Why I Am Voting for Bill Thompson.

Choosing a candidate in a NYC democratic primary usually has more to do with a personal attraction than policies – the candidates agree on most issues. (See a comparison of the candidates here)

The candidates spend months “defining themselves,” searching for an issue to separate themselves from the pack.

The UFT invited the candidates (pre-Weiner’s entry) to panels – they all made ten minute presentations and answered questions before audiences made up of hundreds of union members. At the Brooklyn meeting Howie Schoor, the UFT Borough Representative, asked a question about continuing the ATR pool, the candidates didn’t know what ATRs were – and stumbled – Howie interrupted, “Do you want to know the ‘right answer?'”

The candidates all were attempting to satisfy UFT audiences with “right answers.”

The only candidate in a legislative office is Christine Quinn, a strength, and, as it turns out a fatal weakness. While Quinn thwarted Bloomberg efforts to layoff thousands of teachers, provided funding for the Community Schools project and worked closely with the union on many issues she could never overcome her leadership of the coup that allowed the mayor and the council to serve a third term in spite of voters, in two referenda, turning away attempts to kill term limits.

John Liu, the current comptroller, although extremely knowledgeable and hugely popular among teachers could not overcome the conviction of two key aides on charges of violating fund raising laws and lingering doubts about the involvement of his campaign.

Thompson chaired the Board of Education in the nineties, at a time when each borough president appointed a member and the mayor two members. Thompson had to carefully steer the board through the morass of geographic political interests as well as a republican mayor, he did a skillful job. His board presidency was followed by eight years as comptroller and a hugely underfunded run for the mayoralty in 2009.

I did not know much about de Blasio, an undistinguished council member representing “Brownstone Brooklyn,” who spent his term as Public Advocate chipping away at Bloomberg and setting the stage for his mayoral run.

My one interaction was negative.

Two years ago the department rolled out yet another list of closing schools. One of the schools was PS 114 in Canarsie. The department stuck with a grossly incompetent principal who overspent by several hundred thousand dollars – the department removed the principal but deducted the overspending from the school budget. A coalition of local electeds, led by Councilman Lou Fidler, devised a strategy which included Assembly member Alan Maisel, State Senator John Sampson and Councilman Charles Barron, all spoke at the public hearing, carefully avoided bashing the mayor and asked for two years to turn around the school with specific targets. (Read contemporary account here)

de Blasio, without any advance notice to the coalition members called a press conference on the steps of the school building, with TV coverage, and bashed the mayor, endangering the efforts to keep the school open.

The school was the only school removed from the list – private meetings convinced the department that they bore some responsibility.

de Blasio, who almost derailed the efforts to keep the school open, gloated claimed credit for keeping the school open.

I fully understand politics is politics – the only “rule” is to win – you do what you have to do. de Blasio grabbed a headline, and in process jeopardized the discussions that kept the school open – so be it – there are no rewards for finishing second – although he lost my vote.

Thompson worked with electeds from around the city with diverse interests while de Blasio is pretty much of a loner.

His “tax the rich” campaign and a wonderful appearance by his son and his Afro in a TV commercial have been very effective.

I wonder whether Bloomberg and his allies will pump tens of millions into the campaign attacking de Blasio as driving the city into fiscal doom and supporting policies that will increase crime?

Will twenty years of republican mayors in an overwhelming democratic city be replicated with a Lhota victory?

I feel more comfortable with Thompson, a more middle of the road candidate who can put together a broad coalition to both win in November, and, run the city in a collaborative manner. The “rich” are not the enemy and stock transfer taxes and corporate real estate taxes drive the city budget.

In the somewhat sleazy world of politics I try to make my decisions based on deeds, not promises.

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6 responses to “Why I Am Voting for Bill Thompson.

  1. There are lots of serious issues in this years Mayoral Election. The first and foremost of them all is the reconditioning of a school system that has over the past 12 years been denigrated, degraded, undermined,compromised and abused by a Mayor who did all that he could to bust the union, rather then partner with it, and ended up busting the school system in to millions of pieces.How many re-organizations did we witness in those initial years? How much money was wasted on the efficacy commission? How many colleges and universities had their graduate Supervisory Ed programs removed from their perview, while something called The Mayors Academy was virtually made manadatory for anyone aspiring to become a school principal? Hw many of those principals have a record of excellence?(only a few).How many UFT/CSA conventions did this mayor send messages of appreciation to or for that matter attend?I could go on and on, but since we are all educators on this blog, lets look at the candidates in terms of subtraction and reducing of fractions to their simplest terms. I cant think of anyone who has more then a single thought as to what we might expect from Bill DeBlasio in terms of restoring public education to its proper level of respect and dignity and achivement. Ms. Quinn boasts that she saved thousands of jobs for teachers in education. I dont know any who proclaim that they would be out of a job if it weren’t for Ms. Quinn. So as educators, we must subtract these two candidates from an already imbalanced equation.What I do know is that Bill Thompson was The Chair of the Bd of Ed and fully understands the navigation systems that best make it work. His empathy for education and in particular public education can be attributed to the fact that he and various family members and his lovely daughter had close ties with public education, and supported it vigorously, by action and deeds not cheap words and rhetoric.You can be sure that Bill Thompson will be a breathe of fresh air for all the stagnancy that has sifted thru our profession for these past 12 years. Voting for Bill DiBlasio is no kore then making a fashion statement, voting fr Ms. Quinn is the wrong time for showing political correctness. The last time you did that, it was when you voted for Ms.Weingarten who promptly sold you out for money when she gave up binding arbitration in grievance proceedings.SO when you reduce things to their simplest terms you must come up with Bill Thompson!

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  2. de Blasio is the “get even” candidate in this election. He represents in a large segment of the public’s minds the antithesis of 8 years of Giuliani and 12 years of Bloomberg. He advocates to restore the hegemony of the “common man” in New York City politics. The irony is that Giuliani and Bloomberg represented the demographic “common man” of a previous generation of the body politic. The demographics of the boroughs are far different in 2013 than they were in 1993!
    But the city’s governance depends upon balance – a juggling of many diverse interests and needs among many diverse communities, interest groups, and ethnic and racial populations. If any segments feel disenfranchised, as so many have over the past 20 years, then we merely continue the same disharmony in the body politic.
    To my mind, of all the viable candidates, Bill Thompson is the only one who provides the balanced background and policy approaches to offset the past 20 years and to move the city forward.

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  3. de Blasio appears to be the only candidate that wants to charge charter schools to use public school space. This factor is an indication, to me, that he has taken a stronger view on the issue of charter schools than the other candidates. Charter schools represent the move toward privatizing public education and, ultimately, an existential threat to public education and their unions. I believe that de Blasio’s positive position on this issue more then compensates than the negatives mentioned “above.”

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  4. Bruce
    Exactly my problem … I “rate” candidates by past performances, not promises: to “charge” charter schools co-located in publc schools rent the mayor would have to “charge” all non-Department of Education occupants, like the 220 health centers in schools run by not-for-profits?

    de Blasio is too quick to make promises … too slow to point to real achievements.

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  5. fed up with Unity

    I can’t wait to see you guys turn on a dime if deBlasio wins tomorrow or wins the runoff and suddenly you support him. Don’t beat up a fellow Democrat or we could see another 2001 where the UFT repeatedly loses.

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  6. I’m not voting for someone who has the testing queen Meryl Tisch running his campaign. I’m not voting for someone who campaigns with Al D’amato. Unity makes me sick. I have no faith in my union. Bill DeBlasio tomorrow.

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