Monday, May 31, 2021

Dianne Morales, Part 2: Hits from the left - Ross Barkan

May 31, 2021 - I posted Part 1 on Morales yesterday

The Dianne Morales Mayoral Dramedy - an Ed Notes never ending serial - Part 1 - the NYT Take - Attacks on Progressives

Apparently there are some people - some white people - who feel I have no right to post critical pieces about a woman of color. The same kind of attitude that allowed Neo-liberal in Chief Obama to skate by. With every passing day as I hear more stories -- like his labor cabinet member Tom Perez, taking a legal job with a major anti-union firm focused on stopping unions from being established. Or press spokesman Jay Carney running PR for Bezos. 

Whereas a progressive candidate like Morales would expect to take hits from the right, she seems to be getting them from the left not just for not being a true leftist, but for not being involved in any of the major struggles over the past 20 years, even going back to two years ago.

But given the state of the candidates I will still put her as one of my choices. 

Here are two Ross Barkan articles a month or so apart, with the latest from today coming first but read the older one for context since it predates the events of the past week but may have been the first real shot. Part 3 will delve into more details on the current crisis.

It's Not Enough to Talk Like the Left

On the perils of the Dianne Morales campaign

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Dianne Morales Mayoral Dramedy - an Ed Notes never ending serial - Part 1 - the NYT Take - Attacks on Progressives

A quick summary before we start:

A key person we need to pay attention to is Amanda van Kessel who worked with Morales at her previous job and still works there. She used her relationship apparently to lord it over others. She's also white in a sea of people of color. She was first demoted and then fired. She's also DSA, as was the campaign manager, Whitney Hu, who quit. It is not clear if she quit because van Kessel was fired or because she wasn't fired quickly enough. But both are Queens branch DSA --- which I am also a fringe member of. Oh, the drama to come there as many other Morales staffers also came out of DSA Queens branch.

May 30, 2021, 9 AM

The Morales campaign implosion, apparently unique in political lore, is going to have consequences for how some campaigns are organized in the future. There are lessons about bringing good friends into a campaign. See what happened to Scott Stringer whose supposed friend, Jean Kim, who he says he had a brief relationship with, turned on him 20 years later and imploded his campaign. 

Let me say right up front - I've always had doubts about Morales but this strikes me as a hit job and I intend to pick her as one of my mayoral choices.

Lesson 1: Beware of friends in high campaign places

NYT... two campaign staff members, Ramses Dukes and Amanda van Kessel, had been dismissed. She said they were the employees accused of misconduct. Ms. van Kessel had previously worked with Ms. Morales at the social services arm of Phipps Houses, a housing development group. Mr. Dukes could not be reached for comment, and Ms. van Kessel did not respond to requests for comment.
The two leading progressives in the race have had their campaigns undermined. It is ironic that Morales and many of her supported immediately attacked Stringer and are now claiming Dianne needs a chance to explain. Ironic in that one person charged Stringer while 60 complained about Morales -- obviously not as serious a charge but numbers do count. If no other shoe drops on Stringer, on June 23, when Stringer who had been in the running loses because of that one charge and we end up with who knows who, we might see a reassessment of how to deal with the metoo movement.

I'm going to examine the Morales story in depth because there are many lessons for progressives. Was this a hit by the left, led by DSA members who felt that Morales was a faux leftist - which I have come to believe - but if they didn't know what they were getting into it's on them. Morales has become an instant leftist - she voted for Cuomo and didn't endorse any of the new leftist candidates - but DSA people, including her campaign manager, knew that going in.

In Part 1 I want to share the NYT take which with the comments is an attack on progressives. (Remember - the Times endorsed Garcia who has promised to lift the charter school cap -- do not even list her.) And not all if it is undeserved though we have a lot of unpacking to do. I mean,  a campaign is not a long-term job and some staffers have only recently been hired. A union in the midst of a campaign with one month to go? That's progressiveness gone too far.

Comments at NYT emphasize the anti-progressive pov:

This sounds like sabotage at the highest level. Trying to unionize with four weeks left in the campaign? The staff knows they are sabotaging more than this race; her career is on the line, her name splashed all over the media while the team gets to walk away & join a different campaign. Sad state of affairs all around.


