‘Back To The Dark Ages’

A supporter of NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Cathie Black flatly rejected the idea that a public hearing on her appointment should be held, saying that to do so would be a return to the pre-mayoral control “dark ages.”

Deborah Kenny, founder of Harlem Village Academies where Black serves on the advisory council, debated NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio this morning on “Good Day NY.” Asked by Greg Kelly whether she might support de Blasio’s call for a hearing on Black, Kenny replied: “Absolutely not.”

“I think while it sounds reasonable, it actually takes us back to the dark ages,” she continued. “Eight years ago…nobody was accountable for anything but we had lots of different forums where everybody had an opinion.”

“There are a million school children. The whole idea of mayoral control is that somebody’s held accountable. We voted for it. The mayor’s number one job is to pick the right person. I trust his judgement in that. I also know Ms. Black and she’s an outstanding leader.”

(Actually, mayoral control was established and then re-approved by the Legislature. It was never voted on by the public, although I guess one could argue that by elected Mayor Bloomberg to a third term, NYC residents were voicing their support for all of his policies and performance – including running the public school system).

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Paterson: Rangel’s Deeds Like A Traffic Violation

Gov. David Paterson’s about-face on Rep. Charlie Rangel continued this morning as the governor offered a full-throated defense of the embattled Harlem congressman and said the 11 ethics charges on which he has been found guilty are no more serious than running a red light.

“I see this as a situation that invovles probably some sloppiness and some lack of attention to detail, which a lot of elected of have done because they travel all over the country, they’re away form their homes three or four days a week and they’re out at night,” Paterson told WOR’s John Gambling this morning.

Paterson noted the committee that found Rangel guilty of breaking House rules did not find evidence of outright corruption, instead chalking up his misdeeds to a “violation,” which, according to the governor, is tantamount to “disorderly conduct, or running red lights.”

“I think that the political climate is such that it’s blown up into something,” Paterson continued. “You would think that Congressman Rangel participated in some sort of graft. He did not gain from any of these activities.”

That’s a sharp turnaround from yesterday afternoon, when Paterson told reporters he expected a “severe reprimand” for Rangel, and said the congressman should apologize for what he has done.

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Here And Now

The acquittal on all but one of more than 280 charges of the first Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court has reignited the debate over the Obama administration’s approach and plans to try the 9/11 terrorists in Manhattan.

“This is a tragic wake-up call to the Obama Administration to immediately abandon its ill-advised plan to try Guantánamo terrorists” in civilian courts, said Rep. Pete King.

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s transition team has been told to focus on recruiting, not policy, even though critics say his policy proposals have lacked details to date.

Mayor Bloomberg formally requested a waiver for his NYC schools chancellor pick, Cathie Black, from state Education Commissioner David Steiner.

Bloomberg made his pitch in a six-page letter that touted Black’s experience in “in the art of negotiation and compromise.”

Black is personally calling around to her detractors, with mixed results.

Oprah Winfrey backs Black.

Steiner hopes to make a decision on Black’s waiver before outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein officially departs on Dec. 31.

The White House is warily watching Bloomberg’s maneuvering for a potential presidential run (which the mayor insists isn’t in the cards).

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes says it would be “very unwise” for Cuomo to try to steer corruption-fighting power away from local prosecutors.

Bloomberg is poised to lay off thousands of city workers.

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What Paterson Meant To Say About Rangel

Hours after Gov. David Paterson surprised reporters by making some fairly harsh comments about his longtime friend and fellow Harlemite, Rep. Charles Rangel, deserving a “severe reprimand” for the 11 ethics charges on which he has been found guilty, the governor experienced a dramatic change of heart.

In a statement that hit my in-box at 10:31 p.m., Paterson expressed support for Rangel and echoed the veteran Democrat’s line about both the charges against him and the process under which he was tried being “unfair.”

One can only imagine the phone calls that followed the governor’s comments during a press gaggle yesterday after his visit with members of the NY congressional delegation – a number of whom have expressed sadness over Rangel’s situation.

Paterson’s remarks were in stark contrast to the mournful and even nostalgic tone struck by many of his fellow Democrats.

