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Friday, July 10, 2009

Working Families Party Endorses William Thompson For Mayor

From Dan Cantor, July 9, 2009, Working Families Party:

We wanted you to be the first to know - it's Thompson.

After WFP supporters voted on what questions to ask the mayoral candidates; after getting the candidates' live answers at our Mayoral Forum last week; and after pouring through thousands of comments on how they did - tonight we're proud to announce the Working Families Party is endorsing Bill Thompson for Mayor.

Less than an hour ago, the WFP's New York City Coordinating Council, the grassroots leadership of the party, voted to back Thompson - matching the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of WFP members and supporters who watched our Mayoral Forum and graded each candidate's performance.

Thompson has a clear message. He believes that city government must always put the middle class and working families first - above the real estate developers and corporate interests that have dominated our city for too long. In a Thompson Administration, Wall Street won't be the only street that matters anymore. Flatbush Avenue, Queens Blvd., The Grand Concourse, Victory Boulevard, and 125th St will have a real voice in City Hall.

At last Thursday's Forum, in question after question, Thompson spoke boldly about his support for our values and issues. The Mayor mostly did not. (You can watch the highlights here.)

When asked about campaign spending, Mayor Bloomberg told the hundreds of WFP supporters watching in the room and online: "rich people don't always win."

Our job now is to prove him right. From top to bottom, the Working Families Party has a ticket one can be proud of, starting with Bill Thompson. He is joined by John Liu and Bill de Blasio as city-wide candidates, and dozens of truly inspiring candidates for City Council.

Let's get to work.

Dan Cantor
WFP Executive Director

PS: No one can match the Mayor in the cash department. But we don't need to. We just need enough to hit the doors and get our own message out.

The Working Families Party (WFP) is New York’s liveliest and most progressive political party. Formed by a grassroots coalition of community organizations, neighborhood activists, and labor unions, we came together build a society that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

We fight to hold politicians accountable on the issues working- and middle-class families care about, like good jobs, fair taxes, good schools, reliable public transportation, affordable housing, and universal healthcare.

Working Families Mayoral Forum
July 6th, 2009
Mayoral Forum 09

Did you miss the Working Families 2009 Mayoral Forum? You’re in luck. Watch the YouTube below to catch the highlights of Mayor Bloomberg, Bill Thompson, and Tony Avella (pictured at left) answering questions WFP supporters helped pick. Or, use the livestream below that to watch the entire Forum.

More than 300 people attended, and hundreds more watched it live online. Check out the coverage in the New York Times and the Daily News (see below - Editor).

Rating the Mayoral Candidates’ Answers - Survey Results
Over 300 people attended the WFP Mayoral Forum held last Thursday, July 2nd. They came from unions, community organizations and WFP chapters from all five boroughs.

Following the presentations by the three candidates, 138 attendees filled out a survey that ranked the answers to each question.

Liveblogging the NYC Mayoral Forum
July 2nd, 2009
Mayoral Forum 09

There’s quite a lot of firsts taking place tonight. It’s the first open mayoral forum this electoral season. It’s the first time Working Families is broadcasting an event live on the web. It’s the first time we put a twitter widget up so that folks can chatter in real time while watching.

Will it work? We’ll know in exactly one hour. In the meantime, here’s the lyrics to our theme song:

(to the tune of “Solidarity Forever”)

We have come from all across New York
To speak out true and loud
Black and white and brown and yellow
That’s the beauty of our crowd
Standing tall for working families
For we clearly recognize
That it’s time to organize

Working Families Together
Working Families Together
Working Families Together
For together we are strong

Now the politicians promise
To solve problems large and small
And the corporations make believe
They love us one and all
But the truth is something different
And it’s right before our eyes
That it’s time to organize


From the Concourse to the Village
To the Coney Island shore
From Corona to East Flatbush,
Staten Island - Even More!
Bushwick, Flushing, and the West Side,
In the South Bronx — We Will Rise
As we start to organize!


2 Responses to “Liveblogging the NYC Mayoral Forum”Suzannah B. Troy says:
July 2nd, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Thank you to the Working Family Party for providing the people of New York with this opportunity. I felt you did a good job and asked important questions. I am disappointed you did not ask the mayor and Bill Thompson about the conflicts of interests and financial scandals regarding the pension scandals and Christine Quinn — City Council slushgate.

Other wise you did a good job and thank you for the opportunity to hear New Yorkers ask important questions and the candidates answer. It did not change my decision — I am voting for the Tony Avella because as some of your representatives pointed out tonight — he is honest.

