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Casualties, Central States, and Stabilization

June 17, 2021 am30 11:16 am

When I was a kid I heard the news. It seemed like it was always on. I understood lots of words, but not all of them, not close to all of them.

Part I

I think I was 5 or 6 when my mom showed me Viet Nam on the globe. Cool. And why when it was day there it was night here. I remember where we sat, and I remember that sun beam…

Expressways of Vietnam - Wikipedia

I’m not sure if that was a separate conversation, or if she was deflecting. Because I knew from the news that Viet Nam was a place. And I knew it had really cool low-numbered highways. Highway 1. Highway 9. Highway 13. Not the awkward Eye-91 and Eye-95 that we had. And I knew that there were lots of things along those highways. The news said. But I did not know what these things – “casualties” – were. I must have asked. And I may have gotten a distracting lesson on the rotation of our planet instead.

Part II

I recall hearing about teamsters. I didn’t know what a teacher was. I didn’t know what a pension fund was, but I knew that ‘fund’ meant there was money. Central States! That was cool. I knew every state on the map. Some states came in groups. My state was part of New England, though that was just a name, and didn’t really mean we were connected to England. I had heard of the Midwest, though I’m not sure I knew what states were in it. Iowa? Pennsylvania? Ohio? I’d have to wait to be an adult to be truly confused about that one. But “Central States” – that was new to me. Again, the cool short name. Central. Which were in the center?

Even when I was a bit older, and learned about Jimmy Hoffa, I didn’t really understand. Turns out that the employers contributed to a big pension fund, but did not administer it, and that gangsters used influence in the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters – “teamster” is someone who drives a team of horses – like a horse drawn wagon, and later since it’s the same job really, who drives a truck) – gangsters used influence in the IBT to “gain control” over the Central States Pension Fund. I still don’t know exactly what the mechanism was, or how much control. The Times has us afraid of mobsters. It’s the accountants who will kill us.

Part III

Today I hear a lot about a “Stabilization Fund.” Stable is a cool word. I don’t like when things that affect us are in crazy flux. Stable is good, right?

Retirees get some reimbursements from this fund, so it makes them more stable? Is that where the name comes from? (answer – no)

The City (I think it is just the City, New York City) contributes money into a Stabilization Fund. I do not know who administers the Fund. Do the municipal unions, including the UFT, administer this fund? Money from the Fund is used to reimburse retirees for some of the costs not covered by Medicare. Do I have that right?

When Mulgrew and de Blasio talk about “health care cost savings” I know they are not talking about savings for you – or for me. “Health Care Savings” is when I pay more, or a procedure is not covered, or a doctor is no longer in network.

When we lose health care, or doctors or procedures, that’s “Health Care Loss” for members but Mulgrew / deBlas call it “Health Care Savings.”

Who is saving that money that we, members, are losing? Is it the “Stabilization Fund”?

Who works in the Stabilization Fund? Is it a source of patronage jobs?

I want some answers. About Stabilization, not celestial mechanics.

Today’s UFT Delegate Assembly – What to Look For

June 16, 2021 pm30 5:01 pm

Mulgrew will talk for a long, long time. Few delegates will get a chance to speak. Every vote will go as Unity Caucus wants it to.

That’s all given. But what specifically will happen?

1. Will Unity really win every single vote? They lost their endorsements in April?

1. They lost their endorsements in April because Mulgrew was being a dick, and not allowing people to object to candidates they didn’t like. A little less dickish in May, and they all passed easily.

2. Will there be any real discussion of the NYC Mayor’s race?

2. Wow. So much here.

  • Why did Unity refuse to consider Ranked Choice Voting? Will they consider it today?
  • Stringer looks dead in the water. We spent one million dollars on him (with the AFT throwing in another three mil). How much money do we have to toss around?
  • Will we endorse, or co-endorse, or rank Maya WIley?
  • The UFT consistently says No Adams, No Yang. But Mulgrew has been silent on Garcia, less noxious, but more corporate and dangerous than the other two. Will he say No Garcia, or is this a stealth endorsement.

3. Will there be any real discussion of the Unity Plan to Privatize retirees’ health care?

3. Delegates are trying to get this discussed. Will Unity allow discussion? They might let it come up, and just vote it down. But they might also use Mulgrew-style procedural objections to stop anyone from even asking “can we talk about this?” This is a huge deal.

Privatizing Medicare is bad for future retirees (Unity is making sure that current retirees keep the same level of benefit)

Privatizing Medicare opens the door to what Mulgrew says he wants to do next – renegotiate health care for in service members. I don’t trust Unity with the future of my health care.

Maintaining benefits for current retirees might require taking money from current teachers (additional savings – but those savings are for the City and Unity Caucus. Where doe the money come from? You and me). At a retiree meeting a perceptive retiree suggested that more savings could come from keeping new teachers in HIP, no choice, for 5 or 10 years (it is currently 1 year). Mulgrew said “that’s interesting, we will take a look”

Unity’s approach to healthcare is working AGAINST the New York Health Act (kind of medicare for all / MFA for New York State). At this point there is much support for the New York Health Act. The opposition? The Trump people, joined by Weingarten, Pallotta, and Mulgrew. On health care, Unity are honorary Trumpies.

The NY Health Act, by the way, carves out protections for us. When Mulgrew says that the act will hurt us, he is not being honest.

4. How tightly will Unity control the discussion?

4. In May, every resolution had Unity Speaker for, Unity Speaker for, one independent delegate against, Unity Speaker then vote. Someone orchestrated every word. Unity has always controlled discussion, but after losing that vote in April they were full-throttle paranoid. Was that a one-time, and they will relax? Or has Unity assigned a DA Choreographer as a new category of patronage job?

5. How will next year’s DA function?

5. Mulgrew will be proposing hybrid Delegate Assemblies – remote and in person. Motions and fun stuff? Only in person. Voting? Everyone, remote and in-person.

There are delegates who are saying that remote delegates will be disenfranchised, and that is undemocratic. Others will say that if you want to make a motion, come in person.

Unity will get it’s vote to pass. There will be people speaking against. There is a question what percent votes no. 5% vote no on everything. 50% + 1 would defeat it. What’ll happen? Not sure what delegates will think – but I’m guessing about 20% vote no. It’ll pass.

But here’s the bottom line. My first reaction is to distrust this proposal. Not because I necessarily buy James’ argument 100% (I have to think about it). No, I distrust the proposal because Unity has been manipulating process badly, baldly, blatantly during this pandemic.

Unity got caught cheating last month – 10 resolutions were submitted, but Unity did not place them on the agenda in the order they were submitted, they put the ones they didn’t want to talk about at the bottom. Someone found the receipts. Proof. I would distrust any proposal Unity made about procedure.

Sorry for not ending on an optimistic note. After a year of fighting against hybrid, and blended, and instructional lunch, and “flexibility” in the contract(s?), which all seem to emanate from Unity, I’m not feeling generous.

Stringin’ ’em along – Mulgrew’s Mayoral Mess

June 5, 2021 pm30 3:24 pm

When it comes to mayoral endorsements, the UFT leadership tried to claim that it got it right this time – without admitting how they had botched it in the past. Old timers remembers the Hevesi/Ferrer/Green fiasco (one race, three endorsements, three losses). And everyone should remember how the UFT leadership sat out Bloomberg’s 3rd election, letting him win when we could have beaten him, and spared NYC schools Bloomberg’s four most savage years.

The UFT Leadership Finally Got an Endorsement Process Right?

This time, according to Mulgrew, the UFT leadership (Mulgrew and his caucus, Unity) got it right. Members could freely participate. They read how members reacted. There was a vote at the DA. And the process chose Scott Stringer… who did not (at the time) seem like a crazy choice.

But we still have a mess. Unity cannot escape its history of mayoral endorsement miscues.

The UFT (and AFT – why are they getting directly involved in a local race – the AFT president did work in NYC, but she had worse political instincts than Mulgrew – and it’s a national federation. Anyhow…) The UFT and AFT have contributed four million dollars to Stringer. That’s going all in. Could be smart if he were going to win – but $4M is a LOT of money. And he’s probably not going to win. That’s money pissed up a rope. That’s stringing us along.

Stringer Stumbles

Stringer had an allegation of sexual harassment. End of April. There might be something fishy about it. There was definite weirdness to what the accuser said, and she has a connection to Yang. I don’t want to dismiss it, nor endorse it. But Stringer’s response was weak and a bit slow, and he lost a lot of endorsements – mostly local politicians. And he had a bunch of those – and he lost most of them. One major endorsement he kept? The UFT.

Stringer Fondles

And yesterday, over a month later, a second allegation. Back in the day he ran a bar, he grabbed a waitress’ butt, he tried to make out with her – when she said no, he stopped. That was a different time, back in the 90s. Right? Well, yes, but… I wouldn’t have grabbed someone’s behind. An employee? That’s a problem. And grabbing someone and starting to make out – touching her thigh, kissing – not like that, no. Even if it were a different time, and even if some men behaved that way – I did not – most of us did not – and it was not okay.

And, when he doesn’t recall if it happened with the second accuser, makes it sound like it happened with Stringer in general – he just doesn’t remember with who.

We’ll get back to what the UFT will do. Should do. Could do. But let’s go back for a moment.

Who Were the UFT Finalists?

One of the key decisions in the UFT’s endorsement process was inviting candidates to the final round. The UFT invited Adams, Stringer, Wiley, and Yang. Why those four? Because they were top polling at that moment. And that was not a great reason. Adams and Yang are hostile to us. They are big charter supporters. Yang is an unknown, unsuccessful businessman, who sounds smart, as long as he doesn’t talk too long, or about something the listener actually knows something about. Adams, ex-cop, ex- and future Republican, doesn’t share our values. And at the time a significant minority of UFTers were backing Dianne Morales (whose campaign floundered, and then ran up on the rocks. I think she’s through). But inviting hostile Yang, but not Morales – that wasn’t a UFT member-driven choice. As inclusive as Mulgrew/Unity make the process seem, this key choice was made behind closed doors.

In the end, the final round, Mulgrew questioning Adams, Stringer, Wiley, Yang – it was good television. Both Adams and Yang said things that made clear that teachers should not support them – I’ll grant that – they are useful soundbites. And I’m not sure how “we” chose Stringer over Wiley, but I’m not complaining loudly.

Questions of Competence

But I didn’t understand why the UFT didn’t do a ranked choice selection. When asked, they gave a lame answer. Mistake.

And I wonder why there were not more thorough take-downs of other hostile candidates.

Part of the answer, the UFT’s political shop is weak. They were unable to think, to look, beyond the latest polls. During a run up to an election, dark horses emerge. Front-runners stumble. But the UFT leadership saw the polls as if it were election day. Yang. Adams. Stringer. The top three – why bother with anyone else?

This is not me criticizing the UFT leadership for not being progressive. (They are not, when it comes to elections, and I do criticize them for it.) This is me criticizing them for being amateurs.

Garcia?

I did not anticipate Kathryn Garcia rising so high. But with the Times and the Daily News endorsements, with Yang stumbling here and there (his handlers should time limit mikes in his face – he’s good for 10, maybe 15 seconds) – Garcia’s numbers moved up, and she actually topped the last poll.

Garcia is more pro-charter school than Yang or Adams. She is friendly with the big real estate industry and hostile to tenants rights. She opposes the wealth taxes that Alessandra Biaggi and the State Senate enacted, and those they are still trying to enact. She is politically in Bloomberg’s mold.

It’s time for the UFT to release the lousy things Garcia said. Members need to know that Adams and Yang want to redistribute unused charters, but that Garcia actually wants to raise the cap.

But we’ve got silence on Garcia. Or worse. Look at what I got a week ago:

Notice the message about ranked choice: Just that it exists, and that we can use it. Nothing about who to rank.

The Delegate Assembly approved only one candidate – a first choice. This message may be a violation of UFT policy, by implying the UFT is recommending making other, unspecified, choices.

Notice the message about who to vote for. Stringer. Notice who not to vote for. Adams and Yang. And Garcia? Surging in the polls. Endorsed by the Times. The UFT’s silence looks like a tacit okay to rank her number two. Which would be a horrible mistake.

No Garcia!

Does the UFT have a deal with Garcia? I doubt it. I just think our political shop is amateurish. Unfortunately, with consequences.

Let’s get that message out today, ok? Don’t rank Adams, Yang OR Garcia.

And Still Getting Strung Along?

We are four million dollars in the hole for a likely loser. Let’s not compound things. Please cut off the flow of money. No matter how much he had a chance before, it’s faded. And the money already spent is gone. Don’t make things worse.

As the UFT leadership pulls money from Stringer and stops supporting his events, should they also drop the endorsement? Yup. But unlikely. Flip-flopping doesn’t bother them. The perception of flip-flopping does. They will almost certainly unofficially drop him. Don’t look for them to make it official.

Rank Someone Else?

Will they back a second candidate? Instead of Stringer? Unlikely. As well as, or as a second choice for ranked choice voting? Some UFT leaders were backing Maya Wiley early on. it would seem like the smart thing to do.

Ranked Choice Poll Mess/NYC Mayoral Race

June 3, 2021 am30 9:24 am

We are thinking about “lanes” – blame modern polling pundits for that – but voters apparently aren’t. It’s the easy way to break down politics, especially if you are a numbers guy, nNuAmTbTeSrIsI LgVuEyR… and don’t know much about politics.

Ranked Choice Polling (asking what voters will do in a ranked choice elections) gives away the mistake.

Here’s the last ranked choice poll that I can find on wikipedia:

Notice what happens when Morales is eliminated? Adams and Yang don’t gain votes. Stringer and Garcia gain 1% each. And Wiley gains 5%. That’s like 70% of Morales’ vote going to Wiley. That’s a lane, isn’t it?

