Something’s bugging teachers-union boss Michael Mulgrew — or, at least, he thinks so.
The United Federation of Teachers president blew a huge wad of union cash to play out a paranoid James Bond fantasy when he paid $17,849 for a security team to sweep his headquarters for bugs, documents show.
A crew from Protective Countermeasures & Consulting Inc. was hired to sweep for listening devices at the UFT’s offices at 52 Broadway, a review of union spending reports reveals.
The payments were made in January and March of last year, just as the union leadership grappled with key strategic decisions such as labor-contract negotiations and who to support as the next mayor.
The union would not say if any surveillance devices were found.
Some union members thought it was unlikely anyone would bug the union — and that it was ridiculous that Mulgrew is using Cold War tactics to play a game of “Tinker, Teacher, Soldier, Spy” in the UFT headquarters.
“I have no idea why they’re doing it. It’s very odd,” said James Eterno, a dissident UFT member who ran against Mulgrew for president in 2010. “I didn’t know we were like the CIA and have to keep secrets. I didn’t think we were that important. It’s not like someone is going to get killed if something leaks out.”
Let's dispense with the question of who they think might be bugging their offices for a moment and focus on this question:
What exactly are they discussing at 52 Broadway that they don't want to get out to anybody else?
Sure, I know the Post article says " key strategic decisions such as labor-contract negotiations and who to support as the next mayor," but doesn't it seem a little over the top to have the offices swept for bugs at least two times over that stuff?
Seriously, it didn't take a genius to see who they were going to endorse - I called it months before, and believe me, I'm no genius.
As for labor contract negotiations, which one's are they talking about?
If I remember correctly, they sent the contract negotiations to non-binding arbitration at the PEP board after years of impasse with Bloomberg and the DOE.
So what exactly were they discussing at 52 Broadway that they feared being overheard?
It's over a year ago that Mulgrew had 52 Broadway first swept for bugs, but Norm Scott did report last week that Mulgrew and his merry men and women at the UFT have launched a guerrilla attack against Dick Iannuzzi and the NYSUT Executive Board via the UFT/Unity slug at NYSUT, Andy Pallotta
Norm has more today that reports the fix is essentially in and Mulgrew and the UFT will probably get their way when the vote comes around in spring.
Now I don't think the counter-surveillance contracting was directly linked to the NYSUT machinations.
But I do think it does point to the kind of underhanded stuff they discuss at 52 Broadway that they don't want to get out.
If you watch the union leadership closely, you know they could give two hoots about the rank and file membership - they care only about their own power and privilege.
In the end, I don't know exactly what they were discussing that they didn't want overheard anymore than I know who they feared might be bugging them.
But I do know this - whatever conversations they were trying to protect and keep discreet were not one's that benefit rank and file members of the union.
Mulgrew had 52 Broadway swept for bugs because he was worried something he and his merry men and women in the leadership were doing would come back to haunt them.