Friday, March 17, 2017


The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District and the Manhattan District Attorney both announced yesterday that they would not be prosecuting Mayor Bill de Blasio or any of his close aides for illegal fundraising. However, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wrote a nasty ten page letter saying in part that the Mayor violated the "intent and spirit of the law."  Jim Dwyer in the Times demolishes that line.

Dwyer maintains that the intent of the Legislature was to pass a law with loopholes in it so the politicians could easily get around fundraising limits. This is from his column today which is appropriately titled: "De Blasio Proves that Some Laws are Made to be Unbreakable."

Among the gold medals awarded to Bill de Blasio on Thursday was one for limbo-dancing his way past election laws so he and his allies could funnel money into 2014 state legislative campaigns at a rate 10 times the supposed limit.

Money was not given directly to candidates, but to party committees, which can receive bigger piles of cash. Those committees could then legally transfer the inflated donations to candidates.

It makes a sham of the limits, but Mr. de Blasio did not invent these evasive moves. In just about every single competitive legislative race in this century someone, Republican or Democrat, has used precisely the same contortions. Perhaps because the mayor has a talent for annoying people — he would say, the right people — the state Board of Elections sicced the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. on him a year ago.

On Thursday, the prosecutor said the de Blasio operation “enabled an unprecedented amount of money to flow” to individual campaigns, but did so without violating the limits on contributions.

This comes down, then, not to behavior, but to scale. That is why the gold medal goes to the de Blasio team, which was up against a field of strong contenders that included Mr. de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and the state committees of both the Republican and Democratic parties. All of them engaged in versions of the de Blasio team’s tactic of washing big pots of money through state or county party committees in support of individual candidates.
Mr. Vance, in a letter to the Board of Elections, suggested that the de Blasio team’s activities contradicted the “spirit and intent” of the campaign laws.

For this to be true, one would have to believe that the legislature really intended there to be actual limits on how much money could be given to candidates. Mr. Vance is correct that the legislature created limits, but it simultaneously built ways around them; its “spirit and intent” is like the public piety of a Mafia hitman who makes the sign of the cross when passing a church on his way to work.

Here is Dwyer's conclusion:

Certain practices deserve our attention not because they are against the law, but precisely because they are legal. Moments after the prosecutors’ announcements, Brian Lehrer of WNYC radio spoke to the mayor on the air.

“Were you looking to get money to the hands of those candidates through the state committees and understanding the spirit of the law but trying to just stay within the letter of the law – not caring about the spirit of the law?” Mr. Lehrer asked.
Brian, respectfully, I think that’s an outrageous question,” Mr. de Blasio replied.

Mr. de Blasio loves saddling up on the highest horse he can find. It can be a long way down.

Our political expert Reality Based Educator and many others seem to think de Blasio should now cruise to reelection victory but the comments on his piece are revealing for what this means for New York City teachers.
  1. Bloomberg isn't still mayor? You wouldn't know it being a teacher now, things are the same as they have always been.
  2. You're absolutely right about that. The tone changed - anti-teacher policies did not. But at least under Bloomberg, UFT made slight effort to fight Klein/Walcott. They're so buddy buddy with Farina now, they give her everything she wants.

I can't add much to those two comments.

All I can say is I can't find too many people who are happy that de Blasio dodged these bullets.


Anonymous said...

This mayor is a lazy slob who isn't worth a nickel. Inside sources say he shows up for work at city hall around 1pm, hangs around, makes a few phone calls and then goes home and he rarely works Fridays. What has this clown accomplished over his term besides shaking down everyone he meets for a donation? He screwed over his constituents, AKA labor, and the NYPD hates him. That's about it.
What a piece of garbage.

Jr said...

And contract expires in 20 months. Wouldnt it be nice to get a good, early contract after the last fiasco? Well, maybe we get the 5% over 28 months plus 500 bucks like twu.

Anonymous said...

