By Carmine Santa Maria
In 1993, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) put through a lawsuit that eventually was won through the courts that ordered New York State to repay New York City Billions of dollars that were shortchanged from our kids’ education. Recently the Mayor and the Chancellor have been in the news demanding that Governor Pataki withdraw his appeal of the Courts decision and start releasing the big, big bucks. You’ve been so inundated with this story that I hoped to wrap it up in one paragraph.However, it’s been over a generation that we have been shortchanged, our kids clearly suffering from the lack of these education funds, going to overcrowded, old, dangerous schools while the student population was booming with new Americans. The teachers were in a bind, although professionals, it is hard to be dedicated with such financial constraints. The Department of Education and the School Construction Authority have even stopped building.The crux of the real problem now is not money, but the Governor who is ferociously fighting returning New York City’s money back to its taxpayers… Why? It’s no secret that Governor Pataki is running for the Presidency of the United States; he’s campaigning everywhere boasting how solvent New York State is under his reign with a $2 Billion dollars surplus this year.Governor Pataki is a handsome candidate for the Presidency, tall good looking, well spoken, extremely articulate. Two years ago when he was running for re-election, I heard him speak Spanish like a native to the Hispanics at the Salsa Concerts run by Borough President Marty Markowitz in Asser Levy Park in Coney Island. He’s a good seasoned campaigner and is looking or a job down the road in the White House at our kids expense. Now in my eyes that makes him a very bad man. A terrible man to let our kidsSuffer for his own political gains. And I’m talking about a lot of kids, about one fifth of New York City’s population.In District 21 alone, there are 11 projects slated for State Funding. Will these projects suffer the same fate as the “stopped” new school that is being constructed on the old Mogen David site Avenue P and Stillwell Avenue? If a fire occurs in the kitchens of PS 329 or PS 226, because of the need for a Fire Suppression System, and God Forbid someone gets hurt, do we rightly blame the Governor’s ambition? Those are two of the projects waiting for State Funding, as are three playground upgrades and three Auditorium parades and two new schools waiting to be built, while their students are temporarily housed elsewhere.Meanwhile while our kids are waiting for these projects, Governor Pataki just proposed in his budget a $540 million dollars for a Star Plus programs for New York State to give everyone a tax break making sure to exclude New York City residents. Hey, isn’t he the Governor of the whole state? Isn’t he our Governor too? He really panders to his constituencies, doesn’t he, and shamelessly too I might add. He is so blatantly anti-New York City, I can’t wait till we get rid of him.City Councilman Domenic Recchia came to the Community education Council 21 Meeting on Feb. 8 and spoke of the need for the court ordered CFE funding that is so desperately needed for the Five Year Capitol plan. In a letter sent to Governor Pataki that he and 46 of his colleagues signed, here are excerpts taken from the letter. “In 2003, the State’s highest court found your administration was violating the State Constitution by failing to provide New York City students with adequate funding for a sound basic education. Pursuant to that decision, in March 2002, the State Supreme Court ordered the State of New York to provide New York City’s school with 5.6 billion in operating aid and 9.2 Billion in building aid. Your administration continues to ignore the Court of Appeal’s ruling—now that 500 days past the compliance deadline of July 2004—to overhaul the entire school funding system, and is now fighting the State Court’s order.”Without State funds, the NYC public school system is facing a 1.7 billion shortfall for Fiscal year 2007, which means that 18 schools and 10,252 seats will not be built. And 170 million for repair work and $685 million for educational enhancements will not be available. “Your continued disregard of the court order in he CFE case, particularly this year when the compliance money is available, would be a blatant affront to the over1 million schoolchildren who attend school ill-equipped to meet their needs…”scolded the City Council members’ letter and continued to warn “Continued failure to fully fund CFE will be potentially devastating to our families and economy. We demand you to revisit this budget proposal. Our children hold the key to the future for New York City and we must invest in them!”Assemblyman Colton is taking the lead for a letter writing campaign citywide and issued this Press Release: Assemblyman Colton to Mobilize Parents in Effort to Teach Governor Story of Scrooge and Gave an “A” To Chancellor Klein And Mayor For Speaking Out Against Governor On Council For Fiscal Equity Lawsuit.Assemblyman’s sample letter read“Dear Governor Pataki,I have been reminded recently of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge cared only for himself and was miserly towards the needs of others, no matter how important they might be. I am writing because I fear that you are following a similar path in withholding funds from the New York City School system and shortchanging our children and the future of this state. In the story, Scrooge eventually realizes the importance of helping others and drops his miserly ways. It is a lesson we could all learn from. Please drop your appeal of the court order in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and implement the funding that the children of New York City deserve. We have been shortchanged for too long.Respectfully yours,”“Scrooge” What a great name for the Governor. Imagine if he gets stuck with this handle nationwide “Governor Scrooge” And an alert media person asks him as he’s campaigning across the county. “Governor, why do New York City residents call you Governor Scrooge?” That’s the way, we the Governor’s unloved citizens of the Big Apple can get even and fight back, hitting him where it hurts. We all have relatives and friends living in the United States, reach out to them by mail, phone or e-mail and have them support us by sending a Dear Governor Scrooge letter similar to this one I sent.”Dear Governor Scrooge” I really dislike calling you this name, but your actions depriving New York City children of their rightful education monies totaling 15 Billion dollars leave me and every parent in New York City no choice. We urge you to drop your appeal and abide by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and fully fund New York City's public schools in consideration of the emergency facing our school system.Respectfully yours, Name and addressAssemblyman Colton urges every parent and grandparent in the city to send the Governor a letter to: Governor George Pataki “Governor of the State of New York” Executive Chamber, State Capitol Albany, NY 12224. Assemblyman Colton has blank fill in letters available in his 211 Kings Highway Community Office, Brooklyn, NY 11223 or call Jeanette Givant at 718 236-1598It will only take a stamp, a phone-call or an e-mail to get the message to the Governor to withdraw his appeal. Take the time; make the effort for our children’s education and their futures. Contact the Governor at www.ny.gov/governor/Screech at you next week!