Friday, March 31, 2017

Recommendations for Chicago Public School Finance Reform

What is the Issue? 

Is the 1995 Chicago Public School policy an effective model of educational finance reform? 

Who are the players? 


The Mayor's Staff 

Neighborhood schools and communities 

School Personnel (e.g., teachers, principals, etc.) 

Enrolled students and their families 

Local business leaders 

Appointed officials on the Board of Education 

ITBS Testing Service 

Mass Media 

Local builders and real estate developers (for renovation) 

State legislature and policy makers** 






The reform helped make schools financially viable because the Mayor was able to access outside funding from business leaders

Business leaders took an interest in the local schools

Promoted urban development and
Restoration of School buildiings

Established inter-organizational relationships

Legitimizes the Chicago Public School System 

Encouraged business leaders to take an active role in the public schools 

Allowed the City to redistribute local funds 


Elyssa D.  Durant 

It is my recommendation that the Chicago Public Schools revise and amend this legislation. 
Community members should have the opportunity to select the Board of Education through an election as opposed to executive appointment. 

Based upon the rapid implementation of the 1995 Chicago Public School reform, the community was unaware of the new policies until they were in place. If a policy is to be successful, it is critical to engage the primary stakeholders in the planning stages. One needs to gain support and buy-infrom the target population and other stakeholders affected by the policy. It is crucial to involve those responsible for implementation so 

that they are fully informed and know what is expected of them. This helps to insure that 

the program will be implemented as intended. By removing teachers and educators from 

the initial stages of policy development, there will likely be resistance and confusion in 

the implementation process. This appears to be the case in Chicago where there is considerable alienation between the school faculty and the mayor's administration. 

The Chicago Public School reform of 1995 redefined the goals of the earlier policy implemented in 1988. 

The manner in which it the new policy was introduced and invited conflict between the community and the administration. Since the policy was not implemented in democratic fashion, there is a underlying implication that community members are not capable of such a task. 

The 1995 reform severely undermines the professionalism educators have been striving for. Furthermore, using high stakes testing as the sole method of evaluation undermines teacher autonomy and may discourage teachers from using innovative methods in the classroom. 

The frequent change of school principals creates a feeling of job insecurity that may result in "teaching towards the test."
Using high stakes testing may result in higher test scores, but it also has the potential to reduce learning the other critical aspects of the curriculum. 

One needs to gain support and buy-infrom the target population and other stakeholders (listed above) affected by the policy. It is crucial to involve those responsible for implementation so that they are fully informed and know what is expected of them. This helps to insure that the program will be implemented as intended. By removing teachers and educators from the initial stages of policy development, there will likely be resistance and confusion in the implementation process. This appears to be the case in Chicago where there is considerable alienation between the school faculty and the mayor's administration. 

The Chicago Public School reform of 1995 redefined the goals of the earlier policy implemented in 1988. The manner in which it the new policy was introduced invited conflict between the community and the administration. Since the policy was not implemented in democratic fashion, there is a underlying implication that community members are not capable of such a task. 

The 1995 reform severely undermines the professionalism educators have been striving for. Furthermore, using high stakes testing as the sole method of evaluation undermines teacher autonomy and may discourage teachers from using innovative methods in the classroom. The frequent change of school principals creates a feeling of job insecurity that may result in "teaching towards the test."

Using high stakes testing may result in higher test scores, but it also has the 
potential to reduce learning the other critical aspects of the curriculum. 

Elyssa D. Durant
Research & Policy Analyst
Columbia University

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million - POLITICO

Trump's Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million - POLITICO

Trump's Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million

The president regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine.


President Donald Trump, second from right, talks with Ben Carson, third from right, after he received his endorsement at the Mar-A-Lago Club on Mar. 11 in Palm Beach, Florida. | Getty

President Donald Trump's trip to his luxury resort in Mar-a-Lago this weekend could saddle taxpayers with a bill upward of $3 million and is already drawing the type of scrutiny Trump and other Republicans regularly heaped upon former President Barack Obama.

The Florida trip is Trump's first getaway as president and is expected to be part business, part pleasure. He will reunite with his wife, Melania, who has been living in Trump Tower in Manhattan as their 10-year-old son Barron finishes the school year, and there are rumors he will attend the American Red Cross' annual fundraising gala, which is being held at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night. In between the socializing, Trump will have several meetings and phone calls as he maintains his aggressive work schedule.

Story Continued Below

The trip, which is scheduled to last from Friday night to Monday morning, also likely comes with a hefty price tag.

The closest approximation of the cost comes from a report the Government Accountability Office prepared in 2016 about one of Obama's trips in 2013 at the request of Republican Sen. John Barrasso. The trip was actually quite similar to the one that Trump is about to take. It occurred in February 2013 over the course of four days. Obama flew from Joint Base Andrews to Chicago on Feb. 15 to deliver a speech on the economy and the middle class, then flew from there to Palm Beach, Florida. He returned on Feb. 18. But for the Chicago detour, Trump's trip is almost identical.

The cost of the 2013 trip for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, was $3.6 million, the GAO found.

Trump's multimillion-dollar trip, which comes just two weeks into his presidency, shows that Trump is not shy about engaging in the same type of jet-setting that he and other Republicans heavily criticized Obama for throughout his presidency.

"The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment," Trump wrote on Twitter in December 2011 (when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 percent).

"President @BarackObama's vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!" Trump opined again on Twitter a few days later.

