Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for January 15, 2010

Associated Show Highlight: 
Mayoral Control

Coming up on Need to know 

Sounding off on the issue of mayoral control.

We don't want incremental change, we want break through change.

If we are going to be taking away someone's voting rights, which is what we would be doing,

we better have more then just whispers about it.

We need to make sure that elected officals hear them and hear them clearly

We'll sort through all sides of the debate and let you know where things stand. Also, doctors in short supply?

WE'll take a look at survey results warning that could happen right here in rochester

 

 

HI I'M WXXI NEWS DIRECTOR JULIE PHILIPP.  THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR THIS

EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW.

 

THIS WEEK, WXXI'S CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS LAUNCHED A SERIES

ON MAYORAL CONTROL OF THE ROCHESTER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT. 

WE LOOKED AT THE PROS AND THE CONS, THE HOPES AND THE FEARS,

AND THE EXPERIENCES OF THOSE WHO'VE SEEN MAYORS TAKE CHARGE IN

OTHER PLACES.  WXXI'S BOB SMITH HAS BEEN RIGHT IN THE THICK OF IT, AS

HOST OF 1370 CONNECTION.  HE JOINS ME NOW TO SUM UP WHAT WE'VE LEARNED.

Thanks for coming in today Bob

 

Thanks for having me.

 

Lets start with the term mayoral control. It means many things in many places. We are starting to get an idea of what it means here in Rochester.

 

Mayor Duffy was really more specific appearing on the Wednesday's 1370 Connection program on what he has in mind, what he has done up to now, and what it really means is city council plus mayoral control. What Mayor Duffy would do is appoint the Superintendent, along with advisory citizens panal, blue ribbion panal composed of educators, civic leaders, parents and the rest to provide some degree of oversite. But he would have the appointed power over the top person and the City Council would take over from the Board of Education. Which would go away. The council would then have the budget athority and the authority to make the rules through city ordinces, that are now done through board resolutions. City Counil effectivly becomes the Board of Education. Mayor Duffy becomes to whom the Cheif Executive answers.

 

And the Commuinity Advisor Board really having no power.

 

Right.

 

Okay. Mayor Duffy is advoiding requests for direct debate or community forum, including a request from WXXI. Let's see what he had to say about that.

 

While some are calling for immediate dicussions and debates, I welcome debates, I think that this is an issue that should be discussed at length. We want to see if in fact it is even going to be considered this year and at this point we don't know.

 

So what is the process? If it is too premature, as he is saying to talk about it in a direct fashion, what is the process?

 

He is what we can tell based on the presence best set by New York City. Here is what has to happen. First of all, there has to be a concenses between the Mayor and the City Council on a plan or an outline at least if not more detailed then that of a mayoral controlled system. There would have to be a resolution passed by City Council, a home rule message has to be sent to the State Legislature asking the state to grant the power to do this. To merge the city government and the school systems into one. The way they did in New York City. The way the State Legislature had to sign off on it for NYC to do it under Mayor Bloomberg. Then once the State Legislature enables it, then it happens, then it get implemented but not until.

 

We have hear rumors that it might become part of Paterson's budget bill that City Council doesn't have to draw up something first to give to the Legislature that's incorrect.

 

That's not the way I am being told it would happen. That's not the way it actually did happen of course in NYC. The State Legislature would have to say yes in some form or another and talking with at least once law maker, Susan Jon, who chairs the labor committee and is pretty closely plugged in to the Legislature leadership. She is not aware of any more depending on the Governer's part to through this into the state budget which is going to come up next week. This is going to have to go through, as she anticiptes the process for NYC.

 

So City Council would have to sign off on it before the State Legislature.

 

They would have to bring a home rule message to the table, the State Legislature would have to pass it, then it would be back to city government to implemant the merger.

 

One thing that would not change, according to Mayor Duffy from the current situation, if he were to take charge of the school district. As we see in this clip he would keep Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard on board.

