Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chiquita Manana

Adam Brodsky follows up on the Michael Goodwin deconstruction of Mayor Mike's fiscal chops in yesterday's NY Post-and concludes that Bloomberg is being pusillanimous: "Brace yourself: A budget blizzard is headed straight for the city, yet Mayor Bloomberg sees mostly Bermuda-like skies. "This place not only survives, it thrives," he said Wednesday in his State of the City speech. The next day he launched the NYC Urban Technology Innovation Center, which will promote "green building technologies." Hello? The city's broke -- and will be even broker once Albany finishes slicing and dicing. It's already $2.4 billion in the hole, and the Post's Fredric U. Dicker reports today that Gov. Cuomo is eyeing another $1 billion cut in aid to the city."

C'mon, Adam, it's only Mike Bloomberg doing his grasshopper imitation for the ants-while posturing that he is actually doing the hard work that is necessary, but has been left undone for the past nine years: "Mike knows he's got scant wiggle room: "The days of kicking the can down the road, I think, really are over," he says. Yet what does he propose? "We will grow our way out of these tough times by shrinking the costs of government," he says. His challenge: "Forcing government to live within its means." Uh, he's been mayor for the last nine years. If city government has been living beyond its means, whose fault is it?"

Welcome to the little fella behind the big curtain-take away his megaphone and there's not much to grasp there: "Yet Bloomberg's actions show little sense of urgency. He doesn't seem committed to taking the tough steps needed to weather the coming fiscal storm and set a proper course for the city's future. And he certainly isn't preparing New Yorkers for the sacrifices they'll have to make."

But the mayor has shucked and ducked on this issue since he found himself improbably ensconced at City Hall in 2002-whence he immediately commenced the growth of the government that he needed to shrink instead: "Likewise regarding his self-described No. 1 priority: pension reform. Of course, changes are vital here, and Bloomberg's right that, for example, upping the retirement age to 65 for future non-uniformed city staffers could save billions over the long term. Trouble is, a retirement-age shift won't raise a dime for the city until they retire -- decades from now."

Can we get a chorus or two of the Platters' classic?
Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Pretending that I'm doing well
My need is such, I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
I play the game, but to my real shame
You left me to dream all alone

How tough is the little cutie? Check this macho pose: "Bloomberg's boldest line? "I will not sign a contract with salary increases unless they are accompanied by reforms in benefit packages." What? Bloomberg is seriously considering "salary increases" in new union contracts? Even as he prepares to lay off thousands? And remember, government employees get pay hikes even if the mayor doesn't sign a contract, under the Triborough Amendment. That odious 1982 law requires that built-in yearly increases continue even after contracts expire. Hizzoner didn't even mention the fundamental corrosiveness of that arrangement. By contrast, Cuomo reportedly may push to repeal it; Bloomberg at least could have backed him."

So, where does this leave the vaunted Bloomberg legacy-run aground on the shoals of reality. Brodsky deserves the last word-more cold water on the third term necessity meme: "If Bloomberg is ready, truly ready, to do what it takes, he could leave the city far better off fiscally -- not only this year, but for years to come. But so far, alas, there's scant evidence that he is."