That July, he took aim at the first lady: "With 15% US real unemployment and a 16T debt, @Michelle Obama's luxurious Aspen vacation - her 16th - cost us over $1M." (The unemployment rate at the time was actually 8.2 percent.)

But now, as Trump is setting off on his own working vacation to his "winter White House," he is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Judicial Watch, the conservative nonprofit that tracked Obama's travel, told POLITICO that it plans to file a Freedom of Information Act request on Monday for a full accounting of Trump's travel costs for the weekend getaway.

"I hope he reflects on the costs of doing that and sees if there's any savings to be achieved," said Tom Fitton, president of the group. "He should check out Camp David and see if he can make better use of that."

He added there are "real costs of going back and forth," as Trump has said he plans to do regularly throughout his presidency.

But the choice to stay at Mar-a-Lago, which Trump owns, does carry some cost advantages.

"Presidents pay for their own and their families' lodging, food and incidentals while on vacation, which may be why they generally prefer to stay at properties they own, as guests of wealthy friends or at the official presidential retreat at Camp David," wrote Scott Farris, author of a book about John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, in the Washington Post in 2014.

Trump's love for staying at his own properties gives him many options around the world.

Despite the discount, taxpayers will still likely bear the brunt of the travel costs. And one of the only reasons an approximate price tag can be slapped on Trump's trip ahead of time is because Judicial Watch and other conservatives have been so dogged in recent years about pricing out Obama's travel.

The cost of flying Air Force One is more than $200,000 per flying hour, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch in 2015. When the trip is for official business, all of the costs are borne by the government. If the trip is political in nature, however, those traveling reimburse the government "the equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline," according to the Congressional Research Service.

After the release of the GAO report he requested, Barraso said Obama had "little regard for the taxpayer" and that the trip displayed "arrogance." Barrasso's office did not respond to a request for comment about Trump's upcoming trip.

But sniping about presidential getaways is a bipartisan tradition, and one with a history far before George W. Bush's trips to his Texas ranch or Obama's Hawaii golf outings.

"The tradition goes all the way back to John Adams," said Brendan Doherty, a political science professor at the Naval Academy and an expert on presidential travel. The second president was criticized for spending too much time away in Massachusetts — criticism that carried more validity before the age of air travel, telephones and the internet.

Such criticism is mostly an "inside-the-Beltway phenomenon," Doherty said, and likely doesn't resonate with most voters. The caveat is if the president appears out of touch in the face of a crisis or natural disaster. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time — say, in Texas during Hurricane Katrina as Bush was — can be "really politically damaging," Doherty said.

But there's also an upside to taking periodic breaks from the West Wing.

"If it helps a president to clear his head to get fresh air, to play golf, to clear brush, hopefully that would help a president make better decisions that would benefit all of us," Doherty said.

And just because Trump will be away from the White House doesn't mean he'll be away from the job.

Doherty cited a quote regularly attributed to Nancy Reagan: "Presidents don't get vacations, they just get a change of scenery."

If Trump hopes to make Mar-a-Lago stays a regular feature of his time in office, he may be heartened by the vacation schedule of Reagan. All told, the conservative icon spent about a year of his presidency at his ranch in California.

He might find even more to like in the latest Republican to hold the office. Bush spent more than 530 days at either his ranch in Texas or the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, according to records kept by Mark Knoller of CBS News.

Obama's vacations, meanwhile, spanned more than 230 days, according to Knoller.



Remarks by President Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin at Veterans Affairs Listening Session |

Remarks by President Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin at Veterans Affairs Listening Session |

Remarks by President Trump and Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin at Veterans Affairs Listening Session

Roosevelt Room

10:31 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  A special group of people.  Very special to me, very important.  And I want to thank you all for being here and for your work on behalf of our nation's veterans, our great, great people, our veterans.

We're all united by a very common mission:  We will protect those who protect us.  I've been saying that a lot over the last two years at rallies and speeches.  We will protect those who protect us, and that's just starting, because I think the veterans have not been treated fairly.  And David and a group of brilliant, brilliant doctors and businessmen are forming a board, and you've got the most talented people that I've ever seen working with you.  This is -- no more games going to be played at the VA.  

And I want to thank David, your Secretary -- your new Secretary, who's going to be so outstanding.  I think he actually passed 100 to nothing.  When I heard that vote I said, where did that come from?  A hundred to nothing, right?  Passed 100 to nothing -- for bringing your vision, experience and determination to the crucial task of reforming the VA and ensuring care for our returning heroes and warriors.  

And tonight I'm having a major meeting with some of the people that we put on a board.  Ike Perlmutter is an amazing man -- Marvel -- is one of the great, great businessmen of our time, and others -- we're having a meeting tonight at what we call affectionately the Southern White House.  Seems to be the most convenient location.  Everybody always wants to go to the Southern White House.  So are you going to be at that meeting?  You heard about it, right?  It's going to be great -- all about the VA.  

The VA's mission statement is engraved in the plaques outside its headquarters.  It reads:  "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan."  And that was stated by Abraham Lincoln.  That was Lincoln's pledge -- called Lincoln's pledge.  But for too many veterans, this hasn't been their experience at all.  We've been reading horrible stories over the years, and already, David, I'm hearing it's getting much better.  A lot of improvements are being made and it's going to change.  And under my administration, it will change -- very important to me.

During my campaign, I outlined a detailed plan to reforming veterans' care throughout the country, and we're working to put that plan into effect.  And it's moving, I think I can, honestly, ahead of schedule.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will not accept substandard service for our great veterans.  Every member of our government is expected to do their utmost to ensure our veterans have the care that they're so entitled to -- maybe more entitled to than anybody.  And that hasn't been the way they were treated.  But it is the way they're going to be treated.

