Angry New Yorker

Saturday, April 30, 2005
We're shocked, shocked to find New York paying too much to government worker union pensions! Shocked!


Report Finds New York State Pension Payouts Are Excessive
April 30, 2005

A new report shows New York taxpayers are funding fat pension payouts for government retirees.

The report by the Citizens Budget Commission concluded that retirement packages offered to New York City and state employees are more generous than those provided by other governments or the private sector.

The CBC says that by 2008 pension contributions are projected to grow to more than $$4.5 billion and health-insurance payments will increase to more than $$3.4 billion.

Cutting pension benefits for current employees would require an amendment to the state constitution, action by two successive Legislatures, and a voter referendum.

Friday, April 29, 2005
You Don't Think We Have An Illegal Alien Problem? Mira!

What about this billboard for KRCA-TV Channel 62 that Gov. Schwarzenegger railed against yesterday in a radio interview, here, as promoting illegal immigration. The billboard clearly crossed out CA and instead has Los Angeles, Mexico on it instead, in apparent support of the "reconquista."

In response a California radio station posted a billboard that says:

And latest update is some patriots took the situation into hand and modified the LA, Mexico billhoard per below:

Thursday, April 28, 2005
And this guy almost became president? The fact he was thwarted may actually be proof God does exist. ;-)


Gore Leads the Way

In a speech to the wacko-leftist group, Al Gore showed that the Democratic party has moved on from those primitive “Bush=Hitler” talking points, and now believes the best way to appeal to the base is by portraying “right-wing religious zealots” as a monolithic threat, far more dangerous than Islamic radicalism (what’s that? huh?): Gore Blasts GOP Bid to Block Filibusters.

“What makes it so dangerous for our country is their willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for one-party domination of all three branches of government,” Gore said of the GOP in a speech. “They seek nothing less than absolute power.” ...

“This aggressive new strain of right-wing religious zealotry is actually a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place,” Gore said as many in the audience stood and applauded. The speech was sponsored by the liberal group MoveOn’s political action committee.

Asian Long-Horned Beetle Alert!

We're nearly fanatical tree-lovers (not to be confused with tree huggers). As a result, the report that the devastating asian long-horned beetle was found again in Central Park today (having already caused much damage in Queens and Brooklyn over the past years) was not good news. Stay tuned.

An update and some other thoughts...

First, we wanted to let our readership know that posting between now and July 28th will be somewhat fitful. We have some other business-related committments that will require more of our time than usual, and business comes first (well after God, family, and country, of course. ;-)

However, there are two items we wanted to highlight now.

First, it drives us nuts when pundits spout the dribble that illegal aliens come here and do jobs that "Americans won't do." Oh, really? We don't buy it. In fact, rather than benefitting Americans and our culture, these illegal aliens have had a destructive effect on pay levels and our work ethic because they've swept entire job areas into jobs that then become self-defined as jobs that "only illegal aliens do."

Case in point is one of our neighbors. No they're not illegal aliens, but they live in a small plot house, as do several of us here, and their front "yard" is roughly 25 feet x 15 feet -- certainly no more. One of their three kids is a strapping young lad; athletic and more than capable of physical work. Yet, this family has a lawn service come by weekly. A truck pulls up; several Spanish-speaking men disembark with their blowers, mowers and rakes and in a few minutes they've handled the front "lawn" without breaking a sweat. Beyond letting their now slothful son get away with no external chores, what sort of example lesson is this setting for our youth and their work ethic development? That only illegals cut lawns anymore? That their is some work that is beneath one?

At the risk of dredging up a hoary "when I was a lad" tale, I handled the lawn work (and the snow shoveling in winter) at my childhood homes until I finished college, and even then I continued to cut the lawn (and shovel the snow) for several years at the four-family house where I rented an apartment (at market rates) from my parents after moving. And the four-family house was a large corner house with a front lawn of about 80 x 25 feet. I certainly didn't feel the work was either too much, or beneath me. I felt it was my duty. Are we breeding a sense of duty out of our kids these days?

