Monday, May 26, 2014

A Unified Front of University Professors

HB 142 for Louisiana Higher Education 
Guest Column  
May 26, 2014 
Posted by Dayne Sherman 
Dr. James D. Kirylo

This past week, I, along with professors from LSU, LSU-Shreveport, Southern, and Southeastern, testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee exhorting them to support House Bill 142.  Authored by State Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, with great support from State Treasurer John Kennedy, the bill calls for a 10% reduction of all state professional, personal, and consulting service contracts.  This would result in an estimated savings of approximately $500 million, which would be allocated to support higher education.

As I entered the standing room only senate committee room, I noticed the presence of F. King Alexander, President and Chancellor of LSU and Sandra Woodley, President of the University of Louisiana System.  I was prompted to think, great, the big guns are here as well to express their support for HB 142.  Indeed, a unified front among faculty and presidents was going to be powerful in persuading the Senate Finance Committee to pass the bill out of committee onto the Senate Floor. 

To be sure, the collective voices of the professors were united in their testimony, urging the committee what a boost HB 142 would have for colleges and universities and that at least it would bring some sense of relief and hope in reviving a devastated higher education system in the state.  
 
It is worth reminding readers that in the last six years a whopping 80% of funding to state colleges and universities has been cut, resulting in loss of programs, an exodus of top-talent faculty, and an environment where most faculty and staff have had to endure furloughs, along with no cost of living allowances or merit raises, and where many have been laid of.
Moreover, students have seen an exponential rise in tuition, burdening them to either drop out of school or to nervously scrape around to find additional funds.  And for many this burden will be exacerbated in the future when their loan debt comes in the mail.  It is no exaggeration to suggest that it will take a generation to recoup the aggregate loss of what has been occurring in higher education over the last half decade.  So, truly, HB 142 will be essential in moving higher education in the right direction.

After the other professors and I stated our favorable arguments for HB 142, I waited and waited for Alexander and Woodley to testify on behalf of the bill, too.  But they never stood up to speak nor gave any indication of a supportive direction of the bill; their silence was palpable.

In fact, they were there to testify for what the political columnist Dayne Sherman calls the unWISE Plan (HB 1033), which is a $40 million higher education workforce-type bill that comes with many strings attached.  Furthermore, the bill is unfunded, meaning legislators are still not sure where the funding will come from.  And, finally, how much each university will receive is unclear, but one thing that is clear is that whatever it is will barely have any real impact.

Why would Alexander and Woodley publicly support a HB 1033 that has no guarantee there will be funds available, and not support HB 142, which would guarantee a substantive amount of monies for universities?   It was then that the illumination of the politics involved was suddenly crystallized, clearly exposing my own naiveté regarding my ideal of a united front.

HB 1033 is a Jindal-backed bill, and higher education leaders have seen what has happened to those who have stood against the Jindal administration.  To put it nicely, they did not have any choice but to move on.  And HB 142 does not have the support of Jindal, and he will purportedly veto it if it comes to his desk.

In that light, one can only surmise that Alexander and Woodley were driven by fear to not speak up on behalf of HB 142 because, of both bills, it makes the most logical sense to support; it guarantees better possibilities to help begin the process of universities to dig out of the deep holes they are in.

Nevertheless, despite the position of the Jindal Administration and the lack of voice from university leaders, one can only be proud of the number of professors who openly took a stand to support a bill that can bring genuine hope in reviving our universities.

James D. Kirylo latest book is titled A Critical Pedagogy of Resistance.  He can be reached at jkirylo@yahoo.com.
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Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Last Hope for Louisiana Higher Ed

Will the Senate Pass HB 142?

Dayne Sherman
May 18, 2014
Column / 500 words

Students are graduating from universities across Louisiana this May, and high school students are heading to college campuses this summer and fall. It's an exciting time of year for students, parents, extended families, professors, and teachers. Nothing could be better.

But we need to be frank. Louisiana colleges and universities have been cut $700 million, 80 % of state funding since 2008. The tuition is increasing at an unsustainable and crippling rate, and many students will be strapped with student loan debt for decades to come.

