July 6, 2009
Reports that a deal has been reached on mayoral control have been exaggerated, according to sources in Albany.
The New York Post reported today that Senate Democrats had reached an agreement on mayoral control and would abandon their demands for fixed terms for members of the citywide school board.
But sources in Albany said that no deal had been made and that senators were still haggling over the details. Though most sources said the deal outlined by the Post is likely to happen eventually, they said that until senators found a way to end the gridlock, no agreement could be considered final.
According to the Post, the compromise amounts to the Senators agreeing to vote for the Assembly’s bill, in exchange for an amendment that would be passed later and would provide for more parental involvement in the system.
The article notes that Senator John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader who has led the opposition to reviving mayoral control without substantial changes, has “signed on to the deal.”
“There is no deal yet,” said a source involved with the negotiations. “I think that this won’t get settled until they have a path back into the chamber.”
Talk of a deal certainly came as a surprise to Senator Bill Perkins, who told Politicker today that “no decisions, to my knowledge, have been made,” and said the Democrats had yet to do a head-count to see who would vote how.
A spokeswoman for Sampson, Selvena Brooks, would not confirm that a compromise had been reached. Sampson is “going to remain in discussions with his conference and he’ll be keeping the communication with the mayor open,” Brooks said.
Senator Shirley Huntley dismissed the Post’s piece, which quoted her saying, “That’s bye-bye,” about fixed terms being taken off the table, in a conversation with a lobbyist today.
According to Patricia Connelly, a member of the Parent Commission on School Governance, which opposes the Assembly’s bill, Huntley told her that her quote had been taken out of context.
“She did not say “bye bye” to the mayoral control fight,” Connelly said. “She was talking with [Carl] Campanile about the sales tax hike legislation.”
Huntley is a sponsor of the Parent Commission’s school governance bill. She did not return requests for comment.
Though rumors of a deal seem to have been premature, lobbyists and mayoral control opponents agree that whatever middle ground is ultimately reached could mirror what the Post reported.
At a press conference last week, Sampson said that his top priority was increasing parental involvement, not curbing the mayor’s control, which he has supported. And today, other senators told Politicker that they would vote for the Assembly’s bill and follow it with a chapter amendment.
Billy Easton, director of the Campaign for Better Schools, a group that wants more checks on the mayor’s power, said a deal would likely not emerge until the Senate Republicans and Democrats had reached a power sharing agreement.
“Until there is an interim agreement that will allow the Senate to function through the end of this legislative session, I don’t think you’re going to see votes happen that involve the entire Senate,” he said, adding that without a possible vote, there could be no deal.