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Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson says he would fire Joel Klein

Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson said today that were he mayor, he would fire schools chancellor Joel Klein.

In a document released today by Thompson, the city’s comptroller, a chart compares “Bill’s Vision” for the city’s schools to that of Mayor Bloomberg. Item two, below a promise to “Tell The Truth,” reads “Fire Joel Klein.”

“It’s time to bring back an educator to our schools who can lay out an educational vision that goes beyond taking tests and creates opportunities for our children to be successful in life,” the statement reads.

Thompson’s campaign spokesman, Jeff Simmons, said his candidate would appear on NY1’s “Road to City Hall” program at 7 p.m., reiterating this latest campaign promise.

The comptroller and Bloomberg have been feuding all day over an audit Thompson released today calling the city’s graduation rate intentionally inflated.

Before Thompson’s press conference could begin, the mayor’s campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, had already put out a statement crying politics and accusing Thompson, the city’s comptroller, of having his own “failed record on education.”

“The facts are clear: When Bill Thompson ran the old dysfunctional Board of Education graduation rates were flat and dropout rates increased,” Wolfson wrote.

Thompson’s spokesman, Jeff Simmons, defended what he called the “scathing audit” as not politically motivated.

“The Comptroller takes his charter-mandated role to audit city agencies and services very seriously and the audits are inherently non-political. It has been a tried-and-true, knee-jerk response over the last seven and a half years from the Mayor’s agencies and representatives to summarily cry politics whenever any criticism whatsoever is levied against them.”

Relations between the two campaigns are so frayed at this point that Thompson’s staff barred a Department of Education spokesman, Andrew Jacob, from attending the press conference. Simmons told the Daily News’ Liz Benjamin that he was tired of DOE employees following his candidate around.

“(A)t our last news conference, the DOE dispatched an aide to shadow every move by the Comptroller – so much so that one would have thought Bill Thompson was wearing a velcro suit,” he said.

Simmons told Benjamin that a DOE employee had called him “more than a year ago to threaten to unleash an attack on Bill Thompson if he ever criticized the Department of Education.” That call came from senior counselor for community affairs, Brian Ellner, he told me. Ellner did not return a request for comment sent this evening.

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