Monday, August 5, 2013

Bill de Blasio Makes His Move - Will UFT Members Move With Him?

Mr. de Blasio argues that Ms. Quinn and Mr. Thompson have been either unwilling or unable to sufficiently challenge the legacy of the mayor and the city’s corporations over the past decade. .....Mr. de Blasio’s message, despite the excitement it has drawn from liberal luminaries like Alec Baldwin and Howard Dean, has alarmed many business leaders and Bloomberg aides.
Describing what he calls a “tale of two cities,” rife with inequalities in housing, early childhood education and police tactics, he promised those gathered at the Brooklyn bar that this year’s mayoral race was “going to be a reset moment. A major reset.”
Mr. de Blasio can barely contain his fury over what he sees as the central contradiction of the Bloomberg years: a mayor who routinely unleashed the power of government to change New Yorkers’ personal behavior repeatedly balked at harnessing it to change their economic circumstances. “You can see it; there is a bright line,” Mr. de Blasio said. “On health and the environment, he is Franklin Roosevelt. On economic justice, he’s Adam Smith. He turns into a free marketeer.”
.... NY Times
Today's NY Times had an intriguing pro de Blasio article with a nice photo of him, his wife and State Senator from Harlem/Upper West Side, Bill Perkins (our hero years ago for challenging the charter school lobby with a full day of hearings).
Now that Anthony D. Weiner’s campaign has imploded, Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, is drawing new energy and voter interest to a candidacy that presents the most sweeping rejection of what New York City has become in the past 12 years — a city, he says, that is defined by its yawning inequities. “We are not, by our nature, an elitist city.... “We are not a city for the chosen few.”  It is the campaign season’s riskiest calculation: that New Yorkers, who have become comfortably accustomed to the smooth-running, highly efficient apparatus of government under Michael R. Bloomberg, are prepared to embrace a much different agenda for City Hall — taxing the rich, elevating the poor and rethinking a Manhattan-centric approach to city services.  
And there has been favorable coverage of de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray. Interesting development, especially for educators with the UFT making a desperate push for Bill Thompson, an historically flawed candidate being run by people like Merryl Tisch and Al D'Amato.

Add the recent Wayne Barrett revealed stuff about Thompson connections to the guy who destroyed Bed-Stuy Interfaith Hospital. Plus Thompson's jumping on the "stop and frisk" bandwagon when he saw that Weiner was way more popular amongst black votes than he was. [I don't have time to find all these links on ed notes but the always reliable RBE at Perdido Street School has most of them:
Plus some of his great commentary on the race in general.
Mulgrew Stumping With Thompson, Attacks Weiner/Spitzer

RBE at one point said that Thompson was as bad as Quinn.

I imagine the business community, Bloomberg hacks and much of the press will engage in an all out assault to make sure Thompson and not de Blasio gets into the runoff with Quinn. But they can't be seen openly to be on the same side of the UFT - which readers of Ed Notes full well know has been my claim all along - so they will obfuscate and attack Thompson in mild ways.

I know there are aspects of de Blasio's history as president of the District 15 School board pre-mayoral control that may come up.  His  interesting marriage where his wife is black and a former lesbian seems to be playing well at this point --- will she get the black and gay vote for Bill?

de Blasio talks about the free-market concept pushed by Bloomberg and just about all the candidates that if an institution can't stand on its own feet it should close. He seems to be for doing what it takes to keep health care institutions open.
In a mayor’s race crammed with celebrity razzle-dazzle, historic candidacies and tabloid turns, a gangly liberal from Brooklyn is quietly surging into the top tier of the field by talking about decidedly unglamorous topics: neglected hospitals, a swelling poverty rate and a broken prekindergarten system.
One very interesting point is that the page one article continues on a page with this article about a Bronx park and compares it to the funds going to the HiLine (For Decades, Fighting to Rescue a Bronx Park From Disrepair). 
“This is a disgrace,” Mr. Diaz said. “We still haven’t seen what we were promised. The time has come and gone. And that’s only talking about capital improvements. When you look at park rangers, comfort stations and other amenities, we seem to be shortchanged.”
The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation portrays Playground 52 as an example of good policy and volunteerism. When asked about the poor conditions, Zachary Feder, a department spokesman, said designers were working on plans to build a skate park and renovate a basketball court. The scope of further renovations would be determined after a public hearing. Mr. Feder said the playground was cleaned daily by department crews, who also swept water off the courts. But numerous visits over the last several months showed the opposite.
“If this was downtown, this would be fixed A.S.A.P.,” said Dayshawn Holmes, 14. “That’s where the money is in New York. They don’t care about us playing basketball here. Downtown, they’d have glass backboards.”
 You mean a city official lied to the reporter about cleaning the park? Shocking.

