Brooklyn, NY – Hikind, Others Say Bloomberg Held Priority 7 Vouchers Political Hostage

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    A Donovan campaign poster in BrooklynBrooklyn, NY – A number of prominent community voices are claiming that Mayor Michael Bloomberg used the Priority 7 vouchers as leverage to coerce Orthodox Jewish support for his pick in the recent state attorney general’s race.

    As the accusation goes, representatives of the mayor conveyed thinly-veiled threats that the childcare vouchers, which provide after-school respite for low-income families, would be funded past Dec. 31 as long as Orthodox power brokers backed Republican Dan Donovan, the Staten Island attorney general. Mr. Donovan lost to Democrat Eric Schneiderman, a state senator, in a tight race to become the state’s top lawyer.

    The Priority 7 voucher program services 2,200 children, most of whom rely on them to get after budget process earlier this year, the program was funded for six months, until Dec. 31. The mayor told community leaders and Council members at that time he would later consider whether to extend funding through the remainder of the school year.

    Termination letters went out last week to Priority 7 families, stating that cases will be closed as of Dec. 31. Frustrated askanim say Mr. Bloomberg is using the mid-fiscal year deficit as an excuse but in fact pulled the plug because Donovan’s Jewish support wasn’t enough for him.

    The theory that the program’s fate was politically motivated is not boosted by numbers, as per-neighborhood voting statistics aren’t yet available. But post-election talk about crafty arm-twisting from mayoral operatives are surfacing. During the campaign, elaborate pro-Donovan posters written in Yiddish stated that historically, voting for candidates linked to city officials resulted in benefits for the community. Some felt the posters, which contained no other points, were a coded message, given that Donovan ran for a state office not directly associated with city programs.

    State Assemblyman Dov Hikind made the accusation openly.

    “Another deal that was made [involved] a certain person running for office,” he told supporters at an election victory gathering on Nov. 3 in Brooklyn. Mr. Hikind charged that the mayor’s message was, “You better support [Donovan], or you’re not getting the vouchers.”

    The very serious assertion was echoed to Hamodia by others, including several askanim who campaigned independently for Donovan in frum neighborhoods of Brooklyn. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

    “What kind of chutzpah is this? What kind of approach is this?”

    Audio below of Assemblyman Hikind accusing Bloomberg of playing politics with Priority 7 Vouchers.

    Mr. Hikind, who endorsed Schneiderman for attorney general, said at his post-election event, using a mixture of English and Yiddish. “To threaten our community for something that we deserve? It’s unbelievable!”

    Mayor Bloomberg’s top spokesperson bristled at the assertion.

    “This is absolutely, 100% untrue and not how we operate,” City Hall Press Secretary Stu Loeser emailed Hamodia yesterday after being sent an audio tape of Mr. Hikind’s remarks.

    There were no claims that Mr. Donovan or his official campaign knew of any alleged funding-for-support demands made by Bloomberg aides. Mr. Donovan’s office said late yesterday that no one was available at the time to answer an inquiry.

    On Nov. 3, Mr. Hikind said the Bloomberg Administration has played political games with the Priority 7 program before.

    “The last time it was the [2009] election. You had to promise that you will vote for him and then he said he will give the vouchers,” he remarked.

    The reference was to the handling of Priority 7 last year. Then, too, City Hall gave Priority 7 half-year funding, to Dec. 31. Close to the November election in which he won a third term, Mr. Bloomberg agreed to second-half funding until June 2010.

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    14 COMMENTS

    1. again we see how the community is not taken seriously by our dear mayor. in fact he is a bully. why don’t we hear our councilman greenfield defending the community? after all it was his friends who were campaigning for donovan and making the threats againist the mosdos to vote for donovan. if i remember correctly it was greenfield who was telling everyone to vote for him because he is close to the mayor and if he wins he will get ur priority 7. i guess its promises make , promises broken. or perhaps its not is fault, the mayor just does not listen to david greenfield and if thats the case why did we need him in the first place if he cant get the job done for boro park? just wonderign where are all the askunim now when we need them?

    2. this is what happens when people live in the never neverland relying on others i call this self deluding unthinking people times are hard if things are not put back in the economy we will see a catastrophy i say to dov and to all other who rely on others to wake up before its late and start living within their means

    3. Hikin says this is somthing the community “deserves”. Why do we “deserve” this handout more than any other?? Why are we giving these handouts to ANYONE??? The city is broke…they are talking about laying off teachers and first-responders and Hikind is demanding we give away more money we don’t have. We had an election last week and the people said , STOP the madness and cut spending. Everytime there is a proposal to eliminate a subsidy to some special interest group these idiots cry gevalt and say cut someone else’s subsidy. What a hypocrite.

      • do you wont to have all jewish chideren in the public school system??????
        there is about over 100.000 of them. it will cost for the citybillions of dollarsmouch mouch more then this small amount of money. so shut up

        • Yes….I would much prefer these children in the public school system so they get a decent education and a reasonable opportunity to go on to a good college and earn a good living for their families. They can learn the yiddeshe subjects after regular school hours. If their parents want them to go the yeshiva then pay the bills and shut up and stop trying to take tax money for tuition. There are over 2 million taxpayers in NYC with NO children and they also pay taxes which mainly go to schools and other services they have no need for. Should they stop paying taxes too.

      • looks like u don’t know the system!

        Priority 7 is the last one the list of priorities, & the only 1 frum yidin use,the rest of the city is using other priorities ,
        so don’t post if u have no clue

    4. Can anyone give me 1 good reason why the mayor gives a flying leap about anyone at this stage of the game (yes, its a game to him). He has very little future ambition in running for governor or president. He’s basically there to payback friends and associates for friendships and various other things. All the Reports of fuging statistics, favoratism, over penalizing citizens, raising property taxes, fining us up to wazoo etc, all go unanswered by his office. Why? Because he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. It is not an election year and he needs nothing from anyone anymore. He bought a 3rd term end of story. And they said Bush stole the election against Gore, Bloomberg is the real thief….. its truly depressing to read these stories already.

    5. The frum community voted overwhelmingly for Bloomberg. Had it not been for that support, Thompson would be mayor now. I voted for Thompson and I have not regretted it for one second.

    6. #7,

      The mayor knows that we will never send our kids to public schools. And even if we did it would not cost billions; the marginal cost per student is far lower than the average cost. Remembet that the NYC school system has over 1 million students; it could simply increase class sizes by 10% and absorb the additional students with little difficulty.

    7. Charlie Hall is correct. This is not a viable threat since the school sytem today has the capacity to accomodate tens of thousand of new students at a reasonable cost. Many frum parents probably would send their kids to public schools if that is the only option.

    8. All I can say 8 years of Felder is being undone in less then a year by wannabe.

      Come to think of it, everyday that passes I’m happier that I voted for Lazar instead of Greenfield.

    9. >> Mr. Hikind … said … “To threaten our community for something that we deserve? It’s unbelievable!”

      And THAT is the source of the problem, the “we deserve” mentality. The big danger with entitlements, all entitlements, is that sooner or later recipients actually believe that they are truly entitled to them, that they somehow “deserve” them.

      Her’s an idea. How about you express thanks to NYC and NY taxpayers for giving you the handouts for as long as they have? And then, when you have realized that you have been sponging of the general public for years, be responsible, and start to think about how you need to contribute, not just take.

      Look, bottom line, be is Section 8, Priority 7, food stamps, all of these programs (both state and federal) are going to be cut. That’s reality people! As one famous politician once said, “the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples money”. Well, we’re out of money, so quit complaining and get used to having to take responsibility for yourself.

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