Archive for September, 2005

30th September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 30, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

When Randi Weingarten, with few options open, allowed the teachers’ contract dispute with the city to move into the “fact-finding” phase, she had every expectation that the report issued would bolster her case for raises for her members, with few contract concessions on their part. It didn’t work out that way.

This has put Ms.Weingarten and her members at a disadvantage, and could result in a continued stalemate. Ms. Weingarten is between a rock and a hard place.After choosing this course and touting the anticipated results, it must have come as a disappointment that the money isn’t what was hoped for and the givebacks more extensive than expected. (more…)

23rd September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 23, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Tuesday would have been the runoff election that wasn’t, the last chance that the local Democratic Party would have for the next four year to reverse its losing streak. And it is not surprising that the idea of the runoff, the great assembler of consensus, is under attack as “divisive.” It is under siege by those who see our city as a collection of ethnic groups pursuing their own agendas, rather than as a city of individuals united by our shared vision for the future.

The runoff is not only necessary, but essential. If I were to change the system, I would opt for a 50% rather than 40% threshold to win a party’s nomination for mayor. (more…)

16th September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 16, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Gotham’s third-, fifth-, and seventhgrade students received good news this week. As a result of a “compromise” between the city’s Department of Education and the State Education Department, the students will only need to take one set of standardized tests this year, not two. This comes from efforts to comply with federal regulations under the No Child Left Behind education law. These require states to administer objective tests to children in grades three through eight every year.

That the children will have to take but one set of tests is the only good to come from a bad deal, a compromise that doesn’t fix the mess created by the incompetence of the state officials. The result may be fewer tests, but the ones given will undermine the reason that tests are administered in the first place: to help children learn by identifying weaknesses. A casualty of this may be Mayor Bloomberg’s program to “end” social promotion. (more…)

15th September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 15, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

After the votes were counted, 300,000 fewer of them than in the mayoral primary four years ago,the two top finishers in Tuesday’s Democratic contest delivered two remarkable speeches to their supporters.

To listen to Fernando Ferrer, he won the primary outright and was moving on to tackle Mayor Bloomberg.

Then, Anthony Weiner sounded the horn to begin his runoff campaign against Mr. Ferrer — but did so in a surprisingly tentative way. He spoke an hour after Mr. Ferrer, not the expected modus operandi for the press-savvy congressman, who could have sought a bigger audience by making his speech earlier.I have learned that during that hour a vigorous debate was taking place at Weiner headquarters about whether Mr. Weiner should withdraw, right then and there — a seemingly unprecedented move. Temporarily, Mr. Weiner was dissuaded, and he made his odd midnight speech. But by morning he made a firm decision to withdraw, scheduling the announcement for noon. (more…)

13th September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 13, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

A little -noticed item in the New York Post last week reported a rumor, by way of a blog, that the campaign of Fernando Ferrer has “sidelined” its Washington-based media consultant, David Doak. A week before the primary, “sidelined” is a polite way of saying “fired.” Taking control, according to the Post and an item in the Politicker blog of the New York Observer’s Ben Smith, are Mr. Ferrer’s longtime advisers Luis Miranda and Roberto Ramirez, who want “more control over the purse strings.”

According to the Village Voice, Mr. Ramirez and company have received, thus far this campaign, nearly half a million dollars as “general consultants.” That represents a hefty portion of the limited expenditures that Mr. Ferrer can make in the campaign, since he is participating in the public campaign-finance system. It may explain why you’ve probably seen more ads for the Weiner and Miller campaigns than for the front-runner. (more…)

12th September
2005

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

By Andrew Wolf

Last week Fernando Ferrer, who has led the pack of four Democratic mayoral hopefuls since the beginning of the race, expressed frustration with the runoff system, which dashed his hopes four years ago and could do the same this year.

“I think it hasn’t helped the party. I think you’ve seen situations over the course of time, from 1973 going forward, when we’ve had runoffs that have been very hurtful,” he opined last Wednesday on the WB11 Morning News. They may have been hurtful to Mr. Ferrer, who was defeated in the 2001 runoff by the runner-up in the primary, Mark Green, but they certainly worked fine for Mayors Beame and Koch, two of the three Democrats who have occupied City Hall since the system began in 1973. David Dinkins passed the 40% threshold in 1989 to become the Democratic nominee without a runoff. (more…)

9th September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 9 , 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Before school begins, parents caution their children not to play with certain boys and girls who may exert a “bad influence” on them. But what of the teachers, principals, and superintendents? What troublemakers are they hanging out with? Here is a list of people about whom you should caution the educators you know and love:

Jonathan Kozol, the author who has made a career of blaming all of the problems of children on American society, insists we are shortchanging them and are responsible for their failure. But there is never any call for parents to take charge of their offspring. Mr. Kozol favors a more collective model, that of Castro’s Cuba. Mr. Kozol has become rich writing books that are listed as nonfiction but belong on the shelves where fantasies are sold. (more…)

8th September
2005

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

By Andrew Wolf

When was the last time the (newly converted) Republican candidate polled better among Democrats than any “real” Democrat? If the Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday and the Marist poll released a few days earlier are accurate, then there’s no way any Democrat can defeat Mayor Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg dream scenario, a runoff between C. Virginia Fields and Fernando Ferrer, appears increasingly unlikely. Ms. Fields is fading fast. With little money in the bank, she continues to trail her opponents in buying advertising time, making it almost impossible for her to catch up. (more…)

2nd September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 2, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The other day, I drove past ground zero the void that has come to symbolize our pride and our shame: pride in the hero ism of our first responders and the ordinary people confronted with an extraordinary situ ation thrust upon them on September 11 2001, and its aftermath.

Four years later, the hole has become our shame, still empty as politicians debate how to restore and renew this small area of Lower Manhattan. In a way, we have betrayed those who died that day, by not moving decisively.The hole now symbolizes a defeat that comes from our inertia and lack of leadership. (more…)

1st September
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, September 1, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

Long before there was a Mayor Bloomberg pouring millions of dollars of his own money into his political dreams, there was one New Yorker who helped set the pattern of the rich politico devoting himself and his fortune to a political career.

His name was James Scheuer. He served 26 years in the House of Representatives, but failed in his big dream: to become New York’s first Jewish mayor. He died Tuesday at his home in Washington, D.C. (more…)