Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Longest Day: A TV Show and the End of UFT Petitioning

You'd think that a retiree would barely notice a glorious snow day. But I am revelling in it almost as much as my former colleagues.

I had quite a busy day yesterday, with a morning trip to downtown Brooklyn to do a TV show, a trip back to Rockaway for lunch and then back to the city for what was originally supposed to be 3 events. Here's the skinny on the day, which ended with an embarrassing senior moment.

I was asked to appear on Intersects, a Brooklyn cable access TV show (BCAT) hosted by Brian Vines with educator and commentator Joel Shatzky and Brooklyn PEP appointee Gbubemi Okotieuro, who teaches at Medgar Evers College. We had an invigorating half hour discussion about closing schools. Joel has the handle on the negative impact of high stakes tests and seems to agree with many of the points that the ed deform movement is about a political and not an educational agenda. Nigerian born Gbubemi, who made the motion at the Jan. 26 PEP to table the motion to close the schools pending further study, voted against closing the schools but still has hopes of getting BloomKlein to be reasonable. His recent activity on the PEP gives us hope he will join with Manhattan's Patrick Sullivan and the Bronx' Ana Santos in standing up to the Klein Klones.

It was a pleasure to meet Gbubemi in person and he has a great presence. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does on the PEP and he knows I'll be the first to jump on him if he stays too near the BloomKlein flame. Joel and I have been in touch a few times over the past few days and he has a lot to offer on many issues. He blogs at Huffington's Educating for Democracy blog.

The show airs - in Brooklyn only - on the following schedule:
1st and 3rd Mondays of the month at 9:30pm- look for it on Monday Feb. 15

Mondays and Thursdays at 1:30pm & 9:30pm; Wednesdays at 3pm & 11pm

Time Warner Cable 56, Cablevision 69, RCN 84, Verizon 44

It will be in the internet a week after the premiere.

UFT Election Petitions DONE!!!!!

Yippeee! Yesterday afternoon ICE and TJC handed in our petitions to get on the ballot for the UFT elections (ballots go out March 7) - two days early. Not too shabby to get this annoyance out of the way.

We were delayed in getting started on the tv show, so my plan to go back to Rockaway to pick them up and head into the city put me on a very tight schedule. I ate a hurried lunch and headed back into the city with my backpack loaded up with petitions. I drive half way and take the subway the rest of the way. I shlepped my backpack into the train and plopped it down on an empty seat - covered with water. I had visions of thousands of petitions with runny ink but was saved by the toughness of the back pack.

My first stop was at Murray Bergtraum to pick one last batch of petitions and then down to the UFT.

Each of the two caucuses did the petitions their way, helping each other out when needed. ICE held petition signing parties in various schools and the response was wonderful. Thanks to the teaching and non-teaching (secties, paras, social workers, guidance, etc) at Francis Lewis, Murray Bergtraum, PS 193, Jamaica HS for hosting these parties and to all the UFT members at so many other schools that made the process fairly painless, though I don't think Ellen Fox of ICE, who did so much of the leg work, would agree.

This was the first time I was so involved in the process and what started out as an annoyance became an interesting exercise as I went to many schools to pick up and deliver.

I raced over from Bergtraum to meet Megan Behrent from TJC and Ellen in the back of the UFT lobby to bundle the massive stacks of petitions, which we then delivered to Ray Frankel, who is a UFT institution. (I think we used to deliver petitions to her in the 1970's.)

If you didn't know it, putting together a slate is the only way to really get involved in UFT elections. Carmen Applewhite is running as an individual for president and the petitioning (she needs 900 to get on the ballot) must be a nightmare. But the process does give her a chance to get the word out and I would bet that even if she doesn't have all the names the UFT might allow her to run - why not confuse people even more and she would probably draw some votes from ICE-TJC, though I also think her candidacy might mobilize some people to vote who otherwise would ignore the election. I always think - the more the merrier. In Chicago they have 6 caucuses running- but they have a runoff there if you don't get 50% of the vote.

