A longtime political sage tells me, “The governor in his remarks yesterday at the Moskowitz rally said he long supported charters or he is beholden to the hedge funds who contributed to his campaign since 2010,” and, I would add, neither or both.
In the Netflix series House of Cards Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, the demonic, amoral politician lusting after power, masterful in moving human chess pieces, more suited for the Ninth Circle of the Inferno than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Cuomo is inaccessible to the press, only managed media events, he has no public schedule, and no effective opposition on the Republican side. One of his first actions as Governor was to move the State of the State speech from the majestic Assembly chamber to the 2,000 seat convention center; from reporting to the legislators to reporting to the people, and demeaning the legislators.
The Governor led the marriage equality bill through the legislature and derailed the women’s equality agenda. With a nod to the conservative democratic primary voters in 2016, Cuomo places the responsibility for passing the Dream Act on the Republicans. After a handful of states pass medical marijuana legislation he edged the bill forward.
Somewhere a large bulletin board is counting votes – in Iowa, in New Hampshire in all the early primary states.
The 2% property tax cap has essentially frozen teacher salaries around the state, school districts are cutting courses, laying off teachers and dipping into reserves, conservatives applaud.
Geoff Decker in Chalkbeat tells us,
By one tally of the 2014 filings, Cuomo racked up at least $800,000 in donations from 27 bankers, real estate executives, business executives, philanthropists and advocacy groups who have flocked to charter schools and other education causes in recent years.
Quoting from a New York Times 2010 story, Diane Ravitch relates,
Hedge fund executives are thus emerging as perhaps the first significant political counterweight to the powerful teachers unions, which strongly oppose expanding charter schools in their current form.
After hearing from Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Williams arranged an 8 a.m. meeting last month at the Regency Hotel, that favorite spot for power breakfasts, between Mr. Cuomo and supporters of his committee, Democrats for Education Reform, who include the founders of funds like Anchorage Capital Partners, with $8 billion under management; Greenlight Capital, with $6.8 billion; and Pershing Square Capital Management, with $5.5 billion.
The blue ribbon Cuomo Education Reform panel met for over a year and faded away, the final report barely reported.
The Governor may have made a crucial error, he may have underestimated the anger of those amorphous public school parents scattered around the state. On Tuesday a joint meeting of the state legislature is scheduled to re-elect four Regents members – the votes are always pro forma – except this year. The anger over the implementation of the Common Core, the impact of the Common Core-high stakes testing has not abated; parents are badgering their electeds, demanding that their legislator not vote for the incumbents. The Assembly passed a sweeping bill calling for a moratorium on high stakes testing and a data-mining initiative. The Senate is hesitating, and may pass a similar bill. The Governor blithely ignores the bill and appoints an eleven member task force who has held two meetings at which acolytes rambled.
The Governor’s recent affaire d’amour with charter schools may very well alienate parents from Buffalo to New York to Montauk.
Dollars drive elections and Citizen’s United allow unfettered dollars to flow from the Koch brothers, from hedge fund billionaires, from the rich and therefore powerful to candidates either of their choice to oppose candidates they despise.
Bill de Blasio ran a brilliant campaign, reactivated the left, motivated the middle class, Afro-Americans, women, the outer boroughs, he was a throwback to days of yore. He is currently under vigorous assault, from the Governor who is “defeating” the Mayor, who is putting the Mayor in his place. The Governor’s other “friend,” Eva Moskowitz, is spending over a half million dollars to blanket the screen with pro charter school, anti-de Blasio TV ads.
de Blasio may end up as a one term mayor as the Cuomo-Moskowitz pas de deux destroys him, to use a House of Cards analogy, push him under a train, Cuomo’s path to the White House may be littered with unionists and parents, or, the people may rise up.
Year 3 of House of Cards may be playing out in front of us.