City Council

Bill de Blasio's Rubber Stamp?

The inside story of how Melissa Mark-Viverito came to run the New York City Council

The untold tale of how a progressive party's long game helped install a City Council partner for Bill de Blasio.

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In 1967 the Mamas and the Papas recorded a song called "Creeque Alley" that included the refrain, "And no one's gettin' fat except Mama Cass," a rude but accurate reference to the band's caftan-wearing star, Cass Elliot. The line is repeated three times, but on the fourth go-round it's changed to "And everyone's gettin' fat except Mama Cass." Which comes as a humorous surprise because in fact all the other band members were quite svelte. (According to one plausible reading, "gettin' fat" actually referred to the rising and falling financial success of individual members of the band.

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What would public schools in Washington, D.C., be like without Michelle Rhee? It’s the big question of the day, after incumbent Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic nomination for mayor to city council Chairman Vincent Gray on Tuesday. It was Fenty who appointed the hard-charging, reform-minded Rhee. Before the election, Rhee hinted that she might leave her job if Gray won and became mayor (as he is all but certain to do, since there’s currently no Republican opponent to face in the November general election).

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Last week, D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that she had fired 241 teachers, including 165 who received low ratings under the District’s new teacher evaluation system, called IMPACT. As I wrote on Friday, the firings represent a big step for education reform. Teacher evaluations across the country are badly constructed and executed, as are the processes used to remove bad teachers. D.C. is leading the way in improving both. But this story runs deeper.

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