Saturday, February 06, 2010

Wash Post: the Toxic influence of one Teacher's union

Link

As far as we know, this arrangement is unique; in elections elsewhere, unions and other special interests contribute to candidates, not vice versa. But such is the overweening power of the teachers union in Montgomery that the usual rules are turned upside down. And it's no coincidence that the union's toxic influence in local elections is matched by its success in squeezing unaffordable concessions from the county in contract negotiations -- at taxpayers' expense.

In the latest elections for the Montgomery County Council, in 2006, most candidates on the union-approved (and trademarked) "Apple Ballot" coughed up the maximum contribution allowed by state law, $6,000, to a PAC run by the Montgomery County Education Association, as the teachers union is known. Union-backed candidates for the Board of Education also paid handsomely. Supposedly, these funds covered the cost of the union's mailings to constituents and other activities on behalf of its anointed candidates -- although there is no real accounting on a campaign-by-campaign basis. In theory, these contributions are voluntary. In fact, several sources told us that the MCEA's chief political strategist, Jon Gerson, made it clear that he expected candidates, once endorsed, to pay what they "owed" for the union's campaign on their behalf. One candidate, asked to explain the decision to pay, answered concisely: "Fear."