The Fox in the Hen House: The Flanagan/Cuomo Mayoral Control Bill

A friend responded to my latest post, “The ‘big ugly’ is really going to get ugly.”

As reported by Politico and the New York Daily News, on Friday night the Republican leadership of the Senate filed a bill,

The bill requires:

* extending mayoral control for one year

* An inspector, appointed by the governor, would provide the mayor and city schools chancellor “oversight, guidance and technical assistance.”

* The inspector would attend all Panel for Educational Policy meetings, including executive sessions, and can appeal any PEP decision to the State Education Department commissioner, MaryEllen Elia.(“The city board, mayor and chancellor shall fully cooperate with requests for information made by the inspector,”)

* The bill would allow the inspector to have oversight over the PEP’s handling of charter school co-locations.

* The city would also be required to report a long list of new information to the state annually, including statistics about teachers, principals, admissions, student demographics, school overcrowding, expenditures, etc.,

* The bill also includes a new provision that PEP members cannot be lobbyists or clients of lobbyists.

Read full text of the bill: http://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2015/S8016

In other words, a “fox in the hen house.”

The key player is the Speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie.

If the Assembly takes no action the city reverts to the previous system, a central board made up of seven members, one appointed by each borough president and two by the mayor, and, a procedure to elect community school boards, or, Heastie can make a deal with the Republicans and the governor, or, Heastie can go on the attack.

Understand, the major players have no interest in mayoral control, the governor is a political hermaphrodite, and he switches sides to fit the situation.  He sidles up to Senate leader Flanagan to weaken de Blasio, Flanagan cuddles with the governor hoping to put the Republicans in a position to seize the New York City mayoralty in 2017.

Are politicians so duplicitous that you would make deals with the opposition party?

In 1999, with the support of the Democratic members in the Assembly outside of New York City; a law was passed that ended the 33-year old commuter tax .

ALBANY, May 17— The State Legislature brushed aside Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s protests today and rescinded a 33-year-old tax on commuters in the state who work in New York City, unabashedly using its power to try to influence an upcoming suburban election.

The measure, which Gov. George E. Pataki said he would sign, carves at least $210 million — and as much as $360 million — from the city treasury. It was approved after legislative leaders from both major parties, acting with surprising dispatch in a year when the Capitol has seemed mired in partisanship, decided that a tax cut could bolster their respective candidates in a May 25 special election for a State Senate seat northwest of New York City.

The Democratic majority in the Assembly had turned fractious after the Speaker, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, unexpectedly voiced support for the measure last week, but Mr. Silver pushed it through tonight, 92 to 49. The Speaker spent the day inviting lawmakers into his office to insure their votes; some referred to it as courting, others as arm-twisting.

Silver was willing to deprive the city of a quarter of a billion dollars a year, albeit the city had a Republican mayor, to perhaps prevail in a special election, or, who knows what other deals were consummated in that “smoke-filled” room.

How vigorously will the speaker, with only a year under his belt, battle Flanagan and Cuomo?

If de Blasio continues to stumble a Democrat might take a run at him in the September, 2017 primary, even if he wins de Blasio would be vulnerable in November to a popular, well-funded Republican – think Eva Moskowitz.

I am not disparaging the members of the legislature; the members that I know are extremely hard-working pursuing legislation within their area of specialty and interest. Linda Rosenthal (Upper West Side) fights for tenant rights and a range of other bills. She recently passed a law that makes women’s personal health products tax-free.  Jeff Dinowitz (Bronx) chairs the Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee  and fights for consumer protections.

Mayoral control is purely politics at the leadership level.

In 2009 the legislature extended mayoral control for seven years; a parent commission  held extensive hearing and produced a range of suggested changes in the law, the legislature had no interest.

I suspect the various interests will seek a face-saving compromise – maybe a blue-ribbon commission to convene and come up with a report by March 1, 2017 and a year extension.

Of course that “event” on November 8th 2016 could impact

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2 responses to “The Fox in the Hen House: The Flanagan/Cuomo Mayoral Control Bill

  1. It is obvious that the governor of NYS has appointed an agent to support his autocratic leadership style. How is this different than the Gestapo during the Nazi era in Germany?

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  2. “I am not disparaging the members of the legislature”

    I’m sure if we were to go back in time to Nazi Germany — or the government of any Tyrant at any time in history — we’d also find many hard working members in the government doing what they know best and making sure they don’t destroy their lives by crossing those that hold power. We’d also find a few who would risk all to stand up to oppression that comes when power has corrupted the leaders at the top. But those who stand up often are crushed and destroyed.

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