So again, I want to thank you all for being here.  It's a great honor.  And maybe I'll ask David just to say a few words.

SECRETARY SHULKIN:  Sure.  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

SECRETARY SHULKIN:  Mr. Vice President.  I wanted to let you know the people in this room are some of the most dedicated, passionate people advocating for our veterans.  And they are our partners in this quest to transform VA.  And we really are so grateful that they're here with us standing as partners.  

I also want to thank you, Mr. President, for the budget.  I think that you've honored your commitment to showing that this country cares about the veterans, and you've given us the ability to make sure that we are able to care for them.  I also wanted to tell you that yesterday the House passed an accountability bill, and we're very, very grateful for Chairman Roe's leadership and for the House's leadership in doing that.  We're looking forward to the Senate bringing a bill forward.

And so, I think, as you said, we're committed to the plan that you outlined during your campaign to making the VA the type of organization that Americans want it to be, and we're well on our way to do that.  So thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that's great.  And unrelated, we just had a meeting with probably 12 congressmen, and it was an amazing meeting because they were all "nos," would you say, Mike?  They were all "nos" or pretty much "no," and after 15 minutes -- now, in all fairness, not 15 minutes, it was really actually about four or five days, but after 15 minutes, they went from "no" to all "yeses."  So the healthcare looks like it's going to be in great shape.  It's a great plan.  The press doesn't give it a fair read but I've heard that before.  What are you going to do -- the fake news.

But it's a great plan or I wouldn't be involved with it.  I wouldn't be involved.  So you have 12 "nos," and we have rejiggered it and we've done some great things, but the "nos" in every single case went to a "yes."  So that was a great honor, and healthcare looks like it's really happening, and it's going to great.  

Obamacare is dead.  Some of you folks have yourself -- you have family members that have suffered greatly under Obamacare.  It's dying.  It's just about on its last legs.  If we did nothing, if we did absolutely nothing, Obamacare is dead.  It will fail.  In Tennessee, where I just left, half of the state has no insurance and --no carrier.  It's gone.  And they're going to leave the other half of the state very soon.  You have that in many cases.  Many states are down to one and they'll end up with nothing.

So Obamacare is dead.  We're going to come up with a replacement that's going to be fantastic.  We have no support from the Democrats.  That's why it's a little -- we have to go interesting little routes.  Instead of just approving it, it has to be approved in pieces, and that's working out really well.  But we just got 12 very, very great people that went from "no" or "maybe" -- but "maybe" leaning to "no" -- right, Mike?  And they all have given me a commitment that they're voting for our healthcare plan.  So that was great.

I want to thank you all for being here, and let's talk.  And the press will leave.  Thank you very much.

10:38 P.M. EDT


Secret Service asked for $60 million extra for Trump-era travel and protection, documents show - The Washington Post

Secret Service asked for $60 million extra for Trump-era travel and protection, documents show - The Washington Post

Secret Service asked for $60 million extra for Trump-era travel and protection, documents show

The U.S. Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

Nearly half of the additional money, $26.8 million, would pay to protect President Trump's family and private home in New York's Trump Tower, the documents show, while $33 million would be spent on travel costs incurred by "the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state."

The documents, part of the Secret Service's request for the fiscal 2018 budget, reflect the costly surprise facing Secret Service agents tasked with guarding the president's large and far-flung family, accommodating their ambitious travel schedules and fortifying the three-floor Manhattan penthouse where first lady Melania Trump and son Barron live.

Trump has spent most of his weekends since the inauguration at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and his sons have traveled the world to promote Trump properties with Secret Service agents in tow.

The documents reviewed by The Post did not show how the new budget requests compare with the funding needs for past presidents, and such figures are not public information. The Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, declined to provide cost breakdowns and have said in the past that such fig­ures are confidential, citing security concerns.

Mar-a-Lago isn't just Trump's vacation spot; it's his second White House

Play Video2:57

Mar-a-Lago isn't just Trump's vacation spot; it's his second White House (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

A person familiar with internal Secret Service budget discussions said the requests for additional funding, prepared in late February, were rejected by the Office of Management and Budget, an arm of the White House. That means the agency will probably have to divert other spending to handle the additional burden. While best known for protecting the president, Secret Service agents also investigate cyber­crimes, counterfeit-money operations, and cases­ involving missing and exploited minors.

The Secret Service declined to respond to questions after The Post provided a summary of the documents. The service referred questions to DHS, which also declined to comment. The White House referred questions to the Secret Service and the Office of Management and Budget, which did not initially respond to requests for comment. After the article was posted online Wednesday, an OMB staffer issued a statement to The Post saying that the Secret Service is continuing to refine its budgetary estimates. The staffer also said that the claim that OMB denied the $26.8 million request for Trump Tower and family expenses was "outright untrue" and that OMB "supported its funding."

The budget requests reflect a potentially awkward contrast between Trump's efforts to cut federal spending in many areas and the escalating costs of his travel itinerary. Trump jetted to Mar-a-Lago on Friday for his fifth post-inauguration weekend trip, one day after the White House released a federal budget proposing deep cuts to many government programs.

[He's baaaack!': Trump's visits to Mar-a-Lago are stretching Palm Beach's budget and locals' patience]

Former agents said the requests indicate that the agency had to adapt to offer full protection for a president and first family who appear to have placed few limits on their personal travel and living arrangements.

