Monday, December 22, 2008

Who Rules New School University?--Part 2

The NewsHour television show which is broadcast over most PBS stations each evening usually doesn’t provide much critical news coverage about the business and political activities and connections of the corporate-oriented folks who are members of the New School University’s board of trustees. One reason might be because a New School University Trustee named Paul Gould (who also is the Cornell University Trustee who chairs the Cornell board of trustees’ investment committee) sits on the board of directors of the Liberty Media Group media conglomerate that owns 67 percent of the for-profit MacNeil-Lehrer Productions firm which produces PBS’s NewsHour.

Yet as the September 9, 2007 issue of the New York Times observed:

“Norman Hsu, a major Democratic donor active in Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign and a New School trustee, was found to be a fugitive who had skipped out after a felony theft conviction in California 15 years ago. Compounding matters, he failed to show up for a court date. He was arrested on Thursday in Grand Junction, Colo., after having slipped away from the authorities in California on an Amtrak train…

“How did someone like Mr. Hsu make his way to the New School’s board? He was a mover and shaker who was recruited by Bob Kerrey, the university’s president and a former senator from Nebraska, one of several people associated with the university who are prominent in Democratic politics or political fund-raising circles. Until last week Mr. Kerrey had been one of the few people speaking out in Mr. Hsu’s defense, calling him a `terrific member’ of the New School’s board who was being unfairly pilloried…

“But then Mr. Hsu...resigned from the board on Aug. 31 [2007]…

“Perhaps not surprisingly, the New School, which has a…former political official as president, has a board sprinkled with politically active trustees.

“They include Leo Hindery, a New York media executive and a leading fund-raiser for John Edwards who has given nearly $270,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since the 2004 election cycle. Another trustee, Cheryl Cohen Effron, along with her husband, Blair, an investment banker, has donated about $330,000 to the Democratic Party over the same time period.

“Howard Gittis, another trustee, is vice chairman of McAndrews & Forbes, a major New York-based holding company, and is a `bundler' for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, raising money from other donors. Since 2004, he has donated more than $240,000 to both Democratic and Republican candidates and committees.

“And George Haywood, a trustee and private investor, is part of Senator Barack Obama’s inner fund-raising circle and has helped Mr. Obama manage the money he earned in 2005 from a book deal. Mr. Haywood has donated $130,700 to Democrats since 2004.

“Another major political donor on the board is Bernard L. Schwartz, former chief executive of Loral Corporation, a leading military contractor. A lifelong Democrat, Mr. Schwartz was particularly close to the Clintons, who invited him to the White House for Mr. Schwartz’s 71st birthday in 1997. Since the 2004 election cycle, Mr. Schwartz has donated $254,600 of his own money and has held many fund-raisers for Democratic candidates. He is credited with giving $1.5 million to Democrats during the Clinton White House years.

“Mr. Kerrey said that…the board certainly includes a number of political contributors — by his count, about 10 of the board’s 56 trustees are significant political donors… `They’re friends,' he said. `There’s nothing complicated about it.'

“The school is also known for sponsoring prominent political symposia on a regular basis through one of its units, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, whose dean, Fred P. Hochberg, served in the Clinton administration and is a leading fund-raiser for Mrs. Clinton. He came on board under Mr. Kerrey.”

Besides representing the special corporate interests of Cornell University’s board of trustees and the Liberty Media Group media conglomerate on the New School board of trustees, New School Trustee Gould is also a managing director and executive vice-president of the Allen & Company investment subsidiary of Allen Holding Inc. and sits on the Ampco-Pittsburgh and Discovery Holding corporate boards.

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