This was done because Gov. Bobby Jindal doesn't care about higher education for Louisiana residents and because his minions in the Legislature allowed him to steal from higher education in order to fund patronage from Shreveport to Port Sulfur. In fact, much of this patronage was devised as a way to pay off his cronies—often out of state—and garner future political favors. It doesn't take an Albert Einstein to figure this out. Just read the newspapers.

The primary avenue to pay off the campaign favors and buy votes is through bloated consulting contracts. They keep Jindal's as well as legislators' supporters and campaign contributors happy, happy, happy.

But it's time to stop the stupidity and fund higher education. We have students to educate and no funding to do so. Higher education has been starved while consulting contracts have been fed like meat hogs headed to market.

The only hope I see on the horizon is HB 142, a bill filed by Jerome “Dee” Richard of Thibodaux and championed by Treasurer John Neely Kennedy. It calls for state agencies to cut 10 % from their contracting budgets and the $500 million saved to go to fund higher education. It's a fair and fiscally conservative plan. The bill has sailed through the House, and now faces the big challenge: Gov. Jindal's handpicked laptogs on the Senate Finance Committee. The committee meets on Monday, May 19 at 9:30 AM.

I believe passage of this bill is utterly essential to save public higher education in Louisiana.

There have been ongoing foes fighting Louisiana higher education. Sen. Jack Donahue, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is one example of someone who has done nothing for higher education. How he can play like he's a supporter of the educational institutions in and around his district is a real mystery. It's time for him to put up or shut up, and HB 142 is the test.

He is not alone. Sen.Mack “Bodi” White should be ashamed of his acquiescence to Jindal's destruction of higher education. It's time for him to man up on HB 142 as well. He's on the committee.

We have a chance to save higher education. Will Donahue and White stand with the people of his district or with Jindal and his cronies? We will know soon enough. 


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel and expects the publication of Zion: A Novel in October. His website is daynesherman.com.

////////////////////////////
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman

***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***
 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Jindal Disaster Continues

A New Hole in the State Budget

Dayne Sherman
May 4, 2014
Column / 400 words


It was bound to happen. The legislative session is barely beyond the mid-point, and Gov. Bobby Jindal's smoke and mirrors budget has gone up like a Roman candle on the Fourth of July, the sparks falling downward after a rapid rise.

On Friday evening, the customary time for public relations flacks to “take out the trash,” we learned that Jindal's plan to fund former LSU hospital privatizations through a financial scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff was rightly rejected by the United States government.

In other words, Gov. Jindal, an alleged healthcare expert, set up financial arrangements for Louisiana hospital privatization that many commentators said were doomed from the start. Now Louisiana taxpayers are holding a bag that gets heavier by the hour.

This coupled with the giant disaster of CNSI, which is, as far as I can tell, still the subject of federal and state investigations, as well as civil suits, provides Jindal with zero wins on the healthcare front during his two terms as Governor.

As I study the $300 million hole left by the hospital collapse, I have three questions. How will the legislators respond to Jindal's corruption? How will the citizens respond? And how will higher education become the fall guy to Jindal's budgetary incompetence?

The legislators can rarely be counted on to show backbone. One or two here, three or four there show a pulse, but something terrible must invade their spines and turn them into Jell-O the moment they are sworn in as representatives or senators. It remains to be seen if the current scandal will raise an eyebrow of the average Jindal loyalist in the Louisiana Legislature. This kind of fiasco happens so often, a real budget buster. The event should be no surprise.

Louisiana citizens aren't inclined to protest in the streets, so I doubt there will be much change from the bottom up. Gandhi said, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.” That's how real change works, but I don't see much energy from the people here in the Pelican State.

The late Friday news leads me to question the status of higher education funding now with a state budget holding a brand new $300 million chasm.

Expect cuts, deep ones.

Louisiana has the government that reflects our wishes. People voted Jindal and his cronies into office. Now we must deal with the pain.


