Category Archives: Mayoral control

All Power is Fungible

de Blasio in Albany

Photo: NY Daily News

Bill de Blasio shlepped to Albany this week to convince the state senate to extend mayoral control of NYC schools for seven more years. Control had been granted to his predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, for seven years in 2002, and extended for six additional years in 2009.

When de Blasio asked the legislature in 2015 to approve mayoral control on a permanent basis, the senate rebuffed him, granting him a one-year extension instead.

Legislators stated they wanted to assess the city’s educational progress before making a permanent commitment. Left unstated was that they didn’t want to give up their opportunity to use periodic renewal of mayoral control as a way to remind de Blasio and his successors that the city is a creature of the state.

Albany’s legislators also know that a mayor who must ask them repeatedly for authorization to run his school system will be more apt to urge his commissioners to be responsive when legislators seek help for their constituents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo stated early this year that he favors a three-year term for mayoral control.

Predictably, de Blasio’s supporters included his popular schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña. Just as predictably, de Blasio received support from Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde, who was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as commenting after the meeting that “The business community would like to see permanent extension and not have this be a political issue.”

Evidently, like the state legislators, Wylde understands that the issue is not only about education but also is about fungible power: A mayor free of obligations to Albany’s elected officials is a mayor freer to support the needs of his most influential constituency, the city’s business community.

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Where are NYC’s Science Talent Winners?

Leonie Haimson documents a precipitous drop in NYC’s share of semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search program during the Bloomberg/Klein administration.

Let’s see how this one gets spun.

An Equal-Opportunity Offender

Bloomberg, Black, and Klein

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s designation of Cathie Black as the next schools chancellor offends almost everyone.

To educators, Black’s lack of education credentials (like Joel Klein’s) shows Bloomberg’s basic disrespect for their profession. How would physicians react to the designation of a publishing executive as Surgeon General, or lawyers to Black’s designation as U.S. Attorney General? Continue reading

Because He Can

Because He Can

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. Continue reading

Who’s Accountable?

Since July, 2004, when Public Law 108-271 changed the name of the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office, “accountability” has dominated discourse in our political arena.

When a disaster hits, whether it’s a construction crane collapse, a gas line explosion, an oil platform disaster, a municipal budget shortfall, or the perceived failure of the nation’s educational system, editorial writers, politicians, and pundits pile on, demanding “accountability.” Continue reading

Term Limits: The Rub with re-Democratizing NYC

NY City Hall

One of the perquisites of being Mayor of NYC is that you get to decide who in the city can make millions of dollars. Officially, the path to city deals—for concessions, leases and major development projects—goes through any one of a number of committees, boards and commissions that dole out the city’s money, seemingly (partially) independent of the mayor. Yet, unofficially, or at least a level or two below the surface of public perception, the mayor’s fingerprints are all over the process. For all of these decision-making groups have two things in common: They were established through the 1989 charter revision, and the mayor appoints a majority of their members. Changing this with a new charter revision will be no simple task. Continue reading

Unbalanced Coverage: NYC School Closings

WNYC’s Morning Edition ran a four-and-a-half minute story about the lawsuit brought by the UFT and the NAACP against NYC to stop the city from closing 19 underperforming schools. Articulating the NAACP position was NYS NAACP Chair Hazel Dukes, whose sound bite ran for 10 seconds. But the story gave City Hall, in the person of Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, a three-and-a-half minute interview to make the city’s case. No quote from UFT.