But watch what happens when Stringer goes out. His 13% goes to Adams (3%), Garcia (4%), Wiley (5%), and Yang (3%). Pretty evenly split. No lane.

And previous polls? A May 17 poll has Morales’ vote going 1% to Adams, 2% to Garcia, 1% to McGuire (!), 3% to Wiley. No lane. And Stringer’s going 3% Adams, 4% Garcia, 3% Wiley, 3% Yang. No lane at all. More of his votes go to Garcia than to Wiley?

Where do Stringer’s votes shift?

DateAdamsDonovanGarciaMcGuireMoralesWileyYang
May 243%4%5%3%
May 173%4%3%3%
*May 1517%14%
*May 126%5%6%
*May 1212%10%
*April 2113%13%
**April 15
*Mar 1813%13%

*Wiley and Morales were already eliminated

**Runner-up, votes did not shift

Where do Wiley’s votes shift?

DateAdamsDonovanGarciaMcGuireMoralesStringerYang
***May 246%9%4%
***May 1716%14%
May 151%0%2%1%1%0%1%
May 123%3%3%3%
May 127%5%6%
April 214%6%7%
April 154%5%7%
Mar 184%4%7%

***Stringer and Morales were already eliminated

Where do Morales’ votes shift?

DateAdamsDonovanGarciaMcGuireStringerWileyYang
May 240%1%1%5%0%
May 171%2%1%0%3%0%
May 151%0%2%1%1%0%1%
May 120%0%2%0%1%2%1%
May 121%0%0%0%1%3%2%
April 211%1%2%3%2%
April 152%1%1%3%2%
Mar 181%0%1%0%0%1%0%

No Early Retirement Incentive This Year

June 1, 2021 am30 9:36 am

The City did not want it to happen, and gummed up negotiations. That’s my read. Here’s how I think they were thinking:

  • An ERI would have saved money today, with a greater cost in the long run. Kicking the can down the road. But the Biden money undercut the need for cost savings today. And the NY State budget did some of the same.
  • Retirements will be up this year. Schools in New York City will be challenged to fill vacancies. An Early Retirement Incentive would have likely aggravated the crisis.

The UFT leadership supported an ERI – those members who would have benefited would have been very grateful. But the leadership knows, and I know, and you know, the vast majority of the membership would not have been affected.

There were people commenting on previous posts (An Early Retirement Incentive Exists. But What Does it Say? – with almost 1000 comments, and Probably No Early Retirement Incentive This Year)who desperately wanted this to happen. Let me pause here and say that I understand. Let me also pause and point out that some of them may not have actually benefited. It is possible (for some people?) to retire before age 55 but with a substantial penalty – I do not believe that penalty was going away.

Let me also pause to point out that I am over 55, and have enough years. I would have benefitted, with no penalty. Just gravy.

But I was a bit surprised the bill kept moving forward after the federal money was announced. “Good for me” I would tell people “but bad policy. Let’s see what happens.” And then we saw, the City mucked up negotiations.

Look at it this way: For those of us at all invested in an ERI, we wanted it to go forward. And both seats at the table were occupied by players who knew that (UFT leadership and DoE). The UFT leadership could honestly negotiate – as long as there was no cost, it was fine with them, and a good deal for a few members. The City side pretended to negotiate – no reason to piss off a bunch of people – but they did not want this to happen, so they negotiated in a way that guaranteed no deal would happen. I’m referring specifically to the demand that some teaching licenses be included, others excluded, which everyone knows would be unacceptable.

So what next? Nothing, not now.

People still will retire. The numbers will likely be quite high. And we will see some real scrambling to fill positions – much more than in a regular year.

What a mighty fall

May 30, 2021 pm31 1:33 pm

COVID rates, by state, mapped, mid-month and end of the month, from Thanksgiving to today.

Numbers are from CDC, as presented here, on the heat map, by NPR. Maps, including mistakes, are mine.

Colors: The reds are very bad, tans and yellows less bad. At some point I introduced light greens for rates that were above containment levels, but not necessarily indicative of community spread. That’s where most of the country is today.

Are we done? No. Needs to get below that. But this summer will be a great opportunity, as long as we don’t create hotspots and start spreading it rapidly again.

That’s a separate post, probably more. The opponents of public health – concentrations of Trump voters and NY Times readers – are anxious to put us back at risk. Another discussion.

Rectangle Puzzle: Area = Perimeter

May 29, 2021 pm31 11:26 pm

Every square has a perimeter, and an area. If the perimeter is 12, the area is 9 (check that).

But one special square has its area equal to its perimeter. (Answer is in a few lines).

You could just guess at it, and get it. You could do some algebra:

(side)^2 = 4(side) Call the side s, and s^2 = 4s and s^2 - 4s = 0 and s(s-4) = 0 and now we have 4 or 0, but 0 makes no sense.

And yeah, the area of a square with side 4 is 16, and so is the perimeter.

Rectangles (here’s the puzzle)

Now, rectangles come in more varieties than squares. That can make them more interesting, or more complicated.

Can a rectangle have its area equal its perimeter? Yes, 4×4 works (remember, a square is a special rectangle). But there is at least one more.

Can you find another rectangle with its area equal its perimeter?

Can you find all of them?

How do you know when you have them all?

A Little Cryptography

May 28, 2021 pm31 11:51 pm

I’m teaching a Number Theory elective this Spring, and trying to have some fun.

I chose a text, and I knew we would finish it in April, which we did.

And I gave students some choices of what to explore next. While they were choosing, I started a unit on old encryption systems, biding time, figuring they would pick a new direction.

But the direction most picked was to learn a bit of math that underpins modern cryptosystems, so learning a bit more about old systems made sense. Plus, they were having some fun. It’s one thing for me to claim that a code is easy to break, it’s another for me to post gibberish, and for my students figure out what it says.

They don’t own Captain Midnight Decoder Rings, but if they did, the rings would have been perfect for the first few lessons.

I told them to dial the rings to G and to decode the text I gave them. Wow! they all got it. Then I told them to encode a text (sounds bad, but just 250 characters). Not a problem.

Then they looked at encrypted stuff without knowing the key, but the one-letter words gave the key away.

Then we took away the spaces. Who needs them? And they make it too easy to break the code. But letter frequency gives it away. English has lots of As and Es and Ns and Ts, and not so many Qs or Zs.

Once students learned to break codes by letter frequency, even with the spaces gone, we decided it was a good thing we didn’t invest in Decoder Rings.

Next we looked at Napoleonic systems, that involved FOUR (4) or MORE (more) Captain Midnight Decoder Rings. That takes us historically up to the US Civil War (the slaveholders used this outdated cipher, some surprise), and in today’s time, up to today. I can show students how to break this system, and why it is eminently breakable, but breaking it is still hard, and only a few will even attempt it on their own. That’s ok. This has been fun. And next i’ll show them some of the mechanics of Enigma, and some of the basics behind modern stuff (Enigma shouldn’t count as modern).

But that’s all background.

Credit

Any part of that I got right, I owe to Dr. Kent Boklan of Queens College who taught a massively enjoyable class on Cryptography when I was on sabbatical. My group (we did group work) got some cipher text encrypted with Enigma, and we broke it. (Yay!).

And any part of the above I got wrong, I owe to not paying close enough attention in class.

That’s also background.

Choice of Text

I have to choose things to encrypt. And then ask a question. I could ask “first three sentences” “blah blah” “name of author” etc etc. Or I could ask things like, “Who wrote this, and why is he so angry?” Which I did ask (George Wallace on the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)

I have picked some righteous words. Frederick Douglas, on Caribbean emancipation. Mohammad Ali, on why he would not fight in Viet Nam, Leonard Peltier: “America, when will you live up to your own principles?”

There was a boring abstract from the World Health Organization. It was so loaded down with Cs and Vs (Covid vaccines and variants) that it made the frequencies challenging.

There are classics. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Bells (letter frequencies go off in poetry), the prologue to the Canterbury Tales (some English looks funny, and has skewed frequencies).

Songs. Mail Myself to You (really cute, if you’ve never listened, you should). The Guns of Brixton. This Land is Your Land (lots of As, not so many Es in that one). My Rambling Boy was yesterday.

There was an unfair one (I think I got the key, but it doesn’t look like English). They were correct, it was the first few of the 95 theses. I don’t think anyone broke that one.

Another time they couldn’t get the key. But there were only 12 letters, which was a clue. And a few of them checked, and that sounded like something Polynesian. One guessed, correctly, Hawaiian. And then decrypted the Lords Prayer. Pretty impressive.

Choice of Text

I have also assigned students to encrypt texts of their choice. That’s fun, too.

I get popular songs.

I got “I Have a Dream”

I got a Sponge Bob song.

I got an excerpt from the Hobbit.

I have gotten philosophers. And poets.

An excerpt from the Communist Manifesto.

And a bicycle repair manual.

Last week I got a guide to answering questions on the AP English Language exam.

And a reading from an economics class.

More Fun Than Teaching Logarithms

It’s true.

Probably No Early Retirement Incentive This Year

May 27, 2021 pm31 11:44 pm

Today’s email from Mulgrew held out the smallest glimmer of hope, “We will continue to fight until the final hour.” But the final hour is just about here.

When the NY State legislature included in the state budget a provision that would allow the City to negotiate with unions for an early retirement incentive, some teachers got excited.

But the negotiations bogged down. The City made ridiculous proposals (for some teacher licenses, but not others) that they knew the UFT would never agree to. It does not look like the City is serious. They will probably just run out the clock.

What happened? Here’s my guess.

An incentive would save the City money today, but increase overall pension liability. And, with the COVID economy and scary budget this fall, the City was thinking about the incentive more seriously than in any recent year (An incentive gets raised every single year, but usually dies a quiet death. One assemblyman gets to score points at home for introducing it).

Bureaucracy moves slowly, and the City’s interest in the fall turned into serious legislative moves over the winter, and the adoption of the incentive with the State budget last month.

Bureaucracy moves slowly, but the world doesn’t.

While an incentive was working its way through votes and negotiations and back-room deals, the feds sent money – a huge infusion. But at least some of it is only one-year money. So now the City’s immediate situation was much brighter, but with questions about the future.

The City might have gone for the incentive if they were short money today, but were good a couple years down the line. Now they saw their situation as the opposite: today’s money is good, but after that?

The City lost its incentive to pursue the incentive.

But there was already a bill. The City had already committed to negotiate with unions.

The City got what it asked for in November, but no longer wants it in May

So that’s where we are now. The City got what it asked for in November, but no longer wants it in May. Thus the fake negotiating. The demands they know are impossible. The City has every reason to run out the clock. Which, I believe, they are doing.

A year and a day

May 26, 2021 pm31 9:44 pm

Yesterday people wrote meaningful remembrances.

Today I am asking: What’s changed?

One conviction. Almost a thousand more people killed by cops. Police still lying about deaths in custody.

After a few months of outrage and protest – what’s changed?

Why are armed, uniformed police still in charge of traffic stops?

Why are armed, uniformed police still in charge of dealing with the mentally ill?

Why has there been no discernible change in policing?

There is certainly more awareness today, among white people, that police treat Black people differently.

But after that horrible video (and how many other videos?), after those massive protests, after those demands for real change – shouldn’t we have done more than raise awareness?

Oh, that change is still needed, desperately.

I’m glad to see Trump gone from the White House, but that’s not the change I’m talking about. And that change, having a new president, is that going to change policing? Of course, of course, I know lots of people who say “of course” but let’s see that change before we are so sure it’s coming.

Where is that change?

Why do police have military weaponry? Why are traffic stops done by men with guns and tasers? Why do those men go to domestic disputes? Get called to deal with disturbed individuals?

Why haven’t we thought about other ways to keep ourselves safe?

“Modern” police forces have only been around 150 years or so. How else could we keep communities safe? Without killing young men. Black young men.

Armed. Uniformed. Military command structure. Not from the communities they serve/occupy (which one depends on the community, right?)

Magnets for racists. Sadists. Brutes.

There’s got to be better than “modern” police forces. What is it? Why aren’t the papers and commentators talking about it?

Where is the rich discussion? The debate? Where is the progress?

This is urgent, but a year has passed.

Something has to change.

And “soon” is a tired answer.

UFT Makes Endorsements in May that it Rejected in April

May 16, 2021 pm31 1:19 pm

In April the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly rejected a package of endorsements, including Comptroller, Brooklyn Borough President, and some City Council Members, 55% – 45%. It was a highly unusual occurrence – the DA, while occasionally noisy, is a fairly reliable rubber stamp for the leadership. Since I’ve been attending (2000), I do not recall a leadership resolution being rejected.

In May the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly ratified the same endorsements, this time presented singly or in small groups. The votes ranged from 82% – 18% to 88% – 12%. All passed, all had a bit of opposition, but really not much. (at this DA 6% voted no on everything – so 94% would have been as close to unanimous as we would have gotten).

In April there were two speakers against the endorsement package:

  • Dave Pecoraro, a retired teacher and former chapter leader, objected to Corey Johnson for Comptroller and preferred Dave Weprin. He urged a No vote on the package, because it was not possible to separate out one race for separate consideration

Johnson, current City Council Speaker, is, in the context of NYC, a mainstream liberal. He is ambitious. He is willing to make deals. He has no special background or knowledge that makes him stand out as a Comptroller candidate. The UFT leadership is very comfortable with him.

Weprin is the son of a New York State politician, and has been a politician (city council, NY State Assembly) for a long time. Pecoraro talked about Weprin’s financial background. I think the demographic (white ethnic, outer borough, not conservative) better explains whatever appeal he has. I believe some of our delegates, especially older white delegates from Queens, are familiar and comfortable with Weprin’s name (they are probably more likely to remember his father, Saul, or have passing acquaintance with his brother, Mark).

(no one mentioned Brad Lander, the clear progressive in the race).

