Idiocy in action
Well, we would have stopped the rampaging lunatic, but
we didn't have cellphones to call the cops
Families, lawmakers plead to change cell phone ban; city refuses
By SARA KUGLER
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Can you hear me now?
That's what parents, students and lawmakers who want a school cell phone ban lifted asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration at a city council hearing Wednesday, but the city is refusing to budge.Bloomberg is risking all kinds of legal action.
Three high school students were among those who argued against the ban.
Sophomore Seth Pearce noted wryly during his testimony: "All three of us have cell phones right now in City Hall, and it seems to me the city is running just fine."
No chance, says the mayor.
Bloomberg, the former chief executive of a financial information company, has a certain obsession with technology and communications - he and his aides are never without their BlackBerries - but he has a similar fixation on efficiency and order.
He says cell phones are disruptive in schools, where students can use them to cheat on exams, take inappropriate photos and waste time chatting and text messaging instead of learning.
The City Council took up the dispute even though it is not clear whether it has much say on the matter. While the school system of 1.1 million students is under the mayor's management, it is regulated by the state.
Still, council members have introduced legislation that would guarantee parents the right to provide their children with cell phones to carry to and from school, and prohibit anyone from interfering with that right.
The council appears to have enough votes to override a likely mayoral veto, but the bill's supporters acknowledged that the point of the Wednesday hearing was not necessarily to push the law, but rather to nudge a compromise.
While some lawmakers cried that the mayor had "drawn a line in the sand" and warned they were prepared to "stage a battle" and go to court, others said they are hopeful that all sides could work it out.
"I would like to change this policy with the mayor, not over the mayor," Councilman Lewis Fidler said.
But the Bloomberg administration shows no room for compromise. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott described the policy as "non-negotiable."
First, he has NO proof cellphones are disruptive. Turning them off in class is an obvious solution, just like with any other technical device. But Bloomberg, who can get obstinent when he gets an idea fixed in his head is courting pointless trouble.
First, the state legislature could mandate cellphone acceptance in schools. Which is a growing possiblity, trumping Bloomberg's edict.
Second, parents are likely to sue, because of 9/11. They downplay it, but in case something bad happens, they want to be able to reach their kids. They've tried reasoning with the mayor, but this may well wind up in court.
Third, the worst case is that a child, who had a cellphone, has it confiscated and is later hurt or killed by someone in school. The city would be on the hook for millions, because people will suggest the phone could have been used to call for help.
posted by Steve @ 4:20:00 PM