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

////////////////////////////
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
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***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Nightmare of MacAdam/Cage & MP Publishing

The Many Ways of Ebook Theft

Dayne Sherman
April 24, 2014

This statement was just sent by e-mail to me from the Authors Guild. It is reproduced verbatim except for adding  full web links to linked documents. 

MacAdam/Cage authors demand their ebooks to revert. They were "sold" without our knowledge, consent, or compensation.

Via email transmission from The Authors Guild.

On Thursday, April 24, 2014 3:34 PM, Stevie Fitzgerald <Sfitzgerald@authorsguild.org> wrote:


Hi All,

You are getting this email because you have communicated with us in the past about the MacAdam/Cage bankruptcy. Included below is an update with all the relevant information we have to date along with links to important documents. We expect to have this up on our website sometime tomorrow, but wanted to make sure that everyone directly affected got a copy. Feel free to forward this information.
____________
Good news for all MacAdam/Cage authors! On March 4, 2014, the MacAdam/Cage bankruptcy proceedings finally concluded.1 All publishing contracts between MacAdam/Cage and its authors are now terminated and most rights have reverted to the authors. You can view the “Final Decree” that was entered in the United States Bankruptcy Court here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1146874-m-c-b-final-decree.html. This, together with Section 365 (d)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code (here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/365) should act as proof of reversion of rights. According to that Section of the Code, all contracts that are not assumed by the trustee are deemed rejected 60 days after the filing date, [1] [2]January 17, 2014. This means that, as of March 18, 2014, the publishing agreements between MacAdam/Cage and its authors are all terminated and the authors’ rights have reverted, with the exception of rights previously licensed to a third party. Authors whose rights were licensed to a third party must comply with the terms of any licensing agreement.2 


However, the electronic rights to many titles may not have reverted to their authors. MacAdam/Cage signed an agreement with MP Publishing in March 2009, which gave MP Publishing the electronic book rights to almost 200 MacAdam/Cage titles. This agreement survived the dissolution of MacAdam/Cage, so MP Publishing retains the electronic book rights to the works specifically listed here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1146876-m-c-list-of-e-books.html, subject to the specific terms of the authors’ individual contracts with MacAdam/Cage.3 It is important for authors of books on this list to note that although their print and various other rights may have reverted, their electronic rights remain with MP Publishing.

Authors whose e-books are being offered for sale by MP Publishing are bound by the terms of the 2009 agreement between MacAdam/Cage and MP Publishing, which can be viewed here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1146875-m-c-ebook-deal-contract.html. Additionally, MP Publishing is now obligated to submit any royalty statements and payments to the author directly.

We recommend that all affected authors review their MacAdam/Cage agreements, assess whether their e-book rights have been licensed to MP Publishing, and confirm that MP Publishing is paying them the royalty rate stated in their original publishing agreement. These authors should also inform MP Publishing that print rights have reverted to them and should request that they be sent royalty statements and royalties due to them from the sale of the electronic form of their books.

The owner of MP Publishing, Mark Pearce, has indicated that he is open to communicating directly with authors and can be reached via email at: mark@mpassociates.co.uk
___________________
1 For background on this issue, a good summary can be found here.http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/61941-dealing-with-the-aftermath-of-macadam-cage-publishing.html.
2 See Section 365 (n) of the Bankruptcy Code here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/365
3 Some of the books were listed in error as the titles had already reverted to the author prior to the license agreement or e-book rights had not been granted to the publisher in the first instance.


Best,

Stevie Fitzgerald, Esq.
Legal Fellow
The Authors Guild
31 East 32nd Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
(212) 563-5904

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Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

////////////////////////////
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman

***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Monday, April 21, 2014

No More Duck Wrestling in Louisiana

A Real Plan for Higher Education

Dayne Sherman
April 21, 2014
Column / 700 words

Did you hear about the new bill to make “duck wrestling” the Louisiana state sport? It will honor Duck Dynasty, the popular reality TV program based in West Monroe.

No, this is not a bill filed this year, but don't be surprised if it's filed next year. In Louisiana, politics is entertainment. If it's not Huey Long leading the LSU band in Tiger Stadium, then it's Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, known as a “wizard under the sheets,” unlike former Klansman David Duke, a wizard wearing sheets.

