Monday, March 28, 2011

Can We Afford Developing Willets Point?

The budget news was not good today for NYC and its mayor-frugal Mike Bloomberg. City Room reports on the mayor's pique: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Monday dismissed the budget agreement reached in Albany over the weekend as an “outrage,” saying that it was likely to require the city to make another round of steep cuts. In defiant terms, Mr. Bloomberg said the cuts proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders would disproportionately fall on the city, despite the fact that it served as an economic catalyst for the rest of the state. “We are the jewel of the financial crown, if you will, in New York State,” Mr. Bloomberg said after a City Hall news conference. “We’re the one that’s generating the money.”

Of course, we are also the crown jewel of government waste and over spending-and the CityTime scandal is not even the worst of it. The fact is that Mike Bloomberg has squandered his first two terms, doing very little of anything to rein in the size and scope of government. The public payroll-with all of its attendant pension obligations-has been truly bloated, and agency consolidation and smart new government initiatives (certainly not outsourcing) have been few and far between.

Still, as Daily Politics reports, Bloomberg is now all doom and gloom: "Unless the state acts on the mandated relief and the pension reform quickly, the cuts that we’re in the process of right now are going to be greater than people expected perhaps and more cuts to services. And to make matters worse, we have to go ahead right now -- we’re getting to the close to where we just owe it to our employees to tell them -- if we have layoffs in the education department that are not based on merit, but based on seniority, it would just be devastating to our schools...”

What this dramatizes is that we are going through a period of severe fiscal austerity-and for NYC it's a case of the chickens coming home to roost but finding their nests taken through condemnation. How can Mike Bloomberg justify this wasteful boondoggle of a project in these troubled times?

He can, because Willets Point is all about Mike Bloomberg-it's his legacy, and if it doesn't come to pass, too bad, too sad; it will be the tax payers, not the former mayor, who will have to pay the bill.

So we ask all of you who are concerned with lower police manning, closed schools and firehouses, and less sanitation pick ups, to send the mayor a message. The time for personal boondoggles is long gone. CityTime was your mulligan, Mr. Mayor. You shouldn't be given another one at Willets Point.