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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Green puffs the magic dragon

Alice Green - Puffin' the Magic Dragon?: So 1/3 of Peter, Paul, and Mary was in town yesterday to lend a hand to the Green for Mayor campaign. Very cool. Unfortunately, it seems like Green doesn't really know what she wants for the Albany public schools. Exhibit A:
Green used Yarrow's endorsement to come out against this month's decision by the city Board of Education to allow the use of hand-held metal detectors in random searches of students..."Students don't want to feel like they are in prison," Green said. "As mayor, I will seek to implement and expand a broad range of anti-violence programs for young people, including arts programs, after-school activities, restorative-justice programs and job opportunities."
So far, so good. Reasonable people can debate this kind of public policy, but I would probably side with Green in the end. I wouldn't want to feel like I was in prison either. But then there's this:

Green, 68, also said she opposed any proposal to give the mayor's office "oversight, control or appointment authority" over the school board. Mayor Jerry Jennings has a long history of being at odds with the board and has supported a proposal that would give him a voice on it.

So let me review this here: Green has a "variety of programs" she would like to implement to reduce violence in the schools, but she "opposes any proposal" that would give the mayor any power on the school board.

Well then. I'm not saying these things are contradictory - they technically aren't. You could come up with a lot of good programs and implement them without any power over the school board. But two things come to mind:

#1) It'd be a lot easier to implement them if you had some power on the school board - what do you do when the school board is at odds with you? I guess you dump the programs? Doubtful.

#2) Obviously, it's not like Green has any principled problem with the mayor defining policies at the public schools - she clearly wants to be a player in public education in the city, and that's a good thing. It's rather ridiculous for her to pretend that she doesn't want to influence the board. This is just a poor attempt at good politics - attacking Jennings for something that she'd be just as guilty of doing. What mayor doesn't want control over everything?

Why not just come out and say it? That it would be a good thing if the mayor - who has a lot of power the board doesn't - could have a little more than persuasion over the school board. It's obvious that both the Tanman and Green want to influence the public schools - would it be so bad to structure things so they could? I could be convinced, but I don't think so. Oh wait, here's this problem:

"It is important for the system to remain independent of the mayor and partisan politics," said Green.
That's silly. School boards are already hotbeds of partisan - in the 18th century sense - politics. And obviously both candidates for mayor want to be influential on the board.

This is just fairweather federalism under a differnet guise. Not that I mind the attacks on Jennings, I don't think his education policy is particular sound.

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