Monday, December 4, 2023

Rambling on 2 - the 24 hour saga continued - RTC Meeting ends, Hitting the Museums - Morgan and Met

I began my report on an interesting 24 hour period with the Retired Teacher Chapter meeting on Tuesday which ended at 5:20.

Surviving almost two hours of Mulgrew and Murphy, I needed fresh air. There was a segment on how seniors can avoid scams right after Mulgrew spoke and took questions. The presentation didn't include how to avoid the Mulgrew/Murphy healthcare scam. Luckily Marianne broke down the Mulgrew lies with 4 videos that add up to almost an hour --- it took an hour to debunk Mulgrew. To set the stage:

Mulgrew: I believe in democracy 

Marianne: Laughs out loud.

part 1:

part 2:

part 3:

Part 4:

I needed to wash off the propaganda so I headed uptown where I had two conflicting events at 6. Oh the choices. 

One was the tree lighting at Bryant Park winter village with entertainment and watching professional ice skating.

The other was a members' invitation to the Morgan library for a two hour special tour of various exhibits with an expert talking about each one. I chose the latter.

Lots about Gutenberg and the bibles and also some great stuff about books on nature from 500 years ago. Morgan is a great museum and only a few blocks from my place so I go often.

The Morgan


Then off to one of my favorite diners - Murray Hill Diner on 33rd and Lex. Soup and sandwich - but no rice pudding.

On way back to my apartment I passed a storefront with about 20 women doing what looked like yoga but on some machine - I went in to talk to the young lady in charge and she said it was Pilotes. Do any men take this class? One guy was in there. I told her ti do hot yoga and she slapped me 5. I may try it one day -- with women who could be my grandkids.

The Met

I had to get up early on Wednesday for a press event at The Met for their upcoming exhibits this year. I love these events and they serve breakfast. And best of all the museum is closed on Wednesdays so imagine empty galleries. They introduced the upcoming exhibits (see below) but also after the program was done we had the opportunity to explore the newly opened European painting gallery until noon. I wish I had read this article before but I had fun just roaming around. I will go back. Read this before you go: 

700 Paintings, 45 Galleries: A Guide to the Met's New ...

Nov 24, 2023700 Paintings, 45 Galleries: A Guide to the Met's New European Wing.


Shortbread cookies

entry to European painting

My new girlfriend

And an opera


The Metropolitan Museum of Art Announces Exhibition Program for Winter and Spring 2024

Highlights include The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism (opening February 25); Hidden Faces: Covered Portraits of the Renaissance (opening April 2); and Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion (opening May 10)

The Museum also revealed the artists for the 2024 commissions series: Petrit Halilaj will present a site-specific installation for the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden; Lee Bul will create sculptures for The Met’s Fifth Avenue facade; and Tong Yang-Tze will create two monumental works of Chinese calligraphy for The Met’s Great Hall

(New York, November 30, 2023)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced its schedule of exhibitions and programming that will activate the Museum’s galleries and featured architectural spaces in the coming months.

“The Met’s upcoming season will offer dazzling presentations of art from the ancient times to the present day and reflect the breathtaking scope of human creativity through new scholarship, commissions, and groundbreaking exhibition displays,” said Max Hollein, the Museum’s Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited for audiences to visit and take part in this thrilling next chapter of our programming.”

Winter highlights include Women Dressing Women (opening December 7), a timely exploration of the creativity and artistic legacy of women fashion designers; Don’t Forget to Call Your Mother (opening December 18), examining how artists use family photographs and archival material to reflect on the complicated feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality; Cycladic Art: The Leonard N. Stern Collection on Loan from the Hellenic Republic (opening January 25), a landmark international loan exhibition presenting 161 Early Bronze Age sculptures from the esteemed private collection; Vision and Verse: The Poetry of Chinese Painting (opening February 3), exploring the interconnection of painting and poetry in Chinese culture; Indian Skies: The Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting (opening February 6), presenting the Museum’s recent acquisition of Indian paintings from the 16th to the 19th century from the collection of artist Howard Hodgkin; and The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism (opening February 25), a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the comprehensive and far-reaching ways in which Black artists portrayed everyday modern life in the 1920s–40s in New York City’s Harlem and nationwide.

