COMMON CORE: A New Education Reform or a Resurrection of “That Thing from the Grave”?

October 31st, 2012

By Elois Zeanah

National Common Core standards are being sold to the public as a new education reform that’s going to save failing schools.  Jay Greene, the endowed professor of education at the University of Arkansas characterized Common Core Standards as “that thing from the grave” which gets “resurrected about every decade.” 

Progressives have worked to get national education standards for decades.  It started in the early 1900s.  The last time it was tried was in the 1990s during the Clinton Administration.  Each time national standards were resurrected, they got buried again under the barrage of public criticism and Congressional disapproval.  Frustrated but ever determined, this time proponents of national standards decided to bypass the democratic process.  The latest exhumation from the grave resumed in 2007.

Jay Greene put it bluntly when he said that “their entire project” of getting national standards approved “depends on stealth.  If we have an open and vigorous debate about whether it is desirable for our large, diverse country to have a uniform national set of standards, curriculum, and assessments, I am confident that they would lose.  Time and time again the American people through their political and educational leaders have rejected nationalization of education when it has been proposed in a straightforward way.”[1] 

The latest plot to nationalize standards included stealth by special interests and speed to rush through implementation before the public could catch on and organize resistance.  They got away with it, thanks to complicit state boards of education.  Now that Common Core is being implemented and we’re learning what’s at stake and that it’s going to steal our liberties and states’ rights and cost taxpayers a fortune, will “we the people” stop this travesty?

The Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was Created by Special Interests

The “Common Core State Standards Initiative claims that is a state-led effort, implying that it had legislative grants of authority from individual states.  In fact, through 2008, the Common Core Initiative was a plan of private groups being implemented through trade associations, albeit trade associations that had ‘official’-sounding names [like the National Governor’s Association] …. Throughout 2008-2009, the Standards had not been drafted.  Yet the Common Core proponents wanted to quickly lock the states into the Standards and thus avoid, from their viewpoint, the difficulties inherent in the democratic process.[2]

The “people and their elected legislators had no opportunity to deliberate on the Standards and assessments before their adoption.”  This is of great importance “given that the Common Core system removes significant education policy decisions from the people and their elected representatives …. The federal government and private organizations have pushed their Common Core agenda on the states by impairing state autonomy, and they plan to retain their stranglehold on the states.”[3] 

Common Core was Written Behind Closed Doors & Washington Bureaucrats who will Police Common Core cannot be held Accountable

Former “Attorney General Ed Meese, former Assistant Secretary of Education Bill Evers, and hundreds of other professors and experts from a wide range of disciplines signed the Closing the Door on Innovation statement, arguing that, “we do not believe Congress or the public supports having [national standards] developed behind closed doors with no public accountability …. The Common Core Initiative and the manner in which the Standards were imposed on the American people undermine our federalist system of divided powers.”[4]

Who are these people who are so bold to participate in attempts to end-run Congress, to violate federal laws, and to abuse the public process?

Sponsors of the Common Core State Standards Initiative

The “current phase” of national standards “began in 2007.  That year, the Gates and Eli Broad foundations pledged $60 million to inject their education vision, including uniform ‘American standards,’ into the 2008 [presidential] campaigns.  Then, in May 2008, the Gates Foundation awarded the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy a $2.2 million grant ‘to work with governors and other key stakeholders’ to promote the adoption of standards.  The following month, Hunt and the National Governors Association hosted a symposium to explore education strategies …. In December 2008, during the transition to the Obama administration, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve, Inc. (an entity founded by the National Governors Association, governed by six state governors and six corporate leaders, and funded by several mega-corporations and foundations) set out their education vision in ‘Benchmarking for Success,’ funded by the Gates Foundation …. Including nationwide standards.”[5]

Speed was Important to Stealth

The National Governors Association (NGA) “wanted to implement its plan quickly – and avoid the tedium of the democratic process …. The 2009 stimulus bill provided NGA’s breakthrough.  It increased the Education Department’s discretionary spending by 25,500 percent, giving it a fresh pot of money and a means to shape state and local curricula without congressional interference.

“In March 2009, one month after passage of the stimulus bill, the Education Department announced a two-part “Race to the Top” national competition to distribute the money …. A state could not get the money unless it signed onto the standards.

“In March 2010, NGA released the ‘first official public draft’ of the standards, followed by a June release of the final product …. States had only two months to commit to adopting the standards …. Rutgers professor Joseph Rosenstein remarked in Education Week, ‘Deciding so quickly … is irresponsible.

“NGA is not an official body of the states.  Yet, it is acting like a legislative body and, on a transformative initiative, helped cut the American people out of the democratic process.”  Neither is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) an official body of the states.  “CCSSO was involved in the Clinton Administration’s attempt to create national tests.”  Fordham Institute President Chester Finn described CCSSO as a major and long-term member of the liberal movement on federal education policy which has an “ancient and cozy relationship with the U.S. Education Department and can be counted on to do its bidding.”[6]

What Can We Do?

Will these private interests who are arrogant enough to hammer “the last nail of so-called reform … in the coffin of traditional American education which made our nation the envy of the Free World and which produced famous scientists, mathematicians, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, etc.”[7] get away with their disrespect of the public and the democratic process? 

Let’s ask state legislators. 

What will Legislators Do?

Legislators are the people’s last line of defense to stop the federal government’s assault on parental control of local education and states’ rights.   Legislators should rescind and defund the implementation of Common Core immediately.  They, as others, were shut out of the public process when special interests used stealth to create and get state boards of education to adopt national Common Core standards, and their rushed implementation.  But state legislatures are now being forced to fund the conversion of their states’ current education standards to Common Core standards.