"The Secret Service cannot dictate the lifestyle of the protectee. They have to work around it," said Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee who is now executive director of the risk-mitigation company RANE. "I don't think they expected him to go to Florida so often.

"This was an unanticipated reality," he added, for which the Secret Service "had to quickly re­adjust operations."

Banke International director Niraj Masand, far left, poses for a photo with Eric Trump, Banke International director Porush Jhunjhunwala, Donald Trump Jr. and DAMAC Properties Chairman Hussain Sajwani during festivities marking the formal opening of the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai on Feb. 18. (AP)

Some of the public funding could potentially become revenue for Trump's private company, the Trump Organization, which owns the Trump Tower that agents must now protect. The Defense Department and Secret Service have sought to rent space in Trump Tower but have not said how much space they're interested in, or at what cost. Neither the Secret Service nor the Trump Organization have disclosed how much public money, if any, is being spent toward Trump Tower space or other costs.

The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

The Secret Service would not provide any details on the typical budget for protecting the first family. The agency requested $734 million for its fiscal 2017 "operations and support" protection budget, which would include the ex­penses for all protected individuals and foreign heads of state, DHS budget documents show.

The $26.8 million funding request says the money is needed for "residence security operations at the president's private residence in Trump Tower," with roughly $12.5 million earmarked to cover "personnel related costs in New York."

The money would also go toward protective assignments for the president's children and grandchildren, as well as costs for "protective ad­vances and protective intelligence activi­ties." The request also sought six additional full-time-equivalent positions for the Trump security details.

The $26.8 million budget item is marked as $0 in previous years, which former Secret Service agents said probably meant that the costs were part of a new budget category designed to encapsulate the unusual expense of protecting the first lady and the president's youngest son because they live outside the White House.

There were also additional undisclosed costs, spent in fiscal 2017, to install "equipment and infrastructure to secure Trump Tower," according to the request.

[Trump family's elaborate lifestyle is a 'logistical nightmare' — at taxpayer expense]

W. Ralph Basham, a longtime Secret Service employee who served as director under President George W. Bush, said that the agency clearly had no "crystal ball" to predict Trump's victory and, thus, had not accounted for the price tag of his presidency.

"The expense of taking on a family like the Trumps versus taking on a family like the Clintons," he said. "It's a totally different funding scenario."

New York City boasts some of the highest real estate prices in the nation, and Basham noted that the Secret Service "does not have the liberty of going out in New Jersey" to find cheap rental space. "You have to be there," he said, referring to Trump Tower.

Basham said it is difficult to pinpoint exact ex­penses at this stage in the budget process. But he estimated that the $26.8 million request would probably include costs for command centers, agents' room and board, communications ex­penses and rental space.

Jeffrey Robinson, co-author of the book "Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service" with former Secret Service agent Joseph Petro, said the logistics of protecting Trump Tower are "a nightmare" because of its easily accessible location on Fifth Avenue.

"They have to secure Trump Tower because Melania is there," Robinson said. "They protect the first family. They have to protect the grandchildren. This is going to be an expensive operation."

Robinson said the budget request is not surprising, considering that the agency is mandated by Congress to protect the president. "They need the money that they need," he said.

A separate travel-funding request seeks $33 million on top of the agency's $74 million fiscal 2018 protection-travel budget. The document justifies the request by saying that Secret Service travel, in general, is "extremely variable, difficult to predict and difficult to plan for in advance as many protectees' travel plans are unknown with limited time to prepare."

The request does not specifically name Mar-a-Lago, and the travel budget changes­ year to year based on many factors. The total protective travel budget for fiscal 2015 was about $80 million. That figure climbed to $160 million in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, when agents were protecting multiple candidates.

But former agents said that, typically, costs go down in the first year of a new presidency.

Before taking office, Trump repeatedly criticized the cost of President Barack Obama's travel, saying the fact that Obama's trips were "costing taxpayers millions of dollars" was "unbelievable." During the campaign, Trump pledged to save public money by working diligently in Washington and skipping out on expensive travel.

"There's no time for vacation. We're not going to be big on vacations," Trump said at a campaign rally last year. "The White House is this incredible place. It represents so much, and you're there for a limited period of time. If you're at the White House and you have so much work to do, why do you fly? Why do you leave so much?"

The conservative group Judicial Watch, which closely tracked Obama's family travel, estimated the Obamas' vacation ex­penses totaled nearly $97 million over eight years.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday countered criticism of Trump's frequent travel to Mar-a-Lago, saying: "The president is very clear that he works seven days a week. This is where he goes to see his family. He brings people down there. This is part of being president."

Experts say that it is common for incoming presidential administrations to have unique logistical chal­lenges, including George W. Bush, who preferred to spend time at his remote ranch in Crawford, Tex.

Mar-a-Lago has quickly become a capital of Trump's presidency and will play host to Chinese President Xi Jinping next month. On Friday night, the president surprised attendees when he popped into a Mar-a-Lago Club charity event to congratulate honoree Patrick Park, a Palm Beach philanthropist who has said he hopes to be named U.S. ambassador to Austria.

The Secret Service's protection costs are a small fraction of the total public spending devoted to safe­guarding Trump properties. New York police spent roughly $24 million toward security costs at Trump Tower between the election and inauguration, according to police figures provided to The Post.

The agency is seeking federal reimbursement for the security costs. When the president is in town, New York police expect to spend about $300,000 a day safe­guarding Trump Tower. On days when only the first lady and their son are in town, police expect security costs will drop to between $127,000 and $145,000 a day. A police spokesman said the estimates could change based on officer deployments, intelligence and other factors.

At Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach County officials say their sheriff's office has spent more than $1.5 million toward overtime for deputies guarding the exclusive resort Trump has taken to calling "the southern White House" and "winter White House."

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County officials have proposed levying a special fee on the resort, saying they would have to otherwise raise local taxes on residents to help cover its high security costs. The Coast Guard has also paid to provide round-the-clock patrols of the resort's two coastlines, including through the use of a gun-mounted response boat that, according to agency budget documents, costs $1,500 an hour.

The Secret Service has struggled through years of budget short­­ages and low morale. Former Secret Service agents said tightening budgets have hit agents hard and that, unlike other agencies, the Secret Service can't travel less or staff fewer people to keep costs down because full protection for the first family is guaranteed.

"Everything will get done," said Wackrow, the former agent who served in Obama's protective detail. "But at what pain point does it get done?"

Carol Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Julie Tate and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

This article has been updated.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

No one can take this from me.

We live in a society made up of individuals who are taught how to think, how to feel, how to conform, and how to hide. 

It forces us to place the world into simple categories so that we may understand the complexities around us. 

We are taught that a spirit is our savior and the law is our sanctuary. We learn to recognize both good and evil; black and white; blessed and damned. 

We are forced to identify good or evil; black or white; blessed or 

A society that allows us to believe in fate and destiny, and allows us to blame failure and injustice on circumstance and gods. 

It teaches hatred and intolerance, and breeds complexity and anger. 

It is a society I neither respect, nor believe, and a society that needs careful evaluation and gentle handling. 

There is no order, there is no justice, there is no comfort. It is the society of a people in need of a soul. 

There is a theory about Psychologists that claims many people choose to study the field of psychology in an effort to understand their own mind. I have spent so many hours contemplating the source of my insecurities and fears. 

Eventually I came to the field of sociology and education, since I feel it was the combination of the two which facilitated my belief that a degree from Harvard, Princeton or Yale would make my problems disappear. 

The day I was accepted at Columbia was one of the most difficult days of my life because it was something I was told I would never accomplish. 

I chose to go to Vanderbilt after receiving an advanced Masters from the Ivy League for my PhD since it represented freedom. 

Freedom from the contused ideals of my parents, and marked a clear boundary between their world and my own. 

This year, my mother told me I did not deserve to get into Comell. 

My father told me that he was "not willing to gamble $50,000 on my future" (as a guarantor for a student loan.) I thought that if I could just make it through Graduation, everything would be 

I would be able to pick up student insurance, and my pain, stress, and anxiety would all disappear. 

I would no longer be subject to my fathers conventions of checks and balances, and the stress and dependency would all disappear. I would be free from the ghosts and voices that were echoing through my head (in case there is any doubt, that was a figurative, and not a literal statement.) 

I will end this here because I wrote this years ago before I made peace with my family and now have a better understanding of why they felt my accomplishments should be my own. 

I am proud to say that I did accomplish these achievements on my own and received a full academic shcolarship to the top ranked university in the nation amd graduated with a 3.93/4.0. 

No one can take thaf away from me. No one. Ever. 

Just me, 

aka Chilly Penguin


Reality Check: 47 Million Underinsured and Uninsured in America

I am one of them: here's my DailyDDoSe March 28, 2017

We live in a society where no one accepts responsibility for their mistakes; no one is held accountable
for their actions; and one EVER, EVER says they are sorry.

Let me show you a small glimpse inside the typical day of the 47 million uninsured and underinsured in the wealthiest nation in the world: The United States of America.

As someone who spent years as one of the 47 million (source I spent day after day after day doing the same thing without any result or consequence.

I can only offer
you a glimpse into day in the life because there is no room to sit in my car with all the files, medical records and appeal documents.

I believe my apartment may actually be a fire hazard...

This was my daily update posted at 7:30am:

As for my most recent insurance dispute (2008) little jas changed and I feel I have done everything humanly possible to
protect health care providers who are NOT providing health...

I cannot clean up the slack for my every underqualified, health care provider (who did NOT provide adequate care to my patients or myself). However I feel I have no other choice than
to share what I have learned...

Having been on both sides if the proverbial couch, I have the perspective
that is both enlightening and scary at the same time.

Sometimes I try to look at this fight, (I meant to say this life) objectively.

I can see my own future, and I can see where it is taking me. I know how it will end it I don't thinks I can
keep up the

It is amazing at how far we will go to have nothing at all.

I have come this far, and on some level I almost enjoy the dance.


On some level, I actually love the

No. I won't give up now. Because without this turmoil, this means an end to this demonstration project of futility and determination, amd without that I am nothing at all. I can't lose what I never had.

I won't be another sell-out; mostly because I don't know how.

I am the voice of perseverence. I am one of 47 million Americans with sunstandard medical care.

And today I am I am still fighting the good fight.

This battle; this challenge; this half won war has come to define me. And without that, I am really nothing at all.

As someone once told me, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. I've already fallen, but I sure as shit stand for something.

So for now, I write. Maybe later, I will listen. And if there is any justice left in this world, maybe someday I will actually live.

Just me,

Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M., ABD
Research & Policy Analyst


47 Million Under and Uninsured in America

God Bless America. 😤

by Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.
Research & Policy Analyst 


Friday, March 24, 2017

From a Palm Beach Native to @RealDonaldTrump


Trump's lavish lifestyle is costing Palm Beach a FORTUNE! 

My neighbors sued him for $5.77 Million and won and his Jupiter Golf Course also has a legal settlement he has yet to pay. 

