Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fire Sale: Mayor Copping an Attitude

We were bouyed by the wonderful absence of civility in the attack levied by Pat Lynch and Steve Cassidy on the mayor's effort to take away what he described as a, Christmas bonus." The NY Times reports: "On Wednesday, Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, vowed to fight the proposal with lobbying efforts, an advertising campaign and their own voices in the news media and at grass-roots levels. Their display on the steps of City Hall is a low point in a relationship that has mostly been cordial, even as the city has pushed to cut rookie classes and has reduced engine company staffing to save overtime costs. But on Wednesday, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Cassidy accused the administration of spreading false information to steal their members’ money. They used the words “liar,” “lie” and “lying” at least 23 times in characterizing the mayor’s efforts to depict the annual payments as akin to a Christmas bonus."

We want to make one thing clear-and both Lynch and Cassidy did a good job doing this on NY1 the other night-police officers and firefighters are in a class by themselves and shouldn't be lumped with any other government workers. Not only is public safety the preeminent role of any government, but those who act on our behalf in this capacity put their lives on the line everyday-and it is, in our view, sacrilegious to compare these brave men and women to, let's say, clerks at the MVB.

It is the expansion of government way beyond this core responsibility that gets us upset-and the fact that Mike Bloomberg is looking to shaft these folks is really beyond the pale-as Michael Daly points out in the NY Daily News today: "Retired NYPD Detective Bob Gates wants to report an attempted robbery. He describes the perp as a white male, 5-foot-7, medium build, 60- to 70 years-old, known to be tan even in winter. The perpetrator is seen around City Hall on weekdays, where he is often addressed as "Mr. Mayor." He is said to frequent the Mid Ocean Club golf course in Bermuda on weekends."

Now if the alleged perp was any kind of real manager, he wouldn't find himself so far behind the fiscal 8 ball-with inappropriate threats based upon, well, lying isn't too strong a word. The Times tells us: "The unions and the city agreed through collective bargaining to create a financing arrangement that allowed for a portion of their pension funds to be invested in the stock market, rather than exclusively in bonds, which are more conservative, said Robert W. Linn, a former director of labor relations for New York City. If the riskier investment resulted in a return greater than the bond investment, the difference went into a variable supplement fund, which was used to pay retirees a varying lump-sum amount at the end of the year. However, in the mid-1980s, Mr. Linn and others pushed through a change so that retirees agreed to a fixed annual benefit that would be paid regardless of the market’s performance. That change meant that if the market outperformed expectations, the city was only obligated to pay the fixed benefit; any excess money would go to the city, Mr. Linn said."

Hardly a Christmas bonus, and certainly not something that can be unilaterally denied through any mayoral whim. The problem for Mike is that he has skated on an undeserved reputation for fiscal acumen over the past nine years-meeting his only real challenge in 2002 by raising real estate taxes through the roof (earning the undying love of the Times editorialists). No Andrew Cuomo he, Bloomberg increased the size of government with all of the concomitant health and pension benefits.

So now he is left woofing about firehouse closings and pension thievery for our bravest and finest municipal workers-while at the same time looking to spend billions to redevelop Willets Point (not to mention those three Gracie Mansion cooks). This is why we have labeled the lame chief executive, John Vliet Bloomberg.

We'll give Daly the last word here-and his calling the mayor a perp is spot on. Now all we need to see is Mike Bloomberg being forced to perp walk out of city hall-all the way to Bermuda: "The shadowy perp seeks to justify stealing the duly negotiated $12,000 by calling it a "holiday bonus," as if it were akin to the Wall Street bonuses that fueled such public fury during the financial crisis.This from a guy who considered Wall Street excesses good for the city because they generated tax revenue. Now he wants to use the lingering public anger over Wall Street to win support for grabbing money from cops and firefighters. "He acts like it's a freebie," Gates says. "He knows how we got it." Should the scheme succeed, Gates will receive only his $20,000 a year pension. His financial analysis sounds like what it is, a guy reporting an attempted robbery. "They want to take my f-----g money!"