In the spring, The Met will present Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art (opening March 5), analyzing the striking connections between textile artists of the ancient Andes and artists of the 20th century; The Art of the Literary Poster: Works from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection (opening March 7), introducing audiences to a subgenre of posters from the 1890s publicizing magazines, journals, books, and other types of literature; The Real Thing: Unpackaging Product Photography (opening March 11), illustrating how commercial camerawork contributed to the visual language of modernism; Hidden Faces: Covered Portraits of the Renaissance (opening April 2), the first exhibition to examine the Renaissance tradition of multisided portraits in which the sitter’s likeness was concealed behind hinged or sliding covers; Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion (opening May 10), reactivating the sensory capacities of masterworks in the Museum’s Costume Institute collection through first-hand research, conservation analysis, and diverse technologies; and Collecting Inspiration: Edward C. Moore at Tiffany & Co. (opening June 9), displaying the work of the silversmith for Tiffany & Co. alongside his expansive personal collection of global decorative arts, which inspired his creations.

The Met also announced new artist commissions for the 2024 season. Petrit Halilaj will present a site-specific installation for the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (April 29); Lee Bul will create four sculptures for the niches of The Met’s Fifth Avenue facade (September 12); and Tong Yang-Tze will create two monumental works of Chinese calligraphy for The Met’s Great Hall (November 21).

Programmatic highlights include a series of talks about cultural heritage sites in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas presented in partnership with World Monuments Fund and leading up to the reopening of the reenvisioned Michael C. Rockefeller Wing in 2025, as well as the return of two popular celebrations—Lunar New Year (February 3) and Teens Take The Met! (May 13). The Museum also previewed its winter MetLiveArts season, which will include the world premiere of Handel: Made in America (February 15 and 16), a new work written and performed by Terrance McKnight with opera stars Davóne Tines, J'Nai Bridges, and Noah Stewart.

Visitors arriving at The Met during the current season can explore the must-see exhibitions Manet/Degas (through January 7) and Africa & Byzantium (through March 3) as well as Look Again: European Paintings 1300–1800, the renovated suite of 45 permanent collection galleries situated atop the Great Hall stairs. Through January 2024, The Met’s holiday season is in full swing with comprehensive festivities at both The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters, including beloved annual displays and seasonal dining and shopping opportunities.


November 30, 2023



I got the ferries back to Rockaway Wed afternoon. 24 hour away and it felt like a week.


News Update: So what's a little mistake? Or was it a mistake if you are a conspiracy theorist?

The New York Times reports on how Israel knew about the Hamas plan a year ahead and did nothing. Not exactly nothing. Bibi actually withdrew forces and sent them to the West Bank to protect the murderous settlers. If I were a conspiracy theorist I might say the attack is exactly what he wanted as an excuse to destroy Gaza.

The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named 'Jericho Wall,' outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people. ...
Then, in July, just three months before the attacks, a veteran analyst with Unit 8200, Israel's signals intelligence agency, warned that Hamas had conducted an intense, daylong training exercise that appeared similar to what was outlined in the blueprint.
But a colonel in the Gaza division brushed off her concerns, according to encrypted emails viewed by The Times.

 For the pro-Putin crowd:

Russian Supreme Court Bans the 'International LGBT Public Movement' Activists are advising "LGBTQ+ Russians to flee the country, and call[ing] on international rights organizations to help people from those groups find refuge outside Russia." via the Washington Post and the Guardian.


Thursday, November 30, 2023

Rambling on - A Packed 24 hours + - Here's the first 4 hours - UFT Retiree meeting, ICE comes alive, Marianne videos expose Mulgrew

Confused and Inconsequential? – 
a good way to define blogging and my current life.

