Friday, June 26, 2009

Myth of Mayoral Efficiency

With the city enveloped in an editorial fog-a compliant echo chamber that has elevated Mike Bloomberg into iconic status based on little more than the fact that he hangs in the same elite circles as the do our publishing magnates, it was refreshing to read the following report (counter-intuitive to the scions, no doubt) on the shenanigans over at the DOB: "Buildings Department inspectors are poorly trained, inspections are frequently slipshod and fines are routinely laughed off as "the cost of doing business." Those are the findings of a $4 million study released yesterday by the troubled city agency at the end of a five-year building boom that led to record numbers of construction deaths."

Can it possibly be true? After almost eight year of the most capable managerial oversight, we find that a critical city agency is overrun by stumble bums? Fraid so: "Inspectors are currently not uniformly equipped to judge the acceptability of common unsafe conditions," the study concluded. "They rely primarily on their own varying level of training, experience and degree of tolerance on nonconforming issues." The report faulted the department for having "no standard training procedure" for critical field inspections and said procedures are so lax it's often impossible to to determine whether architects' plans conform to city code."

Watch out for the falling cranes! Yet, in spite of some grave issues of competency and inattention on the part of the beatified incumbent, we are rapidly approaching an election that appears to have all of the suspense of a Laker-Knicks game; with the editorialists making lapdogs look like Rottweilers.

Even today, the NY Post uses an editorial column to savage Bill Thompson on the issue of mayoral control. To borrow Joseph Welch's comments to Joe McCarthy, we'd like to ask the Post: "Have You No Sense of Decency?" Where are the editorials on the mayor's failure to stem the tide of bigger government? Where are the snide comments about a phony five borough economic plan, one that somehow fails to mention that Bloomberg's economic policies have escorted 300 local supermarkets right out of town? And where are the countervailing voices on school governance, ones that might point out that the city's of Rochester and Buffalo have experienced as much "success" as New York even without a mayoral control system; underscoring, perhaps, that the evaluating metrics have been eroded.

But the sense of decency is missing-and its absence dramatizes the most indecent aspect of the Bloomberg victory lap; the obscene use of a private fortune to drown out any potential for a real public debate. My God, we even had to watch and listen to a Bloomberg ad during the NBA draft! And that one told us that the mayor was creating jobs for small business. Talk about disinformation!

So, let Adam Brodsky examine the statements of Bill Thompson with a careful Talmudic sense of rectitude. But let's not make any mistake about what's happening here. The editorialists have created such an echo chamber that certain political truths have become its first victim. Mike Blomberg is getting the kind of kid gloves treatment that would embarrass even an ayatollah; and this is happening in the great bastion of liberal thinking, no less.