Michael Bloomberg’s appointment of Cathie Black as NYC schools chancellor shouldn’t surprise anyone. Bloomberg simply used the mayoral control powers the state legislature granted him in 2002 and 2009.
Why did he appoint Black? For the same reason that a male canine tends to indulge in his favorite relaxation exercise: because he can.
Once the state legislature approved mayoral control of NYC schools, only a wimp of a mayor wouldn’t use his power to choose a leader he’s comfortable with. And Bloomberg’s no wimp.
So whom do we blame for the mayor’s failure to consult with parents, teachers, or — seemingly — anyone else? Apart from blaming ourselves (at least those of us old enough to vote in 1989) for creating a strong-mayor form of government when the city’s Board of Estimate was thrown out, we ought to be blaming the state legislature.
They’re the ones who succumbed to Bloomberg’s arguments that mayoral control would give the school system “accountability” — even though to this day such accountability seems to exclude the mayor himself.
If parents don’t like what Bloomberg did this week, their only recourse would be to hold accountable the legislators who gave Bloomberg mayoral control and demand that they rescind it. There’s no point in depending on the City Council — they might hold a public hearing or two and criticize the mayor, but they lack the power to shift Bloomberg’s direction. So parents may have to head up the river for help.
Unfortunately, they may find themselves without a paddle. State legislators — who just went through an election — know that voter memories are short. Even legislative opponents of mayoral control may decide to wait out the Black controversy.
No one should be surprised if Cathie Black embraces the Bloomberg/Klein agenda even more forcefully than her predecessor did. With the current city charter and mayoral control, there’s simply no one to say “no” to her — or to her boss.