Second, Mayor Bloomberg and company continue to spout the nonsense that people are "coming back to New York in droves." First, demographically it's simply not true -- except for a very small segment of people, centered in a very small area of Manhattan. And as one of Bloomberg News' own columnists notes in an essay today, Sprawl and "Slurbs" Are the Wave of the Future, available here, the theory posited by Richard Florida of "the creative class" as cities' salvation is empty; the theory does not hold water I believe, despite its embrace by those on the left who envision themselves as "creative", because, as urbanologist Joel Kotin notes "[y]ou can't build a long-term civic culture around transient populations.'' Kotin's statement is so fundamentally concrete that arguments against border on irrational. But the reaity that urban centers are NOT gaining force is a fact that does not bode well for NYC's long-term health, and the quicker we face the reality, the quicker we can adapt. Read the whole thing:

Sprawl and `Slurbs' Are the Wave of the Future: Andrew Ferguson

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- When author and historian Joel Kotkin travels around the U.S. in his role as a consultant to city planners, he hears his clients repeat the same misconceptions again and again. He calls them urban legends.

``The one you hear most often is, `Cities are on the rebound! People are moving back to the cities!''' he says. ``It takes different forms. The latest one I'm hearing is: `Empty nesters are flocking back to the cities!'''

There's a problem with legends, of course. They're not true. And so it is with the urban legends Kotkin keeps hearing.

Consider those empty nesters -- parents whose children have grown up and moved out. No matter how much civic boosters may wish it to be true, this affluent and highly desirable demographic is not returning to live in U.S. downtowns.

``If anything, the data show just the opposite,'' Kotkin says. ``If empty nesters decide to sell the family house in the suburbs, they move to a condo -- in the suburbs. Or they move to the Sun Belt -- to a suburb.''

The same goes for one urban legend after another, those little fairy tales that urban planners tell to convince themselves that cities are making a comeback.

Urbs versus Burbs

  • Is it true, for example, that gentrification is inspiring companies to put their headquarters in cities?

  • Is it true that cities can cultivate a vibrant and viable civic culture without middle-class families?

  • Is it true that most companies require an urban setting to do business in?

The answers, says Kotkin, are: No, no, and probably not.

An urban setting, he concedes, just might help you do business, depending on what business you're in.

``I suppose some kind of companies need to be in a city,'' he says. ``Bail bondsmen need to be near the courthouse. But that's about it.''

You can understand why city managers, urban planners and ``metropolitan elites'' repeat the urban legends, mostly to one another. They're deflecting an uncomfortable truth.

And the truth is that in the great struggle between cities and suburbs, raging now for a century or more, the verdict is finally in: Cities lost. The vast majority of people prefer the ``burbs.'' The long-predicted comeback of the traditional city isn't in the cards.

`Dream World'

For those of us who love cities, it's hard to believe that the future of civilized life lies in the suburbs. You call that civilized?

``Metropolitan elites live in a dream world,'' Kotkin says. ``If 1,000 people move into lower downtown Denver in the last year, the elites think it's a trend: stories in the newspaper, panel discussions, general celebration. Meanwhile, 10,000 people leave the city for the suburbs, and the elites ignore it.''

Traditional U.S. cities stopped growing 50 years ago and are now shrinking. Since 1950, almost all the growth in U.S. metropolitan areas has been beyond the city limits, in suburbs -- sprawl, in a word.

And the trend seems to be accelerating. Census data released earlier this month show that during the 1990s, one city after another lost population, even as the counties surrounding them grew. In Ohio, for example, Cincinnati's Hamilton County shrunk by 2.4 percent. Neighboring Boone County, in Kentucky, grew 49.3 percent. Even further out from the city, Grant County, Kentucky, grew by 42.2 percent.

From Washington to Cleveland to Denver, the trend was the same.

Hip and Cool

There are lots of obvious reasons for the cities' decline -- the decentralizing effects of telecommunications, the loss of manufacturing jobs, the inconveniences of public transit -- but Kotkin is more appalled by the steps urban planners take in hopes of reversing the decline.

``They think they can revive their cities if they make them `hip and cool,''' he says, referring to the street festivals, cafes, arts fairs, high-end boutiques and other yuppie delights that attract the young and single, the childless and rich.

``But that's not how cities last,'' he says. ``You can't build a long-term civic culture around transient populations.''

What any healthy city requires is a stable base of middle- class families. But the conditions necessary for attracting and keeping families are precisely what city planners ignore.

``They've forgotten the basics,'' Kotkin says. ``Are the schools good? Are the streets clean and safe? It's a lot easier to satisfy the yuppies with no kids than to fix the schools.''

