WBWPC Forum at the YWCA

| August 30, 2011

These notes are from the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus candidates’ forum hosted at the Yonkers YWCA on Monday, August 22nd. It took me a little longer to transcribe than I thought it would. The following is each mayoral candidate’s opening remarks, and their answers to 2 questions. First, what they would do about the budget crisis in Yonkers if elected mayor, and, secondly, school reform. Each is given in the order they spoke. Other questions were asked and answered (What is your management style? What are your accomplishments, and what would you like to accomplish?), but I thought these were most relevant to our purposes, and the transcriptions are rather lengthy as it is. I’ve bolded the parts of each answer I felt were most revealing, for those who don’t have time to read the full answers.

There were nearly 100 in attendance. We sat in the front row to capture good quality audio, and what is typed here is exactly what was said that night. [Words in brackets were audible comments by audience members at that moment in the candidate’s speech.] We did meet with Mr. Murtagh last Thursday, and I’ll be posting notes from that meeting as soon as they’re ready to be shared.

Mr. Murtagh: Good evening, everybody. Can everybody hear me? Because I’m not a fan of podiums. Ok. First of all, I want to thank each and everyone of you for taking the time out to be here, and I want to thank the Women’s Political Caucus as well for inviting me and for hosting this event. And, I do want to say I’m disappointed about one thing. I’m disappointed for the simple fact that I have two opponents in a primary on September 13th, Mr. Martinelli, and Mr. Calvi. And frankly, I think it’s disrespectful of the Black Women’s Political Caucus, and an insult to every member of this community that I am the only Republican candidate standing here today. That being said, I have to tell you I’m very comfortable in this room because I look out there right now, and I can’t tell you how many faces I see of people that I’ve become friends with in the last 10 years. People that I have worked with in my years on the city council, true leaders in the community. It puts me really at ease. I tell you the other thing that puts me at ease, that makes me very comfortable. It’s sort of like old home week. I’m running right now against a Calvi and a Martinelli. I may, in November, be running against a Spano. I’m 50. When I was 15 years old, my mother moved my family to a 2-bedroom apartment here in Yonkers. That was 35 years ago, and the mayor was Martinelli, there was a Calvi in the planning dept., our representative in White Plains and my representative in Albany were Spanos. 35 years later, I find myself running against 2, and possibly 3, of the oldest Republican political names in Yonkers. And that speaks to something. When you have 7 years on the City Council, and you’re running as the outsider, it says a lot. But it really also says we’re at a crossroads here in Yonkers. We’ve made progress in the last several years, and we have a very big decision to make in September, and again in November. Are we going to continue moving this city forward, into a new era, or are we going to stop, make a u-turn, and head back to the politics of and the governing that a lot of us remember from the 70’s, and the 80’s, and even the early 90’s. I’m ready to continue moving forward. I hope you are too. Government has 3 responsibilities, in my mind. Public safety, education, and quality of life. Public safety, in my mind, is really #1. If you don’t feel safe when you walk the streets of Yonkers, if you have to worry about your child or grandmother sitting in the window on a hot summer’s night, if you’re afraid to hit a light on Riverdale Avenue, nothing else matters. It’s safety, it’s education, we’re going to talk more about this in a little bit, and it’s quality of life. It’s what I’ve been dedicated to for 7 years on the Council, and that’s what I’ll be dedicated to as mayor. Thank you.

Mr. Flower: I think I might stand here, you might hear me better. Alright. I want to give you a little bit about my background. My family came to Yonkers in 1896 and settled in the Park Hill section of Yonkers, and we’ve been civic activists, and business–people ever since. My mom and dad, my brothers subsequent to them, were in the funeral business, and still are. I went to school right next door, at St. Mary’s, I graduated from Yonkers High School. I was born and raised on Main Street, right around the corner. So I know Yonkers. This is a coming home for me. I’m an independent Democrat. What does that mean? That means that I am not in the old-boy network. I am not a career politician. I’ve had my career, 45 years as a successful businessman, dealing with not only individuals, helping them with their problems, but with major corporations, international corporations. I think that gives me some great background to run a billion dollar operation like the City of Yonkers. I’m also an author, I’ve written 4 books on developing potential. I’ve been acknowledged in international circles as a potential-development expert. And I intend to use that in my seat as mayor, to help this city and its residents reach their potential. To take nothing and make it into something, that’s what we do. That’s our theme. Now let me just tell you a little bit more about me, my plan. My first priority are schools. I have a program which is listed on my website which will save this city $4,000 per year per student and increase the quality and discipline and competition from the schools. The 2nd thing is a program for bringing income into a low income community and the senior community, and I call it “Rich Man, Poor Man.” It’s a very unique concept, which, once again, is on my website. The 3rd thing is jobs and enhancing income through the budget. Now, I have executive management skills. All of the other candidates are legislators. I want to ask you, are you satisfied with what’s going on this city? Are you satisfied with the schools? Satisfied with the budgets? Are you satisfied with the crime? Don’t be, I can offer you a difference, and I have the courage, the guts, and the intelligence to do it. Thank you very much.

