Friday, June 13, 2014

The Amazing Disappearing Mr. Astorino

A few months ago, I went to an anti-testing demonstration at Comsewogue High School. One of the speakers was gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino. Astorino spoke forcefully against Common Core, to the overwhelming approval of the crowd. Cuomo was awful. He was dancing around the truth. He supported this awful testing program. Who needs someone like Andrew Cuomo?

And no one really disagreed. Only while Astorino was ridiculing Cuomo for dancing around the issues, he somehow forgot that he himself opposed a woman's right to choose. His enthusiastic support for charter schools somehow never made its way into his speech that day.

It also slipped his mind that he opposed gay marriage. That was fortunate, because many in the crowd could have suffered a distinct slip in enthusiasm had they known that. In fact, it's pretty well-known that the Tea Party shares pretty much the same sentiments, and they wouldn't be likely to make much headway in NY without wearing a fairly convincing mask.

But there's even more reason to be wary of the slippery GOP candidate. Astorino opposes the Triborough Amendment, and wrote an op-ed in the NY Post explaining why. Astorino, like many tabloid writers, maintains that collectively bargained step increases are in fact raises, and wants an end to them while contracts are being negotiated. He claims working people have zero incentive to come to the bargaining table. Ask UFT teachers who waited over five years for a raise and then voted for delays and givebacks whether or not that's so.

He further claims having municipalities hold up the terms they've negotiated is a drag on the economy. Astorino also rails against retroactive increases. If working people have to wait years to get a contract, too bad for them. Astorino is worried about increasing health care costs. Why should cities have to absorb them simply because they can't be bothered negotiating with unions?

If you read the whole piece, despite Astorino's absurd claims he isn't anti-union (no doubt the zillionaires who financed Vergara weren't either), he wants government to hold all the cards in negotiations. In fact, he wants government to have zero incentive to negotiate with public sector unions. Why should they, really, when they could simply freeze wages forever and continue to expand deductions for health care costs? Eventually unions would owe municipalities for the privilege of coming to work, and we could revive that whole, "owe my soul to the company store" thing.

So be careful what you wish for when saying, "anybody but Cuomo." Would Cuomo dump the Triborough Amendment if he could? Absolutely. The only thing I can say in Cuomo's favor is that he's at least obliged to pretend to be a Democrat now and then.
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