The de Blasio article makes much the same point:
Zoning changes have encouraged sky-piercing condominiums with multimillion-dollar price tags, but Mr. Bloomberg vetoed a bill requiring paid sick leave for working-class New Yorkers. By the city’s own measure, 46 percent of residents are poor or near poor, but the mayor scoffed at plans to compel companies that receive city subsidies to pay higher wages.

While a social justice oriented group like MORE at this point is not focused on the mayoral election (given its tiny size and outreach MORE's opinion or actions are irrelevant) my sense has been both inside MORE and amongst outraged teachers generally, was that John Liu followed by de Blasio were the best choices for UFT members. With Liu gaining no traction, many pro-Liu educators are moving to de Blasio.

Now I know that even internal critics say that the UFT is also social justice. But its choice of Thompson given de Blasio's social justice oriented positions shows which side the union leadership is on. Our point has been that only of the union strongly allies itself with community forces does it have a chance to resist the ed deform attacks. The Chicago TU is under assault, as it has been for 15 years, but they only have a chance to survive through their organizing efforts both internally and externally. Right now even with lots of flaws, de Blasio might be the candidate to bridge those gaps though I don't trust him either in the long run if he gets into office.
In a city that is endlessly congratulating itself for its modern renaissance — record-low crime, unmatched crowds of tourists, streets refashioned in European style — a day on the campaign trail with Mr. de Blasio is a reminder of unaddressed grievances and glaring disparities.
And this is not just about the poor, but the working middle class.
A young husband and wife, both employees of the city, told of their shock at being unable to afford a home in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, an evaporating refuge for middle-income buyers. “Now even the gentrifiers are getting priced out by gentrifiers,"....
Do inequalities that affect most of the kids teachers have to deal with interest teachers in terms of getting into a battle to improve the lives of our kids? Their living conditions affect our teaching conditions is clear to everyone. But what can we do about it?  We know that E4E and TFA say we can overcome poverty with good teaching and ignore outside factors. Where MORE differs is that we say YES to good teaching -- not by the way the test-driven teaching E4E and TFA support, but engage in both a fight to give us the rights as teachers to make judgements and teach the whole child, while also engaging in the broader struggles.

An open attack on the Bloomberg negatives will gain and lost people. A perusal of the NY Times metro article today has some interesting stuff about the state of Bloomberg's city in the outer boroughs where de Blasio is aiming his arrows.
At the heart of Mr. de Blasio’s appeal, according to interviews with his supporters and political team, is a willingness to deliver an unvarnished and unstinting critique of the Bloomberg era in spite of polls that show a majority of New Yorkers believe the city is heading in the right direction under the mayor’s leadership.
It is a strategy, he said, that hinges on a pervasive sense that, for all of New York City’s bike-path charms and pedestrian plaza allures, its denizens are deeply uneasy about inequalities that remain unchecked by City Hall. 

.... wherever Mr. de Blasio travels these days, resentments toward Mr. Bloomberg’s New York tend to tumble out of voters’ mouths. A woman stopped to rail against wealthy foreigners who are buying luxury apartments, but rarely inhabiting them. “We don’t want to be like those European cities where rich people fly in once a year and nobody really lives there,” she told him. 

A man who is H.I.V. positive complained to Mr. de Blasio about the absence of a rent cap on housing for AIDS patients, which he said left him homeless. 

A student lamented the city’s class stratification, saying that the city “needs a mayor for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent.” 

