Gov Calls For New Teacher Evaluation Plan
But last week, the governor and the mayor were on the same side, fighting city teachers, demanding a plan be enacted establishing a new teacher evaluation plan which would make it easier to fire the rotten apples.
It was a little misleading, though. There hadn’t been any mention by the media that the warring chief execs sat down together and made peace in order to forge a unified strategy to get the new evaluation plan approved. Nothing like that, not even a temporary truce to go after the teachers.
Cuomo was doing the heavy lifting on this issue, but Bloomberg was doing his share, too. The governor targeted the issue two weeks ago in his State of the State address when he called for a new education commission to improve teacher evaluations, as well as student achievement.
At another point, he charged bluntly, “The Assembly-led legislation in 2010 (dealing with teacher evaluations) protected the teachers union at the expense of the students and instituted a system that was destined to fail.”
Bloomberg, meanwhile, has proposed that 1,750 bad teachers and guidance counselors at 33 schools be forced out of their jobs while top grade teachers would get $20,000 bonuses.
United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew responded by threatening a suit to block the mayor’s plan, which was aimed at freeing up federal funds being awarded to the city, but have been blocked over the city’s ability to get the new evaluation plan.
But the main impediment standing in the way of the Cuomo and Bloomberg plans is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a longtime friend of the UFT. He has consistently maintained that a new evaluation plan is not needed, and improved school performance is foremost in the minds of the Assembly controlled by Silver.
In this argument between the Cuomo and Bloomberg tandem, opposed by Silver and the UFT, a third force, the federal government is an important factor. But the teachers, protecting their jobs and careers continue to stand in the way of any change, and this is resulting in the federal government withholding millions of dollars of education improvement funds. This fact is a main reason that Cuomo, dealing with budget deficits that have cut state aid to education, can make a strong case to use before the public to shake the money free from the federal government. And the same goes for Bloomberg, who was given the job by the legislature to run the schools but is still standing in his way and blocking him from doing so.
Make no mistake about it—this will be a fierce fight between Cuomo and Silver and the legislature. Another factor in Cuomo’s favor? He’s not up for re-election this year, but Silver and the Assembly and state Senate are, so the legislature is under pressure because they’ll be judged by their constituents come November.
DA BROWN SPRINGS A STING: During the past few months, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown explained last week, how police busted a narcotics ring and more than 100 customers of the ring living on Long Island were arrested on drug purchasing charges.
The DA explained those arrested had made the Long Island Expressway a Heroin Highway to satisfy their drug use. The customers involved, respectable looking guys, traveled the LIE to make their purchases in Queens and Brooklyn, the DA said.
The DA said, “Rather than inject it, the drug is snorted and often used in potentially dangerous combinations with such prescription medications as OxyContin,” according to Newsday.
SCHUMER, EX-AIDE GET $7M TO RESTORE JAMAICA BAY: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–New York) and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) who worked for Schumer in Washington before becoming a state lawmaker, jointly announced last week receipt of a $7 million grant to restore the marshes in Jamaica Bay.
“From Broad Channel to Howard Beach to the Rockaways, all communities along Jamaica Bay have a stake in preserving the bay’s at-risk marsh islands,” said Schumer “The restoration of Yellow Bar Hassock Island is a critical phase of our battle to preserve the marshes from disappearing and forever altering the bay for the worse. With this funding we can make sure that Jamaica Bay’s fragile marshes will survive for generations to come.”
Goldfeder said the grant will “help restore the delicate eco-system of Jamaica Bay to its former greatness.” He added, “It is important to not only preserve our natural surroundings, but renew them wherever possible. The completion of this project will not only benefit the bay, but also the surrounding community by attracting new economic activity and growth.”
WEPRIN TO TEENS: ENTER VIDEO CHALLENGE: Local teenagers were encouraged by Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Little Neck) last week to create videos for entry into the National Collaborative Summer Library Program “2012 Teen Video Challenge” and win a statewide prize.
One winning video submitted by a teen or group, between 30 and 90 seconds, focused on encouraging other teens to read and use their local libraries over the summer, will be chosen. The winner will receive $275, plus $150 will go to the teen’s local library. Winning videos will be shown nationwide.
Submissions must be received by March 5. For more information, entry forms and submission guides, visit www.summerreadingnys.org.
ADDABBO WARNING ON ‘FRACKING’: After the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) concluded its hearings on proposed regulations to authorize or restrict natural gas drilling upstate, the agency was left with the task of reviewing more than 40,000 statements and observations delivered at the contentious statewide sessions.
At issue was the controversial drilling method known as hydrofracking, drilling deep under the earth’s surface and blasting high pressure water and chemical streams into shale to locate huge deposits of natural gas.
The problem is that critics claim the process sends the powerful chemicals flowing into drinking water sources, contaminating the water. A major threat could be to the millions of gallons of New York City’s water supply in reservoirs in the Catskills. State Senator Joseph Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) had stated previously his concerns with fracking, and with the conclusion of the DEC hearings, he repeated that his original concerns have not been quieted.
The lawmaker stated that he “still believes that the process to extract natural gas is flawed and requires extensive guidance from the DEC and from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)”.
That applies to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who must consider whether the risks from hydrofracking can be controlled so that the natural gas industry will be allowed to pursue large scale mining which will create thousands of badly needed jobs upstate and stir the state’s economy.
Addabbo wants absolute certainty that the water supply will not be harmed, and says that will be his position when the debate starts in Albany.
Regarding other issues and priorities for this session, Addabbo says he agrees with Cuomo on “cutting spending and waste in the budget, pushing for nonpartisan, independent redistricting, foreclosure assistance, reforming campaign finance laws, and creating more jobs on-site at Aqueduct”, as outlined by Cuomo in his State of the State address.
Addabbo also wants to continue discussions with his constituents on the referendum in which they would be called on to authorize full casino gaming in the state, which he regards favorably, in order to keep the gambling income inside the state.
Another priority for Addabbo is opening new, affordable senior housing at the former Fineson Center in Howard Beach and holding on to federal Title XX funding to keep senior centers open.
GOLDFEDER BILL BANS BIZ WITH TIES TO IRAN ENERGY: The Assembly has passed Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder’s Iran Divestment Act, which bans New York state and local governments from issuing contracts to businesses investing in Iran’s energy sector.
The freshman Democratic lawmaker from the Rockaways declared: “It is no secret that Iran is involved with terrorism and procuring nuclear weapons. Using taxpayer money to contribute to those efforts is simply unacceptable. This legislation would ensure that doesn’t happen by prohibiting those companies from doing business with the state.”
Goldfeder’s legislation prohibits companies with more than $20 million invested in the Iranian energy sector from receiving, renewing or bidding on state contracts unless that entity certifies it doesn’t have, has ceased or is taking steps to cease such investments. Under the bill, the state Office of General Services (OGS) would release a list of all people, corporations and other organizations found to be in violation of the act; these entities would then be prohibited from entering into state contracts.
“Iran’s search for nuclear weapons has the potential to destabilize the Middle East and possibly the safety of the world as a whole,” Goldfeder said. “Using New York taxpayer money to contribute to that effort is an affront to everything the United States and our community stands for. This legislation closes the door and keeps taxpayer money out of the hands of terrorists.”
Goldfeder, who replaced Audrey Pheffer late last year after she resigned, has been assigned to six standing committees for this year’s session: Economic Development, Corporations, Aging, Racing and Wagering, Mental Health and Government Employees.
“In Queens,” Goldfeder said, “economic development along with racing go hand in hand, especially with the recently opened Resorts World Casino,” which is in his district, “and the governor’s proposal to build a convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack” also in his district.
NY GOP ADDS ADVISORY COUNCIL: New York state’s Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox last week announced formation of the 20-member NY GOP Chairman’s Advisory Council, the primary purpose of which is “to provide advice and guidance to the state party in determining the best approach to the issues of the day, the direction our party should be taking, in general, and how best to convey our message to the electorate.”
Former state GOP Chairman Bill Powers was named to head it. The new panel consists of former elected officials, government appointees and political consultants. The two members from Queens are Juan Reyes, a realtor, of Forest Hills, and Robert Williams, of Jamaica.
TURNER ANNOUNCES VETERANS’ JOB FAIR: Congressmember Bob Turner (R–C–Queens/Brooklyn) will announce a veterans’ job fair “designed for employers who have open positions to fill within their companies and specifically want to offer those opportunities to veterans”.
The event, sponsored by America Works of New York, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, is scheduled for January 19 at the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, 346 Broadway, 8th Floor in Manhattan from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This is a wonderful event that seeks to not only provide veterans information about potential jobs, but for them to interview and get hired on the spot,” said Turner, a veteran himself.
Turner’s announcement stated: “All veterans, especially those living in a shelter, in danger of homelessness, or veterans receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are encouraged to attend.
“This event is a good opportunity for unemployed veterans to put the skills they learned as members of the armed forces to work for the American economy,” Turner said.
To RSVP for the event, contact Carlyle Outten, Director of Veteran Programming at America Works, 212-599-5627 ext. 133.
ACKERMAN’S BILL KEEPS SICK ANIMALS OUT OF FOOD SUPPLY: A bill to better protect America’s food supply from deadly animal illnesses and prevent them from entering the nation’s food chain while ensuring humane treatment has been reintroduced by Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Bayside/L.I.).
Ackerman said the bipartisan bill would permanently prohibit all “downed” animals—unhealthy livestock who cannot walk because they are diseased, injured or ill—enter into the food chain and require that they be humanely euthanized.
Ackerman stated, “This legislation is essential to ensuring Americans that our nation is doing all it can to safeguard the country’s food supply.”