Wednesday, December 28, 2005

City Council Agenda

While all the buzz about a new Speaker continues to fascinate the city's political insiders and junkies the Alliance remains more concerned about the kind of leadership and legislative direction that will characterize the reconstituted Council in the coming year. Both of the leading speaker candidates are politically experienced and policy savvy and that bodes well for the city's system of checks and balances.

The Alliance's major focus, of course, is on the health and well-being of the city's small business community. In this context, it is important for the Council to pay attention to regulatory reform since, under the current mayor, a greater emphasis has been placed on revenue collection than on the due process rights of neighborhood entrepreneurs.

In the past year the Council has taken some positive steps in this direction, especially in its efforts to reign in the city's Number One kangaroo court-ECB. We need for the city to reduce the regulatory burden on these retailers so they can expand their businesses and hire more people. The small business community is a 186,000 strong economic engine that is no "luxury item" or worse, a piƱata to be beaten forcefully whenever the city faces fiscal uncertainty.

In keeping with this theme, the Council needs to pick up where it left on the effort to introduce garbage grinders into the city's commercial sector. This device would reduce disposal costs dramatically while at the same time elevating public health in all of the city's neighborhoods.

Another key issue for all retailers is economic development. As we have been constantly talking about the Council needs to develop an accountable development policy that includes a number of methodologies for strengthening the city's land use review process. Undoubtedly a new approach to the whole issue of eminent domain needs to be developed as well.

This brings us back to a proposal we had floated almost a year ago-a comprehensive study on the impact of the proliferation of box stores in NYC. We are constantly hearing about all of the supposed benefits of these retailers but, as our friend Professor Muzzio points out, none of the current studies are "dispositive." No new box store applications should be entertained before this crucial data is gathered.

We'll have more on the Council agenda ideas tomorrow.