Friday, May 09, 2008

Water on the Brain

The Gotham Gazette has a very interesting post on the water rate hike tempest. It seems that Mayor Mike, as usual, is mischaracterizing the hike criticism, and by doing so is once again camouflaging his sheer inability to come to grips with the bureaucratic inefficiencies that are endemic to his government. Here's a money quote: "Although construction costs and needs have risen significantly, detractors say that the water system is insular and not subject to appropriate oversight. Noting that the system was not subject to recent budget cuts, a report by the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council pointed out that, “The efficiencies and innovation that can actually come from budget cutting exercises are largely absent from this process.”

And as we've noted, the DEP has never been given the proper oversight, even after the scandals of over billing all throughout the nineties. As the folks at Water Watch point out: "The DEP’s spending is spiraling out of control. As long as they think that they can continue to raise rates without any oversight, they have no incentive to start limiting their costs."

And when the mayor claims that the cost inherent in the entire water infrastructure system are reasonable he's probably forgetting the escalating fees up at the filtration plant in the Bronx: "Referring to comments by the mayor that the Department of Environmental Protection spends its money efficiently, Gregory Lobo Jost opined in the West Bronx Blog that, “The mayor probably wasn’t thinking about the filtration plant where costs have skyrocketed when he made his ‘reasonably efficiently’ comment.”

What the mayor elides in all of this is, of course, the way in which a fee hike is nothing but a tax hike, and tax hikes are Bloomberg's life blood; part of the philosophical substructure of his governing practice. The fact that the hikes hit lower income New Yorkers hardest makes little dent on the haughty mayor: "Housing advocates also point out that the system of funding water needs through usage rates paid by homeowners is unfair, and that the burden falls disproportionately on low income neighborhoods. “Households in low-income parts of the city not only pay more to support the water system, but pay a much higher percent of their income to do so,” a report by the University Neighborhood Housing Program points out."

Which is why we applaud those electeds who are fighting the DEP disgrace; and why we have nothing but disdain for the hypocrite who criticizes election-based critiques after spending $180 million to flim flam gullible New Yorkers in his successful mayoral runs. As Tony Avella pointed out: "This has to stop," City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) told members of the Water Board at a hearing in Corona. "It is absolutely unfair for the city to impose yet another huge rate increase on the backs of hard-working, middle-class, moderate- and low-income families," Avella said."

Councilman Gennaro hits the Bloomberg nail on the head: "But Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) estimated the board would need just a 6% hike if the city gave all water and sewer bill funds to the Water Board, instead of funneling some of the cash to other agencies.
"All we really need is somebody, this [Water Board] body, to tell the Bloomberg administration, 'Get your hand out of the water and sewer till,'" Gennaro said as he pounded his fist on a podium. Repeatedly calling Mayor Bloomberg a "king" who is "beyond shame," Gennaro challenged the board to stop raising rates on "people who can least afford to pay." "There's nothing more I can do to tell the king to stop this from happening," Gennaro said. "That doesn't mean you can't call it what it is. It's robbery."

The clock's ticking on this poseur; and his carbon foot print expanding jet fleet is waiting to take him away from the government he had no clue about when he came, and from which he leaves with little acquired knowledge and appreciation of. His arrogance and class-based decision making will not be missed.