- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

The governing board of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voted unanimously earlier this week to assume complete control of the embattled Washington Teachers' Union (WTU), whose former top leaders are being investigated on embezzlement and other charges. The vote follows a lawsuit filed by the AFT against the WTU, alleging the former president, her assistant, the treasurer, their relatives and others violated federal racketeering charges, embezzling more than $5 million. However, that lawsuit was filed after a D.C. teacher, Nathan Saunders, filed a civil lawsuit that asks U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to, among other things, temporarily forbid the union from taking his dues. A federal grand jury reviewing the criminal aspects in the case has yet to fully weigh in. Also, Mayor Anthony Williams this week asked D.C. Inspector General Charles Maddox to investigate spending and contracting practices at the D.C. HIV/AIDS agency, which employs two defendants in the AFT lawsuit. Judge Sullivan, who reportedly is considering appointing a receiver at the WTU, appreciates the breadth of this scandal of scandals, which dates to at least 1995 and has far-reaching implications, which will have an impact inside D.C. classrooms.
"The unprecedented injustice that has been perpetrated against WTU members can only be addressed by the strongest of measures the kind we have taken today," AFT President Sandra Feldman said after announcing the takeover. "Putting an administrator in to run the daily operations of the WTU will ensure that the local will have the strong leadership and support needed to overcome the burden inflicted on the union by a few individuals, and to enable the members to attend confidently to their work of educating children."
She's right to a point. While the AFT should be commended for helping to trigger the protracted investigation, the AFT can hardly be viewed as objective party.

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