Diary

NYC: Environment ranks higher than fire stations, and traffic cops before police officers

Michael Bloomberg is a business magnate who got bored of running his company and decided it would be fun to control NYC and do with it whatever he saw fit. A review on the close to a decade which he’s been mayor highlights how anything and everything part of his personal agenda or appeared to his liking has been implemented and money was never an issue, i.e. environmental friendly regulations which most people opposed. But when it comes to balancing the budget and to prove his business suaveness, fire stations are shut down and police force is slashed, putting the lives and properties of many in danger.

Firstly, who is Mike Bloomberg? A former Democrat, he switched first to Republican in order to win the first election – which came at the heels of the popular Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani — and then switched to Independent in the midst of his second term in order to have a chance in the next election.

Bloomberg overrode and ignored the wants of his constituents who voted twice in the 90’s in support of term limits, and had the city council pass a law to extend term limits. This enabled him to run for a third term as mayor of NYC. Of course, he claimed to be doing it not for himself but for the people, because he’s the only one that can balance the budget and manage the city, because of his business experience. It seems the people didn’t fall for his altruistic claims because he had to spend over 100 million dollars on his campaign to achieve victory, and even then, only by a very small margin. (It’s simple to understand why he’s against campaign financing rules; after all he doesn’t need anyone’s help while most candidates and his opponents’ do.)

Several months after his victory, no longer needing the term limits extended, he reinstated the two-term limit. After all, nobody after him will be that necessary for the city to have to serve more than two terms. Neither was anyone before him, including Giuliani who was the first to take control of the situation after the city was hit with the devastating terror attacks. At that time, there was talk to have Giuliani remain for a third term because of the chaotic times and his reassuring command, (9/11 was three months before the end of his second term) In fact, when a reporter questioned Bloomberg how 2010 is different than after 9/11 he responded that after the attack people “pulled together right away” and we couldn’t show the terrorists that they are taking away our freedom, while the financial crisis is a global long term issue and his expertise is need.

Bloomberg took over NYC in its brightest time with a record low crime rate and booming economy, though somewhat in debt due to 9/11 related expenses. Taxes rates like property, water, sales, and employment were considerably lower than it is today. The NYPD was a powerful force who busted many drug rings and kept crime at an all-time low, and the FDNY response time was the quickest in its history. Enter Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Taxes on just about everything increased, but somehow there still wasn’t enough money for our cops. Thousands of police were laid off only to be replaced with meter maids and traffic cops. (According to Bloomberg more meter maids = more tickets= more revenue for the city, while less police doesn’t mean less safety in the streets.) To everyone’s surprise the crime rates remained at their record low levels. Amazing? Definitely, but only to the uninformed.  Those who had to file police reports were a bit more skeptical and with good reason, since the process was made increasingly difficult. Even many of those who actually got a police report done would never make it onto official record. (Claimants would come back a while later and find their report as nonexistent.) Their skepticism was proven accurate when The Village Voice had gotten and released tapes from an active police member of the 81st precinct in which you hear officers advising cops how to minimize and avoid police reports, while demanding a quota of tickets etc. Lower statistics indeed!

Besides for being ticketed endlessly by the meter maids and traffic cops, the sanitation department joined the cause and it became routine for an entire street block to receive a ticket for dirt in front of their houses, even if it’s a windy day and many had swept. Hey, I want to live in a clean neighborhood and not in a dump yard but to get fined for a stray shopping bag blown onto one’s property by the wind, or the lone tissue or snack bag that a passing kid just dumped in front of someone else’s house? These are but some of the examples of living in Bloomberg land.

Leave it up to Bloomberg to beat the most unbelievable chutzpah you’ve ever heard. The past December he imposed a new tax, that was supposed to start July, that any vehicle that needs the assistance of the fire department. Bloomberg’s “crash tax” would cost $490 if you are injured in an accident, $415 for a vehicle fire, and $365 if FDNY ambulances come and there’s no fire or injury. Luckily, Bloomberg cancelled it in April after the City Council speaker said it’s a basic government function.

Don’t think Bloomberg is some guy without feelings for victims, it simply depends which victims. Bloomberg’s heart is so full of love to all the poor illegals so he invited them all over to join the already overcrowded and failing classrooms of New York City. How about it’s our tax money and it should be used for our safety and to better our needs?

And who does he think he’s fooling by raising property taxes through the roof and then sends back a tiny portion of it? Let me keep my money and I won’t need your change!

