Friday, June 3, 2016

Urban school district austerity based on colonial model

Austerity is the forerunner to colonial-style takeovers of the cities, urban school districts and democratic decision-making. What the banksters are doing in Puerto Rico is setting the stage.  

The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, backed by the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton, (opposed by Bernie Sanders) and Republican congressional leaders, would create a new bankruptcy-type process for PR. It imposes a seven-member oversight board with dictatorial powers. Any new laws that are passed have to be approved by the control board. Any capital investments on the island have to be approved by the control board. If passed, the legislation will be geared to protecting bondholders and paving the way for massive cuts in the island’s public services.

Sound familiar? Maybe like the Control Board established for D.C.?

Newark in '05?

New Orleans in 2003?

Philly in 2001. 

Or Michigan's Public Act 436 in 2012, that allowed criminal Republican Gov. Rick Scott to appoint emergency managers with near-absolute power in cash-strapped cities, towns, and school districts. Emergency managers who can supersede local ordinances, sell city assets, and break union contracts -- leaving local elected officials without real authority.

It's the act that led to the takeover of Detroit schools, the Flint lead-in-the-water crisis, and the end of democracy (such as it was) in the state of MI. 

After "emergency" takeover in Michigan
According to Democracy Now's Juan Gonz├ílez, there's one big difference. 
The governor of Michigan did have the power, under the laws that existed, to do that. Puerto Rico supposedly is a self-governing territory, that was granted self-government by Congress back in the 1950s. And so, this is a situation not just of a state imposing itself on a city, but of one nation imposing colonial control on another nation. 
Now we're seeing similar plans emerging for colonial-style takeover and privatization of debt-ridden urban (mostly black and Latino) school districts like Chicago and Baltimore..

Baltimore City school officials said the district will save about $14 million from cutting 171 positions this year, which included 111 staff members who were notified Tuesday that their jobs were being eliminated. The new details about the layoffs were released to The Sun on Wednesday, one day after the school system executed the third round of layoffs in two years.
There have been several attempts to takeover Baltimore schools in the past decade. So far, all have been beaten back. 

Schools may not open in the fall in Chicago where sociopath Gov. Rauner has kept the state without a budget for nearly a year, forcing massive, up to 40% cuts in local schools

Rauner is also pushing legislation aimed forcing Chicago schools into bankruptcy and allowing a takeover and ultimately privatization while busting the CTU. So far, the Democratic majority in the legislature hasn't given in. Stay tuned. 


  1. Puerto Rico is in crisis...

  2. Mike,

    As I understand the situation, the hedge fund managers bought up most of Puerto Rico's debt, at bargain basement prices. They want to be paid 100% on the dollar. They are lobbying to prevent PR from going into bankruptcy (under current law, it is not allowed to go bankrupt). If it goes bankrupt, it can restructure its debt and the Wall St vultures will get only a small slice of the bonds that they bought at a deep discount. The good guys want a law allowing PR to restructure the debt. The bad guys are fighting it so they can make billions and shut down the Island's public services.

  3. Diane,
    Not sure who you mean by the "good guys" here.

  4. Bernie Sanders has the best position on resolving the Puerto Rican debt problem. He wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on October 21, 2015 calling for the following:

    No more austerity: “The economic situation in Puerto Rico will not improve by eliminating more public schools, slashing pensions, laying off workers, and allowing corporations to pay starvation wages by suspending the minimum wage and relaxing labor laws.”
    Audit the debt: “[T]here needs to be an independent and transparent audit of Puerto Rico’s debt… [I]f any debt was issued to creditors in violation of Puerto Rico’s constitution, it must be immediately set aside.”
    Bankruptcy protection: “Puerto Rico must be given the same authority granted to every state in this country to restructure the debt of public utilities and municipalities under the supervision of a bankruptcy court.”
    Healthcare justice: “Today, the people of Puerto Rico pay the same Medicare and Social Security taxes as we do, but they only get about half the rate of federal health care dollars… That is unacceptable. The federal government should not be discriminating against the people of Puerto Rico by providing much lower Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. [They] are American citizens. They deserve equal rates.”

    Of course, all this begs the question of Puerto Rico's semi-colonial status. One day that will be resolved by the Puerto Rican people themselves.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.