Friday, November 19, 2010

Stop "Brain Drain" in the DOE Swamp

When your one of the two richest men in NYC, there's one thing you are not in short supply of: Chutzpah. Now Mike Bloomberg is making the argument that Cathie Black is essential to prevent a brain drain over at the DOE: "I want to make sure the people Joel [Klein] hired stick around... I don’t want them to leave,” Bloomberg said on his radio show with WOR's John Gambling after gushing about the magazine guru with zero schools experience. He said managing the massive school system is “one of the toughest jobs in the world” and believes long-serving Chancellor Klein jumped to the private sector because, “I think maybe he just gets a little burnt out.” He denied there was virtually no search for Klein’s replacement, saying “Joel and I worked very hard on this,” but said nothing was public because he didn’t want to jeopardize any candidate’s current job."

Bloomberg's worrying about a hypothetical brain drain, but he's making our head hurt from all of the rhetorical gymnastics-really now, Mike's making it up as he goes along. He's trying to devise elaborate cover stories in order to disguise what was a simple act of arrogance: "You have to have someone who will build a staff. I’m very concerned. I want to make sure all the people that Joel put together stick around... Other people around the country are coming after our people because they are the best and I don’t want them to leave. You have to have somebody that they look up to and respect.”

Sure he is. And then there's the mayor's concern about the putative dangers of doing a public search: "He denied there was virtually no search for Klein’s replacement, saying “Joel and I worked very hard on this,” but said nothing was public because he didn’t want to jeopardize any candidate’s current job. “You don’t do searches in public...Nobody does a search that way,” he said..."
This, of course, is simply arrant nonsense-and the mayor is doubtlessly conflating private sector methodologies with those of the public. There are good reasons why it is not only proper, but necessary, to conduct a public search process; but those reasons-involving as they do consensus building and generating greater support for the institution-have never been prominent for a mayor who really could care less what broader publics, let alone actual stakeholders, think.

As if the underscore this point-and to, at the same time dramatize how out of touch the man is-Bloomberg actually counsels people to read this morning's NY Times profile: "...he said, then urged listeners to read the New York Times profile on Black in today’s edition.
“And this is not a newspaper, at least on the news side, that has been sympathetic to her appointment. Even they showed she’s an incredibly accomplished woman,” he said."

Well, we know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to believe that the Times profile was altogether flattering of Cathie Black is to demonstrate just what kind of class bubble Bloomberg lives in-as we pointed out previously, citing the same Times story: "There is simply nothing in Cathie Black's background that suggests even a passing acquaintance with public policy-any public policy: "But while Ms. Black, 66, has been a highly visible and celebrated corporate executive, she has rarely spoken out on the big issues of the day. Her civic engagement and philanthropic activity are scant beyond donating money to politicians and charities and inviting political figures like Mr. Bloomberg, former President Bill Clinton and Cindy McCain to speak at Hearst functions."

But what Bloomberg is most guilty of here, is promoting the assumption that the past eight years under Joel Klein has generating nothing short of an educational miracle-and any one gainsaying the Black appointment is retrograde in their thinking. But why shouldn't he believe it, all of his publicists in the local tabloids have reinforced this myth and have egged him on in his unbridled-and often delusional-egotism.

Here's the NY Post this morning: "And while Klein antagonized a lot of people over the past eight years, most of them needed to be antagonized -- and the resulting record of reform was so strong that Bloomberg has earned a lot of credibility in this debate."

Of course, we would dispute the Post's conflation of bought with earned-and the Klein/Bloomberg hagiography short changes the public-not to mention the truth. But what is missing from the unremitting propaganda, is the simple observation of the little boy in the fable who cried out, "But the king isn't wearing any clothes!"