Tag Archives: Scott Stringer

When elephants fight, it is the [New Yorkers] that suffer, [amended African Proverb]

States, counties and cities are facing catastrophic budget shortfalls; unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression and uncertainty over the re-opening of businesses and schools.  Each day as expenditures exceed revenues the deficits widen,

While the state budget was approved on April 1, under his emergency powers the governor can adjust the budget, in other words the budget is malleable; depending on revenues the budget can be adjusted after the July 1st.

A bill, the HEROES Act passed the House, it provides over $1 trillion for a wide range of supports.

Will the HEROES Act  pass the Senate? And, if so, how will the Senate change the House bill?

The current House bill would be a life-saver for New York City as well as cities across the state (See proposed $$ to each city here). Speculation is that the final bill will not come before the Senate until late June and will look considerably different than the bill that passed in the House.  The final bill has to “satisfy” Senate leader McConnell, the Republicans and the President.

In a normal year the Mayor and the City Council Speaker would be deep in discussions over the final budget. New York City, since the sweeping governance changes in the late eighties, is a “Strong Mayor,” system. The Mayor has wide discretion over the allocation of resources, the Council, aside from approving the budget; its powers are limited to land use and the holding of hearings.  (Read a fascinating account of New York City governance and the emergence of the current configuration here).

Corey Johnson, the leader of the Council is a candidate for mayor.  Scott Stringer, the Comptroller, is also running for mayor, as well as the Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Boro President and who knows who else …. Andrew Yang? The ranked-choice primary will be held in June, 2021.

Taking “shots” at a weakened term-limited mayor is de rigueur in the world of politics.

Stringer calls for a $1B cut in the NYPD over four years by attrition and using the funds for community programs (Read presser here).

Meanwhile the Independent Budget Office (IBO) paints a bleak picture of New York City’s economy over the next few years,

The coronavirus pandemic has put New York City in the worst economic crunch in decades, with 22% of residents currently out of work and City Hall mired in a nearly $9 billion budget gap.  

 The state government in Albany is facing an even more dire fiscal situation than the city. Rather than providing assistance to the city, the state has looked to the city for fiscal relief. The state budget adopted last month includes hundreds of millions of dollars of cost shifts from the state to the city, including a direct raid on the city’s sales tax revenues. In short, New York City is facing nearly unprecedented challenges as it struggles to maintain budget balance, protect vital services, and provide a safe and healthy environment for individuals who want to live, work, or visit here

After the police clashed with demonstrators and widespread looting occurred the governor threatened to remove the mayor. Can the governor remove the mayor?

(See the text of the City Charter and State law below)

 “What happened in New York City was inexcusable,” Cuomo said during his Tuesday press conference, unprompted. “I have offered the National Guard; the mayor has said he can handle it with the NYPD. My option is to displace the mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard as the governor in a state of emergency and basically take over … the mayor’s job. You’d have to displace the mayor.”

One would hope and expect that electeds: the governor, the mayor and the candidates will work together to restore the city, to make the city into a better place. We are in a moment in time when sweeping change is possible. Change is inevitable, and change can be disruptive, not all change make education better.

Teachers simply want to back to their classrooms in a safe environment, and we have yet to define safe.

I suspect some of the elements of remote teaching, can be incorporated, adding remote parent conferences to in-school conferences, one on one remote learning to reinforce in-school learning, remote conferences in lieu of out of school meetings, etc., and probably more.

If, however, the decision-makers, continue to bicker, to try and use the crisis for political advantage schools can slide into an abyss.

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

Dante Alighieri

 

Its Friday; gray and rainy, listen to Rhiannon Giddens, “Leaving Eden,” a poignant song in troubling times, one of my favorites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcCmg9Oj9XM

 

The Removal of a Mayor in New York State

“The mayor may be removed from office by the governor upon charges and after service upon him of a copy of the charges and an opportunity to be heard in his defense. Pending the preparation and disposition of charges, the governor may suspend the mayor for a period not exceeding thirty days.”  (NYC Charter)

“The chief executive officer of every city and the chief or commissioner of police, commissioner or director of public safety or other chief executive officer of the police force by whatever title he may be designated, of every city may be removed by the governor after giving to such officer a copy of the charges against him and an opportunity to be heard in his defense.  The power of removal provided for in this subdivision shall be deemed to be in addition to the power of removal provided for in any other law.  The provisions of this subdivision shall apply notwithstanding any inconsistent provisions of any general, special or local law, ordinance or city charter.” (NYS Law)

 

 

Its Friday; gray and rainy, listen to Rhiannon Giddens, “Leaving Eden,” a poignant song in troubling times, one of my favorites.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcCmg9Oj9XM

Teachers Go To the Polls: Over the Next Week Union Members Will Vote on the Proposed UFT Contracts.

On Monday UFT members will begin to cast ballots in school. In my high school we set up a table by the “in-out” cards (once upon a time an actual time clock) and as teachers arrived or checked their mailboxes they picked up a ballot, signed the roster, voted, placed their ballot in an envelope, sealed the ballot, and placed in our ballot box that the shop teacher made years ago. Different chapters, actually titles, i.e., teachers, guidance counselors, school secretaries, paraprofessionals, psychologists and social worker, etc., cast separate ballots.

