July 24, 2009
Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Hiram Monserrate walked out of Senate talks about school governance this afternoon, but they signaled that their disagreement with the Democratic leadership wouldn’t kill a mayoral control deal reached with the Bloomberg administration yesterday, Anna Phillips reports from outside the Lower Manhattan building where the talks are happening.
“It’s a done deal, but we’re not all in agreement,” Diaz said in Spanish to a group of reporters. “The four amigos are divided today.”
Diaz added that he expects a final deal to be released today or tomorrow. No agreement has yet been put to paper.
The Senate’s leading Democrats, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, are holding the meeting to try to persuade Democrats critical of mayoral control to come on board an agreement struck with the Bloomberg administration yesterday. The agreement would add extra checks to a mayoral control bill passed by the Assembly, including a citywide parent training center based out of CUNY and a new citywide arts panel.
Twelve other senators are still in the meeting, and others are participating by telephone, Anna reports.
Bloomberg administration officials are paying close attention to the talks, which they hope will put a final end to a debate that has been going on for seven months now. The debate hit a serious road bump when mayoral control expired June 30 without any new law passed to replace it, reverting the city back to the pre-2002 school governance law and forcing a hasty meeting of a reconvened Board of Education.
Even if no law is passed, administration officials are planning to move forward with enacting the plan’s major parts, including a citywide parent training center, a source said today. The idea is to send a strong signal to senators that the administration takes the agreement seriously.
UPDATE: Anna reports that Perkins just came out of the meeting looking more staid than usual. He said there will be a deal, and Senate Democratic leaders are about to make a group statement.
Asked if discussions were heated — which we heard from at least one senator who’s not in the room but was calling in for the latest — Perkins said they were “thorough.”
UPDATE 2: Sens. Espada and Sampson just walked out. “We have reached an agreement with respect to school governance,” Espada said, Anna reports. He said the “language has not been finalized,” but that he intends to return to Albany “before our children go to school in September.”