Welcome to progressivism 101. Any success is met with claims of “toxic workplace.” The very values one holds get weaponized against you by people who don’t like it when they don’t feel “centered”. And because you built your campaign on “centering” everyone, you can’t call it what it actually is: selfishness, when they don’t like the fact that you are actually the boss and have to make decisions. It’s lose/lose. And why progressives- despite caring deeply about actual policy, will never win.


This is why kids with no experience doing anything probably shouldn’t gain control of large governments. Reading through Twitter feeds of her staffers reads like the angry message boards of high schoolers upset about a school dress code.


Was really excited about Morales....but she is turning out to be yet another DeBlasio: all talk, 0 action, and considers herself above it all. Depressing to say the least.


She messed up with handling this, but I will say it is peak irony that a "progressive" candidate is sunk by her own truly progressive staff. Also, I agree with the post from the portland guy talking about activist politics. I have seen the exact same thing. It's like my pops always said: "When you're a hammer, everything is a nail." Activist staffers can make for virtually ungovernable teams leaving leaders stuck between a rock and a hard place. The devolution into chaos can be swift thereafter.


I stopped calling myself a progressive when I saw this same circular firing squad happening over and over again in activist politics here in Portland. Noble objectives, but terrible tactics and ungovernable team dynamics hamper the progressive movement’s ability to make change happen.

 More to come in parts 2 through infinity.

Here's the entire article:

Two staff members have quit, two have been fired and four others involved in a unionization drive have been terminated.


Friday, May 28, 2021

Video - Retiree Advocate Press Conference Fight to Keep Medicare

Friday, May 28, 2021, 9:30 PM

Over 150 retirees attended the press conference on Monday protesting the attempt to move 250K NYC municipal retirees out of medicare into privatized insurance plans (remember how well privatizing school systems via charters has worked out).

Here's the video of the entire event. Excellent speakers and great specially written songs - Imagine No Health Care --

 In case you're catching up here are ed notes posts recently:

And here are Gloria's comments:

Watch the Retiree Advocate's Press Conference from Monday, May 24th:

It was a quite a success with about 150 people attending including a large and loud group of members from the DC 37- Retiree Association. Their President Ed Hysyk and Vice President Neil Frumkin spoke. Many PSA retirees were there and of course, UFT retirees were out in force. Probably some other unions were in the crowd.

Other speakers included David Kotelchuck from the Social Safety Net Committee of PSC-CUNY, Mariana Gaston from the CSA, Dr. Alec Pruchnicki, a board member for Physicians for National Health Care, Denise Rickles and Bennett Fischer, UFT Retiree Advocates, and Naomi Zewde, Asst.Professor from CUNY and advocate for the New York Health Act.

We did get some media attention which is no small feat in NYC. The Chief News came as did WBAI. WPIX-11 also covered it and had a short clip on the Monday night news. We heard that Channel 4 reported it and there might have been other media as well.

Our incredible Sound Man Joel Breitbart not only brought his system but he recorded the entire Conference. And the People's Dave Lippman was an added bonus. He composed a few songs just for this occasion and performed them for the crowd.

Ann Ambia, a DC 37 Retiree, took pictures which we have posted on our RA Facebook page. There were other people with cameras and we look forward to getting more photos so we can share them with you.

Finally, this could not have happened without the efforts of so many of our RA folks!
Thank you and we must continue this fight!

We Say NO to privatization of our Medicare
PS Don't forget to mail in your UFT Retiree Chapter Election ballot
Gloria Brandman


Ravitch on NYC Mayoral Race and Charters Piling in

Dianne Morales has pitched herself as the most progressive candidate in the field, but neglects to mention that she was a Pahara Fellow or that she has long-standing ties to charter world... Diane Ravitch

I've been sleptical about Morales but will get deeper into those weeds soon. The charter industry has evil intent -- to destroy public schools and offer them up to private industry. Any candidate who takes money from them is suspect.

What campaign other than Stringer has no charter money? That alone tells you something. Charters are anti union - 95% non union. And anti public schools. The goal is to charterize which is privatize the nation and eliminate teacher unions. Like they did in New Orleans and fired mostly black union members. Funded by billionaires. Here in nyc coalitions have managed to hold the line and charters are a dirty word in some quarters. Even the Uft has been weak and we formed a pre More group called GEM to engage them in battle and push the Uft. The charter cap is what’s holding them back and protecting your jobs. They are spreading money around to candidates for that purpose. The honorable thing to do is refuse their money. The BloomKlein admin was a despicable neo liberal operation and Disnevtook a high position in that admin which is what caused my initial reaction. But let’s give her a benefit of the doubt though I have tried to discern an explanation. She also worked for New Visions and during the school closing wars of attacks on poor communities they were on the wrong side. To watch kids crying and begging for their schools to remain open was searing. I have hours of tape of those hearings and we used that footage which also included abused parents who left charters crying in our interview in our movie.

