Thursday, February 2, 2017

Marches and Rallies and Protests, Oh My! - Norm in The Wave

Published Feb, 3, 2017 at

Marches and Rallies and Protests, Oh My!
By Norm Scott

In last week’s column I talked about my ambiguity over marches and rallies and protests unless there is some sense of organizing behind them that leads to civic action that will force political change. But since I’m too lazy to get involved in doing the scut work all that takes, I figured at least I did my bit by helping swell the post-inauguration rally here in NYC by joining the other 400,000 people. Now let me rest. But NO! People are spontaneously racing out to airports all over the nation, including so many of my friends who came to Kennedy from all over the city while I sat on my duff. Guilt began to creep into my bones.

Then I hear that the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), what passes for the NYC Board of education these days, was going to hold a meeting last Monday evening at the Tweed Courthouse, DOE HQ on Chambers St., calling for a rejection of Trump’s ed secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, who has become a laughing stock over her grizzly bear comment as justification for having guns in schools – amongst other issues that keep piling up daily.

Since DeVos will most likely be confirmed, we’ll have lots of opportunities to explore her conflicts of interest as the public schools begin to starve – hey, anyone want to buy a school and turn it into a condo? If you have children or work in a public school, you might want to Google, A sobering look at what Betsy DeVos did to education in Michigan — and what she might do as secretary of education. Even if you don’t have a child in the public schools you might want to consider the impact when that option no longer exists, which is one point I’ve been making in my series of columns on “school choice” which ultimately means less choice. In choosing Betsy, Trump is not only scraping the bottom of the barrel, he went under the barrel.

Well, back to the PEP. Not only were they going to take a vote opposing Betsy, but a spontaneous rally was going to form outside Tweed at 5PM. Crap, I did my rally for the month last Sunday. And it was cold outside. And I had spent part of Monday working with Tony Homsey and crew at the Rockaway Theatre Company getting stuff ready for Singing in the Rain. I wasn’t schlepping into the city on a cold day to stand in front of Tweed and shout myself hoarse. I did that stuff for years.

So, by 3:30, I’m sitting around my house as messages are popping up on FB about this rally – and the guilt is growing and growing and growing. Since it would take more than an hour to drive into Brooklyn, park my car and take the subway, I was running out of time. “No one is going to really show,” I tried to rationalize. “But then isn’t it my obligation to be one of the few who do?” Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my video camera, put on multi-layers of clothing and raced out the door.

I got to Tweed a little after 5 and there were already a few hundred people on the steps and the crowd kept growing to 600 people. Amazing for a spontaneous non-organized event. I went in and signed up to speak at the hearing – when they ran my id through the scanner, the security guard said I hadn’t been there in a long time – out popped a photo of me from 2008. “I look the same, don’t I?” I told the guard. He rolled his eyes.

Well, the upshot was that a whole bunch of us who went in got to speak, the PEP voted against DeVos, except, as expected, the Staten Island rep, who had to vote the way he was told by the Republican borough president who appointed him. Republicans would support Attila the Hun.

Wait a minute, they already did.

Norm is back in his cozy house bitching away at over having to do anything other than eat and hide under the covers.

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