ALBANY - Mayor Bloomberg scored a brief victory Tuesday night in his push to end the last-in, first-out law governing teacher layoffs before he was big-footed by Gov. Cuomo.
Moments after the GOP-controlled state Senate approved a Bloomberg-backed measure to overturn the law, Cuomo unveiled his own proposal, effectively restarting the legislative process - and infuriating City Hall.
"It is time to move beyond the so-called 'last-in, first-out' system of relying exclusively on seniority," Cuomo said. "However, we need a legitimate evaluation system to rely upon."
Cuomo said his bill would expand ongoing plans by the state Board of Regents to implement a statewide objective teacher evaluation system that could be used to replace last in, first out by the new school year.
But Bloomberg, who was blindsided by the announcement, said Cuomo's bill would be of little help in dealing with the more than 4,600 teacher layoffs he's planned for as early as this spring.
"We need the governor to help us now by putting something in this budget by Thursday that lets us not have to use seniority when it comes to laying off teachers," Bloomberg said, referring to the deadline for Cuomo to submit budget amendments.
Bloomberg aides went further, calling Cuomo's plan a "scam" that doesn't actually repeal the LIFO law and even suggesting it was drafted by the teachers union as a "total smokescreen."
Cuomo aides have maintained they don't believe teacher layoffs are even necessary.
"There's no scam here," one said. "All we do is accelerate the law that's on the books, one the mayor supported when they were doing Race to the Top last year."
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew accused the Bloomberg administration of leading a "disinformation campaign."
"I have not read what the governor is proposing, but if his proposal is that we need to make sure we have an objective evaluation system, I would say that is a pretty good idea," Mulgrew said.
The Senate bill tossing seniority passed on a largely partisan 33-27 vote. "This does not get rid of seniority," said Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan (R-Nassau), the bill's sponsor. "It says it cannot be the only reason [for layoffs]."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, like Cuomo, said he favored an "objective standard" based on more than just seniority in determining layoffs.
Cuomo said the teacher evaluation guidelines currently being developed by the Regents would be based in part on teacher effectiveness.
It's been a long day of topsy turvy chills and thrills on this thing, but if I am reading the News article correctly, Moneybags was publicly humiliated by Cuomo's unveiling of this proposal without running it by the Bloombergians first.
In addition, because it doesn't give Bloomberg the authority to lay off at will this week, Bloomberg's pissed.
So Bloomberg's people called the Cuomo proposal a "scam."
But Cuomo's people say "Hey, if this is a scam, it's one YOU supported last year during the RttT push."
Touche on their part.
But as much as I like to see Bloomberg humiliated publicly, this Cuomo proposal STILL SUCKS.
Yes, the new teacher evaluation guidelines were supposed to go into effect by 2012-2013, but moving that timeline up a year doesn't make me feel too comfortable that the state will have all the kinks worked out.
Bad enough to have them in 2012-2013 - even worse to have them next year.
Still, it's great to see Bloomberg's LIFO bill go down.
Now Bloomberg is saying he needs to have his LIFO changes by Thursday.
Given what happened today, doesn't seem like that's going to happen.
So what will Bloomberg do?
So far, he's been able to frame the issue as "Sucky Teachers Union Is Blocking LIFO Changes, Forcing Me To Lay Off Good Young Teachers."
The Cuomo proposal takes away that frame from the mayor.
Now he can't lay off 4,666 teachers on Thursday and blame the teachers union when Cuomo took action on the LIFO issue just like Post and the News op-ed writers were begging him to.
Bloomberg has lost some political cover here to do these layoffs.
Does that mean he won't still do them?
No, of course not.
Remember, Bloomberg is one vindictive SOB.
He could still go ahead with them.
But Cuomo, as vindictive as Bloomberg is, seemingly has upped the political price Bloomberg will have to pay for doing them as advertised.
At least that's how I read this tonight.
Given how fast this story has moved today, who knows how the story will play out tomorrow?