  • Tom McDonough, current chapter leader, mentioned his objections to Johnson, and to the Brooklyn Borough President endorsement not going to Antonio Reynoso (running as a progressive). But then Tom turned on the process. It is not right that the leadership does not present the candidates individually. Delegates should be able to discuss each race.

Tom’s argument probably swung the vote.

Outside of the pandemic, the UFT leadership brings a package of endorsements to the Delegate Assembly, but allows delegates to separate out controversial endorsements. Those are then debated separately, before a vote is taken.

During the pandemic the UFT leadership instituted different rules, including limitations on motions, amendments, and points of order. They are enjoying much higher Delegate Assembly attendance, which they want, and less discussion and debate, which they are happy to avoid.

Gjonaj Endorsed Without Debate

The first batch of endorsements that came up in January, Mulgrew asked for debate. I got in line – I was going to speak against Mark Gjonaj, a real estate lobby shill in the east Bronx who the UFT has shamefully supported in the past. But I did not get in line to make a motion, or to make an amendment. I was going to talk about who Gjonaj is, and why we shouldn’t endorse him. But Mulgrew asked if I wanted to separate him out. Sure. And then LeRoy Barr suggested that under the current rules this wasn’t allowed without a vote to suspend the rules. My mike was cut off without me having said a word about why I had asked to speak. Mulgrew made a motion to suspend the rules, which failed, 41% – 59%.

Mulgrew and Barr must have been slapping each other on the back, having so deftly avoided discussion. Of course, the proper sequence of events would have been Mulgrew asking “Jonathan, do you want to make a motion to suspend the rules?” to which I would have replied, “No, I will speak against the entire package” – but my mike was cut off, I had no way to object to the abuse.

Made You Look

But they should have paid attention. Their abuse of debate was flagrant, and someone, more than just some ONE, noticed. 41% voted to suspend the rules. That’s a lot of people. How many delegates know who Mark Gjonaj is? Maybe 5%? Maybe 10? In any case, rather than being so pleased with themselves, Mulgrew and Barr should have been concerned about so many delegates voting yes on such a small procedural resolution. At subsequent DA’s versions and variations of the same thing happened. One motion to suspend the rules actually passed.

Two fourth graders playing “Made you look” can play for hours and think they are amazingly clever, and not notice that no one around them is entertained.

This year active participation at DAs is way down. Conversation has become non-existent. Processes are less democratic. But attendance is up, way up. We dial in, instead of taking the train to Wall Street. And, sadly, we have time. Maybe attendance has more than doubled? Lots of regular teachers are tuning in on the phone conference, listening to reports, voting, listening to questions, and listening to debate, as minimal as it may be, for the first time. And regular delegates are hearing Michael Mulgrew, as clever as he thinks he is, playing “made you look.”

I don’t think 55% wanted David Weprin. I don’t think 55% wanted an all-progressive slate. I think most of that 55% agreed that the candidates should be presented and discussed individually, and further, that Mulgrew’s juvenile procedural shenanigans should stop.

Theory Confirmed – May DA

In May Pecoraro tried to get a Weprin endorsement on the agenda. It failed, 25% – 75%. Then Unity put up their Johnson endorsement. It passed 82% – 18%. Also, there were at least 6% voting no on every single vote. Look at 25 minus 6 is 19 and 18 minus 6 is 12. The support for Weprin was somewhere between 12% and 19%. Call it 15%.

In April, 55% voted down the Unity leadership’s endorsements. Around 5% vote no on everything. 15% or so wanted to support Weprin. That puts around 35% voting no because they objected to Mulgrew’s procedure. This “don’t be a jerk” vote is a breath of fresh air.

I have heard speculation that some Unity delegates must have voted no. I’m not so sure about that. I certainly have not heard from any. But I did notice Pecoraro openly breaking discipline. That’s unusual. But he won’t be a Unity delegate any more. As LeRoy once explained to me, their delegates need to vote in “lock step.”

Grumbles

I did hear grumbling about how long it took to get through all the endorsements. Starting with Mulgrew himself, several times during the process. And I heard more after the DA. The Assembly went until – I think 6:25 – we are usually done at 6.

But the extra time was not the delegates’ fault. Mulgrew’s over-long report can be shorter. What did he take, almost a full hour? And how much rambling and talking in circles was there? Better-prepared and better-disciplined he could have gotten us the same information in considerably less time.

But put the report aside. Assume the delegates like his style (I don’t know about that, but for the sake of this comment, let’s accept it). There was no need to make four or five separate endorsement resolutions (each with a too-long motivation, followed by 1. a Unity speaker using a prepared text, 2. another Unity speaker with a prepared text, Mulgrew asking for a speaker against, and getting 3. one speaker against, followed by 4. a final Unity speaker with a prepared text/summation.)

Instead, change the standing pandemic rules to allow any delegate to separate out any individual candidate – just like we did pre-pandemic. One resolution. A couple candidates would have been separated out for debate. Probably the same result.

UFT Delegate Assembly – Who will talk about health care and Stringer?

May 12, 2021 pm31 4:46 pm

Scott Stringer, collecting endorsements, including the UFT’s, ran into a sexual harassment allegation. What will the UFT do?

Retiree health care, stable for years, the Chief broke a story that the Municipal Labor Coalition, including the UFT, are negotiating with the City to move to Medicare Advantage. There is much worry and concern, and the UFT leadership has been attempting to put out the fires.

Delegates Unlikely to be Allowed to Debate Medicare, Stringer

So here we are, UFT Delegate Assembly, two huge issues in front of us, and what will the delegates do?

My prediction: Nothing.

Not because that is what delegates necessarily want, but the UFT’s Unity leadership is unlikely to allow any discussion.

Mulgrew will discuss (and spin) both in his report. It will be a long report (it always is) and he will play down both issues.

Delegates might ASK about either issue in the Question Period – but that’s not discussion – and Mulgrew’s answers will be far, far longer than any question.

New Motions Period – Unity Obstructs the Process

And in the New Motions period? Those ten minutes are the only real time that a delegate can introduce an item for discussion? Nope. Apparently Unity rigged the system.

There is a system. A UFT email goes out on Sunday. And delegates can respond by submitting a reso. First come, first served? Hmm. The first two resolutions up for discussion were introduced by Unity members. If they were submitted first, that had to have been done with coordination by the leadership. And there is real question about when things were actually submitted. At least two of the resolutions on the agenda are listed out of the order in which they were submitted (according to the submitters, and the return receipt timestamps from the UFT).

Here’s the list:

  • Motion No. 1 — Resolution to celebrate Provider Appreciation Day (submitted by Tammie
    Miller)
  • Motion No. 2 — Resolution in support of School Nurse Appreciation Day (submitted by
    Cynthia Bennett)
  • Motion No. 3 — Motion to endorse David Weprin for New York City comptroller (submitted
    by David Pecoraro)
  • Motion No. 4 — Motion to move the resolution on Medicare Advantage to the top of the
    agenda (submitted by Peter Allen-Lamphere)
  • Motion No. 5 — Resolution calling for the UFT to rescind its endorsement of Scott Stringer
    (submitted by Ariela Rothstein)
  • Motion No. 6 — Resolution to increase union participation and build a stronger union
    through hybrid in-person or virtual participation and voting options (submitted by Daniel
    Alicea)
  • Motion No. 7 — Resolution for transparency in health care negotiations with New York City
    (submitted independently by David Price, William Russell, Caroline Sykora and Alex Reich on
    behalf of Retiree Advocates/UFT)
  • Motion No. 8 — Resolution in support of school libraries at summer school sites (Submitted
    by Roy Whitford)

Order of Submission was Manipulated

Since the email went out at 12 noon, and the rescind Stringer reso was submitted at 12:03, something is going on funny. #4, #5, #6, and #7 are all topics that Mulgrew does not want delegates to debate. And Mulgrew, almost certainly, will slow down #1 and #2 so that they come up. I don’t know if he will let #3 come up.

Timing can be rigged; Timing has been rigged in the past

Does Mulgrew really rig the timing to keep motions from being introduced? Absolutely. Just this past November, I had a resolution up, it was #2 on the list. Mulgrew did not want it to come up (It was a call to end blended learning, which would have been a big shift since no one pushed blended more than the UFT leadership). #1 ended. Three minutes left. Mulgrew just talked. Filled the time. Filibustered. Ran out the clock. Yes, he rigs the timi

“Stuffing” the Agenda

To avoid the filibuster, Unity submitted “filler” resolutions to eat up agenda time. Tammie Miller belongs to the UFT Executive Board, and can submit resolutions there. They are, I think, very short meetings. Lots of time. I don’t know if Cynthia Bennett belongs to the Executive Board, but she certainly attended them back when I was a member. Why go through New Motions at the DA where there are only ten minutes available, and not do it at the Exec Board where time is unlimited?

Stringer?

Should the endorsement be rescinded? It should be discussed.

Mulgrew will announce that he referred it back to the committee that made the recommendation. The propriety of such a move is dubious. The committee made a recommendation to the Delegate Assembly. It is the DA that should decide whether to refer an issue to that committee. But the goal here seems to be to keep the debate away from the delegates.

Health Care?

I have more to say about this. This is a huge topic. Healthcare for members is coming up next, healthcare for retirees now. Big stuff. The proposed changes are in some ways not that serious. But they are also horrendous. This is a huge topic, and needs serious discussion and debate.

But for now, should this process stop while delegates discuss this? Absolutely. Will that happen? Absolutely not. Mulgrew is reporting right now. There may be a question – which Mulgrew will give a long answer to. And that, as Unity wishes, will be it.

Why?

Unity never likes discussion that it does not control. But after the April DA, when the delegates rejected Unity’s political endorsements, they must be terrified.

Long report. Half an hour of questions (which is a Good Thing). But delegates do not debate hot issues. The leadership does not want that to happen.

Health Care Savings

May 9, 2021 am31 11:11 am

October 19, 2019, I experienced abdominal pain. Maybe a touch of food poisoning – it’ll pass. But no, it only got worse. I was breaking into cold sweat. The pain was getting worse. Some sort of blockage? Appendicitis? Worse? I considered the emergency room, thought about it, delayed, but with another burst of pain, I went.

The pain must have hit 9. I almost passed out. The doctor quickly diagnosed a kidney stone. An IV drip was amazing. The blood work showed a really high white blood count. Sign of an infection. They were getting ready for emergency surgery. After a scan they hesitated. They did more blood work – the wbc came down – it must have been elevated by the pain. The next morning they sent me home.

I called this piece “Health Care Savings” – but where’s the savings?

  • For me? No savings.
  • For the hospital? No savings.
  • For the City? So, that’s interesting. It’s not really the City. I’ll get back to that.

But whoever pays the bills had two chances at savings, and cashed in on one of them.

First Savings – I Paid Extra

The obvious savings was my copay. I paid a $150 copay. Before the previous round of negotiations, it had been a $50 copay. So that’s a $100 LOSS for me, and a $100 SAVINGS for – for who exactly? Good question.

Because the union leadership and the City agreed that too much was being spent on healthcare, they agreed to work together to hold down costs. My copay absolutely did not go to the union – but the union absolutely got credit with the city for all of the additional copay money. The union meets its “cost savings” obligation by members paying for what the city used to pay for.

Second Savings – (didn’t happen) –

I paused before I went to the emergency room. That copay, $150, is significant. The “savings” (to the city, with credit to the union for meeting its obligation to lower costs) would have occurred if I had not gone to the ER. UFT leadership was quite open with us, people were using the ER when they didn’t need to – and the stiff copay was meant to decrease ER visits.

But I really had to go. That pain was intense – I almost passed out from it. And abdominal pain? A blockage, given my family history, would have been an emergency. Appendicitis would have been an emergency. The kidney stone might have been an emergency (I am glad they controlled the pain and waited and looked again – and realized it was not an emergency – all the same, I still underwent a procedure in January to have it removed). And there was no way I could know which of these it was, or none of them at all. Teledoc? Without a doctor feeling my belly, without bloodwork, without a CAT scan, and without appropriate (non-opiate) pain-killers? Urgent Care? That’s now a fifty dollar copay, for someone who would have sent me to the emergency room.

Nobody stopped me from using the medically necessary services. They just made me pause. They almost discouraged me from doing what I had to do.

When Someone Says “Savings”:

  • Ask, who is saving?
  • What are they saving?
  • Who is it costing?

In my case, the City, with the UFT leadership’s help, saved money by taking it out of my pocked. In my case, the City, with the UFT leadership’s help, tried to save by discouraging me from using medically necessary services. They did not succeed.

Member pays more. Member gets less service. Whoever is saving, it’s not the member.

The Medical-Industrial Complex - OtherWords

A year and a half ago I closed like this:

I only thought for one second about the copay. How about a beginning teacher, with debt? Is the copay high enough to discourage someone at the bottom of our pay scale from making a medically necessary trip to the Emergency Room?

How about we stop calling health care concessions “cost saving changes” and start calling them “life threatening changes”? And then how about we stop making them.

Triple Digit Copays

The next questions should be: why does the union leadership participate in reducing the benefit to members – and are there alternatives.

A NYC Teacher Blogger Fell, 1 Year Ago Today

May 5, 2021 pm31 4:54 pm

Eric “Chaz” Chasanoff was one of the best-known New York City teacher bloggers. He was an exceptional advocate for teachers, and a opponent of arbitrary and unfair policies.

Eric wrote regularly for well over a decade. He started in 2006. And he didn’t stop, until COVID stopped him.

During the pandemic he was writing every two or three days. On April 26 he wrote about reducing administrative costs, and not school budgets. And then… Silence. On May 2 I wrote to him. He was already sick, and did not respond. I didn’t know. I wrote to other bloggers, to his UFT borough office. And then we learned.

Eric was a weatherman – on TV – before he was a teacher. He became an earth science teacher. Earth Science Eric. Read here as James Eterno, his UFT Chapter Leader at Jamaica HS, talks about Eric.