@eapelosi asked a meaningful question

@eapelosi asked a meaningful question. What campaign other than Stringer has no charter money? That alone tells you something. Charters are anti union - 95% non union. And anti public schools. The goal is to charterize which is privatize the nation and eliminate teacher unions. Like they did in New Orleans and fired mostly black union members. Funded by billionaires. Here in nyc coalitions have managed to hold the line and charters are a dirty word in some quarters. Even the Uft has been weak and we formed a pre More group called GEM to engage them in battle and push the Uft. The charter cap is what’s holding them back and protecting your jobs. They are spreading money around to candidates for that purpose. The honorable thing to do is refuse their money. The BloomKlein admin was a despicable neo liberal operation and Disnevtook a high position in that admin which is what caused my initial reaction. But let’s give her a benefit of the doubt though I have tried to discern an explanation. She also worked for New Visions and during the school closing wars of attacks on poor communities they were on the wrong side. To watch kids crying and begging for their schools to remain open was searing. I have hours of tape of those hearings and we used that footage which also included abused parents who left charters crying in our interview in our movie

Ka-Ching! The Charter Lobby Buys into NYC’s Mayoral Race

by dianeravitch


In a crowded field of candidates in the Democratic primary, only two are opposed to expanding the number of charters in a city with hundreds of them: Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley.

The other candidates support more charters at a time when the national Democratic Party seems to realize that charters are a key component of the rightwing’s longtime goal of privatization of the public schools. Charter advocates started a PAC for Eric Adams. Andrew Yang supports charter schools and is advised by former Mayor Bloomberg’s advisor Bradley Tusk (Bloomberg was very pro-charter). Financier Ray McGuire’s campaign relies on Bloomberg’s chancellor Joel Klein for advice (his wife is the campaign manager).

Betsy DeVos loves charter schools, so does the anti-union Walton family and Charles Koch. Across the country, Republican legislators and governors are passing legislation to expand charters and vouchers, while Democrats put public schools first.

This article explains how deeply entangled one of the candidates is with the charter industry. Dianne Morales has pitched herself as the most progressive candidate in the field, but neglects to mention that she was a Pahara Fellow or that she has long-standing ties to charter world.

Those ties are now producing an outpouring of contributions from the charter industry. And Kathryn Garcia, who was endorsed by the New York Times and the New York Daily News, declared recently that she wants more charter schools in the city and will ask the legislature to raise the cap.

There are currently 267 charter schools in the city. Of 1.1 million public schools in the city, 88% are enrolled in the long-neglected public schools. Ironically, by handing off more students to charter schools, the mayor (whoever it may be) is acknowledging his or her own incompetence as leader of the city’s schools.

At the beginning of the campaign, Scott Stringer was the favorite. He served in the legislature, and he is currently the City Comptroller, meaning he has detailed knowledge of the budget and the city’s massive bureaucracy. The United Federation of Teachers endorsed him, along with many progressive groups. But then a woman stepped forward to say that 20 years ago, when they were both single, he groped her. Many of those who endorsed Stringer withdrew their endorsements. Although I have a tendency to believe women in these situations, I think it’s unfair to discredit a candidate based on an unverified allegation. Stringer has been a candidate many times, and the accuser remained silent.

The charter industry has demonstrated time and again that it has the deep pockets to buy elections. What it has not bought is academic success.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Retiree Update: MLC and City at Impasse over which private health care to use, negotiations on hold

Someone posted this info -- the battle is between Aetna and Emblem --- we don't know which group the city or MLC favor -- I assume the city favors the one that will screw us the most. Was it our pressure? Not likely according to sources but on the other hand the pressure might have firmed up the MLC a bit to resist to some extent, though they are still going ahead.

I am guessing the city wants Aetna which is probably worse than Emblem, which at least many of us have dealt with. Isn't Aetna our dental plan, which sucks? I don't really remember and am too lazy to look it up.

