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Permission to Bribe

October 9, 2021 pm31 3:46 pm

Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City. I would cite opinion polls, but the pollsters aren’t bothering. It’s that clear. Predictit has him at 98¢ to win 2¢. Why is there any money at all against him? Maybe some calamity, some horrible scandal, is possible. But it’s at the point where – if a story broke saying that he had molested chickens – voters would say “Ewww! Groooosss! – But Sliwa? I’ll still vote for Adams.” In fact, if there were polling, it would probably show Adams leading among every demographic group, in all four major boroughs, and among every subgroup except, perhaps, chicken molesters and unvaccinated Trump supporters.

Is there any doubt that Eric Adams will be our next mayor? No. None.

And the whole world has endorsed him, right? Almost. But not quite.

DC37 has. And PEF. And TWU 100 (bus and subway). But other unions are missing. The teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is missing. We’ll get back to that.

Lots of politicians have. And more politicians have not. No progressives, as far as I can tell, have signed on. My State Senator, Jamaal Bailey, mainstream, has. The neighboring State Senators, Biaggi and Rivera, have not. Diane Savino, last IDC republican-posing-as-a-democrat still standing, er, sitting – has. Andrew Yang – has. Bill de Blasio – has. Andrew Cuomo, disgraced and corrupt former governor – has.

Mulgrew got “No Vote for Adams” right, and everything else wrong

The UFT leadership made a mess during the primary. They could not figure out ranked choice voting. They did not consider Kathryn Garcia a serious candidate. And when Scott Stringer imploded, the leadership was unable to think on its feet. This will go down as perhaps the worst UFT mayoral campaign ever – and given how poorly the UFT has performed in the past – that’s bad.

But one thing the leadership got right was absolute opposition to Eric Adams, and to his former opponent, and today supporter, Andrew Yang.

Eric Adams was a one-time Republican. He is socially conservative. He supports businesses over working people. He supports big real estate interests over small landlords and tenants. And – and this matters for public school teachers – he is a major supporter of charter schools. The UFT position – “Not Adams” – was a good one.

But Adams won. A better ranked-choice strategy may have helped defeat him. Maya Wiley was a viable candidate. But Adams won. So what now?

Option 1 – talk to Eric Adams like a grown up

Option 1: Talk to Adams. We didn’t support him, but we will work with him, and despite our differences we believe we will find many areas of agreement, and we will find ways to work together where we don’t agree, including negotiations and compromise as necessary.

Option 1 is sensible.

Option 2 – grovel

Option 2: Endorse Adams. That is what Michael Mulgrew wants. This is what the Unity leadership of the UFT is pushing. And they always get what they want. (Except this spring when Mulgrew behaved like a smug annoying middle schooler at the Delegate Assembly, pissed off the delegates, and lost a full slate of endorsements. Expect him to be on best behavior this time.)

What are the effects of a UFT endorsement? And why not just go with Option 1 – having a sensible conversation with Adams?

Disadvantages of Endorsing Eric Adams

  • It makes the UFT look 2-faced in front of our membership
  • It makes it seem that the UFT leadership does not take the threat posed by charter schools seriously
  • One more (see bottom)

Advantages of Endorsing Eric Adams

  • Publicity. Public fawning over Adams might win him over to like us. (Yeah, right)
  • Phone banks. UFT volunteers could phone bank at UFT offices, and eat UFT snacks, while taking a slam dunk campaign and getting maybe no one extra to vote for Adams. But like a student, we would be keen to show how hard we are trying. And public fawning over Adams….
  • Money. Without an endorsement, COPE, the UFT’s political action fund, cannot give Adams money. With an endorsement, they can. And they will.

Let’s talk about money. Adams is refusing matching funds. His coffers are overflowing. Why? Lots of endorsements. Why else? Lots of endorsements from rich and powerful donors with deep pockets. Hedge funds? The Real Estate Board? Other people who are Not Teachers Friends?

UFT money won’t put Adams over the top. He doesn’t need it. The lack of UFT money won’t hurt Adams’ campaign. He doesn’t need it. UFT money will be a gesture. Maybe handing Adams some cash will make him like us? (Yeah, right)

Now, I need some help here. When a campaign has more cash than it needs, there is surplus. I think – but I’m not sure – that candidates hold that money for their next campaign. I think that Adams supporter Andrew C____ was being looked at for using that money as a private slush fund – maybe to employ friends? perhaps paying some defense costs? Or promoting a book? I found a list of what excess cash can be used for:

But here’s the bottom line – giving money to Adams that won’t make a difference for this campaign, that he doesn’t need for this campaign – that’s cash in pocket. It’s a pathetic attempt at a bribe. And asking delegates to the UFT Delegate Assembly to endorse Adams this Wednesday, October 13 – when Adams has no need of the endorsement – that’s asking us for permission to attempt to bribe the candidate.

One More Disadvantage of Endorsing Eric Adams

  • A bribe is insulting. A tiny bribe is insulting. Thinking it will buy anything but contempt is naïve. Instead of treating us as formidable partners in education, Adams will likely regard us as weak, detestable mutts.

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