George Sarant

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City

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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. 

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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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