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Bloomberg to teachers: I'm not the enemy

January 31, 2009 3:29:27 PM PST
Higher taxes. Fewer services. Major cutbacks. In the face of steady criticism, Mayor Michael Bloomberg today started his defense of the doomsday budget in a meeting with educators. His speech drew applause from the hundreds of teachers and principals at this convention in Brooklyn today. The mayor -- trying hard to rally those troops, instead of looking like the bearer of bad news.

"We are obviously having economic challenges and I need your help," Mayor Bloomberg said on Saturday.

It was only Friday the mayor painted a frightening picture, as to what would happen if Albany doesn't come through with more help for the city's schools. The city -- needing nearly $800-million in funding through Albany -- restored. Or else he says -- up to 15,000 educators could face layoffs.

"We send 50 percent of the state's revenue to Albany. We have 40 percent of the population -- the governor's budget cut our revenue sharing to zero...hard to argue, that's fair," said Mayor Bloomberg.

So what was their reaction to the mayor today?

Everything from frustration...

"I feel that we are the pawns..for all politicians..and we are being used and we are being used and we are not the cause of the recession, but yet we're getting blamed for it," Special education teacher, Carmen Ruiz said.

To those who say the mayor is better equipped to fight Albany...not them.

"Sure, we could talk to our assembly person -- who does come to our school and and all..but that's just one voice..his voice is a lot more powerful," Assistant principal Ismael Perez said.

It was on Friday -- the teachers' union expressed their outrage over the possible cuts.

But today, Mayor Bloomberg made his own plea to union president Randi Weingarten -- re-iterating that he is not the enemy.

"If you're telling me she's all riled up, that's exactly what I'd like to hear..just direct her to Albany, not to City Hall..." the mayor said. ---
WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick




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