Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Yesterday we outlined the connection between the city's high black unemployment rate and Mike Bloomberg's fiscal and governing philosophy-and took the mayor to task for raising the salaries of city workers while so many others in the private sector were struggling. As we pointed out: "The city's vaunted Fiscal Steward has once again treated the city work force with great generosity-offering nice fat raises to scores of workers in the middle of what the NY Post...calls a "tax revenue meltdown."

At the same time we critiqued the manner in which the NY Post covered this story-or didn't cover it, as the case may be. We were particularly perturbed by the fact that public sector spending and bloated municipal budgets are normally a pet peeve of the paper. With Mike Bloomberg at the helm, however, the Poat's editorialists have contracted lockjaw.

So, when we opened the paper up this morning, we were pleasantly surprised to see an editorial on the city's job loss-with a reference to the mayor's opponent-the infrequently mentioned Bill Thompson-in the lead paragraph. We did though, quickly recover our lost balance when the editorial went in a completely different, and sadly predictable, direction.

Instead of making some of the Old Post-like linkages we had made yesterday, the paper linked the Thompson job report to, what else, mayoral control of the schools: "It's not definitively clear why the recession would hit blacks harder. But clues may lie in high-school graduation rates: Typically, whites finish school in higher percentages than blacks, even as employers increasingly demand a high-school diploma (at the very least). In 2005, just 40.1 percent of black kids made it through high school in four years, compared to 64 percent of whites. Some 18.5 percent of blacks dropped out; only 12.3 percent of whites did. Surely this black-white gap must have something to do with jobless trends. But here's some good news: While graduation rates have risen for kids of all races under mayoral control, it's climbed faster for blacks than for whites."

Now let's be clear, we do believe that a discussion of the city's disparate graduation rates along side of the reported high minority unemployment is definitely appropriate. But to elevate the graduation component to what amounts to an independent variable-and to leave out some more important factors that can be placed right at the mayor's door step-is to mislead the public and whitewash the Bloomberg Factor.

As we highlighted yesterday: "The fact remains, that the city is hemorrhaging private sector jobs-with minority unemployment at its worst in decades-and Mike Bloomberg fails to see the correlation between public sector bloat, higher taxes, and concomitant job loss in the private sector. And this is the fiscal genius we need to steward us through a recession?"

And, if you read the NY Times story on the unemployment struggles of minority workers, the central feature is the job loss experienced by people who held jobs already but who had been laid off-indicating the extent to which current economic variables are at play: "Economists said they were not certain why so many more blacks were losing their jobs in New York, especially when a large share of the layoffs in the city have been in fields where they are not well represented, like finance and professional services. But in those sectors, the economists suggested that blacks may have had less seniority when layoffs occurred. And black workers hold an outsize share of the jobs in retailing and other service industries that have been shrinking as consumers curtail their spending."

To the last point, the Post might have used this fact to link retail job loss with the city's high tax rate-and taken the opportunity to blast Bloomberg for his statement that he could afford to raise the salaries of city workers at this time because of the state senate's passage of the increase in the city's sales tax: "Now that it's passed, I feel a little more comfortable about our ability to pay..."

All of which is elided by the Post in what certainly looks like part of a massive cover up of the mayor's fiscal imprudence and incompetence. Graduating from high school is important if you're gonna have a better opportunity to find work-and it's good that more blacks and Hispanic students are doing so-leaving out for now that there's a massive remediation effort underway at the city's community colleges to improve the basic skills of the graduates of Mike Bloomberg's high schools.

But NYC's "tax revenue meltdown," while partially a consequence of larger national and global trends, is even more directly related to the fact that the city has one of the worst-if not the worst-climates for doing business. The NY Post knows this very well; and that it has decided to give it the under the rug treatment is shameful. The $15 billion question-pop quiz-that remains is, why has the Post strayed so far away from its core values?