Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mayoral Control Freaking Out

It now appears that there will be a major donnybrook in the state senate over the Bloomberg effort to retain total control over the city's educational edifice. According to the omnipresent Liz Benjamin: "Just when he had put one epic legislative battle to rest, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith appears to have another on his hands. If Smith has decided what he’s going to do about reauthorizing mayoral control of the public schools, it’s coming as news to his own members, the DN's Glenn Blain reports. Several senators expressed surprise that Smith decided to hold a press conference on the issue this evening, insisting the 32-member conference is not close to a consensus."

But Liz feels that Smith may have an easier time with this issue than he did with the MTA-even though our amigos are at it again; sowing dissension in the ranks: "Fortunately for Smith, Kruger and the amigos - or any other coalition-of-opportunity that might happen to spring up - won't likely have nearly as much clout in this case as they did with the MTA. Yes, Smith still needs 32 votes to pass anything, but in this case, he can likely count on the Senate Republicans, who are very pro-Bloomberg, for support. Unlike with the MTA bailout, where the mayor declined to get too involved in lobbying the Republicans, this is a signature issue for Bloomberg."

Perhaps so, but the amigos aren't exactly isolated on this issue-not if the comments of Bill Perking are any indication of the sentiment in the Black and Latino Caucus (and we're hearing that there was a stampede out of conference last night; presaging wholesale Democratic opposition. Even Eric Schneiderman is opposed, we're told).

And we're guessing that this time, despite what Liz tells us, Kruger's ideas will be right in the mainstream: "Diaz's fellow amigo, Sen. Carl Kruger, called mayoral control “DOA” in the Senate and said he will soon introduce his own legislation that would re-shape the Panel on Education Policy, giving the mayor only five appointees. Board members would serve serve fixed, staggered terms. (Recall that Kruger did something similar regarding the MTA bailout, proposing a plan that was widely panned by editorial boards and columnists, including the DN's own Bill Hammond)."

Which, if true, means that Mike Bloomberg may be getting an Albany hair shirt as a present for his coronation. Something that Kruger's comments to the NY Post indicates might be right on the horizon: "I don't know what's in Senator Smith's mind, but [our] proposal is not going to be in lockstep with the mayor," said Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger, co-chairman of the Finance Committee." And nothing would suit us more than four years of stringent oversight for a mayoral control scheme that holds Mike fully responsible for his actions-along with an accurate measure of the accomplishments of the student body.