I came to school early to work in my classroom this morning. I wasn’t intending to post a blog until later on. But then I read Norm Scott’s bombshell over at Ed Notes that was posted late last night.
To summarize, in very quick fashion NYSUT got legislation pushed through the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate, and the governor’s office that allows NYSUT to pay the school districts that current officers used to work in, to keep those officers on as active employees on leave from those Districts.This allows the officers to continue to accrue time in the New York State Teachers Retirement System. This would further allow the officers to collect not only their NYSUT pension when they retire, but also a much more lucrative pension from the State than they should actually be entitled to.
What is amazing (and alarming) is the speed in which this was all done and the fact that it was done secretively. On June 9th the bill was referred to governmental employees. By June 19th it had passed the assembly. It passed the senate on June 20th. It was delivered to the governor on July 11th and he signed off on it on July 22nd. Astounding. Andy Pallotta has had virtually no legislative victories to benefit NYSUT’s 600,000 members, yet in just over six weeks he had a victory that ensured double pensions for his cronies. Additionally it seems to ensure that should Karen Magee, Martin Messner or Paul Pecorale, none of whom are close to retirement age, ever lose their NYSUT positions they will have teaching jobs to go back to. Contrast this to former NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler who lost April’s election and has no job to return to. The officers are no fools. They saw how that could happen and apparently made it a priority to ensure their jobs and double pensions within the first few months of taking office.
All of this begs a few questions:
What did the NYSUT officers promise to legislators to get them to sign off on this so quickly? Is this why they endorsed a pro-charter, pro-voucher, reformy Jeff Klein? Or why they endorsed the indicted Tom Libous?
What was Governor Cuomo promised, by NYSUT Officers, to get him to sign off so quickly? After all, they have gone out of their way to tell us they oppose him. Why would he want to help them? Is it in exchange for not endorsing Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic Primary and not donating VOTE COPE funds to her campaign?
Did NYSUT promise that they’d support the Common Core that is favored by so many politicians in order to get this done? Curiously, the time when Cuomo received and signed off on the bill, was sandwiched right around the AFT Convention, where Karen Magee claimed that we would have no direction without the Common Core.
How much money in membership dues was spent to get this deal done?
How much VOTE COPE money will be going to elected officials who helped to move this bill through so quickly and quietly?
When will NYSUT release a detailed report of every dollar that has been spent since they took office, of every VOTE COPE dollar donated, and of the officer’s compensation packages?
This scandal is really just breaking. Plenty more questions will arise. Who knows if we’ll get an answer to any of them. What is blatantly clear, however, is that despite running on a platform of transparency, the NYSUT officers have secretly prioritized using our money and time to win a legislative battle that benefits only themselves. It is a betrayal on the grandest of scales. It is absolutely unconscionable behavior and may very well warrant a call for their resignation.