By Jill Colvin
CHINATOWN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be allowed to choose whomever he wants to run the city schools, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
"Mayoral control is just that. Mayoral control," Cuomo told reporters after dropping off boxes of food for the needy at the New York City Rescue Mission downtown.
The comments come the day after a state-appointed panel shocked observers by advising State Education Department Commissioner David to reject a waiver request that would allow Cathie Black, Bloomberg’s controversial choice for new schools chancellor, to take the job. Black needs the waiver under state law because she lacks the necessary education credentials.
"The mayor has made many good appointments in the past and I don't believe it’s my place to second-guess the mayor or his appointment decisions," Cuomo said.
Steiner is currently weighing whether to grant the waiver, and his decision is expected soon.
But Cuomo said the waiver process undermines mayoral control of city schools, which he fully supports and is working to roll out to other cities across the state.
"If you’re going to give the person responsibility, then you have to give them authority," he said.
Bloomberg has said he believes the waiver requirement should be scrapped.
One plan that Steiner is considering would involve asking Bloomberg to resubmit the waiver with the addition of a second "chief academic officer" who has experience in education to serve alongside Black.
But Cuomo said that Black will already be putting together a support team with different skills to help her run the agency.
"I don’t know if that’s anything different than really would have been done anyway. But I’ll leave it to her," Cuomo said.
Earlier Wednesday, Gov. David Paterson disagreed with Cuomo, telling WOR's John Gambling that he thought the panel's decision was "very fair."
"There is a reason why there is a review of a chancellor's choice," he said.
Still, he urged the mayor to heed Steiner's idea of creating a support position.
"I don't think it will cost the mayor or Ms. Black anything to comply with their requests and we can move on," he said.