Tuesday, June 12, 2007
UFT Delegate Assembly Report June '07
Paranoia will Destroya
The June DA's are always poorly attended anyway, so I decided to take a break. No leaflet. Just show up and enjoy the festivities. But why sit and listen to all the Weingarten bullshit for her hour report? The important stuff is going to the pub afterwards. It was almost 5 when I left my house and arrived around 5:40. I felt naked without a leaflet as people were coming up asking me for it. Hey! Over 10 years at just about every DA with something to hand out. I've become a habit.
I picked up an agenda - 7 resolutions to discuss in addition to the usual reports, question and new motion period. Oh! I remember. They didn't get to them at the May 9th DA (remember- the cancelled demo against BloomKlein) because Deputy Mayor David Doctoroff and all the LSOs and SCHMOs from Tweed were given time to speak.
So I go into the visitor section and they're just coming to the end of the 10 minute question period, which is like, the very top of the agenda. Did Weingarten talk all this time? She asks if anyone wants to extend. Marcie Licari, CL of Clara Barton is standing up saying she wants to extend but Weingarten acts like she doesn't hear her. Marcie calls out that Randi said she would call on people from each section so she waited patiently but her section was never called on. "Now Marcie, this is a democratic body and the question was called," the Great Democrat says. Marcie responds that she has been standing for 10 months waiting to be called on.
Now the wheels begin to turn in the head of the GD. "Well this is out of order but I don't want to read about this on the blogs so let's take a vote on whether to let Marcie ask her question." She does and it loses. Sorry Marcie. And sorry GD. I guess you have to read abut it on the blogs, but if you want my advice I would spend less time reading the rantings of us lunatics, as your Unity Caucus leaflet referred to us. Lunacy is catching. But then again if you catch our lunacy you might actually become a union leader who stands up for the members.
I've been here for 5 minutes - jeez.
I'm in the back with TJC's Kit Wainer and Peter Lamphere. Peter has buddies out in LA and will get more info on what is going on out there, particularly in relation to class size.
Peter shows me the Unity leaflet on Green Dot. I howl with laughter at the latest Jeff Zahler work of art which attacked Jeff Kaufman (without naming him) for his quote that charters will be the end of the union (the leaflet rephrases it as the end of the UFT but we know that will never happen -- the Unity machine will always be there to glom off members' dues.) But it is a sign of how sensitive an issue Green Dot is, particularly when a nationally known blogger like NYC Educator has been hammering on Green Dot Randi as she tries to make her national rep in prep for becoming AFT President in July '08. (Strong rumor yesterday that AFT Pres. McElroy will retire, paving the way for Randi.)
ICE lunatic Jeff Kaufman proclaiming charter schools will prove to be the end of the union.
Now Zahler is the new staff director replacing Michael Mendel because to Randi, Michael was not tough enough. He would never write a leaflet like this. But Randi's paranoia (increasing by leaps and bounds as snitches at the palace have been telling us) requires attack dogs while she is traipsing around the country. Zahler, who has been so proud of his red-baiting leaflets, addressed the members and made a less than thrilling impression. He said something about only delegates should be seated - that's it Jeff, show how tough you are by eliminating the 12 seats in the visitor section - maybe a response to the wonderful video I took last time. I heard someone mutter "we want Michael." Can't wait to see Zahler run a DA.
Finally, we get to the 7 motions - gee, they couldn't dig up another Deputy Mayor or more DOE officials? The heavy one comes first - the resolution on military recruitment in the schools. I'm not going to go into this in depth here because I am not up to speed on the nitty gritty details.
I should point out that Leo Casey spoke. He is NOT a delegate. DID you hear that Zahler? But that should be rectified when Casey becomes HS VP when Volpicella retires soon. Now there's a popular choice as even Unity people consider Casey, who will justify any flip-flop by Randi with lengthy historical analysis and name calling of any one opposed, one of the most intellectually dishonest people in the history of humanity. Well, maybe just the UFT.
That no one from the opposition called a point of order galls me. Sometimes I wonder how people expect to organize against Unity if they won't stand up to the heat of Unity attacks at the DA. Kaufman did it consistently (Bruce Markens used to do it, as I did - pat on the back) until Jeff got disgusted with the DA and frankly, there's no one left with the balls to do it.
There is some interesting irony in this debate. UFT'ers Against the War has been the force behind this reso and people have been going out to the schools to oppose the military presence in the schools. Lisa North and Gloria Brandman from ICE have been major players in this organization, with the support of by Megan Behrent and Peter Lamphere from TJC. There have been others involved too.
Jerry Frohnhoefer, CL of Aviation HS gets up to oppose the motion and defend the role of military recruiters. You can hear the oohs! and aahs! from the audience which is clearly for the resolution, as is the leadership. I see some people on the left (politically) looking at Jerry in disgust. The problem on the left is a lack of respect for the point of views of people like Jerry. You may not agree but when principled people have something to say, they should be heard. Of course, not knowing Jerry, they assume automatically he is a hack. I've made that mistake myself about others.
Fortunately I know Jerry. When I think about remaining active in union politics so many years after retiring, I think of the wonderful people I meet. Jerry is at the top of my list.
I first met him only a few months ago when he left Unity Caucus to run with ICE as our VP for vocational schools. Now Unity is a black hole -- you go in but never get out, so Jerry is unique. His son is a captain serving in Afghanistan. Many teachers at Aviation HS are vets. Aviation has a large ROTC program for kids. I was there on Saturday for a robotics tournament and was called "Sir" more times than I can count -- not like when kids used to say "Yo! Scotty Boy!"
Jerry made an excellent presentation which I will do justice to and also include points from both points of view in another post. (I just talked to Jerry and he is heading out to Spokane WA for his daughter's graduation with an MA in Fine Arts. Her thesis is based on her 6 years of military service.) One of the people opposing Jerry was Jonathan Lessuck from Progressive Labor Party and ICE who also ran with us in the election.
That ICE had Jerry and Jonathan on the slate may be a sign the Unity leaflet is right - we must be lunatics. Unity doesn't get it. Lunacy is the wave of the future.
Now it is the end of the meeting and the Great Democrat calls for a vote on 6 resolutions all at once. Meeting adjourned. And it's off to the pub - my main man from New Action, Ed Beller, the only one in the responsible opposition that I have a shred of respect for, and that wonderful couple Bob McCue and Alice O'Neal. Bob, one of the best English teachers in the history of the world, has been an ATR for the past year. That he was an active CL at ParkWest HS before it closed won't help him get a job, especially with his max salary. Thanks Joel and Randi.
They are already a few drinks ahead. I should have skipped the DA and gone straight there to get a head start. Maybe next time. But what would the Great Democrat do for blog reading?