Mr. Lesnick: I’m gonna follow instructions and stand up here. I’m running for 3 reasons: education, education, and education.  No candidate for office this year should talk about anything besides education because it is the most important thing that we hand off to our children. Now the state did not give us the resources this year to properly fund our schools. My opponent voted for that state budget, and he’s voted for a 2% property tax cap for next year which will limit our ability to even remedy what we try to do if the state shortchanges us again. So we need to look to ourselves to figure out how do we prioritize education in the city of Yonkers? One way to do it is economic development: good paying jobs coming into Yonkers and creating an increased tax-base, getting more tax creditors to fund our schools. But we can’t be giving subsidies to large developers unless they are going to pay their lowest paid workers a living wage. Twice I was part of a coalition on city council of 4 Democrats that voted for a living wage so that those people who worked 40 hours a week or more could lift themselves  out of poverty. We all know what the poverty rate is in Yonkers, about 27,000 and counting, and the fact that we have 72% of the parents of our schoolchildren in the poverty rate tells me that if we paid our workers more money that would take care of some of the problems. Fiscal responsibility is essential. We need to get our fiscal house in order. So often we go up to Albany or Washington and they don’t want to fund us because Yonkers has a reputation for having the mayor and commissioners that drive around in gas guzzling SUV’s and otherwise waste money. We have to clean our fiscal house. We have to get ride of the friends and family club that has plagued Yonkers and bled it into the ground. I don’t always agree with John Murtagh, but I do agree with his assessment of the families, the Republican dynasties that have controlled this city for so often. I’m not one of those. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I want to hire people who reflect the rich diversity of Yonkers. I mean, you can’t tell me, that in 16 years of Republican administration,  why do we have a single female commissioner as the head of a department? One African American commissioner who heads up a department? We have talented people in Yonkers, and while I will do a nationwide search, to get the best and the brightest to come to Yonkers to work, I will always give preference to the Yonkers people because they know this city, they know its problems, and they don’t have to take the city car to the Poconos every night and and charge us for gas. I want this city, where I’ve raised my children, to continue to grow. The promise that we’ve seen in the school system, magnet schools, those programs that we know work, sports, art, music, we have to protect those things. I also want this city to be hip, edgy, cool, so that my kids who have now graduated from college  will want to come back here. So that there’s an interesting downtown that reflects the historic buildings that we have but that also reflects the diverse people and the diverse cultures that we have in Yonkers. Because, let’s face it, that’s what makes this community great. 20 years ago people fled this city, they were afraid of the integration that was going to come, now a lot of the people that are coming here, are coming because of that diversity. Because they want to raise their families in a community with good schools and interesting, diverse people. So we need to maximize our great asset, the waterfront, we need to have economic development that respects the historic buildings that we have, that respects what the community wants. I talk a lot about the environment, and also about historic buildings because if you have  2-story brick masonry structure downtown and you’re weighing the pros and cons of tearing it down or recycling it, it’s much better to recycle it and it saves money for the long run in energy costs. I’m getting the signal, I’m sure we’ll have the discussion as the night goes by. Thank you to the Black Women’s Caucus for inviting me to come and speak tonight.