What I would say first and foremost I would aggressively support his strategic plan. He is the expert he has a strategic plan for education that is in place now. That is the one thing I would do, is to aggressively implement that plan. Free him from political restrants, which he clearly has. Free him to go out and be bold, be innovative, be courageous with that plan because we don't want  incremental change to want break through change.

So what mayoral control can bring about break through change? I know you have talked to people who have either studied or have actually been involved with mayoral control in other places.

You have to define break through change. Certainly in terms of the orginizational structure and lines of authority it absolutly would. The school board would be gone. The city council would take on effectivly its responsiblites. The Mayor would pick its top person. Who ever is the Chief Excutive of schools would in return report to him like any other department head in the city. It would be very very different from the way things go right now in every city except NYC. But whether that would create changes in student achivement, graduation rates, and the rest which are all deep concerns of the Mayor's. And reasons why he wants to promote this is an open question. The results are mixed.

Well lets talk about this. First off you have talked to some academics. Who have really studied this issue and writen books about this issue.

There is a difference of oppinion on the degree to which it makes a difference academically. People like Kennith Whon from Brown University, who is convinced beyond doudt that mayoral control does drive student achievement higher. He makes no bones about that. Other like Joseph Vidderini of City University of New York who advised a panel examinning the reauthorization of mayoral control in NYC. This past summer he said "on balance it appears to provide improvements but it is not creating miracles in NY.

One person who does not really think this is going to bring about break through change is the current school board president Malik Evans. We have a clip of him as well.

If  someone could show me based upon NEAP data where schools that have had mayoral control have had blockbuster success in terms of student achievement I would jump up and down. But the NEAP data, which is independent, which traks test scores in some of the largest urban districs have not demistrated that a mayoral control system is great.

 NEAP numbers lets talk about what those are because that is what people bring up against mayoral control bring up over and over.

There are standerdised test at varius gread levels on basic skills. Language skills, mathmatic skills. They do show that we are seeing some improvment nation wide. Grade level by grade level over the last several years. But it is not clear that cities that are under mayoral control are showing anymore improvment then cities that govern their schools more tradionally.

So these are nataional tests, not the state tests that we see? The Govenor's wife has even commented on this regarding the NEAP numbers and how they make it really unclear whether mayoral control can improve student achievement.

Diane Ravaitzes has a very skeptical voice about all of this. They do not believe that mayoral control is a panasea what so ever. She thinks it might do just as much harm as good. The interesting thing about all of this is that it all depends on what you use to measure. There is improvment in NYC in things like grade point average and graduation on time rates but how much of that is due to mayoral control and the governern system changes and how much s due to funds that we saw under the equity dession is anybody's guess. You can't seperate the two and say this much is mayoral control, this much is the extra money and since the extra money may not surive budget crisies in New York Sate who knows if it is going to be a federal gaines.

Lets talk about some of the other concerns beyond academic results that you are hearing. I know that you had City Council member Adam McFadden talking about his concerns over transparentsey.

The worry is basicly that if you have a mayoral control system there wont be the aggressive oversight over school opporations that the bored has done and it certainly has done it. It has been very aggressive and at times it has been very messy and noisie but it is there no question about it. That might be gone unless city council moves in and adoptes the same kind of rule and aggressive approch which it would have to do in the middle of all of its other responsiblities.  He is worried about how to big a plate is going to be given to City Coucil if it is going to try and do its job in the regaurd. It is a major concern.

 

 

(Bob) Dr. Rowbanski, He thinks its about money he thinks its about merging the bureaucracy together. Cutting loose a lot of people he worries its going to be teachers rather then bureaucrats by the way. Other people think its going to be be the bureaucrat while saving the teachers jobs with the money saved. Anbd he is worried that the result will be to save the cities budget problems while not necessarily doing anything in a positive way for education. Others say its going to merge the bureaucracy even though its going to be a lot leaner. Well it would be a lot more affective if we put the money directly in the class rooms and help the kids. I heard both sides expressed Dr. Rowbanski is very skeptical and the proponents of the mayoral control say it might free up money by putting money in the class room directly will improve matters. We will have to se when the deal comes out.