Eric wrote about teacher issues. He wrote about teacher financial issues – pension, TDA. He wrote about problem schools, and problem administrators. He wrote about good work the UFT did, and he wrote about serious problems with the UFT.

Eric was independent, and fiercely so. He belonged to no caucus. Every election he endorsed people from each caucus, including some from Unity. I am proud that each time I ran, he endorsed me.

Eric was not a leftist, as some critics of the UFT leadership are. His views tended to be a bit left of center, but they varied, issue to issue. In the last presidential election he lived through, he did not vote for Donald Trump or for Hillary Clinton. I believe, had he lived, he would not have voted in 2020 for Trump or for Biden.

Eric’s most consistent “politics” were those of fairness. He advocated for fair treatment, again and again, for teachers who the system abused. The system abused Eric, too. Read here as NYC Educator Arthur Goldstein stands up for Eric against twisted charges (this is from 2012).

After that, the NYCDoE put Eric, a highly qualified teacher, in excess. They made him what is often called an “ATR” -forcing him to wander from school to school. But for Eric, that gave him more experience to write about, and more people being victimized by bad administrators or by the system to support.

And that’s what he did. He taught. He advocated. He wrote. He wrote after he retired. And he wrote until one week before his death.

He was missed, immediately. Many bloggers wrote of his passing. I did. Twice. Eric’s memorial page on the “UFT Honors” site is full of tribute.

I will close this post with what I shared on that page:

Eric wrote on his blog Chaz’s School Daze almost two thousand times. Most of his readers, and he had many, did not know his name. He was not writing for recognition, or promotion. He wrote because he cared deeply. He cared about students and schools. He cared about teachers, especially about teachers. And most of all, Eric cared deeply about right and wrong.

I was trying to think of one example that really stood out. And I looked at Eric’s early writings, about politics and teaching and the value of experience – but the one that caught my eye – in his first month on-line – was about a girl’s basketball game. One team’s coach had run up the score badly on a weaker opponent, 137 – 24. Eric, who had coached, was horrified:

  • * Don’t run up the score on an inferior opponent.
  • * Keep your best players out once it is a blowout.
  • * Never embarrass another team.
  • * Show class and be a role model for your players.

It was that same sense of right and wrong that motivated his defense of teachers. And it is that sense of class, and that dedication to fairness that I will remember.

Rest in peace

A year ago – a mathematical giant fell to COVID-19

April 29, 2021 pm30 6:04 pm

John Horton Conway died of COVID-19 on April 11, 2020.

This is two and a half weeks late. I have been looking for something profound to say. I will not find it.

I met Conway in the fall of 2013. I was on sabbatical, trying to take interesting math classes at Queens College. I was happy I found a class in Combinatorics. Logic made sense for me (it turned out to be both challenging and rewarding.) And I needed one more. Someone, probably Kirsten, let me know: “There’s still seats in Number Theory – you have to take Conway” – and I did.

Conway had retired, but I think Kent Boklan brought him out of retirement to teach at Queens College. They were part of the same mathematical genealogy, going back to Davenport and Littlewood. That was good fortune for me, for all of us. Conway’s stroke interfered with his mobility, not his mind, and he clearly enjoyed engaging with students.

Conway was the most famous living mathematician. Maybe. Probably. The Number Theory was fun. But the stories were wonderful. He knew. personally, the guys (almost all men) that we read about. He told us about their work. He did not hide who he liked, who he disliked, who he felt was a genius, and who he felt was not. He talked about people skills (and lack thereof) and questionable politics. I was an idiot for taking notes on quadratic reciprocity, but not on who insulted whom at a cocktail party during a conference in which city.

Conway may well have been the most famous living mathematician. But he was certainly keeping an eye on – it seemed – all the others.

He liked attention, but most students ran off after class. At some point I learned to follow him. In that way I got personal lessons in Doomsday and other stuff. But I remember Doomsday. His lessons sounded a lot like these, except they were in an office, not a bar. And they were a few months before the YouTubes were recorded.

When he died I told my students. I shared the Game of Life. I shared the Randall Munroe tribute. I told a senior with mathematical promise about the Conway knot and its recent solution (turned out, she already knew).

RIP John Conway

https://xkcd.com/2293/

This year I encouraged a student to do a brief project on the Game of Life. And instead of my regular elective, I decided to teach an Intro to Number Theory. I taught my students to appreciate mathematical genealogy, and to recognize some royal lineages, including Conway’s. When we looked at Fermat’s Last Theorem, I gave them a video about Andrew Wiles, wherein Conway was one of the talking heads.

https://playgameoflife.com/

And just now, needing a nice application of congruences, we turned to Doomsday, as Conway conceived of it, as Conway himself described it. My students watched the videos that are posted just above. And I shared with them how John showed off his speed, which was well known. When I was in the office he also showed off his intricate knowledge of the dates of adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, which is a bit more than one might think, since in the place of today’s Germany were maybe 50 or 100 individual states – some of which adopted, switched back, and adopted again.

I wish I could have found something profound to say here. But in the almost three weeks I have been stalling, I have shared with my students bits of the playfulness with which John Horton Conway approached mathematics. Maybe that’s a better tribute than the words I could not find.

Progress on Early Retirement Incentive

April 20, 2021 pm30 6:17 pm

Yesterday, in Albany, Andrew Cuomo signed the budget bill containing the incentive. Now it is up to the NYC Mayor and the City Council and the municipal unions to work something out.

A few points, before I share the UFT email I received today:

  1. It is up to the mayor, city council, and unions to work things out – including which titles are covered. I think the bill says “non-uniformed.” No one is included until/unless there is a deal, and there is no guarantee a particular group will be included (if there is a deal at all)
  2. The UFT, if there is a deal, will send out a lot of specific information. There are many, many questions, and until there is a deal in hand and a pension fact sheet (or better, specialist) in front of you, they will remain questions.
  3. Yes, there may be other unions involved.

One very specific point – I have read the relevant section of the bill – I don’t see any provision that wavies the penalty for retiring before 55. I’m not a pension specialist, and better information will come out… but I think 53 comes with a penalty, whether or not there is an incentive. Certainly you should wait for definitive information to come out, but….

And a curious point about the UFT email. Look who they do not mention – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. The UFT’s Unity leadership has a track record of not criticizing Cuomo. Last April he took away our Spring Break (5 days), and Mulgrew sent out an email saying this was a Good and Thoughtful Decision. (And then de Blasio took away Passover and Good Friday (2 days) and Mulgrew went ballistic.) So why does Mulgrew mention de Blasio, the City Council, and the State Legislature, but skip over randy Andy? If you have a guess, I’d be curious to hear it.

Here’s the UFT email (I lost the formatting in the cut and paste. WordPress has a new editor, and I don’t know it yet)

Jonathan, we are one step closer to an early retirement incentive.

The state Legislature included an early retirement incentive in the final budget, which the governor signed on Monday. It puts us one step closer to securing the benefit before the summer. But there is still one more hurdle: reaching an agreement with the mayor and the City Council. We hope we can reach an agreement that provides this well-deserved opportunity for many of our members. We will work hard to negotiate these crucial details as quickly as possible.Please be patient. We will share the details with you as soon as we reach an agreement with City Hall.
The UFT convinces state legislature to include early retirement incentive in state budget
The UFT negotiates program details with mayor and city council
Members will be notified with details and invited to attend information sessions
While You Wait

The UFT website and your retirement system’s website are packed with helpful information about retirement. Once an agreement is reached, we will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

UFT Retirement Toolkit.
TRS Website
. BERS Website

UFT Endorsement Process

April 19, 2021 pm30 10:23 pm

The United Federation of Teachers just picked a candidate to endorse for Mayor (Scott Stringer – he received 90% of the up or down vote).

Better Process

This has been a better process than previous campaigns – by far. Apparently the leadership took everyone who volunteered. That’s a change from the past. The Town Halls were like infomercials – but slick and well-run, and informative.

I did not participate (other than watching the final town hall – which Mulgrew ran nicely). I did not realize that the process was changed to allow all of us to participate (last time I had checked, members of other caucuses had a hard time getting in the door). But more than that, with ten serious candidates and many more not as serious candidates, this was going to be an enormous time sink. I chose to put my time into my chapter and my teaching.

This was very different from eight years ago. In 2013 I went to meetings with Mulgrew and the candidates – but we weren’t really participating – and there wasn’t much attempt to get input from us. But 2013 was already an improvement over what had come before.

Low Bar

But doing a better job than in the past is a pretty low bar.

Everyone knows the UFT’s track record with picking mayoral winners for the past couple of decades has been, ahem.

I guess I would say that making a bad pick while standing up for our values, our members, our profession – that would be completely understandable. But, hmm hmm…

What Pay? What Play? Hevesi 2001

We never learned what conversation between Randi Weingarten and Alan Hevesi led to the bizarre UFT 2001 endorsement. We do know that Hevesi was later found to have engaged in quite a bit of pay for play. I wish I knew what was in their conversation. In any case, Hevesi finished four out of four. The UFT went on to endorse in the runoff (finished second out of two), and then in the general (finished second out of two). One election, three last place endorsements.

2009 Cowardice in the Face of a Bully

We know what happened in 2009. I know, because I was there. Bloomberg rigged the works to run for a third term. He had done amazing damage to the school system in his first two terms. Did anyone know he would do his worst damage in his third term?

Bill Thompson was trailing in the polls, but at 8 points and closing. There were signs that this was going to be a closer election than in 2001, or 2005. So we stand up to Bloomberg, and if we don’t win, at least we go down swinging, fighting for education, fighting for the membership, fighting for what is right? Nope. The UFT leadership was quiet. It became clear they planned to sit out the election, as if not offending Bloomberg might do us some good. I got up at the October 2009 Delegate Assembly to move an endorsement of Bloomberg’s opponent – Bill Thompson. Mulgrew argued that by staying out of the election we would get a contract from Bloomberg. LeRoy Barr and Paul Egan got up to procedurally quash my motion, and to argue that Thompson was not viable.

Bloomberg won the election, but by his smallest margin, just over 4 points. Would a UFT endorsement have made a difference? Absolutely, yes. Enough? We don’t know. But that was a completely unnecessary mistake. Oh, and that contract Mulgrew told us we were safeguarding by not endorsing? H-hmm.

Moving Forward

I’m glad that the UFT leadership has seen the need to improve the endorsement process. It looks like they have taken some significant steps in the right direction.

But we should be talking about what went wrong in the past, so that we can learn from it. And so that we don’t repeat it. Open, honest discussion makes us stronger.

It is certainly the right thing, what the leadership has done, involving many more members in the process. But there is information that is not being shared.

Our internal polls – perhaps the fine details, the crosstabs – perhaps there is much that we don’t want to publish. But post-town hall – who impressed you? There are certainly topline numbers that members should have seen.

And the criteria being used to select candidates – what were they – and how were they selected? I know, I know, I heard the talking point – “we want a candidate who is good for education and good for our members” – but that’s general, and there was a specific list. How did that list get made, how do we arrive at specific issues? I personally was delighted that we made class size a huge issue. I wish that it had always been an issue. So something has changed, become better. But how did that happen?

The strength, at least in theory, of the union, of any union, is in members taking collective action. That works best when we take collective decisions. And that means discussion – not just members reporting what they think to leadership, and listening to what leadership decides. It means members speaking with members. Honestly, it means active chapters. It means open discussion and debate. It means decision-making involving members, with the direct participation of members and their delegates, rather than in secret.

The town hall process, the broad involvement of members, is a step in the right direction. There is a long way to go.

A year ago, another

April 18, 2021 am30 11:21 am

Actually, a year and three days. Jonathan Leventon, New Action supporter and Exec Board member, died from COVID-19 on April 15, 2020.

Jon had retired from teaching some years earlier. He continued for some time to be involved directly in UFT activity, serving on the UFT Organizing Committee in Queens.

Jon was a direct victim of Andrew Cuomo – at the time of his death he was living in a nursing home on Long Island.

A year ago today, another loss

April 11, 2021 am30 3:53 am

A UFT Executive Board Meeting is wrapping. I’m not sure when. Not in the last two years. I’d disagreed with Mulgrew. Or Weingarten. Or Michael Mendel (I miss Michael). Or maybe a DR meeting, and I had spoken sharply.

Whatever. The meeting is over, and a slight figure, smiling, comes over, to explain that I spoke well, but that there really was no disagreement. Well-intentioned. So well-intentioned that it was tempting to overlook that he was wrong about the disagreement. Winston Slivera.

Winston was warm and friendly. He thought people should get along. I never saw him cross or angry or even annoyed. I often saw him at citywide meetings and Bronx meetings. Always smiling. I think the last I spoke to him he was saying it was a shame that I was no longer on the Executive Board (this from a member of Unity Caucus).

Winston had been a science teacher at Truman High School in the Bronx, a chapter leader, and in retirement a staffer in the Bronx office. Here’s more about him.

A year ago today Winston died of COVID-19.

Please, just tell us the truth

April 10, 2021 pm30 2:09 pm

On Thursday the New York City Department of Education got rid of the “two cases” rule – a holdover from September. If there were two unlinked cases in a school, that school would be closed. The UFT had fought to maintain that rule. This may have been viewed as a loss. In place of “two cases” are new protocols, not as strong, but that may protect members.

On Thursday Michael Mulgrew wrote to members: “A new protocol for school closures.” (full text at the bottom of this post). He outlined the new closure protocols. But he did not say that the “two case” rule had been eliminated. The biggest part of the news, he just skipped it.

This was not a media release. Sometimes we need to spin for the media. I get that. This was a letter to the members. We deserve the truth. Just tell us the truth.

Today the New York City Department of Education got its way, and will move to a 3 foot rule, instead of the 6 foot rule we had been working with. The New York State Department of Health issued new guidance. The UFT had fought to maintain the 6 foot rule. This will be viewed as a loss. There are a host of places where 6 will remain the rule, but our members, especially in elementary school, will feel this loss directly.