Trying to write this blog in an organized manner by sticking to one topic has become difficult because there is so much info coming in, just processing and refining it into a comprehensive piece is too much for my scattered thoughts. So I'm just going to start writing until a certain time and just stop when I get distracted. So if this ends in mid-word or mid-sentence, I didn't die - probably.

This blog is 17 years old and as an extension of Ed Notes the newsletter, 25 years old. That's a lot of verbiage.

I was checking back to some of my reporting on the 2014 contract and I did 90 blog posts a month. This month I did 5 and 93 all year. So I decided to not worry about being coherent but just let things fly as they come into my brain, even if I forget most of it. 

ICE is still ALIVE!

Not having James Eterno to piggy back off since his illness in May has been a factor. His reporting on the issues we face was so important. Just before his stroke we had been discussing setting up an ICE meeting and since then I have been frozen in terms of ICE. As we reported, ICE has been in hiatus. His dedication makes it worth trying to keep ICE alive.

ICE did meet on a zoom  recently and it was nice to see people even on a screen. There was some money in the ICE account and we sent a donation to Camille. Keep James in your thoughts:

James Eterno Recovery Fund






It was clear that ICE people liked meeting in person so we are going to try at our favorite diner during the Xmas vacation. Rice pudding for all. If any of you are interested in rice pudding email me.

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - the last day of the hurricane season -- a big relief for us in Rockaway. Friday begins December and I need to get my car inspected -- 11 years old since Sandy hurricane.

I had an interesting 24 hours Tuesday/Wednesday. I took the 12:15 ferry to Wall St for the UFT Retired Teacher Meeting, which began at 3:30. They keep moving the day and time as a moving target to confuse people. And confuse people they did. What next, midnight?

UFT November Retiree meeting - Mulgrew was LIVE! Tom Murphy - Sort of.

There has been some speculation that Murphy has become so unpopular with retirees due to his role in healthcare issue and his undemocratic way of running meetings, that he might be replaced as CL in this spring's elections. At the ExBd, Mike Sill announced Debra Penny was stepping down as UFT Treasurer, an officer position.There were some who speculated she might replace Murphy. But the latest word is that Mulgrew is so paranoid over AmyGate and undercurrents in Unity being pissed at Mulgrew for her removal, he won't risk changing horses in midstream and trusts Murphy to be loyal to him.

That is the major modus operendi inside the UFT at this time, given the AmyGate affair where if you expressed positives about Amy you were moved to Mulgrew's growing shit list. Loyalty not to Unity or the UFT but to Mulgrew. We get sneak attack leaks from inside the fortress - that is exactly what 52 is. No one is storming Mulgrew's office - yet. Watch the body language of key people. 

Retiree Advocate in action

I met my compadres from Retiree Advocate early before the meeting in the back lobby of the UFT where people come early for the meeting and we get to talk to them. Gloria Brandman is like a tiger at organizing and she signed people up for our listserve and recruiting people to run with us in the chapter election in the spring. We are hoping for 300 delegates to the DA - Imagine if we won how that would impact the DA - and if you are retired and interested email me. If we win that would shake up the UFT.

We had a nice leaflet on co-pays – you know those pesky things you pay the doc that our leadership and the city seem to love so much? I love handing out leaflets and talking to people as they come in. I finally went up at 3:30 to get my bagel in a plastic bag and some cream cheese -- I miss the old days of Jeannette Di Lorenzo with humatashin and danish. I think we should make their return a main plank of our platform. Maybe rice pudding too. I didn't take a photo of the bagel in the plastic bag so as not to give you indigestion.

We won in court on co-pays through Marianne's group so far but the city is appealing and the UFT leadership is mum. When questioned at the meeting Mulgrew said co-pays were only meant to be temporary while they figured out ways to screw us in better ways. See the leaflet above.

This meeting Murphy seemed to try to not alienate anyone and made sure to call on 3 RA people - he even mentioned Gloria Brandman for the second question. Bobby Greenberg and Bennett Fischer were also on target with their questions but Mulgrew was ready with his sophistry. (See Marianne videos below for her breakdown of Mulgrew comments.)

