“Anthony Weiner attends a Rockaway Community meeting on Beach 139th Street, May 24, 6:45. Press: Open for photo spray only,” was listed in an online bulletin. I decided to drop by, not as a columnist from The Wave (Weiner was said to be ducking the press), but as a community member and retired teacher interested in hearing what Weiner had to say on education-related issues. It was raining when I arrived at the home of Sylvan and Rose Klein, both of whom I was meeting for the first time. A large “Anthony Weiner for Mayor” sign stretched across the front window. The living room was filled with people waiting for Weiner, who was running an hour late. This did not look like a community meeting but a “meet and greet,” aimed at garnering support for Weiner.
Within 10 minutes of my arrival, I was asked to leave by Klein because “you write for The Wave.” I said I was not covering the story for The Wave but was there for what was billed as a “community” meeting (I live a few blocks away). I do not get paid by The Wave - hear that Kevin - and am not working press. I have no idea what a “photo spray” is. But even with my connection to The Wave, given Weiner’s strong connections to Rockaway’s paper, one would hope for some basic courtesy from Klein like, “Please don’t write about this.” In fact I told Klein I wouldn’t be writing about the event. He didn’t want to hear it. “I’m asking you to leave,” he said pointedly, his voice rising, officially entering him into the book of “not nice,” especially since I didn’t even get a piece of fruit. Weiner has $5 million to spend and not even a piece of strudel?
Waiting outside – the real press: Newsday, the Columbia Spectator, a big truck from NBC Channel 4, a reporter from the NY Post who said, “I cover crime - homicides.” Made sense to me, since Weiner committed homicide on his career. But in the fantasy world of politics, anyone can be resurrected. It was beginning to rain fairly hard and some late arrivals were wearing rain gear to cover up. Was it the rain or the shame of attending this closed Weiner event? I went home to dry off and eat.
Governor Cuomo said “it would be a shame” if Weiner became Mayor with one report saying, “Cuomo and other leading Democrats are more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of Weiner actively campaigning for one of the country's highest-profile positions. A Times story about Weiner's wife, the longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, says Bill and Hillary Clinton are particularly unhappy with it too. Weiner's old boss, Chuck Schumer, acts as if he wishes the whole campaign would just go away.”
I supported Anthony Weiner as our Congressman, especially as the lone voice calling for single-payer (Medicare for all) health care system. I was disturbed over the fundamental lack of judgment accompanied by a pathetic cover up in the big scandal but look at candidates based on where they stand in the education wars. I lean to Liu and de Blasio due to their pushback against the privatization of public education and the blatant anti-unionism. Figuring out Weiner on ed is a project. How about this headline? “Weiner Says If Teachers Want Raises, They Must Concede On Health Care Costs.” Bloomberg denies teachers the 4% pattern raise given to other unions and this is Weiner’s response?
Weiner supports the co-location of charter schools with enormous wealth as they compete for resources with public schools. The day before Weiner’s Rockaway visit, Democracy Prep charter rented out the Central Park Zoo for a fundraiser honoring Joel Klein, the patron saint of rapacious charter schools. Protesting were a small group of poor adult ed students whose struggles to complete high school were being impacted by Democracy Prep being handed precious space in their building.
Eva Markowitz’s Success Charters raised $7 million in one night at their “gala” and spends millions plastering the streets with advertising to lure kids out of public schools which don’t have galas or money to advertise. They’re lucky to have paper. While PCB lights explode in public school spaces, Success replaces their lights, enforcing a separate, unequal climate that has been termed “educational apartheid.”
Why is Weiner, who bills himself as the champion of the middle class favoring these hedge-fund backed organizations? A good question to ask both Weiner (if we ever get the chance) and Sylvan Klein, an educator who should be concerned over supporting a candidate so willing to help wealthy privatizers pull the plug on public education.
Norm blogs at ednotesonline.org.