The cost to implement Common Core nationwide is estimated to be $16 billion.  Legislators have the power of the purse.  Will legislators be complicit in letting special interests and the federal government violate the U.S. Constitution and undermine federalism as state boards of education did?  Or will they fight for the rule of law, the democratic process, parents, taxpayers, and most of all, for our children?   

Legislators will decide.  Either they will bury “that thing from the grave” again, or legislators will hammer the nail in the coffin of traditional American education that promotes creativity and innovation and helps define American Exceptionalism.



[2] Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top:  Why Common Core is Bad for America” Nay 2012

[3] “National Cost of Aligning States and Localities to the Common Core Standards”:  A project by Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project, Pacific Research Institute, and AccountabilityWorks

[4] Emmet McGroarty and Jane Robbins, “Controlling from the Top:  Why Common Core is Bad for America

[5] Emmet McGroarty, “Education Revolution … Without The People”? February 23, 2011

[6] Ibid.

 

 



COMMON CORE: What is it?

October 31st, 2012

By Elois Zeanah

Remember the movie “A Wrinkle in Time,” in which identically dressed children came out of identical houses to all bounce a ball in an identical way?  That’s what national Common Core standards are:  A one-size-fits-all curriculum – for all states, all schools, and all students.

Common Core is the name given to a new revolutionary education reform called the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  Its euphemism is college and career readiness.  Radical changes of Common Core include: 

(1) moving away from the founding principle that parents and states, not federal government, control local education;

(2) making obsolete federal protection against developing a national student database and tracking children from preschool through their careers;

 (3) transforming schools to broaden education policy to include and provide “supports” that intervene with external, non-academic factors that interfere with student achievement, and

(4) nationalizing education which weakens academic standards.

What is the Purpose of Common Core?

The purpose of Common Core is to nationalize K-12 education by standardizing courses, textbooks and instructional materials, tests and assessments. 

The argument for national standards is to set high standards, make all schools meet them, then student achievement will soar and students will be able to compete globally.  This all sounds good – a lot like No Child Left Behind.  But, then, isn’t every NEW government regulation that takes away more free choice and personal freedom always spun to sound like utopia?  For leftists, the issue is to get states to cede local control of children’s K-12 education to the federal government.  For conservatives, it’s a Tenth Amendment issue and protecting our children and our culture – and, incidentally, our U.S. Constitution.

It’s precisely because arguments FOR Common Core can’t stand scrutiny – and similar ventures for nationalized education in the past have failed miserably because the public and Congress reject them every time – that proponents strategized to use stealth and avoid public awareness and the messy democratic process.   And they’ve won!  But for how long?  Parents, teachers, legislators and other concerned citizens, who were left in the dark, are beginning to be alerted, and “have only just begun to fight!”  But we must hurry!

COMMON CORE: A Revolution in K-12 Education

October 30th, 2012

By Elois Zeanah

 There’s a revolution in K-12 education going on in the United States, except few people know about it.  How could this be?  This revolution fundamentally changes the power and organizational structure of K-12.  It’s radical.  It’s costly.  It steals liberties from parents and power from states.  It’s a complete overhaul of education, yet it’s being implemented by stealth. 

 Who’s behind this revolution in K-12 education?  Have you guessed?  This revolution is not driven bottom-up by the people but a seizure of power from the top-down.   How could this happen in the open society of the USA?  You might be surprised.  As Dorothy’s dog “Toto” pulled back the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, education scholars who care about the children, not about power and profit, have exposed who’s behind the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).

 Politics is as much about the identity of the wizards behind the curtain as it is about public service.

 Rarely is the curtain pulled back to reveal WHO the wizards are who write and lobby for legislation behind the scenes; but, fortunately, this has happened with Common Core.   Let’s hope “We the People” see through a carefully crafted mirage and act before it’s too late.   But time is short!  Common Core is being implemented now in 45 states and will be completed in 2014.

 The Yellow Brick Road leads us special interests, “the great and the powerful” who have laid many witch’s traps that rival anything the Wicked Witch of the West could have ever contrived

 This article serves as the introduction to a series of articles that explain what Common Core is; what’s at stake; how it’s backed and funded by special interests that have either a leftist ideological agenda or stand to profit financially; how states’ rights will be sacrificed; and how Common Core evolves into a federal takeover of education.  Revealed will be the “chinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk” thrown to the public by proponents of Common Core.   In the words of the Wicked Witch of the West:  “ Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh!” 

 Winning this war for our children won’t be easy!  But never underestimate the power of parents and the people!  Just as Dorothy closed her eyes, tapped her heels three times, and repeated “There’s no place like home,” we know there’s no place like America!   Common Core violates the Constitution, federal laws, and the democratic process.   Parents won’t stand for this when it impacts their children!  This fundamental change in K-12 education will not remain a revolution without the people!

 

RECAP/RESULTS OF THE SEPTEMBER 18 SPECIAL ELECTION ON THE TRUST FUND CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

September 23rd, 2012

By Elois Zeanah
President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women

Elected officials are interpreting their win in the September 18th special election as “trust” for them.   The truth is that voters who cast a “yes” vote did so because they were threatened and scared!  This wasn’t “trust”.  Elected officials also dealt in obfuscation.  In addition, they unashamedly voted to reschedule the vote from the general election to a special election to preempt opposition they saw forming – at a cost to taxpayers of $3 million — to prevent transparency!  These tactics may be good politics but they’re not good government

 AFRW, Tea Parties and other Conservative organizations opposed the amendment on fiscal and moral grounds.

     *  There was no need to rewrite the constitution to balance the budget.  Other options were available. 