(as an aside – really belongs in a separate post – school lunch will be especially problematic).

Today Michael Mulgrew wrote to members: “Update on CDC’s 3-foot rule.” (full text at the bottom of this post). He minimizes the effect of the new ruling, and fails to identify serious challenges it causes.

This was not a media release. Sometimes we need to spin for the media. I get that. This was a letter to the members. We deserve the truth. Just tell us the truth.

Text of Thursday, April 8 e-mail, Michael Mulgrew to members, in which he fails to mention that we lost the two-case rule:

Dear Jonathan,

Since September, our stringent safety policies have proven successful — keeping the percentage who test positive within our schools low throughout the year. Thankfully, as school staff get more access to the vaccine, the number of adults accounting for new positive cases in our schools is decreasing.

But our children don’t have access to the vaccine yet, and we need to keep monitoring them inside schools to keep them safe. While the mayor has been fixated on removing the two-case rule for some time, we knew we must follow the science and the advice of our independent medical experts during any change in policy. Our independent medical experts have advised us to shift our attention from unlinked cases within schools to the cases within schools that can be traced to a common source. Our focus should shift to even greater monitoring inside the schools. We need to maintain a strong pulse on what’s happening in our schools to avoid spread.

We understand that as circumstances and science evolve, policies should shift to keep up. We have negotiated with City Hall to create a new protocol for closing classrooms and schools that will take effect on Monday, April 12. The goal of these negotiations was to preserve our current level of safety, mitigating spread within schools, while reducing classroom disruptions for our members, students and families.

Here are the details of the new protocol for classroom and school closures:We will continue our very strong classroom closure rule. If there is a positive case found within a classroom, that classroom must move to remote learning for 10 days.If any school has two or more positive cases in different classrooms within seven days, in addition to moving those classrooms to remote learning for 10 days, testing will be increased to 40 percent for that school building for the next weekly testing cycle.If four or more cases are found in different classrooms within one school in a seven-day period, and those cases can be traced to a common exposure within the school, the entire school will move to remote learning for 10 days.Co-located schools within buildings will be considered separate from each other, as long as the schools can prove that there is no physical interaction with the other schools.It’s been a long road, but as a city, we are making progress against this virus. We have undergone so many changes this year, and I know how flexible you have been to provide as much stability as possible for the students you serve. These new safety protocols will take us through June and give us more consistency while continuing to keep us all safe.
Sincerely,Michael Mulgrew's SignatureMichael Mulgrew
UFT President

Text of Saturday, April 10 e-mail, Michael Mulgrew to members, in which he minimizes the change, and oddly blames a judge instead of the New York State Department of Health (compare, for example, this article from Politico):

Dear Jonathan,

There have been many conversations over the last few weeks about the CDC’s recent recommendation to reduce social distancing between students to three feet in classrooms. Now, in the middle of these discussions, an upstate judge has ordered the state Department of Health to issue guidance on the new rules. Local school districts, including New York City, must plan how to implement the new guidelines by working together with all stakeholders.

Your safety remains the top priority, along with the safety of your families, your students, and their families.

After all that we have been through since the start of this pandemic, it was our hope that there would be no further changes. But this is the unfair world we are all living and working in. We know that many times those in charge make decisions without realizing that we are the ones who have to do the hard work of implementing these changes.

Under the new state guidelines, school staff must still maintain six feet from other adults and from students. The guidance also says students must maintain six feet apart in any public area, such as gyms, hallways and lunchrooms. Students and teachers must be in distinct cohorts throughout the day.

With the wide availability of vaccines and our other safety protocols still in place, we are in a good position. But we need to remain vigilant. In the coming days, we will be taking all steps to make sure that any school that moves to the three-foot guidance can do so safely.

The immediate impact of this change will be limited to predominantly elementary schools where space limitations mean some students now attend fewer than five days a week.

As we near the final stretch of this difficult school year, your patience and perseverance are appreciated. We will be in touch with more information as soon as it’s available.
Sincerely,Michael Mulgrew's SignatureMichael Mulgrew
UFT President

A Year Ago – remembering

April 8, 2021 pm30 6:01 pm

By April 6, 2020 my world was on its head. COVID was in NYC. I had decamped to near Lake Champlain. I was teaching, or trying to teach, via a computer. It was hard. And it was exhausting. And the news was relentless. Trump was horrible, but de Blasio and Cuomo were behaving like clowns – but clowns whose decisions affect millions of lives. It was too much. I’d lost a second cousin to the pandemic, but I didn’t know yet. And a colleague had passed in an auto accident a week earlier – maybe the trip was somehow connected. An alumni’s father died on the 4th. A peace officer at my school died on the 4th.

My school was started in 2002. I was there from the first. it is a specialized high school. But in those first years the student body was fairly integrated. A few years later we saw a shift, slow at first, and then not slow. We became one of the whitest NYC public high schools outside of Staten Island. There is a story there, a long one, about getting the faculty then our school community on board to address this, and the progress we have – and importantly – have not made. But that’s for another time.

I mention the segregation issue to mention one initiative in particular: our Local Outreach Tutoring Program (LOT). We started LOT four years ago. Me and some students did outreach to local middle schools, more or less walking distance from my school. Kids come after school, we do some activity, then some math enrichment and ELA enrichment. Sometimes there’s SHSAT test prep. And when I say “we” I mean our juniors and seniors. They organize, plan, and teach/tutor.

When I heard a Bronx AP had died from COVID-19 on on April 6, 2020, I checked to see the name and the school. It was my LOT contact from 95. I did not know her well. We met once, when I visited their school. We corresponded occasionally. But an educator. With a family. About my age.

I was fortunate to be near woods. I went outside, and walked, and breathed. Deep breaths. Empty shelves of toilet paper were strange. People dying was frightening, overwhelming. I was glad to be far away. I told myself I was safe. But I was alone.

An Early Retirement Incentive Exists! But, what does it say?

April 6, 2021 pm30 9:31 pm

Seriously, can you read this?

Please tell us what it says.

This is from the New York State budget, just passed, or in the process of passing. Here’s the source.

  9    Section 1. This act enacts into law  components  of  legislation  that
    10  would enable the city of New York and the board of education of the city
    11  of  New  York to offer a temporary retirement incentive to their employ-
    12  ees, as well as to provide an age 55/25 years  temporary  incentive  for
    13  certain  public  employees.  Each component is wholly contained within a
    14  Subpart identified as Subparts A and B.  The  effective  date  for  each
    15  particular  provision  contained within such Subpart is set forth in the
    16  last section of such Subpart. Any provision  in  any  section  contained
    17  within  a  Subpart,  including  the effective date of the Subpart, which
    18  makes reference to a section "of this act", when used in connection with
    19  that particular component, shall be deemed to  mean  and  refer  to  the
    20  corresponding  section of the Subpart in which it is found, unless noted
    21  otherwise.  Section three of this act contains a severability clause for
    22  all provisions contained in each Subpart of this Part. Section  four  of
    23  this act sets forth the general effective date of this Part.
    24    § 2. Legislative findings. The legislature finds and declares that the
    25  retirement  benefits  provided  for  in this act are designed to achieve
    26  cost-savings for public employers and to avoid layoffs of public employ-
    27  ees in this time of fiscal need.  Therefore,  the  retirement  incentive
    28  benefit  provided  for  in Subpart A of this act and the age 55/25 years
    29  retirement benefit provided for in Subpart B of this  act  are  intended
    30  only to be temporary in nature for employees who are eligible to receive
    31  and  qualify for the applicable benefit during the applicable time peri-
    32  ods specified within each Subpart. Further, nothing in this act shall be
    33  construed to create an expectation of a future or continuing  retirement
    34  benefit for any public employee who is not eligible to receive and qual-
    35  ify  for  the retirement benefits in this act during the applicable time
    36  periods.
 
