* Common Cause and National Organization of Women-New York City filed a complaint on Wednesday urging the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s past conduct and look into whether his current and former staff had any knowledge of harassment. That includes Councilman Steve Levin, who served as Lopez’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2009. Good government groups want to find out what Levin knew and when he knew it, though Levin told the Post that no instances of sexual harassment occurred when he worked as Lopez’s staffer. But one political insider wonders that it’s “hard to believe that [Levin] never knew about the recent sexual harassment allegations given that Steve talks to Vito everyday and remains loyal to him even now.” JCOPE is currently investigating Lopez’s sexual harassment claims and the Assembly’s handling of a recent $103,080 taxpayer-funded settlement. Levin did not return calls requesting comment.
* Make the Road NY held a rally yesterday outside the Brooklyn headquarters of StudentsFirstNY in protest of educational policies that they say hurt immigrant students and against the group’s decision to honor Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, as “Reformer of the Year”. The rally is part of a larger campaign against StudentsFirst by education, labor and community groups that included a report published by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools entitled “RomneyFirst” that attempts to draw connections between Mitt Romney’s campaign and members of StudentsFirst. Councilmember Diana Reyna criticized the policies of StudentsFirst in relation to immigrant and ELL students, such as support for charter schools, which it considers corporate enterprises. “We are proud to stand by Williamsburg Charter School, a community school, but that is not what the Department of Education stands for. It doesn’t stand for community. It doesn’t stand for students. It wants to segregate ELL students by giving permission to schools like Success Charter to choose who they are going to educate,” Reyna said of the enrollment practices of charter schools, which, according to Make the Road, have 5% of students classified as ELL compared to 15% of public school students overall. As for Rogers, he is one of the authors of the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, a measure Make the Road denounces as “draconian”. The law, passed in 2006, requires citizen verification for individuals to obtain state benefits. In a statement to City & State, StudentsFirstNY’s communications director Chandra M. Hayslett, responded, “It’s sad that Make the Road NY is letting itself be used by the teachers union to make bogus and hypocritical attacks in an effort to avoid a conversation about improving public education in New York. Presumably their outrage is not so great that they will return funding from the Robin Hood Foundation, which was founded by a StudentsFirstNY Board member—or that Make the Road will start denouncing politicians with whom Make the Road is allied but who disagree on other issues.”
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