NY Senate Democrats Receive Rent Deal from Teachers Union

It has been revealed that a cozy office share deal between New York Senate Democrats and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) at the union's Broadway office sees all costs written off as a contribution.

Kenneth Lovett at the New York Daily News has revealed that, as part of a $4,483/$25 per square foot deal, the UFT picks up the tab for office, phone and other utilities at 50 Broadway and writes it off as a donation to the Democrats.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said that the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee is using office space in the building right next door to the union headquarters.

This comes at a time when Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are in negotiations with the union over implementing a new teacher evaluation system. Mr. Cuomo is giving district officials one year to implement new systems based on the state framework or they will risk losing a 4% increase in state aid.

The union sued districts over regulations that would have allowed local districts to use state test scores for 40% of a teacher's evaluation, claiming that it was illegal. Since then, tempers have frayed and the stop-start discussions have been protracted.

But now, as schools are set to lose $223 million in state aid, it remains to be seen what effect Cuomo's proposal will have on the struggle.

The Senate Democrats have reported the $4,483 in-kind contribution, thus acknowledging the rental agreement. This number was reached by basing the bill on the same $25-per-square-foot the union charges the other tenants in the 30-story building.

UFT boss Michael Mulgrew said:

"We make contributions — this is just another way of making a contribution,"

While Senate Republicans declined a similar deal, many see the relationship as improper.

Dick Dadey of Citizens Union, a watchdog group, said:

"For a political group to align itself so closely with a very specific agenda, it's not appropriate."

SDCC executive director Josh Cherwin defended the move, however:

"We appreciate the diverse support from all corners of the state, including our in-kind contributions."

As the Senate Democrats face a $1.7 million debt, they decided to take the union up on their offer as an opportunity to save needed cash.

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