August 6, 2012

The Quahog Mafia: More on the Boston Book Festival's corporate sponsors

In my previous post, I noted that the Boston Book Festival has scrubbed the most offensive of last year's corporate sponsors (Bank of America, Verizon, and Target) from its website.  But in a comment on that post, comrade Frances Madeson urges us to keep turning over the stones to see what crawls out.  

Here are her observations on two of the BBF's new sponsors, Akamai and Good Measures, and one of its continuing sponsors, publishing giant Pearson:

According to recent Form 8-K filings by Akamai both a Board member and a Sr. VP resigned last week. Wonder what that's all about? They're also transitioning their CEO and President out. Their most recent 10-Q looks pretty dicey as well [link].  All in all a pretty shaky partner for the BBF. 
Gary Syman, board member of the Pearson Foundation (retired Goldman Sachs pahtnuh) talking about privatized education, sounds like [link]. Which makes sense because The Pearson Foundation itself (reading between the lines, naturally) looks like it's running offense for the privatizing education movement. Syman's wife is a big fundraiser for Obama; they were at the recent White House dinner with Babs Streisand. "People, people who need people are the LUCKIEST people in the world." It's all so seamless.

George Bennett, CEO of Good Measures was part of the Reagan Revolution [link].  Now, remember I was working as a legislative aide in the U.S. Congress (Ed & Labor Committee) at exactly that moment. The very FIRST program under the Committee on Education and Labor's purview that Reagan via his hatchetman David Stockman tried to cut was the WIC program, a very low-budget item for impoverished nursing moms and their babies. The reason they came for this one was purely psychological: IF THEY COULD CUT IT, THEY COULD CUT ANYTHING. And they did. Now I'm thinking that was one of Mr. Bennett's "best practices."
Maybe ketchup as a vegetable was another one, just for good measure.

We'll certainly follow Frances' lead and keep digging.  Here and here, for example, are two articles on how Akamai Technologies (located in Cambridge, MA), abruptly terminated its contract with the Al Jazeera news service back in 2003.  Obviously the Boston Book Festival is as keen on free expression as it is in "community."  And here is an extended article on the push to privatize public education, with a special emphasis on the activities of the Pearson Foundation.  Nice going, Boston Book Festival! 

Frances Madeson is the author of the novel Cooperative Village and the publisher of The Madison County Crier.  She blogs at Written Word, Spoken Word.  Thank you, Frances!

August 2, 2012

Scrub-a-dub-dub: Has the Boston Book Festival cleaned up its act?

. . . or just its site?

It wasn't long after I posted my piece on the Boston Book Festival's track record of community-busting corporate sponsors that an unannounced change appeared on the BBF's website.  Gone are the most obnoxious of the sugar daddies -- Bank of America, Verizon, and Target -- that the festival's organizers had so egregiously flattered and fellated on Twitter and elsewhere a year before.  A coincidence, I'm sure, but a very gratifying one nonetheless.
Still, it's worth keeping an eye on the BBF's site, Twitter feed, and press releases, to see who might drop into the begging-bowl in the months leading up to this year's festival.  In the meantime we can be confident that the BBF will remain a thoroughly corporate event, blandly unthreatening to the plutocracy and its servants and enforcers (i.e., what the organizers still really mean when they say "community"); the presence of 3 of the publishing mega-conglomerates (Hachette, Penguin/Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) can reassure us of that.