Monday, May 10, 2010

Paterson Smack down on Mayor Mike

Mike Bloomberg has manged for eight years to cultivate a reputation for managerial prowess-a facade that camouflages just how big a blooter he really is. In reality, as Nicole Gelinas underscores in today's NY Post, Bloomberg has dug NYC into a giant fiscal hole. That is why we got such a big kick out of Fred Dicker's column about how Governor Paterson is ready to go after the mystifying Mike: "Angered by Mayor Bloom berg's "hypocrisy" over the state and city budgets and his repeated recent "insults," Gov. Paterson is warning that he is ready to fight back. "Mayor Bloomberg is not going to treat the governor poorly, with disrespect!" declared a source close to the Paterson administration. "We've got just as many muscles as the mayor and his people do -- and if they want a street fight, then so be it."

What really got us smiling, however, was this eye opening statement about the Bloomberg regime: "Paterson was especially furious last week after Bloomberg accused him of massively shortchanging the city while trying to close a $9.2 billion deficit in the state budget. "How about the mayor's inconsistent and hypocritical statements on the state and city budget as he takes cheap shots at the governor for trying to be fiscally responsible?" asked the source. "The mayor always threatens layoffs and cuts and then never does them. He talks about giving teachers raises even as he threatens to lay them off. And what did he do when the city wasted $400 million because of overruns in its time and attendance system? "And what is the mayor really doing to reduce pension and labor costs in the city?"

In fact, the mayor's phony misdirection was so redolent with dishonesty that we noticed a sudden proboscis extension on the mayor's punim. But Gelinas really nails this Oz-like wizard: "As Mayor Bloomberg un veiled his updated $66.2 bil lion city budget last week, Greek protesters were terrorizing their compatriots and global markets -- pushing the Dow toward an afternoon four-figure drop. In other words, the West's economic crises are far from over. Too bad the mayor's budget -- and, even more so, the politicians bickering over it -- ignores that fact."

Indeed so, and there's method in the mayor's madness-after all, nothing gets the juices flowing quite like references to Albany dysfunction. But the mayor has not, like the outgunned governor, been beset by countervailing and often stymieing forces. In other words, he has been the undisputed captain of the NYC ship and the iceberg ahead that he has blithely ignored will sink us because of his misfeasance.

Gelinas explains: "Sure, the mayor has been able to balance the books through three years' worth of fiscal crises. But beneath the balancing tricks lurk scary, permanent gaps: Like Greece, we permanently spend more than we take in. And the gap looks to grow wider. In fiscal year 2009 (which started in July 2008), New York spent 6.1 percent more than it took in via tax collections and other recurring local revenues -- a $2.5 billion gap. In 2010, the city spent 5.2 percent more -- $2.2 billion. For the new year, 2011 -- which starts this July -- the city will spend 7.6 percent more than it takes in, or $3.3 billion. By 2014, we'll cross an important line, with an 11.3 percent gap. Like Greece did, we're approaching scary double digits."

And so Paterson is absolutely correct when he turns this calculated Bloomberg attack right back on the mayor-and we think that the NY Daily News' Adam Lisberg is both too kind and less than accurate when he lauds Bloomberg's budgetary probity: "When Bloomberg blames the dysfunctional state government, though, he underplays his own accomplishments in keeping the city's finances stable while the state's collapsed.Bloomberg has pushed through eight waves of spending cuts over three years, making it possible to close this year's gap with a carving knife instead of a machete. Albany did no such thing, and now it needs a guillotine to balance its books."

Well, we guess Lisberg has a point-up a point. Nothing can make someone look more responsible than to offer the Albany low bar as a comparison. And we think that Michael Goodwin over at the Post is closer to the truth about Mike: "HEADLINE writers found a theme to describe Mayor Bloomberg's budget. "Heavy cuts" said one, "steep cuts" said another, while a third hyped it to "doomsday." None dared call it reform. With good reason -- there's no reform in it. The proposal is a disappointing more-of-the-same approach, with spending projected to climb by more than $700 million, to nearly $67 billion. The only sensible conclusion is that Bloomberg isn't following the advice of that noted social philosopher Rahm Emanuel, who declared "you never want a crisis to go to waste." By rejecting the opportunity necessity handed him, Bloomberg is passing up the best chance he'll have to get a grip on unsustainable costs. He seeks no productivity gains or privatization of city services. Nor does he plan to eliminate unnecessary or redundant programs. In fact, if the mayor actually goes through with his plan, the added spending will pay for 11,000 fewer workers and yield reduced services. In effect, Bloomy proposes to spend more and get less."

And let's not forget the fact that the mayor is using disgraceful scare tactics about fire house closings for a purpose-galvanizing the populace around a bottom line public safety position in order to deflect attention away from his profligacy; not to mention the $400 million he has salted away for Willets Point or the irresponsible proposal to spend $125 million to turn 34th Street into a traffic free street fair. So, hats off to the governor-someone with nothing left to lose freedom. It's about time that the mayor's record was depicted in an honest manner.