And so city life, once the backbone of civilized social arrangements, devolves into just another ``niche lifestyle.''

Mixed Evidence

But can suburbs perform the essential functions of acculturation and community-building that cities once did? It's a question Kotkin explores in his latest book, ``The City: A Global History,'' [ed. note - published this month, April, 2005, by Modern Library Press] and he says the evidence for now is mixed.

Kotkin calls most of suburbia ``slurbs,'' vast stretches of undistinguished space choked with traffic and lined with commercial strips lacking character, charm, or -- most important of all -- a sense of civic identity that can bind their residents together.

On the other hand, some suburbs now reflect the influence of the new urbanists, planners who favor suburbs with walkable downtowns, open space and accessible cultural institutions.

`Not in the Cities'

Even so, for many of us, the suburbs will require a lot of getting used to. What's to happen to those ``hip and cool'' city- lovers who, over the next generation, may be pulled to the suburbs by professional necessity, as the social and economic center of gravity continues to shift?

At Southern California Institute of Architecture where Kotkin teaches, he says, ``I hear my students talk about all the great projects they're going to do in cities after they graduate. And I have to tell them: Wait a minute. You're architects and designers and urban planners. Where do you think you're going to be working in the 21st century? Sorry, but it's not in the cities.''

He says they look at him, disbelieving and horrified. They have seen the future. And it's the suburbs.

As for Kotkin, he was born in New York City and now lives in a suburb of Los Angeles.


Monday, April 25, 2005
Some Good News For A Change

We tend to highlight the many, many things wrong in New York State politics, culture and financial matters, but when good news comes along we're the first to happily trumpet it. So, when we heard that New York City's murder rate is approaching a 40-year low, that's certainly good news in the midst of a culture that's still defining defiancy down.

From today's, here:

City's Murder Rate On Track For New 40-Year Low
April 25, 2005

A dramatic drop in the number of homicides in some of the most dangerous precincts is putting the city on track for the fewest homicides in decades.

With almost a third of the year already past, the number of homicides in the city is on pace to be about 450 for the year – the lowest number in at least 40 years. That’s a drop of 12 percent from last year.

Helping the trend, some notoriously dangerous precincts, like East New York's 75th and East Flatbush's 67th, have seen far fewer homicides so far this year. Police credit programs like Operation Impact, which floods high-crime areas with rookie officers.

However, one borough is bucking the trend, according to Newsday. So far this year, the Bronx has seen a 50 percent increase in homicides over the same period last year. The Bronx district attorney's office attributes the rise, in part, to an increase in gang-related killings.

Sunday, April 24, 2005
A Few Brief Points And Then We're Off...

  • Newsweek's Eleanor Clift is an amazing idiot. If's even more amazing that she has a high-level job at a national "news" magazine.
  • Senator Biden has become such a crank nutcase he should be voted out by the people of Delaware.
  • The left's attacks on Pope Benedict XVI are both inane and unworthy of comment. Don't like the Catholic church's positions? There are plenty of other religions for you -- from those gentle wacky Wiccans to the self-combusting Islamists.
    • Aside: Why is that the Catholic Church is the only faith that is constantly admonished to "reach out" and be "inclusive?"
  • An interesting tidbit we came across yesterday is that in the 2004 election Congressional District 9, once Chuck Schumer's district and now Anthony Weiner's district, who's just as if not even further left than Schumer, had the largest swing toward the republicans in percentage change in voters of any district. We believe he's vulnerable to a strong republican challenge now that he's clearly more interested in running for mayor than staying in congress.
    • "[t]he 'single biggest pro-Bush swing' anywhere in the U.S. came in the Brooklyn-Queens CD of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) -- a 25 point swing. In '00, Al Gore won the CD by 37 points, while in '04, John Kerry won by just 12 points."
      (National Briefing Bush: They Might Call It "Ground Zero of the '04 Election?", American Political Network, The Hotline, Vol. 10, No. 9 (Apr. 22, 2005)).
  • The best political advice we ever received was from one of our criminal procedure professors, who advised us to "always expect ingratitude."
  • Report: Water Bills Could Rise 40% By 2009, April 24, 2005

    New Yorkers’ water bills reportedly could be as much as 40 percent higher within four years. According to the New York Post, the city's Water Board is projecting steep increases in rates over the next few years. The board has proposed a 3 percent hike this year, but that's nothing compared to the estimated future costs.

