Letter to the Editor – Mayor to New Yorkers: "Drop Dead!"
By Michael Mulgrew, UFT President
January 24, 2011
City Hall puts children first? It’s a great soundbite, but actions speak louder than words.
The mayor and his administration have chosen sides, and it’s clearly not with the children of this city. Their priority is protecting millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of everyone else.
Studies now show the income disparity here in New York City is the largest in the nation, with one percent of residents earning almost 45% of the city’s income. Those 90,000 households are bringing home an average of $10,000 a day. That’s what roughly a million of our poorest neighbors here in the five boroughs bring home in a year.
Given these realities, the mayor should be talking about policies that benefit all New Yorkers, but instead, he is threatening to lay off teachers and other city workers, drastically cut school budgets, and go after the hard-earned pensions and benefits of working families. Where does that leave our students? Apparently when it comes to profits, they’re simply collateral damage. City Hall should be ashamed.
There are reasonable solutions to fixing the city’s fiscal problems, solutions the administration has chosen to ignore.
The highest earners could pay their fair share, for one. While the top one percent of earners make 45% of the city’s income, they only pay 34% of the city’s taxes — far less than in other cities where income disparities haven’t exploded.
The city could also offer a retirement incentive, which would save hundreds of millions of dollars without hurting families.
It could look at curtailing wasteful contracts, such as the scandalous City Time project, now hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and under a cloud of criminal charges.
The last few months have been disastrous, with the test score scandal, the controversial chancellor selection and the epic failure during the December snow storm still fresh in the minds of all New Yorkers. Yet City Hall is trying to pit teachers against teachers, parents against parents, schools against schools — tactics that may divert public attention but do nothing to solve the city’s problems.
We will not be silent in the face of this assault on the children and members that we serve and on all New Yorkers. We all need to stand up for the true priorities of our city. We all need to stand up for each other.
Rest assured that the UFT is actively pushing back against City Hall’s destructive policies and advocating for what’s right for our students and our schools. It is critical that elected officials hear from you — the people who work and care for children every day in our city — in this effort. We are putting together teams to meet with city and state legislators, community boards, CECs and other interested parties. Sign up here.
I cannot thank you enough for the important work that you do for this city every day, and I am sorry that you have a mayor and chancellor who clearly do not respect or understand what you do.