Friday, October 10, 2008

Developing Third Term Problems

Eliot Brown in the Observer muses on the impact a third Bloomberg term would have on development; and he sees a rough road ahead: "If history is a guide and the economic downturn a substantial one, a third and final Bloomberg term could be a time when some projects unravel, and others are unable to advance with money tight in both the private and public sectors."

The pitfalls here do, of course make it attractive to lobbyists who are drawn to both sides of Bloomberg-driven projects that often proceed with little regard for community impact. As Crain's Insider wrote (subscription required) yesterday: "A third term for Mayor Bloomberg would mean new opportunities for lobbyists and consultants, says one veteran of the field. Bloomberg could make a second push for congestion pricing, setting off advocacy campaigns on both sides of the issue. “He pushes megaprojects without engaging the community, thus requiring proponents to do much work and allowing openings to develop homegrown opposition,” the source says."

New projects are particularly vulnerable: "As for development projects still seeking approval or those that need additional funding, the road could indeed be a rocky one, as city revenues over the next four years would take a major hit from a wounded financial sector."

What makes things even more problematic is the way in which our Chief Accountant has loaded the city government with debt obligations: "Fred Siegel, a professor at Cooper Union and frequent critic of the Bloomberg administration, pointed the finger at Mr. Bloomberg for letting spending swell in recent years, particularly on contracts with unions. “The thing that people have missed is, Bloomberg has dramatically increased the city’s overhead through these labor contracts,” he said. “The budget shrinks and they keep growing.”

So whether its Willets Point, Coney Island or perhaps Seward Park, the next four years are going to be a challenge-and should the mayor bogart a third term it's unlikely that he will be operating with anywhere near the goodwill he's had in his first two terms; the long knives will be out, and Bloomberg's diplomatic and political skills, highly over rated to begin with, will be stretched to their limits.