    * The real purpose of the amendment was to redefine “income” so politicians could take more money out of the Trust Fund than the constitution allowed.  The amendment allows politicians to now take half of all gas/oil revenues that currently flow into the Trust Fund annually, which earn interest and dividends to supplement the general fund, and to reduce the principal by $450 million, which sets a precedent for future raids without the legal obligation to pay it back and without a vote of the people in future years. 

    * Elected Officials say they will repay the $450 million as an attempt to quiet opposition.  Where are they going to get the money?  The state already owes $600-$700 million from past borrowing from the ATF.  And the state is burrowing deeper into debt.  A $100 million bond was issued this year for education and the legislature is talking about borrowing more this session.  Medicaid expenses are growing faster than revenues.  All the while, the legislature passed many bills to raise fees last session and more bills are being filed this year which raise costs for citizens.  Further, it’s disingenuous for legislators to say they will repay the money.  The bill they filed kicks the can down the road to future legislators; and the bill doesn’t solve the other problems of this amendment, which will likely deplete the fund in a decade or so according to some financial analysts.

 Now that legislative leaders coerced voters to rewrite the constitution so they could take more money out of the Trust Fund, they say they are serious about making budget reforms.  Although, as we pointed out during the campaign, they could have made these reforms without having to raid the trust fund and rob future earnings, we are pleased to hear this

 In conclusion, I want to applaud voters in several counties that stood up for fiscal responsibility and accountability and didn’t drink the Kool-Aid.  These were:  DeKalb, Pickens, Madison, Coffee, Elmore, Autauga, Limestone, Bibb, Morgan, Chilton, Cullman, Marshall, Cleburne, Winston, Shelby, Blount, Baldwin, and St. Clair.  The counties that had the highest turnout and voted “yes” were Greene, Sumter, Wilcox and Perry. 

 People can disagree on the merits of an issue.  But we should have a frank discussion of the pros and cons instead of resorting to what happened in this special election to scare voters and silence opposition.  I hope that Alabama won’t ever again see such a lack of transparency, widespread and orchestrated misinformation and scare tactics that elected officials used to coerce voters to give then a “yes” vote.   This is not the type of government voters expect from Republicans, and it’s not why we elected a supermajority legislature and constitutional officers. 

 We love and support all our Republican elected officials.  We “trust” them to do what’s right based on conservative values, but when they stray we stay true to our Party’s core values and ask that they do, too.

ALABAMA’S SEPTEMBER 2012 SPECIAL ELECTION: What’s It All About?

July 25th, 2012

SHOULD THE STATE USE THE ALABAMA TRUST FUND TO BALANCE THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS?
By Elois Zeanah, President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women

SYNOPSIS:  The proposed Constitutional Amendment would take $437 million from the Alabama Trust Fund.  The State General Fund (GF) budget for FY 2012-2013 of $1.67 billion is short $145.8 million.  The State must either cut more spending or find funds to cover this deficiency.

The Leigslature voted to balance the 2013 GF by taking money from the Alabama Trust Fund (ATF), CONTINGENT on voters passing a Constitutional Amendment (CA) on September 18, 2012.  The CA has become controversial for several reasons:

(1)  It takes money from the principal but there is no legal obligation to repay it.

(2) It asks voters to approve using ATF funds to balance the GF budget for the next THREE years, not just for 2013 — by $145.8 million each year.

(3) The $437.8 million effectively redirects the repayment of $437.8 million owed by the Education Trust Fund to the ETF Rainy Day fund within the ATF.  This ETF debt must be repaid over the next three years. 

The Governor has stated that if the CA fails, he will likely call a special session of the Legislature to find additional cuts to balance the 2013 budget.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Q & A

Why is the State spending scarce money for a special election in September to approve a Constitutional Amendment since there is a November general election?  The State is required by its Constitution to balance the budget and the 2013 budget year begins October 1.

Why is the State asking to withdraw money from the Alabama Trust Fund for THREE YEARS?  The General Fund budget has had shortfalls in recent years and shortfalls are expected to continue.  The State wants enough to bail out the GF budgets for the next three years since revenues from traditional funding sources are either unreliable or dwindling, the GF funding structure needs to be reformed, and three years would give the State time to find permanent solutions.

Why does the State want to raid the principal of the ATF since the ATF has a General Fund Rainy Day Account?  This account is depleted due to borrowing to bail out General Fund budgets in past years, and these funds have not been repaid.

Why is a Constitutional Amendment necessary?  To change the formula for distributing ATF funds and to amend the Constitution which currently requires repayment when Rainy Day Funds are transferred to the GF.  This CA allows the State to transfer $437.8 million WITHOUT repaying the money.

PROs and CONs for the CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT:

PROs:

* Rainy Day funds have been drained to prop up past GF budgets, leaving no cushion for this year’s budget crisis.

* Without the CA which would provide $145.8 million of the $1.67 billion GF budget for the fiscal year that starts October 1, more cuts to state agencies’ budgets and services will be necessary.

* Some state agencies’ budgets have already been cut between 25-40% in the past two years.

* Draconian cuts to state agencies don’t have to be made when the ATF investment account has $2.4 billion.

* A short-term fix to the GF budget is attractive when you consider the potential impact of additioanl cuts.  The impact could be widespread for the Department of Corrections and Medicaid.  Cuts in Medicaid would hurt 90,000 lower-income/disabled recipients and nursing home residents as well as hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes.

CONs:

* Some of these arguments for another CA short-term fix include some of the same arguments and scare tactics made for Amendment One; but we must keep in mind that this only a short-term fix since it won’t solve the underlying problems.  The can will only be kicked down the road once more.

      — Medicaid expenses are expected to increase faster than revenue for the GF in future years.  GF revenue sources must be re-structured or services cut in the long run.

