Bloomberg on teacher arbitration: ‘Maybe if you were a serial ax murderer, you might get a slap on the wrist’

Michael Bloomberg talks. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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Asked about reports this morning that city arbitrators were unwilling to fire 16 teachers the Bloomberg administration said had engaged in what the Daily News describes as "pervy behavior," the mayor said, "maybe if you were a serial ax murderer, you might get a slap on the wrist. And I don't want to overstate that, but..."

The mayor made his remarks during his regular Friday appearance on WOR Radio's John Gambling Show.

The mayor also posited that arbitrators are making their rulings based upon their desire to hold onto their own jobs. Arbitrators are jointly selected by the city and the teacher's union.

"Some of their rulings don't make any sense," he said. "But the theory is that they don't want to be too tough on the union members cause then the union will never allow them to be selected. Now the city has a vote in it as well, but if either one wants to block it they can, and so the allegation is, I don't know whether it's true or not, but the allegation has always been that some of these arbitrators are, not reluctant, just will not impose any penalties."

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"The people that are listening to you right now, to us right now, that read those stories that we're referring to in the newspapers, are going, 'Are you kidding me?'" said Gambling. "That the group that is in charge would rather have it this way, so that somebody gets to keep their job, rather than do what's right."

"Yes! What do you mean?" countered the mayor. "Why is this a surprise to you? John, your father had the same discussion about the same thing, and your grandfather did and your son probably will. What do you want?"

"When people act irrationally, my theory has always been, 99 times out of 100 they are not irrational," continued the mayor. "You just don't understand what their objective is."