Angry New Yorker

Monday, January 24, 2005
Miller, Bloomberg Perform Kabuki in Albany

Henry Stern, a former NYC Parks Commissioner, whose thoughts and opinions we've come to value here at Angry New Yorker, weighs in today's kabuki theatre by Bloomberg and Miller up in Albany. We're deeply opposed to Miller's brand of "sound and fury signifying nothing" brand of legislative action. Essentially, if you say the sky is blue, Miller's immediately inclination is to argue it's green.

Mayor, Speaker Go to Albany to Seek Aid,Miller Assails Bloomberg
While Testifying. Will That Persuade Anyone to Help NYC?
By Henry J. Stern

January 24, 2005

Today Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Speaker Gifford Miller testified before the Joint Fiscal Committees in Albany. For the text of the mayor's testimony, click Mayor. For the text of the speaker's testimony, click Speaker.

Both men felt that New York City has not received sufficient financial aid from the state, and would now have greater difficulty in balancing its budget for fiscal year 2006. Last week, the Council passed and the mayor signed legislation postponing by eleven days the deadline for the mayor to submit a preliminary budget to the City Council. The new date is this Thursday, January 27. Clearly, the Legislature will make no budget decisions by then, which means that Governor Pataki's budget, submitted January 18, will provide the parameters that will underlie the city's budget.

In an interview Sunday in the Daily News, headlined "Giff on the Warpath", Speaker Miller said, "The governor, once again, proposed a budget that fails to meet the needs of New Yorkers in New York City." He then turned his attention to Mayor Bloomberg, and said, "It's time for the leadership of this city to step up and fight. After three years of the mayor going up and saying nice things about the governor's intentions, it's had no effect on the bottom line." Mayor Bloomberg responded: "This is not a fight. This is trying to work with everybody and to get the best we can for New York City," he told WCBS-TV. "You do a lot better when you work collaboratively, rather than you walk up and try to pick a fight."
The mayor went on to criticize the governor's budget in some detail, but without invective.

In the three years of his term, the mayor has generally made a point of not antagonizing people he is trying to persuade to be helpful to the city. He has denounced the Dolans of Cablevision, but honeyed words would not soothe the
feelings of subsidized monopolists threatened with competition from a proposed
stadium. Whether it is good for the city or not, it is certainly not good for the Dolans. It is unlikely that the speaker's verbal belligerence will result in additional funds for the city, unless he has the power to intimidate the Albany leadership. There is, so far, not a scintilla of fact to indicate that he strikes fear in the hearts of Joseph Bruno, who is 75, Sheldon Silver, 60, or any other legislator of any age, party or gender. If there be elected officials in Albany who will give the city more money because the
younger speaker huffed and puffed, we would certainly like to know who they are,
and examine their thought processes.

Nonetheless, the speaker has a supporting role in expressing his party's distress over the budget, which he generally performed well. But when he says, "This is the fourth time I've appeared before you to talk about the governor's budget. And, frankly, I'm tired of appearing before this committee every year and asking you to do the job that New York City's mayor ought to be doing," we appreciate his frankness, but frankly, if he is this tired at 35, what will he be next year, when he will be 36, and if he happens to be elected mayor, will have to return to the committee to ask for money for the city. [ed. note - we will do everything in our power to see that Miller, should be decide to run for mayor, is defeated.] And who else will there be for him to denounce?

As we reported above, we have linked to both the mayor's and the speaker's testimony today before the committee. You can read or scan the 4906 words of the mayor's testimony, and the 1199 words in the speaker's remarks, and judge them as if you were a faculty member reading students' papers, looking at both essays on the basis of substance, rhetoric and likelihood to persuade the committee, because
that is the stated purpose of giving testimony.

To some extent, all this pleading is somewhat unrealistic, because the supplicants do not provide the committee with guidance as to where the money can be found to pay for the increased assistance they want. Neither reductions for other agencies or localities nor additional taxes are proposed by those seeking more state funds.

With New York State state facing a deficit twice as large as the city's, it should be clear that there is no pot of gold for the petitioners to take with them down the Hudson to Emerald City. That is another reason for courtesy by the witnesses. Whatever the city gets will have to plucked from other potential uses and constituencies. That is more likely to happen if there is a feeling of mutual respect between the parties. When the speaker denounces the mayor and the governor in his testimony, doesn't every legislator feel that, when the moment is opportune, they too will feel his hot breath. What is the reason for this slash and burn attitude toward other elected officials. The speaker has been most reserved in his judgment of
someone who is within his jurisdiction, Councilmember Alan Jennings. Where
is the fiery rhetoric there?

Look, the city doesn't get a fair deal from the state. It hasn't for years, despite the efforts of many decent mayors. One reason is that the smartest legislators represent rubes and burbs. The city legislators, when not beating people up, having sex with their staff, double-billing for trips to Albany, and taking bribes from contractors, are either busy running for higher office, concerned with their lucrative law practices in which they protect the economic interests of their employers, in bed with the unions and businesses who have graced their fund-raisers for decades, or just worn out by
the futility of their positions in a state run by three men in a room. (Note: quite a few are decent, honest and hard-working; they know who they are.)

We hope the new [procedural] rules [for the State Assembly and Senate] will
make some difference in the way business is conducted. At this time the Assembly appears more receptive to change than the Senate, which is a credit to the speaker and his practical instincts. But as long as legislators leap like trained seals at the command of their leaders, and know that they will risk their committee chairmanships, their lulus and their cars by independence, things will be much the same as they are.. That is one reason people turn to the judiciary, who are men and women supposed to be above the partisan fray. But a court obsessed by big government, mandating expenses without a method of paying for them, frightened by goo-goos, bamboozled by professional activists into believing that money is the principal problem in education, simply keeps in place the delusions of the 1960's. That is when many of them went to law school and fell under the spell of the moment, while deciding to work 'within the system' to effect change. Now they are in power, and some of them don't seem to have learned much after law school.

If the judges want to change the rotten system that controls our state government, let them go after gerrymandering, the invidious form of districting that makes each legislator certain of re-election as long as he is a pawn of the leadership. [ed. note - Angry New Yorker is on record as believing that gerrymandering is the number one cause of the current legislature we have now.] Let them prescribe standards of fairness and ethics in state government, instead of assuming unto themselves the basic power of the legislature, the power to tax and to allocate revenues. Give
us a break, oh wise ones. The reason we have gone on so long is that one
problem leads to another.

We have quoted Samuel Johnson and Ponsonby that in time of war, truth is
the first casualty. But the problem goes beyond that, some of our officials wouldn't tell the truth, even if they knew it (although many do not) in time of peace. Mary McCarthy wrote of someone. "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Leona Helmsley said of someone: "I wouldn't believe him if his tongue were notarized." We will not name the people these ladies described; that is not the point we are trying to make. But if you are inordinately curious, that's why God made
Google. Isn't it wonderful how relatively well most of us are doing regardless of the inadequacies, real or imagined, of our federal, state and city governments? Not to mention errors and injustices committed by capitalists, labor bosses, academics, mass media, bloggers and others. That's why we should be thankful that we live in a free country. And wouldn't it be nice if everyone on the planet, of any or no religion, would be able to enjoy the blessings we take for granted.

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