Monday, May 11, 2009

Barack Obama Puts A "Joke" In There For Bloomberg

Obama had plenty of zingers for the right, the left and himself. He also had one for wherever Bloomberg's ambitions lay. Fast-forward to the 0:40 mark of this YouTubed clip of the President's speech this past Saturday night to see what Barack had to say to the mayor:

Now what's that saying about how there's some element of truth in every joke?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Geoffrey Canada Supports Mayoral Control...And Is Supported By It

Geoffrey Canada is a well known name by now in the New York City school system. His Harlem Children's Zone does a whole lot more than the typical K-12, basically by trying to fill in parts of the students' lives that their parents do not. While Canada's project has received mostly positive reviews, his wading in on the issue of mayoral control is not what you would call a third party review.

The NY Times took down what he said at the latest pro-mayoral control press conference:

Mr. Canada said that while charter schools in the city were posting higher performance levels than the rest of the city schools, the whole system should be celebrating.

“I thought, ‘Isn’t that great — our children are doing really good!’ ” he said during a press conference on the charter school results at the Manhattan Charter School on the Lower East Side. “Suddenly I found out that some people weren’t happy, and some people started writing that we shouldn’t be happy that the scores are going up. They say maybe there is something fishy going on and our students aren’t reading so much better.”

Then he motioned to a group of reporters sitting in the front row and said with a flourish: “All the children in New York City did not have a clue what was going to be on that test. They didn’t know one question. They had to study a whole group of things to prepare for that test. And you know what, they had to be able to read and write. And that’s what they did.”
As the Times' article notes, Canada leads a lobbying group to preserve mayoral control. However, all Canada talks about is how the scores are going up, but not so much about how they're going up. To get the other side of things, all we have to do is reach down into the comments of this article.

One commenter mentioned Canada's conflict of interest since it is the Mayor that allows him to have the majority of the funding for his HCZ program and of course the ability to operate in the five boroughs. Then there are the teachers who claim that the test is getting easier, and that all teacher are supposed to do is train kids for the test...and nothing else. As another commenter said, Canada can talk all he wants about the improved scores, but the increased numbers aren't the issue. If a test gets easier, then it isn't hard to make a connection as to why the scores went up. The Times should really check out Gotham Gazette's excellent article on the issue and of course, ask some of the parents what they think as well.

Con Edison Wants Even More Of Our Money

As if the latest approved increase wasn't enough, Con Edison is asking for even more money in rate hikes. They complain that times are tough, investments and maintenance is needed, but really, why not look for other revenue streams? Ask the state for some cash, since it seems to grow on the trees that surround the government's complex in Albany. However, they'll probably run into some roadblocks with state legislators too.

From Gothamist:

Last month, the Public Service Commission approved a 2010 Con Ed rate hike that would result in about a $6/month increase in a residential customer's bill. Now, the utility is asking for rate hikes in 2011 and 2012 because Con Ed doesn't think the first hike will do enough, given its rising costs. One plan calls for a hike of about $6.48/month for residential customers while another proposes a $8/month hike. This isn't sitting well with Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who says, "Just last month Con Ed was handed over $700 million in rate hikes, and already it has its hand out again. Con Ed fiddles while homes explode and blackouts and electrocutions become routine. This unaccountable monopoly does not deserve one cent in additional rate hikes until it reforms its practices and changes the way it does business."

Gianiaris is pissed, and rightly so. Con Edison is seriously unaccountable and no well written press release is going to help matters. Their track record is shoddy and as Gianaris says, they shouldn't have one extra cent until things change over there. These are tough times, and for Con Ed to expect New Yorkers $100 a year after already shelling out an extra $80 is nothing short of ridiculous.