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  #11  
Old 03-03-2017, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/02/de-blas...ising-circuit/

De Blasio heads out of town on campaign fundraising circuit
By Rich Calder
March 2, 2017 | 9:31pm

Mayor de Blasio will rack up frequent-flier miles this weekend by holding three out-of-town fund-raisers — including an A-list Beverly Hills affair being thrown by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and legendary TV producer Norman Lear.

De Blasio has already cited small donations from ordinary New Yorkers, which qualify for public matching funds, as a key part of his campaign for re-election this fall.

Now he’s hitting the road to line up big-buck donors a week after meeting with federal prosecutors investigating his past campaign-finance practices.

De Blasio heads to Chicago Friday to address the nonprofit City Club of Chicago. He then travels to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to deliver the keynote address at the Broward Democratic Party’s annual fund-raising dinner.

While in both cities, de Blasio will also hold his own campaign fund-raisers.

On Sunday, he will fly to Beverly Hills for a two-hour cocktail fundraiser hosted by Simmons, Lear, former DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg and ex-Los Angeles City Comptroller Wendy Gruel.

It will be held at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago bistro, and recommended campaign donations range from $2,500 to $4,950.

De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said the fund-raisers were planned “months in advance.”
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  #12  
Old 03-03-2017, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/03/de-blas...oubled-school/

De Blasio skirts questions about re-opening of troubled school
By Yoav Gonen
March 3, 2017 | 3:07pm

Mayor de Blasio on Friday for the second time would not refute allegations that he intervened on behalf of a fundraiser who sought to have the Dept. of Buildings lift a vacate order on a Hasidic school.

He was asked on WNYC radio about a report last week by the Kings County Politics blog that said Hizzoner called the cellphone of Satmar community leader Moishe Indig in late December 2014 to weigh in while Indig was meeting with the Brooklyn head of the buildings department.

But the mayor wouldn’t address the alleged phone call or related allegations directly, saying only that there was “a lot wrong with the reporting” in the story.

“I’m not going into detail because it’s a matter under investigation,” he told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer twice. “I want to respect the investigatory process.”

Indig, who hosted a fundraiser for de Blasio’s run for mayor in October 2013, did not return messages left seeking comment.

The Post reported Sunday that the matter is one of many connected to City Hall that’s under investigation by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office.

De Blasio was questioned by federal prosecutors for more than four hours last Friday about his fundraising practices, and is currently in the middle of a three-city fundraising trip to Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale and Beverly Hills.

City records show buildings inspectors found illegal classrooms in the basement of the Sanford Street school on Dec. 18, 2014 — prompting them to issue a partial vacate order.

Six days later, on Christmas Eve, the order was rescinded by Brooklyn DOB commissioner Ira Gluckman.

When the mayor was asked about the incident earlier this week, he told NY1 that he’s comfortable putting issues raised by community leaders on the table with agency heads but that he doesn’t pressure them to take action.

He reiterated on Friday that he saw no problem with that approach.

“I’m convinced that the agencies know that they should make the decision that they find appropriate — that’s everything I’ve experienced,” he told WNYC radio.

“I get issues brought to me by community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, labor leaders all day long. I believe that the folks who work for me understand their job is to make decisions on behalf of the all people, figure out what’s in the public’s interest,” he added. “I’m very convinced that’s what’s been done consistently.”

One of the other issues under investigation has been the lifting of a deed restriction at the former Rivington House nursing home in Manhattan by the city’s Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services in late 2015.

That move cost the community a protected healthcare site and netted a middleman developer as much as $72 million in profit.

The city terminated a DCAS deputy commissioner who signed off on the deal only last week, but the mayor wouldn’t explain why and claimed it wasn’t his decision.

“I believe they thought they needed someone better to do that job,” he said earlier this week.
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  #13  
Old 03-04-2017, 06:32 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/03/de-blas...ity-resources/

De Blasio tells staff to stop promoting him when using city resources
By Rich Calder
March 3, 2017 | 7:12pm | Updated

Four months after staunchly defending a taxpayer-funded video that tapped Broadway stars to trumpet his accomplishments, Mayor de Blasio has ordered staff through Election Day to stop promoting him whenever using City Hall resources to communicate with New Yorkers.

Dan Gross, the mayor’s deputy communications director, sent an email out to other mayoral staff this week, saying that de Blasio’s “name and likeness” should no longer appear on any “ordinary” communications, such as ads, flyers and public service announcements initiated out of City Hall. He said staffers should instead use “the generic NYC bubble and ‘Office of the Mayor.'”

