A Busy Day: A Reporter, Old Friends, GEM Meets

    Updated

    Given the schlep from Rockaway, I try to schedule multiple events when I go into the city. Yesterday (Wednesday) turned out to be a busy day indeed.

    Meet a reporter at Starbucks
    First up was a meeting with a reporter from a major paper. I love it when reporters ask the right questions and are willing to probe. It could be phony but there seemed to be genuine enthusiasm as I told tales of the ATR wine and cheese rally (reporter wanted to see my videos) and other stories. Not that I expect any article from the press to reflect the depth of the discussion (we very rarely get to see what lies underneath in these articles), but at least I got a sense that the reporter "gets it." I figured it would take about 15 minutes for boredom to set in but we did 45 minutes and I was asked to meet again. If an article appears I'll talk more about it.

    Lunch (my favorite thing)
    Then it was off to Bar Pitti to meet old UFT war horses Merry Tucker and Bruce Markens. Bruce has always been a hero to people in the opposition because he was the only non-Unity district rep who consistently stood up to his Unity hack bosses – for over a decade. Of course that was the days when district reps were elected (by the chapter leaders in the district, mostly Unity anyway, but at least a semblance of democracy). Randi finally pulled the plug on DR elections in 2002 - and Bruce's consistently getting elected through the 90's as Manhattan HS DR was a major reason. Full disclosure: I had announced my candidacy for DR in my District in the spring of 2002. In my interview with Tom Pappas, Bob Astrowsky and Michelle Bodden I said I wouldn't retire - that caused almost as big a laugh as when I pulled out copies of Ed Notes as an example of my work as a union activist. The guy they chose used to brag how he pulled Ed Notes out of mailboxes. He's still there. Ask teachers in the District if they feel represented. Actually, in the long run, having a DR responsible to the leadership instead of the members works against the leaders, but that's a story for another time.

    You can imagine that the DR story gave the reporter quite a kick.

    But back to lunch. Delightful. Merry (who used to schlep around the Bronx with me distributing Ed Notes) and Bruce have done some travelling and it is always fun to catch up. After lunch, Merry was off to see her mom, a well-known activist who was married to Steve Zelluck). Barbara Zelluck, who I don't know, is seriously ill. We wish her well. I am forever thankful to Merry for introducing me to Lisa North and Gloria Brandman, amazing ICE and GEM activists.

    Bruce and I walked uptown to CUNY where the GEM meeting was taking place talking union politics. (We are major wonks.) He has so many great stories and so much knowledge and history, I keep bugging him to do a debriefing on camera to leave a record of Unity perfidy.

    GEM meeting
    I went up to the air conditioned GEM meeting (what a great crew) which was very vigorous with lots of great reports from schools and news of the picnic at Prospect Park this Saturday to make posters for the schoolwide informational pickets on June 4. We also had some good discussions, especially on the new teacher evaluation system. Tilden Chapter Leader John Lawhead gave a mesmerizing analysis of the agreement, which I thankfully taped and will put it up in a day or two. Wonderful stuff.

    We also had a good and heated discussion as to whether we work to get the UFT to act or give up on them. I'm in the latter group and pushed my Vichy analogy, but there are other points of view, which we will explore in some forums on the UFT, maybe this summer.


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A Busy Day: A Reporter, Old Friends, GEM Meets


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