 

(Julie) And lets go back to the schoolboard president Malik Evans another one of his concearns is that were really underestimating the value of a schoolboard. Giving parents greater access to the leadership of the school lets hear what he had to say about that.

 

(Evans) I think that people in general particularly in Albany underestimate the value of people in this community. And people will do things because they can. I think it would be a severe mistake to think that people do not reach out to the schoolboard on a regular basis. I have a direct line that is reserved for only the schoolboard.

 

(Julie) Okay so we hear that and I also know we are going to be speaking to parents aswell. Also there has been a voice out their that has been quit loud  this week and that would be schoolboard member and practicing attorney Van White who is threatening a law suite what' up with that one?

 

(Bob) He is convinced that provisions 9 of the state constitution create a much more cumbersome process for this mayoral takeover. It would have to be by succesive sessions by the legislature in succeeding years. In other words we might have to pass it this year and maybe next year before it even gets implemented. He is going to use that provision of the constitution that way. The way that I read that part of the constitution it did say the local diminshing local power. But since adding education to everything else on the cities plate. Would be an enhancement of the cities power and I am not clear that the clause actually applies.

 

(Julie) And Mayor Duffy coming out and saying he is inacurate and he is not buying into that argument.

 

(Bob) That is sonmething that court may have to decide if a court accepts that law suite. And it is anybody's guess what the courts will do.

 

(Julie) Okay lets talk about the process city council is holding a meeting next week.

 

(Bob) Its not going to be on city councils agenda atleast thats what councilmen McFadden tells me. Looking at the adavanced agenda it is not on the list simply because there is no resolution to debate at this point.   

 

(Julie) But their are activistist groups gearing up for that meeting and talk about it.

 

(Bob) People can come to any council meeting and speek out at any issue of city business that is relevant. And this is certainly relevant. They will be wlecomed to sound off and have their say before the council meeting. And the city council members are going to be listening they are going to be getting input. They will probably get an input for everytime meeting they have until they finnaly get a resolution actually comes up for a vote. And you can bet that they will listen closely as one barometer of what people really feel of this. They will take in other soundings in their respective districts. Sounding out whether this is a good idea or a bad idea. Its anybody's guess how that will come out. Even the parents in the parents network are not unamanouis in their opinion one way or another.

 

(Julie) So they will hear a lot of discussion and debate over this no matter what Mayor Duffy thinks of this and they don't think its to premature and neither does city councilman Adam Mcfadden. I'm sorry.

 

(Mcfadden) I think the community should mobilize now. Because I believe that once Albany makes a desicion to do it. How do you stop that they do not carre what is going on in Rochester. Everybody goes home to their own city or town. so once they make that kind of descion their is no accountability for the descion that they make. And so I think it is important for people to put their item on the table now before this happens. If they are for it the should go for it and if they are against it they should go against it. And they need to know that there elected officials hear them and hear them very clearly.

 

(Julie) So he is clearly saying lets not just talk about it here in Rochester but make sure Albany hears what Rochester has to say about this. The state legislature has a lot on its plate right now how important is mayoral control in Rohester to Albany?

 

(Bob) Obviously they are more worried about the budget. When it comes to education they are most worried about the education budget and how generous it can be to the schools it helps support. And its especially true for an independent school district like the one in Rochester. It depends on the state for most of its operating money. The taxes that are charged on the city of Rochester are only a sixth of the total operating budget.

 

(Julie) You have talked to some of the state lawmakers about this issue what are some of them saying to you?

