Sharpton Backs Thompson, Questions a Bloomberg Opponent

As Michael Bloomberg spoke about education reform yesterday at an event in midtown, Al Sharpton was sitting next to him, nodding along.

But don’t get the wrong idea.

“I’ve endorsed Bill Thompson and I will be working hard for Bill Thompson,” Sharpton said in a brief interview after the event hosted by his group, the National Action Network.

Sharpton disputed the notion that, even in an election year, there was anything to read into the image of him appearing next to Bloomberg. “Anybody who says that is just looking to say something that is not true,” said Sharpton.

In today’s New York Times story, Sharpton acknowledged that “there isn’t that hostility” that previously existed between City Hall and the black community during the Koch era, which led to the election of David Dinkins, an African American.

“That raises a problem for those of us who are with Billy,” Sharpton told the Times.

Sharpton declined to speculate on whether he thought Bloomberg was succeeding in making inroads with African-American and black voters, telling me yesterday, “I don’t know. I have no idea.”

Then, though, Sharpton turned his attention to one of his would-be allies, questioning the sincerity of their opposition to one of the mayor’s biggest legislative items.

DC37, the union representing public employees union, like Sharpton, opposes mayoral control of the city’s public schools. That is something Bloomberg is advocating strongly for, and touting as one of the reasons he was so successful in turning around the education system.

But Sharpton said the union’s position is illogical, since they supported him for re-election in 2005.

“But you were the ones who supported him last time, when he was for mayoral control, then. So, what is it, that he didn’t do something you wanted?” Sharpton wondered aloud yesterday.

A spokesperson for DC37 said they were not likely to respond to Sharpton’s comments before Monday.

Here’s what Sharpton said to me yesterday:

“I mean, you know, I think that the thing that amazes me is that some of those that questioned whether or not the mayor’s right on issues now were the ones that supported him when I was campaigning for Freddy Ferrer. I thought it was ironic, this morning I was talking to someone from DC37 who says ‘We’re against mayoral control and we need you with us.’ I said, ‘But you were the ones who supported him last time, when he was for mayoral control, then. So, what is it, that he didn’t do something you wanted?’ I’ve always supported the opposition to the mayor [and] will now. I wish they had been with us last time or we wouldn’t even have this issue.”