Here it is:
Here it is:
March 2013 ATS – Choices
February 2013 Superbowl? Fiscal Cliff?
Feb 2013 Why I Am Running
Jan 2013 Politics and Passion
Dec. 2013 ATF – Requiem For Ineffective Leadership Part 3
February 28, 2013
BY ARTHUR Z. SCHWARTZ
I have lived in the Village for 31 years now, long enough to measure progress in terms of decades, not years. The Village I moved into in 1981 was very different from today’s Village, so there has been change. Progress? It depends how one defines it.
I love living in the Village. I have great neighbors and it’s been a wonderful community for raising my four children. The scale is amazing by Manhattan standards. The streets are empty by Manhattan standards. The liberal attitudes of my neighbors are refreshing.
I never cease to be amazed how in 2008, Barack Obama carried our neighborhood in his primary against Hillary Clinton, the only community in the state where that occurred that wasn’t a majority black or Hispanic. We are less racist, less homophobic, more green and eat more nutritious food than almost anywhere in the U.S.A. People speak to each other in the streets, and street musicians still play classical music on the corners.
Yet, our most recent community board census shows only 2 percent of the Village and Soho is African-American, and a similarly small percent is Hispanic. This is in a city that is majority minority. New York City now has 1 million Asian-American inhabitants, but if Chinatown weren’t partly in our census tract, we would be 0.5 percent Asian. So as liberal as we are, we live in one of the most lily-white, segregated communities in the nation.
When I moved to the Village, a number of big buildings were “turning co-op.” But most people still lived in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments. And those people were often at the heart of the arts and intellectual community: musicians, fine artists, opera singers, cabaret performers, dancers, actors and writers — people whose pursuits were nourished by a low-rent, low-rise community with reasonably priced food, clothing stores, shoemakers and even entertainment.
But there aren’t very many rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments left. Studios in walk-ups cost $3,500 a month. A one-bedroom condo goes for around $1 million. Commercial rents are so high that only high-end outfits can locate here. One of my favorite hangouts, the University Diner, on 12th St. and University Place, just closed, and the landlord wants $125,000 per month for a lease. Although we occasionally hear the words “affordable housing” out of elected officials’ mouths, there is very little of that. And it is hard for landlords to charge lower rents since the city has ratcheted up real estate taxes to obscene levels: Small buildings like townhouses pay $70,000 to $100,000 per year in taxes, and the city doesn’t care if the tenants are rent-stabilized.
This is an interesting political moment, similar in some ways to 25 years ago. In the early ’90s, Deborah Glick got elected to the Assembly, and Tom Duane to City Council. His chief of staff was Christine Quinn. A few years later, Duane moved to the state Senate and Quinn took his place on the Council. Now Duane has left the Senate and Quinn is either moving up or out.
Glick holds on after 23 years, much like her predecessor, Bill Passannante, did, looking to remain relevant, playing off some effective work she did in the past.
This could be called the “New New Politics Era,” which followed the New Politics era ushered in by Ed Koch and his cohorts in the Village Independent Democrats, who drove Tammany Hall to its grave.
Duane, Glick and Quinn promised to be the most liberal crew we ever had representing us. But under their watch (unlike during the New Politics Era, marked by heroes like Jane Jacobs, the landmarking of Greenwich Village, and the creation of West Village Houses), affordable housing disappeared, zoning variances that allowed large, oversized development became increasingly frequent, and we lost St. Vincent’s Hospital and a spate of historic structures in the West Village; meanwhile, we gained the multimillion-dollar condos built by the Rudins and Related Companies, while N.Y.U. took over more and more of the Central Village.
The Village has become more of a community of families with children, but the creation of school seats has lagged behind, forcing many parents to send their kids to private schools. We had a spate of park renovations, and Hudson River Park opened up (over Deborah Glick’s objection), but money to maintain those parks has had to be raised privately.
Neighborhood store after neighborhood store has closed, only to be replaced by multiple Marc Jacobs, Duane Reades and lots of expensive bistros. And instead of opening politics up in the community to a new, young generation, the trio have kept it a closed club. (Although Brad Hoylman did push his way in.)
