Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Chris Christie to teachers union: You deserve a punch in the face

Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaks to a group sponsored by Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Manchester,NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Republican presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaks to a group sponsored by Americans for Peace Prosperity and Security, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Manchester,NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, struggling to gain traction in a crowded 2016 GOP presidential field, said Sunday that a national teachers union deserves a “punch in the face” and called it the “single most destructive force in public education.” Christie said the union cares only about higher wages and benefits and not about children.

Christie, who has long made teachers unions a favorite foil, made the comments on CNN’s “State of the Union” in response to host Jake Tapper, who noted that Christie has said that he confronts bullies by punching them in the face. “At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?” Tapper asked.

Without missing a beat, Christie said: “Oh the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.”

Christie was referring to the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union, which became the first national labor union to make an endorsement in the 2016 race when it gave its backing to Clinton on July 11. The largest union, the National Education Association, has not yet made an endorsement.

Christie said the AFT was “not for education for our children. They’re for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I’m never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.”

Randi Weingarten, the AFT president and a close Clinton ally, responded with a statement Monday.

“Chris Christie has issues – from reneging on his promise to fix pensions to his state’s fiscal standing facing near junk bond status,” Weingarten said. “But the biggest issue is he’s a bully and has anger management problems. That he would threaten to punch teachers in the face —mostly women seeking to help children meet their potential and achieve their dreams — promotes a culture of violence and underscores why he lacks the temperament and emotional skills to be president, or serve in any leadership capacity. It’s a sad day in the life of our nation to see a candidate threaten violence to gain political favor.”

Christie has long tangled with public employee unions but has a particularly fraught relationship with teachers unions, frequently railing against their pensions and health care benefits. He has called the unions “political thugs,” and he has had several public confrontations with individual teachers, captured on video and replayed on YouTube or cell phone images shared widely on social media .

In 2013, after Christie delivered a speech at a VFW hall during his campaign for re-election to a second term as governor, middle school teacher Melissa Tomlinson asked Christie, “Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?” He wagged a finger at her and said: “What do you want? I’m tired of you people,” according to Tomlinson.

Recent polls put Christie toward the bottom of the Republican field in the 2016 presidential contest, with about 3 percent of likely GOP voters in his corner.

>>> Washington Post 

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What’s going on with Mr. O’Malley’s money?

image FORMER MARYLAND governor Martin O’Malley is a small-timer when it comes to the fees he demands for speaking engagements, at least compared with Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. Nonetheless, Mr. O’Malley has been stepping up his game, specifically by striking a deal with a tech company that benefited from a sizeable no-bid state contract when he was governor — and which then paid him nearly $148,000 for speeches and consulting in the months after he left office in January.

The appearance of a quid pro quo is not the biggest problem facing Mr. O’Malley, who remains stuck near zero in the polls among Democratic primary voters. Still, the payment — his single largest chunk of current income — while not illegal, is troubling.

In response to our questions, Mr. O’Malley’s campaign said he has given four speeches since January to the company, Environmental Systems Research Institute, known as Esri, which is based in California. A spokesman said Esri had approached Mr. O’Malley to propose the arrangement near the end of his term as governor last fall and that a contract to give speeches, provide consulting and “review policy documents” for the firm was signed in January, almost immediately after he left office. The speeches to date were delivered in Washington, California and Lisbon.

Mr. O’Malley, justly recognized for his use of data-driven policy analysis, helped deepen Maryland’s business with Esri, which specializes in interactive mapping software. In 2011, the state Board of Public Works, on which Mr. O’Malley was one of three members, approved a $2.1 million sole-source contract for Esri; the contract was expanded to $3 million last year, also with Mr. O’Malley’s backing. (The board, on which Mr. O’Malley no longer sits, will consider an additional contract expansion worth $832,000 in August.)

There’s no reason to doubt that Esri’s work for Maryland, as well as for other states and municipalities, is worthwhile. And we don’t question Mr. O’Malley’s track record, as governor and, before that, mayor of Baltimore, of using data-driven analysis and mapping to enhance public services and programs.

What’s concerning is how he pivoted almost immediately on leaving office to accepting a large income from a firm whose ongoing business with the state was sustained in no small part because of Mr. O’Malley’s influence. Notwithstanding the governor’s sincere interest in the subject matter, there’s the appearance of a payback.

There is no law prohibiting that sort of arrangement; the public’s only safeguard is the conscience of the public servant himself.

It’s also fair to wonder how Mr. O’Malley and his wife, Catherine Curran O’Malley, a state district court judge, ran up such large personal debts. Together, the couple had a combined annual income of nearly $300,000 for most of the eight years he served as governor, as well as free housing in the governor’s mansion in Annapolis. Yet they have taken loans of $339,000 to put their two eldest children through college, plus a line of credit of at least $100,000 and a mortgage of $500,000 for a home in Baltimore.

The question of how presidential candidates handle their finances is related to character, personal responsibility and maturity. By his means of earning income and the debt he has incurred, Mr. O’Malley has raised questions.

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