George Sarant

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City

DON’T DRIVE IN NYC II

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The other day I had just crossed the border between Long Island and NYC when I was pulled over for allegedly speeding, doing 70 mph. Now since everyone else at the time was doing around 65 mph in a 50-55 mph zone, whatever the speed limit it didn’t seem like much. Just prior to that some moron in front of me was talking on a cell phone and driving erratically and slow in the left lane. When he finally pulled over I accelerated for all of 10 seconds to catch up with the traffic, and that is presumably when I was “speeding.”  Obviously when you stray from the herd you are at risk, but if anyone should have gotten a ticket is was the cell phone dude.

After waiting an interminably long period of time for the cop to do his paperwork, he came back with the ticket saying I was doing 71.  By doing that he put me in a higher speed category at great cost. The measurement was thus highly questionable, and certainly disputable, but I shrugged it off, as whenever possible these days I try to just let things go and avoid hassles, as part of the random cost of living here.

However, when I looked at the ticket I found that I had gotten 6 points  and a $300 fine, all of which was far out of proportion the the alleged offense. Then to make matter worse, as I read further it turned out I also had to pay yet another $300 for a “Driver Responsibility Assessment” NY now tacks on, even with a clean prior driving record. So I now had to pay $600 for a few seconds of “speeding.” So then I thought this time I have to appeal, but as I read further on the ticket it stated that you can appeal if you want but if you do your fine may be increased.  The message is thus clear- don’t even think about appealing this. Further, this really has nothing to do with speeding or traffic safety and everything to do with revenue; but obviously not for roads since they are still awful.

From long experience I know that it is now impossible to beat a ticket in NYC. For example, one night we were at a Lincoln Center concert, and when it was over we found the car was gone. It had been towed away for allegedly parking at a bus stop.; except that there was no sign anywhere in sight and the actual stop was much further down the block. So before picking up the car and  paying a few hundred dollars for the tow alone, we took several photos of the location, of the signs, the street, and the buildings, as I had every reason to appeal. When I did, I mailed in the photos and then even printed photos from Google maps of the location so that no one in their right mind could question it. Nevertheless it was turned down with the ridiculous statement that the evidence didn’t prove anything and it could be anywhere, never mind that was specific to that location.  But again, it had little to do with the offense and everything to do with revenue. I don’t go out at night as much as I used to in the city because if I do I have to either pay more than $50 for parking or a cab, and even if parking in a spot that appears to be legal, can still get a ticket.  BTW virtually all the other tow offenders where from out of town using rental cars and were clearly targeted, so be forewarned.

The city is now so anti-car it simply doesn’t pay to own a vehicle or drive, which is exactly what they want; at least from a Manhattan-centric point of view, never mind what car-owners need in the other four boroughs. I’ve been driving here since I was 17 and this is the worst it’s ever been. I don’t want to give up my car, or my house, but life is now at a state-sponsored intolerable level. But if they add tolls to the Brooklyn Bridge I am gone.

So again, be advised, don’t drive here, and if you don’t have to work here avoid coming altogether.

Written by georgesarant

March 29, 2018 at 7:53 PM

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After losing control of the New York City Mayoralty over the past twenty years, it was almost inevitable that the Democratic party would regain the Mayor’s office in this overwhelmingly Democratic city. Unfortunately the worst possible candidate won the Democratic party primary, a far left radical named Bill DeBlasio. Perhaps he was mistaken for an outer-borough moderate by some, since polls show a majority of the population disagrees with many of his positions. Whatever the case, any of the other candidates would have been far better for the future of the city. 

What is in jeopardy now is all the progress that has been made over the past two decades since Rudy Giuliani first became Mayor. I was never a fan of Michael Bloomberg, who succeeded him, but he was, at the very least, a competent manager. DeBlasio, who currently holds the ridiculous position of “Public Advocate,” has a long record of left-wing activism that does not bode well for running a large, diverse, and complex entity like New York City. Worse, he has been joined by several radicals elected to the City Council, with an agenda that draws on dreams of a revolutionary people’s commune. 