Mr. Spano: I hope you don’t me mind speaking from here, I think I can speak loud enough where everyone can hear me. This is a great opportunity for us, so I want to say thank you to the ladies here from the Black Womens’ Caucus because it will give us an opportunity for you to hear from the candidates, and about our visions, and about our backgrounds, and where we come from. You know what, my opponents alluded to the fact that my family has been here a long time. You know what? That is true. My grandfather came here from Italy a hundred years ago, right next to Bob Flower. Our grandparents were actually good friends and Bob’s father being probably the last guy to let you down, because he was an undertaker, but they were good friends and they came here with values. And they came here for a better way of life for their families. My grandfather came here with his father and his brothers and sisters, and you know what, here we are now, several generations later, where my wife and I are bringing up our children, here in Yonkers where I hope that maybe the next 5 generations will be here to make Yonkers the city that it should be. Our community hasn’t really changed all that much since then. Our needs and desires are the same. What do we want? We want to make sure our children have an equal opportunity to get a good education. I don’t have to tell you, what we’ve seen in the last couple of years. You ever watch the Wizard of Oz? Who’s in charge of education in Yonkers [crosses arms and points both ways]? That’s what we get. That’s what we get from those we elected here. We need to change that. We need to make sure that it’s the number one priority in our town for everyone and I will do that. Education will be a priority. We need to make sure that when we bring young people into our community, and, let’s face it. Let’s look at the waterfront here. Where we’ve invested hundreds, probably tens of millions of dollars, in bricks and mortar. A lot going on here, but has it really taken off yet? One, has it given jobs to our community? No way. You know why? Because our administration that has allowed developers to come in, to live off our city, to live off the tax base, allow for tax benefits, but you know what? Have no real accountability to hiring people in our community. We need to change that. We need to make sure that when people move into a community that it’s a safe community. We have a police department that is, by number of police officers lower than it was post-9/11. Crime is still a major issue in our community. We can’t expect to grow as a community if our people can’t walk the streets. And that’s a type of leadership that you’ll get from me. I won’t be the kind of person who will point elsewhere, I’ll will point inward. I will make sure that we will not just point at cars, as what you heard, as being an issue, right, 10, 200 cars. You know what, when you’re in the position, when you’re a councilman, a council president, your job is to deal with those issues. Your job is to deal with our streets, that our streets are safe, that there are enough police, that they’re not disbanding units, that they’re not taking police officers out of our schools. Your job is to make sure that we have a quality education, 2nd to none. Your job is to make sure that we have people in our community who want to come and get tax breaks, big corporations get big tax breaks to come here, but should be willing to hire people who live in our community. That’s the type of situations that they’ve been failures at. And we’re going to change that. And with your help, as mayor, we will see a Yonkers that is a brighter Yonkers with a greater future and I’m looking forward to this forum. Thank you.

Explain what steps you would take to deal with the budget crisis, the budget gap, that battered the city in 2011. Be specific, for example, state what department or services you would cut or fold.

Mr. Murtagh: The answer is really quite simple. You have to start right at the top and you have to work all the way down. It’s what I’ve done, and what’s I’ve called on others to do. When you have a situation in the city where 225 employees made more last year than the mayor, something’s wrong. That’s why, year in and year out, I’ve called  for across the board paycuts for every single employee in the city. It’s as simple as that. The salaries are unsustainable. The benefits are unsustainable. We would’ve saved $50 million last year, balanced the budget, not had a single layoff in the school system. With that simple revenue, everybody has to contribute. We have to consolidate. I sit on the only city council, as does the Council President, the only city council that has ever actually done what we were just asked about. Eliminated an entire department. It can be done. We have an Office of Economic Development. We have an Office of Downtown Economic Development.  We have an Industrial Development Agency. We can shrink government. We can save money. And then do one of 2 things, either put that money where it’s needed or return that money to the taxpayers. It can be done. It’s what I’ve been talking about for years on the city council. As mayor, you can write a budget that does it. As a councilman you can call for it, you can fight for it, as the mayor, you can make it your priority. Pension padding that is unsustainable, everyone deserves a decent pension and a decent retirement. A system, a state system, and a city system that allow you to rig the system so that you run unsustainable pensions in your last couple of years as an employee doesn’t work. It’s wrong and it doesn’t work. I wrote the first piece of legislation that would have stopped that. The council president and I supported legislation again this year that would have stopped this. The mayor vetoed it. It’s unfortunate, I believe, but the mayor vetoed it. There are ways to save money. I’ve talked about them. You’re also talking to the only elected official in Yonkers, I believe, who ever turned down a pay raise. Now did my turning down a pay raise last year save the taxpayers a lot of money? No, I probably saved the taxpayers less than $4,000. But, you lead by example. So, day one, every salary in the mayor’s office gets cut. Day one, every non-union employee starts paying for part of their health benefits by giving money to the private sector like everybody in the universe. Day one you lead by example. Mr. Spano talked about the cars. He’s right in one respect, even if we got rid of every car tomorrow, and I’ve been trying to for years, I never took one, and I’ve been trying to get rid of the rest. Get rid of them all tomorrow and you save less than a million dollars. [teacher salaries] Again, it sends a clear message. When elected officials are driving cars that you’re paying for, and incidentally, everybody talks about the cars, nobody talks about the gas. Did you know they fill them all up for free, too? Even if they’re driving their own cars they’re allowed to fill ‘em up for free. Well, it’s not free, you’re paying for it again. It’s a small item in a multi-million dollar budget, but it sends a message. Leadership from the top. It’s what I’ve done as a city councilman, it what I’ve done when I turned down a raise, it’s what I’ll do as mayor. Thank you.