      — It’s not wise to draw down the principal of the $2.4 billion ATF account any time, but especially when inflows from royalties are slowing to a trickle.

      — Interest income and capital gains from the ATF are one of the largest revenue sources for the GF.

      — Cutting the principal reduces the yearly income for the GF from earnings.  This means there will be less future revenue for the GF, which will require new taxes or a new funding source.

* It’s the State’s responsibility to pass a balanced budget on realistic revenue projections — not to continually siphon savings accounts to balance the budget until Rainy Day funds are depleted, then to raid the principal.

* Taking one-fifth of the principal of the State’s $2.4 billion investment/savings account without paying it back is irresponsible, and sets a bad precedent.

* The first sentence in the bill which authorizes the CA sets a new formula to distribute ATF funds.  This formula could deplete the entire ATF in a decade or two.

* A permanent fix is needed, not another bailout for a broken system for another three years.  It’s now or later.

* It isn’t lost on the public that THREE YEARS GET ELECTED OFFICIALS PAST THE NEXT ELECTION.

NOTE:  The Governor tried to engage legislators in discussion about his ideas of structural reforms of the GF during the 2012 legislative session.  Since, several additional ideas have come forth.  Solutions will be hard, some politically toxic, and will require sacrifices, but a permanent fix must be found.

THE ALABAMA TRUST FUND (ATF)

What is the ATF?  This is a “savings account” fund created in 1985 to capture/invest money received from offshore drilling rights and from royalties on oil and gas production.  IT WAS APPROVED BY VOTERS AS AN IRREVOCABLE, PERMANENT TRUST FUND.  10% of income is invested/reinvested each year.  The bulk of the remaining income goes to the State General Fund each year.

What is the General Fund Rainy Day Account within the ATF?  In 2008, voters approved a CA that established a General Fund Rainy Day Account whithin the ATF which acts like a line of credit.  THE PURPOSE WAS TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL (EMERGENCY) FUNDING TO SHORE UP THE GF IN TIMES OF PRORATION.  This authorized a line of credit of up to 10% of the previous year’s GF budget.  It also built in protections to prevent depletion of the ATF, including:  (1) Money borrowed from this rainy day account must be repaid within 10 years.  (2)  The rainy day fund could be tapped only when proration was declared.

Why not borrow money from the ATF General Fund Rainy Day Account instead of raiding the principal?  This account held about $180 million in 2010 before the State withdrew $180 million in 2010 before the State withdrew $161.6 million to prop up the GF, leaving too little to plug the $145 million needed this year to balance the GF budget.

Is there a concern about the ATF being depleted?  According to a Birmingham News editorial on July 8, 2011, “This pot of money that would be raided to bail out the General Fund” is in threat of being depleted in future years.

      — ATF assets fell from $3.3 billion in 2007 to $2.3 billion in s012.
      — Annual royalties inflow fell from a high of $373 million in 2006 to just under $120 million in 2011.
      — Royalties are expected to total a little more than $72 million in the current budget year which ends September 30.
      — Annual royalties are expected to be only $32 million by 2025.

How does the CA change the annual distribution formula for ATF funds?  The annual ATF contribution to the GF would no longer be based on earnings to the Fund, but wuld be a 33% share of royalties flowing in, plus a reduction of assets equal to 5% of the average market value of assets over the previous three fiscal years.

What happens if voters don’t approve the Constitutional Amendment?  A failed CA would bring hardships but it would force all parties to make necessary and long overdue reforms now instead of continuing to postone permanent fixes.

PROPOSED STATEWIDE AMENDMENT:

Proposing an amendment for the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide adequate funding for the State General Fund budget, to prevent the mass release of prisoners from Alabama prisons, and to protect critical health services to Alabama children, elderly, and mothers by transferring funds from the Alabama Trust Fund to the State General Fund beginning with the state’s 2012-2013 fiscal year and concluding with the state’s 2014-2015 fiscal year; to provide a new procedure for distributions made from the Alabama Trust Fund beginning 2012-2013 fiscal year; to create a County and Municipal Government Capital Improvement Trust Fund.  (Proposed by Act No. 2012-49)

WAYS HB658 WEAKEN ALABAMA’S IMMIGRATION LAW

April 9th, 2012

 

ANALYSIS OF CHANGES THAT WEAKEN ALABAMA’S IMMIGRATION LAW
By Elois Zeanah, President
Alabama Federation of Republican Women
April 10, 2012

 

Changes weaken our current law and practically nullify its intent to reduce illegal immigration through attrition. 
This makes a mockery of the law!

Changes that Weaken our Current Immigration Law in HB658

 

1.  Contractors no longer have to require an affidavit from subcontractors that their workers are legal
(Section 31-13-9, page 22)

 

 Concern:  The primary problem with this change is that the indirect hiring of illegal aliens is through subcontractors.  The current law corrected the problem of contractors claiming deniability by holding contractors accountable for ensuring that subcontractors use E-Verify by signing an affidavit.  The requirement that subcontractors sign an affidavit attested by a notary, however, was burdensome.  This doesn’t have to be burdensome for the contractor.

 

 Solution:  The solution could be as simple as (1) the contractor including an affidavit on the contract that subcontractors sign; this removes the time/expense of a notary; and (2) the state posting on a state website the names of all businesses which enroll in E-Verify.  This would remove angst from the contractor and should be done in any event to aid enforcement of the law and to encourage compliance by contractors including subcontractors.

