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Flanagan stays out of Cuomo-de Blasio fight -- mostly (Updates)

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) at

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) at the Capitol in Albany on June 25, 2015. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Wednesday that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has to prove he can improve schools over the next year if he wants an extension of mayoral control.

Flanagan (R-East Northport) also said de Blasio is partly to blame for failing to make the authority permanent, a claim the mayor strongly disputed. Permanent mayoral control of schools was de Blasio's top legislative goal.

"The (de Blasio) administration has to demonstrate what actions they are taking," Flanagan said. He said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo -- who recently has engaged in a political feud with de Blasio -- is right to insist that the mayor prove he is improving student performance and is better funding the poorest schools.

"I think those are legitimate questions," Flanagan said.

De Blasio and some Democrats have blamed Cuomo for failing to get the control measure through the Senate Republican majority. But Cuomo said Tuesday in Manhattan, "We have a situation in Albany where you don't always get everything you want. That's called life."

Wednesday, Flanagan said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration "were put through their paces extensively" in Albany before securing mayoral control in 2002 and a six-year extension in 2009. Bloomberg, a former Republican, was also a major political ally and campaign contributor to Senate Republicans at the time.

But Flanagan said de Blasio failed to match Bloomberg's lobbying effort.

"I know this factually: We tried to engage the (de Blasio) administration and get the mayor to come to some hearings and we got no cooperation . . . if you care that deeply about mayoral control, I think you probably would free up your schedule and make yourself available."

De Blasio disputes that.

"The mayor and his team conducted a great deal of outreach with Senator Flanagan, his team, and senators in his conference, especially those from New York City, throughout the legislative process," said de Blasio spokeswoman Karen Hinton.

"At a certain point Senator Flanagan simply stopped returning the mayor's personal calls," Hinton said. "The mayor also repeatedly offered to attend a hearing in Albany and testify on the merits of mayoral control."

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