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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

State can’t audit charter schools, court determines

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli does not have the right to audit charter schools, the state Supreme Court ruled last week.

Although charters are considered public schools, they technically are not units of the state, unlike traditional schools, and therefore are not subject to state audits,  Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin ruled. Charters are publicly funded but privately operated and also receive donations.

DiNapoli had been auditing charters under a 2009 law that gave him the authority to do so. But Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Success Academy chain of charters, sued to block him from auditing her institution. Breslin determined that the law establishing charters in the first place overrode the 2009 auditing law.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in response that he will audit charter schools.

The case is one of several involving charters, which supporters laud as an option for students who otherwise would be stuck in failing traditional schools, and critics disparage as profiteering enterprises that take funds from regular schools. Parents at one Success Academy are suing the city in federal court over Mayor de Blasio’s revocation of a charter school co-location plan that had been approved under the Bloomberg administration. And Public Advocate Letitia James is suing in state court to block dozens of charter co-locations in regular schools that de Blasio did not reverse.

De Blasio’s approval rating dips, poll says

Public approval of how Mayor de Blasio is handling his job has dropped eight points since mid-January, while disapproval has risen 20 points, according to a new survey by Quinnipiac University’s Polling Institute.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they approve of de Blasio’s performance as mayor, compared to 53 percent on Jan. 16, the poll found. Thirty-four percent disapprove, compared to 13 percent in January. But the respondents, a pool of New York City voters, also said by a margin of 65-19 percent they are optimistic about the next four years under de Blasio.

“Mayor de Blasio’s overall job-approval numbers are off a bit, but still positive,” said Maurice Carroll, Quinnipiac’s assistant poll director. “And he gets solid marks on the standard pollster traits — leadership, honesty and understands people’s problems.”

Former Mayor Bloomberg’s approval rating at this point in his first term was 62 percent, with 16 percent disapproving, Quinnipiac noted. The full results are online at quinnipiac.edu, under the Institutes + Centers tab.

 Cops plan crackdown over double-parking

Police are warning against double-parking by distributing fliers to people they see doing it, and will be writing more tickets, in what they call “Operation Move Along.”

Officers are especially targeting one particular street in each borough command, which means two in Queens. They are Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Booth Memorial Avenue, and Jamaica Avenue between the Van Wyck Expressway and Eldert Lane, chosen due to their frequent accidents.

Lawyers slap ethics bd.

 A panel charged with reforming Albany itself needs reform, according to a new report by the city Bar Association and Common Cause. They found that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, created by Gov. Cuomo to address state corruption, has done some good work but has not convinced the public of its independence and is not utilizing its full authority. The study is posted at nycbar.org.

Empty lots undertaxed

 The city is losing out on at least $1.7 million in annual property tax revenue because the Department of Finance is not categorizing most vacant lots correctly, according to a new audit by Comptroller Scott Stringer. The DOF said in response that it is reclassifying most of the 308 lots Stringer said were undertaxed. 

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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