Monday, June 29, 2009

Will Bloomberg Lose Control?

As the deadline looms to re-authorize mayoral control of the NYC schools, it doesn't appear that the state senate will be able to convene to even consider the extension. As the NY Daily News reports, even if the senators manage to get their act together, the prospects for Mike Bloomberg's pet project appear quite dim: "The extension of mayoral control over the schools is no slam dunk even if warring senators break their stalemate, the Daily News has learned. The law expires Tuesday and a number of Senate Democrats are leery of passing the Assembly's mayoral control bill without making changes. "They don't like the idea that's it's being stuffed down their throats," a Democratic aide said."

And let's not forget, that Bloomberg has railed against even the smallest changes to the assembly-backed version of re-authorization: "The Assembly bill, which leaves the basic tenets of the current mayoral control law in place, has enough support from a handful of Democrats and all 30 Republicans to pass. Paterson warned of "chaos" if the law expires, and Bloomberg called the Senate's inaction "Albany at its worst."

We kinda liked the self-serving comments of Randi Weingarten on the senate's inaction: "City teachers union President Randi Weingarten said letting the law lapse gives kids "a terrible lesson about the rule of law. We're also suggesting that chaos and instability is a good thing." Hey Randi, was the overturning of the popular will on term limits the kind of, "rule of law," lesson you had in mind? We're guessing that, as long as there's a strong leader and stability reigns supreme, we are in good shape.

But you also have to get a chuckle out of the Chicken Littles over at the NY Post, with another one of their sky is falling predictions over the possible demise of mayoral control: "Time is running short. At midnight tomorrow, an extraordinarily successful experiment could begin to unravel. That would be a tragedy." But then again, how do you tell the difference between a Post editorial and a news article on this subject. Fair and balanced? Not.

Which brings us to the, "what happens next?" scenario. As the NY Times points out, everyone's been forced to game plan the, sky is falling, unthinkable here: "Quiz: Which impending crisis, in the words of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, threatens to bring rioters into the streets and turn City Hall into the Kremlin? A swine flu pandemic? More cutbacks to the city’s labor force? Not quite. In Mr. Bloomberg’s view, doomsday will be on its way if the Senate fails to renew mayoral control of city schools by Tuesday, when the 2002 law authorizing it expires."

So what's a poor billionaire mayor to do? "But exactly how the operation of the nation’s largest school system would change — aside from, perhaps, the return of old Board of Education stationery — remains a question." But if this is the crisis that Bloomberg believes, we may find out how the city's chief executive acquits himself under duress. Truman or Carter, is there an, "under/over," on this?

But just maybe, this isn't quite like, let's say, the Berlin Airlift or the Iranian Hostage Crisis. If so, the mayor may become victim of his own hyperbole: "Mr. Bloomberg has not announced any contingency plans, perhaps trying to hasten action upstate. But he has portrayed the possibility of losing control of the schools as nothing short of a catastrophe. “If the Senate passes something that differs by one word or more,” he warned on Thursday, “it is saying to the city: ‘We want to resurrect the Soviet Union. We want to bring back chaos.’ ” In February, he said, “I think that there’d be riots in the streets.”

But alternatives are being thought about-and let's not overlook the ambition of the five borough presidents, who would get to appoint a member if the old BOE was resurrected: "Reverting to the old law would give more influence to the borough presidents, who would control five of the seven seats on the board. The mayor would be able to name only two board members, but would probably be able to persuade at least two borough presidents to appoint members favorable to the mayor’s policies."

But aren't the prospects her fun to imagine; with the imperious Michael being thwarted in his goal of world conquest. Should he find himself stymied, will his self-control be as evanescent as his lost control over school governance?