 

(Bob) They first want to see what specific proposal is going to be adavanced before they make up their mind on it and they want to know like councilmen McFadden said what the community thinks about it. That's going to have a big influence on how they go on it. There are a couple of people outfront saying they support it already. David Gand who is dean of the delegation of the transportation committe is for it. Joesph Morelli who is 136th assemblemen the insurance committe. He is for it too but everybody else is waiting.

 

(Julie) There is 30 seconds left, big question for you. The fact that they are all up for re-election this year, is that going to have an influence?

 

(Bob) It will a little among a lot of other things. And it will especially have a lot of impact on those who have districts portions of Rochester. They will really pay attention to the people of Rochester and what they really want to do.

 

(Julie) Thank you so much for joining us that was vey helpful. BOB SMITH, IS HOST OF 1370 CONNECTION  ON WXXI.  IF YOU WANT MORE ON MAYORAL CONTROL, YOU CAN GO TO OUR WEB SITE WXXI.ORG.  YOU'LL FIND IN-DEPTH REPORTING, TALK SHOWS, AND ONGOING OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION.  AGAIN, GO TO WXXI.ORG, AND TYPE THE WORDS "MAYORAL CONTROL" INTO THE SEARCH BOX AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.

 

WE'RE BACK WITH THE RESULTS OF A NEW SURVEY OF AREA DOCTORS - AND IT CONTAINS SOME GOOD NEWS, AND SOME BAD NEWS.  THE STUDY WAS CONDUCTED BY THE FINGER LAKES HEALTH SYSTEMS AGENCY IN CONCERT WITH THE MONROE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY AND ITS PHYSICIAN WORKFORCE COMMITTEE.  DR. PHILIP BONANNI IS A MEMBER OF THAT COMMITTEE.  HE'S ALSO ASSOCIATE CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT UNITY HEALTH.THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE TODAY.

 

(Philip) Nice to be here Julie.

 

(Julie) Lets talk about the new survey itself what was the intent of doing the survey?

 

(Philip) Well the intent was to see what the Rochester community had as far as accessibility and availibility of medical care. What is the physician capacity now and what are the needs going to be in the next 10 years or so. And also another reason we did the survey was to see if the medical practices are generally supportive in the medical community. So by getting this data we hope to plan along with other agencies the Fingter Lakes regional health agency. The medical society hospital systems to plan on a high performance health-care system for the future of Rochester . The big thing was we have one in Rochesteraproximatelt one fourth of the physicians likely to retire or move out in the next 10 years so have to do something about that. The survey found that 20% of the physicians in Rochester are 60 years old or older and we also found that the average age of the physician is 5o and a half

 

(Julie) So that is one of the big findings that we are starring at a  potential shortage of physicians within the next decade. So a person of the community who needs medical care why is this so critical that we are looking at this shortage?

 

(Philip) It is critical for the following reason when you look at numbers and you can't come to a firm conclusion just general ideas. When you look at the numbers the nimbers can be deceptive. For instance Rochester has more doctors in the nation per population than the average we don't have full time equilvalence in terms of practice. Because of the large academic medical center we have a lot of people in research doing primarly medical research. We have a lot of teachers and a lot of administrators. We don't have full time equilivant doctors. A full time equilvant doctors means someone who practices all week long.

 

(Julie) So we have a lot of doctors but they're not necessarily treating patients.

 

(Philip) That's right and their are certain areas in which we are in need of recruiting more. Primary care child physcology, general surgery, rumatology, endocronology. All of those areas are short as far as doctors are concearned.The thing we have to look at is why doctors are leaving NYS. Why are they not settling in Rochester and we have to go beyond the numbers to look at that.

 

(Julie) Because we are not bringing them in and they are at retirement age. So that is where the shortage is coming in. How come were not bringing them in?

 

(Philip) Good questiona nd it is a multiple faucet answer. The answer relates to the fact that Rochester has a lot of attributes to attract physicians. Physcians are burdeoned with paperwork hassle burdeonsome practice, government, insurers. The preception of the data also is that rembercment for physicians in this area.Is not as high as it is in the country and that was confirmed in a study that was done in 2005.