I had my hand up too and was surprised when Murphy pointed at me but in the line of sight was former HSVP John Soldini and low and behold the lady with the mic was sitting right there. Does anyone smell a planted question?

I won't get into the details of the meeting because of so much good coverage by Arthur and Marianne.

Arthur actually listened online while my focus was getting the damn bagel out of its plastic bag and spreading the cream cheese without getting it all over my pants.

I have not been retired very long, but I already feel disrespected and stereotyped by UFT Unity bosses. Last month they cut short a meeting, citing a dangerous demonstration that appeared to be a big nothing. This month we were expected to sit through a PowerPoint about telephone scams and such. It’s like they think every single one of us is will fall for those scams, so why shouldn’t they pull one too? Mulgrew seems to suggest if we don’t capitulate and give in to his calls for a corporate health care plan, with Aetna deciding whether or not we get care, we will all be placed into HIP. You see, the city only has to offer one plan. He said it over and over. This is his new talking point, and he adores it.

Arthur broke the meeting down in more detail.

Marianne dives deep with a 4 part video. Mulgrew will probably go off over her having access from one of the 70 thousand retirees. I wonder which of her 20K NYC union fans it was? Imagine an election of Mulgrew vs Marianne. I take Marianne by ten lengths.

Here are the first 2 parts and I will add the next two when they come in.

Mulgrew: I believe in democracy 

Marianne: Laughs out loud.



My time is up to finish this post  - crap - I only covered 4 of my 24 hours. More excitement to come. Look for Marianne's next 2 posts when they come in.

OK - here are links to part 3:

Part 4:

of the mulgrew lies videos:


In other news:

When does the UFT organize a drive to unionize charters in the NYC?

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Worst Deal in NYC Labor History: 2014 + 2018 : MLC Minutes Reveal Mulgrew/Unity Caucus Healthcare Lies

An amazing expose by Arthur Goldstein and Daniel Alicea who got a hold of MLC minutes that prove Mulgrew has been a liar, aided and abetted by his fellow liars, or dupes, in Unity Caucus. 

Even Republicans are getting the point about Medicare advantage while Mulgrew defends it.

'It was stunning': Bipartisan anger aimed at Medicare Advantage care denials - POLITICO

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Barbara Bowen, former President of PSC-CUNY, inquiring about the deal specifics at the May 2014 meeting:

Union leaders of cops and firefighters, evidently endowed with common sense, opposed the billion dollar giveaway in no uncertain terms. Misgivings were expressed about future giveaways.

Was Mulgrew drunk? Asleep? On LSD? Desperate? Have you ever even heard of such awful labor deals? Many unions opposed what Mulgrew started. Alas, in MLC they are dwarfed by the combination of UFT and DC37, who constitute two thirds of the MLC’s weighted vote. Our extraordinary lack of vision means not only we, but also our brothers and sisters in the unions that opposed this nonsense are stuck with the consequences of our damaging agreements.

This is a seminal document that blows a hole into the Unity line we've been sold for ten years. But I must issue a warning: It is not just Mulgrew but the caucus. If for some reason Unity decided to dump Mulgrew for the 2025 election because he's toxic, don't be fooled again. Anyone in charge would lead us down the same path, but maybe with a bit more style.

ICE and Ed Notes and MORE at the time adamantly opposed the 2014 contract. Look through the archives of Ed Notes and ICE blog in April/May 2014 for numerous exposes and how we were at the DA at the Hilton in force to oppose the contract. One more highlight before I send you off to read the entire document:

Deliberately missing from the UFT highlights is this—they agreed to fund new raises by giving one billion dollars from our health stabilization fund, a fund designed to prevent members from paying premiums for GHI/CBP.  And if any sufficient funds are still available in it, they can be earmarked towards new benefits – like we’d done with PICA.  
In case the giveaway weren’t outrageous enough, the fund contained 1.8 billion in 2014, so they were giving away more than half. Not only that, but take a look at the pattern it funded:
1 percent — 1 percent —$1,000 cash — 1 percent — 1.5 percent —2.5 percent — 3 percent
What was not said in the UFT communique referenced here was that the thousand dollar bonus was in lieu of a raise. The city’s thousand buck bonus bought a zero percent raise for a full eighteen months.

