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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.


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.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. David Vota permalink
    June 5, 2021 pm30 5:41 pm 5:41 pm

    Do we really vote for Stringer? He does this and he was USELESS in helping our ERI to come to fruition.

    • June 6, 2021 pm30 2:19 pm 2:19 pm

      None of the candidates had any involvement with those negotiations.

      I am more concerned with their connections to the big real estate lobby, or the charter school lobby, or their infatuation with “principal empowerment,” or their attitude to the police.


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