Posted by MataHarley on 20 August, 2008 at 6:38 pm. 9 comments already!

AP’s Mark Silva has an article appearing on the Chicago Tribune’s “The Swamp”today that update’s Curt’s original post, Shielding the facts about Obama’s relationship with terrorists”.

And it’s one interesting headline: “Barack Obama records sealed at Illinois”

Now I have an inherent distrust of headlines… as well we all should. And sure enough, no where in Silva’s article is any legal “sealing” of records. And that’s what I think of when that word appears.

Instead, what we have here is one donor, holding out big time on data.

The university’s Chicago campus maintains that the donor of the records that document the work of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge has not handed over ownership rights. The university says it is “aggressively pursuing” an agreement with the donor, and as soon as an agreement is reached, the collection will be made accessible to the public. The university has not identified the donor.

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“The donor’s only concerns regarding the collection are due to personnel information that could include names, confidential salary information and even Social Security numbers,” a spokesman for the university said. Spokesman Bill Burton, no relation to an Obama spokesman of the same name, said he could not identify the owner.

Three notable responses strike me here. First, the federal gov’t releases information with blacked out areas for sensitive information. Uh.. haven’t these people heard of a Sharpie?

Second… the Jr. Senator/wannabe POTUS… aka His Messiahship… has no control over these records. Well now, isn’t that convenient? John Edwards is willing to donate DNA for a paternity test, but then he’s assured there will be no paternity test because the mother has to demand it. Is Obama doing the same? Offering “DNA” INRE these docs, knowing full well the donor will refuse to release the documents?

And last, but far from least… the lack of disclosure is damning to Obama. That is obvious. So which is worse… the disclosure? Or the lack of disclosure?

If, as the donor says, it is to protect the SSN# of the participants, they can comply… and do so protecting the privacy information, as well as clear the name of Obama. If, indeed, the donor has no wish to infringe on information to the public – whether or not it condemns the jr. Senator – they will come to a quick agreement and release the documents.

If they hold this up past the November election…. or, for that matter, longer… then the donor – an institution dedicated to education of the public, mind you – has one of two specific reasons for not disclosing information about a US candidate for President to the US public.

1: They are trying to protect Obama from election support harm because of what the records reveal… or

2: The donor is afraid of what Obama and his handlers may *do* if they release the information. This can be any kind of threat from financial repercussions to physical harm. aka… good ol’ fashioned Chicago style mafia blackmail.

One is protection because of respect for Obama. The other is protecting their own interests – physical or financial – against threats from those surrounding the Obama campaign. Which is it? Withholding for respect? Or are they threatened in some way?

So this brings us to the $100 million dollar question. Just who is the donor, that the U of IL will not disclose, holding up the info chain?

The investigative minds will first turn to the head honchos:

First there’s the Annenberg Challenge Ambassador himself, Walter H. Annenberg. Born in 1908, the man has a resume on the Annenberg Challenge website that reads like the philanthropist’s dream. Founder of Seventeen Magazine and TV Guide, the man moved on to receive multiple publishing and media awards, was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame, and achieved the first George Peabody Education Philanthropy Award in May of 1995.

One of the oddities is a relationship between this man, appearing above reproach, and William Ayers, who is credited for being instrumental in starting the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Granted, Chicago’s challenge was only one of 18 locally designed Challenge projects operated in 35 states. But Ayers? An odd choice of an alliance right off the bat.

But Mr. Annenberg also passed in October 2002. If he personally donated the documents in question, only his heir to the Annenberg Challenge division of the Annenberg Institute could be the one empowered to release the documents. Not knowing who that is, we have to turn to the Annenberg Institute itself.

Starting from the top is the Executive Director, Warren Simons, who joined the Institute in 1998. His comments about the Challenge are on record as:

“The Challenge did not flinch from tackling some of the toughest problems in education. It worked in inner cities and isolated rural areas to improve education for children who were most often poor or minorities. The Challenge did not work miracles, but it frequently beat the odds and helped public schools do better. The Challenge proved that public education can work. It was time and money well spent.”

That’s a nice way to describe a fund that is linked with some very questionable monetary practices…

But I also saw an interview with Ethan Ris, a RI school teacher running for office, on the AgendaNation. When discussing some educational failures, and their central causes, he referred to an anwer by Annenberg’s Simmons… suggesting it was “central offices”.

And I said “What is it, Dr. Sims? What is the problem with the schools?” It’s all about the central office. There are bad teachers and good teachers, bad principals and good principals; that’s not really the problem. There’s a great superintendent; Donnie Evans does a really good job. But the central office is not set up to support innovation and change and problems. It’s set up to give people jobs, essentially, which is not why we have schools.

Call me wacky and zany, but I see Simmons as a man who tends to blame the politics in administrations for school failures… and I’m right with him there. So is Simmons a man who would refuse to release records for Obama? Especially since doing so actually involves the very kind of inbred politics he apparently despises?

Then comes the Annenberg “Board of Overseers”.

This includes:

Honorary Chair Leonore Annenberg, obviously and heir and relative

Chair ex officio Ruth Simmons, President, Brown University

Jay Ogilvy Co-Founder, Global Business Network

Hilary C. Pennington Director, Special Initiatives
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Wendy Puriefoy President, Public Education Network

Barbara Reisman Executive Director, The Schumann Fund

Ralph Smith Senior Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Robin Steans Trustee, Steans Family Foundation

I’m not sure where the top of the rung lies. But I do believe the first thing anyone needs to figure out is just *who* is deliberately holding back these records. Then maybe we can determine *why*.

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