The latest imbroglio with freshman Rep. Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, the “Kissing Congressman,” is a mere sideshow. It ranks right there with “chicken boxing,” the Bible as the state book, convicted felon Edwin Edwards running for Congress at 86, “Sinator” David Vitter's “very serious sin,” and Gov. Bobby Jindal being parodied by an Iranian woman on Saturday Night Live.

Louisiana politics is nothing more than a comedy routine.

At home, however, we have problems, serious ones. The Jindaleconomic miracle” is gifting the next governor with a billion dollar shortfall for the state budget beginning on July 1, 2015, just a few months before Bobby leaves office. Could this be a coincidence?

Keep in mind that $700 million has been cut from funding to Louisiana higher education, 80 percent of state dollars. Likewise, recall that midyear cuts were announced at 6:30 PM on Friday, April 4. It's being called a “spending freeze,” but it's a midyear cut.

Since 2008, I have seen almost nothing come from of the Legislature to fight the destruction of higher education in Louisiana. No, gun auctions on college campuses won't help. Thanks, but no thanks, Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond. HB 244 is no help at all.

Sure, there has been some entertainment such as the WISE Plan, an unfunded scam to keep university leadership quiet, allow for some positive PR spin for the governor, and provide more meddling in the affairs of state colleges and universities by Jindal's minions. An alleged money pot of $40 million is a pittance compared to the $700 million of vaporized support.

The one legitimate plan I have seen is HB 142, a bill filed by Jerome “Dee” Richard, I-Thibodaux, and championed by Treasurer John Neely Kennedy. In short, the law would call for a 10 percent reduction in contracts per state agency and would reroute the $500 million saved as revenue earmarked for higher education. All of this with no new taxes.

Why do you suppose very little has been said in favor of HB 142 by college leaders?

I suspect they'll be fired for supporting it. It's simple. I know it, the leaders know it, and now readers know it. College presidents don't have to receive a memo from Jindal to see the handwriting on the wall.

Remember, most major leaders of Louisiana higher education showed up for a staged announcement of the WISE Plan on January 21 in Baton Rouge. The camera lights must have blinded the chancellors and presidents to reality. Perhaps it was just Jindal making a rare appearance in the state that stunned the leaders into happy submission.

A few Louisiana higher education advocates pine for the good old days when we had the Stelly Tax Plan, which gave stable funding for state government. But most of this was trashed in 2008 by Jindal and his lapdog legislators. I want to be clear: The Stelly Plan is never coming back. It's over. Move along.

HB 142 is a real plan for higher education. The WISE Plan and the activities of the Louisiana Legislature are mere comic relief cloaked in the trappings of democracy.

Louisiana higher education needs a funding plan. We can do without duck wresting and the unWISE Plan.


Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

////////////////////////////
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Drill, Baby, Drill"

Original Folk Song about the BP Oil Spill 

Dayne Sherman

April 20, 2014
Today is the 4th anniversary of the BP oil spill. I wrote "Drill, Baby, Drill" a few days after the disaster in 2010. Four years later, I've recorded it. Audio and lyrics below.


 

"Drill, Baby, Drill"

By Dayne Sherman
Written in Late April 2010
Recorded April 20, 2014

Lyrics


April 20, 2010
Deepwater Horizon
BP’s oil poisoned the Coast
Eleven dead in the water


Drill, baby, drill
Spill, baby, spill
Kill, baby, kill
Pelicans are dying in the Gulf
Louisiana’s sliding in the Gulf
People are crying in the Gulf


Oil's buying groceries
Oil's causing war
Oil's filling barrels
Oil's killing us


Drill, baby, drill
Spill, baby, spill
Kill, baby, kill
Pelicans are dying in the Gulf
Louisiana’s sliding in the Gulf
People are crying in the Gulf


Oil's making money
Oil's driving cars
Oil's reeking havoc
Oil's killing marsh


Drill, baby, drill
Spill, baby, spill
Kill, baby, kill
Pelicans are dying in the Gulf
Louisiana’s sliding in the Gulf
People are crying in the Gulf



Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.

////////////////////////////
Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chicken Boxing and April Fools' Day

Stuck on Stupid in Louisiana 

Dayne Sherman
April 6, 2014
Column / 650 words

On April Fools' Day, the Louisiana Legislature was in session. Perhaps the apex of legislative insanity ensued on April 1 when our elected officials debated the legality and ethics of “chicken boxing.” It was not a joke.

Yes, chicken boxing became both a great occasion for humor and an embarrassment to the state. News outlets nationwide picked up the story. Sen. JP Morrell (D-New Orleans) proposed legislation to close the loopholes in the state cockfighting ban. Slick and enterprising fowl breeders bypassed the fighting cock prohibition by using sparring “gloves” during rooster bouts. In other words, they've turned the birds into boxers instead of fighters.

This is the logic of Louisiana politics on public display.

No doubt, when the legal authorities aren't watching, the gaffs and knives come out and cockfighting is back to the bad old days.

Undone by Morrell's attempt to make cockfighting paraphernalia illegal, Sen. Elbert Guillory (R-Opelousas), a rising star in GOP politics, defended the practice of chicken boxing, which he understood to be well within in Morrell's legislative sights. Guillory, a man with an unparalleled love for the photo-op, posed for pictures while holding little rubber boxing gloves fitted for roosters.

Guillory, an African-American, was a Republican but then switched parties in order to win his seat in a heavily Democratic district. Last year he switched back to Republican with much fanfare. He is also a man who made headlines a year ago for his praise of witch doctors as a rationale to keep Louisiana's embarrassing creationist K-12 “science” law on the books.

Indeed, the debate over chicken boxing will continue, as will Louisiana being the laughingstock of America.

However, we have another debate that is to me just as insane as boxing birds, perhaps worse.

Rep. Chris Broadwater (R-Hammond) is on the defensive about HB 244, the “gun shows on college campuses bill.” The proposed law, according to Broadwater, is simply a gun safety bill.

I have read HB 244 bill, gotten an email and a text message from Rep. Broadwater regarding the bill, and read articles written about the bill.

Two facts come to mind. First, there is NOTHING in HB 244 to prevent gun shows on college campuses or even in the facilities of the elementary and secondary laboratory schools at SLU, Southern University, and LSU. If Rep. Broadwater had wanted to prevent “gun shows” from occurring, he could have written into the language allowing for no more than two or three guns to be auctioned or sold at events.

Second, if Rep. Broadwater wanted to make a real statement promoting campus safety, he could have stopped any and all groups from selling or auctioning guns on campus under the Gun Free School Zones Act.

This did not happen. We now have a bad bill that makes a bad statement. We can do better.

I am proud of SLU professor Dr. James Kirylo and the SLU faculty senate for making a strong statement against gun sales on college campuses through a recent resolution. In a climate of fear created by Gov. Bobby Jindal's assault on higher education, it is courageous when college employees take a stand on an important issue. LSU's faculty senate is scheduled to take up a similar resolution soon.

We don't need to get stuck on the words “gun shows” or “gun auctions.” Likewise, let's not get distracted by “chicken boxing” or “chicken fighting.” Who cares?

At the end of the day, all of this is a bunch of foolishness as Louisiana continues to go to the birds. We have elected officials who make it April Fools' Day all year long here in the Pelican State. Unfortunately, we allow them to bring embarrassment to the state when we create an atmosphere of disaster by voting them into office.

Dayne Sherman resides in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. He covers the South like kudzu and promises that he never burned Atlanta. He is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is daynesherman.com.
////////////////////////////

Dayne Sherman, Writer & Speaker
Web & Social Media: http://daynesherman.com/
Talk About the South Blog: http://daynesherman.blogspot.com/
Tweet the South - Twitter: http://twitter.com/TweettheSouth/
Facebook: http://facebook.com/daynesherman
***This message speaks only for the writer, a citizen, not for any present or past employer.***