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News from BALCONY


December 3rd, 2016
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, at 5 PM


* Trump appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education
and the
* Trump/Ryan plan to privatize medicare.

Tune in for this lively discussion or listen on the simulcast.

Betsy DeVos is an advocate of education choice, so why haven’t many of her colleagues rallied behind her?

December 2nd, 2016

by Monica Disare

When news broke that President-elect Donald Trump tapped the school-choice advocate Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary, New York City’s charter-school sector was relatively quiet. With the exception of the Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, who tweeted she was “thrilled,” local charter-school leaders and advocates have mostly kept to themselves.

Donald Trump vs. public schools: Betsy DeVos is a radical choice

December 2nd, 2016


Our public schools are the means by which the United States fulfills a collective promise: to take and teach every child seeking an education. While private, religious and charter schools have a place in the educational landscape, this most democratic of promises is unique to public schools. Obviously, some public schools need improvement. But the vast majority remain the places where we prepare the nation’s young people — rich, poor, native- and foreign-born, and of all abilities — to contribute. They are where we forge a common culture out of America’s rich diversity.

Dangerous health plans proposed by President-elect Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price

December 2nd, 2016

We have released two papers looking at the dangerous health plans proposed by President-elect Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price.

Start New York’s 2017 agenda with investment in CUNY

November 30th, 2016

By Barbara Bowen

It feels as if months have passed since Donald Trump was elected president. Perhaps that’s because so many New Yorkers now live in palpable fear.

For thousands of students at the City University of New York, where 40 percent of undergraduates are immigrants and several thousand are undocumented, the fear is especially real. Three-quarters of CUNY undergraduates are people of color, more than half are women, many are Muslim, many are Jewish and there are large and active organizations of LGBTQ students and students with disabilities. Students in many of these groups have been directly targeted by President-elect Trump’s rhetoric and policy proposals. All are vulnerable in a regime in which violent white nationalism is normalized as policy.

Critics Say Trump Infrastructure Plan An Unfunded Giveaway To Billionaires, Companies

November 28th, 2016

By JoAnne Powers

President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure plan has come under heavy fire from both sides of the aisle. Rather than spending directly on building projects, Trump has proposed funding infrastructure through tax credits for private investors. While Trump argues that the plan will pay for itself, economists are doubtful, causing fiscal conservatives to express reservations over supporting a plan that could increase the deficit. Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders described the plan as a “scam” that only benefits billionaires and large companies, and has promised to re-introduce his own trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, the Rebuild America Act, which would invest directly in building projects.

Mike Locker, a consultant with building trades unions in New York and BALCONY Executive Board Member, expresses similar concerns (read more)...

NEA President Blasts Betsy DeVos Nomination For Education Secretary

November 25th, 2016
Commentary: The Trump administration announced today its plan to nominate Betsy DeVos, best known for her anti-public education campaigns, for the position of Secretary of Education.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Every day, educators use their voice to advocate for every student to reach his or her full potential. We believe that the chance for the success of a child should not depend on winning a charter lottery, being accepted by a private school, or living in the right ZIP code. We have, and will continue, to fight for all students to have a great public school in their community and the opportunity to succeed no matter their backgrounds or circumstances."

A Battle to Change Medicare Is Brewing, Whether Trump Wants It or Not

November 25th, 2016

by Robert Pear

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, in Washington last week. His efforts to change Medicare have been denounced by Democrats as “voucherizing” the system. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump once declared that campaigning for “substantial” changes to Medicare would be a political death wish.

But with Election Day behind them, emboldened House Republicans say they will move forward on a years-old effort to shift Medicare away from its open-ended commitment to pay for medical services and toward a fixed government contribution for each beneficiary.

The idea rarely came up during Mr. Trump’s march toward the White House, but a battle over the future of Medicare could roil Washington during his first year in office, whether he wants it or not.
News from BALCONY Archives
News From and About Our Members

Carlo Scissura Named President and CEO of New York Building Congress

November 18th, 2016

Succeeds Richard T. Anderson Who Expertly Guided the Building Congress for More Than Two Decades

Carlo A. Scissura, a lifelong New Yorker and veteran of Brooklyn politics, business, and economic development, has been named President and CEO of the New York Building Congress.