 

2.  “The law would not apply to companies doing less than 50% of their business with the state.”  (Rep. Kerry Rich)http://www.sandmountainreporter.com/news/state_news/article_5922ca4e-827e-11e1-86c5-001a4bcf887a.html)

 

3.   Citizens can no longer sue state officials who have the responsibility for, but refuse to enforce the immigration law.  Citizens must now petition a local District Attorney or the Attorney General, who are given free rein to dismiss petitions. 
(Section 31-13-5, page 10)

 

Concern:  The purpose of this provision in the current immigration law is to prevent Alabama from becoming a sanctuary state.  The revision removes this safety valve.  The revision to give DA/AG discretion to file a lawsuit based on a complaint can ensure that there will be in most cases no enforcement.  To wit:

 

 The overload of DA’s and Courts is so horrendous that even most murders don’t go to trial.  It’s unrealistic to think that DA’s would take scarce resources and use hundreds of man-hours to investigate complaints against officials who ignore non-compliance.

 

 A humorous case in point is the Attorney General, who is the top law enforcement officer in the state, asked that the responsibility for his office to enforce Alabama’s immigration law be removed since he’s too busy already.

 

 To put the purpose of the current immigration law in context:  The reason for authorizing citizens to sue is to avoid experiences of municipalities, churches, and officials in other states which refuse to comply with or enforce immigration laws.  It’s imperative for citizens to have the ability to take civil action, if needed, to prevent Alabama from becoming a sanctuary state because officials won’t perform their legal duties.

 

Solution:  Restore wording in current law.

 

4.   Employers who fire workers to hire illegals now get virtual immunity since the bar of proof has been raised prohibitively high.  (Section 31-13-17, pages 58-59)

 

 Concerns:  Revisions make it impossible for wronged citizen-workers to sue employers who fire and replace them with illegal-workers or discriminate against them in other ways in favor of illegal aliens. 

While the current law is a clear, concise, single paragraph, stating that a citizen-employee can sue an employer for hiring/retaining an illegal alien and discriminating against him/her, revisions ADD more than a page, detailing what the citizen-employee must do to prevail; and REMOVES language that the losing party must pay court costs and reasonable attorney fees for the prevailing party.

 

 Even if the citizen-employee wins in court, employers are not penalized for hiring illegal aliens and there’s no language that employers must terminate illegal workers.  Nor do convicted employers have to pay a fine, face jail time, be put on probation, or lose licenses.  Courts are prohibited from charging convicted employers of any civil or criminal crimes or be asked to pay sanctions.  Recovery by employees is limited to compensatory relief (not spelled out).  They do not get their jobs back and do not get attorney/court costs paid, though they won.

 

 While provisions prohibit courts from placing civil or criminal penalties against convicted employers, a NEW provision makes it mandatory that a person who files a complaint against an employer shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor if it is considered false or frivolous.

 

Solution:  Restore language in the current law.

 

 5.  Employers can avoid any penalty upon conviction of knowingly hiring illegal aliens if a court decides the project is in the “public interest”  (Section 31-13-15, page 46)

 

 Concern:  Current law subjects employers who willfully break the law to revocation of their business license throughout the state for a 2nd  violation for a specific location and revoked statewide after a third violation.  This is lax.  But under HB658, (1) employers’ licenses can be revoked only after a third violation if they occur within a five-year-period – but the business license can be re-instated.  (2) All penalties can be avoided if a court decides hiring illegal aliens is okay because the project itself is in the “public interest”.  

 

6.  Public schools can no longer collect data on children of illegal aliens to help the state budget for their fiscal impact.  (Section 31-13-27, page 66)

 

Concern:  The current law directs schools to compile information to help identify fiscal impacts to the state of providing a free education to children of illegal aliens.  We know that ESL classes costs the state over $200,000 every year.  Shouldn’t the state/schools be aware of the full costs – especially when the state budget is in a crunch and the state has to cut some functions by at least 20%?  How can the state otherwise budget for these escalating costs at a time when teachers are being let go, there’s no money to buy textbooks or classroom supplies, and the state board of education has forced schools to implement national Common Core standards, which will cost taxpayers an additional hundreds of millions of dollars.  The information requested for children of illegal parents is nothing different than is currently required of all citizen parents.  Laws should be equally applied to all.  Repeal of this section is apparently an effort to be “politically correct”.  

 

 Solution:  Restore the language in the current law.

 

 7.  Landlords can now knowingly rent to illegal aliens.  (Section 31-13-13, page 41)

 

 Concern:  Changes repeal the section in the current law that makes it a crime for a landlord to knowingly rent to illegal aliens.  Current law prohibits concealing, harboring, shielding, encouraging illegal aliens to come to/remain in Alabama.  It classifies the willful renting to illegal aliens, while knowing they were in the state unlawfully, as harboring.  Current law tracks federal law.  Section 31-13-13, page 40 is of similar concern.  This repeals the section that makes it a crime to encourage or induce an illegal alien to move to Alabama if that person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that coming to or residing in Alabama is against federal law.

 

 Solution:  Restore the language in the current law.

 

 8.  An additional concern is that added authority for the Department of Homeland Security is internally inconsistent.  The added authority for Homeland Security to request proof of enrollment in E-Verify when a complaint is filed against an employer and to be able to inspect records of employers and check employees against E-Verify is laudable.  However, this requires unnecessary time/resources and is internally inconsistent. 

 

 Section 13-13-15(b), page 46, mandates that ALL employers enroll in E-Verify.  However, this revision does not penalize the employer for failure/refusal to enroll in E-Verify.  This rewards unlawful employers, who have an economic advantage over employers who obey the law.

 

 For this revision to be meaningful, the bill must penalize employers found to be in non-compliance with this immigration law.  If there is no pain for violation immigration law, there is no deterrent factor for dishonest employers.  This makes a mockery of the law.

 

 Solution:  Make the failure to enroll in E-Verify a misdemeanor, as Arizona does.  This would make enforcement easier, faster, less expense, and more sure in many instances.

