NYC’s mayoral picks reflect diversity in top posts

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the city's new corporation counsel.

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the City’s new Corporation Counsel.

By Carmen Glover

When Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is sworn in officially as New York City’s mayor tonight at midnight and again at noon on New Year’s Day, he will do so while having some semblance of a diverse team in place, based on his most recent appointments. African-American former U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn Zachary Carter, 63, has been named as the latest corporation counsel and Latina Carmen Farina has left retirement at age 70 to serve as the schools chancellor, joining another Latina, Gladys Carrion, 62, the new ACS commissioner.  Bill Bratton, 66, has returned for a second go-around as police commissioner and joins first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris, 56, whose appointment was announced by de Blasio a few weeks ago.

Former educator Carmen Farina left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Former educator Carmen Farina, shown flanked by students, left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Although far more posts remain unfilled than filled, the inclusion of individuals from different ethnic groups, who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, is a positive first step to the new mayoral administration. So far, de Blasio seems to be making cautious but sure steps to ensure that his appointments reflect the diversity of the city’s residents. Also, de Blasio’s statements in announcing the appointments have been encouraging.

Anthony Shorris was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio greets Anthony Shorris, who was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

While announcing that Carter will be the new corporation counsel de Blasio expressed his commitment to closing an open wound in the city’s psyche by resolving the Central Park Jogger suit. Acknowledging that an “injustice” occurred, causing five innocent African-American and Latino boys to serve long prison sentences for raping a white jogger before DNA evidence cleared them, de Blasio said he would “settle the Central Park case.” For his part, Carter vowed to use the law “to level the playing field” for all groups.

Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State's Office of Children and Families (OCSF) is now the City's new ACS Commissioner.

New York city’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio shares a light moment with, Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State’s Office of Children and Families (OCSF), after announcing that she is  the City’s new ACS Commissioner.

Farina, whose appointment was made yesterday, had a lot to say. She spoke firmly about embracing a “progressive” agenda focused on “teaching not testing.” Farina, who has 40 years of experience in the city school system spanning every level from elementary school teacher to deputy commissioner in the Bloomberg administration, spoke about the need to do things differently.

“We are going to communicate often,” she said, while explaining that her philosophy on teaching versus testing is rooted in the belief that “If we do good teaching that’s the best test prep.” It appeared as if Farina, an immigrant from Spain, was not particularly interested in data-driven results, which could be problematic since data is critical to assessing the performance of students and educators alike. But her passion for education was undeniable, as was Carter’s quiet confidence, born from being a seasoned legal eagle. It remains to be seen if the full menu of de Blasio’s appointments will elicit praise or cause concern but the list so far makes the process seem promising.

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De Blasio tells Weiner to leave NYC’s mayoral race

Democratic mayoral candidates participate in first debate for the city's top job.

Democratic mayoral candidates participate in first debate for the city’s top job.

By Carmen Glover

New York: All five Democratic mayoral candidates in New York City participated in the first debate in the election cycle during a session which aired on WABC Channel 7 at 7:00 pm last night. Bill Ritter did his best to keep the debate flowing smoothly despite the attempts by a wayward Anthony Weiner to dominate the show by repeating his view that his “independence” makes him the best choice for the electorate. Weiner touted his independence in response to most of the questions posed, including the sexting scandal that has overshadowed his mayoral bid. While some of the candidates refused to share their views about Weiner’s presence in the race, Pubic Advocate Bill de Blasio had no such qualms.

“Anthony Weiner should step aside for the good of the city,” he said firmly. City Controller John Liu shook off a tentative, unsteady start to make a few noteworthy points about his campaign’s platform but it seemed as if Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was the most polished and credible candidate in the race. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gave the same stock answer for almost every question, while former City Controller William Thompson seemed knowledgeable and passionate.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner are combative during the debate.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner are combative during the debate.

The debate covered the usual topics: Immigration, the economy, the educational system, stop and frisk, a topic for which they were all prepared. “Too many people are being stopped who did nothing wrong,” said Weiner, while Liu called for “community policing.” Thompson did not mince words on the issue. “We have to make sure our city is safe but we don’t have to sacrifice our constitutional rights to get it done,” he said. De Blasio suggested having “an independent inspector general and a new police commissioner.” All of the male candidates said that if elected, they would find a new police commissioner but Quinn was staunch in her support of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, praising his achievements.  Williams praised Kelly modestly before delivering one of the harshest assessments on the commissioner’s role in the stop and frisk debacle plaguing the city. “Ray Kelly has done good things for the city of New York,” Williams said, “but he’s also become the face of an abusive stop and frisk policy that targets Blacks and Latinos in the city of New York.’

All of the candidates decried the abysmal statewide test scores of public school students who took tests in the spring in preparation for the Common Core standards. According to results released recently, a mere third of the students passed the tests.  Although Quinn said schools should be “closed when necessary,” the men all advocated giving schools additional resources to excel as a better alternative. “Give schools additional support,” Thompson said. “I support a moratorium on closing schools” de Blasio stated. It was on the issue of jobs that all five candidates seemed to be most animated. “Let big companies pay their fair share and give small businesses a tax break to spur economic development,” Liu suggested. Agreeing, de Blasio said “Take sustainability away from big companies and provide it to CUNY for job training.” Williams agreed with job training while Quinn boated about her “record or results.”  The debate was co-sponsored by the Daily News, WABC/Channel 7, the League of Women Voters and Noticias 41 Univision.  –