None of the three is happy with our three present City Council candidates, Yetta Kurland, Corey Johnson and Alexander Meadows; these newcomers aren’t part of their club and they are looking to find a candidate who is. They all supported Hillary for president when their constituents were excited about Obama.
Crumbs thrown off by developers, like the 75 Morton St. school, the Foundling School and the AIDS memorial park, were minor contributions from developers beginning multibillion-dollar-profit projects.
Yes, we have Andrew Berman of G.V.H.S.P. and Terri Cude fighting N.Y.U., and Tobi Bergman with Pier 40. But advances have been few and far between.
The Village of Ed Koch, Jane Jacobs, Verna Small and Bob Dylan and Stonewall is no more. It is a lovely place to live, but has lost a lot of its soul.
Schwartz is Democratic state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District
Friday, April 05, 2013
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Washington Irving High School is being phased out of the massive school building at 16th St. and Irving Place. A new K-to-4 Success Academy charter school is set to occupy the building’s second floor and part of the third floor.
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | A new 500-seat charter school is planned to open this August in the Washington Irving High School building, and — as has frequently happened elsewhere when charter schools come in — a battle is brewing to block it.
Arthur Schwartz, a Greenwich Village activist and attorney who has represented plaintiffs against other New York City charter schools, told The Villager he expects to file a class-action lawsuit that will include the planned Success Academy Union Square and also possibly a charter school slated for Tilden High School, in Brooklyn.
“This is Eva Moskowitz’s beachhead in Lower Manhattan,” Schwartz said of the K-to-4 school in the Union Square/Gramercy area. The school is actually K-to-8; the students will continue on through the middle-school grades, though at another, yet-to-be-determined location.
Moskowitz, a former Upper East Side city councilmember, is the founder and C.E.O. of the Success Charter Network. Her first charter school, Success Academy Harlem 1, opened in 2006, and has since been recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, the federal government’s highest honor. By next year, the network is on track to have 20 Success Academies serving 5,000 students in New York City.
Success Academy Upper West, co-located in the Brandeis High School building, is in its second year. Success Academy Cobble Hill, co-located in a building with two high schools, is in its first year. Also slated to open this fall is Success Academy Hell’s Kitchen.
A spokesperson for Success Charter Network said there has been an outpouring of interest by local parents in the planned Union Square school.
“We’ve seen overwhelming demand from the community for another high-quality public school option,” she said. “We’ve had more than 1,000 applications for the coming school year for fewer than 200 seats. And I’d put that to Success Academy’s record of achievement as to why there’s such demand for such a school.”
Success Academy Upper West, she noted, “is off the charts in terms of popularity.”
The plan is for the Union Square charter to open with kindergarten and first grade and then add one new grade per year.
It won’t, however, be a traditionally “zoned school” with its own restricted catchment area, like the Village’s two schools, P.S. 3 and P.S. 41. Rather, priority will be given to students throughout all of Community School District 2. The sprawling district stretches from Battery Park City to 59th St. on the West Side and to 97th St. on the East Side, taking in Tribeca, the West Village, Soho, Gramercy Park and the Upper East Side. There is no admission test. A lottery is being held soon, possibly this week, to fill the school’s first two classes.
Throughout the Success Charter Network, 80 percent of the students are low-income, 15 percent are in special education and 10 percent are English language learners.
“The hope is to create an integrated, high-quality school that reflects the diversity of the surrounding neighborhoods,” the spokesperson said.
According to Schwartz, on March 11, the Department of Education’s Panel for Education Policy voted to approve a Success Academy for the Washington Irving building, at 16th St. and Irving Place.
Schwartz said the Success Charter Network’s strategy is to target school buildings that are “underutilized,” meaning there is some unused space in them. Despite the opposition of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, parents and teachers, Washington Irving High School is being phased out, which has opened up space in the massive Gramercy building.
