Friday, May 07, 2010

Third Term Mike the Knife

We are now finding out-as massive budget cuts are being proposed-why it was so essential to elect Mike Bloomberg for another term in spite of the public referendum that limited office holders to only two. We needed someone to take the charge for his own irresponsibility. But instead of contrition, we were greeted yesterday by the mayor's outrage at being tarred with the irresponsibility brush by-of all places-Albany. So much for the mayor culpas

Well, it is our view, that anyone-even someone well short of a few millions of personal wealth-could have concocted the austerity budget that Mayor Mike unveiled yesterday. But the real problem lies with what Bloomberg failed to do for eight years. The ideological chickens and the competence shortfall has finally come home to roost. Errol Louis understands some of this: "For the foreseeable future, Mayor Bloomberg told the city Thursday, life for millions in our town will be about less. Much less. In the fiscal year that starts July 1, says Mayor Bloomberg, the city must close a $1.3 billion gap, forcing more than 11,000 people out of work and shortchanging programs that are the lifeblood of the city. We will have fewer teachers, firehouses and senior centers. We will reduce the number of emergency workers that rescue children from abuse and neglect. Bloomberg, like Gov. Paterson and many other officials, would have us believe that our budget woes are an inevitable season of scarcity, akin to the onset of winter. That is not true. Many critics warned for years that waste and abuse in city and state government - the addiction to more - would come back to haunt us.

But, just like the grasshopper in the summer who laughed off the industrious ant's preparations for the harsh winter to come, Bloomberg played on-adding more teachers and their pensions to a bloated education budget; and generally increasing the size and scope of government while raising taxes and fees on hapless tax payers. And, oh yes, spending money hand over fist for his mega-legacy development projects-twice as much as Rudy layed out.

Which is why a reporter asked the mayor yesterday at his budget briefing whether he felt it was prudent to spend $400 million in the next fiscal year on Willets Point when scores of firehouses are on the chopping block. The mayor responded by saying, "we still have to plan for the future.” But, as someone once remarked, in the long run we are all dead-and the mayor's continued profligacy for projects that are not only frighteningly expensive at a time when the city is broke, but directly contradict his professed support for sustainable development, is the height of sheer irresponsibility. And we will call him out on it.

It is time to really rein in the cost of this government-when even water is becoming a precious commodity. We are paying the price of Bloomberg's lack of fiscal acumen and limited world view-but we shouldn't have to be continually flogged for another four years. It's time to whip up the folks against the mayor's unaffordable edifice complex. First stop Willets Point-next stop Flushing Commons.