The problem is it now goes to arbitration and the fact is we get screwed either way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

UFT/Unity Troll Opposition, sometimes on our dime

The UFT has apparently assigned people to monitor social media for critics and to respond in kind defending UFT leadership positions. Do they get paid extra? Maybe they need a union. DOE employees have been hounded for their social media posts even when off time.

Do people who work for us (supposedly) have the right to engage in attacks on UFT members who are critical of union policies? By virtue of being paid a salary - and not an insubstantial salary -- is part of their job to defend the UFT leadership on social media?

UFT officials at work

It would seem so as the other day I noticed on certain FB teacher chats a battle over some policy of other in which people who clearly work for the UFT attacking a critic, with one calling the critic anti-union. And when I looked at the time, it was clearly during working hours for UFT staff -- which for many is until 6PM.

If they were working for the DOE they would be in the rubber room. Maybe our union needs a rubber room. 

But what if they do this after working hours? Do they have free speech even if working for the UFT? An interesting question and I generally come down on the side of they do --- but I question if trolling for the leadership is really free speech.

Trolling means you are following a line --- talking points - we know they are because they are all so similar. Thus if the leadership says night is day, they all put on their shades. And if they reverse position they adamantly defend the position they were recently attacking.

Remember the common core and how punchy Mike defended it, only to abandon that defense not long after?

So is it really free speech when you are being handed a script?

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Monday Noon near City Hall: Media Advisory: Press conference to save Medicare for NYC Municipal workers

Join us Monday and make sure to vote RA in chapter election. The more people who are there the more impact.


Yes, a vote for us is a vote for stopping some of the crap that is going on.

Monday will be a rare day where I will venture forth from my fortress to join other municipal retirees, many from the UFT, in a press conference to focus attention on the move toward moving us from public Medicare to privatized Medicare Advantage, the very wrong direction our union should be going in.

I helped write more detailed info piece. click here.

This advisory, which I helped put together (this entire process had been a real learning experience for this old dog)  is going out to the press.

From:  RetireeAdvocate/UFT  Visit us on Facebook


Media Advisory: Press conference to save Medicare for NYC Municipal workers

Press Contacts:

Bennett Fischer (

Prudence Hill (

Norm Scott (

WHAT: NYC municipal union retirees gather to save Medicare and protest Municipal Labor Committee/NYC attempt to force them out of Medicare into privatized Medicare Advantage plan.

WHEN:  Monday, May 24, 2021

TIME: 12 Noon

WHO: Retiree Advocate/UFT, a caucus of retirees in the United Federation of Teachers and allies in other municipal unions and supporters defend our ability to remain on Medicare and reject attempts to move us to a privatized plan.

WHERE: Park Row/Centre St. outside City Hall Park by the 4/5/6 City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge Subway Station


A moratorium on any change to existing Medicare plan

NO to privatization of government managed Medicare 

Transparency on all negotiations with decision-making from all members

The Metropolitan Labor Council (MLC), consisting of a number of unions, including the UFT, and the NYC Office of Labor Relations are in the final stages of negotiations to move 250,000 municipal workers currently enrolled in government-managed Medicare into privately-managed Medicare Advantage with inherent disadvantages:

·       High administrative costs

·       Profit motive

·       Excessive executive salaries

·       Restrictions on patient services

We condemn unions’ willingness to move away from public to privatization of government-manages Medicare. Supposed savings can only come on the backs of retirees. Stop the sell! Save traditional Medicare for NYC retirees!

For further information, click here.


This is not going out to the press:

To clear up a bit of confusion for some. While we whistle while we work we are under a private plan which continues when we retire - until we reach 65 when we go onto Medicare for 80% of our health care - I haven't heard any complaints and 98% of doctors take it. The other 20% co-pay is still privately managed.

Before reaching 65 we generally had a choice of GHI where we have more freedom to choose our doctors and a more restricted HIP plan where your doctors have to be part of the network and you need permissions to go to specialists. Some are very happy with HIP.

And the UFT leadership has used the fact that we have had privately managed care as a way to attack us for making a mountain out of a molehill. We are not.

Neo-lib Dems like Clinton wanted to save money on our backs and in the 90s allowed private insurance to offer Medicare type plans on their own to compete with Medicare -- with the obvious aim of killing Medicare off altogether. This causes some confusion for people hitting 65 and I get calls all the time about what to do, upon with I ask my wife who managed medical billing in a large hospital for decades who then shouts - tell them NO - stick with Medicare.

