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ALBANY - Republicans blasted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday for declining to appear at a hearing regarding control of the city’s schools, underscoring the ongoing tension between the rivals that began with the mayor’s 2014 attempt to help Democrats win the State Senate.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said he was “extremely disappointed” that de Blasio won’t be attending a hearing set for Thursday in Manhattan — especially after the Senate chose a location that would be convenient for the mayor. The city schools law is set to expire this year.
“This is a very serious and very important issue, especially for the 1.1 million students who attend New York City schools and their parents,” Flanagan said in a statement. “With the future of mayoral control at stake, Mayor de Blasio has left too many unanswered questions about his stewardship of the New York City school system.”
Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) said skipping the hearing “proves to us once and for all that we cannot trust” the Democratic mayor.
De Blasio attended a similar hearing in Albany earlier this month. He stayed for a roughly four-hour exchange that was largely cordial — though afterward Flanagan accused him of ducking issues.
De Blasio noted then — and repeatedly — that the GOP-controlled Senate once gave then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg a seven-year extension of the school control. He should be granted similar authority, he has said.
“The mayor has testified at length to this and presented a highly compelling case for a multiyear extension of mayoral control. The Senate faces the critical decision of keeping our schools going in the right direction or pushing more than a million kids back to the bad old days of dysfunction and chaos,” de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan said in an email. “They have firmly supported mayoral control in the past, and we urge them to do so again.”
Left unsaid in the exchange: Republicans’ anger as the mayor’s efforts to raise money for Democratic Senate campaigns two years ago, and an ongoing probe about the related fundraising.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) rallied to the mayor’s defense on the school issue.
“When there was a Republican mayor . . . there wasn’t the same political football, and I’d expect the same courtesy” for de Blasio, Heastie said Wednesday. The Democrat-led Assembly has approved a bill that would extend mayoral control by three years.