Friday, October 31, 2014

NH State Senator Cataldo, Nuclear Engineer, Has Fake Diploma

Senator Sam Cataldo
New Hampshire Republican State Senator Sam Cataldo appears to have a fraudulent Master's Degree in Nuclear Engineering from disgraced diploma mill LaSalle University in Louisiana.   Senator Cataldo has reportedly worked at Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station.  It is unknown if Mr. Cataldo knew his degree was fake when seeking employment, if he used a fake credential to gain employment, and what the consequent risks to the public were.

Mr. Cataldo is currently seeking reelection in NH Senate District 6 (Rochester area) against Democrat Rich Leonard.  Election day is Tuesday November 4th, 4 days from now.

The evidence has been in plain view for quite some time.  On 8/20/2012, Foster's Daily Democrat reported Mr. Cataldo's biography:
He is a native of Lawrence, Mass., attended Lowell Technical College and, later in his career, Northeast University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in industrial management and Lasalle University in Louisiana, where he gained a master's degree in nuclear engineering.

[... He] was also a cemetery superintendent, before becoming a commercial nuclear contractor for the next 20 years. This included working at both Connecticut Yankee and Pilgrim nuclear power stations as a trainer, consultant, shift supervisor and site superintendent.
Senator Cataldo's official page at the General Court is a bit more vague:
The senator is a graduate of Lowell Tech, Northeastern University and Lasalle University.

There is a similarly named La Salle University in Pennsylvania (website) that is legitimate, so we are relying on Foster's reporting here for the important detail that this is LaSalle University in Louisiana.  There is also a discrepancy between "Northeastern" and "Northeast" Universities that doesn't exactly fill me with confidence in Foster's.  It does not appear that the accredited La Salle U in Pennsylvania offers a master's program in Nuclear Engineering.

The Wikipedia article entitled "James Kirk Diploma Mills" (much to the regret of us Trekkies) relays the following:
In the mid-1990s, LaSalle provoked the attention of authorities because of evidence that government workers had been awarded promotions and salary increases based on fraudulent advanced degrees. According to a prosecutor with the Attorney General's office, more than a dozen known diploma mills had been set up in Louisiana, where the laws were particularly lenient. Federal investigators estimated that LaSalle, alone, had issued in excess of 40,000 fake diplomas, the bulk of them to government employees. In fact, LaSalle's sales and marketing materials highlighted the fact that many of its graduates occupied high positions in government.[citation needed]

The school was shut down after a July 1996 raid by the FBI, U.S. postal inspectors, and the Internal Revenue Service.[7] According to John Bear, the U.S. Attorney wrote to every person in the LaSalle files, officially informing them that LaSalle was nothing more than a diploma mill. All were advised that funds were available for refunds, providing they turned in their diploma(s). Many didn't, presumably so they could continue to parlay their degrees for more money in the marketplace, with impunity (they could always claim ignorance, later). The FBI report stated that LaSalle had only one faculty member serving 15,000 students (and her only degree was a Bachelor's from LaSalle). Furthermore, the back of the student application forms contained a disclaimer advising students that their signatures simply made them Ministers of Kirk's World Christian Church, and that any degrees they might get would merely be religious degrees, regardless of the subject.[8]
The article goes on to report that:

 According to a 2004 Government Accountability Office report on diploma mills, which discussed the widespread purchase of fake degrees by high-ranking government officials, one manager in the National Nuclear Safety Administration paid $5,000 for a masters degree from LaSalle in 1996. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force at the time, when he felt pressured to purchase the degree in order to be promotable to Colonel. He did not attend classes or take any tests, and he called his degree a "joke."[20]

Senator Cataldo is not the only politician whose degree from LaSalle has been questioned. That article contains the passage:

Allen Ezell, a retired FBI agent and leading authority on phony diplomas, said he remembers well the FBI's investigations into LaSalle. He said any degree handed out by LaSalle before the raid is "utterly worthless," and he questions the legitimacy of any degree after that, too.

The date of Mr. Cataldo's Master's Degree in question is unknown. Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant ceased electricity production in 1996 (Wikipedia).

The story seems to have first appeared in the comment section of Foster's Daily Democrat's endorsement of Senator Cataldo.

P.S.  Here is some further verification that LaSalle degrees are bogus from

LaSalle University (LA)
College State: Louisiana
College Website URL: none
Distance Learning Accreditation Status: CAUTION: You should be aware this college is NOT ACCREDITED by any agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education to award degrees.

[Permission granted to anyone who wishes to copy and publish this article, all or in part, with or without attribution to me. Permission granted to edit or modify, as long as the gist is preserved. - Dean Rubine. ]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dear Foster's: Vote Democrat

[This is the letter to the editor I just sent to Foster's Daily Democrat. It's pretty terse in order to fit everything into the length requirement. They don't always publish my letters, so I'm posting this here as well - Dean.]