But the building still houses a number of smaller high schools, including Union Square Academy of Health Sciences, Gramercy Arts High School, High School for Language and Diplomacy, International High School at Union Square and the new Academy for Software Engineering, the latter which has the backing of local tech heavy hitters, like Fred Wilson.
Schwartz blasted the idea of co-locating an elementary school in a building with five other high schools, calling it “really weird.”
“In the middle of that whole hodgepodge, they’re sticking an elementary school, which is projected ultimately to have 600 kids,” he said, citing a higher figure than the Success spokesperson.
“All of the high schools’ students, 80 percent to 90 percent, get free lunch — they’re very poor. The kids come from all over the city,” Schwartz said, adding, “Would you want your 8-year-olds walking around in the middle of high school students who come from all over the city? I wouldn’t.”
According to Schwartz, right now, there are about 1,900 high schoolers in the building. Once Success Academy is at capacity in a few years and the Academy of Software Engineering grows a bit, the building is expected to have close to 3,000 students, he said.
Teachers and parents at the existing high schools are concerned there will be a space crunch, according to Schwartz. This will be felt most painfully by the schools’ special-education students and English language learners, who, Schwartz maintained, need smaller classroom sizes to learn effectively — which translates into more space.
“The concerns that a lot of the leaders have — every classroom is currently being utilized now,” he noted. “The programs that are going on in the schools really need the space.”
Schwartz said this negative impact on special ed and E.L.L. programs will be the lawsuit’s basis. In February, a similar suit he lodged defeated the city’s effort to start up a charter Brownsville Academy High School. However, he recently lost another suit, against Citizens of the World Charter School in Williamsburg, which is being started by Eric Grannis, Moskowitz’s husband.
Gregg Lundahl, Washington Irving’s veteran union chapter leader, predicted that use of the building’s space will be an issue because Success Academy will be insular.
“My basic concern is that, whereas the schools that currently are in the building share some of the facilities, there will be no sharing of the Success Academy provinces,” Lundahl said. “I anticipate that the charter school will be entirely barricaded from the other schools. The building is designed as a one-school building, so we use shared hallways, gyms and the cafeteria.”
Lundahl said word is that the Success Academy will get the whole second floor and some of the third floor.
“The historic lobby ceiling and staircase extend to the second floor,” he noted, adding, “We believe that she will want to expand into the first floor.”
Lundahl said he and other teachers and parents will be depending on the United Federation of Teachers union to assist them.
“The U.F.T. has been very helpful in providing information on how we can battle Eva’s schools,” he said. “I look forward to continuing that battle in court.”
They definitely won’t be rolling out the welcome mat for Moskowitz and Co., he added.
“Eva will not find co-loca
ting at Washington Irving comfortable,” Lundahl vowed. “We are dead set against her due to her legacy of not playing fair with space.”
But the Success Charter Network spokesperson said the building can more than handle the new elementary school. There are, technically, currently 941 empty seats, according to the school’s official “educational impact plan,” she noted.
“It’s an enormous building,” she assured, adding that Success Academy “went through the whole co-location process” required to site a new school in a building with other existing schools.
“Two-thirds of all schools in the city are co-located,” she noted. The Success Academies that share space with Brandeis High School and with the two high schools in Cobble Hill are not having any associated problems, she added. As for Schwartz’s concerns about elementary school students walking around amidst high schoolers “from all over the city,” she said she didn’t know exactly how to respond to that one, and would “put it back on him” to clarify what he meant.
More to the point, she said, the Success Academies live up to their name — they’re successful. Last year, 88 percent of Success Academy students were at or above reading standards, while 96 percent were proficient in math — both far above the city average.
Speaking to its integrated student body, the Union Square charter would also try to narrow the district’s “achievement gap,” she said.
“The schools that are in the district are very segregated,” she noted. “The schools in the district that are predominantly white and Asian are high-performing, and the schools that are predominantly black and Latino are low-performing. The achievement gap in the district is huge.”
Charter schools are publicly funded but have more leeway in certain areas than regular city public schools.
