Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Friday, February 24th, 2012

These are the words inscribed on coins of the French Republic since the 19th Century to remind the French people that their nation has a purpose, a raison d'etre - not merely to survive, but to advance the principles which those words convey.

Despite the current aversion in the United States to anything French, an aversion held mostly by my more jingoistic compatriots, the fact remains that the French and American revolutions are linked, in history and in attitude. Together our two nations dispatched the royal family as the sovereign foundation of the state, and replaced it with the sovereignty of the entire people.

The people are sovereign in the French Republic. The people are sovereign in the American Republic.

This fundamental sisterhood has united our two nations many times over the years since 1776 and 1789, and, allowing for petty quarreling as befits sisters and brothers, the sense of family persists.

The Art of Finessing Differences to Reach a Settlement
Peter Goodman is a career teacher, trade unionist and educational consultant. He writes the Ed in the Apple blog.
Friday, February 10th, 2012

Labor disputes end with labor, management and the electeds standing together on the stage agreeing that the settlement is good for children, good for teachers and good for the city, unless the goal is not to reach a settlement.

Unions must convince their membership to vote for the agreement, school boards and electeds must convince the media and eventually the public that the agreement benefits the “people.”

In 1995 the teacher union in New York City, the mayor and the board of education were negotiating for months. The rumors hinted at an increase of three or four percent. In the waning days of August an agreement was announced, a five year contract with no increase in the first two years, referred to as the “double zero” contract. The membership voted down the contract. (Months later they approved the same contract.)

How Does Government Pay
For Services People Want?
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
One recurring problem in government is the shortage of funds needed to meet reasonable demands for services by the public.

This situation occurs for a number of reasons. One, when payment is made by a third party demand for services increases substantially; the more that is provided, the greater the level of expectation for additional services. These demands, although costly are not inherently unreasonable. But the question is where to draw the line?

Edward C. Sullivan served in the New York State Assembly from 1977 to 2002.
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
There are those who think that politics consists of constantly facing choices between good and evil, and choosing good, if you're good, and choosing evil, if you're bad.

But that's not really true. Politics consists of constantly facing choices that contain 38% good, or 42% good, and 34% evil, or 25% evil, and 28% very unclear, or 33% very unclear. No political choices affect the past, which we know pretty well, and can more or less deal with. All of them affect the future, which we don't know at all, and which can change the lives of others, and maybe the lives of ourselves.

What to do? If we vote "yes" on the proposition before the Council, or the House, or the Senate, we vote in favor of the 34% evil. If we vote "no", we vote against the 38% good. And who knows how the 28% unclear will turn out? But we can be sure that our political adversaries will portray the unclear as being evil, if we voted "yes", and supremely good, if we voted "no".

Truth is the First Casualty
In Redistricting, as in War
Henry J. Stern is the founder and president of New York Civic.
Monday, January 30th, 2012
The political issue of the year in New York State is redistricting following the 2010 census. New lines for legislative and Congressional districts must be drawn in time for the 2012 elections. New York is on the path to being one of the slowest states to adopt new lines.

Money may be the mother's milk of politics, but district lines are the arteries through which blood flows to nourish the body. They define the playing field, and do their best to see that it tilts in their favor. Their opponents do the same, trying to tilt the field in the opposite direction. The result is likely to be a double-tilted field, advancing the interests of the leadership of both parties at the expense of independents, dissidents, freethinkers and outsiders. The insiders usually come out on top; that is how they came to be insiders in the first place.
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