Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tony Avella for State Senate

I usually write parody for the NYC Parent Blog, but this is not parody. I usually don’t make political endorsements on the blog, but this is a political endorsement. Why? Because so much hangs in the balance in NY State Senate District 11 (Northeast Queens), and Tony Avella warrants the support of parents, teachers, and anyone else who values public education in NY State.

Tony’s positions on education are long standing and unequivocal. He has been a fierce critic of Chancellor Klein’s and Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial control. He has called for the firing of the Chancellor, the hiring of a real educator for the position, and for the re-establishment true parent involvement in the schools.

Tony’s opponent, incumbent Senator Frank Padavan, was instrumental in the renewal of Mayoral control. And lest anyone wonder about Padavan’s relationship with the Mayor and Chancellor, during a hotly contested 2008 race, the DOE renamed the Glen Oaks school campus for Mr. Padavan – jumping the gun by a good number of years, judging by the Senator’s apparent good health, given that one is supposed to be deceased to have a school named after him.

I have dealt with Tony Avella, through my work, since he was elected to the City Council in 2001. I have had a number of conversations with him over the years about education, and have found him to be consistent and sincere in his support for parents and children, with a keen grasp of the issues.

But beyond that, I have found him to be that rare creature, an honest politician. One example: He declined to serve on the advisory board of the program I direct – not because there was anything wrong with doing so (other politicians serve on such boards), but because, since he obtained discretionary Council funding for the program, he wanted to avoid even the slightest hint of conflict of interest.

Tony is also that rare politician who actually takes the time to listen, and would never run out from our events after just a speech and a few minutes of shaking hands. I’ll never forget our annual barbecue, or our program’s gala anniversary dinner last year, when he and his wife hung out, schmoozing, enjoying the company and the entertainment, and comfortably fitting in like the members of the community that they are.

I urge everyone in Senate District 11 to get out and vote for Tony Avella on November 2. He will be a true friend in Albany.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I write to support the election of Tony Avella to the State Senate.

The problem with Senator Padavan over the years is that he speaks the right words in the district and then goes to Albany and votes wrong. There is no better example than in education, so important to our local district. For eight years Senator Padavan has come to meetings of parents and educators and told us that he is opposed to so much of what the Mayor and Chancellor Klein have done to our schools. In fact, he has help us to organize, and has been a major participant in, meetings intended to protest policies of the Department of Education. Many of these policies, including the overemphasis on testing, have had a very unfavorable impact upon our local schools.

In fact, our District 26 that used to be a shining example of excellence exists now in name only. Like other districts it has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist. Parents having a problem at their local schools now have to grovel in downtown Manhattan to get relief. And our local high schools, like Bayside, Francis Lewis and Cardozo are bursting at the seams with excess enrollment because of the policies of Chancellor Klein. No other local area has suffered so much under Klein.

Yet when it came time to vote to change the system in order to restore the voices of parents and teachers, Senator Padavan sponsored the legislation drafted in the Mayor's office that did little more than continue the present system unaltered. He has also consistently voted with the Republicans for funding formulas favoring the suburbs. No doubt these were major factors in the decision of the United Federation of Teachers to oppose the Senator's reelection and to support Tony Avella.

Add to that the Senator's consistently wrong voting record on women's issues, and the fact that as he is no longer in the majority leadership he'll no longer be in a position to "bring home the bacon" to his district. Clearly it's time for a change.

As Mary Matthews said in Frank Capra’s classic film “State of the Union,” “You’ve got an honest man. You don’t know how lucky you are.” That man is Tony Avella. At every moment in his representation of our community in the City Council he has delivered integrity and honesty. He has voted for his constituents even as he resisted enormous pressures to "go along". He has not accepted a lulu for his committee chairmanship and he has delivered real positive change for our neighborhoods. He will be a great state senator.

Mel Meer