Archive for December, 2006

29th December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 29, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

On the first day of the new state administration everything is supposed to change, but if one of Governor-elect Spitzer’s key appointments is any indication of things to come, the current Albany atmosphere will change little.

Last week, Mr. Spitzer appointed Lorraine Cortes-Vasquez to the post of secretary of state. Ms. Cortes-Vazquez is a prominent ally of the Bronx Democratic organization. (more…)

22nd December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 22, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

To much fanfare, recently a group that you probably never heard of, the National Center on Education and the Economy, issued a study titled “Tough Choices, Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce,” so named, presumably, so you don’t confuse it with the long-forgotten work of the “old” commission.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, himself a member of this “new” commission, were set to fly down to Washington for the press conference until bad weather cancelled their flight. Yet just a week later, the report seems to have already faded into irrelevance, joining hundreds of other tomes gathering dust. Maybe we should stop issuing reports and start applying some common sense to fixing our schools. (more…)

18th December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 18, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

George Washington Plunkitt, the state senator and Democratic Party leader of a century ago, would be proud. Today’s Bronx politicos have taken his concept of “honest graft” and kicked it up a notch. As the Bronx continues to deteriorate, seemingly stuck in a permanent mode of decay and depression, political leaders find new ways to line their pockets as their constituents suffer.

This was driven home dramatically this past week with the unsealing of a new indictment against a Bronx state senator, Efrain Gonzalez. His constituents are among the poorest in the most poverty stricken county in the state. Yet when given the opportunity to bring some resources back to his district, Mr. Gonzalez, prosecutors charge, instead stole the money to finance a lavish personal lifestyle. (more…)

14th December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 14, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

With much fanfare, Mayor Bloomberg spoke on Tuesday about the future of the city. Like many public servants before him, he seeks to leave a physical reminder of his administration, lest future generations forget that he once occupied a wing of City Hall. So he has established a new city agency, the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, to guide the growth he believes the city will experience in the coming decades.

Many years ago, as a college student, I worked as a part-time clerk in the Municipal Reference Library. This allowed me to browse the library’s vast archives, filled with the plans, schemes, and visions of generations of mayors, government agencies, and private do-gooders. I soon learned that little in this collection of good intentions ever came to pass. Some of the plans, viewed in hindsight, were downright comical: 1920s’ visions of a city filled with pedestrian bridges linking the city’s skyscrapers, as dirigibles discharged commuters while tethered to masts at the tops of those buildings. (more…)

8th December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 8, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

If published accounts of the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court are accurate, parents of “gifted and talented” students here in Gotham may have caught a much-needed break. From where I sit, the plan to assign students to these popular programs looks like the racial assignment scheme put in place in Seattle, a plan that newspapermen covering the case say looks doomed after the scrutiny of the nine justices on Monday.

Should the justices overturn or modify this plan and one in Louisville, Ky., New York City’s self-described effort to provide “equity” in the distribution of students to gifted and talented programs could become a casualty as well. (more…)

1st December
2006

First Published in The New York Sun, December 1, 2006

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn have come up with a plan to name a food policy “tsar.” Just what we need.

Not content to wait until the tsar is crowned, Council Member Alan Gerson threatened to get a head start on things by introducing a ban on the sale of foie gras here in Gotham. His proposal will be used as the opening wedge by animal rights activists ultimately to ban the sale of meat. (more…)