Other unions have already announced early endorsements of de Blasio, there will be a corporate-funded general election candidate who will look to run against public education and the teachers union, and de Blasio settled all the outstanding contracts with the municipal unions that Bloomberg refused to settle in his third term.
Since that Mulgrew hint, we also learned that AFT President Randi Weingarten will hold a fundraiser for de Blasio in January:
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, will hold a fundraiser for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign in January, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by POLITICO New York.
The fundraiser will be held at AFT headquarters in Washington on January 5. Guest tickets are $1,000 a head, “supporter” tickets are $2,500, and “host” tickets are $4,950.
The event will be co-hosted by the lobbyist Harold Ickes, a friend and mentor to de Blasio who has enjoyed lobbying successes under de Blasio’s tenure. Ickes’ lobbying partner, Janice Enright, will also co-host the fundraiser. John Stocks, the director of the National Education Association, the nation’s other most prominent teachers union, is on the host committee for the event.
The event comes as de Blasio begins to gather endorsements from the city’s most prominent unions — both the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union have given the mayor their early endorsements. But de Blasio has not yet won the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers, the largest and most powerful branch of the AFT, representing teachers in New York City.
Weingarten’s upcoming fundraiser could add to pressure for UFT president Michael Mulgrew to give the mayor his union’s endorsement soon.
Now those of you who are close Randi/Mulgrew watchers know there is no daylight between either, so it's doubtful that the Weingarten fundraiser is "pressure" coming from Randi onto Mulgrew to endorse de Blasio early as opposed to another part of a multi-pronged strategy to get on board the de Blasio express early and prove loyalty to the mayor (especially necessary since the UFT worked against de Blasio in the primary last time around.)
That strategy might make some sense if de Blasio was a powerful incumbent with a proven track record of helping teachers and public schools, but as James wrote in his piece on the likely UFT endorsement, the case for that is slim:
In the school system I work in, teachers and other UFT members feel almost like they are under siege on a daily basis in multiple schools. Many of us fear drive by Danielson observations by abusive administrators, being rated based on student test scores in schools where the students are not exactly well prepared, overburdened paperwork demands made by those abusive principals and their assistants, the war on seniority with (un)fair student funding which makes senior teachers a burden on school budgets and much, much more.
Our job has been turned into a nightmare in many school buildings. In spite of the working conditions deteriorating to the point where a large number of teachers cannot physically or emotionally take it much longer, our Union President's response is hinting that we want more of the same.
Add in the de Blasio contract that holds back pay to 2020 (but only if you're still in the system!) and gives yearly increase averages of just over 1% and gee, what's not to like about endorsing de Blasio early, given all that wonderful stuff?
Well, how about the news that de Blasio is the subject of two grand jury investigations and criminal charges are likely to come against some of his cronies (and perhaps even de Blasio himself)?
Two separate grand juries in Manhattan have begun hearing testimony in connection with federal and state criminal investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising, according to several people with knowledge of the matters.
It was unclear whether either inquiry would result in criminal charges against the mayor, but the grand jury activity appeared to be the strongest indication since the investigations came to light in April that prosecutors may be moving closer to one or more indictments, possibly against some of Mr. de Blasio’s closest aides.
The inquiries have centered on Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, and several of his senior aides, according to the people with knowledge of the matter, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret.
The state investigation has focused on whether the mayor, or those acting with him or on his behalf, violated state election law by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through three upstate county committees and funneling it to Democratic candidates during the party’s unsuccessful 2014 bid to gain control of the State Senate.
The questions asked by state prosecutors in their grand jury presentations suggest their inquiry is in some measure centered on Emma Wolfe, Mr. de Blasio’s top political aide, Ross A. Offinger, who was then his campaign finance director, and Josh Gold, a union political operative who worked on the 2014 Senate effort, the people with knowledge of the inquiry said.
The federal investigation has examined whether Mr. de Blasio or his aides took beneficial action on behalf of donors in exchange for contributions they had made to his 2013 mayoral campaign, his political nonprofit or both in roughly a half-dozen instances, according to people with knowledge of that inquiry.
As I wrote Thursday, this leak came straight out of publicity-happy US Attorney Preet Bharara's office and Preet doesn't leak this kind of stuff without criminal charges following soon.
That's how it played out with Shelly Silver, Dean and Adam Skelos and Cuomo's cronies Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros - there's no reason to think it won't play out the same way here.
With criminal charges all but certain against somebody linked to de Blasio and with the NYC media already having an adversarial relationship with the churlish de Blasio, you can bet he's going to get hammered day after day after day in the newspapers and on TV, further weakening an already weak incumbent (polls consistently show de Blasio is underwater on the "Deserves Re-Election" question.)
Now I can understand why the UFT would look to finagle an early endorsement of de Blasio despite his administration showing itself to be anti-teacher in its treatment of teachers in the evaluation process (superintendents are instructing school administrators to ratchet up "ineffective" and "developing" ratings against teachers, especially veteran teachers), the budgeting process (which rewards schools that shed veteran teachers) and contractually (back pay all the way to 2020) - that's because the UFT leadership only cares about the access de Blasio and Chancellor Farina have granted them, not how they have treated their members so badly.
But why would the UFT want to announce an endorsement of de Blasio now with Preet bearing down on him and charges coming for one or more de Blasio cronies?
That Thursday night leak to the NY Times about the state and federal grand juries looking into de Blasio didn't come out of nowhere - that's a clear indication that Preet intends some charges against someone and wants to give a heads up that they're coming.
There's no indication yet that the charges will reach de Blasio himself, but even if they don't, weakened unpopular incumbent that he is, de Blasio may not be able to withstand major figures in his political circle getting taken down on criminal charges.
I think the UFT would be smart to wait for Preet to make a move and see what the political and practical fallout is before they endorse.
But the words "smart" and "UFT leadership" do not sit well together, so they just may continue with the AFT/UFT pro-de Blasio strategy despite new information that suggests that strategy may be politically and practically short-sighted and ill-conceived.