Local business owners are concerned it's bad for business. 

He also raised the membership fee at Mar-A-Lago from $100,000 to $200,000 shortly after the election. 

The Palm Beach Sheriff is working overtime and Secret Service can't afford the travel expenses. 

Each weekend trip costs a minimum of $3 Million and it is coming from our local taxes. 

He said he wouldn't have time to play golf after the Inauguration. Another lie. 

If you check his archived tweets you will see that he complained about Obama taking vacation time which paled by comparison. 

I for one object to his lavish lifestyle when I see homeless people sleeping on the benches outside of Trump Plaza and in Palm Beach. 


Just me, 

ChillehP 🐧

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Secret Service Can't Afford The Trump Family's Lifestyle

Secret Service Can't Afford The Trump Family's Lifestyle | The Huffington Post

How do you afford that rock n' roll lifestyle? 

Secret Service Can't Afford The Trump Family's Lifestyle

The agency recently asked for $60 million more, but was told "no."

President Donald Trump's frequent travel, large family and unusual living situation are apparently weighing heavily on the Secret Service's budget.

The agency recently requested an additional $60 million in spending for fiscal year 2018, according to a Washington Post report on Tuesday. Nearly $27 million of that was to be earmarked for security at the president's private residence at Trump Tower in New York, where first lady Melania Trump lives with their 11-year-old son. The Secret Service also said it needed another $33 million to cover travel costs incurred by "the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state."

The Office of Management and Budget rejected the request, a source told the Post, which could potentially force the Secret Service to scale back on other operations, like investigations into cyber hacking, counterfeit currency, financial crimes or missing and exploited minors.

The Post report comes amid questions about the president's regular weekend jaunts to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump has made at least five trips to the "Southern White House" since his inauguration, each time costing taxpayers an estimated $3 million or more.

Providing Secret Service details for the first lady and the rest of Trump's family, including his four adult sons and daughters, has also led to mounting costs. Although this level of protection is standard for the first family, the specific needs of Trump's older children have attracted scrutiny.

In February, for example, Eric Trump flew to Uruguay to promote the Trump Organization. The trip ended up costing taxpayers nearly $90,000 in hotel bills for the Secret Service agents who accompanied him, leading to renewed criticism of how the president's business interests intertwine with government functions.

The idea of taxpayers footing higher bills to protect the wealthy Trumps may not sit well with critics of the harsh federal budget the president released last week. Trump's plan proposes eliminating a number of antipoverty programs.

At a press conference this week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there was no hypocrisy here.

"Presidents always travel," said Spicer. "The president, wherever he goes, he carries the apparatus of the White House with us. That is just something that happens."

Do you have information you want to share with the Huffington Post? Here's how.


Twitter Suspends 376K Accounts Tied to Terrorism | Investopedia

Twitter Suspends 376K Accounts Tied to Terrorism | Investopedia
Do I look like a fucking terrorist? 

Twitter Suspends 376K Accounts Tied to Terrorism

Twitter Inc. (TWTR) disclosed Tuesday it had suspended hundreds of thousands of accounts for violations related to the promotion of terrorism.

According to the social media network, it suspended 376,890 accounts between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, and a total of 636,248 accounts from Aug. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2016. Twitter said of the suspensions, 74% of the accounts were identified by internal, proprietary spam-fighting tools while less than 2% of the suspensions came from requests by a government. Twitter released the information in its transparency report, which it has issued twice a year since 2012. While Twitter had previously given updates about the suspension of accounts associated with terrorism and extremism in blog posts, this marks the first time it included the numbers in the report. Twitter plans to include suspension numbers in future transparency reports, as well.

Stepping Up Policing

While Twitter has previously engaged in suspending accounts that are associated with terrorism, in recent months it's been stepping up its policing of its social media network to weed out abusive and violent behavior. For Twitter, the stakes are high. With advertisers increasingly spending their ad dollars on competing social networks like Facebook Inc. (FB), Twitter has to give companies reasons to want to advertise on its social network. (See also: Twitter: CEO Dorsey Facing Calls to Step Down.)

In February, the embattled social media company quietly started rolling out a feature that temporarily limits a user's Twitter reach if they break the rules such as cursing out a lawmaker or otherwise engaging in abusive or bad behavior. The new feature, which was first reported by BuzzFeed, basically puts the user in a timeout where only people in his or her network can view their tweets for a limited period of time. The feature was put to use in a prominent way shortly after news reports surfaced about it when David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader's Twitter account was suspended for a temporary period of time without Twitter giving a reason for the penalty. Twitter and Facebook have come under attack for not doing enough to prevent abusive behavior on their social networks and have been increasingly taking steps to counter that.


Hacked Twitter Accounts Post Swastikas, Pro-Erdogan Content - Bloomberg

Hacked Twitter Accounts Post Swastikas, Pro-Erdogan Content - Bloomberg

Hacked Twitter Accounts Post Swastikas, Pro-Erdogan Content

As Dutch voters head to the polls on Wednesday, a swath of high-profile Twitter accounts have been hacked, with the attackers posting content supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his feud with Germany and the Netherlands.

Turkish-language hashtags reading "NaziGermany" and "NaziHolland" appeared on the verified Twitter accounts of German newspaper Die Welt, Forbes Magazine, BBC North America, and Reuters Japan. Also targeted were the Twitter accounts of the European Parliament, French politicians like Alain Juppé, and Sprint Corp.'s Chief Executive Officer and President Marcelo Claure, among others.

