At this point in my activist life, I shouldn't be surprised by tonight's sad vote at City Council, but once again, Lucy pulled the football out.
Ten days ago, Mayor Warren put forth legislation for City Council to vote on that would put a referendum for voters on the November 5th ballot. If voters approve it, then City Council will ask the New York State legislature to consider state legislation allowing the State Department of Education to take over the City School District. Councilmember Malik Evans, didn't seem to think that people in the audience understood this. We did, but more on that later.
There wasn't a lot of notice about this bill. It wasn't able to be discussed much - I am assuming that this was on purpose. It was put up for a vote tonight. Even with such short notice, there were a number of people and organizations that showed up to speak against this. Here is what I had to say:
It was a long night. City Council had to vote on the budget tonight - part by part. The vote on creating the referendum was the very last thing.
Before it was voted on the Mayor spoke. It was nonsense. She, then later followed by Councilmember Evans, tried to float this ridiculous idea that this referendum was actually democracy in action. Evans, after insulting us by "explaining" the bill to us, kept calling the referendum a "poll". So before I get to the actual vote, let me address this ridiculousness.
No one thinks the Rochester City School District is where it needs to be. But dissolving the elected City School Board is taking away people's right to vote. It's voter suppression. So while Evans kept insisting that this "poll" was to see if people wanted to change the way the school district is governed, I see this as a referendum on do we want to voluntarily have our right to vote taken away. And I have a problem with any elected official who needs a "poll" to know if the people want less of a vote.
So, after the Mayor, Councilmember Ortiz spoke against the bill, followed by Councilmember Clifford. Then Evans' sad remarks. Councilmember Patterson then had a less coherent version of Evans' words. Then Councilmember Spaull spoke against the bill. All 3 members of City Council who spoke against the bill only talked about how this all came about too quickly, nothing about the merit of the bill itself.
So then they voted: Evans, Gruber, Scott, Lightfoot, & Patterson for; Clifford, Ortiz, & Spaull against, & Harris abstained.
We will be voting on this foolishness this November. So like the Police Accountability Board referendum, I will be commenting on this throughout my run for City Council. But to sum up quickly: PAB yea, State takeover of schools nea.