Must read

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Now Is The Time To Fight Back, Not Give In To UFT Leadership - Part 2 by Rebel Teacher

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 -  Happy Thanksgiving

ICE being in a state of flux since the illness of James Eterno, zoom-met on Sunday night and will be meeting in person during the Xmas vacation in attempts to sort things out. ICE associate (ICE doesn't have formal memberships) Rebel Teacher continues a view of the union leadership and how critical voices should deal with them. In the current state of ICE this is one opinion. Others think alliances with Unity leadership should be built. Still others believe that there is something called "Unity light" - internal critics in the belly of the beast who whisper sweet nothings about reforming the union in their ears. I know that drill. I was a target for years when Randi took over c. 1997 and fell for it. Until I didn't.

Ed Notes published Part 1 and I helped edit it and part 2. 

Now Is The Time To Fight Back, Not Give In To UFT Leadership - Part 2

Written by Rebel Teacher, a  Long time teacher and union organizer with the Independent Community of Educators (ICE-UFT).


In part 1 the author raised issues related to signs of fractures in Unity Caucus of UFT President Michael Mulgrew while they continue to either vilify the opposition or try to fracture them by picking off those they see can be seduced by being offered a faux deal of access to power and influence. He argues in part 2 not to be seduced.

A prominent UFT Unity staffer recently said:

 “One Unity tactic to control the opposition is to put them somewhere where they can feel important but have little influence.”
Beware of falling into this Unity trap.

We can’t allow Unity to have an opportunity to sell their bureaucratic values, to tame the aggressiveness of chapter leaders and other activists. They are very happy to get them behind closed doors, in the shadows and out of sight of the rank and file. We must resist giving in to the impulse and temptation of being given a seat at the table – a bait and switch seat at the table – a tiny stool at the kiddy table. 


Unity has proven very capable of managing the membership despite its failures in managing the union

Unity does many things wrong but gets managing membership expectations right. UFT leadership doesn’t want their borough representatives or district reps empowering members. Rather than activate the rank and file, they view such activation as a threat to their power and restrain members to keep them under control. They’ve been successful in finding opposition people they view as susceptible to their message and make them feel important. One of the hidden issues in the removal of UFT Queens Borough Representative Amy Arundell was her push to get members to be more active, which stepped on some toes.

Unity/UFT leadership prefers the status quo, a membership content with what they have, not fighting for a better union.

The ICE-UFT blog over almost 20 years has been a compendium of UFT history and has publicized militant Chapter Leaders who fought against micromanagement and won by organizing their chapters, mobilizing them with letters of no confidence, working with SLT’s and PTA’s to remove bad principals and have filed mass grievances. 

ICE has been nonsectarian, open to working with all caucuses and independents

Dissident voices opposed to Unity should be ready to work with chapter leaders, delegates, and union activists in any caucus, along with independents, to show how to build their chapter and not to wait for the UFT leaders to come and save them, because they often will not show. How often have we heard praise for Arundell as someone who has shown up and is constantly present, in contrast to the rest of the UFT bureaucracy? Maybe her hard work has embarrassed them to the extent that she had to go.

The leaders of our union need to be challenged in public forums. Many members in our chapters, our shops, need to know there is an organized resistance to the tom-foolery coming from above. They will be resentful if they see opposition forces getting too cozy with those that work against our best interests. 


They want us standing up to our leadership, to be more militant and to actively fight for our rights and those of our students. 

It is important to show up at public union meetings with resolutions and petitions signed by our members. Expose the Unity-two step of saying yes now while doing the exact opposite later. 


One example is Unity taking a false stand against privatization of our healthcare while trying to force our retirees into a managed care plan and still working behind the scenes with the Adams administration to change health care of working members. When retirees won a recent ruling to stop co-pays, UFT/Unity was silent while the Mayor is appealing. 