The email, which was first obtained and posted by the Village Voice, notes that the new policy actually went into effect January 1 and runs through November 9 when de Blasio is up for re-election.

In December, de Blasio came under fire after recruiting “Aladdin” star James Monroe and Jenna Ushkowitz from the hit TV show “Glee” to sing about his accomplishments in a 3 1/2-minute video. Critics accused the video of being nothing more an early campaign ad – an accusation Hizzoner denied.

Austin Finan, a de Blasio spokesman, said “the administration is going above and beyond restrictions imposed” under law “on the mayor’s appearance in communications produced with government funds or resources during election years.”

The stringent, new policy comes at a time when federal and state prosecutors are investigating de Blasio’s past campaign funding practices.

Finan denied that the new policy is in response to the probes.
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  #14  
Old 03-05-2017, 06:39 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/05/citys-r...s-few-results/

City’s ‘Renewal Program’ costs big bucks but shows few results
By Yoav Gonen, Susan Edelman and Bruce Golding
March 5, 2017 | 5:11am

Mayor de Blasio vowed to “shake the foundations of New York City education” by showering 94 poorly performing public schools with taxpayer money to pay for an extra hour of daily instruction, special training for the teachers and extra social services for the kids.

Officially dubbed the “School Renewal Program,” de Blasio said he preferred a less-formal title when he announced the $150 million turnaround plan in November 2014.

“My name is simpler — it’s ‘No Bad Schools,’ ” he told a packed auditorium at East Harlem’s Coalition School for Social Change, one of those targeted for recovery.

Calling his vision a break from the past — when struggling schools were simply “written off” and shut down — de Blasio also said his hand-picked schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, had already started evaluating administrators “to make sure our school leadership begins improving immediately.”

But that’s not quite how it turned out.

With a three-year deadline looming, progress has been spotty at best and the Department of Education has already given up on 17 schools. It plans to continue the program in September with 78 schools, including one that was created by merging two it shut.

Some supporters have started questioning the program, which critics blast as a costly sinkhole that’s entered a death spiral

Some supporters have started questioning the program, which critics blast as a costly sinkhole that’s entered a death spiral.

“Failed schools don’t reinvent themselves,” said Eric Nadelstern, a former deputy schools chancellor for instruction under Mayor Mike Bloomberg and currently a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “Education will only get well if we reward success and penalize failure. The Renewal program does exactly the opposite.”

The annual cost of the program has risen to $186.5 million this school year, with total spending through the 2018-2019 year estimated at $754.2 million, according to the latest figures from the Independent Budget Office.

The Department of Education will not say where all the money goes. The Post has learned that $8.5 million is paid to 72 Office of Renewal Schools “directors” and “instructional coaches.” Since last school year, another $3.7 million went to “leadership coaches,” including many retired principals, each making $660 to $1,400 a day.

Meanwhile, DOE statistics show that:

•Total enrollment at the 86 Renewal schools currently open has plummeted nearly 25 percent — from 49,391 to 37,146 — since the 2013-2014 school year, before the program began.
•Average per-student spending at each Renewal school is $14,632 this school year, up nearly 35 percent from $10,847 in 2013-2014 — and more than twice the cost of educating students at the elite Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech high schools.
•Only three Renewal schools met all their improvement goals last school year, while 61 showed declines in at least one category and 13 fell in three or more — even after the Renewal schools were given three years to hit targets for which other schools only got one.

In recent weeks, the Department of Education has mounted a public-relations blitz to boost the Renewal schools, releasing preliminary data showing their average four-year graduation rate rose to 58.5 percent last year — then revising that number up to 59.3 percent and saying the increase from 2015 was more than twice the citywide average.

At a Feb. 10 news conference trumpeting the 4.8-point jump, de Blasio claimed it “proves that real impact is being made through the Renewal School initiative.”

But his administration had to admit that the dropout rate at Renewal schools rose to 18.6 percent last year, even as the citywide rate declined to a record low of 8.5 percent.

City Hall also ignored the fact that declining enrollment means the Renewal high schools actually graduated 18 percent fewer students — or 750 kids — than they did in 2014, before the program began
.

