leftwing organizations “more effectively to fight for social, environmental, and economic justice”
  • $45,000 to the League of United Latin American Citizens
  • $25,000 to the North Carolina Democratic Party Building Fund
  • $400,000 to the Fund to Protect Social Security, which seeks to defeat personal investment accounts
  • $10,000 to the Rock the Vote Education Fund, which aims to register new young voters who will support leftwing causes and candidates
  • $14,000 to the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
  • $249,000 to the Floridians for All Committee, which supports "the construction of a permanent progressive infrastructure that will help redirect Florida politics in a more progressive, Democratic direction”
  • $250,000 to Alliance for Nevada's Working Families, "to support [a] ballot measure to increase minimum wage"
  • $600,000 to Communities for Quality Education, a political advocacy group created by the NEA
  • $5,000 to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a 1.4-million member union that is the Democratic Party’s top donor
  • $5,000 to Amnesty International
  • $5,000 to the Center For Women's Policy Studies
  • $39,940 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • $35,000 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
  • $45,000 to the Economic Policy Institute, a leftwing think tank that which regularly issues reports claiming that education is underfunded and teachers are underpaid
  • $10,000 to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which makes policy recommendations to counter what it views as America’s inherently racist, discriminatory society
  • $5,000 to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • $5,000 to the National Association for Bilingual Education
  • $7,900 to the National Council of La Raza
  • $5,000 to the National Women's Law Center
  • $5,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards
  • $13,000 to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which views affirmative action as a policy necessary to help offset America's allegedly rampant bigotry
  • $15,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization
  • $5,000 to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow / PUSH Coalition
  • $5,000 to United South and Eastern Tribes, dedicated to “protecting Indian rights and natural resources on tribal lands”
  • $5,000 to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which views the U.S. as a nation that discriminates heavily against homosexuals
  • $20,000 to Rebuild America's Schools, which seeks to expand taxpayer funding of school construction and repairs
  • $25,750 to the Democratic Leadership Council
  • $10,648 to the Children's Defense Fund
  • $51,200 to People for the American Way
  • $6,000 to USAction
  • $6,000 to the Council on Foreign Relations
  • $40,148 to Brazile & Associates, a firm headed by longtime Democratic Party consultant and campaign manager Donna Brazile, which provides diversity training for American businesses, and all types of training for political activists.
"What wasn't clear before is how much of a part the teachers unions play in the wider liberal movement and the Democratic Party," said Michael Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency, a California-based watchdog group. "They're like some philanthropic organization that passes out grant money to interest groups."
As of 2006, the NEA's $58 million payroll included over 600 employees and officers, more than half of whom earned salaries exceeding $100,000 per year. NEA President Reg Weaver's salary was $439,000.  As of 2004-05, NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel earned $273,000, and Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen earned $272,000. By contrast, the average classroom teacher earned $48,000.

Though the NEA consistently complains that education in the U.S. is underfunded, government spending on education has in fact outpaced overall economic growth by more than 50 percent since the early 1900s. As of 2004-05, the government was spending an average of $8,701 per year per public-school student.

According to its 2007 financial report, the NEA’s total assets were $188,710,730. Its total receipts for the year were $352,958,087. Moreover, the NEA's aggressive lobbying of Congress has enabled it to benefit from an archaic law freeing it from having to pay its $1.6 million in annual property taxes. No other labor union in America has been able to negotiate such an arrangement.

An analysis of the NEA's financial disclosure report for the 2007-08 fiscal year revealed that the union contributed $11.7 million to a wide variety of leftwing advocacy groups, including: ACORN, the AFL-CIO, Campaign for America's Future, the Center for Community Change, the Children's Defense Fund, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation,Democracy Alliance, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, theNational Urban League, the National Women's Law CenterPeople for the American WayPlanned Parenthood, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Service Employees International UnionUSAction, and the WAND Education Fund.

In November 2009, the NEA website posted a page titled "Recommended Reading: Saul Alinsky, The American Organizer." This page praised Saul Alinsky's two books -- Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals -- as "an inspiration" to "every organizer" and "anyone contemplating action in their community."

In the 2008 and 2010 election-campaign seasons, the NEA gave a combined total of more than $15.3 million in contributions to federal candidates; 97 percent of that money went to Democrats.