Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bloomberg to Living Wage: Drop Dead!

Bob Kappstatter's column headline really nails it this morning in the NY Daily News: "Mayor Bloomberg on living wage: Drop dead" It appears that the mayor feels that the injection of a living wage into the Kingsbridge Arnory plan would harm development all over the city. As Kappy tells it: "Mayor Bloomberg has definitely stepped in to shoot down that living wage proposal for retail workers at the Kingsbridge Armory.Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Bob Lieber is reportedly set to oppose it today at a Council committee hearing, saying the Bloomberg camp fears a $10 an hour/and benefits wage deal would harm retail development citywide."

Given the impact of Bloomberg's economic policies on neighborhoods and small businesses, we can only say, "We hope so." And if our meeting with Herr Lieber was any indication, it is quite clear to us that this is one guy who simply has no clue when it comes to the local economy. Thorsten Veblen had the right term for this Wall Street trained functionary-"trained incapacity."

As the RWDSU's Stuart Appelbaum told the NY Times: "We don’t want them to bring in employers who are going to pay wages that keep people in poverty,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the national Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and a member of the coalition. “When the government invests the city’s funds into the project, we have the right to expect something in return.”

What the Bloombergistas fail to understand-so distant are they from neighborhood reality-is that their policies of high taxes, over-regulation and over development, have crippled NYC's local economies. The record level of store vacancies and small business foreclosures should allow the city council to say proudly at today's hearing: "No mas!"

And when we look at the supermarket issue, if the mayor thinks that trading one 60,000 sq. ft. megastore for the four or five neighborhood supermarkets that will be lost, than he's doing about as well in math as our city's school children are. It flies in the face of the entire purpose of the city's "Fresh Initiative."

So, let's get it on, and have a debate that exposes the mayor's own policy limitations-ones that have led to the Bronx suffering through record levels of unemployment. It's time that Big Real Estate learned that it's not all about their own profits. As one man coming out of the cleaner's was overheard explaining to his young son about the need for accountability: "Son, if the money's good enough to go into their pockets, the pants gotta be good enough to go on my ass."