Funny, but as recently as March when a Retiree Advocate member went for a meeting at the UFT they were being told the same thing -- stay away from Medicare Advantage plans. Some are scams in essence.

So low and behold as we are in the final stages of the UFT retiree chapter election, we begin to hear that the Municipal Labor Committee, where Mulgrew is VP, is about to announce a forced move out of Medicare into a MedADV plan and people are reprising our youth in the 60s:


Thursday, May 20, 2021


A vote for Retiree Advocate is a vote to protect your health plan.

Ballots are out and here is the chance for retirees to send the UFT leadership a message that they are not happy with the way secret negotiations have taken place to push a quarter million municipal union members out of the public Medicare and into a privatized Medicare Adv program.

Numbers count -- Retiree Advocate had 450 people register for its webinar a few weeks ago -- UFT leaders took notice.

The same with this vote -- the more we get the better the chance to influence the leaders. No, we don't expect to win but a serious improvement on our usual 20% will serve notice not to tamper with retiree benefits, especially since Unity Caucus uses retirees to hold on to power. Even a 10% shift in this election might cause a shift in next year's general UFT election. If Mulgrew totals every dropped below 70% of retirees, the UFT elections become more possible for the opposition. 

In response to the health care issue:


Numbers count there too even if only a press conference where usually 30 people show - Imagine if a couple of hundred showed up -- that would scare the hell out if Unity -- so if you are free on Monday -- see u there.

We have an amazing list of 130 candidates, including UFT activists and superstars going back a half century - some of whom I didn't speak to for decades. OY! Strange bedfellows, indeed. You should see some comments on the Retiree Advocate listserve. I love open debate which you can't find in too many places in today's world, both left and right.

Why so many candidates? We could have run 300.

We are voting on a retiree chapter leader, ten officers, a 25 member retiree ex board (not to be confused with the regular UFT Ex Bd), and 300 delegates to the Delegate Assembly - another key element of Unity control. It's winner take all so even if we got 20% we get no delegates or ex bd members. 

Taxation (dues) without representation

So we are entitled morally and democratically to 20% of the delegates - 60 - and don't think having 60 retired activists in the DA wouldn't have an impact. And of course Unity will never give. But our voters get no representation at all at the DA. We need to throw the tea bags at the retiree meetings into the ocean.
But this time we asked Unity for a measly 5 delegates. And of course they said no --- all their 300 positions were filled.

Unity delegate banned for vote at DA

But then we found out that Unity delegate Dave Pecoraro who blew up the April DA by opposing Unity endorse Corey Johnson and was one of the 300 that morning, was tossed off the Unity slate - past the deadline for  submission - after the DA -- supposedly at Mulgrew's orders. He Mulgrew -- I'll take Dave's place.

Unity even cheats on leaflet enclosed with ballot -- prints RA on cheap paper

Did you notice our leaflet that came with the ballot -- went out to all 70,000 retirees. The Unity leaflet in on yellow heavier bond paper, while ours is on cheap white paper --- but I still like ours better -- and I modestly claim to have played a major role in producing it. And I loved the collaborative effort working within the RA Organizing committee. The leaflet reflects our general leftist positions but not over the top with the usual rhetoric -- I am making war on leftist rhetoric - though some may have slipped through. We have an article on why unions shouldn't opposed universal health care, a move the money from defense spending article and a stock transfer tax article. 


Monday, May 17, 2021

Finally a chance to lower class size -- Show support - and Demand the UFT leadership put skin in the game

The last time our contract addressed class size was over 50 years ago. Now money has come through to do so and you might be scratching your head as to why the

UFT leadership is not doing more to support moves in that direction. You know my theory -- that they pay lip service but fundamentally they are ed deformers and don't have a deep belief in small class size -- I know, my theory is pretty controversial, but over the years the UFT leaders have supported many ed deform underpinnings:

  • mayoral control 
  • charter schools
  • closing so-called "failed" schools based on high stakes testing
  • high stakes testing itself
  • the "good" teacher more important than class size -- as if the number of students in a class has no impact on the relative quality of the teacher and the nature of teaching itself.

Well, I'll get off my soapbox and let Leonie (who I do not believe agrees with my analysis above) talk and ask for your support for the class size bill in the state legislature.