He will succeed Richard T. Anderson, who has served as President of the New York Building Congress for the past 23 years. Mr. Scissura, who has served as President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce since 2012, will take over on January 1, 2017. At that time, Mr. Anderson will assume the title of President Emeritus and continue to serve the Building Congress as a consultant.

President-elect Trump needs a partner in Congress

November 13th, 2016

by Jeffrey Lewis

Given the historic election of Donald Trump, it’s easy to miss the true message sent by the electorate. With Republicans winning control of the presidency and Congress, voters signaled a desire for leaders to work together to solve the nation’s most difficult domestic policy problems. That requires Republican leadership in Congress that is serious, focused on action not rhetoric, and understands this historical moment. The first step: the re-election of Paul Ryan as Speaker.

At Trader Joe’s, Good Cheer May Hide Complaints

November 4th, 2016


To explain their infatuation with Trader Joe’s, fans of the offbeat grocery chain typically cite three factors: low prices, an appealing selection of high-end products and, perhaps above all, irrepressibly friendly employees.

Teachers union says new federal regulations are not a 'real partnership'

July 20th, 2016

By Keshia Clukey

ALBANY - Federal regulations tied to the new Every Student Succeeds Act are a "top-down, federally driven" approach, not a "real partnership," as was intended, the state's largest teachers union says.

On Tuesday, New York State United Teachers submitted comments to the U.S. Education Department on the draft regulations in the hope that the department will make changes. The submission deadline is Aug. 1.

ESSA, passed in December, replaced the broad federal No Child Left Behind Act and was initially seen as providing states more flexibility regarding assessments and accountability.

New York Public Hospitals Use Emojis to Reach Young People About Sex

July 18th, 2016


The birds and the bees are no longer confined to uncomfortable living-room conversations. They will start popping up as emojis in teenagers’ Facebook feeds on Monday.
News from our Members Archives
BALCONY Issues in the News (Related Articles)

A pro-music coalition calls for state to pass industry tax credit

November 24th, 2016

Governor has until Nov. 28 to sign the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit into law

by Addie Morfoot

A coalition of music businesses called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a music tax credit into law before a Nov. 28 deadline. Its effort was partly a response to a letter to Cuomo from a policy watchdog a week earlier questioning the benefit to the state of the tax break.

DC37 membership ratifies CUNY contract

July 18th, 2016

By Conor Skelding

The City University of New York employees represented by District Council 37 have voted to approve a contract deal with the university, the union announced Monday.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al.

July 1st, 2016

Supreme Court Denies Friedrichs Petition for Rehearing

On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition from nine California public school teachers to rehear their First Amendment challenge to mandatory union fees. The plaintiffs petitioned the Court to rehear their case after a 4-4 decision was issued in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. When the split decision was issued, it was not accompanied by an opinion on the merits of the argument. All that was issued was a one-line statement that the decision was split 4-4. Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, the non-profit public interest law firm representing the teachers issued the following statement about today’s decision:

“We are greatly disappointed in today’s decision denying our petition for rehearing in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association. Today’s decision was not a decision on the merits of our case nor was it accompanied by an opinion. We continue to believe that forcing individuals to subsidize political speech with which they disagree violates the First Amendment. We will look for opportunities to challenge compulsory union dues laws in other cases and continue our efforts to stand up for the rights of of teachers and public sector workers across the country.”

Housing activists ramp up campaign against affordable housing developers

June 24th, 2016

By Sally Goldenberg

An activist group that has long criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan is targeting an affordable housing association with a barrage of attacks and a call for all elected officials not to accept campaign contributions from the association.

NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento's Statement on Assembly Passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

June 17th, 2016
Albany, NY - "Tuesday was a historic day. For years, the New York State AFL-CIO has been fighting for safe nurse-to-patient ratios in our hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Nurses have told their stories over and over about the challenges they face trying to provide the highest quality care possible under stressful working conditions that include inadequate staffing levels. Improving patient safety took a giant step forward with the Assembly passage of the “Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act.” We applaud Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried and the Assembly Majority for taking the lead toward ensuring our hospitals are properly staffed to allow nurses to provide the best care possible while improving patient outcomes.
BALCONY Issues in the News Archives