Terrance Newton says:
July 8th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Predictably Mayor bloomberg was arrogant in his responses. When asked if he would support some kind of public financing due to his unfair spending advantage, his response that he earned every dollar he made and some are born in advantages of good family and education. Does this mean that those who aren’t born rich, from good families, or superior education need not apply?

What about Barack Obama? Look at his humble beginnings. This mayor is out of touch with those who aren’t rich. Bill Thompson was right when he said that principals matter and what you stand for matters. New York city is a family. We have rich, middle class, and poor. Your money, family background, and education shouldn’t guarantee you leadership role in this city.

I was disappointed that no one brought up the mayors violation of term limits after saying that no politician should violate term limits.

We need to read the mayors privilege statement to Barack Obama to urge him to endorse Bill Thompson.

July 3, 2009
At Working Families Party Forum, Bloomberg Declines to Toe the Liberal Line

Taking a page out of the playbook of Democratic mayors in Washington and San Francisco, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a mayoral candidates’ forum Thursday night that he supported paid sick days for people who work at large companies.

But Mr. Bloomberg, who has won the Republican and Independence Party lines in his bid for a third term in November, refused to parrot other liberal positions on issues like higher income taxes on the wealthy or stronger laws to protect tenants. He defended his homelessness policy, saying that the city’s shelter system had become “much more humane and civilized,” to the point where the shelters were “a lot more attractive” to families.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire and the wealthiest person in New York, also refused to limit his own spending on a campaign that could cost $100 million. Indeed, he questioned whether any election could ever be fair, because of advantages one candidate might have over another in education, family ties or party allegiance.

“Rich people don’t always win,” he said, in a response that drew some hisses and even laughter at the forum in Midtown Manhattan, sponsored by the politically liberal Working Families Party. “You can’t buy an election. The public is much smarter than that.”

It was the first time this campaign season that all three major candidates — Mr. Bloomberg and the two Democratic contenders: the city comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., and Councilman Tony Avella — appeared at the same event, albeit separately.

The party plans to endorse a candidate on July 9. And the choice is especially crucial to Mr. Thompson, the presumptive Democratic nominee, because he trails Mr. Bloomberg badly in polls and has watched many Democrat-friendly unions and officials back the mayor.

But judging by the crowd’s reaction, Mr. Bloomberg was the least popular of the three. He defended his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, who has been criticized as aloof and unresponsive to parents and educators, saying: “Could he have better social skills? We all could. But his job is not to be a nice guy; his job is to deliver results.”

He drew some jeers, too, on the subject of housing, when he said that he thought “it’s pretty hard getting evicted.”

Mr. Bloomberg, who spoke first, got a more favorable reaction, though, on the issue of paid sick days. While he expressed concerns about the impact on small businesses, he said he was encouraged by the example set in San Francisco, which mandated paid sick time for all workers in 2007. “Certainly large businesses, I would support that,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Thompson hewed to core Democratic themes on housing, middle-class jobs and an income tax on the wealthy.

He was most animated when he talked about President Obama and nonpartisan elections — something that Mr. Bloomberg favors, but said Thursday night he would not pursue unless they became politically palatable.

“Can anyone here imagine Barack Obama on the Republican line? I can’t,” Mr. Thompson said. “I don’t believe in nonpartisan elections, and I never will.”

At some junctures, Mr. Thompson’s answers elicited little reaction. This was true when he talked about his own — and more full-throated — support for paid sick days and when he talked about so-called green jobs.

Mr. Thompson may have missed an opportunity to hammer away at an issue on which he and the Working Families Party were aligned against Mr. Bloomberg last fall: the mayor’s successful bid to change the term limits law.

But it was Mr. Avella who seemed to generate the most applause. He said that Mr. Thompson was part of a Democratic machine that would not change anything. And, in a line that may have drawn the loudest applause, he had a far different assessment of Mr. Klein’s tenure.

“It would be my pleasure as mayor to say to Joel Klein: You’re fired!” he said.

Mayor Bloomberg defends massive campaign spending: 'I made every dime that I have'
BY Adam Lisberg, DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF,Friday, July 3rd 2009, 4:00 AM

"I've used my money only to talk about what I would do and what I have done. There's nothing wrong with that as far as I can see," said Bloomberg.

"I made every dime that I have," Bloomberg told the Working Families Party candidate forum, sparking scattered hisses from the crowd of about 250.

"I've used my money only to talk about what I would do and what I have done. There's nothing wrong with that as far as I can see," said Bloomberg, who may spend more than $100 million on his campaign. "You can't buy an election. The public's much too smart for that. You can use it to get a message out."

