ALBANY –- The wounds are apparently still quite fresh, with the union displeasure over last week’s Tier VI pension vote continuing.
Read for yourself and get a nice flavor for money and politics and policy.
First up in this afternoon’s back-and-forth comes this entry from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
"In recent days, the United Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, and other unions withdrew their support for this weekend's 25thannual Somos El Futuro conference in Albany because they are angry about the passage of pension reform. We think the unions' actions are unfortunate, and don't want the conference to suffer as a result. We both support the Somos El Futuro Conference and, as such, we will be donating $72,000 to Somos El Futuro and the scholarship to make up for the donations that the unions withdrew. Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who is Chairman of the New York State Senate/Assembly Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force, was instrumental in arranging this contribution."
That was followed by this thank-you from Ortiz, a Brooklyn Democrat:
“On behalf of the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force, I sincerely thank Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for their generous donation in support of our 25thAnniversary Somo El Futuro Conference. This donation will allow us to continue our work to provide opportunities for our youth, which is of vital importance for the economic future and well-being of our state.”
“Once again, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have demonstrated their leadership in addressing the needs and issues of importance to the Hispanic community. Although we may not always see eye to eye, the Governor and the Mayor have shown that they are willing to step up and give a helping hand when politics gets in the way of doing the right thing.”
“In addition, the Governor has been a long time friend and supporter and we are honored to present him with the Visionary Leadership Award at the Gala as planned.”
That was then followed up by this entry from the New York State United Teachers union:
In response to the statement issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York State United Teachers today released the following letter sent March 20 to Assemblyman Felix Ortiz on the Somos el Futuro conference:
March 20, 2012
The Honorable Felix Ortiz, Chair
NYS Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Dear Chairman Ortiz:
Thank you for your invitation to this year’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force Spring Somos El Futuro Conference 25th Anniversary Celebration and for your offer to recognize me at the chairman’s VIP reception.
NYSUT has long been a strong supporter of the New York State Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force’s Somos El Futuro event and a strong supporter of expanding access to education and other opportunities for Hispanics across our state and nation.
Unfortunately, given the disheartening votes taken against the interests of educators and students by the members of the Task Force, I feel it inappropriate for me to participate in this event this year.
Last year, the state Legislature slashed $1.3 billion in aid for schools and passed a property tax cap that has resulted in increased staff reductions and program cuts in school districts across this state. And, just last week, the state Legislature passed a Tier VI retirement plan that requires greatly increased contributions for future workers while significantly reducing their benefits. In the end, this plan will result in greatly reduced retirement security for future workers.
On behalf of the more than 600,000 members and our Board of Directors, NYSUT is very disappointed that so many of the members of the New York State Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force have chosen to hurt future workers and the ability to attract professionals to choose careers in public education.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss our relationship going forward.
Richard C. Iannuzzi
No one ever accused Albany of being subtle.