Friday, December 12, 2008

Close the Firehouses!

It's the oldest budget ploy in the books. When the city council is hunkering down and refusing to go along with the mayor, the cry rings out: "We'll just have to close some firehouses." As Azi tells us: "Bloomberg also said that the additional $1.7 billion in cuts from city agencies that he called for yesterday--which includes the elimination of an entire class of firefighters--may not be enough. “The next cut is firehouses,” Bloomberg said."

Sure's a good scare tactic to use on council members who are afraid of losing local fire protection. But what does it say about Bloomberg's governance capacity? AS the NY Post opines this morning-referring to the police cuts this time: "Bloomberg needs to prioritize." That he has put himself in a position of needing to threaten the council with firehouse closings-and police cuts, only underscores his failure to reform the size and scope of government in the first place.

And the mayor's ultimatums are part of the bogarting process: "Facing unexpected resistance in the City Council over his midyear budget changes, Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday that he'll order more drastic agency cuts in two weeks if a deal isn't reached quickly. "If we decide to - or have to - send out the [$400 property-tax] rebate or the City Council doesn't act, the $1.4 billion cut is not adequate, and we will send out another letter next week," the mayor said."

Someone-public advocate candidates front and center-needs to galvanize neighborhood groups and firefighters; dust off the old Dinkins doomsday firehouse closing list, and mobilize on city hall. This is, of course, all about the council's resistance to Mayor Mike on the rebate issue: "At one point, Skyler said bluntly, “The mayor is doing everything he can to restrain city spending.” But the City Council hasn’t fully embraced his earlier calls for reducing spending. Some City Council members are suing the mayor to force him to release the rebate checks, and others are saying they should raise the taxes on hotel rooms rather than homeowners properties, since the latter is targeted to out-of-towners. Skyler didn’t comment on the hotel tax, but said the lawsuit over the rebate checks brought a policy issue into an inappropriate venue."

Memo to the city council: call his bluff, and then beat him at his own game by belling this cat with his assault on neighborhood safety. Bloomberg really acted like the grasshopper in the old fable-preferring to play with the special interests rather than prepare for the stormy winter to come. He needs to pay politically for his sins.