Angry New Yorker

Sunday, July 18, 2004
The AngryNYker offices will be closed from July 19th through August 2nd, as we head out on vacation and recharge the batteries in preparation for the fall election season. But in the time we'll be away the July 30th deadline for the NYS legislature to tackle the CFE judicial ruling will no doubt have come and gone without any action by Albany. Such is the workings of NYS government these days. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.

But the Manhattan Institute just came out with an interesting report :

No Strings Attached? Ensuring that “CFE” Funds are Spent Effectively
Civic Report 42.The 2003 New York State Court of Appeals ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case has created a historic opportunity to reform New York City's troubled schools. Unfortunately, state officials seem focused on increasing funding statewide without mandating change in how the city manages its schools. This report reviews two decades of evidence showing that increasing school aid without structural reforms does not improve city schools. Instead, the data point to the city's real problem: poor management, and contractual restrictions that make it virtually impossible to assign more good teachers to the schools that need them most. If state officials do not mandate structural reforms through the CFE ruling, they will only succeed in mandating a higher price tag for failure.

The report is short, concise and understandable to anyone -- an amazing feat for reports of this genre. I recommend reading it. Until August, this is the AngryNYker signing off...

Thursday, July 15, 2004
[Ed. note - The Trojans were warned of Greeks bearing gifts. They didn't listen. Tragedy befell. While New York isn't in a siege situation, at least not yet, as Steven Malanga makes clear in the following essay the reliance on consultants bearing gifts of bountiful returns on projects should give us pause.]

Consultant Humbug

Steven Malanga says to beware ‘studies’ promising payback from tax-funded development

Steven Malanga Mr. Malanga is a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, from whose Summer 2004 issue this article is adapted.

Government officials,lobbying furiously for taxpayer-supported projects on Manhattan’s far West Side — including an expanded Javits Convention Center, a new
hotel, and a vast new stadium for the New York Jets — are waving around studies that promise thousands, even tens of thousands of new jobs and a massive boost in tax revenues, if only Joe Public will lend a generous helping hand. New Yorkers should be deeply skeptical of these kinds of “studies” — and the projects they’re promoting.

Over the last decade, an entire industry of consultants has sprung up to churn out similar reports for pols around the country, advocating public subsidies for one big building project after another. Many of the projects, it turns out, have actually been built, and they’ve proved colossal duds, leading a growing chorus of critics to question the studies’ methods.

One reason the studies are so misleading in touting the future economic benefits of publicly subsidized projects is that they frequently ignore what the private sector might do with the property instead.

* * *

Anyone who wants to know what the consultants really think can just check out what they’re telling the competition. Mr. Sanders relates the tale of twin studies done by Coopers & Lybrand in 1997 for officials in Washington, D.C., and New York, when each city was thinking of using public money to expand convention facilities.

For the Washington study, the consultants polled meeting planners across the nation to rate eight large cities as convention sites. New York finished dead last. Coopers & Lybrand conveniently left this key detail out of their New York study, which of course called for the city to expand Javits."

Read the entire piece here.

Friday, July 09, 2004
[Ed. note - We've viewed the steady encroachment of gambling -- not "gaming" -- spreading across the country like kudzu-gone-wild with dismay. Not long ago gambling was considered a serious vice to be cracked down upon. While the occasional bet poses no problem, the reliance of significant portions of state budgets on gambling revenues is nothing less than a betrayal of good government, and a path of least resistance legislation.]

Albany -- Court decision backs expansion of casinos in state, but puts future of VLTs in doubt

First published: Thursday, July 8, 2004

"In a decision with no clear winner, a mid-level state appeals court Wednesday upheld much of New York's huge expansion of gambling but deemed a portion of the law authorizing video lottery terminals unconstitutional.

"Officials said the four so-called racetrack "racinos" with VLTs in New York will stay open despite the decision, because appeals to the state's highest court are expected.

"But the future of the VLTs -- and their millions of dollars in much-needed state revenue -- remains uncertain.

"In a 5-0 ruling, the Appellate Division [,Third Department,] of state Supreme Court handed a partial victory to VLT supporters. The decision, written by Justice Thomas Mercure, said VLTs are not slot machines and are therefore allowed under the state Constitution. [The decision is Karr v. Pataki]

"However, the court said, the statute giving some of the VLT revenue to breeding funds and racetrack purses violates a constitutional mandate that all lottery money must support education. That makes the entire section of the law dealing with VLTs illegal, according to the court."

Read the entire thing here.

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