Starting in kindergarten, the Success students have classes in science, chess, block play, arts, music and sports, among other things, and have regular field trips “to get them out in the city.” The school day is longer as well, stretching from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students all wear blue-and-orange uniforms.
“It’s very progressive but it’s very rigorous,” she said. “They call it ‘joyful rigor.’ The philosophy is, ‘We can’t dumb down what we think our kids are capable of,’ and we don’t.”
Success Academy teachers aren’t unionized, though some teachers at other charters are union members. But normal city public school teachers generally decry charter schools as “union busters.”
Schwartz said he suspects Moskowitz will next try to put a charter school in 75 Morton St., a former state-owned building that the city has purchased for a new District 2 school. But the Success spokesperson said she doesn’t know where he’s getting that from, and that the city decides where to cite charter schools.
Keen Berger, who heads the Community Board 2 task force on 75 Morton St., said the community will soon make its recommendations on what it wants at the building, but that a charter school probably won’t be in the mix.
“The community is very clear that we don’t need a charter school at 75 Morton,” Berger said. “We need a good public middle school. We have no middle schools, that’s the problem.”
Plus, she added, “It’s not Eva’s victory — it’s our victory,” referring to the community’s finally winning the long-sought school space.
The task force, which includes the Community Education Council for District 2, will meet Mon., April 22, at P.S. 41, at 116 W. 11th St., at 6:30 p.m. After the meeting, C.B. 2 and the C.E.C. will each draft separate resolutions on what kind of school uses they feel should be at 75 Morton St., which will then be reconciled sometime in May.
The suit charges that 55% of street-level Sanitation workers are black or Hispanic, but only 3% to 5% of management meets that criteria. The class-action suit alleges that actions by the department prevent minorities from moving up within the agency.
Andrenia Burgis and Leticia Smith are Sanitation bosses who are part of federal discrimination lawsuit against the agency. Tina Moore/New York Daily News
A group of 11 black and Hispanic supervisors filed suit against the city Sanitation Department Tuesday, saying they’ve been denied promotions because of their race and subjected to a discriminatory “plantation” culture.
“We still have a plantation mentality at the Department of Sanitation,” said supervisor Andrenia Burgis, a black veteran employee who joined fellow plaintiffs at a press conference outside the agency’s Manhattan headquarters. “They’re in the front and we stand in back.”
The class-action suit in Manhattan Federal Court charges that while 55% of street-level Sanitation workers are black or Hispanic, that proportion does not continue to management.
The suit alleges that just 3% to 5% of top bosses are minorities.
“There’s an astounding culture of racism in the sanitation department,” attorney Arthur Schwartz said after filing the suit on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. “It would have been astounding by 1960s culture.”
Burgis, who is 50, said she has worked at the agency since 1998 and been passed over for a promotion to superintendent level 2 for three years.
Promotions at that level are not decided by exam results, as lower-level positions are, and are based on the discretion of bosses.
“It’s not about merit,” Burgis said. “It’s about who you know and what color your skin is and that’s so unfair.”
The group intentionally filed suit on Lincoln’s birthday to make a point about the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, which guarantees equal protection under the law regardless of race. The suit also seeks $1 million each for the plaintiffs.
Sanitation Superintendent Leticia Smith, 44, of Brooklyn, said she was the first Hispanic female ever to be promoted to superintendent. But since that 2007 bump, she’s hit a glass ceiling.
“They just don’t want any women of color,” she said. “We have two women who were promoted instead of me — one is Italian and one is Irish.”
Supervisor Chris Burgos, 40, said he has been written up multiple times for “frivolous complaints” as he gets closer to being promoted to superintendent.
“If you have write-ups on your file, they have the right to skip you over,” Burgos said. “That’s the box that they’re putting me in.”
He said the pressure has affected his personal life and been a burden on his family.
“If you come to work every day and you get criticized for everything you do it’s hard to not succumb,” he said. “You start to think, ‘Am I really that bad?’ You lose confidence.”
Schwartz said the group intentionally filed suit on Lincoln’s birthday to make a point about the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, which guarantees equal protection under the law regardless of race.
The suit calls on the department to freeze promotions until a system is in place to guarantee fairness, a court-appointed monitor is installed and plaintiffs are paid damages of $1 million each.
A Law Department spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the city had not yet seen the suit.
Advocates for Justice is announcing a class action lawsuit that alleges discrimination in the Sanitation Department’ promotional practices. (Photo by Staten Island Advance photo)
By Ken Paulsen/Staten Island Advance
on February 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM, updated February 13, 2013 at 5:56 AM
The workers say they chose Lincoln’s birthday to announce the suit because Sanitation’s practices violate the 14th amendment, guaranteeing equal protection, which was passed after the Civil War.A federal class-action lawsuit will be announced Tuesday alleging the city Sanitation Department possesses a “plantation mentality” that suppresses the promotions of minorities.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, a former Staten Island resident, “should be embarrassed at the clear mistreatment of blacks and Hispanics at DSNY,” said lead attorney Arthur Z. Schwartz, in a prepared statement to the media, using an acronym for the Sanitation Department. “There is institutionalized racism at DSNY which should have been eradicated in city employment 50 years ago.”
Eleven supervisors are participating the announcement in front of Sanitation headquarters on Worth Street. They say that 55 percent of street-level Sanitation workers are black or Hispanic, but that proportion is not mirrored further up the scale. “By the time top positions are filled, only 3-5 percent are black or Hispanic,” they said in the statement.
The public-interest lawfirm Advocates for Justice is handling the case.
A city Law Department spokesperson said the agency has not yet been served with legal papers and declined further comment. We’ve asked the Sanitation Department for comment as well, but the Law Department typically does all speaking on the city’s behalf on litigation matters.
We’ve inquired with the firm whether any Staten Islanders are among the plaintiffs, and have yet to hear back.
ASTORIA — A group of parents in School District 30 are waging an all-out battle against the Department of Education, fighting the city’s plans for Astoria’s P.S. 122, which include expanding its general education classes through eighth grade and cutting its model gifted and talented program.
The coalition — including many parents from District 30 schools other than P.S. 122 — is stepping up efforts this week, saying it plans to rally outside of DOE offices. The group has hired a lawyer and is considering legal action.
The DOE wants to extend the school’s general education classes — which end after fifth grade — through the eighth grade, and plan to cut its high-ranking gifted and talented middle school program, called the Academy. The changes would begin with next year’s incoming kindergarten class and go into effect in 2019.
Parents have slammed the proposal, saying the additional middle school classes will overwhelm the already-crowded popular neighborhood school and dismantle the prestigious Academy.
The parents are working with lawyers from Advocates for Justice, a public interest law firm that recently represented parents from Brooklyn’s Brownsville Academy High School who were fighting the city’s plans to co-locate a charter school in their building. The DOE reversed its decision on that plan last month.
“This is not just a 122 problem,” said Advocates for Justice lawyer Laura Barbieri. “This is one of the best programs in the state. The district is very proud of that, and it does affect the community.
“People come into this location because of the school. Property values may be affected.”
Barbieri said parents can either file a petition with the State Department of Education to stop the changes, or they can seek an injunction in federal court to halt the DOE’s plans.
The DOE has said the change is to comply with a city regulation that requires that all K-8 schools allow every student the opportunity to remain enrolled there through middle school.
But parents argue that P.S. 122 is not a normal K-8, but a K-5 school with a separate middle school at the Academy.
“We believe that regulation does not apply to our school,” said Deborah Alexander, who has a son in kindergarten at Sunnyside’s P.S. 150, where he will automatically transfer to the Academy in sixth grade.
She said the group of parents are planning a rally at DOE headquarters later this week, and are also going to attend a Panel for Educational Policy meeting in Brooklyn Monday night to make their case.
Alexander said a lawsuit is their “last resort,” and that the group is hoping Chancellor Dennis Walcott — who has met previously with parents from District 30 — will respond to their appeal.
“He was really responsive and receptive to us,” she said of their earlier meetings with the chancellor. “I can’t believe that he would knowingly let this happen.”