Controller William Thompson and Queens Councilman Tony Avella, two Democrats vying to challenge him in November, both said Bloomberg should have raised income taxes on the wealthy rather than hike the sales tax by a half-point to balance the budget - and said Bloomberg's statement that "we love the rich" was staggeringly out of touch.

"What about the rest of us? Where do we go?" asked Thompson, who said rising taxes, rents and water bills threaten the middle class.

Avella launched a blistering attack on Bloomberg's record and policies, saying he allowed large developers to run roughshod over neighborhoods while ignoring the plight of the poor.

"Right now, it has nothing to do with you and I, and it is all about money," Avella said. "Money should not be moving the system. It should be the people of the city."

Bloomberg later said for the first time he would support requiring most businesses in New York to offer paid sick leave to workers, with exemptions for small employers. Avella and Thompson said they supported paid sick days with no exceptions.

The party has yet to endorse a candidate for mayor. (On July 9, 2009, WFP endorsed Thompson for Mayor - Editor)

Mayoral Control of City’s Schools To Be Renewed one is listening to the public outrage at the failure of the Bloomberg Administration to listen to parents in the public school system. But anti-Bloomberg groups are gathering momentum as they work against a continuation of the Bloomberg dictatorship and against all City Council members who voted for a third term without a referendum.

Stop King Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg King of New York

Christine Quinn: Behind the Smile

Organizing to Beat Bloomberg - July 7th Meeting!
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 00:00 Hypocrisy Highlighter The Herd - MyBlog

Bloomberg Watch is organizing a meeting of groups and Web sites opposed to Bloomberg and all third-termers. Our date for the meeting will be the evening of Tuesday, July 7th and I'd love to have you attend and have you bring along anyone you'd think would like to be a part of this movement. Many members of the community have already RSVD'd, including staffers from both Thompson's and Avella's campaigns.

The idea is to organize as many oppositional groups as we can against Bloomberg and get a citywide campaign up and running before the election.

Where: Pecan's - 130 Franklin Street (between W. Broadway & Varick St in TriBeCa)
When: July 7th, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Who: Organizations and those in the community opposing Bloomberg and all Third-Termers.

To attend, please RSVP with Mike at

Seating is limited, so please RSVP as early as possible. If you plan on bring any others with you, please make sure to have them RSVP with me as well.

The Special Commissioner of Investigation will be out of a job.

Mayoral Control is to be Renewed
By Erik Engquist, Crain's NY Business
Published: July 9, 2009 - 6:30 pm

Sources say an understanding has been reached in Albany for the Senate to pass the Assembly’s bill (see articles below - Editor) renewing mayoral control of the city school system. The plan calls for the Senate to amend the bill at a later date.

Key Senate Democrats, notably Democratic conference leader John Sampson, want a few more checks on the mayor’s power than are provided for in the Assembly bill. But the Assembly has already adjourned for the summer, and senators don’t want to wait to renew mayoral control, which expired June 30. The Senate has been unable to vote on the bill, or any bill, because it has been mired in a leadership dispute that ended Thursday.

Amendments passed subsequently by the Senate would require Assembly approval, but an Albany insider says assurances have been received that the lower chamber would accept some modifications.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed the Assembly bill and has said he would oppose changes that would either prevent him from appointing a majority of members of the school system’s primary oversight panel or deny him the right to replace his appointees at any time. But a vocal constituency has been arguing for fixed terms for panel members so they can vote without undue pressure from the officials who appoint them.

The Senate can also be expected to add measures that would strengthen parental input into school system decisions.

Following the expiration of mayoral control after seven years, Mr. Bloomberg and the five borough presidents reconstituted the Board of Education, which ran the schools through 2002. The board hastily convened and voted to cede authority to the mayor’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein.

Mayor Bloomberg comes out in support of Assembly bill to extend mayoral control of city schools
By Kenneth Lovett In Albany and Frank Lombardi In New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS, Updated Friday, June 12th 2009, 2:21 PM

Mayor Bloomberg came out for the first time in support of an Assembly plan to extend his control over the schools.

"It preserves the parts of mayoral control that really are important and addresses some of the criticism where people felt that you could do it better," Bloomberg said in his weekly WOR-AM radio show.

"You can always improve things; change, change, nothing bad about change."

The Assembly plans to print the bill this weekend and pass it sometime next week.

"If you destroy the essence of mayoral control then you just go right back to the old Board of education. This doesn't do that."

Bloomberg said he believes the votes are there in the Senate to pass the plan, "but then you don't know when they can vote."

The Senate this week has been paralyzed in the wake of a disputed leadership coup.

The mayoral control law expires June 30.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chairwoman Cathy Nolan unveiled the finalized plan to extend it another six years to the entire Democratic conference on Wednesday.

