Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We've already pointed out just how inefficient the city's Department of Environmental Protection really is: the DEP's water bill estimates to business, for instance, would never pass any independent scrutiny-and when such scrutiny is available, significant reductions are soon proffered by the agency. We should know, our former client, The Water Group. continues to obtain sharp reductions from the hapless DEP.

So it's certainly no surprise to us that the DEP failed to collect $4.5 million from one delinquent customer. As the NY Post tells us this morning: "While city homeowners are about to get hit with a 14.5 percent increase in water bills next month, one deadbeat customer has managed to get away with stiffing the city out of $4.5 million in unpaid water bills. The delinquent consumer? The city itself. "

What a shock this is! And congrats to Comptroller Thompson for uncovering this scam: "Development Corp. failed to collect 22 years' worth of water and sewer bills from the approximately 70 tenants of the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Comptroller William Thompson charged in an audit released yesterday. "What really troubles me is that while New Yorkers are paying astronomical rates for water these days . . . EDC wasn't paying anything at all," Thompson said. "While the city ignores the water and sewer fees owed to it by its own subsidiaries and their tenants, it is charging, or some would say gouging, taxpayers more than ever for the exact same services."

Lew Fidler, a frequent critic of the DEP's waterboarding of New Yorkers, told the Post: ""We were trying to tell the Water Board that before they come and soak the taxpayers, they ought to make sure that they collect everything that we've given them the power to collect, and this would be just a glaring example in that regard." And he's right. Thompson's comments to the NY Daily News are really on point: "Hard-pressed New Yorkers have to pay their bills," he said. "The city has to pay its bills. It's merely simple as that."

And the NY Times also weighs in on this fiasco: "After The New York Times reported in December 2006 that the city had failed to collect millions of dollars in overdue water bills, in large part because of poor bookkeeping, the city hired a consultant to find ways to get tough with deadbeat property owners. City water officials have made some progress in reforming the collection process. Mr. Thompson said that he was concerned that many other city agencies were also delinquent in their water bills, and that he had called on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to conduct a citywide review."

Another example of the inattention of the Bloombergistas to the basic inefficiencies of government agencies, inefficiencies that inevitably cost the tax payers million. And when a proposal is raised to save businesses tens of million of dollars in disposal costs through the use of food waste disposers, the DEP shrieks that it will cost the city billions to retrofit. The same agency that can't properly estimate water bills, and doesn't know who's paid and who hasn't?

It's time for a change. We need a chief executive who that understands that an over-bloated and inefficient government, one that also over taxes and over regulates citizens and businesses, needs to be made more responsive and more efficient. The current mayor, as Jackie Mason would point out, would simply say; "That's not my field."