Even worse, DOE statistics show the rate of “college readiness” among Renewal grads — defined as meeting CUNY standards for avoiding remedial classes — was just 12.3 percent last year, one-third the citywide average of 37 percent.

And while the citywide college-readiness rate has risen steadily over the past three years, the Renewal schools saw a slight overall dip last year, when 10 showed declines from 2015 and one — Leadership Institute, which is slated for closure — sank to a dismal 2 percent.

In addition, nine Renewal high schools have seen their college-readiness rates fall since 2014, before the turnaround program began. “What this year’s data really shows is that the de Blasio administration is simply lowering standards to boost graduation rates,” said Jeremiah Kittredge of Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group.

“While that may help the mayor’s approval rating, it does nothing for the thousands of students trapped in his failing Renewal Schools program who are graduating woefully unprepared for college.”

Chancellor Fariña also penned a Feb. 1 op-ed in the Daily News claiming that “Renewal Schools are seeing real progress” and pointing in part to higher scores on state tests and lower numbers of suspensions.

She failed to note that the 2016 state Common Core exams had fewer questions and no time limits, with state Education Commissioner Maryellen Elia cautioning, “It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with previous years.”
‘At many of these schools, the bar was set so low, and some of them couldn’t get over the low bar’

Nor did Fariña mention that the drop in suspensions followed last year’s easing of disciplinary rules so that students in kindergarten to second grade can no longer be suspended and instead face unspecified, “positive” and “age-appropriate discipline techniques.”

A teacher at one Renewal high school, Richmond Hill, said teachers also faced pressure from administrators to limit suspensions of older kids to improve statistics.

“The kids run the schools,” the teacher said. “They know they can get away with pretty much whatever they want at this point. We’re in a position where we either allow chaos in the classroom or have administrators get pissed. It’s an unwritten rule now: Just let it go.”

A former state education official who helped oversee low-performing schools called the Renewal program a “colossal waste of money.”

“At many of these schools, the bar was set so low, and some of them couldn’t get over the low bar. How pathetic,” the ex-official said.

Two union leaders who initially supported the Renewal plan have since soured on it.

Ernest Logan of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators was the first to break ranks. In January 2016, Logan wrote in his union’s newsletter that the DOE’s bureaucracy had turned the program into a “recipe for disaster” — then publicly denounced it at a November panel discussion, saying: “If I told you that we spent $14,000-plus a kid and you know what you only got is a 1 percent improvement, you’d run me out the country.”

United Federation of Teachers boss Michael Mulgrew said in January he was “clearly frustrated” by the lack of progress.

“Parents and teachers are leaving in droves. These schools are not being managed properly,” Mulgrew told NY1 News.

A retired educator familiar with the Renewal program blamed meddling by officials from the DOE’s seven Borough Field Support Centers, which Fariña established in 2015.

At the time, she claimed the 700-plus Support Center staffers would “ensure schools get the tailored supports they need,” including “teaching and learning, finance and human resources, operations, student services, special education and English language learners.”

But the source said, “These places are staffed by people who are not anywhere near experts in the field.

“In half the cases they were probably very good two-, three-, four-year teachers. But they’re not the people to be walking into a building telling [assistant principals] or principals what to do.”

The Class Size Matters advocacy group has also compiled data showing that about 40 percent of elementary and middle schools in the Renewal program — and nearly all of the high schools — have some classes with 30 or more students in them.

The group’s executive director, Leonie Haimson, called the situation “unconscionable” and noted how the DOE had repeatedly pledged to “focus class size reduction planning efforts on the School Renewal Program.”

“Because of the DOE’s refusal to reduce class size, the Renewal program is doomed to fail.”

DOE spokeswoman Toya Holness defended the program.“This is hard work, and there’s more to do, but students are making gains: graduation and attendance rates are up and chronic absenteeism, suspensions and serious incidents are down.”
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  #15  
Old 03-05-2017, 06:41 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/04/de-blas...uption-probes/

De Blasio donors are getting stingy amid corruption probes
By Aaron Short
March 4, 2017 | 1:29pm

Major donors are shutting the money spigot to Mayor de Blasio’s re-election campaign as corruption probes swirl around City Hall, according to sources and campaign filings.

De Blasio, the subject of state and federal investigations into his fundraising, collected 19 percent less cash in the second half of 2016 compared to the first half. From July to December, he collected $842,728 from 2,788 donors. In the six months prior, he cashed $1.04 million from 1,216 donors, according to city campaign finance records.