Inside Mr. de Blasio’s campaign, aides talk about the need to simultaneously recognize Mr. Bloomberg’s triumphs, on issues like the smoking ban, and tap into a widespread desire for a change. “The remedy verses replica theory,” as one adviser put it, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the adviser was not authorized to disclose strategy. 

Mr. de Blasio’s campaign platform is unabashedly interventionist and progressive. His most eye-catching plan would raise the income tax rate to 4.3 percent from 3.87 percent on earnings of over $500,000, to pay for universal access to prekindergarten.
Now, an overcrowded system leaves tens of thousands of lower-income residents without access to full-day programs, setting back the early education of a generation, Mr. de Blasio argues. The campaign says the 11 percent increase in the marginal tax rate would amount to about $2,120 for a family earning $1 million.
In conversations with voters, Mr. de Blasio argues that Ms. Quinn and Mr. Thompson have been either unwilling or unable to sufficiently challenge the legacy of the mayor and the city’s corporations over the past decade. 

But his determination to emerge as the unrivaled liberal in the race has entailed a moral showmanship that may repel as many voters as it endears. He was arrested a few weeks ago during a sit-in to protest the latest closing of a city hospital.
“That,” Mr. de Blasio said of his arrest, “is certainly not in the Michael Bloomberg playbook.”


  1. The UFT is starring in its own movie: All the Wrong Moves and we teachers are the unwilling extras in the production. From contract negotiations to charter colocations to the new teacher evaluation system, they have made all the wrong decisions. I couldn't be more disgusted with them. Thompson is not going to be the candidate. Maybe someone should tell Michael Mulgrew that most middle class New Yorkers won't vote for Thompson because he seems like a political hack and most teachers won't vote for him because Merryl Tisch is his campaign manager.

  2. We must have read it differently because both articles on deBlasio--tried to make him out as a bleeding-heart liberal who will financially drain the city and destroy the "achievements" of Bloomberg.

    This article was a veiled attempt to scare off voters.

    Norm: I taught in 15 (pre deblasio) as does Julie. What did deBlasio do??????? email me

  3. For someone who can remember back more than 10 years (I plead guilty) the Times article cited and excerpted below highlights 2 ironies:

    --It mentions how DeBlasio has taken to calling New York "A tale of two cities". Well, in the 2001 Democratic primary for mayor, when Fernando Ferrer spoke of "The two New Yorks", the always tasteful N.Y. Post ran a cartoon of him kissing Al Sharpton's butt. When a discussion was held in a Brooklyn restaurant about turning that cartoon into a flyer against Ferrer to distribute to more conservative Democratic voters who were no admirers of Sharpton, the strategy was signed off on by a campaign operative for Ferrer's opponent, Mark Green. That operative was a close colleague of DeBlasio's in both ACORN and the Working Families Party. The strategy cost Green the support of Ferrer and his allies once Green won the primary and may have indirectly led to the election of Bloomberg as a result. DeBlasio was not himself in the room at the time the flyer was approved or working for Green, but it's interesting that a variant on Ferrer's phrase now turns up in his campaign.

    --The article also quotes Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson saying that DeBlasio "has a very 1960's, 1970's vision for the city. If you prefer the version of the city that existed then, he's your guy". It's been pointed out that Wolfson used to do work for the U.F.T. before he went to work for Bloomberg and became their enemy, but before that, he was the Press Secretary for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign in 2000. His Boss? Campaign Manager Bill DeBlasio.

    It's nice how you can count on people in politics to have clearly defined, unshakeable points of view about everything, isn't it?

    In addition, the article paints DeBlasio as THE choice for the progressive, liberal, left-leaning (choose your descriptor) segment of the primary voters, as if John Liu doesn't exist. Some might consider J.L. to be at the left end of the Democratic spectrum in this particular race.

  4. I'll listen to Wolfson as much as I'll listen to the tree by the block.

    You know it bears saying, judge by actions more than words. Whatever liberal cred Wolfson had pre-Bloomberg is 100% gone now. He defends all of Prince Bloomberg's policies that are scapegoating teachers and destroying their profession and dignity, and degrading the quality of students' education.
    A criticism from Wolfson is a sign that deBlasio is going in the right direction.
    I doubt that you read any of this post's well-made argument.

    This article tells the Interfaith story:


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