Pro-U.F.T. groups hit Wolfson for his past union work, Wolfson hits union supplicants
Education advocates aligned with the United Federation of Teachers issued a reminder this afternoon that Howard Wolfson, a deputy mayor to Michael Bloomberg, once consulted for the union, during his pre-Bloomberg career as a top Democratic strategist.
“With Howard the Hypocrite, it’s all about the money," said Zakiyah Ansari, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, in a statement emailed by the Alliance for Quality Education. "He happily defended the UFT when he was a top paid consultant for them, but he gave that up to get bigger checks from Mayor Bloomberg and BloomPAC. Now he is paid to trash teachers, and say what Bloomberg wants. He has zero credibility."
The reminder of Wolfson's past comes after he pre-emptively attacked the union for planning to endorse Bill Thompson today, saying Thompson, a former head of the Board of Education, "allowed the UFT to run our schools."
New Yorkers for Great Public Schools has opposed the mayor's education agenda, and Alliance for Quality Education has received financial support from the teachers' union in the past. The groups are also bombarding Wolfson's Twitter account, @howiewolf.
In an email, Wolfson responded to the criticism, conceding that he was once "pretty reflexively pro UFT" and this his former firm, the Glover Park Group, worked on the union's behalf. But Wolfson said the union had proven an unwilling partner once he arrived at City Hall.
"I grew up in a family of teachers and my old firm worked for the UFT -- when I began my career in politics its safe to say I was pretty reflexively pro UFT, and when I joined the Bloomberg Administration I hoped that we would be able to partner with the union to make our schools better," he wrote in the email to Capital.
"Once at City Hall it became clear that the union -- especially under its current leadership -- was an enormous impediment to reform.
"Watching the parade of candidates genuflecting before the UFT and pledging fealty to its positions is an embarrassment. The prospect of the next mayor handing the keys of Tweed over to Michael Mulgrew makes me fear for the future of the city."
It's not the first time Wolfson's current gig, working for an aggressively nonpartisan mayor, has come into conflict with his past work on behalf of Democrats.
As the top adviser to Bloomberg's super PAC, he helped support some moderate Republicans, after having previously served as an executive director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And he's defended the mayor's spending against Democratic senators who opposed expanding background checks for firearm sales, a campaign that endangers the Democratic Senate majority built by his old boss, Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer, in turn, criticized Bloomberg's ads as ineffective last week.