Bloomberg as Lindsay: Is the Mayor Baiting the Union to Strike? Is the Mayor Using Terror to Intimidate Opponents?

If you’re a close reader of the press and have been following the dispute between the governor and the mayor on one side and the state teacher union (NYSUT) and the city teacher union (UFT) on the other side you may have difficulty parsing the differences. It would appear, if we can believe the press, that the parties are close to an agreement, and, if so, why hasn’t an agreement been reached?

“Leaking” of an art form,  reporters will use the term “an unnamed source,” or other euphemisms to craft a particular story. The reporters covering the education beat are skilled professionals. Editors will not allow a story to go to press without vetting the story and assuring that the reporting is based on facts. As a teacher you may not be happy with a story in the NY Post: why do they always write about the worst of the teaching force and not the best? A fair criticism. The substance of the stories, however, is rarely in dispute.

Whether it’s Fernanda Santos in the NY Times or Yoav Gonin in the NY Post or Philissa Cramer on Gotham Schools reporting,  they all report the sides appear to be on the verge of a settlement.

Then, why no settlement?

Does the mayor have another agenda?

In 1968 the Oceanhill-Brownsville school board “fired” a dozen white teachers, some of whom were union activists. The board of education could have intervened, the mayor could have intervened, they chose not too.

Three successive citywide strikes occurred – teachers were on strike for forty days and did not return to the classroom until November 1.

The UFT was pilloried by the press and the left of center intelligentsia (see Marylyn Gittell, Confrontation at Oceanhill Brownsville) accused the union of ripping the city apart along racial lines.

The culprit was Mayor Lindsay.

(Read Tamar Jacoby, “Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration,” and Vincent J. Cannatto, “The Ungovernable City:  John Lindsay’s New York and the Crisis of Liberalism.”)

Allowing the crisis to go unresolved, steadfastly refusing to intervene, settlements fell apart, finally, with the intervention of the governor and the commissioner of education, the strike ended.

Lindsay, a liberal republican was feted by democrats on the left for standing up to the union. For candidate Lindsay, a coalition of left and right centrists seemed a possibility.

In 1972 Lindsay ran for president against a wounded Richard Nixon; his campaign crashed in Florida. Transplanted New Yorkers torpedoed his campaign. Lindsay never forgave the UFT and years later refused to participate in UFT oral history project.

Is Mayor Bloomberg following in the footsteps of Lindsay? Is he trying to tempt the union to strike over the same issues – teacher due process rights?

In the fall of 2009 Bloomberg was coming to the conclusion of his two terms. It was in many ways a glorious eight years. The city was financially stable, crime rates had plunged to historic lows, educational reforms had sharply increased test scores and petty local politics expunged;  the mayor was firmly in charge in spite of the fractious politics that had dominated New York City for decades.

Bloomberg’s options were many: he could emulate George Soros and use his wealth to influence politics around the world, or, a la Bill Gates use dollars to drive policy within the nation. He could seek a cabinet position in the Obama presidency – or maybe the governorship. Strangely, he chose a third term as mayor. Third terms have traditionally been catastrophic. Voters had turned down propositions to change the City Charter to legalize a third term on two occasions, Bloomberg, with Council leader Chris Quinn and a majority of the City Council as allies found a loophole and lifted the third term prohibition.

Two years into his third term Bloomberg seems to be constantly on the defensive.

Flirting with a run for the presidency as a republican, the “crash and burn” of his educational reforms, the Cathy Black debacle, thwarted threats to lay off teachers, the “stop and frisk” policies of the police department alienated communities of color. Bloomberg’s once soaring popularity ratings have dived below fifty percent, with his educational policy ratings into the low 30s.

Harlem Assemblyman and Manhattan County leader Keith Wright announces a bill to end mayoral control.

Within 22 months to go a glittering regency is tarnished and his legacy is fractured.

The “murder by police” of an unarmed teenager, clearly racist anti-Muslim actions by the police department with crude attempts to cover-up, scandal after scandal plagues the department.

Bloomberg needs victories.

Perhaps he sees himself as the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca

Tezcatipoca was generally considered the most powerful god, the god of night, sorcery and destiny. The Aztecs believed that Tezcatlipoca created war to provide food and drink to the gods. Tezcatlipoca was known by several epithets including “the Enemy” and “the Enemy of Both Sides”, which stress his affinity for discord. Tezcatlipoca had the power to forgive sins and to relieve disease, or to release a man from the fate assigned to him by his date of birth; however, nothing in Tezcatlipoca’s nature compelled him to do so. He was capricious and often brought about reversals of fortune. To the Aztecs, he was an all-knowing, all-seeing nearly all-powerful god. One of his names can be translated as “He Whose Slaves We Are”.

Standing on the steps of City Hall in the act of human sacrifice holding the still beating heart of … well you can guess of whom – aloft, chanting incantations.

Human sacrifice was, according to some historians, a political tool to control a population which vastly outnumbered the Aztecs,

The high-profile nature of the sacrificial ceremonies indicates that human sacrifice played an important political function. The Mexica used a sophisticated package of psychological weaponry to maintain their empire, aimed at instilling a sense of fear into their neighbors. The Aztecs controlled a large empire of tribute-paying vassal tribes. The population of native Aztecs was very small compared to the population of the area they controlled. The Aztecs were vulnerable: they would have been outnumbered had their vassal tribes formed alliances and rebelled. To sow dissension among the vassals the Aztecs demanded human victims as part of the annual tribute. The vassals would raid each other to capture prisoners. This encouraged animosity between the vassals and strengthened Aztec political rule. This was a method of political control which was innovative and perhaps unique in human history.

The threat of layoffs, of closing of schools and displacing teachers,  of imposing rules to ease the firing of teachers, all in the Aztec tradition of using human sacrifice to instill a sense of fear and to control the masses.

Mr. Mayor. let me introduce you to Hernando Cortes.


2 responses to “Bloomberg as Lindsay: Is the Mayor Baiting the Union to Strike? Is the Mayor Using Terror to Intimidate Opponents?

  1. As usual, very accurate!


  2. Aum Namah Shivaya!


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