Sunday, September 27, 2009

Matt Osborne analyzes the San Diego ACORN videos

The following article includes videos of Juan Carlos Vera, Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe

ACORN San Diego: Mucha Dificultad Sobre Nada
by Matt Osborne
September 24, 2009

Today, I finally got around to watching the San Diego videos, and once again there's a Faux Edit™ going on. Apparently, that's a habit with filmmaker James O'Keefe, the "pimp" in these videos. The first minute is going to make you squirm, but then the video will start at the beginning and you'll get a completely different sense of context...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera really said: full transcript

See all ACORN posts in this blog.
See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

In the dozen pages at the beginning of the transcript of the Giles-O'Keefe-Vera conversation at the National City ACORN office, the fake pimp-prostitute pair did all the talking about prostitution, and ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera responded with "yeah" and "okay", as if he were taking it all in. But Juan Carlos' English isn't so great, and when he finally seemed to understand what was going on, he said he would consult with lawyers and contact the visitors by email. He even mentioned that he worked with prosecutors.

Throughout most of the conversation, Juan Carlos spoke at cross-purposes to the visitors, giving information about ACORN seminars.

On page 12 O'Keefe prompts Juan Carlos with suggestions about tax fraud. Juan Carlos continues to say "yeah", but his understanding of the questions is in doubt because he clarifies the issue by saying, "Because you need a house."

O'Keefe tries again to get Juan Carlos to agree that O'Keefe's tax fraud ideas are good, and Hannah also tries to get Juan Carlos to repeat what James has said. Juan Carlos responds, "I think it's good, too, because we have two lawyers working for our program--and if you're interested come to our seminar" (pages 12-13) Clearly, Juan Carlos is not on the same page as James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.

On page 13 Juan Carlos goes on, "If you have your own business you need to prove your income."

On page 13 O'Keefe to Hannah, "...and the tax form is something so I'm explaining to him [Juan Carlos] is something you can classify not as prostitution but as performing arts. That way we can clear that first hurdle. We can declare all income."

Juan Carlos, as is his habit, responds with "yeah." But did he understand? Did he agree? Or was the "yeah" actually a reflex response to acknowledge that O'Keefe had said something and Juan Carlos was trying to keep up with the conversation? Fortunately, Juan Carlos explains his position clearly in the next exchange.

O'Keefe: Do you think that's something we can do?

Juan Carlos: The problem first time buyers is good because you never have a house before.

Clearly, we now know what Juan Carlos is trying to tell O'Keefe. He's trying to tell him how to buy a house.

Page 14

O'Keefe: Can this be a legitimate business? This prostitution?

Juan Carlos: You need to check...You need to check. You need to check. Because the program for first time buyers is for the people that never have a house.

O'Keefe says there will be 12 underage girls. [I doubt that a limited speaker is going to understand the word "underage." It's not usually found in your beginning English instruction. The word was probably Greek to Juan Carlos. Also, I don't remember seeing the word "prostitution" in beginning English instruction.]

Juan Carlos says: they gonna be probably 4 or 5 persons. [Juan Carlos is clearly not in sync with the idea of twelve girls.]

Hannah asks, "Could they be like my sisters or something like that?" [Of course your sisters can live with you, Hannah!]

O'Keefe: Could we get a child tax credit for them? Claim them as dependents?

Juan Carlos: Yeah. [My guess is that Juan Carlos thought they were talking about actual siblings.]

For the next few pages Hannah and O'Keefe do all the talking again, and Juan Carlos responds with his usual rote response of "okay."

Page 19

Juan Carlos understands that El Salvadoran girls are coming: "What day are they coming?" He is told they'll come on Saturday.

But Juan Carlos has a feeling that these people have wandered into the wrong office.

Juan Carlos: So you never heard for this organization? ACORN?...Okay, let's do this. Let me see, let me see anything about it. See and let me contact to you. Because this program is, this Saturday happen?

But O'Keefe doesn't want to be contacted later, he wants to talk about it now. Juan Carlos tries to get an email address, but doesn't succeed until page 23.

On page 21 the talk turns to where each of them comes from. O'Keefe is from back east, which, Juan Carlos notes, is too cold. Juan Carlos is from Mexico City, and he is a lawyer in Mexico.

On page 24 Juan Carlos says, "...I want to call you tomorrow." [I think that's what I'd say, too, in an effort to get rid of these bizarre people.]

Pages 25-26

Juan Carlos wants to explain that lawyers will be involved: "...dis is you say private...I ah because we work before with the lawyers."...

O'Keefe: You're working with the prosecutors?

Juan Carlos: Yeah.

O'Keefe: Well then that's not good.

