Where Was the Salt? Not on Westminster Road.

John J. Doherty

Mike Bloomberg said that budget had nothing to do with the screw-up. He also avoided admitting any management errors — even his own, when he hamstrung veteran Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. He placed Doherty under the control of a new deputy mayor whose nominal assignment —  operations — took a back seat to his obligation to trim the budget. Continue reading

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(Class) Size Matters, but Power Matters More

Leonie Haimson

Leonie Haimson needs help. New York’s most passionate education blogger has not appreciably changed the way the city’s public schools are run. A persistent critic of Mike Bloomberg’s educational policies, and president of a group called Class Size Matters, Haimson gets noticed but continues to be shrugged off by City Hall.

It doesn’t matter how many “ordinary” New Yorkers agree with Haimson. City voters have almost no power to shape municipal policy. They lost most of their clout two decades ago when they approved a new government structure that gave the mayor almost sole control over the city’s budget, land use, contracts, and, de facto, over the City Council itself. (Most Council members would deny this.)

Even a local referendum to change the city charter can be preempted by the mayor. Today, New Yorkers usually must resort to litigation or to state intervention to derail an initiative the mayor truly wants. Continue reading

Irony

Crain’s New York Business just ran a web piece about the latest annual survey of poor New Yorkers by the Community Service Society.

The story, headlined “Report: Recovery brings no respite for NY’s poor,” told of the increasing difficulty that low-income New Yorkers are facing as 2011 approaches. Low income is defined as less than $44,100 annually for a family of four.

Tag-Heuer Monaco V4

The item was paired with a holiday-season ad for  Tag Heuer wristwatches, which range in price up to $80,000.

Tax Cut Extender: Boon to Charter Schools

Illustration: FRBSF

Charter schools are among the big winners in the tax cut extender deal signed into law on December 17 by President Barack Obama.

Section 733 of H.R. 4853 provides for an additional $7 Billion in 2010/2011 New Market Tax Credits, an economic development program created in 2000 during the Clinton Administration.

So-called Community Development Entities can apply for these tax credits on behalf of non-profits such as charter schools, and package them for wealthy investors who use the credits to reduce their own IRS obligations. To someone in the highest tax bracket, the after-tax equivalent return on such an investment can be about 10-12% per year, with minimal risk. Continue reading

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

Vote Your Conscience, But Vote!

Imagine if the Board of Elections put seven separate elected officials — Congressman, Senator, Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, Assembly member, and State Senator — on the same ballot line, and made you mark just one oval to choose all of them.

Sounds like the old Soviet Union.

The decision by the 2010 New York City Charter Revision Commission to group seven unrelated proposals under ballot Question 2 — based on an opinion that the ballot was too small to show them separately — is just as cynical: It’s a way of telling voters, “If we let you vote seven or eight times, you could get confused and forget to vote ‘Yes’ on everything we want.” Continue reading