Hi everyone - we temporarily lost control of this account, but normal service has resumed. Thanks.

— BBC North America (@BBCNorthAmerica) · Washington, DC

"We are aware of an issue affecting a number of account holders this morning," said Twitter Inc. company spokeswoman Kaori Saito. "We quickly located the source which was limited to a third party app. We removed its permissions immediately. No additional accounts are impacted." 

An Amsterdam-based startup said it's investigating if it's the source of the postings. Twitter Counter, a marketing tool that allows people and companies to track their popularity on Twitter, said it's now blocking people from postings through its system while it studies the issue. The company says it has more than 2 million users and tracks more than 350 million Twitter accounts.

"Our app has been used. It's pending further investigation," said Twitter Counter CEO Omer Ginor. "We are aware of the situation and have started an investigation into the matter." 

Twitter shares fell 2 percent to $15.01 at 10:11 a.m. in New York. They have declined 6 percent so far this year.

"Individual hacks like this one, in isolation, are unlikely to have much impact on Twitter," said Cyrus Mewawalla, managing director at CM Research. "But the sheer volume of these kind of events will have a damaging impact. Twitter and other social media sites are on the verge of a regulatory backlash that could ultimately impact their business model."

Twitter Counter, founded in 2008, reported an attack in November in which accounts from Sony Corp., Viacom Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others were compromised and posting spam messages. Twitter Counter apologized and said it had fixed the problem. 

Ginor said the company had reached "95 percent certainty" that it had fixed the problem after being hacked in November. The company couldn't be sure a hacker was "still lurking in the shadows, just waiting for the opportunity." 

The incidents show the indirect ways hackers can take over a company's Twitter feed. Twitter Counter is one of many companies that plug into Twitter to provide marketing and analytics tools for people, businesses and other groups. Companies including Time Inc., Netflix Inc., Chevron Corp. and YouTube use Twitter Counter, according to its website.

"With the current political conflict between The Netherlands and Turkey, we have observed an increase in takeovers of high profile social media accounts," said Jens Monrad, senior intelligence analyst at cybersecurity company FireEye Inc.

The attack comes just a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government increased the pressure on social networks, including Facebook Inc. and Twitter, to curb the spread of fake news and malicious posts, weighing fines of up to 50 million euros ($53 million) for companies that fail to delete illegal content in a timely manner. Her government is taking malicious posts on social media increasingly seriously ahead of the Sept. 24 election in Europe's biggest economy.

The tweets Wednesday included a swastika and described the attack as a "little Ottoman slap." "See you on April 16," they read, referring to the date of Turkey's referendum to grant more powers to Erdogan, and finish with: "What did I write? Learn Turkish."

A four-minute video attached to the tweets begins with an Erdogan speech in which he says: "If we're going to die, let's die like men." It then features scenes from various Erdogan speeches, starting with his showdown with then-Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009, as a campaign song chanting his name, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan," plays in the background.

BBC North America has since tweeted that it "temporarily lost control" of its account, but normal service has resumed. Some of the tweets have been deleted.

"Attackers always look for the weakest link of the chain," said Matt Suiche, founder of United Arab Emirates-based cyber-security startup Comae Technologies. "Third party platforms are perfect targets. It makes lots of sense."


Big Twitter hack – Swastikas and propaganda for Turkish president

Big Twitter hack – Swastikas and propaganda for Turkish president
And I'm the one who gets suspended? 

Big Twitter hack – Swastikas and propaganda for Turkish president

Big Twitter hack – Swastikas and propaganda for Turkish president

Hackers took control of several prominent Twitter accounts today, posting swastikas and slogans supporting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The hashtags #Nazialmanya and #Nazihollanda (NaziGermany and NaziHolland) were used in tweets, reported Bloomberg.

According to the report, the tweets said the attack was a "little Ottoman slap." Followed by, "See you on April 16," referring to the date of Turkey's referendum to grant more powers to Erdogan.

Tweets end with, "What did I write? Learn Turkish."

Twitter Counter said hackers used a flaw in its application to gain access to several high-profile accounts.

"Assuming this abuse is indeed done using our system, we've blocked all ability to post tweets and changed our Twitter app key," said Twitter Counter.

An hour later it said: "The Twitter Counter application is blocked on Twitter. If this activity continues, then we strongly believe it's not just through us."

Tweets containing a swastika and pro-Erdogan sentiments appeared on the Twitter accounts of Unicef, Amnesty International, Die Welt, Forbes Magazine, BBC North America, and Reuters Japan.

Bloomberg reported that attackers also targeted the accounts of the European Parliament, French politician Alain Juppé, and CEO of Sprint Marcelo Claure.

NaziGermany and NaziHolland Twitter hack - Amnesty International

Now read: WikiLeaks to share CIA hacking tools with tech firms


Build digital DNA: Leveraging M&A to reshape the IT workforce | CIO

Build digital DNA: Leveraging M&A to reshape the IT workforce | CIO

Build digital DNA: Leveraging M&A to reshape the IT workforce

Authors: Seth Van Winkle, McCree Lake, Daniel McCarthy

As organizations going through M&A transactions begin to emerge from the massive surge of work, CIOs must consider how they can pivot toward an operating model that drives digital value. We have already explored the areas of the IT workforce to assess before M&A activity, and how to seize the value of the surge to reconfigure IT. Mapping the digital journey from the surge to a longer-term vision is a significant challenge for every business, because over half of IT leaders do not even have a digital transformation plan. For IT, this means having a road map that addresses the technological changes like cloud, modular applications and data management, as well as the cultural changes required to shift the way people learn and work. Given the massive level of disruption, it is not enough for tech leaders to just navigate the transaction and then hope for the best — there has to be a clear and actionable road map for building digital DNA.  