    37                                  SUBPART A
 
    38    Section 1. Definitions. As used in this act, unless the context clear-
    39  ly requires otherwise:
    40    a. "Retirement system" means the New York  city  teachers'  retirement
    41  system,  the  New  York city board of education retirement system or the
    42  New York city employees' retirement system, exclusive of the  retirement
    43  plans established pursuant to sections 13-156 and 13-157 of the adminis-
    44  trative code of the city of New York.
    45    b.  "Teachers'  retirement  system"  means the New York city teachers'
    46  retirement system.
    47    c. (a) "Participating employer" means the city  of  New  York  or  the
    48  board of education of the city of New York.
    49    (b) "Educational employer" means a participating employer which is the
    50  board of education of the city of New York.
    51    d.  "Eligible employee" means a person who is a member of a retirement
    52  system who is an employee of the city of New York or the board of educa-
        S. 2509--C                         184                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  tion of the city of New York,  but  such  term  shall  not  include  the
     2  following persons:
     3    (a) elected officials, judges or justices appointed to or serving in a
     4  court of record;
     5    (b)  chief administrative officers of employers which participate in a
     6  teachers' retirement system; and
     7    (c) appointed members of boards or commissions any  of  whose  members
     8  are appointed by the governor or by another public officer or body;
     9    e.  "Eligible  title"  means any title where a certain number of posi-
    10  tions in that title, as identified by agency, department, work  location
    11  or  appointing authority, as the case may be, would otherwise be identi-
    12  fied for layoff but for this act because of  economy,  consolidation  or
    13  abolition of functions, curtailment of activities or otherwise. However,
    14  an  eligible  title can also include a title as identified by an agency,
    15  department, work location or appointing  authority  in  which  positions
    16  would  not  be eliminated but into which employees in titles affected by
    17  layoff can be transferred or reassigned pursuant to  the  civil  service
    18  law,  rule  or regulation. The determination of eligible titles shall be
    19  made by the chief executive officer of the city of  New  York  or  other
    20  comparable official of a participating employer.
    21    f.  "Active  service"  means  service while being paid on the payroll,
    22  provided that (a) a leave of absence with pay  shall  be  deemed  active
    23  service; (b) other approved leave without pay not to exceed twelve weeks
    24  prior  to  the  commencement  of the designated open period; and (c) the
    25  period of time subsequent to a June school term and on or before  August
    26  31  of the year for which an open period is designated for a teacher (or
    27  other employee employed on a school-year  basis)  who  is  otherwise  in
    28  active  service on the effective date of this act shall be deemed active
    29  service.
    30    g. "Open period" means the period beginning with the commencement date
    31  as defined in subdivision h of this section and shall not be  more  than
    32  ninety  days  nor  less  than thirty days in length, as specified by the
    33  participating employer; provided however that any such period shall  not
    34  extend  beyond  October  31,  2021  for participating employers, and not
    35  beyond August 31, 2021 for educational employers.  For the  purposes  of
    36  retirement  pursuant  to this act, a service retirement application must
    37  be filed with the appropriate retirement system not less  than  fourteen
    38  days  prior  to  the  effective  date of retirement to become effective,
    39  unless a shorter period of time is permitted under law.
    40    h. "Commencement date" means the first day  the  retirement  incentive
    41  authorized  by this act shall be made available, which shall mean a date
    42  or dates on or after the effective date of this act to be determined  by
    43  a  participating employer. The chief executive officer or other compara-
    44  ble official of a participating employer shall notify the heads  of  the
    45  appropriate retirement systems of the dates of each open period prior to
    46  the commencement dates of such periods.
    47    § 2. The determination of whether a title shall be considered eligible
    48  shall  consider  whether the reduction of a specific number of positions
    49  within a title would unacceptably:
    50    a. Directly result in a reduction of the level of service required  or
    51  mandated  to protect and care for clients of a participating employer or
    52  to assure public health and safety;
    53    b. Endanger the health or  safety  of  employees  of  a  participating
    54  employer; or
    55    c.  Clearly result in a loss of significant revenue to a participating
    56  employer or result in substantially increased  overtime  or  contractual
        S. 2509--C                         185                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  costs.  However,  any  title may be determined eligible if the vacancies
     2  created can be  controlled  by  the  use  of  transfer  or  reassignment
     3  provisions  of  the  civil  service  law,  rules or regulations or other
     4  deployment of employees.
     5    § 3. a. Eligibility for inclusion in the retirement incentive provided
     6  by  section six of this act shall be determined by seniority for employ-
     7  ees of a participating  employer;  seniority  shall  mean  the  date  of
     8  original permanent appointment in the civil service of the city adjusted
     9  to  include veteran's credits for those entitled to receive such credits
    10  pursuant to sections 80, 80-a  and  85,  if  applicable,  of  the  civil
    11  service law, as established in the official records of the New York city
    12  department of citywide administrative services, regardless of the juris-
    13  dictional classification of the position or the status of the incumbent.
    14    b. All eligible employees serving in eligible titles desiring to avail
    15  themselves  of  the retirement incentive provided by section six of this
    16  act shall provide written notice to his or her employer on or before the
    17  twenty-first day preceding the end of  the  open  period.    Failure  to
    18  provide such written notice shall render the employee ineligible for the
    19  retirement incentive provided by this act.
    20    § 4. a. On or before June 30, 2021, a participating employer may elect
    21  to provide its employees the retirement incentive authorized by this act
    22  by (a) the enactment of a local law, or (b) in the case of a participat-
    23  ing  employer  which  is  not  so  empowered to act by local law, by the
    24  resolution of its governing body; provided  however,  no  local  law  or
    25  resolution  enacted  pursuant to this section shall in any manner super-
    26  sede any local  charter,  provided  further  that,  for  an  educational
    27  employer  such  election must be made by May 31, 2021.  The local law or
    28  resolution shall specify the commencement date of the  program  and  the
    29  length  of the open period or periods.  A copy of such law or resolution
    30  shall be filed with the appropriate retirement system or  systems,  and,
    31  if applicable, on forms provided by such system. The local law or resol-
    32  ution shall be accompanied by the affidavit of the chief executive offi-
    33  cer or other comparable official certifying to the information contained
    34  in subdivision c of this section.
    35    b. The commencement date of an open period for eligible employees of a
    36  retirement  system of the city of New York who elect retirement benefits
    37  pursuant to this section may be up to one hundred eighty days after  the
    38  end  of  the  open  period for other eligible employees, if requested by
    39  such system.
    40    c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the  benefits  provided
    41  by  this  act  shall  not  be  made  available to any person who (a) has
    42  received any retirement incentive authorized by any provision  of  state
    43  law,  or  (b)  who  receives,  has  received or is eligible to receive a
    44  payment in a lump sum or in another form  from  a  retirement  incentive
    45  pursuant  to  the  provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or by
    46  other arrangement with his or her employer, unless such person  files  a
    47  written  statement  with  his  or her employer, a copy of which shall be
    48  forwarded to the appropriate retirement system, that he or she agrees to
    49  waive any right to such payment. If a participating employer has offered
    50  a retirement incentive  pursuant  to  the  provisions  of  a  collective
    51  bargaining  agreement  or  by  other  arrangement,  such  employer shall
    52  prepare, and file with each retirement system,  a  list  containing  the
    53  names  and  social  security  numbers  of  all persons described in this
    54  subdivision. The employer is authorized, however, to exempt  persons  in
    55  its  employ  from  the  provisions of paragraph (b) of this subdivision.
        S. 2509--C                         186                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  Such exemption shall be made part of the election made pursuant to  this
     2  section.
     3    § 5. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any eligible employee
     4  serving in an eligible title who:
     5    a.  has  been  continuously  in  the active service of a participating
     6  employer prior to the commencement date of the applicable open period;
     7    b. files an application  for  service  retirement  that  is  effective
     8  during the open period; and
     9    c.  is otherwise eligible for a service retirement as of the effective
    10  date of the application for retirement shall be entitled to the  retire-
    11  ment  incentive  provided  in  section six of this act. If not otherwise
    12  eligible for a service retirement, the following person shall be  deemed
    13  to satisfy the eligibility condition of this section: a person who is at
    14  least  age fifty with ten or more years service as of the effective date
    15  of retirement (other than a member of a retirement plan  which  provides
    16  for  half-pay  pension  upon  completion  of  twenty-five  years or less
    17  service without regard to age); or a member of a retirement  plan  which
    18  provides  for  half-pay  pension upon completion of twenty-five years of
    19  service without regard to age who has not accrued, excluding  additional
    20  credit  granted  pursuant  to  this  act, the minimum number of years of
    21  service required to retire with an allowance equal to fifty  percent  of
    22  final average salary under such plan, but has, with the inclusion of the
    23  additional  credit provided under this act, accrued such number of years
    24  of credit.
    25    § 6. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an eligible  employee
    26  serving  in an eligible title who is a member of a retirement system and
    27  who is entitled to a retirement incentive pursuant to  section  five  of
    28  this  act  shall receive a retirement incentive of one-twelfth of a year
    29  of additional retirement credit for each year of pension service credit-
    30  ed as of the date of retirement, up to  a  maximum  of  three  years  of
    31  retirement  service credit at the time of retirement, provided, however,
    32  that service credit provided under the provisions of  sections  902  and
    33  911 of the retirement and social security law shall not be included when
    34  calculating  the  additional  retirement credit awarded pursuant to this
    35  act. For the New York city teachers' retirement  system,  the  New  York
    36  city  employees' retirement system and the New York city board of educa-
    37  tion retirement  system  such  incentive  shall  be  available  for  all
    38  purposes,  including  fulfilling  the qualifying service requirements of
    39  plan A and C, if applicable.
    40    An eligible employee who is covered by the provisions of article 15 of
    41  the retirement and social security law shall retire under the provisions
    42  of article 15 of the retirement and social security law. The  amount  of
    43  such  benefit  for  an eligible employee who is covered by article 15 of
    44  the retirement and social security law and retires under the  provisions
    45  of  this  section  (other  than  a  member  with thirty or more years of
    46  service in the New York city employees' retirement system, the New  York
    47  city  teachers'  retirement system, or the New York city board of educa-
    48  tion retirement system) shall be reduced by six percent for each of  the
    49  first  two  years  by  which  retirement  precedes age sixty-two, plus a
    50  further reduction of three percent for each  year  by  which  retirement
    51  precedes age sixty.  Such reduction shall be prorated for partial years.
    52  The  amount of such benefit for an eligible employee with thirty or more
    53  years of service who is a member of the New York city employees' retire-
    54  ment system, the New York city teachers' retirement system, or  the  New
    55  York  city board of education retirement system, or an eligible employee
    56  who is a participant in the optional twenty-five year  early  retirement
        S. 2509--C                         187                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  program  for  certain New York city members governed by section 604-c of
     2  the retirement and social security law, as added by chapter  96  of  the
     3  laws  of  1995  or  a twenty-five year participant in the age fifty-five
     4  retirement  program  governed  by  section  604-i  of the retirement and
     5  social security law, with twenty-five or more years of service  and  who
     6  is covered by article 15 of the retirement and social security law shall
     7  be reduced by five percent for each year by which retirement pursuant to
     8  this  section precedes age fifty-five. The amount of such benefit for an
     9  eligible New York city employee with five or more years of  service  and
    10  who  is a participant in the age fifty-seven retirement program governed
    11  by section 604-d of the retirement and  social  security  law  shall  be
    12  reduced  by  one-thirtieth  for  the first two years by which retirement
    13  precedes age fifty-seven plus a further reduction of  one-twentieth  for
    14  each  year  by which retirement precedes age fifty-five.  Such reduction
    15  shall be prorated for partial years. There shall be no reduction for  an
    16  eligible  New  York  city  employee in a physically taxing position with
    17  twenty-five or more years of service and who is a participant (i) in the
    18  optional twenty-five year early retirement program for  certain  members
    19  governed  by section 604-c of the retirement and social security law, as
    20  added by chapter 96 of the laws of 1995, or (ii) in the age  fifty-seven
    21  retirement  program  governed  by  section  604-d  of the retirement and
    22  social security law.
    23    An eligible employee serving in an eligible title who  is  covered  by
    24  article  11 of the retirement and social security law shall retire under
    25  the provisions of such article. There shall be no reduction  in  retire-
    26  ment  benefit  provided  that  such employee retires with thirty or more
    27  years of service at age fifty-five or older.  The amount of such benefit
    28  for an eligible employee covered by article 11  of  the  retirement  and
    29  social security law other than a member of a teachers' retirement system
    30  with  thirty or more years of service, a participant in the optional age
    31  fifty-five improved benefit retirement program for certain New York city
    32  employees governed by section 445-d of the retirement and social securi-
    33  ty law, as added by chapter 96 of the laws of 1995, with twenty-five  or
    34  more  years  of service, or a participant in the optional age fifty-five
    35  retirement program for New York city teachers and certain other  members
    36  governed  by  section  445-i  of the retirement and social security law,
    37  with twenty-five or more years of  service,  shall  be  reduced  by  six
    38  percent  for each of the first two years by which retirement pursuant to
    39  this section precedes age sixty-two, plus a further reduction  of  three
    40  percent  for  each  year  by  which  retirement pursuant to this section
    41  precedes age sixty, provided, however, the foregoing reduction shall not
    42  apply in any case where an eligible employee can retire  pursuant  to  a
    43  plan  which  permits  retirement  for service with immediate payability,
    44  exclusive of this act, prior to the age of fifty-five.   Such  reduction
    45  shall  be  prorated for partial years. The amount of such benefit for an
    46  eligible employee who is a member of a teachers' retirement system  with
    47  thirty  or  more  years  of  service,  a participant in the optional age
    48  fifty-five improved benefit retirement program for certain New York city
    49  employees governed by section 445-d of the retirement and social securi-
    50  ty law, as added by chapter 96 of the laws of 1995, with twenty-five  or
    51  more  years  of service, or a participant in the optional age fifty-five
    52  retirement program for New York city teachers and certain other  members
    53  governed  by  section  445-i  of the retirement and social security law,
    54  with twenty-five or more years of service and who is covered by  article
    55  11  of  the  retirement and social security law shall be reduced by five
    56  percent for each year by  which  retirement  pursuant  to  this  section
        S. 2509--C                         188                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  precedes  age  fifty-five.  Such reduction shall be prorated for partial
     2  years. There shall be no reduction for an eligible New York city employ-
     3  ee in a physically taxing position and  who  is  a  participant  in  the
     4  optional  age fifty-five improved benefit retirement program for certain
     5  New York city employees governed by section 445-d of the retirement  and
     6  social  security  law,  as added by chapter 96 of the laws of 1995, with
     7  twenty-five or more years of service.
     8    An eligible employee serving in an eligible title who is  not  covered
     9  by  article  11  or  15  of the retirement and social security law shall
    10  retire under the provisions of the plan by which he or she  is  covered.
    11  The  amount  of  such  benefit shall be reduced by five percent for each
    12  year by which retirement pursuant to this section  precedes  age  fifty-
    13  five,  provided, however, the foregoing reduction shall not apply in any
    14  case where an eligible employee can retire  pursuant  to  a  plan  which
    15  permits  retirement  for service with immediate payability, exclusive of
    16  this act, prior to the age of  fifty-five.    Such  reduction  shall  be
    17  prorated for partial years.
    18    An  eligible employee serving in an eligible title who participates in
    19  a retirement plan which provides for a  retirement  allowance  equal  to
    20  fifty percent of final average salary upon the completion of twenty-five
    21  years  of service without regard to age and who is otherwise eligible to
    22  retire shall retire under the provisions of  such  plan.  Such  employee
    23  shall, at the time of retirement, be credited with one-twelfth of a year
    24  of additional retirement service credit for each year of service credit-
    25  ed  under  such  plan  as  of the date of retirement, up to a maximum of
    26  three years of retirement service  credit.  If  such  employee  has  not
    27  accrued,  excluding  additional credit granted pursuant to this act, the
    28  minimum number of years of service required to retire with an  allowance
    29  equal to fifty percent of final average salary under such plan, but has,
    30  with  the  inclusion  of  the additional credit provided under this act,
    31  accrued such number of years of credit, the benefit payable shall be the
    32  percentage of final average salary that would ordinarily  be  applicable
    33  to such individual upon retirement with such amount of credit (including
    34  incentive  credit), reduced by five per centum per year for each year by
    35  which the number of years of service otherwise required to  retire  with
    36  an  allowance  equal to fifty percent of final average salary under such
    37  plan exceeds the amount of service credited to such employee under  such
    38  plan  at  retirement  (excluding  the  additional  retirement  incentive
    39  service credit provided pursuant to this act). Such reduction  shall  be
    40  prorated for partial years.
    41    §  7.  a.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any termination
    42  pay or leave arising from accrued sick leave or accrued annual leave for
    43  an eligible employee who has elected the retirement  incentive  provided
    44  by  this  act and who is a member of the New York city teachers' retire-
    45  ment system employed by the board of education of the city of  New  York
    46  shall  be  paid  in  three equal installments during a twenty-four month
    47  period commencing on such eligible employee's effective date of  retire-
    48  ment.
    49    b.  An  employee of the city of New York who retires under the retire-
    50  ment incentive provided by this act, who is eligible for terminal  leave
    51  pursuant to an applicable collective bargaining agreement or a personnel
    52  policy  or  rule  or  retirement  leave  pursuant to section 3107 of the
    53  education law or who has an accrued annual leave balance on  the  effec-
    54  tive  date  of  retirement shall be paid in three equal installments two
    55  months, fourteen months and twenty-four months following  such  eligible
    56  employee's effective date of retirement.
        S. 2509--C                         189                        A. 3009--C
 
     1    §  8.  a. A participating employer, if it elects the retirement incen-
     2  tive provided by this act shall be required to demonstrate  the  savings
     3  of their election by either eliminating positions vacated as a result of
     4  an  eligible  employee  in  an  eligible  title  receiving the incentive
     5  provided  by  section  six  of  this act or demonstrating a compensation
     6  savings such that the total amount of base salary paid for the  two-year
     7  period  subsequent to the effective date of retirement for such eligible
     8  employees in eligible titles to new hires, if any, who  otherwise  would
     9  not  have  been  hired by such employer after the effective date of this
    10  act but for the retirement incentive provided herein shall  be  no  more
    11  than  one-half  of  the total amount of base salary that would have been
    12  paid to such eligible employees from their date of retirement  for  such
    13  two-year  period. A participating employer may also demonstrate savings,
    14  however, by identifying a vacant position into  which  another  employee
    15  can  be  appointed,  transferred,  or  reassigned  pursuant to the civil
    16  service law, rules or regulations, in which case the former position  of
    17  the  employee  so  appointed, transferred, or reassigned shall be elimi-
    18  nated.   A participating employer shall make  available  its  plans  for
    19  achieving the savings described herein.
    20    b.  The  New  York city department of citywide administrative services
    21  shall prepare a report designating the title, grade level,  salary,  and
    22  classification,  according to appointing authority, (i) of each position
    23  which is eliminated pursuant to subdivision a of this section,  (ii)  of
    24  each position into which another employee was appointed, transferred, or
    25  reassigned  and  the former position of such employee, and (iii) of each
    26  position which is eliminated as a result of an appointment, transfer  or
    27  reassignment  referred  to  in  paragraph (ii) of this subdivision. Such
    28  report shall be available no later than ninety days after the last  date
    29  of the open period related to such positions.
    30    §  9. Nothing in this act shall be used to provide benefits that shall
    31  exceed the limits contained in section 415 of the internal revenue code.
    32  Provided, however, any service retirement benefit which has been reduced
    33  because of section 415 of the internal revenue code shall  be  increased
    34  when  (and  consistent  with)  the  dollar  limits in section 415 of the
    35  internal revenue code are adjusted by the internal revenue  service  for
    36  cost  of living increases. Such increases shall not increase the benefit
    37  in excess of the service retirement benefit otherwise payable.
    38    § 10. Any eligible employee who retires pursuant to the provisions  of
    39  this act and enters or reenters public service as defined in subdivision
    40  e  of section 210 of the retirement and social security law and joins or
    41  rejoins any public retirement system of the state  shall  if  the  addi-
    42  tional  benefit  was  provided pursuant to: (a) section six of this act,
    43  forfeit the additional benefit authorized by this act at the time of his
    44  or her subsequent retirement; or (b) repay to the participating employer
    45  such additional contribution together with the appropriate  interest  as
    46  determined by the appropriate retirement system.
    47    §  11.  Notwithstanding  any  other  provision  of law, if the service
    48  retirement benefit of a member of a retirement system is  subject  to  a
    49  maximum  retirement  benefit,  the additional benefit authorized by this
    50  act will be computed by multiplying the final average salary  times  the
    51  number  of  years  of  service credit granted by section six of this act
    52  times the benefit fraction of the plan under which such member retires.
    53    § 12. The provisions of section 430 of the retirement and social secu-
    54  rity law shall not apply to any benefit or benefit improvement  provided
    55  by this act.
        S. 2509--C                         190                        A. 3009--C
 
     1    §  13.  The  pension benefit costs of section six of this act shall be
     2  paid by participating employers as provided by applicable law  for  each
     3  retirement  system  covered by this act over a period not to exceed five
     4  years commencing in the fiscal year following the fiscal year  in  which
     5  this act shall have become a law.
     6    §  14. Where an employee is eligible to receive the benefit authorized
     7  under section six and the retirement benefit provided for under  section
     8  five  of  subpart B of this act, such employee may elect a section under
     9  which he or she will participate.    In  no  event  shall  the  benefits
    10  provided  for  in section six of this act be received by any employee in
    11  conjunction with the benefits of section five of subpart B of this act.
    12    § 15. This act shall take effect immediately.
 
