*Self-dubbed fiscal conservative *Bloomberg Education Policy 2.0 under a chancellor Suransky?
We must hold politicians to the actions that they take, their relationships with the powerful and how they follow through on their pledges or pretensions.
De Blasio: a Tale of two political faces: a leftish one to the public, a rightist one to the elite media and business class
Progressives of the electoral-oriented stripe, this writer included, put enthusiasm into boosting the candidacy of New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio. We were enthusiastic over his defense of hospitals and his opposition to co-locations to benefit charter schools.
However, much as Barack Obama disappointed progressives, prompting the strong critique of his early presidency, the Mendacity of Hope, de Blasio, is on the way to greatly disappointing the progressive and attentive sections of organized labor. In an important breakthrough post, Perdido Street School has relayed the report that de Blasio has met with city's business elite including the two-headed diablo of local media, the New York Post and the Daily News. But worse, and far more significantly for the relationship with municipal labor in the city he has sold out even before he was elected. Namely, he has told local business leaders that he is a fiscal conservative. The crowning blow is that he has been rumored to have considered a chief perpetuator of contestable education truths and mouthpiece for Bloomberg dictates.
The grand significance here is that the abstract phrase of fiscal conservative, and budget balancing that he professed to, translates into austerity, and in practical terms this means tight-fistedness with the municipal unions. For several years workers in the municipal unions have been patient as Bloomberg balked at a contract. Across various municipal sectors workers have been patient enough and are all demanding retroactive pay. They have been living with an economy that is making people scream. This is perhaps why the Lhota and media scare machine of the young de Blasio's flirtation with the left is so far losing no votes for de Blasio. Yet, as argued before in this blog, the city has resources to make that compensation: Wall Street / the stock market has had some record years in recent months. Also, for many of the years that Bloomberg cried empty municipal piggy bank the city actually had healthy positive ledger revenues.
Just as with Nixon in China and the achievement of the politically unpalatable and "impossible," and Obama's continued violations of civil liberties and expanded number of countries that we are poring military money into, rather than building a safety net and living wage economy at home, the danger is that a progressives' darling could create grand onerous impositions on city workers' working and living conditions.
De Blasio, has deftly dodged contract questions with the discussion-terminating response, "I will not negotiate in public," echoing his general principle that he stated to this city this spring, "You don't negotiate in public." Fiscal conservatism can have profound negative portents for teachers, (and other union members in a similar way): no full retroactive pay, raises that fail to make parity with those that already did get recent raises, higher co-pays, higher prescription prices, etc. The danger is strong as other places have similar austerity moves. Witness super-wealthy Nassau County; as Newsday reports, it is having a wage freeze.
Young left flirtations/ Neo-liberal executives
Like Obama's chumming with Bill Ayers, the de Blasio candidacy has given us grist for leftists to think he's one of us, and for rightists to spin hysteria backlash against him, de Blasio has fooled many leftists into thinking he's one of us by sticking with his contra-wars era position on Nicaragua.
These past few weeks have been inspirational to those hopeful of progressive politics pursued at the ballot box, reading that de Blasio won the primary out-right, that Letitia James beat Daniel Squadron with a final spread of 20 points. Finally, the Chief-Leader has reported in its latest editions that the city council candidate Daneek Miller in SE Queens with solid labor union backing from TWU, UFT and others, won the primary vote. Thus labor would have a direct voice with a union local president in the city council. All the stuff of heady days in city politics. But the news in the last 48 hours on de Blasio is sobering and it is depressing.
Lastly we must address the Shael Polakow Suransky (Walcott/Bloomberg 2.0) matter:
Suransky was so high up in Bloomberg's Tweed administration that he collaborated on some of the worst practices of Bloomberg's war on education from Suransky's signing off on lies that subject teachers the like of Francesco Portelos to bogus charges and no due process, to his adamant declaration to back up Bloomberg's move for a state waiver of regulation to allow the closing of school libraries, contending that modern technology obviates the need for such libraries and librarians, the latter which he wrote off as extraneous "curators" of media. Book lovers appreciative of school libraries listen in disgust to his interview this August with Brian Lehrer. Gotham Schools published a story claiming that the school library busting Suransky was rumored to be on the short list to replace city schools chancellor Dennis Walcott. The appointment of Suransky would signal that unions had better trash any remaining illusions that he is a progressive on labor issues. The often corporate reform-validating Gotham Schools conceded that he is a loyal defender of Bloomberg's policies. Suransky has been a gentle public face for apologism in fealty to lords Bloomberg and Coleman/Duncan. Here are more references to Suransky's Orwell-worthy mouthing of the (highly contestable) truths of Common Core and plugging for the soon to be infamous April Common Core testing --they deserve our cooperation because they have arrived. Yeah, real implementation of critical thinking.
And if the hints of a grand Bill de Blasio betrayal of organized labor turn out to be true, as all this indicators suggest, we hope that Letitia James or John Liu launch a strong, principaled challenge from the left in 2017 (albeit, James herself has her own moral/political compromise in accepting Coca-Cola money, many charge, to oppose Bloomberg's soda ban). The same might be said for the city council candidacy of Miller: True you got union backing in the primary. Now, you need to demonstrate your true worth to the labor community.
As for right now, the fiscal conservative declaration are grounds enough to say bye-bye, Bill. Vote Green: vote for Anthony Gronowicz for New York City mayor.
Postscript: an update, Nov. 4, analyzing Bill de Blasio's disappointments:
"The Square", Casinos' UFT friends and the On-Going Mendacity of de Blasio
*More disturbing gestures by Bill de Blasio