Monday, January 05, 2009

Let the Record Show

Nicole Gelinas continues her excellent work critiquing the Bloomberg mythos. In the NY Post this morning, she outlines the way in which our chief fiscal maven has dug us into a deep hole-precisely because of his lack of expertise and his ideological blinders: "Consider what state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported just before the holidays: If you take out the effects of big surpluses leftover from Wall Street's boom years, New York City will spend $4.3 billion more than it will take in this fiscal year - a whopping 10 percent of city-funded revenues."

How did this happen? Well, under the mayor's watch, thing's have gotten much worse-with the mayor adopting an Alfred E. Neuman, "What me worry," persona: "It's almost jaw-dropping that the mayor, faced with these projections and with no hope of a return to a bubble-era "normal" on Wall Street, has made things worse. City workers' salary growth, for example, is set to rise 13 percent between now and our drop-dead year - largely because the mayor late last year voluntarily entered into labor contracts granting hefty raises to both civilian and uniformed workers. The cost of higher pay adds nearly $1.7 billion to the drop-dead-year deficit. Plus, the city-funded workforce has grown by more than 12,000 people in the last three years - so even the 4,556 job cuts that Bloomberg projects won't bring us back to 2005."

This is the guy whose expertise is needed for another term? Give us a break! And take a look at the DOE: "Instead, the mayor must make outsized cuts in education spending, whose city-funded budget has ballooned at nearly 10 percent every single year since Bloomberg took office - without commensurate results in achievement. Unfortunately, much of that increased spending came in the form of contractually guaranteed, six-figure teacher salaries - so cuts must come from staffing, instead. So, for now, Bloomberg should take the time to ensure that these cuts cause the least possible harm to students."

We're waiting, as we've pointed out time and again, for all of the editorialists who are bleating about the necessity of mayoral control, to examine the mayor's real record in this area-the gap between increased expenditures (cost), and better student outcomes (benefit). The issue isn't mayoral control, it's the failure of Mike Bloomberg to effectively deliver on his mandate.

As he has in so many other ways. We desperately need new leadership at City Hall-on both sides of the building. In the kind of crisis we're facing political sclerosis needs to be excised and fresh thinking introduced; other wise we will be condemned to repeat the mistakes that have got us into this fiscal mess in the first place.