 


(Julie)  We say the preception is lower but it is not lower?

 

(Philip) We don't know. You really can't make that descion but the fact is inorder to meet the expenses the malpractice expenses overhead expenses overhead of staff. Physicians are working longer and harder and enjoying it less you see this is the thing when most physcians go to medical school and residency training. They want to take care of patients they love taking care of patients. But when you add the burdeonsome factors that I just added. It becomes more of a drag its a long hall its a long week. And that's why people are saying I don't really want to do this. I think I want to change I want to do something else. Did you that 60% of the doctors in this country would not recommend to a  youngster to go into medicine as a career. 60% that's a lot of unhappy doctors out their.

 

(Julie) So lets talk about that. How do we stack up against other areas in the country are their other areas in the country that are also shot on doctors or worried about recruiting doctors.

 


(Philip) Absolutely and Rochester doesn't fair badly but one of the factors that we have to look at is what are we doing to support the practicing physician to give him more time with patients and less time with paperwork and less time with the non clinical aspects in his day. To do that the community agencies have worked together and we're doing various things with electronic medical records. With a program called rio where one health-care system and another health-care system have interaction on the computer as terms of patient material were also trying to look for ways to bring people here that's really hard in the sense that the study showed a major reason for staying in Rochester is family connection. If a physician in training has family here he is likely to stay. Other things that were discussed and looked at were number one what is a cost-of-living and should be of an incentive a guaranteed salary is their some way that we can bring back the fact that the doctor's time is best spent with there is patients to doctors here on average see 10 percent more patients in their office then in another part to the country. You might say well that's good well it also means that that's fast. And when its that fast it means their is less time for me to listen to the patient get that story. Patients wants the doctors time they do not want to be moved fast. If we can.

 

(Julie) It seems like a lot of the challenges well you can make an effort to help localy streamline things locally it really is out of control. The state and federal issue.

 

(Philip) It state and federal issue but it is local as well.One of my colleagues a long time ago said if you want to practice good medicine then practice in Rochester. And that is probably true today. We teach a lot of people medicine and they are equipped to do a good job. Its just do thay have the time to do it.

 

(Julie) Were out of time but thank you. We will talk more baout this in the future.DR. PHILIP BONANNI, MEMBER OF THE MONROE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY'S PHYSICIAN WORKFORCE COMMITTEE.

 

JOIN US NEXT TUESDAY AS GOVERNOR DAVID PATERSON UNVEILS HIS 2010 BUDGET PROPOSAL.  WXXI-TV AND WXXI-AM 1370 WILL CARRY THAT LIVE, BEGINNING AT 11 IN THE MORNING.  WE'LL HAVE ANALYSIS FROM OUR CAPITOL BUREAU CORRESPONDENT KAREN DEWITT NEXT WEEK ON NEED TO KNOW.

 

WE'LL ALSO HAVE AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ROBINSON, WHO WAS BORN WITHOUT HANDS, ARMS THAT STOP AT THE ELBOWS, AND OTHER CONGENITAL ISSUES THAT HAVE NOT STOPPED HIM FROM HAVING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER.  IT'S PART OF WXXI'S WEEKLONG DIALOGUE ON DISABILITY SERIES ON BOTH RADIO AND TELEVISION.  WE TALK TO JOHN ABOUT THE CHALLENGES PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES FACE WHEN LOOKING FOR WORK, ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY. FOR A FULL LISTING OF DIALOGUE ON DISABILITY PROGRAMS, GO TO OUR WEB SITE, WXXI.ORG, AND CLICK ON THE BANNER AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE.

 

FOR NEED TO KNOW, I'M JULIE PHILIPP.  I'LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.

 

 

Previous Need To Know broadcast can be seen if you have TimeWarner's on demand service. Go to Rochester on demand chanell 111 Then look for WXXI news there you will find recent WXXI programs.

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