Dear Norm:  It would be great if you could reach out to UFT members and ask them to:

  1. sign onto our petition to the Mayor, and also
  2. send a letter to their legislators asking them to support S.6296/ A. 7447, which would update and renew NYC’s commitment to implement a five-year class size reduction plan. 

If there are any who live or work in Sen. Liu’s district (generally D25 and D26) it would be great if they could also contact me at

Thanks Leonie

Leonie Haimson

Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Follow on twitter @leoniehaimson

Subscribe to the Class Size Matters newsletter for regular updates at

Subscribe to the NYC Education list serv by emailing



Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Empire Strikes Back: Cheney-Bush Republicans to Attack Trumpies with Real Republican third party

No sooner had I become overwhelmed by the corpulent body of journalism about Liz Cheney as some beacon of moral clarity than I began to feel besieged by dissents about what a wretched opportunist she really is.  -- Frank Bruni

May 12: Cheney just lost her leadership position. Who gives a shit? Well, the liberal media does, which exposes how shallow they are. 


Let's face it - Liz Chaney and her dad are despicable. No heroes to me.  As are the Bushes. As is the entire anti-Trump Lincoln Republican wing of the party. What does it say that the equally despicable Elise Stefanik is way more liberal than Chaney?

It's nice to see Frank Bruni and Maureen Dowd agree with me in their op eds in last Sunday's NY Times, May 8, 2021. The headlines say it all.

But I've been watching with interest. Why did she escalate her war with Trump? Yesterday she made another speech on the floor - and many Republicans walked out. These are calculated moves.

Certainly not because of moral fervor or adherence to democracy - remember Iraq! No, it's a calculated attempt to take back the party. And it's not a totally dumb move.

Trump has 70% of the party. But he doesn't have 30%. And that 30% is the key. Last week I heard an anti-Trumper on Morning Joe say something is coming and today I think it dropped in the NYT:

Over 100 Republicans, including former officials, threaten to split from G.O.P.

 “This is us saying that a group of more than 100 prominent Republicans think that the situation has gotten so dire with the Republican Party that it is now time to seriously consider whether an alternative might be the only option,” he said.

We know that third parties can't really win. But I don't see that as the aim. They can't win primaries with 30% but if they run in the general elections and pull 25-30% of the vote, they can help Democrats win, which they view as temporary until they regain control of the Party, which they feel they will as Trump support begins to slip -- and it will if they start losing elections.

And even internal polls show that Trump support is slipping but they are afraid to announce that.

And no worries, the Bush/Chaney wing has plenty of money, especially from corporations which will rush to help them take back control.

So imagine in battleground states the Real Republicans taking away even 15% of the vote (and some of that may come from Dems if their candidate is too far left). 

They will pick their spots. And it will be interesting to see if they will get this going in time for the 2022 midterms -- they need to start now. Or wait until the 2024 elections and run Chaney for president in key states. 

Will it work? They understand that many in the party are with them but afraid of Trump because they don't think they can win without him. But if they start to lose with him, the feeling is the spell will be broken and by 2028 they will be in control again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mayoral Election Update: UFT/AFT Defiantly Doubles Down on Stringer Support

If one allegation, with shaky evidence, is enough to short-circuit a political career, a new playbook is opened up, one left-leaning Democrats must take into account when embarking on future campaigns.... Ross Barkan

“I’m very proud of that endorsement because of what Scott has done and what he will do,” said Ms. Weingarten, the former president of the U.F.T. “I think he’ll be a great mayor. Am I troubled by the allegations? Of course,” she said, adding, “I’m also a unionist who has dealt with false allegations.”... NY Times report , Eliza Shapiro

The United Federation of Teachers is boosting Mr. Stringer’s embattled campaign with an advertising blitz.

Also see

Rushing to Judgment on Scott Stringer: The Nation

I don’t know what happened. But here’s what I do know. We cannot flourish as a society if a single accusation out of the blue upends an election overnight and ruins a 30-year career in politics. More information may clarify matters, but as of now, we don’t have it. Love him or hate him—and I spoke to people who consider Stringer arrogant and bullying, as well as others who think he’s “sweet,” “clumsy,” and “nebbishy”—he’s entitled to a more measured assessment, as are the voters of New York City. It is shocking that so many political figures would abandon him so quickly. Why did they do that? 

The Nation is left-progressive, as are The Intercept and Krystal Ball, and they all have raised questions, as has Ross Barkan, over the rush to judgement.