Mr. Spano: The budget. Let’s look at it. I remember a story in the newspaper, about 2 months ago, where there was a city employee who earned $300,000. Now. If I were mayor, I would have fired the commissioner for that. [Yes, that’s right] You know why? Because it’s up to the mayor to manage the city. It’s up to the mayor to make sure that there is an overtime policy in place that’s sane. It’s up to the mayor to make sure that he is taking care of the quarters because if he’s taking care of the quarters, the dollars take care of themselves. I talked about the cars, you know what? 200 cars. 200 take home cars in this city. Now, Buffalo: 100 cars. There are people taking cars outside the city to counties or places I can’t even pronounce upstate each and every night. Using our gas, our insurance, wear and tear on the vehicles that we as taxpayers pay for. As mayor, the first thing I would do is go through this budget top to bottom and we will look for the necessary changes that we need to make to make those savings. As mayor, I don’t need a car. I’ll take my own car to work, that’s what I will do. Take my own car to work and it will be a message. It will send a message to everybody in the city that we are partners. That we are invested as city employees, whether you’re the mayor, whether you’re the council president, whether you’re a firefighter, or garbage man, or garbagelady, not that we have too many of them, but whatever you do, you’re sending the message that we are together. We are investing in the financial success of this city. And that’s the only way we’re going to get through this crisis. Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a tough couple of years. The budgets that have been passed by our city council, you can’t run away from them, that’s the document, that’s the bible, that the city is run by, the budget that is passed by the city council, is there and there are some pitfalls in them. And we’re going to see some tough years ahead of us. But I have no doubt, that, provided we treat the men and women who work for our city with respect, and as partners in the process, provided we keep the taxes as low as we can at the same time we provide adequate services with police and fire and sanitation, I have no doubt we can get through this. But it’s not going to be easy. Any one who tells you that will be lying to you. But I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we can get the job done. Thank you.

Mr. Lesnick: The Assemblyman mentioned some of the City Council budgets, you know, we’ve had dysfunction in Albany where we’ve gone months without a budget. We’ve seen what happens in Washington D. C. where people at the end of the day will take turf so strongly they can’t compromise. Even though John Murtagh and I disagree on a lot of things, we’ve actually voted on every city budget for the last 6 years, and we’ve brought down the proposed property tax increases that the mayor has proposed by 4 or 5 points cumulatively over the years we’ve been together. Has every cut been the cut that we’d all like? No, that’s what a compromise is, but working together, which we have with a council that’s 43 [sic] Democratic, with a Republican mayor, we have done that. Now, without reinventing the wheel, the Inspector General has outlined in various reports that have been ignored by the administration, ways that we can save. For instance, why do we have a parking authority and a parking violations bureau both issuing tickets? Why do we have 3 garages for the school vehicles, for the parks vehicles, for the city vehicles? One set of mechanics can fix all those sparkplugs. We don’t need to do that, we can consolidate that. I would certainly go through those Inspector General reports we have. But the Council Minority Leader is right. When we wanted to curb the abuses, we passed an overtime cap. It was vetoed. When we passed a proposed wage freeze, Assemblyman Spano took that out of what was proposed as a transitional finance authority that might have helped the BOE. So, we have tried to do things, we have been stymied. We need to keep taxes reasonable, but we also can’t forget the services. Because, really, that’s, the schools, and the other things that we need to have a safe city. Look, the council has put in money every year for additional police. The mayor didn’t want to apply to the federal government for the SAFER Grant. I signed the application so we could get money for 60 additional firefighters paid for through Homeland Security because it’s more efficient to put young, energetic guys on the streets, guys and gals, and not have to pay the overtime. If you look at the budget, it’s $11 million, 550 police officers. We’re not making the city any less safe by putting in an overtime cap. Do the math, that’s how it works out. Why do we have an abuse of a $300,000 for a police officer? I won’t tolerate that when I’m mayor. Thank you.