    13                                  SUBPART B
 
    14    Section 1. Definitions. As used in this act, unless the context clear-
    15  ly requires otherwise:
    16    a. "Retirement system" means the New York  city  teachers'  retirement
    17  system,  the  New  York city board of education retirement system or the
    18  New York city employees' retirement system, exclusive of the  retirement
    19  plans established pursuant to sections 13-156 and 13-157 of the adminis-
    20  trative code of the city of New York.
    21    b.  "Teachers'  retirement  system"  means the New York city teachers'
    22  retirement system.
    23    c. (a) "Participating employer" means the city  of  New  York  or  the
    24  board of education of the city of New York.
    25    (b) "Educational employer" means a participating employer which is the
    26  board of education of the city of New York.
    27    d.  "Eligible employee" means a person who is a member of a retirement
    28  system of the city of New York and who is an employee of the city of New
    29  York or the board of education of the city of New York who has  attained
    30  age  fifty-five and has at least twenty-five years of creditable service
    31  in a retirement system, but such term shall not  include  the  following
    32  persons:
    33    (a)  elected  officials, judges or justices appointed to or serving in
    34  court of record;
    35    (b) chief administrative officers of employers which participate in  a
    36  teachers' retirement system; and
    37    (c)  appointed  members  of boards or commissions any of whose members
    38  are appointed by the governor or by another public officer or body.
    39    e. "Active service" means service while being  paid  on  the  payroll,
    40  provided  that  (a)  a  leave of absence with pay shall be deemed active
    41  service; (b) other approved leave without pay not to exceed twelve weeks
    42  prior to the commencement of the designated open  period;  and  (c)  the
    43  period  of time subsequent to a June school term and on or before August
    44  31 of the year for which an open period is designated for a teacher  (or
    45  other  employee  employed  on  a  school-year basis) who is otherwise in
    46  active service on the effective date of this act shall be deemed  active
    47  service.
    48    f. "Open period" means the period beginning with the commencement date
    49  as  defined in subdivision g of this section and shall be ninety days in
    50  length; provided however that there shall be only one such  open  period
    51  and any such period shall not extend beyond October 31, 2021 for partic-
    52  ipating  employers.  For  educational  employers who make election after
    53  April 1, 2021, the  open  period  shall  begin  immediately  after  such
    54  election, and shall not extend beyond August 31, 2021.  For the purposes
        S. 2509--C                         191                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  of  retirement  pursuant  to  this act, a service retirement application
     2  must be filed with the appropriate retirement system not less than four-
     3  teen days prior to the effective date of retirement to become effective,
     4  unless a shorter period of time is permitted under law.
     5    g.  "Commencement  date"  means  the  first day the retirement benefit
     6  mandated by this act shall be made available, which shall mean a date or
     7  dates on or after the effective  date  of  this  act  for  participating
     8  employers.   The chief executive officer or other comparable official of
     9  a participating employer  shall  notify  the  head  of  the  appropriate
    10  retirement system of the date of the open periods prior to the commence-
    11  ment dates of such periods.
    12    § 2. A participating employer, if it elects to participate pursuant to
    13  section  three  of  this act shall establish a commencement date for the
    14  retirement benefit established under section five of  this  act  in  the
    15  following  manner: (a) for participating employers that are not the city
    16  of New York, its governing body shall adopt a resolution establishing  a
    17  commencement  date; and (b) for the city of New York the chief executive
    18  officer shall issue an executive order  establishing  such  commencement
    19  date,  provided,  however, no executive order shall in any manner super-
    20  sede any local charter. A copy of any such executive order or resolution
    21  establishing a commencement date shall be  filed  with  the  appropriate
    22  retirement  system  or systems, and, if applicable, on forms provided by
    23  such system. The executive order or resolution shall be  accompanied  by
    24  the  affidavit  of the chief executive officer or other comparable offi-
    25  cial of a participating employer certifying the commencement date.
    26    § 3. a. On or before June 30, 2021, a participating employer may elect
    27  to provide its employees the retirement incentive authorized by this act
    28  by the enactment of a local law or adoption  of  a  resolution  provided
    29  however,  no local law or resolution enacted or adopted pursuant to this
    30  section shall in  any  manner  supersede  any  local  charter,  provided
    31  further  that, for an educational employer such election must be made by
    32  May 31, 2021.  A copy of such law or resolution shall be filed with  the
    33  appropriate  retirement  system or systems, and, if applicable, on forms
    34  provided by such system. The local law shall be accompanied by the affi-
    35  davit of the chief executive officer or other comparable official  of  a
    36  participating employer certifying the validity of such law.
    37    b. The commencement date of an open period for eligible employees of a
    38  retirement  system of the city of New York who elect retirement benefits
    39  pursuant to this section may be up to one hundred eighty days after  the
    40  end  of  the  open  period for other eligible employees, if requested by
    41  such system.
    42    § 4. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any eligible employee
    43  who (a) has been continuously in the active service of  a  participating
    44  employer  prior  to the commencement date of the applicable open period,
    45  (b) files an application for service retirement that is effective during
    46  the open period, and (c) is otherwise eligible for a service  retirement
    47  as  of  the  effective  date  of the application for retirement shall be
    48  entitled to the retirement benefit provided in section five of this act.
    49    § 5. a. Notwithstanding  any  other  provision  of  law,  an  eligible
    50  employee  who  is:  (a)  a  member of a retirement system and (b) who is
    51  entitled to a retirement benefit pursuant to section four  of  this  act
    52  may  retire  during  the open period without the reduction of his or her
    53  retirement benefit that would otherwise be imposed by article 11  or  15
    54  of  the retirement and social security law if he or she has attained the
    55  age of fifty-five and has completed at least twenty-five or  more  years
    56  of  creditable  service.  An  eligible  employee  who  is covered by the
        S. 2509--C                         192                        A. 3009--C
 
     1  provisions of articles 11 and 15 of the retirement and  social  security
     2  law  shall  retire  under  the  provisions  of articles 11 and 15 of the
     3  retirement and social security law.
     4    b.  A  participating employer may deny participation in the retirement
     5  benefit provided by subdivision a of this section if such employer makes
     6  a determination that the employee holds a position that is deemed  crit-
     7  ical to the maintenance of public health and safety.
     8    c. Where an employee is eligible for the retirement benefit under this
     9  section  and the retirement incentive authorized pursuant to section six
    10  of subpart A of this act, such employee  shall  elect  a  section  under
    11  which he or she will participate. The benefits provided by subdivision a
    12  of  this  section shall not be conditioned upon a participating employer
    13  making the benefits of section six of subpart A of this act available to
    14  employees in their employ. Further, the benefits provided by subdivision
    15  a of this section shall not be available in conjunction with  the  bene-
    16  fits of section six of subpart A of this act.
    17    d.  The  action  of a participating employer in denying the retirement
    18  benefit provided for in subdivision a of this section to any  individual
    19  shall  be  subject to review in the manner provided for in article 78 of
    20  the civil practice law and rules. Such action  for  review  pursuant  to
    21  article  78  of the civil practice law and rules shall only be commenced
    22  by the individual that was denied the  retirement  benefit  provided  by
    23  subdivision a of this section.
    24    e.  After  making  any  such determination under subdivision b of this
    25  section the participating employer shall notify the appropriate  retire-
    26  ment system or teachers' retirement system of its determination.
    27    §  6.  The  pension benefit costs of section five of this act shall be
    28  paid by participating employers as provided by applicable law  for  each
    29  retirement  system  covered by this act over a period not to exceed five
    30  years commencing in the fiscal year following the fiscal year  in  which
    31  this act shall have become a law.
    32    § 7. This act shall take effect immediately.
    33    § 3. Severability clause. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivi-
    34  sion,  section  or  part  of  this act shall be adjudged by any court of
    35  competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment  shall  not  affect,
    36  impair,  or  invalidate  the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in
    37  its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph,  subdivision,  section
    38  or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judg-
    39  ment shall have been rendered. It is hereby declared to be the intent of
    40  the  legislature  that  this  act  would  have been enacted even if such
    41  invalid provisions had not been included herein.
    42    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately; provided,  however,  that
    43  the  applicable  effective date of Subparts A and B of this act shall be
    44  as specifically set forth in the last section of such Subparts.
          FISCAL NOTE.--Pursuant to Legislative Law, Section 50:
          SUMMARY OF BILL: This proposed legislation, as it relates to  the  New
        York  City  Retirement  Systems and Pension Funds (NYCRS), would provide
        for a temporary Early Retirement  Incentive  Program  (ERI  Program)  to
        allow  certain members of the New York City Employees' Retirement System
        (NYCERS), the New York City Teachers' Retirement System (TRS),  and  the
        New  York  City  Board  of  Education  Retirement System (BERS), who are
        employees of the City of New York (City) or the New York City Department
        of Education (DOE) and meet  enumerated  criteria,  to  elect  immediate
        retirement with enhanced benefits.
          The  ERI  Program  consists  of  two  parts and is contingent upon the
        employer's election to participate in the Program. Part A would  provide
        S. 2509--C                         193                        A. 3009--C
 
        to  eligible  members,  determined  by  title, seniority, and enumerated
        policy considerations, an additional service credit. Part B would remove
        the application of early retirement  reduction  factors  for  qualifying
        members. The benefits of the respective Parts cannot be combined.
          Eligible  NYCRS  members  would have anywhere from 30 to 90 days in an
        open period to elect and retire under Part A or  within  a  90-day  open
        period following the commencement date to retire under Part B of the ERI
        Program.  Multiple  open periods, not to exceed 180 days from the end of
        an open period for other employees, may be requested by NYCRS.    Should
        the  City or the DOE elect to participate in the ERI Program provided by
        this Act, it would be required to demonstrate the savings related to the
        election.
          A member is eligible to participate in Part A of the ERI Program if he
        or she:
            * Is otherwise eligible for service retirement;
            * Is at least age 50 with 10 or more years of service and is not  in
        a  plan  which  permits retirement at half-pay with 25 or fewer years of
        service without regard to age; or
            * Is in a plan that permits retirement at half-pay at  25  years  of
        service  without  regard  to  age  and  would  reach 25 years of service
        considering the additional service credit provided in Part A.
          A member is eligible to participate in Part B of the ERI Program if he
        or she is age 55 or older and has at least 25 years of service.
          In addition to the eligibility conditions above, members must also:
            * Be in continuous active service preceding the commencement date of
        the open period;
            * For Part A - provide timely written notice of the intent to  avail
        himself  or  herself  of the ERI and file for service retirement that is
        effective within the open period;
            * For Part B - file for service retirement that is effective  within
        the  open  period  and otherwise be eligible to retire for service as of
        the effective date of retirement.
          Effective Date: Upon enactment and as  determined  by  the  respective
        open periods contained in Parts A and B.
          IMPACT  ON  BENEFITS:  Part  A  would provide one-twelfth of a year of
        additional retirement service credit for each year of  pension  service,
        up  to a maximum of three years of additional retirement service credit.
        Some benefits provided under Part A could be subject to Early Retirement
        Factors (ERF) as specified in the proposed legislation.
          Part B would allow members to retire with an unreduced benefit if they
        are at least age 55 with 25 or more years of service.
          FINANCIAL IMPACT - OVERVIEW: There is no credible  data  available  to
        estimate  the  number  of  members who will retire under the current ERI
        Program and potentially benefit from this proposed  legislation.  There-
        fore,  the estimated financial impact has been calculated on a per event
        basis equal to the average increase  in  the  Present  Value  of  future
        employer  contributions  and  in  the  annual employer contributions for
        members who would benefit from the proposed legislation.
          The Present Value of future employer contributions is the  net  result
        of  the  increase in the Present Value of Future Benefits (PVFB) and the
        decrease in the Present Value of member contributions.
          For the purposes of this Fiscal Note, the increase in Present Value of
        future employer contributions was  amortized  over  a  five-year  period
        (four  payments  under  the One-Year Lag Methodology (OYLM)) using level
        dollar payments, the maximum allowable period under the proposed  legis-
        S. 2509--C                         194                        A. 3009--C
 
        lation. This amortized value is the estimated increase in annual employ-
        er contributions.
          There  will  also be future savings in Employer Contributions assuming
        that these members are not replaced.  This  additional  savings  is  not
        included here.
          With  respect  to  an  individual  member, the additional cost of this
        proposed legislation could vary greatly depending on the member's length
        of service, age, and salary history.
          FINANCIAL IMPACT - SUMMARY: Based on the census data and the actuarial
        assumptions and methods described herein, the enactment of this proposed
        legislation would result in an increase in the Present Value of Employer
        Contributions and annual employer contributions.  The estimated  pension
        financial impact has been calculated as the average increase per person.
        A  breakdown  of  the  financial  impact  by NYCRS is shown in the table
        below:
                                Additional
                              Present Value of             Estimated
        NYCRS                 Future Employer           Annual Employer
                               Contributions             Contributions
                              ($ Per Person)            ($ Per Person)
 
