Thursday, August 18, 2011

BoogieDowner Editorial: Dennis Walcott, Michael Quill, and the Moral Example of New Yorks' Trade Union Tradition

My last few posts included statements from NYC Comptroller Liu, NYC Council Technology Chair Fernando Cabrera and union leaders from CWU. All three in varying degrees requested a postponement of the $120 million dollar contract renewal between the NYC Department of Education and Verizon. Various reasons for the postponement of the renewal included investigations into alleged fraud and a more thorough review if the funds could better serve our youth. Please do feel free to review the actual press releases, statements and letters posted on previous BoogieDowner posts.

As a side note, even though the letters and press releases were written and made public, and the demonstration lead by CWU was loud and clear, there was hardly a peep about it in the main stream media. The only coverage of union demonstrations I saw Tuesday night included union workers rallying for increases in toll charges for the Port Authority, even though our State Comptroller issued a report blasting the Port Authority for excessive overtime abuse.

As I unexpected, NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott ignored all requests for a postponement of the DOE/Verizon contract renewal. He is quoted as saying, “We have a responsibility to pay Verizon - but to do this we have to approve this contract”. The top two questions I have in connection with his actions and words are;

1- How is it possible to pay NYC teachers when they often work without a contract for years, but not pay DOE consultants when they are not under contract?
2- Why would you renew a contract where allegations of a 3.7 million dollar fraud are circulating without further review?

Some people, including our Mayor, have connected the press releases, statements and letters sent as an unholy intrusion of government into the private sector. My response to them is again two fold. Firstly, when there are allegations of miss-appropriation of funds by our NYC Comptroller and other reputable authorities, they should be taken into consideration. Not only does government have a right to intervene it also has a fiduciary responsibility to tax payers to intervene. Secondly, government does have a right to intervene when American workers are under attack. In addition, the voters have a right and obligation to remember if the intervention was justified and handled properly when the ballot box is passed.

On Walcott’s first day as Chancellor he visited Harvest Fields Community Church in the Bronx. The April 18th, 2011 New York Post article stated they “laid hands on the education department new honcho on Palm Sunday Mass”. For those who do not follow the Christian faith, Palm Sunday is one of Christianities most revered holidays. It commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the “Prince of Peace”. I posted the link below for anyone wishing to review the article.

Many had reasonable hopes for Walcott’s appointment after Cathy Blacks “resignation”. Would he be the “Prince of Piece” of the NYC school system, as his public relations stunt at the Harvest Fields Community Church in the Bronx implied, or would he be just another pawn in the privatization of our school system for plutocrats intent on holding him on a tight leash. My conclusion is obviously the latter. He did not even have the line to postpone the contract renewal to a later date.

When a NYC teacher is deemed to be “Unsatisfactory” he is given an opportunity to improve. In the same spirit of helping Chancellor Walcott improve as NYC Chancellor, I attached a video of a true “messiah” of the people. Someone who was a true champion of and for the people. Hopefully the video will be a teachable moment for our school chancellor. It is a short video of the late TWU labor leader Michael J. Quill. As a teaser to the video, here is quote from Dr. Martin Luther King about him’

“Mike Quill was a fighter for the decent things in life – Irish Independence, Labor Organization, and Racial Equality. He spent his life ripping the chains of bondage off his fellow man. This is a man the ages will remember”

- Martin Luther King Jr.

(Video about late TWU labor leader Mike J. Quill)

May the late great Michael J. Quill rest in peace and be remembered for ages as Dr. Luther King predicted.


P.S. Special Thanks John O

Link to April 18th 2011 Daily York Post Article: "Thank God for Walcott"

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