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Michael Bloomberg

Randi Weingarten Still Doesn’t Get It

11:31 AM EDT on April 16, 2008

RandiW07.jpgBack in January United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten protested Mayor Bloomberg's mandate to reduce the number government parking placard handouts. In a letter to the mayor, Weingarten called the move "deeply troubling," and claimed that taking free parking away from teachers -- who, unlike tens of thousands of other government employees, "are not abusers of parking permits" -- would keep "the best and the brightest" from accepting jobs in city classrooms. (What this says about transit-using teachers, who must pay for TransitChek cards even as the best and brightest drive and park for free, is anyone's guess.)

Last Friday, as she announced her intention to seek the top spot at the American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten took another swipe at the mayor, and in the process further betrayed her ignorance when it comes to the relationship between private automobiles and public space.

City Room reports:

During a brief speech, Ms. Weingarten took a shot at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, sarcastically announcing that now that congestion pricing had been defeated, the mayor was planning to require pedestrians to "put quarters in the the traffic lights to be able to cross the street."

Huh? Aside from being unfunny, this doesn't make any sense. Even the most casual observer understood that congestion pricing was intended as a deterrent to driving -- not walking, or riding a bike, or using any other means of transportation.

It would be pointless to try to figure out what Weingarten was going for here, other than a cheap laugh at the mayor's expense, but it was a revealing statement. While school kids across the city have their outdoor spaces intruded upon and poisoned by cars, and take classes on how not to get run down in the street, Weingarten sees fit to crack jokes about the failure of a plan that would have made things better.

Here's hoping Weingarten gets that AFT job, and that the next UFT head spends less energy fighting for free parking and more on getting teachers to work without their cars.

Photo: United Federation of Teachers

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