Education activists and union members furious about Anthony Weiner’s plans to scrap paid parent coordinators if he’s elected mayor erected a giant, inflatable rat outside of his building this morning during a protest urging voters to keep him off the general election ballot.
“I think he’s doing a lousy-ass job,” said Yvette McClamb, vice president of the PTA at Jackie Robinson Junior High School 13 in East Harlem, who was one of about a dozen women who gathered outside of Mr. Weiner’s ritzy Park Avenue South apartment building, next to the rat.
Ms. McClamb urged fellow voters to steer clear of Mr. Weiner, who is mounting a comeback run two years after he was forced to resign from Congress for sending lewd pictures of himself and then lying about them.
“If you vote for this man–don’t. ‘Cause he don’t like parent coordinators,” she said. “He might not even like you!”
As one of the proposals outlined in his “Keys to the City” policy book, Mr. Weiner has called for the elimination of about 1,400 paid parent coordinator positions, who work as liaisons to parents at city public schools. Mr. Weiner has described the workers as “a waste of money,” and also argued that schools need greater participation from all parents and that filling a single, paid position diminishes their role.
But several of the coordinators, holding signs that read, “DONT’T LET THE SEXTING PERVE BE MAYOR,” and doctored campaign logos reading “Penis for Mayor,” accused Mr. Weiner of not understanding the value of the position, and putting their jobs at risk.
“We don’t want a Weiner for mayor,” said Karen Smith, a public school parent, former PTA president and parent coordinator at Jackie Robinson who said the position was “the most important thing and the best thing [current Mayor Michael] Bloomberg ever did” when it comes to schools.
Mona Davids, an education activists who has been organizing the “Stop Anthony Weiner” effort, said the demonstration was the first of what she said will be a larger campaign that will including multiple protests over the next two months.
“If people think Stop Chris Quinn is bad,” she said, “Wait ’til they get to meet us.”
Mr. Weiner’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the efforts.
During an afternoon event at the Casabe Houses for the Elderly in Harlem, Mr. Weiner told Politicker what he thought of the morning’s display. He suggested the rat was better used for labor demonstrations than on his sidewalk.
“Uh, I think we’re diminishing the value of the rat. The rat used to mean something,” he contended. “And I think the labor unions who do make it mean something besides scab work are kind of making a mistake. But I don’t know if my son got a chance to see it. He probably would have gotten a kick out of it.”
Mr. Weiner nevertheless said this sort of resistance could be expected for anyone proposing aggressive new city policies.
“You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet in this town,” he added. “And I believe in fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it. And I know that sometimes, some things I’m going to propose are going to be popular and sometimes they’re going to be unpopular … I’m perfectly prepared for that.”
Updated (2:35 p.m.): Added Mr. Weiner’s reaction.