Political Axiom: “Remember, the Hand You Bite Today May Be Attached to the Ass You Have to Kiss Tomorrow.”

Buddy Cianci, the “colorful,” occasionally outrageous former mayor of Providence is running again; Cianci also served time at the expense of the feds, and is noted for his political quips, one of my favorites,

“Remember, the hand you bite today may be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.”

For many years I served as the elected union leader of a school district representing 2,000 union members. There were times the superintendent or the school board did something I strongly opposed, there were times that members were outraged by some policy. I learned that no matter how angry, no matter the political pressures, I represented all of my members, not just the “angry and outraged” members. I had to learn to both vigorously express my displeasure and at the same time not to burn bridges – to “agree to disagree.”

I asked the superintendent to sign a form to get a teacher whose payroll was screwed up and about to be evicted an emeegency check.

I had to ask him to approve a leave with health benefits for a teacher who had had used up sick days.

Ripping the superintendent in public would satisfy angy members and have tragic results for other members; I always had to keep the door ajar.

The polls close in New York State at 8 PM, minutes later Andrew Cuomo will be declared the winner by the TV stations, his opponent Rob Astorino will trail by about 20% and the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins will end up in single digits.

My e-mail box is filled with teacher denunciations of Cuomo, endorsements of the Green candidate, refusals to vote for anyone, just plain anger directed at Cuomo.

Cuomo deserves the disapprobation of teachers.

The NY Daily News report on a Cuomo meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board,

ALBANY — Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.
“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”
Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

Cuomo can be described as a bully, self-serving, amoral, endlessly ambitious, and these are the kinder terms, on the other hand he’s going to be the governor for the next four years.

He is a master strategist: at the heart de Blasio’s campaign for mayor was “pre-kindergarten for all” paid for by increased taxes from earners of over $500,000. There was relatively little pushback. Under New York State law all taxes, state or local, must be approved by the legislature and the governor. Cuomo shot down the mayor’s plan and insisted the funds must come from the state budget.

de Blasio, the vassal, must show fealty to his feudal lord, pay homage each and every year to keep the pre-kindergarten dollars flowing. Any hint of disloyalty by the mayor can result in Cuomo, the lord, questioning the value of pre-kindergarten, jeopardizing the program and pointing blame at the mayor.

Mayor Bloomberg, a major contributor to the Senate Republicans, introduced legislation to end seniority for teachers in New York City; in a staff reduction principals would choose which teachers to excess, and, similar to Chicago, if “bumped” teachers could not a find a job in another school they would be laid off. The bill whisked through the Republican controlled Senate. Cuomo ended Bloomberg’s attack on “first in-last out” by announcing there was no need for the bill, the teacher evaluation law would sort teachers.

For whatever reason Cuomo chose the union over Bloomberg.

Every twenty years the legislature must decide whether to place a proposition on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention. There are some groups in support: maybe an Equal Rights Amendment or changes in the funding of schools – sounds like a good idea; however, on the other side are the dangers.

A simple clause in the state constitution,

After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

School districts, cities, business groups, the Tea Party, and on and on would love to delete that simple sentence. To allow the state to “diminish and impair” pensions.

The last constitutional convention was 75 years ago and in my view another convention would do mischief.

Each time the question has arisen, previous governors and legislatures have passed – no interest.

There is always the next battle, be it avoiding a constitutional convention or amending the property tax cap. Unions, properly, have responsibly criticized the governor for his unseemly and antagonistic comments, and, I hope, keep the door ajar for the next issue.

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