Can UFT leadership be pressured?

Our answer is not by small groups lobbying because leadership is good at obfuscation and distraction while hinting at a willingness to change but with little intention of doing anything unless there is a massive uprising from below. That has rarely happened and when it did, Unity found ways to undermine it. 

Two examples:

In 1975, with 15k layoffs looming, the rank and file rose up and demanded a strike despite knowing there would be two for one penalties - which the leadership went along with for one week and then sold it out. Layoffs still took place but the starch was taken out of the members, teaching a lesson that such activism that worked so well in building the UFT in the 60s was no longer valid. Since then the leadership has worked successfully to dampen expectations.

Another example was the ATR protest and rally at Tweed in Nov. 2008 that attracted hundreds and the leadership attempt to subvert it by holding a concurrent wine and cheese party. That was a perfect example of people in ICE working with others in organizing rank and file, mobilizing workers and educating them from the bottom and the Unity leadership undermining and subverting the efforts. 

Activists in the UFT should work with allies to inspire our members to believe a better version of the UFT is possible, one that connects with members, knows the classroom and hallways, fights for its members, and educates everyone inside the chapters to their rights and how to ensure they actually have them.


Without doing the above, there is a danger in focusing on closed meetings with Unity/UFT. It throws a lifeline to a group that already has power and money, but lacks mass support of its members. (Note low turnout for Unity in elections.)


ICE had a long history of working with partners, including parent and community groups, that were dedicated to worker’s rights and quality free public schools and supported groups opposed to charters and high stakes testing. It was members of ICE active in MORE that reached across the aisle to ask New Action to run with on a joint opposition slate which resulted in victory in the high schools in the 2016 election. And there are even some affiliated with ICE who have run with, or supported, Unity, when they thought it was the right thing to do at the time.

ICE-PAC and TJC won the high school executive board seats in the 2004 UFT election. ICE people came out every 2 weeks to support the chapter leaders James Eterno (Jamaica HS), Jeff Kaufman (Rikers) and Barbara Kaplan-Alpert (Forest Hills HS) in their regular battles with Randi Weingarten and the Unity leadership. These were among the most contentious years in resistance to Unity policy, especially in response to the disastrous 2005 contract, which ICE, along with TJC, organized a Vote-No campaign with rallies at the DA and in front of 52 Broadway that resulted in 40% voting against.


The problem was ICE didn't make enough use of these action as an organizing mechanism and often seemed content to engage in these battles at the top. ICE organized with various components of the UFT like the ATRs c. 2005-10, but never got deep into the schools. Let's learn the lessons of that experience. Top down engagement with leadership can give the illusion of progress, but if not accompanied by an open process that brings those battles to the schools, it is often a wasted effort. 

As stated above, Unity caucus regularly tries to either woo or undermine critical voices, with their major goal being to not only hold onto power, but to also minimize the ability of those voices to influence policy and to grow the movement. There is a cost to get Unity cooperation - hand-cuffs.

A growing New Action(NA/UFT) has learned the lessons of the past and is re-organizing as a militant caucus within UFT. Through Nick Bacon’s writing and their work on the Ex Bd, they are actively challenging the leadership and direction of our union. And they have a wide range of chapter leaders distributing their literature in the schools. They need to continue to grow by helping rank and file members run for chapter leader and delegates by offering targeted trainings for members interested in having democratic, militant chapters. Most ICE associates are very supportive of these efforts and are actively working with them.

Some of our retirees are organizing with the Retiree Advocate, which will be running in the UFT chapter elections against Unity spring 2024 on a platform of saving our healthcare, not selling out our retirees to the highest bidders.

ICE has been a space for people with divergent views who might suffer judgment for expressing those views elsewhere. ICE has been a happy place for many over its 20 years history, a place for friendships to grow, alliances to be built, and fight backs to be organized. We hope to continue the ICE tradition of fighting for a union that stands up for its members and the children we serve.


Part 3 is in the works.