Friday, December 19, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Local Lesson in Obamacare for Mayor de Blasio

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City Comptroller Scott Stringer is ringing a loud pre-K alarm bell, saying Mayor de Blasio’s team hasn’t turned over 300 new contracts that need to be vetted before school starts next week.

The comptroller’s office says that without the pre-K contracts getting reviewed, it’s a little bit like sending your four-year-old child off to an untested babysitter. City Hall counters that all of the pre-K providers are rigorously screened by several major city agencies before the contracts are then given to the comptroller’s office.

In addition, de Blasio’s aides note, only 19 of 86 new pre-K contracts last year were reviewed by the comptroller’s office before the school year started.

But the “everyone is doing it” argument is a weak one; just because independent reviews of pre-K programs were slow in the past doesn’t mean that should be the case now – especially when the mayor is putting so many of his political chips down on UPK.

The perpetually-tardy de Blasio needs to realize that this could be his own Obamacare – a good idea that turns into a nightmare because of lousy implementation. A bit like a city that’s building an Olympic Village right before opening ceremonies, the administration is rushing to create slots, even reportedly still building eleven sites earlier this month.

These could all be hiccups and speed bumps if parents see their children come home with smiles starting next week. But one nightmare story of a group of lost kids locked out of their building could dominate the headlines for more than a week. Being on time has been a challenge for the mayor since Day One. He better be ready when those school bells ring.

Bob Hardt

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