UPDATE: Wow. DGA, the Democratic Governors Assn., just got into this.
Via Wall Street Journal, we learn that Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla will host a fundraiser for Chris Christie in their Palo Alto home Feb. 13. Don’t count on this – believed to be the first campaign event ever at their home – to be event-posted on Facebook (unlike this one). Higher rollers than you will be invited. The world’s youngest billionaire has been palling around with Christie since 2010 when Cory Booker met Zuckerberg to talk education ‘reform’ and pulled Christie in as third-wheel, as Newark Schools are still under state control.
Zuckerberg’s windfall was announced in a flashy hugfest on Oprah, featuring Zuck, Christie and the mayor. Kissy kissy. This was at the same time Social Media, the very unflattering movie about Facebook’s founding, was hitting theaters, and not long after Christie blew a $400 million federal grant to improve NJ public education. Mainstream media pretty much shut up about both those pesky problems after Booker arranged that boffo positive PR at just the right time to benefit all three of them.
But the terms and conditions were – Christie-style – wrapped in secrecy. And there was a real question of whether Newark residents were being heard on their schools’ future. A group of Newark parents and grandparents, with help from ACLU-NJ, sued for the contents of emails detailing the terms and conditions of how that $100M would be spent, how much had already been spent and where, along with the relationship between private and public leaders in the grant’s implementation (the movement of tycoons in NJ education has typically been as opaque as the Christie administration can get away with making it).
All but lost in the Christmas-week announcement that Booker would decline to challenge Christie for governor was the release of dozens of those secret emails , after a judge ordered it. Santa’s little news-dump some people hoped you’d miss.
And what was in those emails? Quoting Washington Post:
So what do the heavily-redacted e-mails tell us? They reveal a determined effort by state education officials to persuade big private donors to provide the cash for them to remake public schools in the way they want to. It tells us more about the continuing privatization of American public education.
And there it is. If Mark Zuckerberg has any problem with all of this, he hasn’t told the people of Newark. His gift created an amazing opportunity to do good, but it comes with some responsibilities for follow-up. Unfortunately, by lending his name, his influence and his home to raise money for Gov. Christie, he’s telling us the way New Jersey’s handling his gift, and the rest of the governor’s performance – like delaying medical marijuana delivery to sick patients, eliminating funding for women’s health, and well, I could go on – is just peachy with him. Disappointing.
Note: Blue Jersey also made a related OPRA request for details of Zuckerberg’s grant.