Candidates are allowed to "buy" chapter leader lists for $10 and I had ordered a batch. Ray handed me piles of cards (1500) that were heavier than the petitions. I couldn't pawn any of them off on Megan or Ellen, so I ended up shlepping them home. (They will make good traction for my car in the snow.) Before she would give me the chapter leader cards I had to sign an agreement we would not use the information in any way other than for the election. Sure, and what will they do to us if we misuse the info? Do I have to cancel that plane we hired to write every single chapter leader's name over the skies of New York? This is a new wrinkle -the need for me to sign a document stating I would not use the CL list for purposes other than the election, which we never had to sign in the past. I intend to use the CL cards to clean up cat vomit. Think the UFT will sanction me for misuse?

This new wrinkle, was apparently aimed at Carmen Applewhite for some reason, who rumor has it, is - or was - a Unity Caucus member and her candidacy supposedly did not make them happy, though I don't understand why. Ellen Fox represented ICE-TJC at an election committee meeting- with New Action's slug Michael Shulman, who of course voted with the Unity hacks for this provision. Ellen was the only "no" vote.

After turning in the petitions, I intended to head up to a GEM meeting at CUNY, where I was supposed to meet Columbia journalism student Katie Simon for an interview. But an email came cancelling the GEM event. So I drifted up to J&R and perused 40 inch internet ready TVs and bought some headphones. I was real hungry and started looking for a pizza place but those chapter leader lists were weighing heavy in my back pack and I hit the subway home.

As I was walking to my car in Brooklyn ready to drive back to Rockaway, my phone rang.

It was Katie, looking for me at CUNY.



  1. Hey Norm--

    What new wrinkle-- new provision?

    Please clarify--thanks

  2. I don't understand why Carmen decided to run. She should have joined forces with ICE/TJC.

  3. The new wrinkle was the need for me to sign a document stating I would not use the CL list for purposes other than the election, which we never had to sign. I intend to use the CL cards to clean up cat vomit. Think the UFT will sanction me for misuse?

  4. I love how you play coy about what you would do with the chapter leader information. In addition, you insult chapter leaders like myself by saying you are going to clean up cat vomit with our names and information. If I wasn't going to vote Unity before, I sure will now. You lack respect and humility. No wonder why ICE/TJC lacks any real momentum--they have you running the campaigns. Your negativity towards others is a real turnoff too.

  5. Wow! That's what we need more of respect and humility. Sounds like New Action to me.
    It took this little insult to get you to vote Unity? Gey Gazunt. Want positive? Check out New Action. And you are insulting my cats' vomit.

  6. I can't believe the comment at 1:58.

    What's really insulting is that Unity is passing off on the other caucuses some 1,500 names in hard copy when electronic lists exist. Last time I checked, CL Weeklies come through email. The fact that Unity didn't make the names and possibly even the email addresses available in electronic form is just gross for a caucus that claims to be "democratic."

    The bits Norm wrote about trying to get someone to schlepp those cards home with them and alternative uses for them (traction and cat vomit) only add black comedy to what is fundamentally a devilishly skewed and rigged process, invented and perpetuated by Unity caucus.

    Voting Unity is neither here nor there. That 1:58 falls for their heavy-handed tactics is what amazes me.

  7. Go to the gym--I believe there is a difference between Unity and those that work at the UFT. To say that they purposely created a burden by printing them instead of doing them electronically is ridiculous.
    But, you could say the same for ICE/TJC chances in the upcoming election.

  8. But better than New Action which should still get 8 EB seats while barely breathing as a caucus.

  9. "I believe there is a difference between Unity and those that work at the UFT...."

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

  10. Hmmm...if New Action is getting the seats than I gather they are better than ICE/TJC. An election is what it is. People are free to vote for anyone.
    The Ballot box will ultimately decide who is "better."

  11. Except they got the seats with much less votes than ICE/TJC. "Better?" you're a bigger idiot than I imagined.

  12. Thanks for staying active Norm. It's bad out there in the schools but it would be much worse if not for people like you and Ellen.


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