 

11. Police can no longer ask for documentation during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest if officers reasonably suspects the individual is illegally in the country UNLESS there is an arrest or traffic citation.
(Section 31-13-12, page 37)

 

 Concern:  Revisions significantly limit the scope of the current law’s immigration status check provision.  Current law requires a law enforcement officer during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest to conduct an immigration status check of individuals if the officer reasonably suspects the individual to be in the U.S. illegally.  Changes, however, limit the requirement to conduct immigration status checks to only situations where an individual is arrested or issued a traffic ticket.

 

 Solution:  Restore current language in HB56.


SUMMARY and RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STRENGTHENING HB658

 

By Elois Zeanah, President, Alabama Federation of Republican Women
April 10, 2012

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

 Changes to our current immigration law are premature.   The Legislature should wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Arizona law, after which Alabama’s was modeled.  The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Arizona’s SB 1070 on April 25.  The Court is then expected to rule on SB 1070 in June.

 

Lawmakers are pushed forward with changes despite the fact that 75% of Alabama voters support the law.  (See FAIR poll, March 19, 2012)

 

 

 

Changes that weaken Alabama’s current law include:

 

  1.  Contractors no longer have to require an affidavit from subcontractors that their workers are legal.
  2. The law would not apply to companies doing less than 50% of their business with the state.
  3. Citizens can no longer sue state officials who are responsible for but refuse to enforce the law.
  4. Employers who fire workers to hire illegals now get virtual immunity since the bar of proof has been raised prohibitively high.
  5. Employers can avoid any penalty upon conviction of knowingly hiring illegal aliens if a court decides the project is in the public interest.
  6. Courts cannot fine, jail, put on probation or suspend licenses of employers convicted of hiring illegals, yet citizens shall be found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor if the complaint is considered false or frivolous.
  7. Courts can no longer require convicted employers to pay costs of former employees who filed and won.
  8. Public schools can no longer collect data on children of illegal aliens to help budget for their fiscal impact.
  9. Landlords can now knowingly rent to illegal aliens.
  10. It is no longer a crime to encourage or induce illegal aliens to move to/remain in Alabama.
  11. Police can no longer ask for documentation during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest unless an individual is arrested or issued a traffic ticket.

 

WAYS TO FIX THE BILL:

 

  1. Increase penalties on unlawful employers who commit tax fraud by hiring illegal aliens as a deterrent

 

  • HB 658 gives employers an economic incentive to break the law.  This should be corrected:
  • Incorporate Section 30-29-110 of Alabama tax codes, which make it a felony for employers to commit tax fraud.
    • Tax evasion under the law occurs when employers fail to (a) pay payroll taxes for employees hired “under the table”; (b) collect state taxes from employees, and (c) keep records and supply information regarding employees for tax purposes.
    • Penalties under the above tax code for tax fraud conviction are not more than $100,000 or $500,000 for a corporation, or imprisonment of not more than three years, or both.

 

  1. Make the refusal of employers to enroll in E-Verify a misdemeanor, as Arizona does.

 

  • The bill currently mandates that ALL employers SHALL enroll in E-Verify.  However, there is no penalty for not doing so.
  • No penalty and lax enforcement with the possibility of a “get out of jail free card”, even if convicted, makes a mockery of the law.

 

  1. Restore the requirement that contractors be held liable for hiring ONLY legal workers on their jobs.  This can be accomplished by adding an affidavit to contracts with subcontractors.
  2. Require appropriate state website to list names of businesses which enroll in E-Verify.  This will enable state enforcement officers and contractors to be a click away from enforcing Alabama’s immigration law, add certainty to enforcement by saving time and money in investigative and other enforcement costs, and save taxpayers and state budgets hundreds of millions of dollars every year in costs to subsidize unlawful employers who commit tax fraud.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Obama Leading America Toward a Venezuelan-Style Democracy?

December 4th, 2011
 

By Elois Zeanah

 “We can’t wait” is a phrase we hear often from President Obama  when Congress won’t fall in line with his agenda. Obama uses the  excuse “we can’t wait” to end-run Congress, Courts and the Constitution through regulations, executive orders and other arbitrary actions. 

What about the Constitution’s separation of powers and checks and balances, did you ask?  When has that stopped this president, who appointed czars, 45 total to date according to Judicial Watch, which are unconstitutional at the outset?   

President Obama makes it clear from his statements and actions that he believes our American system of government, created and protected by our Constitution, is obsolete and needs to be redesigned.  He has surrounded himself with czars who are socialists, Marxists, Communists, and admirers of Hugo Chavez, to help him get around what he sees as barriers within the Constitution to an imperial presidency.  Is Obama leading America toward a Venezuelan-style democracy?

Similarities Between What Obama is Doing and What Hugo Chavez Does

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “constantly attacks the moneyed classes charging them with creating that nation’s problems.” 
    • Obama argues “that the moneyed classes of Wall Street have created the financial crisis through greed and fraud”[i] and plays the class warfare card.
  • The Venezuelan-style economic model is based on statist-driven crony capitalism.[ii]
    • Obama’s administration makes “relentless attempts to inculcate the practices” of this model.[iii]
    • Obama is using regulations to crush free enterprise through regulations as political favors to unions and environmental groups and to expand the powers of the presidency. (Examples are enormous and some are covered in upcoming articles regarding the abuses of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Labor Relations Boards, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, etc.)
  • The political and economic model developed by Venezuelan President Chavez “concentrated power in the hands of the executive, curtailed the independence of the judiciary, [and] show[ed] limited tolerance for domestic critics….”[iv] 
    • President Obama is using czars to create a shadow government within the executive branch completely outside the framework of the Constitution.
    • President Obama is attempting a government takeover of the healthcare, energy and education sectors to create central-government planning.
    • President Obama closed thousands of private automobile dealerships without payment of any sort and demanded that they turn over their assets and customer lists to competitors via General Motors, which was characterized as “gangster government”.[v] 
  • President Obama wants courts to break free from Constitutional constraints to interpret laws and, instead, to make laws by venturing into issues of redistribution of wealth; and political, economic, and social justice.   
  • President Obama repeatedly shows limited tolerance for domestic critics and uses intimidation and harassment tactics to silence private businesses, Legislators, conservative cable TV and radio talk show hosts, and ordinary citizens.

