Monday, March 29, 2010

Taxes and Laws

Leona Helmsley famously stated that taxes were for the little people.  Clearly Mayor-for-life Bloomberg feels the same way about laws and court rulings.  Those he finds unappealing are to be interpreted at his convenience, reversed, or disregarded entirely.

Early in his tenure, he and his puppet chancellor decided to save money by denying sabbatical leaves.  You can't have one, you can't have one either, and no one else can have one.   The UFT had to go to court and get a ruling forcing the mayor to abide by the terms of the contract he'd agreed to.

There was that nasty term limits thing, which would have been "disgusting" to overturn.  After the mayor's internal polling showed his presidential prospects in 08 to be abysmal, the abrupt halt of his political career was even more disgusting, so the law had to go.  The rationale was only the richest guy in New York City could get us through these tough times.  And he's cleverly planning to do it by cutting essential services, like education and health, rather than incredibly expensive consultants.

Then there was Randall's Island, which Mayor Bloomberg wanted to devote to private schools like the Dalton School, so that children of privilege could enjoy more privilege.  When the court ruling went against him, the Mayor reinterpreted the ruling as though it did not.  A second round in court gave the mayor the bad news that he had to abide by the ruling.

Now, the UFT and NAACP have gone and put a halt to his plans to close 19 schools.  And they've done so precisely because Tweed failed to follow the new governance rules it loudly demanded for months.  So how do they respond?  First, they're not assigning any new kids to the closed schools.  Chancellor Klein says they'll give those kids who requested them a chance to opt in.  That ensures low enrollment.

Second, the city is moving ahead with its plans to open new replacement schools.   Doubtless, despite the financial crisis, these schools will receive all the amenities that Mayor Bloomberg's "Children First" program has deprived the closing schools.  Doubtless the Mayor's two-tier separate and unequal system will continue to starve the targeted school of resources that will be lavished on new schools.

Chancellor Klein can keep a straight face and maintain that the new schools were not created as a result of the illegal closures.  You can do things like that when your agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with the will of the people you're supposed to serve.

Under mayoral control, it may as well be Leona's face that controls the education of New York City's children.  Once the lawsuits are sorted out, that issue will still need addressing.
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