Odds & Ends: Read Jon Rauch. Period. Plus The Police Beat And More…

I really cannot recommend Jonathan Rauch’s new book strongly enough. Whether he’s writing about special interest gridlock, free speech and ideas and why they matter to social progress, or how to survive and thrive through middle age he’s such a gifted writer and thinker.

Constitution of Knowledge picks up on some of the themes in Kindly Inquisitors but is well-timed to our current moment, in general and within this sector

Elsewhere, congrats to the great Angie Barr who just won the wisest wonk contest. She’s a gem, the work they do at BARR is great.* I had spring training tickets to catch a Red Sox game with her in early 2020 (after spending a morning at a school!) just as everything fell apart. School closed, no more baseball…

From Bellwether:

Here’s Lina Bankert in Hechinger on to and through college during and post-pandemic.

Here’s Bellwether’s Geller, Spangler, and Payton on continuous improvement.

From the police blotter:

Former PR Secretary of Education Julia Keleher has pled guilty to two charges and is expected to serve some time in prison and pay a fine. This whole thing has never entirely made sense to me. She was arrested and charged with a truck load of felonies. Then the indictment was revised with a boat load. And then revised again. And now she pleads out to a fraction of that. Did everyone just get tired of each other and this situation? It doesn’t seem like she’s cooperating against someone else, in fact it appears others cooperated against her, so unclear exactly what’s up?

Here’s The 74 with an explainer:

Though the case has taken several twists and turns in the last few years, Keleher and five others were first indicted in 2019 and accused of conspiring to illegally direct millions of dollars in federal funds to contractors who had personal ties to the defendants. About six months later, in January 2020, she faced a second indictment accusing her of offering up a plot of public school land in exchange for help buying a luxury apartment. In a superseding indictment in August 2020, prosecutors accused Keleher of helping a firm led by a “close friend” secure an education department contract by disclosing confidential government documents, including the names and other personnel information of more than 6,000 Puerto Rico school employees. Keleher had previously pleaded not guilty.

The first charge, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, stems from an allegation that she participated in a bidding process in which she did “solicit and demand” that the company Colón & Ponce subcontract education department work to the campaign manager of a 2016 gubernatorial candidate. The action violated a contract which said the work couldn’t be subcontracted. The second charge, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, centers on Keleher offering up 1,034 square feet of public school land to a real estate company in San Juan. In return, Keleher was allowed to rent an apartment from June to December 2018 for just $1. When Keleher ultimately bought the two-bedroom apartment for $295,000, she was given a $12,000 incentive bonus, according to the indictment.

In any event, I don’t know what happened or the ins and outs any more than you do. Still, it’s a little discouraging how people and media in our sector, who in general are pretty quick to flash their solidarity with criminal justice reform, basically ran the other way here throughout this episode even though it seems a little weird and heavy handed. Or at least something we should ask questions about?

Music: Lindi Ortega.

*Not a client, just a fan.