When it comes to assigning blame for Yonkers’ current budget crisis that threatens 700 school staffer layoffs and huge school program cuts, blaming Albany for the city’s lack of money is more of a crowdpleaser than pointing to spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That’s the lesson City Council President Chuck Lesnick learned last night during a rally on the steps of City Hall, where Yonkers public school students, their parents and school staffers protested to urge the Yonkers City Council to cough up more cash to avert the school cuts.
The City Council is currently reviewing the budget and there was a hearing last night on the proposed budget, so Lesnick and Councilman John Murtagh, R- 5th District, both came out of their offices to join schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio and parents on the steps.
Lesnick and Murtagh, who are both running for mayor, somehow got handed the megaphone so they could take turns speaking.
When the crowd chanted and demanded where the money is, Lesnick told them that it’s in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That statement provoked a wave of boos and catcalling from the crowd, which began chanting again and essentially drowned out Lesnick’s message for anyone standing in the crowd.
Murtagh, who spoke before Lesnick, sang a familiar and more popular tune of blaming Albany for the city’s predicament, which is partly true since the state cut $6.5 million from the district this spring, on top of the $22 million it cut last year.
The City Council must adopt its 2011-12 municipal-school budget by June 1 and there is another public hearing on the budget set for 7 p.m. on May 23 at Saunders High School. No word yet on whether the protesters will attend.