The circus around the State Senate intensified today as half a dozen senators gathered to complain that Mayor Bloomberg would not meet them at the bargaining table. Immediately afterward, senators confirmed that negotiations are, in fact, ongoing.
“We will not be dictated to, we will be negotiated with,” said Senator Bill Perkins, a persistent critic of mayoral control. Joining Perkins on the steps of City Hall were Sens. Shirley Huntley, Hiram Monserrate, Pedro Espada, Eric Adams, Ruben Diaz Sr., and City Councilman Robert Jackson. All of the senators were among those who supported a failed bill that would have curtailed mayoral control.
After the press conference, Monserrate acknowledged to reporters that negotiations were already in progress. “We’re at the table,” he said. “There are some meetings occurring.”
Those meetings, which began on Monday after mayoral control talks fell apart last week, are being held by Democratic conference leader John Sampson’s staff and deputy schools chancellor Christopher Cerf.
Senators would not discuss the details of the negotiations today, but they reiterated their support for increased parent involvement, funding for art programs, and fixed terms for citywide school board members. A source close to the discussions described the talks as “fragile.”
Adams said Mayor Bloomberg had “misunderstood” his opposition. Saying that the senators would not “knuckle over,” he added, “We’re solid in our communities, you can do what you want.”
Nursing bruises from the city’s editorial boards, the group spent as much time chastising absent editors as it did railing against no-bid contracts, the subject of Diaz’s speech.
“We are going to be the bad guys,” Adams said. “It doesn’t matter what you think of us. It matters what the parents think of us.”