We in large measure have the courts to thank for this ominous prospect, by exceeding their authority and declaring the previous city charter unconstitutional, due to supposed population representation issues. There used to be a Board of Estimate which held real power, in addition to the City Council. The Board consisted of the five Borough Presidents, who actually had something to do at the time, the Mayor, the Comptroller, and the President of the City Council. By the court’s logic it was unfair for Staten Island to have the same vote as a borough with a larger population, say Queens. The trouble with this is that the boroughs predate the city, which only assumed its present form in 1898, when they were joined to become “Greater New York.”  Brooklyn, for example, was an independent city long before the consolidation, and could well have done better than in this Manhattan-centric configuration. Representation of these distinct political entities was thus a condition of the amalgamation, and provided a check, particularly on budget and land-use issues. 

One of the principle policies of the radicals is to increase taxes on the “rich,” or  “1%,” although such taxes always seems to trickle down to everyone else. I could care less about the 1%, especially since most of them are oh-so- fashionably progressive in New York City. But their liberalism will then be attenuated by the raid on their pocketbooks. If they are targeted with taxes they will simply move to one of their other houses and make that their legal residence. That means everyone else will be stuck with the bill for the lavish government expansion proposed by these candidates. 

But it is not even the radical policies that are the problem, but rather the administrative ineptitude likely to result from them. For whatever the radical designs, they will inevitably crash into established institutions, resulting in inertia. Indeed the “establishment” is already nervously on board, buying in with campaign contributions, especially from the same ubiquitous real estate interests that are ever present. Given all the weight on one side, it would take a miracle for the alternative candidate, Republican Joe Lhota, to be elected. 

Meanwhile, since the pot will have been increased, more hands will be reaching for the spoils, which inevitably will be distributed politically, resulting in the corruption and dysfunction we have seen in the past. Legislation and expenditures will once again be politically based rather than being determined on the merits. We will again start to hear terms like “ungovernable” and “unmanageable” associated with the city. Then as the political appetites exceed the available resources a downward spiral will commence. 

New York City has come a long way since flirting with near-bankruptcy in the 1970s. We really don’t need to go there again. 

Written by georgesarant

October 13, 2013 at 4:40 PM

A POSTURING POMPOUS ASS

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Michael Bloomberg is a little man with a very big ego and a penchant for plastering his name all over anything he gets ahold of; so for example, the venerable Business Week becomes Bloomberg Business Week. He overturned term limits to get a third term as Mayor of New York City, because, well, he’s special and shouldn’t be bound by rules meant for lesser men. The problem is, like most egomaniacs, he is nowhere near as consequential as he thinks he is, and his pontifications do not carry the weight of infallibility.

Witness his unbelievably stupid and inconsiderate decision to proceed with the New York City Marathon, thereby diverting resources from places like Staten Island, which are in desperate need of things like the generators set aside for the marathon, or the police, or for that matter, the basic necessities of life. It never would occur to him how callous his decision was, because in his mind these places are backwaters, outside of the media bubble he lives in. His notion of the city is a media construction, not the reality on the ground. Early on he raised property taxes by nearly 20%, and when the little people complained he basically said that living in New York carries a premium and you just have to pay more for the privilege of living here.

It’s not that he’s been a bad mayor. Indeed one could even argue that he’s even been a relatively good one, but he certainly is not a great one.  He did find time to weigh in on the presidential election, citing global warming as a major factor in his decision. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone saying anything about climate in this election cycle. He further pronounced that the storm that hit the region was due to such climate change, just like green entrepreneur Al Gore; never mind that there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support that assertion. This is not to deny climate change, but rather the claim that this storm was attributable to it, when every meteorologist says otherwise. But the facts don’t matter. Bloomberg has spoken.

But he is not as exceptional as he thinks he is.  This is a city full of other people with the same attitude- that their wealth is proof they possess some special grace. But they confuse an ability to make a lot of money with an inherent mastery of every other subject, and assume their pronouncements are rooted in a knowledge that they do not in fact possess. Many people do not perceive themselves as others see them, but the greater the disparity, the more they play the fool. But this is usually lost on them because they surround themselves with people who confirm their self-image. A man like Bloomberg is too full of himself to perceive his limitations, and the more conceit he brings to his pronouncements, the more he appears like an emperor with no clothes.

Written by georgesarant

November 2, 2012 at 5:59 PM

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