Archive for October, 2007

29th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 29, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

One of the most intriguing figures in New York’s recent political history showed that he could still bring out a crowd - and some key officials - nearly 20 years after his own political career ended in the worst possible circumstances.

Mario Biaggi celebrated his 90th birthday Saturday evening surrounded by hundreds of family, friends, and admirers. Among those present were Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his wife Veronica, Congressmen Charles Rangel and Peter King, Ambassador Charles Gargano, who formerly headed the Empire State Development Corp., and the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Long. Mayor Dinkins, who had an emergency appendectomy Friday, was scheduled to attend as well.

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19th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 19, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Anyone who harbors the notion that Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have just won a victory over the teachers’ union by gaining approval of a merit pay scheme had best look more closely. The plan announced on Tuesday was indeed a “slam dunk,” but not by the mayor and chancellor. It is the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who leaves the bargaining table victorious. It may be a “historic” deal with national implications, but it is one that increases the power of the union.

At the center of most merit pay plans is the idea that individual performance should be rewarded. That is not part of this initiative. Rather it skews power to the group, each school becoming a sort of kibbutz, collectively governed, dividing the fruits of labor by committee. Even participation in the plan will be determined by a vote of the union members, 55% of whom will have to go along.

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12th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 12, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

On Wednesday a dispatch came from Cleveland with the disturbing news of another incident of a troubled student coming to school with firearms and turning those weapons on his classmates and teachers.

The youngster, 14-year-old Asa Coon, a freshman who was under suspension, arrived at school in the early afternoon with two handguns, went up two flights of stairs to a crowded hallway, and opened fire. Two students and two teachers were injured before the young man fatally turned a gun on himself. His victims are expected to survive. One, a female student, was injured not by the bullets, but was trampled by panicked students.

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5th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 5, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Governor Spitzer’s proposal to ease identification requirements for a New York State driver’s license is turning into an astounding pile-up. I can appreciate the arguments on both sides of the issue. The Motor Vehicle Bureau is ill-equipped to enforce immigration laws, but should we be officially validating the identity of individuals who are here illegally?

The problem comes from the custom we have developed in the United States of using a driver’s license as a de facto national identity card. This predates September 11, 2001. The license is often required when cashing checks, buying alcoholic beverages, purchasing tobacco products, or even registering to vote.

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