Archive for April, 2005

29th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 29, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

In a column earlier this month, I discussed how changes in the testing schedule could result in a significant gain in instructional time for our city’s public-school children.What makes ideas like this attractive is that they cost little to implement. It is just better, more efficient management.

This kind of thinking is critical today. The state of New York is under court order to increase funding for the schools, a decision being appealed by Governor Pataki. Since the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court case was filed more than a decade ago, expenditures on the public schools have more than doubled. Since no one is happy with the results of this already dramatic increase, why should anyone believe that further increases would make a difference? (more…)

28th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 28, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Last week, with my tongue parked firmly in my cheek, I speculated that Fernando Ferrer was following a “Springtime for Freddy” campaign scenario straight out of “The Producers,” a deliberate effort of self-sabotage.After looking at the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion poll released early yesterday, maybe life really does imitate art.

If the poll results are to be believed, Mr. Ferrer has lost a frightening amount of support.Last month,Mr.Ferrer led the mayor in a head-to-head matchup by a solid seven points. Just a month later, he trails Mr. Bloomberg by 13 points. That is a 20-point movement in just one lunar cycle.There are a few analysts and observers — among them Mayor Koch — who now believe it is possible that Mr. Ferrer might not even make the primary runoff. It was widely believed that, until the flap over Mr. Ferrer’s remarks about Amadou Diallo, the former Bronx borough president was within striking distance of winning the primary outright by reaching the 40% threshold. (more…)

27th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 27 , 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The rap on Anthony Weiner, the Brooklyn-Queens Democratic congressman who wants to become mayor, is that he really isn’t serious about winning the job this year, but is positioning himself for 2009.I don’t believe that this is his motivation. I am convinced that when he takes his place on the platform with the other three Democratic hopefuls, he looks from side to side and tells himself, “I’m smarter than they are, so why shouldn’t I be mayor?”

Mr. Weiner has a built-in advantage that gives credence to the idea that he is willing to defer his dream. Win, lose, or draw, either in September or November, he has a job to go back to the next morning. He is young, energetic and he is impressing audiences. The next round of polling may show Mr. Weiner pulling into a serious, solid third-place position. Unless lightning strikes the campaign of Gifford Miller, the council speaker seems destined to fall into last place among the four Democratic contenders. (more…)

22nd April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 22, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The No Child Left Behind Law is under fire, seemingly from sea to shining sea, red state and blue. How did this initiative, which started out with so much bipartisan promise, become so contentious?

There is an underlying problem with education in America. Atypically in the developed world, we have allowed education to be administered as a purely local endeavor. Consequently,the standards under which we teach our children and evaluate those efforts differ from state to state, and even within the states.

This is the kind of thing that is very popular on the right and the left, but ill serves the nation’s interests as a whole. People are 100% transportable from state to state and beyond. The skills they take with them must also be transportable. (more…)

21st April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 21, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

It has been suggested to me that Fernando Ferrer’s campaign for mayor is becoming eerily reminiscent of the script for “The Producers,” the movie turned Broadway blockbuster, which is about to be turned into a movie again.

“The Producers” is the creation of Mel Brooks, the comedian who sold his soul to the devil for the exclusive right to be utterly and delightfully politically incorrect without repercussions. In case you have been held as a prisoner of war for many years and have just recently been released, here, in a nutshell, is the plot: A marginal Broadway producer and his nerdy accountant realize that rather than producing a hit show, even bigger money can be made by overselling shares in a new play to investors — as long as the show is an utter, immediate flop.They find the worst script (a sure to-offend musical called “Springtime for Hitler”), the worst director, and the worst actors. But the play is so bad that audiences view it as parody, and it becomes a huge hit and ruins them financially. (more…)

19th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 19 , 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor Bloomberg is faced with a difficult and all-too-predictable problem. How does he justify his association with the New York State Independence Party as long as the party is run by Lenora Fulani? Ms. Fulani’s troublesome presence on the New York political scene is nothing new, but her clever coopting of the party that emerged from the Ross Perot campaign of 1992 and the deep pockets of upstate businessman Thomas Golisano has made her a real political power in New York State.

The remarks that New York 1’s Dominic Carter so ably confronted her with last week are nothing new. She and Fred Newman,her long-time “mentor,” have been flirting with anti-Semitism on the left and right for years. They have been accused of running a cult, the East Side Institute for Short Term Psychotherapy, which is said to advocate political activism as a cure for mental illness. (more…)

15th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 15, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $144 million, the kind of money that can get me dreaming.What would I do with $144 million? A house on Lake Como in Italy comes to mind, perhaps an occasional jaunt down the Autostrada to Rome in my new red Ferrari for dinner at La Pergola, the fabulous restaurant sitting on the roof of the Cavalieri Hilton atop a hill overlooking the Eternal City — in fact, I just might buy La Pergola.

This is the kind of dreaming that has recently become fashionable among our state and city politicians. They are busy figuring out how to spend the money that the courts have ordered spent on New York City’s public schools, a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. (more…)

14th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 14, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The Reverend Alford Sharpton is in a bit of trouble again, a condition not new to him. The question is if and how his latest alleged mischief — relating to the finances of his 2004 presidential campaign— will have an impact on the mayoral campaign.

The simple answer is: not at all. But this may not be as simple as some of his previous problems. This is a federal probe. (more…)

12th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 12, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

That the Reverend Alford Sharpton would not endorse the candidacy of Fernando Ferrer in this year’s mayoral election has been the conventional wisdom for some time now. There are a thousand byzantine twists and turns here, not the least of which is the failed professional relationship between the city’s two leading practitioners of the politics of victimization based on race: Mr. Ferrer’s campaign chief, Roberto Ramirez, and Rev. Sharpton himself.

Mr. Ramirez initially ran Rev. Sharpton’s effort to become the Democratic nominee for president,only to disappear from that role midcampaign. Surely, dollar signs were dancing in Mr. Ramirez’s head when he took on the post. (more…)

8th April
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, April 8, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

In the discussion about fixing our school system, the one word we never seem to hear anymore is “neighborhood.” We hear about small schools and big schools, charter schools and noncharter schools, themed schools and nonthemed schools, public schools and parochial schools. We hear a lot about choice, but little about community.

Maybe it is time to bring this idea back into the discussion. It has often been said that New York is a great city because it comprises great neighborhoods. The schools are certainly a part of what defines neighborhood success, and during the period that New York City’s public school system was generally considered the finest in the land, this certainly was so. (more…)

Previous