Also interesting takeaways from the NYT article of support for Stringer, who is unlikely to win, yet the AFT/UFT are not backing away. The fact that Randi seems to be leading this local battle from the national stage and not Mulgrew shows us she is still pulling the strings. He isn't even mentioned in the article.

Shapiro, not exactly teachers' favorite ed reporter made a fair point (finally):

Some parents and mayoral candidates have accused the union of slowing the pace of school reopenings in New York over the last year. But with the majority of families still choosing to learn remotely, there is no evidence of a significant public backlash against the union.

The fact is when you look at all the other candidates, the UFT doesn't really have an alternative path to Stringer, though Wiley is favored by some in the second tier leadership. Morales, favored by MORE Caucus, is too left for the union. Ironically, I recently heard a left wing NYC tennant organizer trashing her left creds because she spent a decade running an agency of a major landlord. I also often point out that Morales apparently worked in the Joel Klein anti-union administration.

Leading candidates Yang and Adams are now viewed by the UFT as existential threats. Yang is Bloomberg light as evidenced by Bradley Tusk's control of his campaign. And Adams is clearly a Charter industry clone, as evidenced by Jenny Sedlis, my old sparring partner from Success Academy, taking a leave of absense from running the ani-union Students First to form an Adams PAC. 

I speculated in my report on The Intercept and Rising exposure of discrepancies in Stringer's accuser's story that Stringer, who ended Eva's political career, is a particular danger to Success and the charter industrial complex and the political hit on him serves them well -- I never put it beyond them in alliance with the Bloomberg crowd. 

Mulgrew went off on Yang/Adams at last night's Ex bd as reported by Arthur:

Will be NYT story about how UFT and AFT have opened up support for Stringer and others. Mayor's race will really get hot and heavy now. Something we thought was happening seems to have come to fruition. Agency run by Bradley Tusk, who campaigned against UFT running Yang campaign, and Students First giving 6 million to Eric Adams. These groups have worked to get city hall back. They are now major players with two candidates. Will get ugly. All the colocation fights can be tied to these agencies. Every time something bad happens, you'll see them involved when it comes to us. 

We know who these people are, and we thought Adams would work with Students First. Thanks groups who did vetting, dug into finances, and checked who they supported and donated to. Will discuss in detail at Town Hall and DA. 

Mayor's race shaping into three person race. Stringer has allegations against him, but most unions who've endorsed have stuck. Allegations are allegations. Our group that first endorsed says we should continue.

Never thought we'd go back to Bloomberg days. Yang isn't billionaire, but is tied with this group. Adams is tied with Students First. We will get word out.

This will be their selling point for Stringer, and you know it might energize some UFTers. I'm thinking about putting him first. I also view Garcia in a similar light given her support for the white upper west side parents who want schools open no matter what (she spoke at their rally in Harlem along with Yang - I was at the counter rally. -- Rally in Harlem as Parents, Educators Stage Counter Rally to Mostly White Parent Demands to Open Schools and disregard safety issues -)

Ross Barkan has a fascinating must read analysis of the mayoral race with a focus on Stringer: Scott Stringer, #MeToo, and What's Next for the Left: A major scandal roils the mayoral race.

Stringer, unlike Cuomo, had never developed any kind of reputation of acting inappropriately toward women. There were no stories of boozy holiday parties or anecdotes of hugs and kisses that lasted far too long. Stringer was especially not flirtatious. Current and former aides, many of them female, spoke highly of him. Stringer, at age 40 or 41, may have been a sexual predator. But he may not have been. The incident with Kim took place 20 years ago. There are no witnesses, as of now, that have come forward to recall that Kim related this allegation to them in 2001 or shortly after.

Barkan also points to the dangers of the MeToo movement that leaps immediatley to cancel anyone charged before a vetting process takes place and how the movement can be weaponized to bring down any candidate, especially progressives. After giving details of The Intercept report, Barkan says:

None of this, on its own, proves Kim is lying. But it does raise an uncomfortable question for the progressive Democrats most concerned about holding men in politics accountable for their untoward behavior: how much evidence is really required for an allegation? What allegations should be strong enough to end a political career? The standard set from the Stringer incident is that one allegation made by one person, no matter the time elapsed or the amount of evidence presented, is sufficient. And perhaps, they would argue, that is how politics should be conducted from 2021 onwards. Women should be believed. Once they speak out, that’s enough.