Juan Carlos:...I think we want to send an email to you.

Hannah: Honestly I don't feel very comfortable right now. I just gave you a bunch of information and I don't know if we trust you like...

Juan Carlos: No, we help people. [Juan Carlos is trying to get information about Hannah and O'Keefe, not scare them away.]

Page 27

Juan Carlos tries to get a location for where the girls will be on Saturday. He recommends that the girls go to Tijuana where Juan Carlos has a lot of contacts. [My guess is that he wants to help the girls, to prevent them from falling under the control of unscrupulous people like Hannah and O'Keefe.]

Page 28

[Now we find out how much Juan Carlos understood of the earlier conversation.]

O'Keefe: There's twelve girls but they're like there's like thirteen to fifteen years old.

Juan Carlos: Oh, yeah?...I want to contact you now only for email.

Hannah and O'Keefe keep talking, but Juan Carlos no longer responds with his reflexive "yeah". Instead he repeats, "I going to contact you by email."

O'Keefe apples pressure: Just give me your cell phone number.

Juan Carlos complies, but says, "Well it's better I can send you an email."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Minister Doug Giles is a proud dad to pretend-prostitute Hannah Giles

Doug earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas Tech University and studied for his Master of Arts in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

See all ACORN posts.

See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jim Groth and Peg Myers antics continue at Chula Vista Educators; bizarre election results announced more than 3 months late

Now I understand why Peg Myers and Jim Groth didn't want to release the Chula Vista Educators election results in June. What kind of election is it when you end up with two empty positions before you even announce the results?

See all posts about Peg Myers.

President 09-11
State Council 09-12
Peggie Myers

Vice President 09-11
Tim Kriss
Salt Creek Elementary

Treasurer 09-11
Kathleen Fernandez

Secretary 09-11

[Barbara Dunwoodie ran unopposed for this position. What's up with the open position? Dunwoodie is still teaching at Hilltop Elementary with Robin Donlan.]

Area Director A 08-10
Maureen McNair

Area Director B 08-10
Norma Pacheco Davis
Los Altos

Area Director C 08-10

[The above position was held by Tim Kriss, who is now vice-president. When I heard a rumor that a close friend and Salt Creek Elementary colleague of Tim Kriss was going to replace him, I wrote to Peg Myers asking if this were true. Instead of answering me, Peg apparently got her pals up in Burlingame to demand that Google censor my blog. Why is this such a touchy subject?]

Area Director D 08-10
Jayme Rodgers

Area Director E 08-10
Jenna Ritchey

Bargaining Chair
Susan Skala
Vista Square
State Council 08-11

Jennefer Porch

State Council 07-10

Jim Groth
CTA Board

ACORN says that Hannah Giles and pal O'Keefe committed a felony; videotaping pair seems confident of large defense fund from conservatives

A lawsuit filed by ACORN?

“Bring it on,” secret videotaper James O’Keefe said on Fox News. It sounds like he's already got a large war chest to help him get away with a crime.

See detailed analysis of transcript of Juan Carlos Vera/Giles/O'Keefe.

ACORN mulls suit against Fox News

Facing intensifying scrutiny after the release of several disturbing hidden camera videos, the community organizing group, ACORN, is threatening to sue Fox News, the website and the two conservative activists who produced the exposes.

ACORN is alleging that the filmmakers committed a felony by shooting the footage of ACORN employees in the act of providing advice on how to falsify tax forms and set-up a child prostitution business—to a man and a woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute.

A lawyer for ACORN said Monday that statutes in Maryland and the District of Columbia made the undercover filming illegal and that the same laws should prohibit the rebroadcast of the tapes by the Web site, where they were first posted last week, and on Fox News, which aired clips of the videos., which launched last Wednesday, is a project of Andrew Breitbart, the founder of The videos show James O’Keefe, a conservative activist, and Hannah Giles, who is listed as a contributor on the right-leaning website,, visiting ACORN offices in Baltimore and Brooklyn and an ACORN Housing Corporation branch in Washington, D.C.

“It is clear that the videos are doctored, edited, and in no way the result of the fabricated story being portrayed by conservative activist ‘filmmaker’ O’Keefe and his partner in crime,’ ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis said in a statement over the weekend. “And, in fact, a crime it was—our lawyers believe a felony—and we will be taking legal action against Fox and their co-conspirators.”

After the videos surfaced two ACORN employees in Baltimore and two others at the Washington office of the off-shoot housing corporation, a separate organization, were fired.

“I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video,” Lewis said in her statement. She added that the “scam,” was also attempted but failed at other ACORN offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia.

Breitbart said Monday that the release of a new video from Brooklyn disproved ACORN’s claims that the activists made failed attempts in other cities.

“ACORN was wrong in their initial defense that it succeeded in only one place because obviously it worked in a second and third place,” he said. “Their defense is as hapless as the behavior witnessed on those videos. This is clearly an organization in internal turmoil over James and Hannah’s exposure. The longer that the mainstream media ignores this massive story, the more that ACORN has to accumulate data in order to form a line of attack to annihilate the messenger.”

Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer for ACORN, said he planned to file a lawsuit in federal court in Baltimore on Thursday against O’Keefe and Giles that would “probably” also include and Fox News...

Read more:

Monday, September 21, 2009

This couple didn't set up Newt Gingrich, but were criminally charged for secret recording

See all ACORN posts.

Florida Couple Are Charged In Taping of Gingrich Call
New York Times
April 24, 1997

The Justice Department today filed charges against a Florida couple who said they had intercepted and recorded a conference call last December among Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders.

The Federal authorities in Jacksonville, Fla., announced this afternoon that the couple, John and Alice Martin, had been charged with an infraction, violating the Communications Privacy Act by using a radio scanner to intercept the radio portion of the conversation. It is the mildest criminal charge the couple could face in the case and carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine.

The Government said the Martins had agreed to plead guilty to the charges, and said the couple would cooperate with a continuing investigation into how a recording of the conversation wound up in the hands of a New York Times reporter.

The conversation the Martins taped took place on the same day Mr. Gingrich admitted he had violated House ethics rules by failing to get adequate legal advice on the use of tax-exempt money and then giving the House ethics committee inaccurate information in its investigation. During the call, the Speaker and several colleagues discussed how best to handle the political fallout of the ethics charges.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello to turnaround guru Harborside principal Matthew Tessier...Goodbye to Union Tribune reporter Chris Moran

Tessier has done exactly what I have long suggested: carefully evaluated teachers. This is a terrific reform, but it could be abused. I suggest that evaluations be supplemented with observations by out-of-district professionals.

Principal gets credit for turning schools around

Chula Vista's Tessier got one out of U.S. sanctions
By Chris Moran
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
September 19, 2009

Chula Vista's Harborside Elementary was in pieces when he arrived as its principal two years ago. The school next to a mobile-home park in an impoverished neighborhood had failed to reach federal benchmarks for so long that the menu of remedies included shutting it down.

But Tessier, 35, is a turnaround specialist.

Before he arrived at Harborside, Tessier had done what only a few dozen principals in the county had ever done: He led a school — Loma Verde Elementary — safely out of federal sanctions with two consecutive years of dramatically improved test scores...

Profile Matthew Tessier

Age: 35

Education: Bachelor's in communicative disorders and a master's in educational leadership from San Diego State University

Experience: Teacher, five years; assistant principal, two years; principal, four years

Family: Wife, Alma; daughters — Gabriela, 8, Alixandra, 5, and Tristan, 2


What is it about Houston?

Voice of San Diego
by Emily Alpert

...Chris Moran, longtime education reporter at the Union-Tribune, is leaving the paper after 12 years to go to Houston. He's not following Superintendent Terry Grier -- he's following his wife, who got a new job.

Moran did some remarkable reporting in his time with the newspaper, where he was most recently assigned to cover schools and colleges in the South Bay. He has an amazing human touch with complex stories -- and I hear he is also a superstar mentor.

Good luck Chris.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Juan Carlos Vera Says Statements In Video Were 'Taken Out Of Context'

See details of actual transcript of Giles-O'Keefe-Vera conversation.

Hannah Giles, 20, (left) apparently does a very convincing imitation of a prostitute. And the most fun part of Hannah's illegally-videotaped deception was that she managed to drag several ACORN workers into her fantasy. She elicited the sympathy of Juan Carlos Vera by telling him she "needed to escape her controlling pimp, who wouldn't let her start a new life."

See all ACORN posts in this blog.
See all ACORN posts in San Diego Education Report blog.

One commenter notes:

Playing devil's advocate, I could see the man wanting to collect as much information as possible if he had the intention of turning James and Hannah in to law enforcement. He did get James' cell phone number, collected details about times and places, and could have easily set them up. So it should be a simple matter to determine if the man reported the trafficking James and Hannah were attempting to engage in to the responsible authorities (he does, after all, make a claim about working with the district attorneys)...

Maura Larkins' response:

It turned out that Mr. Vera did report the incident to the police.

Furthermore, I just watched the videos, and it looks to me that Mr. Vera is trying to get information about the location where the "underage Salvadoran girls" will be so that the police could get involved. If you look at Mr. Vera's body language as he talks to the couple, you can see that he is feeling very uncomfortable with them, and seems to be reluctant to talk to them. However, as they are leaving and they ask if he will tell the police about them, he tries to be more friendly, to get them to come back or at least stay in touch. He urges them to trust him. Afterward, he went to the police and reported the incident. He also clearly states that he is not interested in being Hannah's client. It seems clear that he is interested in helping her and the Salvadoran girls, not helping the pimp. He seems to be trying to get the pimp arrested.

ACORN Worker Fired After Appearance In Undercover Video
Juan Carlos Vera Says Statements In Video Were 'Taken Out Of Context'

September 17, 2009

SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego ACORN employee who appeared to give human-smuggling advice to a pimp and prostitute in an undercover video made by conservative filmmakers has been fired, 10News' Juliette Vara reported.

ACORN's David Lagstein issued the following statement regarding Vera:

After release of the second San Diego video by the unscrupulous partisan videographers, we have reevaluated our assessment of the incident that occurred last month. No paperwork was filed, but the video reflects unacceptable conduct that contradicts the earlier statements of ACORN Organizer Juan Carlos Vera. He has been terminated. San Diego ACORN and ACORN offices around the country are continuing to halt our service programs pending the results of the evaluation of the independent Advisory Council and we are continuing to fight on our campaigns: stopping foreclosures, affordable, accessible health care, and a strong education for all children.

In a press conference Thursday at ACORN's National City headquarters, Vera said statements he made in the video were taken out of context.

The now-former ACORN worker said he was merely trying to help the pair because he thought they were in danger.

"I never done anything wrong in my life," Vera said. "They destroyed my family."

In the footage filmed in July, filmmaker James O'Keefe and his partner, Hannah Giles, posed as a pimp and prostitute, and asked Vera for housing help.

O'Keefe is heard in the video saying, "I want to buy a house and this is my girlfriend, and she's a prostitute."

Vera said he was told the woman needed to escape her controlling pimp, who wouldn't let her start a new life.

Immediately, Vera said he offered to call the police but the filmmaker quickly stopped him.

"Don't call the police because I'm gonna be a lawyer," O'Keefe said in the video...

James O'Keefe

James O'Keefe [James E. O’Keefe III, 25] is an activist filmmaker. He credits include the "Bailout Prize Patrol" produced for Right.Org in 2009. He also directed, scripted, produced and acted in a series of undercover videos showcasing racism and statutory rape at Planned Parenthood in 2007 and 2008.

Before that he served as Publications Coordinator at the Leadership Institute, where he helped initiate 22 independent newspapers and magazines on college campuses nationwide. He also gave lectures on campus strategy and fundraising, preaching the gospel of Saul Alinsky...

His work has been featured on CNN and Fox News...

[Maura Larkins comment: Apparently anti-ACORN forces are outraged that Mexican nationals were buying homes in the U.S. It's okay if Chinese, Russian and Saudi Arabian citizens buy homes and property here, but not Mexicans?]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New principal Lee Romero at Montgomery High School in Otay is under pressure to raise scores

The Battle for Montgomery High
Aug. 30, 2009
Montgomery High School does not feel like a school in trouble. It is a seemingly ordinary school south of the Otay Valley Park, ringed by modest homes and big box stores...

And yet Montgomery has become a battleground for Sweetwater Union High School District. It had the lowest test scores among all the South County high schools last year, even lower than neighboring schools with far higher poverty levels than Montgomery, where roughly one-third of students are impoverished and one-third are learning English...

The pressure is on to turn Montgomery around. It has been under the microscope for the last three years to ramp up its state scores this year or face added penalties. Montgomery was one of six Sweetwater schools to accept state money in exchange for extra accountability for its test scores. It is the only school that faltered, its scores essentially flattening over the past four years.

That could have big consequences. If the scores do not rise, the state board of education could decide to take over the school, sending someone to work alongside or replace the principal. Teachers invoke the idea that Montgomery could transfer them away...

[Maura Larkins' comment: Why do do many teachers abhor the idea of a transfer? Because teaching staffs are often similar to high school cliques. There is the fear of not fitting in.]

So Sweetwater made some big changes. It yanked the principal and brought in a new one, Lee Romero, to turn the school around this year. He is pushing teachers to make common tests and to stay at the same pace. And it scrapped the old schedule of four quarters with four classes each and replaced it with a more traditional schedule, arguing that the old calendar sometimes hurt struggling students who only took English or math for half of the school year or ended up spending less time at school entirely.

That, in turn, angered the teachers union, which contends that the schedule needed to be negotiated. Romero said that Montgomery had no time to wait. The tests and penalties hang over his mind...