Under the plan, Bloomberg would continue to have eight appointments, including two who must be parents, to the Panel for Educational Policy.

The borough presidents would continue to have the other five appointments.

The appointees would continue to serve at will, despite a push by some Assembly members to require fixed, two-year terms. The schools chancellor no longer would be chairman or have a vote on the panel.

The board also would be required to vote on all no-bid contracts, any contract exceeding $1 million and any changes in education policy.

To close schools or change their use, there would have to be a six-month notice provision, a community impact statement and a 45-day prior public hearing as part of the process.

The city Independent Budget Office and the controller's office would have full auditing powers over the system to review not only spending but also performance data such as test scores and graduation rates.

The Assembly plan also would strengthen the role of the superintendents by requiring them to have an office and staff within their districts.

A coalition seeking to weaken mayoral control says the Assembly plan does not go far enough in providing oversight and parental involvement into the system.

"It's not a surprise that the mayor would bless this proposal," said Billy Easton, of the Campaign for Better Schools. "Without fixed terms, it rubber stamps his rubber stamp PEP."

Many Senate Republicans say they will support whatever bill the mayor backs - even if it comes from the Assembly.

A number of Democrats wanted more drastic changes.
June 16, 2009
Mayoral Control and the Schools


The New York State Assembly is expected to pass a bill this week that would extend, and improve, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s direct control of New York City’s school system. The legislation extends the powers that have allowed Mr. Bloomberg to bring order to a school system that was once known mainly for patronage and gridlock. It also allows for greater transparency and more input from parents and communities.

It would preserve the mayor’s right to appoint a majority of the members of the board that advises him on school matters. But it also calls for several changes that would make that board slightly more independent and give it more of a voice in the policy-making process.

Mr. Bloomberg, for example, would be required to appoint parents to at least two of the eight seats that he controls on the 13-member board. Currently, the school system’s chancellor, who serves at the mayor’s pleasure, leads the board. The board would instead elect its own chairman. The board also would have broader powers and responsibilities, including greater authority over some procurement contracts. It would be required to hold well-publicized meetings at least once a month. In another step for accountability, the bill gives the city comptroller and the city’s Independent Budget Office the authority to examine scores, dropout rates and other data.

Parents and community groups have complained for years that they have nowhere to turn when they have problems that can’t be solved at the school level. The Assembly bill would require the city’s 32 district superintendents to maintain local offices expressly for the purpose of fielding parents’ complaints. That’s a good solution — but only if the local district offices don’t turn into large local bureaucracies or patronage dens.

On balance, the bill does a good job of preserving Mr. Bloomberg’s control, while giving parents a much-needed voice in their children’s education. It deserves swift passage by the Assembly and by the Senate, if it ever gets back to work.

Meet the new Board of Education
By Erik Engquist, Crain's NY, Published: July 1, 2009 - 12:43 pm

The Board of Education is back.

The expiration Tuesday night of the 2003 state law giving New York City’s mayor control over its schools means power reverts to the board, which was quickly reassembled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the five borough presidents.

In a brief first meeting, the board voted to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, who now reports to its seven members. It also passed a vote calling on the state Senate to renew mayoral control. In the near future, the board is not expected to make any fundamental policy changes. Most of the borough presidents are on good terms with the mayor and are not inclined to challenge him on school policy, with the exception of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., whose appointee to the board abstained on the second vote. Also, officials expect new mayoral control legislation will be passed in Albany when the state Senate stalemate, now in its fourth week, is broken. But that could be weeks or months from now.

Mr. Bloomberg appointed two of his deputy mayors, Patricia Harris and Edward Skyler, to the board, and a third deputy mayor, Dennis Walcott, was tapped—presumably at the mayor’s request—by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. The other members named Wednesday are Dolores Fernandez of the Bronx, Carlo Scissura of Brooklyn, Jimmy Yan of Manhattan and Edward Burke of Staten Island. The new board is an ethnically diverse mix of whites, Latinos and African-Americans.

The board developed a reputation for dysfunction in the 1980s and 1990s, leading Mr. Bloomberg to push for mayoral control after his election in 2001. The results have been mixed, but even critics concede that accountability improved when the chancellor had one boss.

The primary objection to the mayor’s handling of public schools has been his failure to engage parents in decision-making. Parent advocates have called for legislation providing for more input from outside the system.

“Many parents will celebrate the removal of an oppressive dictatorial system that has not served their children well,” said Leonie Haimson and Patricia Connelly of the Parent Commission on School Governance and Mayoral Control in a statement. “We look forward to working in the future with the Senate, the Assembly and the governor to install a new governance system with adequate checks and balances and a real voice for parents, in which no one, no matter how wealthy and powerful, can make all the decisions when it comes to our children.”

