The Budget Game: Can Bloomberg Be the Miracle Worker and Solve the Budget Crisis or Will We Stumble into the Abyss of School Meltdown?

 Every year about this time the Mayor, with great fanfare, announces his budget. Times are always bad, cuts are required, library days and hours and fire houses are being cut. This year the Mayor has announced 6,000 teacher cuts,

   Despite the City’s continued, strong financial commitment to education, historic State education cuts and the need to balance the budget mean that reductions in the size of the City’s teaching force are still required. More than 6,000 teaching positions will be eliminated through attrition and layoffs.

  Demonstrations, rallies, the engines are revved up and the battle becomes increasingly public and acrimonious.

  In the past Chris Quinn, the leader of the City Council emerged and in the final days a “fix” was discovered. Miraculously dollars were unearthed, library time restored and fire houses kept open.

   Have we run out of miracles? or, is the Mayor divine?

  A miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention. Sometimes an event is also attributed (in part) to a miracle worker, saint or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that God may work with the laws of nature to perform what people perceive as miracles.

In one view, a miracle is a phenomenon not fully explainable by known “laws” of nature, or an act by some supernatural entity or unknown, outside force.
The divinity of the Mayor can come from many places. One is a fund that he has set aside for future retiree health benefits. In 2007 the Mayor reported the fund had accrued $2.5 billion,
Consider this: the federal government requires cities and states to set aside funding for future retirees’ pensions–but not for future retirees’ health care, even though we have just as much of an obligation to pay their health care costs as we do their pensions. This makes no sense! So we’ve done something fairly unusual: we’ve set up a trust fund for future retiree health care costs, and we’ve dedicated $2.5 billion from our surplus to it. That’s just basic fiscal responsibility.

Source: Speech at “Ceasefire! Bridging The Political Divide” meeting Jun 18, 2007  

The miracle workers can be seated in the Tweed Court House. Chancellor Walcott can use the legerdemain of which miracles are made, switch around some budget lines and manage to use the $256 million in Race to the Top funding to avert layoffs. Technically the RttT dollars must be used for specific items designated in the state plan, bigger and better computer systems, implementation of the teacher-principal evaluation system, etc., however, skilled budget folks shift dollars all the time, budgets are highly “flexible” documents and the miracle worker can be Dennis.
At the UFT Spring Conference three potential miracle workers, and possible candidates for the mayoralty in 2013, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Comptroller John Liu and Speaker of the City Council Christine Quinn all vowed to fight to avoid cuts/layoffs.
The Mayor has become the evil Haman and Chris Quinn tries to be Queen Esther, DeBlasio and Liu as modern day Maccabees challenging Anthiocus in a guerrilla war.
This is a dangerous game.
Sometimes there no miracles, we live in  world of cold reality and “playing chicken” can lead to a disaster.
Rahm Emanuel is famously quoted as saying, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. 
Bloomberg is moving chess pieces on the “big board” of life. Whether he pulls the rabbit out of the hat, creates a miracle, or miscalculates and we plunge into the abyss of layoffs and a school meltdown will play out in the next months.





















3 responses to “The Budget Game: Can Bloomberg Be the Miracle Worker and Solve the Budget Crisis or Will We Stumble into the Abyss of School Meltdown?

  1. Eric Nadelstern

    If we don’t use the Federal RTT $ to avoid teacher layoffs, it will be the first time in anyone’s memory that the central office did not choose to save teachers and spare schools. It’s hard to believe that will happen.


  2. This is the education mayors’ final insult. He will do anything to get the seniority rules changed, even if it means destroying his legacy. I can only hope that this is just political grandstanding that he is using to force the issue. The UFT better not give in, or else this will be foisted on other unions.


  3. Isn’t it amazing what being outside of Tweed and not constantly breathing the exhaust from City Hall does to ones view?


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