Mr. Flower: Ok. First I want to just remind you, in case you don’t know, I’m the man who brought term limits to Yonkers. I don’t have obligations to anybody. I’m funding this campaign out of my own pocket. And we have substantial cash surpluses set aside for a very active campaign, ok? I’m beholden to no one. Secondly, my phd is in org. sciences, I know how to organize things. and I know how to be an executive manager over groups, peoples, communities. Now, relative to the issue of the budget cut. Shocker. I won’t cut the budget. I won’t have to cut the budget because I’m going to use my financial background and my innovation and what I’m going to do is two basic ways. Number one, I mentioned to you before that my plan for the schools is to save $4,000 a year per student. We don’t have to convert the entire system over to a new program, but we can save, wait a second, take a look, see what I have to say about this. And, see what the experts are saying about my program. $4,000 per year, per student. I can easily save, $20, $30 million a year, alright. Secondly, I’ve developed a program that I call the Municipal Insurance Investment Plan. This program will initially save, I’m sorry, generate income to the city of $20 million a year, initially. Eventually, within 4-5 years, this program can generate between $40-60 million a year to the city. We don’t have to cut budgets. We don’t have to raise taxes, these are things that can be done when you don’t put politics first. Dammit! It’s common sense, folks, and if you’re a career politician, you’re not going to be thinking about the citizens first. That’s what I’m about, and that’s what I”m going to bring to the table. No budget cuts! No 700 people laid off! No police or firemen cut, we don’t need to, put the teachers back, put more police on the street and deter crime, and bring more income into this city. Thank you.

What is your plan to fix the education system in Yonkers and are you in favor of having more charter schools as part of that plan?

Mr. Spano: I don’t think we need to have more charter schools in Yonkers. We have good, solid, educational facilities that we need to focus on. Our schools have grown in leaps and bounds in many places, but, where we have failed our kids has been in the budgetary and in the management. What I’ll do, as mayor, one, is put into place an educational redesign team, that will involve parents, teachers, CSEA, business community, just like we did at the state capital this year, where we took Medicaid and redesigned it and brought all the stakeholders together. We could do that in Yonkers. We need to go through our budget. We spend close to $18,000 per pupil. There is no reason we can’t have a school district that educates our children, that gives us after school programs, that gives us a sports program that provides us with a Pre-K. We can do that. I know that there will be those who say that we need to put more money in it. You know what, we’re not doing that anymore. We will provide our educational system, we will provide, we will make our kids our #1 priority. Thank you.

Mr. Lesnick: I actually agree with Assemblyman Spano that we can educate our children adequately for $18,000 a person. The other day Hugh Carey died, he was the governor of this state, and I went to the wake and was talking to his daughter-in-law, Maryanne Carey, who runs an organization called “Say Yes to Education.” Now, that is an organization that is doing a pilot program right now in Syracuse, bringing in the county, bringing in the social service agencies, bringing in the city government, bringing in the state, and guaranteeing that students who make it through the public schools and have reached the academic standards will have a free education at a state school if they want to go on. It really was a tremendous effort by all of them, you should go to their website, because Maryanne Carey actually lives in Yonkers and came to Yonkers first and was turned away because of the bureaucratic intransigence at the time and felt like she couldn’t go forward here in Yonkers. I’ve had some conversations with her, and Yonkers Partners In Education and some of the other people who are trying to think outside the box about how we can better educate our children. Again, I agree with the Assemblyman, that the unions are not the cause of the problem. They didn’t cause the financial meltdown in this country, but they have to be at the bargaining table as we go forward in anything we do. And the most important thing they can give us, whether it’s the teachers’ union, or police, or fire, is not a salary cap, it’s the flexibility of working in the 21st century, using the new technology, and maybe someone needs to be retrained for different jobs. They shouldn’t be laid off necessarily, they need to be retrained. We have great human capital, and we do have to treat our municipal workers as partners.