Supporters of mayoral control, however, hope the revival of the Board of Education is short-lived. “Yesterday’s inaction on mayoral control has shaken the confidence of business in the future of the city’s public education system,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a business group.

Back to you, Mr. Mayor Assembly bill leaves him in control of schools
Thursday, June 11th 2009, 4:00 AM

ALBANY - Assembly Democrats have finalized a bill that leaves the control of the schools in the hands of the mayor but boosts oversight of the education system.

Under the plan, Mayor Bloomberg would continue to have eight appointments, including two who must be parents, to the Panel for Educational Policy.

The borough presidents would continue to have the other five appointments, meaning the majority of the panel would be made up of parents.

The appointees would continue to serve at will, despite a push by some Assembly members to require fixed, two-year terms. But the schools chancellor no longer would be chairman or have a vote on the panel.

The board also would be required to vote on all no-bid contracts, any contract exceeding $1million and any changes in education policy. To close schools or change their use, there would have to be a six-month notice provision, a community impact statement and a 45-day prior public hearing as part of the process.

The city Independent Budget Office and the controller's office would have full auditing powers over the system to review not only spending but also performance data such as test scores and graduation rates.

The Assembly plan also would strengthen the role of the superintendents by requiring them to havean office and staff within their districts.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said the goals were to keep mayoral control but add "a lot more transparency, a lot more accountability and a lot more local parent and community involvement."

He said there's a consensus agreement, but several Assembly members were upset the plan did not contain set terms for panel members and wouldn't expire again for another six years, meaning it would be in place for Bloomberg's third term, should he be reelected.

"A lot of people felt [the Assembly leadership] pretended to listen to their concerns but in the end did what they wanted," a member of the Assembly said. "I would be surprised if half the city delegation will vote for this."

It is unclear how the plan will be accepted in the Senate, which is in the throes of a chaotic leadership fight.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg - again - trips on Albany politics

Saturday, July 4th 2009, 2:25 PM
Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants results from a Senate he can't control.
The Queens Republican, a 37-year veteran with friends in both parties, just happened to saunter through the Senate chamber Tuesday as the Democrats were gaveling into session.

He said he was cutting around the crowded lobby on his way to get a drink. But Democrats claimed he had tipped the Senate's 31-31 balance and spent the afternoon voting on bills.

"Absolutely no way," Padavan said later. "That wasn't the case."

But not everyone thinks it's that simple, because Padavan owes his job to Mayor Bloomberg.

The mayor campaigned hard last year to keep Padavan in office against a strong Democratic challenge from City Councilman James Gennaro.

The pseudo-quorum came a day after Bloomberg singled out Padavan as someone "able to stand up, regardless of the pettiness that may be pervasive up there, and do what's right."

And Bloomberg desperately wanted the Senate to pass his school control measure and sales tax increase before Wednesday's deadline, no matter where he got the "yes" votes from.

"I assume whatever reason he was there, it was a favor to the mayor," said one insider who knows both men well. "I think if mayoral control had been on the agenda, he would have stuck around to legitimize the quorum."

But it wasn't - and when the half-point hike in the sales tax came up for a vote, Democrats shot it down 18-14 in a stunning defeat for the mayor.

So if Padavan's chamber stroll was a ploy, it failed - just like so many of Bloomberg's other initiatives in Albany. And the mayor said he never saw it coming.

"When it became obvious that this was going to be a problem, we were as surprised as anybody," he said the next day.

The lost tax revenue will cost New York at least $60 million a month. Some Democrats may not have wanted to be on record supporting a tax hike, but Albany usually defers to a city's wishes.

"If we wanted it, they always did it," Bloomberg said. "And why they haven't this time, I don't know."

It may have something to do with the $1.3 million he gave Senate Republicans to keep them in control. Bloomberg bet big and lost.

And it may have something to do with Bloomberg's insistence that the Senate pass the version of school control he hashed out with former foe Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), without changing a word.

Senators don't like being told what to do in the best of times. On Tuesday, that led even some city Democrats to vote against a bill that had been requested by their City Council.

Lawyers will have to sort out whether Padavan legitimized the Democrats' vote Tuesday, or whether the Senate can get another chance to pick up the sales tax bill again. But the episode shows that even when the Senate normalizes, Bloomberg still hasn't figured out how to get city business done in Albany.

"They're just trying to stick it to the mayor," Padavan said. "Let's say we hypothetically get past this. We'll be back here."