Monday, November 1, 2010

NYC Kids PAC endorses Tom DiNapoli for State Comptroller

NYC Kids PAC endorses Thomas Di Napoli for State Comptroller

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2010

Contact: Shino Tanikawa: (917) 770-8438

Mona Davids: (917) 340-8987

Patrick J. Sullivan: (631) 804-7217

Today, NYC Kids PAC endorsed Thomas Di Napoli for re-election as State Comptroller. NYC Kids PAC was formed by public school parents in 2009 to support candidates who work to improve our schools in ways that matter to parents and their kids, including reducing class size, alleviating overcrowding, and ensuring more fiscal transparency and accountability.

As Shino Tanikawa of the Parent Commission on School Governance and NYC Kids PAC says, “Since he became Comptroller in 2007, Thomas Di Napoli has provided an invaluable public service by providing rigorous fiscal oversight of the use of public funds by charter school operators and the New York City Department of Education. Too often, those running our public schools have spent taxpayer funds in any manner they liked, leading to waste, fraud and abuse. Tom Di Napoli has consistently worked to ensure fiscal accountability and transparency in education spending, a critical role in these days of creeping privatization and mayoral control. We are also encouraged by the strong measures he has taken to ensure integrity in the Comptroller’s office, including banning all “pay to play” schemes, and appointing an Inspector General to guard against political abuse.”

In 2008, Di Napoli performed a critical audit of the NYC DOE’s profligate use of no-bid contracts, which had awarded 291 no-bid contracts over three years, with officials failing to provide justification or full public disclosure. The audit showed how DOE officials had destroyed records about the contracting process. In addition, Di Napoli has performed several valuable audits of the flagrant misuse of public funds by charter schools, as well as an audit revealing the NYC Department of Education’s lax oversight of the charter schools it has authorized.

In 2008, the charter school lobby sued Di Napoli, blocking him in court from performing any more charter school audits. In response, the recent state legislation that lifted the charter cap specifically authorized the State Comptroller to perform these audits. Yet during his campaign, Di Napoli’s opponent, Harry Wilson, has repeatedly criticized Di Napoli for having pursued “politically motivated” charter audits, and has accused him of “harassing” charter schools by investigating their use of public funds.

Mona Davids, the president of the NY Charter Parents Association says, “Parents worked hard to make sure that in the new charter school law, the State Comptroller was provided with the explicit authority to undertake audits of charter schools, because we have seen many instances of corruption, conflicts of interest, and misuse of public funds by charter school operators. Too often, the charter authorizers have failed to fulfill their responsibility to provide sufficient oversight, making an aggressive role by State Comptroller critically important. It is crucial that every penny spent by charter school operators is invested in programs that benefit our children – rather than going into the pockets of administrators, trustees, or their friends. It is troubling, to say the least, that Di Napoli’s opponent has criticized him for performing this valuable service to our kids – and to taxpayers, who are footing the bill for the hundreds of millions in public funds that charter schools receive.

Patrick J. Sullivan, the Manhattan member of the Panel for Educational Policy, says: “As a member of New York City’s central school board and one of the people responsible for approving contracts and public school funding, I find Harry Wilson's criticism of Comptroller Di Napoli's audit record to be alarming. Di Napoli has proven to be one of the few people willing to stand up to the Bloomberg administration and criticize the no-bid contracts and lack of fiscal discipline that has plagued our schools under Bloomberg's control. Were Harry Wilson to be elected, his allegiance to the hedge fund community and others calling for the privatization of public education would prove a grave risk to the City's 1.1 million school children.”


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