Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daily News: Bloomberg Won

The news that Bloomberg had agreed to appoint a "Chief Academic Officer" was reported by the NY Times last night as a "major concession" by the mayor.

I didn't see how changing one word in the title of the "Chief Accountability Officer" at the NYCDOE and making him the "Chief Academic Officer" was a major concession and said so at the time.

Sure, there are a whole host of duties the new academic officer is supposed to have - but who really knows if he'll really have them?

Let's be honest, Bloomberg is very big on winning even when he has supposedly "lost."

Take congestion pricing.

Did you notice how all those pedestrian plazas showed up around the city in the year after Bloomberg lost that battle?

Did you notice how traffic got slower around the city now that cars cannot drive through Times Square, Herald Square and other places around the city?

The mayor may not have won the congestion pricing battle, but he sure made his point about traffic in the city - and then he made sure he put an exclamation point on it by making it even slower.

And who knows - perhaps congestion pricing comes around again and gets passed.

Certainly the mayor set the conditions for just that to happen.

I suspect we are seeing the same thing with this Black matter.

It looks like Bloomberg lost on the face of it, but really, who knows what power the #2 guy has?

Joshua Greenman in the Daily News says pretty much the same thing:

Few men who made their names as political moderates are as uncomfortable with compromise as Mayor Bloomberg, who's just not used to having to bend in a city where he's basically the only political game in town.

But that's exactly what he appeared to do Friday, in naming a chief academic officer to be at Cathie Black's right hand so state Education Commissioner David Steiner agrees to grant Black the waiver to serve as chancellor.

The question now, which will be answered in the coming months: Was it a real concession or a cosmetic one?


in the end, the crow may just taste like chicken. Because what kind of power Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief accountability officer promoted to be the new No. 2, will actually have remains to be seen.

For the school system to run efficiently, one person ultimately has to be in charge of making all major decisions. One person has to take marching orders from the mayor and take the heat from the public.

That will still be Black ... won't it?

Sure, Polakow-Suransky will presumably be in the room when big calls are made. He'll be able to give Black advice and insight on the often vexing issues. He'll be able to hold the map and be the navigator while she drives.

But Presidents use their vice presidents as they see fit. Same with governors and lieutenant governors. Mayors have first deputy mayors. Sometimes they listen; often they don't. There is no question, zero, where the buck stops.

Bloomberg laid out the new No. 2's responsibilities, and they are substantial. But he is still clearly under Black, and everyone knows that a job description on paper means nothing if a boss wants to use you differently.

So unless Polakow-Suransky has formal authority, Steiner might have just taken a stand to earn the illusion of a concession.

Then we'll come to learn that Bloomberg won this particular power struggle. And those dashed expectations may make some Bloomberg critics even angrier a few months from now than they are today.

So the Times can frame this as a major Bloomberg concession all it wants.

The fact is, Bloomberg got Black as chancellor.

Steiner gave her the waiver.

The #2 guy is just some Broad Foundation-trained eduwanker who specializes in testing, data and "accountability."

Black herself specializes in cost-cutting and layoffs.

Between the two of them, the New York City school system is going to get more of what it got from Klein.

And at the end of the day, Bloomberg got what he wanted.


  1. Did you know that Mussolini's preferred term for fascism was corporatism?

    Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

    -- Benito Mussolini
    _______________ ______________
    "I hope we shall crush ... in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
    --Thomas Jefferson

    "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
    -- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864

  2. And don't forget the UFT flunkies' role in all this. A lot of this would not be happening if the UFT were a force.

  3. From Wikipedia:
    The concept of corporatocracy is that corporations, to a significant extent "own" or have massive power over governments, including those governments nominally elected by the people, and that they exercise such power not by back-room conspiracies but by their enormous, concentrated economic power, and by legal in-the-open mechanisms (lobbyists, campaign contributions to office holders and candidates, threats to leave the state or country for another with less oversight and more subsidies etc). Oliver Stone captured "Wall Street, you know, you could say..runs the world. Wall Street, the pharmaceutical lobbies, the oil lobbies, they run our government"[2]

    First, corporations provide financial support to competing political parties and major political party candidates. This allows the corporations to hedge their bets on the outcome of an election so that they are assured to have a winner who is indebted to them. As politicians are increasingly dependent on campaign contributions to become elected, their objectiveness on issues which concern corporate interests is compromised.

    Second, in many cases former corporate executives are appointed as powerful decision makers within government institutions. They are often charged with the regulation of their former or future employers. Government employees who collude with corporations often accept high-ranking positions within corporations once they have demonstrated their commitment to serve the corporate interest. These lucrative offers provide incentive for government employees to serve Lobby groups as well as provides their new employers with access to governmental decision makers. This is known as the 'revolving door' between corporations and the institutions established to regulate their behavior; and can lead to regulatory capture.

  4. That Lincoln quote is quite prescient.

    We're there, I think.