Social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter to blogs are urging colleagues to vote “yes” or “no.”

Facebook has hundreds of comments, with many “likes” and “dislikes,” although Facebook comments represent only a tiny fraction of total membership.

Some questions and answers:

Did the members even vote down a contract?

Yes, in 1995 teachers voted down a contract, about six month later the members approved a very similar contract.

Can the mayor or the governor or the City Council or the state legislature impose a contract?

The legislature can pass a law – which would require the votes of both houses and the approval of the governor, I don’t think it has ever happened.

At this point if a contract is voted down what are the next steps?

Both parties could go back to the bargaining table, or, the mayor could walk way and negotiate with another union, or, the fact-finding panel could release their report.

Is the fact-finding report binding?

No, although the report is public has been the basis be settlements in the past.

Does the union currently know what’s in the report?

No, although they do know the positions of the city on the issues – both sides testified at great length and placed scores of documents into evidence and witnesses were cross-examined.

Can the fact-finding report recommend that ATR’s are laid off after a period of time?

Yes.

Could the legislature change the law and require the layoff of ATR’s?

Yes.

Would the governor support a change in the law that would require ATR’s are laid off?

Let me answer with another question: could the governor fully support charter schools?

Are the retroactive 4% raises for 2009 and 2010 “locked in?”

Nothing is “locked in.”

Doesn’t the “pattern bargaining” principle guarantee members will receive 4 + 4 in retroactive?

No, the “pattern bargaining” and “ability to pay” principles are guidance for the fact-finders; however, there is only a contract when the parties agree to a contract.

Shouldn’t we get more money going forward – the increases barely cover the cost of living?

The increases going forward are very much in line with other teacher contracts in the school districts surrounding the city.

Why do we have to wait so long for the retroactive increases?

The fiscal year begins July 1 and the city simply doesn’t have the dollars, and, the bookkeeping for the retroactive increases are under attack – the city operates under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and there is a question of how the city is paying for the raises. See New York Times,
“High-Power Tug of War Over Teachers’ Deal

Behind the scenes, a high-stakes tug of war unfolded between the city’s two most powerful elected officials: Mayor Bill de Blasio, eager to trumpet the first big labor contract of his young administration, and the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, whose team had discovered basic accounting problems with the deal.

The issue identified by Mr. Stringer will not add to the total cost of the deal, city officials said. But the comptroller’s office said it represented a breach of stringent accounting rules adopted by New York after the 1970s fiscal crisis. “Our goal from the very beginning was to protect the city’s financial integrity,” said Eric Sumberg, a spokesman for Mr. Stringer.

Some have said if we vote down the contract we have to go to the “back of the line,” behind the 151 other unions, why couldn’t we simply go back to the bargaining table?

It’s up to the city. Since 2009 Mayor Bloomberg wanted to bargain, it was the union that decided to wait for the next mayor. Both sides have to agree to go “back to the table,” and might be more advantageous for the city to negotiate with a weaker union.

What options does the city have?

They could negotiate with other unions – for example – they could move on to DC 37, the largest union, and negotiate a “pattern.”

The Police (PBA) and Firefighters have already criticized the pattern – can the police and the firefighter receive greater increases?

The fact-finding process for police and firefighters are binding – a plus and a minus – it is commonplace for the uniformed services to choose to go “to the end of the line.” hoping to extract a better settlement. – obviously there is a “risk/reward.”

Waiting so many years for the retro just doesn’t seem fair and we work so hard – don’t we deserve larger increases and a quicker payout for the retro?

Let me be honest – “fairness” and “working hard” are irrelevant in the world of high stakes negotiations – The outside world argues teachers should be paid according to student achievement? The settlement is solely up to the parties to the negotiations.

Could we go another two, three or four years without a contract?

Yes, the PERB rules end in a non-binding fact-finding report – there no requirements or time limits to complete negotiations.

Why could the Chicago Teachers go on strike?

The Illinois labor laws allow for a strike with a super majority vote of the members, teacher strikes are legal in Chicago.

Remind us, what are the penalties in New York State?

Teacher strikes are against the law with penalties: Loss of an additional day’s pay for each day on strike (2:1) – on strike for five days and lose ten days pay, loss of union dues check off and court imposed fines on the union and members.

Could we have some sort of job action?

Under NYS law all job actions, and the law is strict, are considered strikes with 2:1 wage deductions and possibility other penalties.

In my view the contract falls within the “pattern” for retroactive and going forward, and, the only way to find the dollars is to spread the payments over a number of budget cycles – the non-budgetary issues address many teacher concerns and most of all the contract links labor and management, the union and the department, a major change from the last adminstration. I understand there are members who only care about dollars and the only “reform” would be to leave them alone – in the current climate the contract addresses “reforms” that involve teachers, a rarity in negotiations around the nation. Thomas Wolf wrote, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” the past is gone – the contract, hopefully, creates a new path.