Monday, July 13, 2009

Mayor and the Ant

Everyone knows the fable, attributed to Aesop, about the grasshopper and the ant. As Wikepedia tells us: "The fable concerns a grasshopper who has spent the warm months singing away while the ant (or ants in some editions) worked to store up food for winter. When winter arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger, and upon asking the ant for food is only rebuked for its idleness. The story is used to teach the virtues of hard work and saving, and the perils of improvidence."

Mr. Grasshopper, meet cousin Mike Bloomberg. Mike, the same guy that has used all of his financial and political clout to hijack a third term has been idling away, spending, more and more of Wall Street's and the tax payer's hard earned money while, at the same time, growing the size of the government money pit.

Alas, Mr. Grasshopper-we mean Mr. Mayor-winter will be soon upon us, as the NY Daily News' Adam Lisberg warns: "When New York lost $60 million last week because of the Senate stalemate, Mayor Bloomberg's first reaction was to freeze city hiring. So what will be his reaction to plug the $5 billion deficit on the horizon? It's tough to imagine Bloomberg announcing big layoffs before Nov. 3, when he's up for re-election. If he wins, though, lots of people expect the sharp knives to come out. "The large options are associated with labor in various ways, because that's where the money is," said Ronnie Lowenstein, head of the Independent Budget Office."

But what has our keen fiscal steward been doing for the past eight years? And where is the incisive media analysis to act as a companion to the Lisberg story-you know the one about how Bloomberg padded the city's payroll like some frivolous grasshopper; with all of the attendant crippling pension consequences on top. This media silence is crucial because it bolsters-by om mission-the mayor's claim that the current fiscal crisis necessitates his continuation in office.

But Bloomberg continues to blithely pursue the same policies-acutely aware that the $5 billion winter shortfall will soon be upon us; as the Daily News reports: "Mayor Bloomberg's decision to dole out millions in raises to his top commissioners and staff proves he just doesn't get what the average New Yorker is going through, rival William Thompson said Saturday...On Friday, the mayor quietly authorized raises worth $69 million over two years for 6,692 of his managers and nonunion employees. The hikes match union workers' raises."

But it's not really about this recent decision to raise salaries=it's more about a governing philosophy that has exacerbated the current problems. This statement from a Bloomberg spokesman epitomizes this mindset: "Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post said the mayor "did the responsible thing" by aligning the raises of supervisors and their subordinates. "It's revealing that the comptroller is more interested in playing politics than making sure that the city government is functioning smoothly," Post said."

Ah, the smooth functioning of government, high up on the concerns of New Yorkers at a time when worries about home foreclosures and job losses-particularly among minority New Yorker-are preoccupying the multitudes. Mike Blomberg's concerns, however, have always been about the smooth functioning of an ever larger government; and the profligate tax and spend policies of his administration reflect that.

But Lisberg speaks the truth when he reports: "After the election, he's going to have to look at really serious workforce reductions unless the unions agree to freeze their 4% wage increases," said Carol Kellermann, head of the business-backed Citizens Budget Commission.
"Wait until after the election. Then hard decisions are going to have to be made."

But how come we haven't heard any of this sober analysis in the Bloomberg ad blitz? Nah, nah, nah-not now! Feed the populace hope and change-and use your own millions to run against your own failures. Quite a winning formula-as long as the Thompson campaign, aided and abetted by a supine commentariat-remains somnambulent.

The handwriting is on the wall-and it has the cursive signature of our own grasshopping chief executive. Just remember, we warned you. The sh#t gonna hit the fan come January-and the cool guy in the campaign ad will be transformed into our own less than lovable Mr. Hyde. At least we'll be able to get our first glimpse of the real Mike Bloomberg. Can't say we're looking forward to it.