After all the tax increases, ticketing and utilizing every ounce of his business expertise, Bloomberg finally figured out how to close the gap in the city’s budget by closing  six Fire stations in 2003, saving the city 8 million dollars of a 3.8 billion dollar deficit. He had wanted to close an additional 20 stations for nights, but after fierce protests it was dropped. Bloomberg’s original reasoning to close fire stations at night: To balance the budget and because there’s less traffic at night the firefighters can travel quicker from a greater distance. Suspected true reason: The fire stations can’t make home inspection to find building violations at night, which brings in money for the government, so why bother keeping it open? Who cares that at most night fires the people trapped in the fire are awakened when the fire is out of control and help is needed quicker than ever?

There were quite a few fatal fires lately in NYC even without these shutdowns but nothing seems to stop him.A few weeks ago the city released its upcoming budget with a list of an additional 20 stations they want to shut down completely, day and night unless some magic money is found to keep them open. Is this some tactic to force citizens into agreement to have their taxes raised again and again and again? Why is our safety the first thing to be slashed? How about saving money by stopping running ads on the danger of salt, cigarettes, and trans fat?

When it comes to environment related expenses or “educating the ignorant people” expenses one would think the city has a surplus of several billion and doesn’t know what to do with it. An endless stream of ads bombard the radios and TV stations against salt, sugar, smoking, trans fat and many additional pet peeves of Bloomberg which should be of no concern to the government. Bloomberg also has plenty of funding to create bike lanes, even in neighborhoods that have vehemently opposed it because it eliminated lots of parking spots in an already overpopulated neighborhood and is a community populated by non-bike riders. When it was pointed out that only .6% from the city use bikes, Bloomberg responded that there was 40% cut in pollution in bike lane area. So it’s not safety he was doing it for, but for the environment.  In Manhattan he put in pedestrian islands on Broadway from Time Square until Herald Square which cut a four lane Avenue down to two, in an already congested area which lead to worsened traffic in the other parts of the city.

He also place pedestrian islands in different areas in the other boroughs without any rhyme or reason, such as Fort Hamilton Pkwy in Brooklyn between 45th -48th streets which is at least a mile away from a highway, and only a 50 foot wide crossing. It created a fury because Maimonides Medical Center’s emergency room is located on Fort Hamilton Pkwy between 48 & 49th streets, and it took away the emergency lane in the center which ambulances used to pass cars or trucks blocking them. It also made the street too narrow for fire trucks and other large trucks to turn onto the Avenue, and if even a single car is blocking, then total chaos and standstill occurs.

The city responded by removing 12 parking spots and making them into fire zones with a 115 dollar fine for stopping even for a few minutes so that the trucks should be able to turn in. This has hurt the businesses on the avenue terribly because people can no longer park in front of the stores so they go shopping elsewhere. The neighborhood has long been struggling with parking because of the nearby hospital and eliminating an additional 12 spots made the situation worse. Additionally, deliveries to stores have become very difficult as they have to stop several blocks away. Cars coming down Fort Hamilton or streets leading to Fort Hamilton are no longer allowed to make any turns because all the cars behind it can no longer pass it. In short, it accomplished absolutely nothing positive but costing the city a million dollars!

They planted trees in the midst of these islands a few weeks ago to make them more environmentally friendly, its cost to the city I haven’t found.  Now there are rumors that the islands will be narrowed down or even totally removed. What a waste of money; First to build it, then to add trees, and then to (hopefully) destroy it all. Is this the liberal way of creating jobs? This could’ve all been prevented if Bloomberg wouldn’t have to act as a know-it-all and do things without asking the community. Other intersections in the neighborhood are much more dangerous crossings than these three blocks. I never felt threatened or in danger when I crossed at my light on Fort Hamilton, while other spots I did. If anything, the lights should’ve been extended for the pedestrians an extra minute.

This is just one of the many islands he’s enacted. Here’s a link to another one in Marine Park which has been the cause of several cars flipping over.

What Bloomberg doesn’t get, is that although he’s mayor he’s not the owner of this city and the city can’t wait for him to go. He doesn’t have the right to try to control every aspect of its people’s lives like his attempts in dictating what we can or can’t eat. Additionally, his wants are not necessarily the wants of the citizens though he’d never take that into consideration. At this point all the city could do is wait for his last 2 ½ years as mayor here to come to an end and I hope we’ll make a smarter choice next time. I’m not getting my hopes to high, though, because it’s liberal NYC after all.

Abie Rubin blogs at TheThinkingVoter.blogspot.com and can be followed on twitter.