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.
We just received word that the Assembly Standing Committee on Cities public hearing on city charter modification has been rescheduled to Friday, Mar. 5. The hearing, chaired by James Brennan, will be held at 250 Broadway, at 10:30 a.m.
Mayor Bloomberg’s rumored charter revision commission is under the gun to get its proposal(s) on the ballot before New York State alters existing charter revision rules.
The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Cities, chaired by James Brennan (44AD, Brooklyn), just announced a public hearing to be held on February 17 to consider changes in the way city charters can be modified. Brennan’s committee has been considering legislation “that would change the composition of charter revision commissions and legislation that would repeal the provision that prevents citizen initiated ballot questions if a charter revision commission has been convened.”
To avoid any changes that the Assembly might try to enact, the mayor’s charter revision commission would have to meet a schedule for an Election Day ballot this November.
More on the relationship between New York City and New York State here.
With New York and California vying for the title of the most dysfunctional state government in the U.S., it’s hard to find anyone in New York City these days who will publicly compliment Albany. Mike Bloomberg draws cheers when he blames Albany for taxing NYC’s revenues and returning less than the city’s fair share. City public school equitable funding advocates agree with him, not without reason. Charter school operators and supporters bristle at Albany’s failure to lift the state’s 200-school cap. Atlantic Yards opponents chafe at Albany’s strong-arm development tactics. State aid to the Big Apple is reduced and city jobs are threatened because Albany’s budget deficit is gigantic. These days, Albany is an easy target. Continue reading