Friday, July 27, 2018

de Blasio's new PAC and charter school treasurer: progressive enough?

credit: NY Post
Mayor de Blasio has set up a new federal political action fund, called "Fairness PAC,"  registered Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. The purpose of the PAC is ostensibly to support progressive candidates nationwide and presumably to enhance his own image nationally for future elective office -- as well as the prominence of his wife, Chirlane.  According to the NY Post,

City officials said the committee will offer direct support to candidates and also cover campaigning-related travel expenses for the mayor and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who’s said she might run for future office.

This is de Blasio's third attempt to set up his own PAC:

The mayor’s first political non-profit, the Campaign for One New York, was shut in March 2017 amid a federal probe over the mayor’s fundraising practices. And de Blasio’s other PAC — The Progressive Agenda — crashed and burned on its initial foray into the national spotlight during the 2016 presidential race.

J. David Goodman and William Neuman of the NY Times ask if the Mayor is progressive enough to satisfy the growing activist wing of the Democratic party.  They cite many aspects of his record, including the expansion of preK, but also his reluctance to address school segregation until recently. 

There are many other education problems de Blasio promised to tackle when running for Mayor but has failed to improve, including school overcrowding, class size, school closings, transparency, community collaboration, parent empowerment, high stakes testing and more -- as outlined in NYC Kids PAC report cards, where he received low or failing grades on these issues.

Yet perhaps the most striking aspect of de Blasio's new Fairness PAC, as revealed by its federal registration form, is that Richard Buery is its treasurer, probably the most important position for a PAC.  Buery was formerly the Deputy Mayor and is now Chief of Policy and Public Affairs for KIPP charter schools.

Over the past two or three years, the progressive wing of the Democratic party has gradually shifted its stance away from supporting charter school expansion, as evidenced by the positions of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others -- as well as civil rights organizations like the NAACP and Black Lives Matters.  This evolution was no doubt helped by the full-throated support for school privatization of Trump and Betsy DeVos.

One recalls that while de Blasio originally ran for Mayor in 2012 on a platform opposing charter school co-locations, he quickly conceded after ads run by the charter lobby and financed by hedgefunders blasted him for refusing space in public schools for three Success charter schools.  He quickly formed a School Space working group, headed by Buery, which included several charter school officials, in order to calm the waters.  Since then DOE has approved the vast majority of charter school co-location requests.

When in 2014, the Legislature passed a new law, pushed through by Governor Cuomo, that NYC would have to provide free space in public schools or pay for leased space for every new or expanding charter school out of the city budget, (the only school district in the state or the nation with this onerous obligation), de Blasio didn't protest, but simply said “The decisions about the space will be made by the Department of Education.  That’s the bottom line.”

In 2017, he agreed to other concessions to charter expansion, without complaint, in order to retain mayoral control.  It will be interesting to see how this "progressive" Mayor positions himself on the national stage on school privatization, and from whom he (and his treasurer) raises money. 

1 comment:

kk said...

thanks for exposing this opportunist