An adviser on education to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team leads an education-reform group that has been in long-term partnership with the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, WND has learned.
The group, the Alliance for Quality Education, is funded by billionaire George Soros.
Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for Alliance for Quality Education, serves on de Blasio’s transition committee tasked with helping to craft policies for the mayor’s new administration.
Ansari has been described in some news media reports as a Brooklyn school parent and education activist.
She is far more than that.
Besides her role with the heavily Soros-financed Alliance for Quality Education, she is also an activist with a group called the Campaign for Better Schools. Indeed, the lead organizer of the Campaign for Better Schools is Ansari’s Alliance for Quality Education.
Until it folded into a local group with a different name, ACORN was openly partnered with the Campaign for Better Schools. The two organizations worked together on numerous education reform projects.
In 2009, the New York Post documented ACORN worked with the Campaign for Better Schools to oppose turning public institutes into charter schools, a move that would negatively impact unions.
The two groups, for example, “helped organize protests against the proposed phase-out of PS 194 in Harlem to make way for a charter school,” reported the Post. The Department of Education decided against the charter school transition.
The Post documented that participants in the Campaign for Better Schools received funds from teachers unions.
Ansari, meanwhile, received some negative attention earlier this week after the Blaze reported she was given an award by the Communist Party USA’s publication, People’s World, on Dec. 8 at the group’s “Better World Awards.”
Ansari may be an indirect link between De Blasio’s mayoral transition committee and ACORN. A more direct connection is the inclusion on the mayor’s committee of Bertha Lewis, who was CEO and chief organizer of ACORN.
De Blasio numerous times appeared on the mayoral campaign trail with Lewis.
NYC to get ACORN mayor?
WND previously exposed De Blasio’s own longstanding ties to ACORN, including how he steered public funds to an ACORN front group.
The relationship may be instructive. On the campaign trail, De Blasio pushed a “living wage” plan that was originally ACORN’s pet project. A similar plan has been attempted in more than 80 U.S. cities, many times to disastrous financial affect.
De Blasio is a career New York City politician. He previously served several terms on the City Council and as New York City public advocate from 2010 to the present.
He was endorsed by ACORN for his 2010 public advocate race.
De Blasio spent $43,000 to hire N.Y. Citizens Services Inc., an affiliate of ACORN, to run canvassing, consulting and field work for his public advocate campaign.
As a councilman, De Blasio steered $115,000 in taxpayer dollars directly to ACORN as well as to the organization’s affiliate, the New York Agency for Community Affairs.
De Blasio’s 2010 public advocate campaign was also endorsed by the ACORN-founded Working Families Party, with which the politician evidences a larger working relationship.
As a councilman, De Blasio was hired as a consultant by a group called the Progressive America Foundation, which reportedly paid him $33,000 to lobby for election regulations that would ease restrictions on third parties like the Working Families Party, or WFP. The foundation is closely tied to WFP.
De Blasio turned around and spent $67,740 to hire WFP’s for-profit branch, Data and Field Services, for canvassing and election consulting. The organization was run from the same office as New York ACORN.
WFP was founded by progressive activist Dan Cantor, who also was a founder of the socialist-oriented New Party.
De Blasio reportedly served as executive director of the New York branch of the New Party.
WND previously exposed that President Obama himself was listed in New Party literature as a member.
De Blasio is clearly still supported by the ACORN nexus.
In March, Bertha Lewis, the former executive director of ACORN, spoke at a “Women for de Blasio” event for the politician’s mayoral run.
“I’ve known Bill for decades, and we’ve fought on the front lines together. We’ve organized together,” Lewis said, according to EAG News.
“[He’s] proud to say he’s liberal. [He’s] proud to say he is severely progressive and was proud to stand with me, to back me, to back ACORN, and said, ‘We will march down the street together and I dare you, I dare you, to say something against my friend!’” Lewis continued.
As mayor, De Blasio could bring an ACORN pet project to the city, the “living wage.”
He has stated that “chains like McDonald’s and Burger King are part of a $200 billion industry,” arguing the current $7.25 an hour minimum wage is “unacceptable.”
“I will not stand for it,” he has said.
De Blasio this year campaigned on increasing the minimum wage locally.
Obama also supports enacting a “living wage” that would force all employers to increase the salaries of the nation’s workers to meet “basic needs” such as housing, food, utilities, transportation, health care and recreation.
WND has learned the “living wage” campaign has long been pushed by ACORN and largely was initiated on a local level in the 1990s with the help of De Blasio’s New Party.
Writing about a similar policy that was being considered in Chicago in 2003, Steven Malanga of the City Journal stated the movement “sneaks socialism into cities.”
Malanga noted the living wage movement got its start in mid-1990s Baltimore, when a coalition of left-leaning church leaders, unionists and community activists, largely led by ACORN, began to push for a “social compact.” The plan included a hike in the minimum wage to $6.10 – 43 percent above the federal minimum wage at the time – for service workers in hotels and other businesses in the city’s redeveloped Inner Harbor, a prime tourist area.
Baltimore’s mayor at the time, Kurt Schmoke, eventually signed a compromise bill that guaranteed the new $6.10 minimum for workers at any companies contracting with the city. Supporters hailed the increase as a costless victory for low-income workers.
But Baltimore’s economy soon crashed, with 58,000 jobs disappearing, even as the rest of Maryland added 120,000 jobs and other cities across the country prospered.
“The living wage bill was just one expression of a fiercely anti-business climate that helped precipitate Baltimore’s economic collapse,” wrote Malanga.
Another locale that enacted a living wage bill, soon to see its economy burn, was Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, which passed a law increasing the minimum wage only for city-contracted janitors and security guards to $6.25 an hour.
That law was urged on by ACORN and the socialist New Party, which was also instrumental in lobby efforts in Baltimore. The living wage campaign was a main platform of the New Party.
The New Party sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda.
The New Party, established in 1992, took advantage of what was known as electoral “fusion,” which enabled candidates to run on two tickets simultaneously, attracting voters from both parties. But the New Party folded in 1998, one year after fusion was halted by the Supreme Court.
The New Party worked closely with ACORN to promote its candidates. ACORN, convicted in massive, nationwide voter fraud cases, was a point of controversy for Obama during his campaign for president.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott.