Friday, August 7, 2020

Cuomo Says "Open" As Relief Bill from DC Almost Fails. Consequences?

Cuomo punted today. Instead of making an affirmative decision one way or the other, he simply held to the health guidelines and said that districts have the OK to move ahead. But the decision -including the political consequences- has been left to the mayor. The mayor is many things. Scared of the camera is one of them. So he may close yet.  Anyway if you are here, then you have probably read that story. 

The bigger news today actually comes from DC. Months ago, folks said that 'if the HEROES Act doesn't pass, The DoE won't have enough money to open". It was, according the people saying this, as simple as that. We need money. 

Well Congress' efforts ended in failure today. The HEROES Act (now known as the Republican HEALS Act) fell through today. Apparently, the deal is dead.

Bipartisan talks aimed at finding a deal on a fifth coronavirus bill collapsed on Friday, all-but-guaranteeing Congress and the White House will not be able to reach a compromise despite a steady uptick in cases and lingering economic aftershocks. 


Mnuchin said he was willing to hear “new proposals” from Democrats. But after meeting almost every day since last Monday, the GOP negotiators said there were no plans to meet this weekend, marking the clearest sign yet that they will not get an agreement.

 The White House intends to issue Executive Orders to help with at least some of the crisis ...

"[Meadows] and I will recommend to the president, based upon our lack of activity today, to move forward with some executive orders," Mnuchin told reporters.... 

Mnuchin added that the president’s orders would address expired unemployment insurance benefits and eviction protections. It would also extend the current suspension of student loan payments and defer federal payroll tax payments. Members of both parties have opposed the payroll tax cut.

What isn't being discussed is the president sending money to states to help with their budget deficits. Cuomo has said New York needs as much as $30 billion. 

So, if those people who were saying that we will not have enough money to open schools were *not* full of it, then we won't open.

If you are in that camp, I would not get your hopes up. I think those people may have been full of it the whole while. 

I would, however, point out that if there is no funding from DC, then the state and the city may be strapped for so much cash that they may ask for teachers and others to agree to help. This could mean furloughs, a loan from our pension or some other giveback -or we may face layoffs (the mayor has promised 22,000 layoffs if there was no money. Let's see if they revisit that tomorrow or Monday). This may give the union enough leverage to work out a deal to delay the opening .. 

.. and, yes, it may also mean that a buyout may be on the way .. This are the things that cash strapped governments do. So, if they were really cash strapped, these are the things that will come down the road.

... or it may not. The DOENuts moniker was thought up when things were nuts. This is way beyond nuts...

Meantime, if you are so inclined, the union's second largest group of teacher -the Solidarity Caucus- has begun a petition drive to ask the chancellor to resign. It is as gutsy a move as anyone here in New York has made and I respect it. I, myself, can not bring myself sign on just now (through all of this, I am still a general fan of his equity agenda and I do not believe another chancellor will be around championing these things for a half a generation at least). But as of this writing the petition has earned just over 1,000 signatures. 

The union doesn't operate quite like a city agency. They are duty-bound to remain within their consensus and when the second largest group of teachers in the union (as tallied from last year's election) starts making noise and drops a petition, it is no small thing (I understand a different caucus dressed up like they were dead and brought some cardboard coffins to a rally or something. That probably worked out great for a press appearance and to get more people to join. This is great but events like that generally tend not to make a dent within the union itself. A petition from the second largest caucus -personally led by the former presidential candidate Lydia Howrilka- may, in fact, change the course of the union. You can sign the petition here  And, if you are so inclined, you can read the Solidarity press release here

I have taken a deeper look into this caucus and it has a lot of good solid educators leading it and is itself a nimble strong group of New York City teachers. I'm happy to offer my own help to them and am glad that one of the leaders of the only group I will hang with,  James Eterno, is as well. They'll be fine and are going to make an impact.

Meanwhile, the petition of high school teacher (and friend to this blog) Kevin Kearns to remain in remote is still active and is moving toward 10,000 signatures. You can find that petition here


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