Design an IT workforce road map

Assuming that talent strategy and management are the responsibility of HR alone is a mistake for IT leaders, especially in the aftermath of a complex M&A transformation — success after this level of extensive change requires more than just a scale-up or a scale-down of the existing operating model. During these major inflection points, there are often significant cultural changes and shifts in responsibilities. CIOs should not allow the "chips to fall where they may" but should instead take time to think strategically about the IT workforce and design a flagship set of activities to build the future labor force. Specifically, this means redefining the way that IT sources talent, redefining the way people are managed, measured and trained, and shifting how IT roles fit into the broader enterprise. Developing a road map is typically done by considering the maturity of specific areas associated with managing the IT workforce — recruiting, performance and engagement, skilling and development, and organizational positions and structure. For example, when considering jobs and structure, is the IT organization adapting to roles that may live within technology and business domains? Additionally, are there plans for how to classify people aligned more to projects than traditional fixed positions? Activities should consider the strategic goals the company is expecting to achieve, both broadly and as a result of the M&A activity, and take into account opportunities presented by emerging technologies and new ways of working. IT leaders should focus on shifting delivery models and better "selling" people-related investments from a technology perspective. A workforce plan is one of the tools to ensure that IT is well positioned to support the business in creating value in a systematic way.

Build a "digital-as-a-service" workforce

M&A and divestiture transactions bring tremendous complexity and demand to IT organizations, but this inflection point allows the IT workforce to flex from a rigid, role-based hierarchy into a collaborative, project-based organization. Shifting towards a "digital-as-a-service" workforce during M&A allows the leadership to break down existing silos and hierarchies and accelerates the evolution of the IT organization into a more fluid and networked form. Organizations can even begin to experiment with talent marketplaces, crowdsourcing and collaboration technologies to enable this transformation. According to Accenture research, 79% of executives agree the workforce of the future will be structured more by projects than by job functions. For example, as large IT groups move to multispeed delivery to support both legacy and new investment, emerging delivery methodologies such as agile and DevOps embrace the adoption of a digital teaming model over traditional job roles. Leaders use digital teams to plug and play as needed on innovative projects as they also pivot legacy platforms to the new over time. Focusing on a project-based model is particularly relevant as leaders begin to look past the immediate impacts of M&A and try to figure out how to recognize synergies as well as continue to innovate. As major technology programs are initiated for M&A transactions, they present a phenomenal opportunity for organizations to build the new ways of working as well as new processes and organizational structures that drive long-term change.

Reskill around a digital competency model

As IT leaders look to build a digital identity as part of an M&A integration or divestiture, they first need to refresh traditional competency models around IT strategy and service delivery to focus on digital transformation, collaboration and innovation. Identifying and prioritizing these new digital skill sets is foundational to the reskilling of a digital labor force. Successfully operating in a more fluid workplace combined with the continued emergence of new digital technologies means that every person in the IT organization will need to strike a balance between people skills, cross-cultural competency, and design and technical expertise. As an example, the World Economic Forum suggests that the hot skills in 2020 will be people-oriented (e.g. EQ) and focused on collaboration, but there will also be a need for emerging technical competencies like using statistical frameworks to support decision-making.

To establish the competencies and skills needed in the organization, leaders must assess the existing workforce to identify digital skills that already exist in the current environment. Leverage this assessment to build off what the organization already has from a competency perspective and prioritize development of high-demand skills that are in low supply.

Finally, utilize digital to learn digital. Collaborative tools, such as interactive portals, virtual classrooms and even wearables, allow individuals with different learning styles and environments to build proficiency in these new skills. Embedding this digital DNA as part of M&A activity will help enable IT leaders to collaboratively align "skill-based" work with the aptest members of the workforce.

Change the way people work in IT

It is a mistake to carry over every part of existing IT operating models and traditional job frameworks to a new organization post-M&A or divestiture. IT leaders need to recraft their thinking about the role of IT and subsequently the way that IT works to be fit for purpose in the new environment. When architecting a future IT workforce, leaders must give considerable thought to emerging workforce concepts such as liquid workforce and crowdsourcing — plug-and-play frameworks allowing the workforce to scale across capacity, skill sets and geographies — to change the way IT works. One example, crowdcoding, promotes the ability to take a large-scale effort and break it down into microtasks that can be accomplished by many individuals in a short period. The flexibility of these adaptable workforces affords IT organizations the ability to gain significant advantages of digital skills, quickly ramp capacity and tap into capabilities that were not before possible — all with the intent of being more agile and flexible, and of getting to market faster.

Technology leaders essentially have two choices as they navigate M&A activities — they can focus on simply meeting the demand of the day or they can focus on using the change to establish their organizations as the digital leaders of the enterprise. While business leadership may tolerate IT simply meeting demands during the "height" of work associated with a transaction, that is not likely a viable solution in the long term. Building digital DNA into the workforce is a crucial step in navigating the market demands and expectations of the near-term synergy expectations of the transaction. It also helps position IT for longer-term success.

This article is the third in a series of four that will explore the IT workforce implications and opportunities of M&A. Stay tuned for the final post on "How Every CEO Should Use M&A for a Fresh Start to IT Leadership, Culture and Brand."

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

Elyssa D. D. Durant 
Research &  Policy Analyst