The city comptroller’s office blocked a spokesman for the Department of Education this morning from attending Bill Thompson’s press conference this morning, where he released another audit critical of that agency.
It’s the latest progression in the ever-testier relationship between the Bloomberg administration and the comptroller, who is running for mayor.
The spokesman, David Cantor, left 1 Centre Street, where Comptroller Bill Thompson’s offices are, and emailed reporters to say, “The comptroller’s staff refused to let me in or give me a copy of the audit, which is piled high by the door. I asked to speak to Jeff Simmons and he refused to speak to me. This is the first time i’ve ever been barred from entering a government press conference. If this was truly a non-political announcement, why in the world would they bar me or refuse even to hand me a copy of the audit from a pile two feet from the door?”
Cantor told me the D.O.E. has not blocked others from attending their press conferences.
Today’s report from the comptroller criticizes the city for how it administers standardized tests, saying they “are exposed to potential cheating and test manipulation.”
UPDATE: CityRoom described the incident as a “physical altercation.” Cantor, the D.O.E. spokesman, emailed me to say, “no way.”
UPDATE II: The back-and-forth over the Cantor incident isn’t finished yet.
Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for Thompson, explained, “I wanted to give David Cantor an opportunity to coordinate his response with Howard Wolfson,” referring to the Bloomberg campaign spokesman who was out in front with a response to a Thompson audit yesterday.
Another Bloomberg campaign spokesperson, Jill Hazelbaker, emailed to say that public schools were performing worse “When Bill Thompson presided over New York City schools” as president of the Board of Education in the 1990s.
“It’s not surprising Bill Thompson wants to obscure the facts and point fingers. If you had his track record, you would too,” Hazelbaker said.