Race to City Hall 2013 – October 10, 2013

Day 3 of Lhota’s Battling de Blasio on Charter Schools

For the third day running, Republican candidate Joe Lhota continued his attacks on his Democratic opponent, Bill de Blasio, for his opposition to charter schools, which are privately run but publicly funded.

Citing a study released this week by the Save our States policy group finding that charter schools cost more than $3,000 less per student than traditional public schools, Lhota denounced de Blasio for saying he would start charging charter schools rent if they share space with public schools.

“Charter schools are public schools,” Lhota said. “Not only are they educating our children at superior levels, they are doing it less expensively. For the first time in many years, parents have hope for their children. Charter schools are fixing problems and Mr. de Blasio is ignoring the facts.His opposition to co-location would be baffling unless you know he is bought and paid for by the unions.”

During Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, charter schools have flourished, attracting donations from Wall Street and free real estate from the city. Now, 183 schools educate students on specialty subjects ranging from Hebrew language to Chinese history, and with the freedom to have gender separation or be open seven days a week.

But with Bloomberg’s imminent retirement, many charter school leaders are concerned that de Blasio would cut off their most critical financial pipeline: free rent. He has suggested a sliding scale, with schools with more resources paying higher rents than charters with less funding.

The Bloomberg administration is concerned enough about their future that the board that approves school space will meet twice this month, an unusual step taken in order to place two dozen more charters into public school buildings.

But de Blasio, echoing the teachers’ union complaint, claims that money for charters takes resources from public schools.

“I won’t favor charters,” de Blasio said on Tuesday following a march charter school proponents had across the Brooklyn Bridge. “Our central focus is traditional public schools.”

Although de Blasio has met in recent weeks with charter school advocates to assuage their fears, many charters have begun seeking donations and applying a hiring freeze in case he wins.

About 60 percent of minorities approve of charter schools, according to a recent Siena College poll.

Down By 50 Points, Lhota Disagrees With Skeptics

Trailing de Blasio by 50 percentage points in polls and lagging in fundraising, Joe Lhota said Wednesday he disagreed with Home Depot Chief Executive Ken Langone, a former fundraising chief of his, who said he was convinced de Blasio would win.

“One thing you gotta know about Ken Langone: Ken Langone never minces his words. He’s not flowery,” Lhota said. “I don’t agree with him — I do believe I have the opportunity to win.”

Lhota said he left a message for Langone Wednesday morning when he read the article but has been too busy to speak to him. They were scheduled to meet in person later Wednesday.

Since the Sept. 10 primaries, de Blasio has raised $793,000, nearly twice as much as Lhota’s $422,000. But Lhota reassured reporters that “the money is coming in. … One of the things I learned from this campaign is how unbelievably optimistic I am. I had no idea that this was a trait that I had.”

In Obscure Comptroller Race Debate, GOPer Gets Notice

John Burnett, the virtual unknown Republican candidate battling Democratic nominee Scott Stringer for New York City comptroller, went on the attack right from the start of the debate Tuesday night.

“You’ve been in politics for 25 years and you owe a ton of favors. I’m surprised you still even have your own soul,” Burnett, an African American Wall Street executive, said during the feisty debate. “Maybe I shouldn’t be presumptuous. Maybe you actually sold that off a long time ago.”

“I don’t think we have to comment on my soul,” Stringer responded. “It seems to be in good shape. My wife thinks so. My two little boys do.”

The comptroller’s race gained brief attention during the Democratic primary, when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer entered late in the game. But Spitzer, aided by a phalanx of elected officials across the state, beat back the challenge.

Burnett revived some of Spitzer’s attack lines, calling Stringer “a failure” for missing meetings as a trustee of a city pension fund due to his position as Manhattan borough president.

Stringer responded sharply, trying to tie Burnett to the national Republican party.

“As the Republican candidate, what do you say to the people of New York City today that your party is shutting down the government and trying to put urban America out of business?” Stringer said.

“My opponent’s trying to lump me in the same bucket as all Republicans,” Burnett replied, saying that he is not tarring Stringer with other Democratic figures caught in scandal.

The two will meet in another debate if Burnett reaches poll numbers of at least 10 percent. So far, no polls have been conducted.


 

“Race to City Hall 2013” is a daily Hamodia column focusing on the New York City mayoral race, ahead of the general election on Nov. 5. It is culled from reports from The Associated Press, Politicker, the New York Post, New York Times, Daily News, City & State, Capital New York and others.