Rangel is scheduled to receive news of his punishment some time this morning. In the meantime, here’s Paterson’s statement.

“Congressman Charlie Rangel has served the people of New York with distinction for 40 years. He is a Korean War hero and a longtime friend – both to me and to the people of this great State.”

“As he has noted, Congressman Rangel has been motivated throughout these decades solely by a desire to serve. And he has acted with the best intentions at the heart of his service to the people of New York.

“I sincerely hope that as it completes its proceedings on this matter, the Ethics Committee ensures that political expediency does not interfere with the carriage of justice. I stand in support of Congressman Rangel today and in the future and wish him well throughout this difficult process, a process that has been as unfair as the charges against him.”

Bloomberg Seeks Black Waiver, UFT Calls For National Search

Mayor Bloomberg has formally requested state Education Commissioner David Steiner to grant a waiver of the official educational and training requirements of the NYC schools chancellor job for Cathie Black, calling her a “trailblazer” and “influential business leader” and highlighting her “experience in education.”

Meanwhile, the UFT’s policy-making body, the delegate assembly, approved a resolution today calling for legislation that would mandate a nationwide search for schools chancellors and a “public process of engagement” for finalists vying for the job.

The resolution, which passed by a show of hands by approximately 1,000 delegates, chastises Bloomberg for conduting his selection process of Black in secret and withholding basic information about that process from the public.

It also accuses the mayor of thwarting “the intent of mayoral control of New York City schools” and creating a controversy that ill serves the school system.

The text of both Bloomberg’s letter to Steiner and the UFT resolution appear in full after the jump.

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Extras

Mayor Bloomberg thinks the best an independent presidential candidate could hope for is an electoral-vote tie.

David Malpass wants to stop the Fed (from borrowing).

Are journalists e-mails part of the ongoing investigations into Gov. David Paterson?

Senator-elect Greg Ball is looking for a 24-hour communications director.

Bloomberg hired Spider-Man.

Encouraged by City Hall aides, the Partnership for New York City is rallying behind Bloomberg’s NYC schools chancellor pick, Cathie Black.

Back in 2002, outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein wasn’t a slam dunk to receive the waiver Black is now seeking.

Thirteen NYC Council members have signed their names to a resolution calling for Black’s waiver to be rejected.

Jimmy McMillan has a tattoo.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was a runner-up in the Fix’s “best candidate” of 2010 award. (Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio won).

Congressman-elect Chris Gibson now has nothing but praise for the man he’s replacing, outgoing Rep. Scott Murphy.

“You’re a bad man, Charlie Rangel,” says Jon Stewart.

The Senate Democrats are ready to return to Albany for the Nov. 29 lame duck session.

Assemblyman Mark Schroeder: “It is, after all, awfully difficult to strangle the life out of something unless you pay it at least some attention.”

Bloomberg met today with Sen. John McCain, who reportedly had the mayor on his VP shortlist in 2008.

Wearing his AG hat, Andrew Cuomo announced a settlement with ExxonMobil.

Public service rapper Dr. John Clarke has recorded a new ditty to promote safer driving.

Paterson: Rangel Reprimand Should Be ‘Severe’

Gov. David Paterson today said he expects a “severe” reprimand for his longtime friend and defender, Rep. Charlie Rangel, now the embattled Harlem Democrat has been found guilty on 11 of 13 ethics charges.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C. earlier today after he met with members of New York’s congressional delegation, the outgoing governor said he had not yet spoken to Rangel, but might be seeing him before he departed the nation’s Capitol.

“The committee has spoken,” Paterson said. “The violations have been noted . I would expect a severe reprimand, and, inevitably, an apology from Congressman Rangel. And then we’ll move on.”

Some Democrats, including former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and Jonathan Tasini, one of Rangel’s failed primary opponents, have suggested it’s time for the congressman to resign. But Paterson didn’t go that far.

It was once speculated that Rangel’s seat would provide an exit strategy for the governor (back when speculation about his resignation was at its height).

That would have required Rangel, who is very close to Paterson’s father, Basil, (they accounted for two of Harlem’s storied Gang of Four, the others being former Manhattan BP Percy Sutton and former NYC Mayor David Dinkins), would step down, enabling Paterson to call a special election.

