Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Speaker's Lacuna

Missed the Speaker's State of the City Address because we were up in Monsey on the Wal-Mart beat. But we did get a chance, courtesy of the Gotham Gazette, to read the speech and the thing that jumped out at us was the total absence of anything related to the city's economy (except an oblique allusion to a flush city treasury); and certainly there was nothing on the need to make the city a more competitive place to do business in.

This is a serious omission and we hope to be able to help the speaker become more aware of the fact that the "flush" city treasury is precisely the result of the thousands of hard-working entrepreneurs who are producing the wealth that supports all of the worthwhile (and as number of not-so-worthwhile) policies enacted by local government. So hooray for the rebate to renters; but what about a rebate to the local store owners who absorbed a 25% rent increase in 2002 when the city hiked the commercial real estate tax?

The same blind spot can be seen Speaker Quinn's shout out for food stamps at local green markets. Concern for the poor should not override an equal concern for the poor neighborhood store owners who are being overrun by peddlers, paying though the nose for garbage removal, over regulated by the DCA and other city agencies, and certainly overtaxed by our municipal government.

So when the speaker's talk shifted to the need for a rainy day fund we think that she missed the mark. The real rainy day fund is created when the city government returns the people's money to the people. We didn't, however, see any mention of a tax rebate in today's speech and that is a serious omission that reflects the failure to understand the importance of entrepreneurism to the long term health of our city.

If the news accounts of the speech today are correct, that the speech was a blueprint for a mayoral run in 2009, than it is incumbent on the speaker to recognize the wealth generators in the city; and look for ways to make their creative efforts bear more fruit.