By his behavior, President Obama seems to think he can imitate President Hugo Chavez’s charisma and make revolutionary changes to the Constitution by ignoring it, by silencing critics, by federal takeovers of private sectors of the economy, by increasingly taking on dictatorial powers and stifling the judiciary and the press in the process[vi], and by redistribution of wealth and expanding the base of Americans who depend on government handouts.  After all, Chavez received 58% of the vote in a national referendum, mostly from making poor people dependent on government. 

Can Obama expand the base of Americans who depend on government handouts and convince enough people to give up more freedoms in return to ensure his re-election?  President Obama continues to excuse his violations of the Constitution by his slogan, “We can’t wait.”  Some say, “Yes, we can!”


[i] “Dick Dove on ‘Venezuelan Style Democracy’”

[ii] Mike Curtiss, The Wall Street Journal letters, “No Risk Discipline, No Return Potential, No Shame”, November 21, 2011

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] CSR No. 20, November 2006, Council on Foreign Affairs, “Living with Hugo,” by Richard Lapper

[v] Michael Barone, a senior writer with U.S. News & World Report and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, called this “gangster government.” 

It is Immoral that OBAMA is “Passing the Buck” to Young People to Pay for Illegal Immigration

July 17th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

President Obama’s plans to legalize illegal immigration reminds me of the TV game show “Pass the Buck” which premiered in 1978:  It relied on luck, instant decisions under pressure, and players risked losing everything.  “Pass the Buck” lasted only 13 weeks and dissolved into the long-running game show, “The Price is Right”. 

Let’s hope Obama’s shortsighted vision to pass the buck to young people with illegal immigration will also fizzle and get the boot by voters, so that we can return to “The Price is Right”.  Otherwise, the same young voters who put Obama in office will ironically pay for his folly, forfeiting family income that should go to improve their quality of life to burdensome taxes to pay for the past generation’s free ride.   

Economic Impact of Passing the Buck to Our Kids and Grandkids is a Moral Issue

It is immoral to pass the buck to our children and grandchildren to pay our debt and steal their quality of life even while they are in diapers and before they grow up to earn their first pay check.  It is our duty to protect our children and grandchildren in every way – including their economic future and freedoms.

How narcissistic and reckless to force our children and grandchildren to forfeit their future family income, that should go to improve their quality of life, to burdensome taxes to pay for our generation’s free ride! 

Even as the federal government is debating NOW how to avoid an immediate debt default, we’re talking not about reducing the principal of our debt that will pass to the next generation, but about defaulting on the interest payments.  Interest payments on the U.S. debt is $29 billion a month.  There is no plan and no way in sight to start paying down the $14 trillion debt (which does not include trillions more in unfunded liabilities).

Consider the Tragedy This Generation is Forcing on Young People

Let’s face the tragedy that this generation is forcing upon our children and grandchildren by considering this scenario.  A 30-year-old daughter’s parents are retiring.  The parents have worked hard and scrimped all their lives to live their last 20 years in retirement in comfort.  After all they deserve it!  They’ve been fiscally frugal their whole lives and have sacrificed to give their children more than they had growing up.  Their children are now grown and on their own.

Now that the parents have retired, they decided their money has been reduced in value by inflation and while they can live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, they decided they’d like to live a more luxurious lifestyle instead.  The parents have a great credit rating, so what’s stopping them?  After all, America has become an entitlement society, so why should they not have everything they want even if they can’t pay for it when so many other people do?  So they buy their dream by borrowing far beyond their means!

This Generation is Passing the Buck

In this scenario, when the 30-year-old daughter’s parents die, she expects to live a similar comfortable lifestyle as her parents, but she discovers to her dismay, her parents passed the bills for past pleasures to her.

Alarmed, she wrestles with the reality that not only will she not inherit money from her parents, or be able to have the freedom to pursue her dreams with her own money, or be able to provide for her basic needs without considerable sacrifice, or to help her children achieve more than she did or give her children the benefits equal to what she had had growing up.  Instead, she is worse off than her parents were and will have to spend almost every penny she earns to pay off her parent’s debts.  Horrified, the daughter wonders how her parents failed to see through the high-falutin’ illusion of their retirement while there was still time to change the outcome.

This is analogous to the entitlement mentality of illegal aliens and those who support them.  Illegal immigrants are not entitled to other people’s money and to put our own poor people as well as future generations at risk financially.

Today’s Young Generation will face this dilemma unless enough young people and their parents slow down the gathering storms that could overshadow the future adult lives of today’s young people.  We, the Older Generation, are the guardians of the American Dream and of our children’s well being, and it’s our responsibility to safeguard our children’s future.

How can people sleep at night and suggest that government borrow more money we don’t have?  We must pay back money hundreds of billions of dollars every year in money we don’t have to give to people who break our law; who throw the balance of our immigration law out of whack and make immigration work against us, not for us; who take money intended for the poorest among us; and who run up our indebtedness that our children and grandchildren will have to pay, while enjoying none of the benefits?