Much of the drop in campaign cash is due to the wealthiest donors shunning Hizzoner as the probes heated up. The number of individuals who give the maximum allowed by law — $4,950 per primary and general election — plummeted from 130 to only 87.

And the total amount those “max donors” contributed nosedived from $633,600 in the first half of last year to $391,050 in the second half.

Even de Blasio’s biggest bundlers have abandoned ship.

“I don’t think I would give money right now,” one top fundraiser told The Post. “None of my clients will give money right now. I don’t know any industry that would. Nobody wants to get calls from the feds.”

“He’s trying to raise the max from donors and he’s having trouble,” said another benefactor who maxed out despite de Blasio’s troubles. “The coverage of him going to meet with people in the U.S. attorney’s office has been harmful. People want to see how it plays out.”

The mayor was quizzed by prosecutors from US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office two weeks ago. News about the investigations first trickled out in April, when The Post reported two mayoral donors sought favors from cops in exchange for foreign trips and gifts. The probes have since ballooned to include other donors with business before the city.

No one has come forward to challenge the mayor in the Democratic primary, but little-known Republican Paul Massey has pulled in $1.6 million in just six months for the November election. De Blasio has $3.3 million in his coffers, amassed over three years.

De Blasio has continued to hold fundraisers, but his outreach to top donors in the real estate, finance, and political worlds has been muted, multiple sources said.

“Why would you even give to [him] if everything will be scrutinized, if you’re expecting something from the city?” said another top bundler.

The mayor this weekend hit the road to fund-raise in Chicago, Florida and Los Angeles.

He’s had to rely on a mix of smaller gifts, which will be matched six times over thanks to the city’s campaign finance laws.

In the first half of last year he collected $58,680 in checks under $175 from 680 donors. That nearly doubled to $110,150 from 2,229 small donors in the second half of 2016.

“We are proud to be powered by low-dollar contributions from regular New Yorkers,” said De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan.

But a de Blasio ally warned: “He still needs to have big donors. You can’t just get by on $20 donations.”
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  #16  
Old 03-05-2017, 06:55 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/05/going-t...e-for-college/

Going to a de Blasio ‘Renewal school’ didn’t prep me for college
By Susan Edelman and Bruce Golding
March 5, 2017 | 5:49am


Hidekel Reyes Lopez, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Helayne Seidman


For this aspiring doctor, attending one of Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal schools was the wrong prescription.

Hidekel Reyes Lopez, 18, decided to attend the HS for Health Careers and Sciences because it was convenient to her home in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood — and then a knee injury inspired her to pursue a career in orthopedics.

But despite its name, the school offered no specialized courses on health or medical professions, she said, and little in the way of science beyond the “very basic” classes required to graduate.

Even worse, the lackluster instruction left her unprepared when she got her high-school diploma last June and applied to CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College — where she promptly failed the math-assessment test for incoming freshmen.

“I think they actually shouldn’t have graduated me,” she said of the city Department of Education.

“The next step after high school should be college, and if I wasn’t ready for college, I shouldn’t have been let go.”

The vivacious, athletic teen wound up spending two months last summer in “CUNY Start,” an intensive, 25-hour-a-week, remedial program where she learned the “four years of math that I didn’t get in high school.”

Grateful for the challenge, Lopez wound up getting a perfect score of 100 on her final math exam, she said.

Despite de Blasio’s vow that his School Renewal Program would “transform” the 94 low-performing schools targeted, Lopez noticed little impact at her high school after Hizzoner unveiled the plan in late 2014.

“For the most part it was the same. It didn’t really feel like a big change,” she said.

The most obvious differences, Lopez said, were an increase in the number of after-school clubs and a new health clinic.

And while she credited English teacher Lisa Brown with sparking a love of reading by introducing her to classic literature such as “The Catcher in the Rye,” Lopez said most of her classes were “very dull, very plain.”

Lopez also said her other instructors “just teach so students can pass the Regents” exams required for graduation, using old tests to guide the curriculum.

“They’re not really teaching so the students can learn, explore and go deep,” Lopez said. “I wanted to go deeper.”

While Lopez joined 70 percent of her classmates at Health Careers who graduated in four years, DOE statistics show a mere 10 percent scored high enough on standardized exams to enroll at CUNY without first taking remedial courses.

“Students are going into college unprepared,” Lopez said. ‘They don’t have a level of thinking that allows them to succeed.”
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