Et Tu Pedro: the Albany Coup and Mayoral Control: Power, Money and Politics as Usual.

 

 Didn’t I watch this on the HBO presentation of Rome? Claudius Maximus Espada seizing power, with the lights out on the ornate floor of the New York State Senate.

 
Is it about gay marriage? or, reforming the rules of the Senate?
 
Nope … it’s about what it’s always about … power, money and respect.
 
State legislators make $79,500 plus extras for committee chairmanships and expenses for days in session.  Some have law practices or run another business, many live on their legislative salary. The legislature is in session from January till June, communities offices are open year round and legislators routinely attend endless community meetings.
 
Included in each budget are what are euphemistically called, member items. Sums of money distributed by the leadership in each house for community organizations; some legislators distribute the funds to schools, or the Little League, etc., some to not-for-profit organizations that support them, and some to organizations that are shells solely set up to receive funding.
 
Malcolm Smith, with a background as a small businessman was eaten up by the corrosive politics of Albany. He was elected speaker when he brokered a deal with the “gang of four,” and it was that same gang that deposed him.
 
Apparently the plot was brokered by Tom Golisano, the billionaire Buffalo businessman who funded the democratic victory in the Senate, and, was disillusioned by the “business as usual” attitude of Smith, or was it Smith playing with his blackberry during a meeting with Golisano?
 
The major item for Golisano is taxes, and a key tax issue is a cap on property taxes, an idea that is strongly opposed by the New York State United Teachers, property taxes fund schools and teacher contract negotiations/salaries.
 
So, what happens if the Senate stumbles for the next two weeks and adjourns without doing anything about, lets randomly select an issue, how about mayoral control. Randi and Joel are equally concerned.
 
If the Senate is in gridlock, and nothing becomes law, the mayoral control law sunsets and reverts to the previous law.
 
I do not think that the legislature will allow it to happen … more likely that the current law would be extended … for 90 days, until the end of the year, for another year or two.
 
If it does expire we would return to a central board, one member appointed by each borough president and two by the mayor, to serve at the will of the appointing authority.  The pre 2002 mayoral central board was controlled by the mayor, every chancellor was hired and fired by the mayor, who never had trouble finding two borough president appointee votes.
 
Community School Board elections, by statute, are held in May …
 
Would anything change? would Joel Klein still be chancellor? Would the chaos in Albany bring chaos to the school system?
 
The current budget cuts are far worse than the Tweed spin, school budgets are due next week and I expect more than a thousand teacher cuts, in addition to the thousand plus teachers in the ATR pool.
 
The motto of Rome is ‘Senatus Populus Que Romanus,’  the Senate and the People of Rome … remember Romulus and Remus suckling at the teat of a wolf …  appropriate, don’t you think?
 

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One response to “Et Tu Pedro: the Albany Coup and Mayoral Control: Power, Money and Politics as Usual.

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