Letters: August 12, 2009
Re Tom Robbins's 'Inside the Mayor's Studio' [August 5–11]: Interesting piece. Certainly it did seem as if NYC-TV went from being severely understaffed and underfunded during the reign of Giuliani to being someone's little fiefdom under Bloomberg with an unholy alacrity.
Bruce M. Foster
Distressing to read yet again about the small-level corruption of one person as if it were something larger and relevant. What about the large team of hardworking, creative New Yorkers that helped to make NYC-TV so popular who are being dragged down in the muck by very biased articles like this one?
Doing more research on NYC-TV, I found this incident to be shadowed by all the great content they had produced for the city of New York. How the Village Voice, which covered Watergate and big mayoral scandals, found this one guy's crimes to be something worthy of front-page headlines is beyond me.
Robbins's article reported a type of city corruption not usually covered in the press. We are familiar with the occasional arrests of lower- and mid-level city employees for theft and bribery. Historically, mayors, borough presidents, other elected officials, and commissioners (e.g., Ray Harding Jr.) have also been caught taking large bribes, which have been duly reported in the media. The third type of venality, as exemplified by Robbins's story, occurs often, but is rarely reported. It involves middle- and higher-level staff tied directly either to an elected official, their staff, a friend, or a relative.
These employees have no allegiance to city government or its regulations. Their tenure, they understand, is circumscribed by that of the politician who is responsible for their appointment and, especially in these days of term limits, assumed to be of short duration. They may or may not perform their city jobs well, but, as Robbins reported, they are constantly seeking "exit strategies." Often, as Robbins describes, they come from the private sector and see no separation between their government position and the private life they continue to lead or expect to return to. Frequently, they are supervised by individuals with similar backgrounds, who neither know, understand, nor care about public-employment rules.
We are used to reading about the "revolving door" between federal officials/employees and private industry. Robbins has now exposed a similar nexus in our city, one that has undoubtedly greatly enlarged under a mayor who himself came from the private sector, as have many of his appointees.
Re Elizabeth Dwoskin's 'Stop-and-Frisk 101' [July 29–August 4]: As a teacher at Bushwick Community High School, I thank you for sharing the story of these youth and the inspiring way they took a stand against racial profiling, which is faced by our students all too often.
You refer to our "miserable statistics." It is true that measuring our school with the formulas built for traditional four-year high schools yields numbers well below average, but this is nothing more than a mathematical representation of the fact that Bushwick Community High School, as a transfer school, is specifically set up to take students who have fallen off-track from on-time graduation. Not yet recognizing the inappropriateness of applying four-year accountability measures to our school, the New York State Education Department did place our school under registration review in 2008. However, because this method unfairly held us accountable for what happened at our students' prior schools instead of at our school, officials have since developed alternative measures for evaluating transfer schools like ours.
Re Cristina Black's 'The Wesleyan Mafia' [Music, August 5–11]: Actually, Cristina, Wesleyan has always had a reputation for being more than "a tiny, nerdy Connecticut college": it's a hotbed for liberal thinking, creativity, and innovation.
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