Monday, August 29, 2005

Evaluating the Mayor’s Economic Development Policies

In today’s Daily News, Dave Saltonstall examines Mayor Bloomberg’s economic development policies and, in general, gives the mayor high marks even though the story’s headline, “Message is Mixed,” promises a more critical evaluation. Clearly, a significant portion of the story got left out, probably because of space requirements.

At least we hope so since the mayor’s economic development record, particularly when it comes to small business, leaves a great deal to be desired. As we have mentioned previously, you simply cannot talk about this subject without analyzing municipal tax and regulatory policies. It is these areas that play the most significant role in either generating new economic activity or frustrating growth.

The mayor’s record tax increases, and his scorched earth regulation policies, have had a tremendously negative impact on the city’s small business community. More specifically, when economic development projects are planned there is an almost complete lack of concern for the small businesses that may be displaced or simply put out of businesses.

The BTM merchants are, of course, prime examples of this generalized callousness, a disregard that was baldly expressed by an infamous EDC missive to the merchants’ lawyers. That is not all, however. The great street furniture project dispossesses scores of small newsstand operators while turning the entire ball of wax over to one mega-vendor.

Upcoming is the battle over Willets Point where the mayor’s observation that “the land is too valuable for the businesses that are on it” should be seen as an apt expression of his economic development policies vis-à-vis small business.

Hopefully, the campaign ahead will tackle these very important issues. The mayor must be called on his disingenuous commercials, particularly the one showing him in front of a neighborhood store claiming that his policies are somehow geared to help those beleaguered storeowners when the exact opposite is the case.