        Part A Only
         NYCERS                  $80,700                   $24,600
         TRS                      84,800                    25,900
         BERS                     37,900                    11,600
          Average                $77,900                   $23,800
 
        Part B Only
         NYCERS                 $113,600                   $34,700
         TRS                      68,000                    20,800
         BERS                     98,400                    30,100
          Average               $109,200                   $33,300
 
        Both A & B
         NYCERS                  $96,500                   $29,500
         TRS                      85,000                    26,000
         BERS                     43,700                    13,400
          Average                $87,700                   $26,800
 
          CONTRIBUTION TIMING: For the purposes  of  this  Fiscal  Note,  it  is
        assumed  that  the  changes  in  the  Present  Value  of future employer
        contributions and annual employer contributions would be  reflected  for
        the  first  time  in  the  Final  June  30, 2020 actuarial valuations of
        NYCERS, TRS, and BERS. In accordance with the  OYLM  used  to  determine
        employer  contributions,  the  increase  in employer contributions would
        first be reflected in Fiscal Year 2022.
          CENSUS DATA: For purposes of this Fiscal Note, it was assumed that the
        census data had the same age, gender, and service characteristics as the
        census data used in the Preliminary June 30, 2019 (Lag) actuarial  valu-
        ations of NYCERS, TRS, and BERS to determine the Preliminary Fiscal Year
        2021 employer contributions. Active members' salaries have been adjusted
        to  reflect  estimated  salary  increases from June 30, 2019 to June 30,
        2020.
          The table below contains the census data  for  members  who  meet  the
        eligibility  requirements  and  would be impacted by the proposed legis-
        S. 2509--C                         195                        A. 3009--C
 
        lation (Potential Elections), and for a  subset  of  those  members  who
        would benefit actuarially (Assumed to Elect).

        NYCRS               Potential Elections
 
        Part A Only  Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
        NYCERS       34,147    58.5      22.3      $83,900
        TRS          31,727    57.7      21.2      101,300
        BERS          9,736    60.2      15.8       49,900
        Total        75,610    58.4      21.0      $86,800
 
        Part B Only  Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
        NYCERS        5,990    58.2      30.2      $88,600
        TRS             569    58.0      26.9      110,100
        BERS            430    58.6      29.5       72,700
        Total         6,989    58.2      29.9      $89,400
 
        Both A & B   Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
        NYCERS       34,147    58.5      22.3      $83,900
        TRS          31,727    57.7      21.2      101,300
        BERS          9,736    60.2      15.8       49,900
        Total        75,610    58.4      21.0      $86,800
 
        NYCRS                 Assumed to Elect

        Part A Only   Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
        NYCERS        19,259   60.4      26.3      $87,600
        TRS           11,436   61.3      27.0      109,000
        BERS           3,318   63.6      21.6       51,600
        Total         34,013   61.0      26.1      $91,300
 
        Part B Only   Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
        NYCERS         5,941   58.2      30.2      $88,400
        TRS              530   57.9      26.9      109,900
        BERS             423   58.6      29.5       71,500
        Total          6,894   58.2      29.9      $89,000
 
        BOTH A & B     Count   Avg Age   Avg Svc   Avg Salary
 
         NYCERS       20,204   60.2      26.4      $88,000
          TRS         11,588   61.2      27.0      109,000
          BERS         3,331   63.6      21.6       51,900
          Total       35,123   60.9      26.2      $91,500
 
          ACTUARIAL ASSUMPTIONS AND METHODS: The changes in the Present Value of
        future   employer   contributions   and  annual  employer  contributions
        presented herein have been calculated based on the actuarial assumptions
        and methods in effect for the June 30, 2019 (Lag)  actuarial  valuations
        used  to  determine  the  Preliminary Fiscal Year 2021 employer contrib-
        utions of NYCERS, TRS, and BERS.
        S. 2509--C                         196                        A. 3009--C
 
          The Actuary is proposing a set of changes for use in the June 30, 2019
        (Lag) actuarial valuations of NYCRS to determine the Final  Fiscal  Year
        2021 Employer Contributions (2021 A&M). If the 2021 A&M is enacted it is
        estimated  that  it  would  produce  increases  in  the Present Value of
        Employer  Contributions  and  annual  employer  contributions  that  are
        approximately 1% larger than the results shown above.
          To determine the impact of the elective nature of the proposed  legis-
        lation,  a  subgroup  based on who could potentially benefit actuarially
        was used. The Present Value of future employer costs (i.e. the PVFB less
        the Present Value of future member contributions) of each member's bene-
        fit was determined under their current plan and  as  if  retiring  imme-
        diately  under  the ERI Program. If the Present Value of future employer
        cost under the ERI Program was greater than  or  equal  to  the  Present
        Value  of future employer cost under the member's current plan, then the
        member was deemed to benefit actuarially.
          Based on this analysis, the costs presented in this  Fiscal  Note  are
        borne  only  from current NYCERS, TRS, and BERS members who are employed
        by the City and assumed to benefit from, and thus opt to  retire  under,
        the ERI Program.
          RISK  AND  UNCERTAINTY: The costs presented in this Fiscal Note depend
        highly on the realization of the actuarial assumptions used, as well  as
        certain  demographic characteristics of NYCERS, TRS, and BERS, and other
        exogenous factors such as investment, contribution, and other risks.  If
        actual  experience deviates from actuarial assumptions, the actual costs
        could differ from those presented herein. Costs are  also  dependent  on
        the  actuarial  methods  used, and therefore different actuarial methods
        could produce different results. Quantifying these risks is  beyond  the
        scope of this Fiscal Note.
          Not measured in this Fiscal Note are the following:
            * The offsetting reduction in salary due to retirements earlier than
        expected.
            * The impact of potential new hires replacing members who retire due
        to the ERI Program.
            *  The  initial,  additional  administrative  costs to implement the
        proposed legislation.
            * The impact of this proposed legislation  on  Other  Postemployment
        Benefit (OPEB) costs.
          STATEMENT  OF ACTUARIAL OPINION: I, Sherry S. Chan, am the Chief Actu-
        ary for, and independent of, the New York City  Retirement  Systems  and
        Pension  Funds.  I  am a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, an Enrolled
        Actuary under the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act of 1974, a
        Member of the American Academy of Actuaries, and a Fellow of the Confer-
        ence of Consulting Actuaries. I meet the Qualification Standards of  the
        American  Academy of Actuaries to render the actuarial opinion contained
        herein. To the best of my knowledge, the results contained  herein  have
        been prepared in accordance with generally accepted actuarial principles
        and  procedures  and  with the Actuarial Standards of Practice issued by
        the Actuarial Standards Board.
          FISCAL NOTE IDENTIFICATION: This Fiscal Note 2021-19  dated  April  5,
        2021  was prepared by the Chief Actuary for the New York City Employees'
        Retirement System, the New York City Teachers'  Retirement  System,  and
        the  New  York City Board of Education Retirement System.  This estimate
        is intended for use only during the 2021 Legislative Session.

A Year Ago, Today

April 4, 2021 pm30 11:59 pm

I didn’t learn about Tom Waters’ death until almost a week after the date, April 4, 2020.

Tom’s son was my student. He was more of a humanities kid, but did fine in two courses. His final project for an elective, Combinatorics, was a nicely presented bijection between parenthesization and Dyck Paths (Catalan). He was also a standout in the Drama Club, but my role there as “advisor” was less than minimal. Carmen (and Lillie) were really in charge.

But there were parent-teacher conferences. I met Tom and Hillary several times. I knew they were progressives, some sort of activists, but not much more.

When I heard of his passing, I looked him up. I was stunned. Tom was a housing activist, whose work affected many. I will not summarize – instead I implore you to read this memorial/obituary. Take a moment to look at how young he was. But please read – Tom strove to make a difference for renters in New York City – and he sometimes succeeded.

Reading this article a year ago (the tab is still open. Bad habit, I know, but I have periodically returned to read more) I was amazed that I had met such an activist, but had not thought to ask him about his work. It was the wrong feeling, I know, but I felt sorry for myself, for not having learned from him.

I tweeted – and got an unexpected reply:

Lazar was referring to the work I have been involved in, trying to increase representation/diversity at my high school. We first met when Lazar visited the UFT Specialized High School Task Force (I was cochair), and stayed in contact after that work stalled, as I fashioned proposals specific for my school.

So here I was, taken aback by the great work Tom Waters had done, stunned by the death of someone my age.

But there was more. I had decamped to Essex County, New York. I had run away. I was desperately trying to teach. I was worried by my union’s tepid response to a serious matter. I was enraged by Cuomo and de Blasio’s recklessness. I was exhausted. I was trying to function as chapter leader. Every day I was learning new technology. The news was frightening, and relentless. I had already lost a faculty member (car accident) and another member of our small staff. I was overwhelmed. I had not had time to process this, any of it.

And so there I was taken aback by the great work Tom Waters had done, stunned by the death of someone my age. And I read Lazar’s words. And couldn’t believe that this guy who I was regretting not talking to had actually thought highly of me. And for the first time since the pandemic hit, I cried.

A Year Ago Today – COVID hit close

April 4, 2021 pm30 3:43 pm

April 4, 2020. I had already lost a cousin to the pandemic, but I didn’t know that. And I didn’t know that cousin well. But on April 4 last year – it was a Friday – Ulises Castro died.

Castro was a Lehman College Peace Officer. He was assigned to our school – the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, for most terms over the last 16 years.

I spent hours talking talking to Castro when I stayed late -which was often. That was his shift. We were both strongly pro-union – he was a teamster, and that colored the conversations. But I recall him often digging not into who was right and who was wrong, but into the psychology behind people’s decisions. Castro often had an interesting angle.

My walks take me by campus, almost every day. And almost every day I am reminded of our loss. I glance up, foolishly, at the booth at Gate 8. But he is not there. And I know he is not in the high school…

Here’s what I wrote a year ago: https://jd2718.org/2020/04/07/in-memory/

Here’s the CUNY memorial page. Here’s the Teamster memorial page (I’d never seen such a young and trim photo!).

Here’s the smiling officer I remember:

The Global View – 3 Maps

April 1, 2021 am30 11:25 am

The first map is the number of COVID cases since we started counting in early 2020 or late 2019. These are cumulative totals (as a proportion of the population)

What jumps out? Asia? Africa? the Pacific? It looks like practically no cases in 2/3rds of the world.

But didn’t China have a lot of cases? Early on, yes. But they controlled the pandemic, which governments in Europe and the Americas did not. As of today China has had 90,000 cases, mostly in the first quarter of 2020. The US has had 31,000,000 cases, half of them in the last four months. Yesterday there were 68,000 new cases in the US, and 11 new cases in China.

What about South Asia? West Africa? Is this just underreporting? There is underreporting. But the March 1, 2021 New Yorker had a fascinating piece, Why Does the Pandemic Seem to Be Hitting Some Countries Harder Than Others? By Siddhartha Mukherjee that dissected what is going on. Underreporting? Certainly. But that hardly explains the bulk of the difference. Younger populations? Yes, but again it only explains a bit of the difference. Government response? That explains Vietnam and New Zealand, but not most of the rest. Could exposure to other corona viruses impart partial immunity? That is a fascinating idea that needs to be further explored.

So this is a funny picture. We have a worldwide pandemic, with the bulk of the cases in the Americas, especially the United States, and in most of Europe.

The next map is the number of COVID-19 deaths since we started counting.

It looks like the previous map. A lot. So where are the differences?

  • Mexico and most of South America show worse on the mortality map than they did on the number of cases map.
  • Most of Europe shows up worse on the number of cases map than on the mortality map
  • New York shows up much worse on the mortality map than on the number of cases map.

In fact, New York shows up the worst in the world on the mortality map. This represents one decision, by one man. Over 14,000 people died in New York nursing homes. That is, 1 out of every 200 people who succumbed to COVID worldwide was in a nursing home subject to Andrew Cuomo’s executive order.

The third map is the current new case rate. Look at problem areas:

  • France
  • to a lesser extent Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway
  • central Europe (except Germany)
  • southeastern Europe
  • Turkey
  • Brazil and Uruguay
  • to a lesser extent, the southern cone of South America
  • the northeast United States, especially New York and New Jersey. Also Michigan

Inconsistent government response is a common denominator. Opening up too soon and allowing the virus to roar back, creating fertile ground for imported variants, or new mutations. In NY, allowing extensive local travel is clearly a factor.

it is worrying for the US, Brazil and Europe that new cases are mostly occurring in those places – it is as if there is no possibility of local mitigation. These leaders will keep opening things up and letting people get sick and die, with the promise that one day enough people will be vaccinated.

In the meantime… it’s as if the meantime doesn’t matter to Cuomo.