Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rivalry between Mayor de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz stretches beyond charter schools

Politics

The two figures share a heated, political rivalry that goes much deeper than the charter school issue they are currently fighting over.













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Bryan Smith

Mayor de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz are often fighting on opposing sides, currently over charter schools.

He is known for his "dad jeans." She is famous for her four-inch heels.
As a city councilmember, she was a firecracker who could be confrontational. He was a deal-maker with a more conciliatory style.
She loathes the teachers union, while he views the union as a progressive ally.
Mayor de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz, the head of the Success chain of 22 charter schools, couldn't be more different in style, substance and personality, associates and former colleagues say.
Their clashing characters came to a head last month, when de Blasio blocked three Success charter schools from planned co-locations in public school buildings while allowing five others to go ahead.
Moskowitz was devastated and furious. "This has to be the saddest day in Success Academies' history," she said.
The move fulfilled de Blasio's campaign promise to review co-location approvals made in the final months of the Bloomberg administration - and didn't go far enough for some of his backers, who wanted all of them squashed.
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Eva Moskowitz now heads Success Academy Charter Schools, but first clashed with de Blasio in 2003 during Council hearings she held about teachers union contracts.

Joe Tabacca/Joe Tabacca for The New York Dai

Eva Moskowitz now heads Success Academy Charter Schools, but first clashed with de Blasio in 2003 during Council hearings she held about teachers union contracts.

During his campaign, de Blasio suggested well-funded charters should pay rent when they took over space in district schools. He drew wild applause last June when he targeted Moskowitz at a mayoral candidate forum and said there was "no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, OK?"
Ideologically, Moskowitz and de Blasio-- who both declined to comment for this article -- have been at loggerheads for more than a decade, long before the charter controversy ignited.
"She always said she wanted to be mayor," said a source with close ties to City Hall. "He sees her as an ideological antithesis, but also as a rival politically."
Moskowitz, 50, a Democrat who did not endorse any candidate in last year's mayoral race, was elected to the City Council in 1999, representing the Upper East Side, two years before de Blasio was elected to represent Park Slope.
She was a close ally of then-Council Speaker Gifford Miller and chair of the Council's education committee, a position that de Blasio - a former school board member - coveted, sources recalled.
De Blasio and Moskowitz first clashed in 2003 during Council hearings she held about teachers union contracts.
In a heated back and forth, Moskowitz grilled then United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten about seniority rights and work rules.
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De Blasio and Moskowitz's clashing came to a head last month, when de Blasio blocked three Success charter schools from planned co-locations in public school buildings while allowing five others to go ahead.

James Keivom/James Keivom-Pool

De Blasio and Moskowitz's clashing came to a head last month, when de Blasio blocked three Success charter schools from planned co-locations in public school buildings while allowing five others to go ahead.

Former councilmembers remember de Blasio lobbying to get Moskowitz to back off. When it was his turn to speak, he was far friendlier to the union leader.
"I think I hear a lot of clear concern for the common goal of improving the system and helping kids," de Blasio told Weingarten, according to a hearing transcript.
Moskowitz later disparaged de Blasio's "softball questions" in a Village Voice interview.
De Blasio wasn't the only Council member or staffer who had trouble with Moskowitz's hard-driving, combative style. "Her staff was in my office every day crying," a former councilmember recalled. Many were happy to see her go in 2005, when she left to run an unsuccessful campaign for Manhattan borough president.
The following year, Moskowitz started Success with capital from two hedge fund managers. She now earns $475,000 a year as CEO of the chain.
Moskowitz and her husband Eric Grannis, a lawyer who runs Tapestry, a pro-charter organization, moved from the Upper East Side to a Harlem condo near her schools. They send the middle of their three children to one of the Success charters.
Since she launched the chain, de Blasio and Moskowitz have found themselves consistently at odds on the issue of co-locating charters.
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Moskowitz called de Blasio's blocking of the schools as "the saddest day in Success Academies' history."

Joe Tabacca/Joe Tabacca for The New York Dai

Moskowitz called de Blasio's blocking of the schools as "the saddest day in Success Academies' history."

In 2010, the city placed Moskowitz' new Success Academy on the Upper West Side at the Brandeis High School campus, where four high schools already shared space. De Blasio, then public advocate, backed a parents' lawsuit against the plan, which was dismissed.
In 2011, de Blasio was outspoken about a city plan to close Wadleigh's middle school in Morningside Heights to make more room for Success Academy middle school students. "De Blasio was a strong leader," recalled Noah Gotbaum, vice-president of Community Education Council District 3 in Manhattan. The city ultimately backed off.
The same year, de Blasio's office released a 32-page glossy report that focused on Success Academy as an example of the "flawed processes" of co-locating charters within regular public schools.
Last July, during the mayoral race, he wrote to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to oppose a Success co-location expansion, saying: "These changes appear to be a part of a sustained pattern to privilege Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy schools with space and resources at the expense of the traditional public schools with which they share buildings."
Education observers said de Blasio turned the fight personal partly to score political points.
"The vast majority of public school parents detest Eva Moskowitz," said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters. "Every time he said something about her at a debate, hundreds of parents would applaud."
But Moskowitz's admirers are equally intense. Jacob Mnookin, executive director of Coney Island Prep, a Brooklyn charter, said Moskowitz is a target for the mayor because "she's a tireless advocate for her students and families."
"She's set the bar for excellence in public education in the city," he said.
Since the three charters were axed last month, Moskowitz has put herself forward as the face of the fightback, hosting a rally in Albany to protest the school closures and inviting a powerful surprise speaker--Gov. Cuomo. She has run ads on television and in newspapers attacking the mayor.
"They're on different sides of a conflict and they both play hardball," said a former city councilmember. "If de Blasio doesn't hurt her, he's helping her and there are people who won't tolerate that."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-moskowitz-rivalry-charter-schools-article-1.1723175#ixzz2w8wmnT22
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