As you may recall, last Spring Governor Cuomo continued the tradition of appointing political hacks to the CUNY Board of Trustees. In this case it was James Molinaro to represent Staten Island. The former Borough President is a member of the Conservative and Republican Parties and was chosen because he crossed party lines to endorse Cuomo for governor. The PSC raised objections with this appointment, which also irritated many Democratic members of the State Senate, who must confirm such nominations. Women’s rights groups also criticized the nomination after Molinaro called singer Lady Gaga a “slut.” He has also spoken out against programs to reduce teenage pregnancy and a wide variety of social welfare programs that CUNY students directly benefit from. He also opposes gay rights and access to abortions.
Ironically, CUNY Board Chair Beno Schmidt, chief purveyor of lower standards and champion of greater power for boards of trustees, argues in a new book that trustees need to be educational visionaries to fulfill their new expanded roles as educational innovators. Molinaro has no experience in higher education and lacks even a BA degree.
As a result of concerted opposition, no action was taken on Molinaro’s nomination in the last legislative session and it remains unclear whether the governor intends to put him up formally or rescind the nomination. If the nomination reappears we may decide to launch a campaign targeting Senate Democrats to oppose it. Stay tuned.