Mr. Murtagh: You know, municipal unions are not causing the problem. In fact, one of the good things I can point to at least right now is, that in all the years I’ve been in Yonkers when we’ve seen crises, when we’ve seen problems, we saw them at times when every community in this region was moving forward. But, somehow with the politics in Yonkers, we couldn’t get out of our own way. One good bit of news, now, is we have challenges. But, for the first time in my experience, they’re not uniquely Yonkers’ challenges. We are in very difficult economic times, here, in the county, in the state, in the nation, and in the world. The problem is, part of the problem is, that no, our unions have not recognized that. When I can sit with the president of the teachers’ union, and she can say to me that she would rather see hundreds of her members get laid off as long as the rest of them got another raise, something is wrong with that [Yes!]. It’s as simple as that. Something’s wrong. We’re not out to hurt any municipal union, we have some of the best teachers, and cops, and firemen in the country. But when tough economic times come, everybody does have to come to the table, everybody does have to step up. And, yes we do have to change those work rules. We have to change those rules that throw good teachers out the door and leave bad teachers behind because every child in this city is entitled to the the best teacher possible in front of that classroom. And you know what, we do need more charter schools, we need a lot more options. It’s not just charter schools. You know, my kids didn’t attend Yonkers Public Schools. Mr. Lesnick’s did for a while, and then they went to private school, and Mr. Spano’s kids attend private school, and some people say that’s wrong. And I say no, I made a choice, what’s wrong is that I had that choice, they had that choice, and every parent in this city should be [Yes!] entitled to make choices for their children. The city of Albany, we’ve all heard about Albany dysfunction, well Albany is about less than half the size of Yonkers. It has over 10 charter schools. We have one. [Wow.] Parents are entitled to choice, and parents are entitled to control of the current system. That’s right, we are spending $18,000 per student and we have a 63% four-year graduation rate. We have to spend the money necessary to educate our children, but it’s not just about how much you spend, it’s about how you spend it. How are we educating those kids? Is that money we’re spending getting to the question of educating the children, or is it going to bureaucracy? Is it going to a teachers’ welfare fund that has millions and millions of dollars in it that the union controls for the members that has nothing to do with the children? We have to ask those union leaders, not the rank and file, they work hard and they get it, but those union leaders have to partner with us. They have to live up to what they say, which is that it’s all about the children. Because it’s true, it is all about the children, but they need to walk that walk, not just talk that talk. We need to take that school system from top to bottom and take the municipal side of the budget as I’ve done in the past and Chuck has, too. We need to take every department. We talked an hour ago about consolidating depts. and I said yes, and then either give the money back to the taxpayers or reallocate it. If we eliminate that Waterfront Development Office, that Economic Development Office, that Industrial Development Agency, and we bring that all together, we save millions of dollars. That’s millions of dollars that can go into the classrooms. That can go into extended day. That can go into family resource centers in our schools, because yes we do have a population in our schools that is 70% at the poverty level. Through no fault of those parents’ own, they’re struggling, they don’t necessarily have the tools and the skills they need. We don’t just need to help the students, we need to help the whole family. And educate them.

Mr. Flower: Well, John, glad to see you finally came around on the charter schools, [Yeah, me too!] [Applause]. Let me tell you something about the charter schools, and I have a whole dissertation on this on my website. Actually, charter schools are 17% cheaper than public schools, and by the way, the number in Yonkers is not $18,000 a student, it’s closer to $20,000. There was a recent proposal to the city of Yonkers for a charter school, and that proposal, by a professional organization, asked for $15,650 per student. That’s over $4,000 a year cheaper than what we’re paying right now. I want to tell you something. The BOE needs to be taken to task. They’ve done a terrible job. I don’t care what anybody says. We’ve had 3 schools that have been closed for restructuring by New York State. Did you know that? One school was closed, was restructured, and they screwed that up. But they didn’t screw up giving themselves some big salary raises. They did fine at that. It’s all part of the political machine, folks. Let’s wake up. Let’s smell what’s burning, it’s our pockets. Charter schools work, they bring discipline, they bring competition, they bring order, and I’ve met with 11 different teachers, 3 of which are union delegates, and they love the program that I want to put forward. My idea is to slowly but surely, eventually, convert the entire system to charter schools. Both private charter schools and civic charter schools. This way we can cover everything that needs to be covered. The teachers’ welfare, the children’s welfare, and the parents’ desires. We can create individual academies. We can then have the teachers design for the individual schools, and their purposes, and the level of children’s education and their capabilities. This is a very doable project, I don’t know what the hell we’re waiting for, for God’s sakes, when you can save this kind of money. I mean, let’s get into it folks, I mean, come on, wake up! But you’re not going to get it from the politicians, because they’re not going to give up control. And the current public school system is a controlled environment. We need to change it. Thank you

Thank you for reading this far, and a very special thank you to the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus for hosting an excellent event, and for inviting us all to learn from it.