Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Tale of Two Bills and One Andy

Ever since the snow day that wasn't, I've heard lots of teachers grumbling about Mayor de Blasio. It's as if teachers were just looking for a reason to carry on the mayor bashing that became so fashionable in the Bloomberg years. For the record, I think de Blasio should have closed the schools that day, but he at least made an attempt to make an early call. It was the wrong call, but it was better than waiting until 6 AM like we used to have to do with Bloomberg.

I have been a supporter of de Blasio from the beginning, when he was considered a non-contender for the mayoral race and Mulgrew was trying to make a "king" out of Bill Thompson, the man our fearless union leader failed to support the last time around.

One of de Blasio's problems is that he is an actual progressive, not a liberal in conservative's clothing, like Governor Cuomo. When Bill takes progressive stances, he is killed in the billionaire controlled press. His biggest transgressions so far seem to have been his sneaux pas, and allowing his security people to run a stop sign.

If you only read the Post, you'd think that's all he's done. But in reality, he's championed many of the causes he said he would when he ran, despite the political price:

He stood up to Eva Mosowitz and her program of manifest destiny for charter schools. That was the correct thing to do--the only problem was he was undercut by phony Democrat Cuomo who bravely stood up for Eva and her charter school cronies who have spent freely on politicians who support them. Cuomo would probably have stood up for Hitler given enough Deutsche marks.

He pushed hard for his pre-K plan, and looked to fund it the right way--by tapping the super rich who have benefitted so lavishly from government largesse. Cuomo, of course, undercut him again, because our governor can not stand the idea of his rich pals paying even one more cent to help the downtrodden in NYC. However it turns out, it's clear that without de Blasio's passion for Pre-K, nothing would have gotten done.

He has proposed 200,000 affordable housing units to be built. He has said he would require builders to put aside affordable housing, rather than merely suggesting it, as his predecessors did.

He promised to end stop and frisk profiling that has been a blight on this city for years. He kept that promise the other day by dropping the appeal Bloomberg filed to keep stop and frisk in place. In doing this, de Blasio has gone a long way toward healing the rift between minorities and police.

He is keeping his promise to end horse carriage rides in NYC, an issue near and dear to animal advocates such as myself.

In short, de Blasio, who won an overwhelming majority of the vote while running on a progressive platform, is now being crucified by many for actually carrying out that platform.

I have no idea how our contract will turn out, but I suspect that in the end we will get something close to the 4+4 that we are asking for, along with retroactive pay in some form. That other Bill that the UFT supported--Thompson--was on record as saying the city could not afford such raises. Does anyone think we had a chance of getting them in a Thompson administration? Would that other Bill have carried out the progressive plans that de Blasio has? I doubt it. Do you think Andy Cuomo will come around and support public school teachers the way he supports Eva Moskowitz, who makes FIVE TIMES as much as the most senior teachers without ever having taught a class?

So, if you're a teacher, you should be supporting de Blasio. As a true progressive, he will not look to bust our union the way Bloomberg did, nor undermine us as Cuomo does. For those teachers who have taken to bashing de Blasio, let me ask one question. Who do you think will be a better friend to teachers? The other Bill? Sellout Andy? Joe Lhota?

I understand many of you are still honked off about having to go to work during a snow storm. Get over it. We've got a mayor who supports public schools and looks to end charters. He's union friendly. He's looking to improve education through universal Pre-K.

If teachers don't get behind de Blasio in a big way, you may just have four years of Mayor Moskowitz to look forward to soon.