Why did you decide to appoint Ms. Black?
Well, it was a number of things. Mostly, Michael Bloomberg is the richest guy in New York. He could well be President in 2012. Let me tell you something, jobs are tough to find in this economy and I'm keeping mine. I'm not going back to some university and getting a job at my age. I'm in my 50s and I've got to start thinking about retirement. There's no way I'm moving to some two-bedroom in Queens, like some teacher or something.
But the panel you selected voted to reject her.
That's not entirely true. Only 4 voted for rejection. 2 voted for the waiver. And 2 voted "not at this time." In fact, I decided to give the waiver a few days later, which was not at that time. It was a different time. If you look at it that way, a majority of the panel voted for the waiver. Sure, some wanted it at another time, so that's when I gave it to them.
She has no educational experience.
Are you kidding me? Do you really think Michael Bloomberg, or anyone, cares about education? The fact is there's an awful lot of money to be managed here. And much of it goes to pay the salaries of teachers. Now some teachers, older teachers, make a lot more money than younger teachers. Someone has to change that, and who better than someone who really knows how to fire people? Once we get rid of this last in, first out nonsense, Cathie Black will be able to fire anyone she wants. Meanwhile, we'll just put highly paid teachers in classes with kids who don't do well, and use the new evaluation system to dump them all.
But didn't you say you're concerned about being in your 50s and getting a job? What about teachers in that position?
Hey, do I look like a teacher? Am I a union president? Give me a break. I'm looking out for number one, and it's not my fault that Bloomberg and Obama treat teachers like number two. If you want to fix that, it's on you guys. Look, I wish the panel had voted to grant the waiver straight out. Then I wouldn't have people like you pestering me and lunatics demonstrating outside my house. But you gotta play with the hand you're dealt. My ass is on the line here.
So there was no way Cathie Black was going to be rejected once Michael Bloomberg selected her?
Get with the program, pal. Joel Klein did whatever Bloomberg said for the last nine years and now he's got a cushy gig with Rupert Murdoch. If I want to land a sweet deal like that, I have to play the game. Do you think I want to be a teacher or something? Let me tell you something---I want a job with a future. Bloomberg has Oprah, Obama, Gates, and every editorial board in the country behind him. He's got Whoopie Goldberg, I heard, They want non-union charters, no contracts, and the right to pay whatever they want. You're all free to get in line and hope for the best. Otherwise, you're gonna have to stop supporting mayoral control and selling all your rights away for every new contract. You think it's an accident that Bloomberg gave everyone a contract except the teachers?
Mr. Steiner, we understand you were born in New Jersey.
At this point, Steiner darted his eyes, hopped a fence, and scurried away.