Bill Thompson stepped to the microphone on election night, his opponent; Bill de Blasio was a couple of hundred votes north of the 40% which would obviate an October 1 runoff.
“We’re in this race until the last ballot is counted.”
On Wednesday it was clear, de Blasio had won in every constituency, from Afro-Americans to gays to women, in Queens, in Brooklyn, and the Democratic Party scions desperately wanted to avert a contentious and expensive October 1 clash.
On Monday morning, on the steps of City Hall, Thompson threw in the towel and minutes later the union e-announced a special Delegate meeting on Wednesday.
The 1,000 delegates crammed into the Shanker Auditorium in union headquarters were anxious to vote. Mulgrew laid out the scenario and opened the floor, after a motivating speech extolling de Blasio another delegate was recognized,
“This is a no-brainer, I move to close debate,” to ecstatic cheers.
After an almost unanimous vote de Blasio strode to the stage, a rousing pro public school. pro teacher, pro-union speech. While de Blasio never mentioned charter schools he did emphasize that the future of the city lay in high effective public schools, emphasizing public.
With a forty-point lead in the polls de Blasio should sail to victory.
He faces staggering issues.
For twenty years the Democratic Party establishment has been on the outside looking in. The Mayor appoints thousands to city positions. Bloomberg, for all his flaws, for the most part, hired managers free of party labels. Can de Blasio satisfy a Democratic Party hungry for old-fashioned patronage?
“Tax the rich” and the “Tale of Two Cities” was a highly effective campaign strategy, how does de Blasio convince investors to continue investing, real estate developers to continue developing, without alienating his base?
“Stop and Frisk,” again, an effective campaign issue, an issue of concern to police officers, how do you assure police officers, and the citizenry that ending “stop and frisk” will not increase violent crime?
The labor contracts of all city employees have expired, the teachers’ contract almost four years ago. How do you find the dollars to negotiate new labor contracts?
And, not the least, the school system: how do you repair a school system that has been at war with their employees and the wide range of advocates?
Is there a Jesus-Mohammad-Abrahamic figure that can sweep in and bind the wounds?
The UFT, the teacher union, has been in a fight mode for years, can they move from fight to partner?
The union membership, while strongly supportive of union leadership, is divided along generational lines (See Susan Moore Johnson article here). Participation in the April union election was at an all-time low. A “now that our guy won why can’t we go back to the way it was,” attitude is prevalent, and incorrect.
A new mayor and a new chancellor may not be so quick to close schools, the Progress Report metrics may change, the words out of Tweed and Gracie Mansion may be kinder, federal laws requiring testing and state laws requiring a teacher evaluation system remain in place.
At a Wednesday night meeting of union leadership Michael Mulgrew started his comments with, “We moving from fighting to building a school system.”
Can the same teachers move from attending demonstrations and rallies, from filing grievances to trashing the mayor and Tweed and principals to sitting with a group of teachers and work on an Understanding by Design curriculum mapping plan?
Winning means taking on responsibility.
The fighting may be over, the work has just begin.