Thursday, January 20, 2011

State of Confusion

Talk about a snow job! In over an hour the mayor-who was supposedly going out of his way to demonstrate his concerns for the city's outer boroughs-never once mentioned last months snowfu. Nothing to see here, we guess. City Room has the instant analysis: "Mr. Bloomberg seemed to go out of his way to deflect criticism that he was not attuned to the concerns of New Yorkers outside Manhattan, citing numerous programs and projects designed to improve conditions in neighborhoods across the city. One plan would make it legal to hail livery cabs outside Manhattan."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio nails this further example of haughty tone deafness: "Obviously there was no point in this where there was any acknowledgement of past mistakes. I think this would have been an occasion to say look we had a bad few weeks, we made some real mistakes here in the city we are not going to let that happen again. I think it would have helped if he had said that there really squarely. He had an opportunity to really re-set the tone and he chose not to do that," de Blasio said."

In our view, his best remedy for the other than Manhattan parts of the city is for the mayor to simply cease and desist. The city's vaunted economic upturn is purely Manhattan-centric, with Wall Street and tourism driving the stabilization. We would like to see what the city's job numbers would look like if we took away those two aforementioned factors.

Living Wage Coalition spokesman Dan Morris makes the salient points: "Working poor New Yorkers are still waiting for the economic recovery the mayor referenced in his speech. His unmatched ability to turn the economy around was how his campaign framed the rationale for a third term but many struggling communities have yet to gain access to decent jobs and would not agree that we are headed in the right direction. The mayor failed to acknowledge that the shared costs of poverty to the city are actually rising as a record number of working poor New Yorkers turn to government for food stamps and other assistance, and contribute less to the tax base and economy. Many of these workers hold jobs in sectors like retail, where some companies are receiving millions in taxpayer subsidies and yet allowed to create low-wage jobs with impunity."

As Morris goes on to point out-underscoring a theme of ours: " The city simply cannot afford to give companies millions in subsidies and remain silent as corporate leaders laugh all the way to the bank while creating low-wage jobs that weaken our economy and keep working people mired in poverty. The public is paying too high a price for so-called economic development."

We were especially amused by the mayor's support for comprehensive immigration reform-something that Comptroller Liu hailed: "Great to hear of the Mayor's continuous commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.  It is badly needed for this country and would be an economic boon for the people of New York City."

To us-as we have said before-this is pure posturing on the mayor's part, His record shows an absolute contempt for the immigrant entrepreneurs-the backbone of those communities that he theoretically hails. From throwing immigrant and minority wholesalers out of the Bronx Terminal Market to make way for a mall deeded over without bidding to a good friend of Deputy Dan Doctoroff, to his shoving a cannibalizing mall down the throats of Flushing thriving Korean and Chines retailers, Bloomberg has made life hard for these intrepid newcomers.

And let's take another example: the mayor's failure to control street vendors who are setting up their "Green Carts" right in front of Korean green grocers-effectively putting them out of business. And then, of course, there's Walmart that will put the nail in the coffin to the city's vibrant cohort of immigrant super market owners.

All of which makes the mayor's following two-faced posturing, cited in City Room, laughable: "Mr. Bloomberg seems most passionate when he speaks about one of his trademark causes: immigration reform. He calls the current system “the most ruinous economy policy you could ever conceive of.” He pledges to tackle the issue at a national level, and he says the city will create a program to help immigrant entrepreneurs start small businesses."

How about simply stopping all of the economic development destruction? What about a Hippocratic Oath of, "Do no harm," before announcing programs to help entrepreneurs who would like Bloomberg to stop fining and taxing them. We noticed that the mayor didn't mention that in the past six years the DCA fines collected have tripled-along with a concomitant rise in restaurant fines from the DOH. Who does he think is bearing the disproportionate burden of this regulatory assault, if not those very same immigrants Bloomberg lauds?

But, as City Room reminds us, being a billionaire means never having to say you're sorry-or even acknowledge that you are less than flawless: "In his 45 minutes at the lectern, Mr. Bloomberg stayed focused on his bread-and-butter issues: the economy and creating jobs. He did not acknowledge his critics, but instead swirled through a range of proposals including constructing family centers at Riker’s Island and reforming the juvenile justice system. His words were received warmly, even if there were few flashy initiatives or grandiose pledges. But for those looking for another apology for snow clean-up or a reflection on missteps, this was not the speech."

If not now, when? Of course, where the mayor did his most egregious shucking and ducking was on the city's budget: "Mr. Bloomberg emphasizes that the city must do more with less. He blames the situation on ballooning pension costs and unfunded mandates. “There’s no magic wand to make them disappear,” Mr. Bloomberg says. “There is no rabbit left to pull out of the hat, and there is no windfall coming from Albany or Washington this year. There is only us.”

In nine years, Mike Bloomberg has swollen the city's budget, hiring tens of thousands of new employees whose pensions he now decides need to be reined in? Wow, what chutzpah! Not to mention the crippling debt the city has taken on. All we can say about this State of the City charade is that, thank God, we only a two more examples of this self serving drivel left before Mike flies away to warmer climes.