THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP
Now that a federal judge’s 10-day temporary injunction againstthe city of New York — preventing it from evicting over 60religious congregations from public school space they have rentedon Sundays for worship services — has been partially overturned,the state Assembly must act on legislation that would permanentlyallow the religious groups to rent the space.The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Marty Golden andAssemblymembers Nelson Castro and Nicole Malliotakis, has alreadyoverwhelmingly passed the Senate. Assembly Speaker Silver isresponsible for the hold up in the Assembly where the bill has morethan ample support to pass if it was allowed to come to the floorfor a vote.The speaker first said he had a problem with the Senate language,then when Senator Golden, for whom I work, offered support for anycompromise language that would allow the congregations to remain,the speaker said he wanted to wait for the judge’s decision.As a result of the various federal decisions and Senator Golden’soffer to work with the speaker on new language, it would seem thathe would have no more excuses.The legislature will return to Albany in just a few days onFebruary 29. The injunction runs out about the same time. So unlessthe city, as a result of a fairly stern warning from the federaljudge that they would likely lose a full trial, reverses its ban orthe legislature passes legislation to that effect, these 60congregations will once again have no place to meet for worshipservices..
* * *It makes a great deal of sense that a uniform teacher evaluationsystem has come down from the State Department of Education. Thisstatewide system is the result of a deal with the various teacherunions.In the past, Mayor Bloomberg attempted to impose a new tougherevaluation system on city teachers. The UFT, which represents thecity’s public school teachers, was successful for years in delayingthe new system. And then when they finally agreed, it was heavilywatered down from the original proposal.The state’s action also did not come easy. The UFT once again dideverything in its power to hold things up. It was only willing toagree after Governor Cuomo set a deadline and threatened the lossof something around $100 million in state aid, which was theequivalent of what the state would lose from the Race to the Topmoney.The big winners on this one are the children and once againGovernor Cuomo. Mayor Bloomberg is also a winner because he hasbeen advocating for new standards for some time. Although theteachers union might be considered a loser, I think most publicschool teachers who do an outstanding job are winners because astatewide evaluation recognizes their work and protects them
* * *I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Mets Hall of Famecatcher Gary Carter. I very much enjoyed the years of service hegave the Mets. Without his solid behind-the-plate calling ofpitches and his stellar batting, I doubt the Mets would have becomethe 1986 World Champions.I have a photo of the two great New York number eights — GaryCarter and Yogi Berra — walking side by side with their back tothe camera on the night of the last game played at Shea Stadium. Asmuch as it was taken to document the end of an era at Shea, I willnow regard it as a tribute to Carter.Rest in peace, Gary Carter!
Jerry Kassar is the chairperson of the Kings CountyConservative Party. He is a longtime community activist who hasserved as an officer or member of many organizations. He works forthe state of New York.