Thursday, December 18, 2008

Divine Rights

Both the state and the city are suffering from the past failures of both governments to simply rein in the costs, and relieve the tax payers of unnecessary burdens. But in the city, we are governed by what in essence is the worst of both worlds: a billionaire with both a sense of privilege; and also imbued with the belief that government should be there to take care of the folks-even to the extent of insuring that they eat their veggies.

So now, after having ignored the size and scope of city government in his zeal to help, Mike Bloomberg acts as he must; given his limitations, both personal and philosophical. As the NY Times reports the mayor, after posturing and threatening, is about to suborn the city council to raise property taxes: "The City Council is prepared to approve on Thursday Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to raise property taxes by 7 percent, and to increase a tax on hotel rooms, to help plug an estimated $4 billion budget shortfall over the next 18 months, according to people briefed on the negotiations...The move would put an early end to a property tax cut that had been set to expire in June.

For this we need Bloomberg and the old council gang for a third term? Where are the city Cuomos and Suozzi's with ideas about how to save money by reducing the government expanse? There certainly no where to be found among the Bloombergistas, a gaggle of inside the boxers whose last creative thought was during the Koch administration. Oh wait, that's where so many of them actually did cut their political teeth, and about the time when they apparently stopped any new thoughts from aborning.

But it's even worse than that. Because the sense of privilege that overlays this moribund philosophy creates a devastating one-two punch-something that is evinced in two blatant ways, The first example is the effort over Yankee Stadium's reincarnation; where the mayor's minions simply cooked the real estate assessment books to slice the ball club's tax obligations-in sharp contrast to how these folks see the city's suckers-its tax payers.

Here's how Juan Gonzales describes the rip-off: "Mayor Bloomberg's aides secretly pressured city tax assessors to inflate the value of land under the new Yankee Stadium so the team could qualify for nearly $1 billion in tax-free bonds, city e-mails show. In March 2006, the city's chief tax assessor put the market value for the stadium site at $27 million, far lower than the Yankees wanted. A Finance Department official ordered him to redo the report. Within hours, he jacked up it up to $204 million."

The privileged always have two sets of laws-but now, apparently because of Mike Bloomberg(and Bernie Maydoff) they are keeping two sets of books; with the tax payers as the victims, It seems, that when an actual assessment came in too low, city officials simply cooked a new one up: "After a series of frantic phone calls and e-mails on March 21 and 22 between a half-dozen city officials and the Yankees, Ottley-Brown ordered Kellman to produce a new report. "Here is the writeup with the changes you requested earlier today," Kellman wrote on the 22nd, pumping the assessment up to $204 million. Kellman would not comment."

If you or I tried this sleight of hand, those hands would be cuffed and we'd be perp walked; and this from a mayor who claims that his great wealth not only serves the city well for another term, but at the same time insulates him from those nasty special interests. If your house is as well insulated be prepared to freeze this winter,

And then we come to the stealth campaign to get Caroline Kennedy the New York Senate seat. It appears that Bloomberg is right behind this coronation, believing no doubt, that the state would be best served by a privileged socialite from the mayor's own neighborhood. The Times highlights this classy effort: "When a powerful labor leader picked up the phone this week, he was surprised to hear the voice of a top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. The aide, Kevin Sheekey, a deputy mayor, made it clear: Caroline Kennedy is going to be the next senator from New York, “so get on board now,” according to a person with direct knowledge of the call. As Ms. Kennedy’s unusual campaign for the seat takes shape, the mayor’s top political strategist is pushing hard behind the scenes for her, with Mr. Bloomberg’s blessing."

If there's anything that argues more forcefully against the Kennedy ascension than the fact that the effort is propped up by our own fraudulent ruler, we can't imagine what that would be. In fact, the both of them-Kennedy and Bloomberg-are bereft of any rationale to govern; it's just that Caroline's resume is even thinner than the mayor's was in 2001. And at least Bloomberg ran for his office.

One privileged out of touch leader is one too much. And for this parvenu to try to elevate his classmate is simply abhorrent, and is something that the governor should avoid. We are now going to suffer in this city for electing a novice seven years ago, We should not make the same mistake again by turning the US Senate into a novitiate.