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Playing with teacher-evaluation-bill fire
The daredevil game being played in the State Senate over the teacher-evaluation bill has put Majority Leader John Flanagan in a precarious position. Flanagan insists any law that would stop the use of student standardized tests to grade teachers also must include a big increase in the number of charter schools, and allow more of them downstate.
But it’s not a true pairing of issues. There is also a wild card at play, too.
As much as NYSUT, the Assembly and Flanagan buddy Carl Marcellino, one of the most vulnerable GOP State Senate incumbents, want to stop the use of standardized tests as a metric to judge teachers, the effort’s chances are considered dead in the Assembly if it means a deal for charters. Speaker Carl Heastie declined to call it a poison pill; he called it “cyanide.”
Marcellino, a former teacher, is still close to the union and has promised teachers in his North Shore Long Island district that he will get the bill passed. Marcellino risks their ire in November if he fails to deliver. But charter school lobbyists, big donors to the GOP Senate campaign committee, threaten to keep their wallets closed if Flanagan doesn’t get them a piece of the action.
The best outcome might be some kind of a deal.
However, there also is the personal political rogue state of Simcha Felder, the Brooklyn senator who runs on all lines and caucuses with Flanagan. Felder, who stalled passage of the state budget in March for a time with his ultimately unsuccessful demand that the state Education Department exempt yeshivas from curricular requirements, has raised the issue again. He demands that Flanagan include it in any compromise that would green-light the evaluation decoupling and lift the cap on charter schools from 460 to 560.
With Tom Croci’s disappearance slicing the one-vote margin of the GOP Senate majority, Felder might be tying Flanagan’s other arm behind his back to do a deal.
Hospital vs. insurance company
For many residents of southern Nassau County, a fight brewing between Blue Cross Blue Shield and South Nassau Communities Hospital could have major ramifications.
On May 1, an agreement lapsed that dictated how much the hospital is reimbursed for services to Blue Cross clients. If a new payment agreement is not reached by July 1, after a 60-day cooling-off period, South Nassau, its Long Beach outpost and doctors in its system would be out of network for Blue Cross plans many current and former government employees have for non-emergency care.
And South Nassau officials say that is a possibility, as Blue Cross is offering payments as much as 40 percent less than what it pays other nearby hospitals for the same procedures.
South Nassau is joining the Mount Sinai Health System, part of a wave of mergers in the industry that gives ever-larger players more leverage with insurers. But official approval of the merger won’t come until near the end of the year. So for now, South Nassau is fighting Blue Cross alone.
The only weapon South Nassau has left in this fight is the feelings of its patients. The hospital is launching a public-relations campaign intended to energize Blue Cross enrollees who might have to switch doctors and hospitals if a deal can’t be reached to kick up a fuss in support of South Nassau.
The Trumpian news cycle moves gigantic stories in and out of the frame at a breathtaking pace. The result for an editorial cartoonist is piles of unused sketches littering the office. Here’s one leftover from yet another extraordinarily huge news day that we just couldn’t fit into the paper.
Count the World Cup ironies
If the metropolitan area has felt like the center of the sports world lately, with Justify’s Triple Crown win at last weekend’s Belmont Stakes and the U.S. Open beginning Thursday at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, just wait, there’s more coming.
Eight years from now, in summer 2026, soccer’s World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the championship game has been proposed for MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The 16 venues (from a list of 23 North American cities that bid) have yet to be chosen, and there is no schedule yet. But if the big game does end up here, the traffic — not to mention ticket prices and world TV ratings — should easily eclipse those other two events.
The political ironies of the joint bid are inescapable. The success of the three-nation alliance comes as President Donald Trump is at war with Canada over tariffs and with Mexico over immigration and his border wall. Some members of FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, were alarmed at Trump’s rhetoric and policies regarding immigrants, to the point that the president sent a series of letters to soccer officials pledging that all athletes, fans and officials from all countries “would be able to enter the United States without discrimination.” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro called the assurances “crucial.”
One other delicious bit of irony: A final in the Meadowlands would be almost eye distance from Brooklyn, where federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York led the investigation into FIFA corruption that resulted in dozens of indictments, convictions and guilty pleas.
Nevertheless, the U.S.-led bid prevailed over Morocco in part because it promised what would be a record $11 billion in profits for FIFA, more than double the record set by the only other World Cup held on U.S. soil — in 1994.
With FIFA, it’s always about the money — over or under the table.