At least, with Cuomo, there are many allegations, and some of the calls for his resignation have stemmed from a potential cover-up of nursing home deaths and a scandalous pandemic response. Some of the women stepping forward against Cuomo accuse him of harassing them as recently as last year. Kim’s allegation, having taken place 20 years ago, cannot be substantiated in such a way. It is notable, too, that many long-time Stringer allies were willing to ditch his mayoral campaign entirely even though no man or woman has come forward to tell the media that Kim related the incident to them in 2001. For investigations into claims of harassment and assault, this is the initial bar of evidence that usually needs to be cleared.

If one allegation, with shaky evidence, is enough to short-circuit a political career, a new playbook is opened up, one left-leaning Democrats must take into account when embarking on future campaigns. Last year, a popular 31-year-old progressive running for Congress in Massachusetts, Alex Morse, was accused of engaging in improper sexual conduct with younger men when he was a college instructor. Morse, who had been mayor of the town of Holyoke at the time, insisted all relationships he had were consensual. No one accused him of dating men younger than the age of consent.

The allegations, the Intercept later reported, were a farce. The College Democrats at the University of Massachusetts Amherst had plotted in 2019 about ways to ensnare Morse, a young gay man, in scandal. They were all supporters of Morse’s establishment opponent, Richard Neal. The State Democratic Party of Massachusetts even coordinated with the College Democrats on how these allegations could be planted in the media. In the end, the scheme worked: Neal, the incumbent congressman, won re-election comfortably.

What happened to Morse could easily happen to other ascendant progressives in the future. Conservative political operatives—or those aligned with the Democratic establishment—can aim to coordinate or manufacture an allegation, knowing that left institutions and politicians will rapidly withdraw their support for the rising candidate. Morse quickly lost the endorsement of the Sunrise Movement and other progressive organizations, though the allegations immediately appeared dubious. If Democrats on the left want to end any semblance of due process—if allegations, on their own, are the equivalent of a conviction—than it is not hard to imagine how this will be exploited by nefarious actors.

Stringer is not Morse and there’s no evidence that other Democrats are coordinating with Kim to damage Stringer’s campaign. Kim very well might be telling the truth. The allegation lacks direct evidence, but Stringer cannot disprove it, either. It will be up to voters, ultimately, to judge Stringer, because he has rejected calls from his rivals to drop out. With more than $7 million to spend, he is forging onward, toward an uncertain finish on June 22nd.

What’s not yet clear is how Stringer will be evaluated by the hundreds of thousands of Democrats who will show up to vote. Polling in the next few weeks will tell us. It’s very possible the allegation doesn’t hurt Stringer’s position all that much. His supporters, many of whom have been voting for him since the 1990s and 2000s, aren’t all defecting to front-runners like Yang and Adams. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales are hoping to hoover up disaffected Stringer voters, though we don’t know yet how many of these people they’ll be able to pull into their own camps. There is growing evidence in polling data that older Democrats are not so easily moved by sexual harassment and assault allegations. There’s a reason Cuomo has ignored calls for his own resignation. Some Democrats, believing Al Franken was unfairly driven from the Senate, are becoming less willing than progressive organizations and politicians to throw their own overboard, especially since Republicans almost never do.

That’s Stringer’s political calculus. Assuming no new allegations, it may work in at least maintaining a kind of stasis: a consistent third place in the polls, with the hope of a last minute surge. Stringer’s most pivotal endorsers haven’t defected yet. Congressman Jerry Nadler, the king of the Upper West Side, is still with Stringer, as is the United Federation of Teachers. Older voters of color are also not likely to judge Stringer especially harshly, since it was Spitzer, the scandal-scarred former governor, who dominated Black and Latino neighborhoods as he narrowly lost to Stringer in that 2013 comptroller’s race. It’s no accident Stringer has been hitting the church circuit every weekend.

If Stringer remains viable and manages to come close to capturing the Democratic nomination, it will be a further indictment of the nonprofit left organizations and the elected officials aligned with them. For the last decade, these organizations, like the Working Families Party, have boasted of their power to move voters, to decide the direction of the left flank of the Democratic Party. Most of the politicians who deserted Stringer are closely allied with WFP and their member organizations, and seem to believe, publicly at least, they are representative of the working class voters of this city and can mobilize them at pivotal moments.

 The NYT article: