NY Politics

6th November
2008

First Published in the Riverdale Review, November 6, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Residents of a certain age may remember the administration of the late Mayor Abraham D. Beame. Abe Beame was an accountant, who worked as Budget Director under Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr., before being tapped to run for Comptroller as Wagner’s running mate during his last term.

In 1965, Beame won a hard fought primary battle and won the nomination to become the Democratic candidate for mayor against Republican John V. Lindsay. He lost.

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1st November
2008

First Published on the Public Advocate’s Corner October 29, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Shortly after I began writing a regular column for The New York Sun six-and-a-half years ago, the mayor was given control of the New York City public schools. During that period I have written around two hundred columns on the schools, most of which discuss various aspects of mayoral control.

I am by nature a skeptical fellow, and the story of the educational “reform” that has taken place since then has given me much to be skeptical about. Unfortunately, last month the Sun published its final issue, so now is as good a time as any to reflect on this remarkable story that I have followed since the beginning.

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15th October
2008

By Andrew Wolf

New York City is about to become a “banana republic,” ruled not by the will of the people, but rather by the will of one man, our “benevolent” dictator, King Michael Bloomberg.

Twice the voters mandated term limits for city elected officials. They spoke clearly and their desires were respected. As a result, some very fine public officials were forced to step down. And it must be pointed out that the current crop of City Council members, beneficiaries of the law and the mayor knew exactly the terms of their employment.
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11th September
2008

Originally Published in The New York Sun, September 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

The defeat suffered by the Bronx County Democratic organization, which lost every race in which it supported a candidate in Tuesday’s primary, may mean new leadership for the county party.

The organization was opposed by a so-called rainbow coalition of legislators, which includes prominent black, white, and Hispanic lawmakers from throughout the borough. That coalition is expected by political observers and activists to move quickly to depose the current Democratic leader, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, as soon as Monday night.

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15th August
2008

If you are dissatisfied with the political leadership in your community, I have a cure for you: come to the Bronx.

First Published in The New York Sun, August 15, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Maybe your elected officials are skimming from the town treasury, or perhaps they are cheating on their spouses. Perhaps they have sold their vote so that the DigWeMust Development Company can do their digging on your block. Or maybe they can be found driving through the streets on any given night with a blood alcohol content well above the legal limit.

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27th June
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, June 27, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

When one digs into the testing data released by the State Education Department earlier this week, one comes up with some surprises. The huge across the board gains in the statewide math and English language arts tests would suggest that all children should be doing better. But one group seems to be adrift when it comes to the English test.

Curiously, it is not the low performers, special education students, minorities, English language learners, or other “at risk” groups that is lagging behind. Rather, despite the soaring scores, it is the group of highest performers that is shrinking.

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12th June
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, June 12, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

On a visit to Washington, D.C. many years ago, a slick advertising supplement fell out of my morning newspaper. It was for a store I had never heard of, but immediately wished there was a branch in the New York area. The booklet was filled with the kind of furniture that would appeal to people who appreciated modern design and incredibly low prices, in other words many New Yorkers like me.

So I celebrate the opening of the city’s first Ikea branch in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I had hoped that the store would come first to my home borough of the Bronx.

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23rd May
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, May 23, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

“We’re lawmakers, not education experts,” City Council Speaker Quinn declared in a breakfast speech Tuesday. She proceeded to wring her hands over cuts of $191 million to the schools. If she really wants to be mayor, better she should be asking how the administration squandered the $8 billion added to the budget these past six years, even as the system serves 60,000 fewer students, and why the results are so lackluster.

When the Board of Estimate was struck down by the courts in the 1980s, the resulting charter allowed for increased powers for the City Council to provide a counter-balance to the vast influence enjoyed by the mayor. The charter has made the Council Speaker the second most influential person in the city government and term limits make her an automatic candidate for mayor.

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4th April
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, April 4, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

In the late 1750s, fed up with steep tolls on the King’s Bridge, then the only link between New York and the American mainland, the business community of the day underwrote the construction of the Farmers Free Bridge between Manhattan and what we now call the Bronx.

The opening was celebrated at the time by a great barbecue on New Years Day, 1759. In short order, the toll revenue dried up on the King’s Bridge, and the levies were abandoned. The lure of free travel to the mainland turned out to be so compelling that a new road was shortly built connecting the new free bridge with the Boston and Albany Post Roads. It could be argued that this event was a key event in the development of New York as an economic power.

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28th March
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, March 28, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Good government types are quick to limit and monitor contributions to political campaigns. After all, we don’t want Assemblyman Jones to be unduly influenced by the $250 contribution sent by Citizen Smith who works for a bank that just happens to have legislation pending before some committee on which the good Assemblyman serves.

The problem is that the real corruption occurs not when the money comes in, but rather when it goes out. Scrutiny of this may be the sea change that will come out of the remarkable events in Albany these past three weeks.

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