By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
like Nettie Mayerson.
been friends for more than 20 years. But we’ve had this problem
throughout most of our relationship.
a matter of fact, it was exactly twenty-years-ago that our problem began.
me tell you the story.
— what kind of name is that anyway? — was a Democratic District Leader
from Flushing since 1972. She shared her leadership zone and powerful
Stevenson Democratic Club with her co-leader, political giant of the
70’s, Donald Manes.
had a good job as executive director of the New York State Crime Victims
Board, but Nettie wanted to be an elected official.
year was 1981 and Nettie wanted to run for Assembly. You see, the
incumbent Assembly member, David Cohen was not from the Stevenson Club and
Nettie was tired of waiting. But Donald, her co-leader, was county
Dem-king-and-queen maker and told Nettie it wasn’t her time.
years earlier, her friend (and my friend) Gary Ackerman decided not to
wait for the party blessing and go out and take a seat by challenging the
party in a primary. I managed that campaign for Gary. So when Nettie said
she was going to challenge the incumbent and the Democratic County
Organization, Nettie and Gary looked to me. And way back in 1981, I
managed Nettie Mayerson’s successful first run for elective office.
was a classic campaign story. We had the better organization, the better
team, the better candidate and – of course – the better campaign
manger. We marched door-to-door through Pomonok, Elechester and Aguillar
with Nettie; we mailed; we worked the street; we worked the union; we just
outworked them. That my friends, is the true secret of winning at politics
— and just about everything else.
present campaign button as we envision it.
work and money are the secrets to getting elected. I don’t remember all
the financial details, but I’m certain we were outspent. However I wrote
literature and coming from the newspaper business and a recent previous
campaign, knew ways to cut costs and get the job done efficiently and
cost-effectively. I did quite a bit myself.
even designed the campaign button.
really where our problem began.
I couldn’t find any of those 1981
collector items in my small but precious button collection — perhaps
Nettie staged a late-night raid. I’ll check with Ackerman, Nettie or
Alan Gershuny — they’re probably the only three crazy enough to save a
twenty-year-old Nettie pin. If anyone out there has one — Marsha,
Melanie, Jedd, David — please let me know.
like most campaigns, the candidate gets final sign-off on finished proofs
before they get printed. Often, when Nettie was busy being the candidate,
her husband Ronnie gave the sign-off.
got the button sign-off. Ronnie saw the button proof. Ronnie signed off on
the button. The button was printed. Nettie was not happy.
seems that Nettie and Ronnie believe there is an
“H” somewhere in Mayerson. They still insist it is “Mayersohn.”
The “Mayerson” button we printed 20-years-ago and Ronnie proofed,
elections are not won or lost over buttons or a single letter or
spelling...but, relationships could be. To this very day, Ronnie still
denies the story. His version is that he saw a proof with an “H” and
we took it out after he left. Nettie just blamed me and refused to pay for
the buttons — which she used. Well, I’m not sure she didn’t pay, but
the story works better when I have something to complain about. So, for
this story, she stiffed me.
I’m not going to even respond to Ronnie’s suggestion that it was right
when he saw it and we changed it thereafter.
this was the story way back in 1981 and Nettie and I never really resolved
our differences. We’re friends; we kid each other, but those Mayersons
just refuse to accept responsibility for their error.
so, the friendly fight has been going on for 20 years. Whenever Nettie’s
name appears in the paper in a non-hard-news story, it is spelled
incorrectly. On the TribPix page or in my column, don’t expect to
see an “h” and if you do, expect to see another creative use of the
alphabet. In real hard news stories, our journalistic ethic occasionally
gets the best of our 20-year-old effort of needling Nettie.
too participates in our little name game. When Nettie thought she was
going to face a Primary challenge — she probably doesn’t remember what
a real election is like — rather than gearing up for the challenge, she
and her finance chairman Shimmy Pelman, became creative. They designed
posters and T-shirts borrowing several of my creative spellings of
Nettie’s last name and added a tag line: “ANY WAY YOU SPELL IT … SHE
IS STILL THE BEST!!!”
the fight shall continue. This participant wants the Mayerson clan to
either change the spelling of their last name or accept the responsibility
for approving the alleged misspelling. And if you should see her, or
better yet write to her, there is no “h” in Mayerson. And Nettie,
there is the matter of the bill: 1000 buttons at 1970 prices — that’s
about $185 plus taxes, plus interest, plus penalty. At IRS rates, an
“H” will cost about a $1,000.
