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18th February
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, February 18, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

There are rumors floating around Bronx Republican circles that Mayor Bloomberg may still be denied the endorsement of the county GOP organization.

It is expected that a formal endorsement will not be made until April, by which time the former state senator, Guy Velella, will have been released from Rikers Island. Velella relinquished his post as Bronx County Republican Leader upon his conviction. The spot is now held by Victor Tosi, a long-time ally of the former senator.
Velella is still a remarkably popular figure among GOP loyalists here. And they are livid with the mayor over the zeal with which he pursued the reincarceration of Velella.

Devoid of patronage and watching helplessly as the mayor pushes an agenda they feel goes against their conservative values, the party faithful want to make a bold move as a show of support for their former chief,Velella.

Expect lots of twisted arms and heartfelt promises until then.
* * *

At the 11th hour, BJ’s Wholesale Club withdrew its application to open a new store in the East Bronx, anticipating rejection by the City Council on Wednesday. Other than Council Member Madeline Provenzano,in whose district the store would have been located, the entire Bronx council delegation was poised to vote against the project, despite the 300 jobs it would bring to the city’s borough with the highest unemployment rate.

Among those committed to vote “no” was Helen Diane Foster, who, in typical Bronx fashion, is the daughter of the previous occupant of the Council seat. Her rationale for voting no describes, in a nutshell, the tremendous hurdles Bronxites face in their efforts to pull themselves out of the economic doldrums. Ms. Foster acknowledged that her decision was based on the fact that BJ’s employees are not unionized. To her, the issue of jobs was unimportant, as she claims minority communities were often “bamboozled into falling for jobs.” Ms. Foster would rather see the vast army of Bronx unemployed “trained for careers.”
Bamboozled into falling for jobs. What more can be said of the breathtaking lack of leadership this oncegreat borough must endure?
* * *

According to a dispatch published in last Thursday’s New York Post, the radical community group that the Bloomberg Department of Education has put in charge of the soon-to-open Leadership Institute High School in the Bronx has been giving its new curriculum a scary dry run.

Police charge that testimony given at Council Member Eva Moskowitz’s public hearing on school safety by Walton High School student Kim Williams last week was a fabrication, and that the student was coached by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition to lie. Ms. Williams charged that police regularly set off stink bombs in the school to break up groups of students congregating in the halls. Her claims were backed up by Mustafa Sullivan, a “youth organizer” for the Northwest Bronx group, who said that “the stink-bombings have been going on for a while.” The police strongly deny the allegation and maintain that their investigation of the claims show that no such incident took place and that the teen was “told what to say” by the activist community group.

Earlier this month, it was announced by the Department of Education that the Northwest Bronx group and their youth affiliate, “Sistas and Brothas United,” would be the lead sponsoring agency of the Leadership Institute High School, which will open in the Fordham section of the borough in September.

Two weeks ago, I reported that the Coalition was behind a highly publicized boycott of the third-grade reading test last spring to protest the mayor’s policy on social promotion.

According to the supplementary directory of new small schools released by the Department of Education, the purpose of the new school is to train “youth to be leaders who take charge of their schools and communities … Yearly Community Action Projects give students the skills they need to take action in their communities. A focus on social justice helps students understand their rights in a fair democratic society.” Participation in the “Community Action Projects” is “required for graduation.”

Presumably, the student testifying at the Moskowitz hearing would have gotten an “A” for the project. It certainly would have won the approval of the late radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, on whose principles the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition was founded. Mr. Alinsky believed that “friction” is the key element needed to organize communities.

A larger question that needs to be answered is how the Department of Education is vetting the groups to which the city’s impressionable youth will be entrusted, and what lessons they will be taught using our tax dollars.

© 2005 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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