To the editor:

On November 4, I urge every Democrat to vote and everyone to vote Democrat.  Issue after issue, Democrats offer and implement real solutions while Republicans offer fear, ignorance or meanness.  In 350 words:
Economy: Over Obama's term: Unemployment from 7.8% to 5.9%,  -800,000 to +200,000 jobs a month, 55 months job growth, S&P 500 up 130%, deficit reduced from 10% to 3% of GDP, financial reform.  Republicans offer default(!), government shutdowns, gutting environmental regulations, privatizing Medicare and severely cutting CDC, NIH and defense.  Domestic energy production near independence levels, gas prices low, auto sector saved.
Income Inequality: Democrats lower taxes on 95%, got Republicans to raise taxes on the top, want a livable minimum wage and job-creating infrastructure building.  Republicans offer severe cuts to the safety net (including food stamps) and tax breaks for job exporters.

Women's Issues: Democrats champion reproductive freedom, equal pay, Planned Parenthood, violence prevention.  Republicans offer forced transvaginal probing, TRAP laws, personhood and bosses dictating contraception.

Science: Democrats believe in evolution and climate change, letting science guide policy on sex education, product safety and environmental regulation.  Republicans not so much.
Foreign Policy: Obama got bin Laden, Dubya "not that concerned."  Obama destroyed Assad's chemical weapons. Republicans advocated attacking Assad, leaving ISIS to grab those chemical weapons.  Obama gets us out of wars.  
Healthcare: Democrats produced 10 million newly insured, no preexisting condition exemptions, no lifetime caps, subsidies as needed, Medicare solvent 14 more years, closing doughnut hole, working cost controls, five more companies on our exchange.  Republicans cry "repeal, repeal, repeal" which would take all that away, and never agree on "replace."

Ebola: The president bases protections on science.  Keeping America safe means beating Ebola in West Africa.  He honors the heroic health care workers who go fight this disease.  Republicans treat them like lepers, constitution be damned, making it harder to volunteer, and us all less safe. Republicans absurdly stoke fears about infected ISIS soldiers crossing the Mexican border.
I'll just mention voting rights, Citizens United, marriage equality, gays in the military, and immigration reform.  On Tuesday, vote Democrat.
Dean Rubine, Lee

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Frank Guinta Answers Constituent Forthrightly

click to enlarge
Sorry readers, I misled you. There is no actual news that former Rep Frank Guinta spoke honestly and forthrightly to a constituent's question.  You know that's not going to happen, certainly not before election day November 4th, 2014.  Democrats, New Hampshire has same day registration, so if you're eligible you can walk into your polling place on election day, register, vote and avoid a repeat shellacking.

WMUR just came out with a piece showing Rep Guinta answering questions from constituents.  The first question was "What are you going to do for me?" which Rep Guinta pivoted to eradicating ISIS.  But I thought it would be fun to imagine what it would be like if Rep Guinta had given a forthright response.  Here is Frank Guinta's honest and forthright response, as imagined by me:

"Thank you for your question. It might be more accurately rephrased 'what am I going to try to do to you?'

"If elected, I will vote to repeal Obamacare again. If repeal became law, at least 10 million newly insured adults would lose their insurance.  Their kids would too.  The rest of us would discover insurance companies once again not covering our preexisting conditions. The repeal might pass a Republican Senate, but of course the President would veto, so ultimately the repeal will fail. But we'll try it twenty more times just to be sure.

"I will also vote for the Ryan Budget again, which privatizes Medicare, turning it into a 'premium support' system much like Obamacare, which I despise. I can't explain it either. Also, I'm going to try to stop the terrible effects of the one important bill I voted for that became law: the sequester. I'm going to leave all the cuts to programs like Head Start and medical research, of course, but I'll try to restore the defense spending.  The president will veto anything like this that managed to reach his desk, so nothing done here either.

click to enlarge

"I bet my party comes up with some really awful stuff to do to women seeking abortions that I'll be happy to support, being pro-life and all.  Truthfully, it's going to be pretty hard to top the stuff we came up with last time, like mandating medically unnecessary transvaginal probes or forcing a woman to watch her own ultrasound as the operator highlights baby's 'external member.'  Maybe every fetus gets a court appointed lawyer.  But there's that darn veto.

"We'll just shut down the government if we can't get our way through the normal legislative process.  I'm sure voters will blame the president.

"In summary, we're mostly going to pass a bunch of stuff the president won't sign, but sometimes we'll be able to chip away at some programs that help people.

"Oh yeah, if we had followed my party's advice on Syria a year ago we would have attacked Assad, which would have of course strengthened Assad's enemy ISIS. ISIS may have been able to get their hands on Assad's chemical weapons, which would have still been there.

"Did that answer your question?"