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Vol. 56, No.2 June 27, 2011
TIMES-UNION GENTLY MOCKS
As the New York legislative session lurched to its close, the failed strategy of our Dear Leader, Barbara Bowen, again left CUNY faculty without a voice. (The PSC chose to alienate Governor Cuomo through a bizarre civil disobedience spectacle; Bowen won't speak to Republicans, ruling out Senate leader Dean Skelos; and Speaker Silver isn't known for spending much time with anti-Israel extremists like Bowen.) Fortunately, SUNY's faculty union is more on the ball, and the CUNY administration has some influence in Albany. The final deal was much better than could have been expected, with solid funding for CUNY (and SUNY), coupled with authority for the individual campuses to raise tuition.
How did our Dear Leader respond to a deal that, it's important to note, avoids serious cutbacks and holds open the possibility for more full-time lines? By firing off a churlish press release criticizing the state legislature for not doing everything that she wanted:
If every member in the state legislature was elected under the Working Families Party banner, maybe this statement might have made sense. But for those of us in the reality-based community, the chances of the Republican Senate agreeing to a tax hike on millionaires (or most people accepting the strange idea that college tuition is actually a “tax”) are about as high as the chances of Barbara Bowen getting elected governor of New York.
The comment raised eyebrows among political reporters not used to dealing with our out-of-touch union head. The Albany newspaper headlined Bowen's missive: “CUNY Staff Congress: Thanks for the dough, please no tuition boosts.”
This might be one instance when we all should be glad that no one in Albany pays any attention to Barbara Bowen. Because if they did, Republicans in the state Senate might just say that since the CUNY union doesn't want to compromise by supporting a tuition hike, then they won't compromise, either, and will pull the funding deal.
A PSC PAJAMA PARTY?
It is now officially summer, and the majority of our readers are, we presume, busy with what faculty do during CUNY's period of “annual leave”: research and writing; recovering from the stresses and strains of the Spring semester; and, as is often necessary, picking up a summer session course or two to make ends meet (at the handsome rates paid to our adjunct colleagues).
It would be nice, in this season of respite, to imagine that our Dear Leader and the New Caucasians are busy trying to improve our working conditions, in particular by lowering our teaching loads and raising our salaries. After all, the 2007-2010 contract with the university did expire on October 19th, some eight months ago. But save for a series of Spring term chapter contract/budget meetings that appeared to deliberately conflate New York City and State legislative matters with negotiating a new contract with 80th Street, it has not been clear to us, what, if anything Barbara and the Krazy Kontract Krew were up to.
Thus we were relieved to learn that courageous members of the Delegate Assembly were being urged to take to the streets and participate in a Sleep Out in the vicinity of City Hall, now renamed “Bloombergville.” There would be opportunities to “talk to folks, express your solidarity, make a poster if you like, beat the drums, march in a rally!” The organizers of this ongoing series of events promise to keep them going until “Bloomberg's budget is dead.”
Given Steve “the Legislative Houdini” London's ability to stop Governor Cuomo's recent budget from being enacted, this could take a long time. But given the proximity of the lower Broadway Leiterbunker to the Bloombergville encampment, we do expect to see Barbara and her minions, no doubt in red PSC PJs, snoozing away in solidarity. This sure beats negotiating with Matt Goldstein! Warm milk and cookies, anyone?
Sharad Karkhanis, Ph.D.