Monday, January 02, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let's Get Ready to Rumble

The Alliance wants to wish everyone a great new year; although we wouldn't want to be hypocritical and say that we'd like to see everyone enjoy a non-contentious twelve months. After all, isn't that what politics is all about?

What we'd like to see of course are more politicians unafraid to take controversial stands in support of the less powerful. We certainly have enough toadies in our midst. We'd also love to see our City Council friends really go after the mayor on a wide range of issues. The new speaker has a golden operatively to do this since the mayor, while workmanlike in his approach to city government, definitely lacks a great deal of creativity and flair when it comes to public policy.

This is particularly true when it comes to solid waste, which is why we got such a big chuckle out of yesterday's NY Times editorial that praised the mayor in this area. What actually did the Times mean when it said that the mayor's garbage plan "was a good one" but it will be "pointless" unless he actually implements it before he leaves office?

Who writes this stuff? Does anyone over on 43rd Street understand that the mayor's proposed SWMP, the one that envisions 7 or 8 multi-million dollar marine transfer stations, has not one idea for waste reduction? Do the minions at the Grey Lady understand that the cost of construction for those stations will exceed $1 billion? Who exactly are the policy wonks there who can't even comprehend that the mayor's garbage proposal will hold NYC hostage to what we have labeled a "pump and dump" landfill based methodology?

All of this leaves a wide open path for the City Council to take on the road to a more sensible, entrepreneurial approach to waste disposal. As everyone is aware who reads this blog this path (one that is progressively being taken all over the world) is one that will eventually legalize as well as mandate the use of food waste disposer.

Economic development is another policy area that the Council can find a great deal of room to legitimately question the mayor on. Mike Bloomberg is the quintessential urban renewal liberal. As such he has a tin ear for the concerns of local communities or small businesses. With people like this it is always about the "greater good," a concept that cloaks the way in which such a "good" so often aggrandize the fortunate few.

In response to this philosophy the Council needs to clearly outline an accountable development strategy that transcends the real estate reactive approach that has always characterized what passes for economic development in NYC. While it is at it, the Council should couple this with a thorough evaluation of the entire ULURP process, because the one currently in place is a total sham.

If the Council sets out to do all this, and adds the policy staff needed, then it will establish itself as a legitimate legislative body. The Alliance will definitely be pushing in this direction and we will be looking for business, labor and community allies for the fight.