Archive for April, 2008

25th April
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, April 25, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Students celebrated their spring vacation last week in the medieval town of Siena, Italy. And within the town walls are lessons for those who run schools in America’s cities, particularly here in Gotham.

Among these Siennese students were a number graduating from the University of Siena, just now completing their degrees. Gathering with friends and family in the vicinity of the Piazza del Campo, the graduates could easily be identified - they were the ones wearing laurels on their heads - from which we get the word laureate.

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18th April
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, April 18, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Mayor La Guardia was famous for his insistence on high levels of integrity on the part of the police. In those days, long before computers and CompStat were even dreamed of, lore has it that precinct commanders made themselves look good by “assigning” complaints to “Detective McCann.”

Detective McCann was slang for the precinct’s garbage can. With the departure of LaGuardia from City Hall in 1946, official tolerance of crime grew, along with the political power of organized crime figures such as Frank Costello. So to paint a rosy picture of the deteriorating situation to a concerned public, Detective McCann became busier than ever.

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11th April
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, April 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

In the midst of the state financial crisis, the governor and legislature still found funds in the budget to increase education spending across the state by a record $1.75 billion dollars. School spending has long been at the center of a key public policy debate, one that was “resolved” by a settlement of the long standing Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

That lawsuit began as an effort to create a uniform funding formula that would insure that New York City schoolchildren would get a “fair” share of total state spending. It morphed into debate as to just how much public spending it takes to provide a quality education.

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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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