Next, Manhattan’s Democratic leaders, led by Chairman Keith Wright, (who has designs on Rangel’s seat himself) would tap Paterson to run.

This little political swap never materialized, and Rangel allies insist he plans to serve out the full two-year term to which he was elected on Nov. 2., regardless of the fact that he has lost his Ways and Means chairmanship and the Democrats are now back in the minority.

(That assumes, of course, that is punishment doesn’t include removal, which is at this point not expected).

Black Visits DOE

NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Cathie Black isn’t letting the opposition to her appointment and her yet-unapproved waiver stop her from checking out the department she hopes to inherit from outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.

Black apparently paid a visit to the Department of Education yesterday and was squired by Klein, who also introduced her to the staff. Black, who has yet to sit down for an extended interview, released the following statement:

“Yesterday, I had a great first visit to the Department of Education. Joel took me on a tour and introduced me to many of the wonderful staff before I sat down for a meeting with the full Cabinet.”

“We had a great exchange of ideas during that meeting and they could not have been more welcoming. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be spending more time together discussing the pressing issues facing our schools and the best way to build on the reforms of the last 8 years.”

“I also want to say a big thank you to the Mayor, former Mayors, countless elected officials, educators, business leaders and friends who have expressed their support both publicly and privately and put such faith in me.”

“I look forward to working with all of them and the talented team Joel has built to continue improving our schools and ensure that every child in this great city has access to quality education.”

A Family Affair

Rep. Tim Bishop did not pass up the opportunity to use his Republican opponent’s challenge to his 86-year-old parents’ absentee ballots as a fundraising tool.

The Long Island Democrat sent an appeal to supporters today entitled simply “my parents,” asking for contributions to his recount fund and saying: “Yesterday gave us our clearest example about the need to be extra vigilant in protecting the rights of Suffolk County residents to have their votes counted.”

“During day one of the count of absentee and affidavit ballots, lawyers working for Randy Altschuler issued a residency challenge to my 86 year-old parents, Howard and Catherine,” Bishop continued.

“My father is the 11th generation of Bishops to be born in the Village of Southampton, and my mother was born in Sagaponack. They have both lived their entire lives here. We are very hopeful that when my father’s health improves, he will be well enough for my parents to travel home soon.”

“While it is important that my parents have the opportunity to vote for their son, it is even more important that two lifelong Southampton residents have the right to vote for their representative in Congress. This is clearly a campaign that will do anything to win. That is why I need your help to continue our fight.”

“The vote counting just started and we are already very encouraged by the numbers. We are picking up votes every day, including in strong Republican areas.”

“But make no mistake, this is a long process and my opponent will continue to press hard to disenfranchise voters as we whittle away at the numbers and ultimately take the lead.”

Bishop and Altschuler are both in Washington, D.C. this week despite the fact that the NY-1 race. The former is attending the lame duck session, while the latter is participating in the orientation for new House members.

Bishop was given a waiver today along with Rep. Dan Maffei, whose race in NY-25 is also in limbo, to be able to participate in the voting on whether outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should retain her leadership roll once the Democrats are relegated to the minority. Pelosi was re-elected in a 150-43 vote, which was conducted via secret ballot.

Skelos: Yeah! What He Said!

…But this isn’t about politics, of course.

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos just released a statement reiterating Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s call for the court system to expedite the ballot counting in three cliffhanger races.

“Senate Republicans share Governor-elect Cuomo’s serious concern that a needless, protracted delay in determining the results of three Senate elections would create gridlock in the Senate, that the ballots must be counted expeditiously and any legitimate legal issues must be resolved as soon as possible,” the Long Island leader said.

But Skelos then took things one step further by again accusing the Democrats of dragging out the process in hopes of raising sufficient cash to settle their campaign debts. He noted the Democrats have hired more election lawyers and are demanding hand recounts in some cases – a process that could take months.

“The audit of voting machines has proven the counts to be accurate, there is no evidence that any voter has been disenfranchised in any way and there is simply no reason to conduct a hand recount or engage in lengthy litigation that would delay the process and jeopardize a functioning Senate,” Skelos said.