5 percent over 28 months aint great, but sure beats the hell out of the last deal we got.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy about it. If deBlasio is lazy, what is the UFT- work alcoholics? Cuomo should have been the one charged. Someone should look at Farina, Mulgrew and Weingarten. Those three make Al Capone look an angel. Hey Eva get a special investigation going, I'm sure Cuomo will assist. Unity troll,8:45, no one's buying that shit anymore- it was already bought and we now all know we were fucked royally by Mulgrew. DeBlasio is smarter than Mike, but then again almost everyone is, except 77% of teachers. I don't give a fuck anymore, congrats Bill!

Anonymous said...

The UFT is on the side of abusive Principals that are destroying schools, and FariƱa should retire.

James Eterno said...

Expectations are so low that if we get 2% a year, people here might be thrilled? That is scary.

Anonymous said...

That's right, they're thrilled at whatever the UFT tells them to be thrilled about. Teachers are too busy to think for themselves, so they leave it in the Union's hands. Everything is a victory. If you don't like it, too bad. We have no choice, no voice and no respect.

James Eterno said...

I've worked over twenty years to try to turn the union into a real union. I'm not quite ready to give up yet. Some of the people here give me real hope.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say to that James. I don't see it. You should be the UFT president and you're an ATR. I know authors, orators and doctors that are ATRs. I walk into classrooms where boards are filled with misspellings and wrong computations, written by the teachers. I see the UFT as a wealthy rackett run by a few select individuals who put their self interests in front of everyone. I meet principals who have never taught and can't speak standard English. There's nothing left to give up except the salary and the dwindling perks that accompany it.

James Eterno said...

I cannot argue with some of that but for the record I am no longer an ATR. I was officially appointed at Middle College High School in January and have pretty much taught full time there since December of 2014. I was only a rotating ATR for three months but still feel a great kinship with the ATRs.

Anonymous said...

I wrote months, maybe years ago that after the last deal, 1 percent was the precedent, anything above seems like another huge uft victory.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it. I've been an ATR for 5 years and absolutely hate it. I have a CTE license and have asked to be placed over and over. I'm told there are no vacancies, but as I'm rotated into many schools I find teachers teaching my licensed area out of license. One principal told me she wasn't going to excess one of her staff to give a position to an ATR. I understand her position, but these are teaching positions with the DOE, not with individual universes, where every school makes up their own rules.

Anonymous said...

Hoping for a contract with even 2%? Just watch what will happen when there is no union left to negotiate anything. When Triboro is gone and you have no contract. Instead of raises watch salaries drop. After all, the poor charters are complaining they have to pay their teachers competitive salaries with the DOE so let's drive down the salaries. Do you really think they will pay people $130k at the top? On paper only. Drastic changes are a-comin'.

James Eterno said...

10:30, Changes are coming because we don't act like a union and haven't in many years.

10:13, I wasn't hired in 2014 at Middle College because I am a great teacher; I was just in the right place at the right time as there was an opening in social studies because someone just happened to be going on a maternity-child care leave when I was rotating through to Middle College.

Fortunately, there were two Jamaica colleagues who worked there who spoke up for me and the principal, Linda Siegmund, is a caring person. After I was hired, the principal has done everything she can to keep me and I am truly grateful. Every teacher should get to work at a school like Middle College to see what it is like to work in a professional environment. I don't walk around worrying that there is a target on my back.

Sometimes, I try not to look back to being an ATR but I still do every time I hear a story like yours 10:13. You are totally right that we are all paid from the same pot of city money (some are funded by state and feds but you know what I mean) so schools should not be separate fiefdoms but they are thanks to Joel Klein, Dennis Walcott, Carmen Farina and our weak union. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Oh well, if the UFT goes bankrupt, we can thank them and the stupid idiot teachers who know nothing.

Michael Fiorillo said...

Mazel tov on your appointment, James; if anyone deserves it, you do.

As for the Big Picture, fuhgeddaboudit: unless things miraculously change and there is a revolution of consciousness among teachers and the populace in general, it looks like a long, mean slide down the economic ladder for almost everyone.

Anonymous said...

With only 3yrs left I think I'm out before the total collapse. Good Luck to all my fellow hard working and under appreciated teachers.

Ms. Tsouris said...

As long as DeB continues the Bloomberg administration with that fossilized whole language proponent chancellor Farina, he will never get my vote. That's over. I'll write in someone. DeB is incompetent and uncaring