How can President Obama’s conscience allow him to continue to talk about more borrowing and more spending while passing the buck to today’s young people who will have to deal with his reckless spending?  He has in three years raised our national debt by four trillion dollars.  If he succeeds in giving amnesty (a path to citizenship) to 11 million illegal aliens, he will borrow and spend another additional trillion dollars every year forevermore — of someone else’s money:  our kids and grandkids.  This is immoral!

SHOWDOWN ON DEBT CEILING: Is Obama “The Great Pretender” to Seniors?

July 11th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

The Great Pretender” is a much nicer phrase than “con man,” so I recall the catchy Rhythm-and-Blues tune of the 1950’s that would imprison my brain without escape as I write about President Obama’s attempt to manipulate Republicans to raise the debt ceiling – while he pretends to care.  I will do so, in part, with parody.  

Obama pretends he cares about how expanding entitlements grow the deficit, but what he really wants is for Republicans to lay out a plan (which he won’t do) to cut entitlements (which he knows must be done) so he can attack Republicans and gain political points. 

Oh, oh, oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Pretending to seniors that I care
Their need is such
They’re blind to my touch
So lonely they’re easy to scare

If Obama really cared for seniors, he’d be truthful with seniors and work with Republicans to ensure that those currently on Medicare will not lose benefits while shoring up Medicare for future retirees, instead of:

  • using scare tactics like MediScare,
  • using ObamaCare to load up and bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid at a faster pace,
  • appointing a health advisor to ration their health care,
  •  putting new taxes on medical devices that seniors depend upon heavily,
  • stripping $500 million from Medicare, and
  • appointing a health czar that has repeated stated that the Hippocratic Oath should not be applied to seniors – or anyone else for that matter.

Oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Creating a world of my own
I play the game but to my real shame
I’ve left seniors to fend so all alone

Too real is this feeling of make-believe
So real is my power to so well conceal

Oh, yes, I’m the great pretender
Just laughing and gay like a clown
I seem to be what I’m not you see
I’m wearing my ego like a crown
Pretending that I care when seniors ‘re around

DEBT REDUCTION: Alternative To Break Deadlock

July 10th, 2011

By Elois Zeanah

In his less than three years in office, President Obama has asked that the debt ceiling be raised three times.  Now he’s asking for the debt ceiling to be raised for the fourth time.  The last time Obama asked to raise the debt ceiling in February 2010, Congress voted to do so with the condition that the Government Accounting Office (GAO)  find ways to cut federal spending to cut the deficit.  This provision was inserted on the request of Representative Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).

Negotiations to find ways to cut $2 trillion in spending are needlessly churning, as both political sides draw lines they won’t cross.  There’s an easier way:   Take from the table the fixes to Medicare and Social Security, since the President and Democrats prefer to put off solving these problems, and STOP the outrageous expenditures that American taxpayers are forced to fund that deal with fraud, waste, and duplicative government programs.  Several ways are listed in this short article.

President Obama promised when campaigning in 2007 that he would address similar issues, so he could not “spin the story” to keep from doing nothing in hopes of blaming Republicans for not raising the debt ceiling. 

Since a condition was placed on the last debt ceiling raise that ways be found by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to cut spending to reduce the deficit the third time Obama requested additional borrowing, it would be appropriate to use the suggestions GAO identified in a March 2011 report to cut spending as part of a negotiated settlement to raise the debt ceiling this time

The GAO report is the first of several reports on ways to cut spending to reduce the deficit.  The March report “uncovers billions of dollars in wasteful spending by the U.S. government due to duplicative work done by dozens of agencies.”[i]

GAO identified between $100 billion and $200 billion in duplicative spending

It has been estimated that there are 1,000 duplicate programs which waste billions of dollars annually.[ii] The GAO report “could serve as a template for lawmakers in both parties as they move to cut federal spending and consolidate programs to reduce the deficit.”[iii]  For example:

  • 15 different agencies oversee food-safety laws
  • 20+ separate programs deal with ways to help the homeless
  • 80 programs involve economic development
  • 82 federal programs focus on improving teacher quality
  • 80 programs help disadvantaged people with transportation
  • 47 programs deal with job training and employment
  • 56 programs help people understand finances
  • 18 programs on food and nutrition assistance

The GAO report states “Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”  There are many other ways to cut spending other than entitlement programs. 

$150 billion every year is spent on fraud in Medicare and Medicaid

Fraud in government healthcare runs 15% (versus 1% in the private sector). This outrageous waste of tax dollars by government through fraud in Medicare and Medicare should be stopped now!  This would save $150 billion a year[iv] – and help shore up both healthcare programs at the same time.  President Obama promised to do this when he took office. 

Cancel unspent TARP funds (up to $396 million)[v]

Cancel unspent Stimulus funds ($266 billion)[vi]

Reduce government employment by hiring one person for every two who leaves civilian government service until workforce is reduce to pre-Obama levels ($35 billion)[vii]

Freeze government civilian pay for one year ($30 billion)[viii]

Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($30 billion)[ix]

These are just a few way to cut spending by billions of dollars to cut the deficit without dealing with entitlement programs and could break the deadlock.


[i] The Wall Street Journal, “Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway,” by Damian Paletta, March 1, 2011

[ii] “National Suicide:  How Washington is Destroying the American Dream from A to Z” by investigative reporter Martin Gross, released in September 2009

[iii] The Wall Street Journal, “Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway,” by Damian Paletta, March 1, 2011

[iv] Cal Thomas “Deficit has gone far beyond being our children’s burden,” August 26, 20009

[v] H.R. 3140 introduced by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] H.R. 5348 introduced by Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming

[viii] Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

[ix] H.R. 1294 introduced by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas; H.R. 4653 introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey