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Controversy Grows Around Panel That Will Evaluate Black

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WNYC
Mayor Bloomberg appoints Cathie Black, as Joel Klein steps down (Edward Reed/WNYC)

The panel that will evaluate whether publishing executive Cathie Black is qualified to be the next New York City Schools Chancellor will meet on Tuesday, but the panel itself is now surrounded by controversy.

The eight member panel that will advise State Education Commissioner David Steiner includes three former school officials who worked under outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein as well as New York Historical Society President, Louise Mirrer. 

Mirrer has been the subject of news reports because of the personal and professional connections she has to Mayor Bloomberg. The New York Times reports, Bloomberg personally donated $475,000 to the museum she runs and she is the chairwoman for an academy for which Bloomberg helped raised millions of dollars.

This is technically not a conflict of interest according to Gene Russianoff, senior attorney with the New York Public Interest Research Group, because it's just an advisory panel, he says. But, "It raises concerns that people have about the independence about the panel," Russianoff said.

A spokesman for Steiner says Mirrer was chosen because she leads a major cultural institution and because she was previously vice chancellor of academic affairs at the City University.

Ultimately, the Commissioner will decide whether Black is qualified to serve.

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Comments [1]

Michael R. Bloomberg became a political fatality last night.

In a political rebuke like no other in his short political career, Michael R. Bloomberg was given a rejection of his pick for NYC Schools Chancellor.

Avoiding both his “trusted” inner circle and the public, Bloomberg announced on November 9 that fellow billionaire Joel Klein would resign and be replaced by fellow billionaire Cathie Black. Although he was supposed to be doing an excellent job as Schools Chancellor, according to Bloomberg, Klein abruptly resigned. Why? The unprecedented grass-roots uproar against Cathie Black and Bloomberg’s secretive process began immediately and ended last evening with what will go down in history as the fatal political wound that ended Bloomberg’s political life.

How does it compare to the public’s 2005 rejection of Bloomberg’s Jets stadium proposal or his ill-fated presidential run or his 2009 near defeat at the hands of relative unknown Bill Thompson? Last night’s decision to reject Cathie Black was like a Nuclear Tsunami compared to an inconvenient fender bender.

Bloomberg cannot recover from this no matter how much money he spends. His friends in the media cannot save him, that was supposed to be Cathie Black. Unlike tainted Tylenol or out of control Toyotas, there is no new product to make. In politics, once you have proven yourself to be who you are, a dictator and self-serving power-monger, all the money in the world cannot restore you.

New York City was the winner last night. Yes, the city of the people, not the ultra-wealthy, endured. New York City, which Michael R. Bloomberg tried to own outright, remains free.

What does he do as he staggers and goes down? Will King Bloomberg now fire his top advisors? Will he try to have a real, lawful and public search for a Schools Chancellor? Will David M. Steiner be attacked? Will those who should have indicted him years ago now have the courage to indict or impeach Bloomberg? Who will now emerge as the front-runner the 2013 mayoral race? Is Christine Quinn, Bloomberg’s key ally for his third term, now political road kill?

Nov. 23 2010 11:34 PM

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