Columnist: Henry Stern
Can One Smart Kid Teach a Million ?
HENRY J. STERN
when I was a kid, the first day of school always brought a certain
excitement. A new teacher,
some new classmates, the nip of September in the air, and the end of
hanging around the house and beating up your siblings.
Also, on opening day, you didn’t owe any homework assignments,
book reports, or lab experiments. Figuratively
as well as literally, you started school with a clean slate.
year we have a brand-new Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein.
He has a 1940’s name: post-Joseph but pre-Jason.
He went to a neighborhood high school – William Cullen Bryant in
Queens – not an elite school like Science, Stuyvesant or Brooklyn Tech.
Forty years ago, you could do that.
From there it was Columbia College, magna, Harvard Law School,
magna and law review editor; a distinguished career in public service and
private practice, including a clerkship for the wise and moderate Supreme
Court Justice Lewis F. Powell. Everything Klein has done professionally has been top-drawer.
And now he is about to take a job which, with the exception of
Frank Macchiarola, has diminished everyone who has held it – if not in
their own eyes, then in the eyes of the public.
begins with certain advantages: first,
he is an ally and not an adversary of the Mayor.
Second, he is unhampered by obligations to unions, businesses,
contractors, lobbyists, activists, pacifists, political clubs and
jobseekers. Third, he is
clearly a man of intellect and character, who left the White House
counsel’s office alive, and with his reputation intact.
He leaves Bertelsmann almost simultaneously with his dismissed
job he undertakes here is enormously difficult.
He will be challenged by the interest groups which permeate the
huge educational establishment. They
seek ever-greater nourishment from over twelve billion dollars that are
spent annually on education. Klein
will also have to deal with his own Fresh Kills — a mountain of waste,
often carefully shielded by procedures, regulations, standards and
traditions, not to mention collective bargaining agreements and codicils,
which, it will be alleged in political courtrooms, have ossified into laws
so powerful they would bind Gulliver, possibly even Hercules.
assuming he defeats or contains these formidable obstacles, it is
not-all-that apparent what he can or should do to teach children reading,
writing and arithmetic, which once were the goals of public education.
Scholars, including deconstructionists, have different views on how
– and in what languages or dialects – children should be taught. They
complain, and if they don’t like the result, they litigate... on and on
has been an individual process, coming from the teacher-student
relationship. Assuming that
Klein is brilliant enough to figure out what to do, and to get rid of the
land mines in his way, he will have to find, or retrain, the thousands of
qualified teachers who will be necessary to carry out this vision.
The task is daunting.
Stern was NYC Parks commissioner for fifteen years and a City
councilmember for nine years. He is now founder and director of NYCivic, a
good government group and can be reached at: starquest.nycivic.org.
Rules and Thirteen-Year-Olds
was Saturday night, 1:45 a.m. and we were on the way back from the Bat
Mitzvah of Alexandra Kohn. In the morning Alex had chanted from the Torah
with precision and the depth and richness of melody rarely heard from a
thirteen-year-old. Her folks – our friends – Vicki and Mike, a
Flushing attorney, deserved to be very proud of their little girl.
celebration at the Garden City Hotel was on an equivalent level. But it
was late when I started driving Lil, Allison and her two friends home.
that hour of the night (or morning) Allison and her friends could be
expected to be quiet or asleep. But the excitement of the day kept the
not sure how it led there — though Allison insists I began the group
exchanging mathematics puns — but to sum it up, the product of the
session, led me, somehow to “slide rule.” As I uttered it, I asked
Mikki, Allison and Lisa (the neighborhood math guru) if they knew what it
replied she thinks her dad has one but she never saw it.
those much younger than me or scared of math, a slide rule is: a device
consisting of two logarithmically scaled rules mounted to slide along each
other so that multiplication, division, and more complex computations are
reduced to the mechanical equivalent of addition or subtraction.
relevance isn’t too staggering, but it made Lil and me realize that some
things we were brought up with have just been “technologied” into
oblivion. Other than collectible sites
and eBay, slide rules are a thing of the past.
else that was part of the lives of children of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s
and before is now obsolete and unknown to our children?
you thought 45s or perhaps vinyl albums, you’re on the right track; dial
phones and possibly, someday, film?
thoughts? Email them to me.
Alex, congrats; you were super!
by Dom Nunziato