    The paper says the board projects another 5.6 percent hike in 2006, followed by 8.7 percent increases in each of the following three years.

    The proposed hikes would be the largest in 15 years. The board tells the paper the increases will help offset the $14 billion in debt carried by the city Department of Environmental Protection and pay for the agency's $10 billion five-year capital plan.

    Public hearings on water rate hikes will begin May 2.

Thursday, April 21, 2005
Dem Babies Continue to Bash Bolton

We're really at a loss at to what the issue is here regarding the accusation that John Bolton, nominee for U.S.'s U.N. Ambassador, was "verbally abusive" and chased a woman staffer around a hotel throwing things at her. First of all, at the risk of being undiplomatic, we don't care. In New York verbal abuse is almost the state pastime. So if some wallflower ten years ago was traumatized and couldn't take a dressing down -- deserved or not -- without quivering in her Legg's we're most definitely not getting teary-eyed about it.

Granted, no one enjoys working for a jerk -- and there's no shortage of those in either New York City or in the broader work world. But we've also worked with plenty of idiots, incompetents and deadwood, and there are times when lighting a bonfire under someone's lazy ass is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


We've long been a fan of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (bio here). His intelligence, his doctrinal faithfulness, and his close relation to John Paul II all weighed in our hope the college of cardinals would select him to follow in the footsteps of John Paul II. (Watch interview by Raymond Arroyo with then Cardinal Ratzinger here). We were not disappointed, and the caterwauling of the left in response only brings a broader smile to our face as we greet the new Pope.

The Dems Keep On Taxing...

People ask us why we're so angry here. After all life in New York and New York City is "pretty good" compared to life in other countries and cities, right? That depends what your frame of reference is. That is are you comparing your new life here in NYC to the life you had in Columbia, or the life in New York City you have now compared to the life you had a kid growing up here or somewhere else in the U.S.?

If a neoconservative is a liberal that's been mugged, we're former democrats who were mugged by how the democrats and the left have acted since 1999, and most notably post 9-11. It was the 9-11 attack that provided a final tipping jolt to jog us into a top-to-bottom review of the democrats' positions and beliefs and what we learned repelled us, because in having minds apparently so "open their brains fell out", the left revealed itself as both morally bankrupt and a threat to the actual values they professed to hold -- a dangerous twosome. And today's standard bearers of the democrat party - Pelosi, Kennedy, Biden, Schumer, Rangel, Reid, the list goes on - are so often so over the top, and so distorting on average, that even when they're speaking a rare truthful tidbit it's impossible to take them seriously.

Which brings us to the recent NYC democrat mayoral debate, which was a real carnival of clowns, with Ferrer offering a shocking new stock transfer tax that would guarantee an exodus of the exchanges to New Jersey, and Weiner offering to slap higher taxes on everyone above the "middle class", which he has never and continues to refuse to define, but which basically in his lexicon means anyone earning more than $150,000. Everyone living in NY knows $150K is by no means "rich" for a family with a few kids and mortgage in a city where even a basic house can cost $450,000 while still needing eighty-thousand dollars of work to whip into shape.

So a little bit of advice to Weiner and his fellow tax-o-crats: keep on taxing if you want to drive us all out.

Monday, April 18, 2005
Another Carpetbagger As Our Salvation?

What is it with recent arrivals to New York? They're here for a few years, or in some cases, not even, and suddenly they have the answers to save New York. First there was Robert Kennedy back when, then Hillary, Bloomberg, and now the oily former democrat Senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, is making noise about running for mayor. Hey, Bob? Can we call you Bob? What about your home state of Nebraska? Tired of having been the governor and senator from the great plains?

We have to admire the cajones on Kerrey for thinking we'd vote for him. But it once again highlights the upper westside liberal echo chamber as the cacophony booms forth from their small liberal fishbowl. Good luck, Mr. Kerrey. May you have as much success in your mayoral bid as that other detestable senator with the homophone last name had recently in his quest for higher office.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The Unbearable Buffoonery of Being Thomas L. Friedman

Remember the saying "better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than speak and have all doubt removed"? Whenever we hear this epigram the prolix pundit Thomas L. Friedman comes to mind. After reading his breathless book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, back in 2000 we realized "here's a man smart enough to be able to read the map, but not smart enough to realize his map is often upsidedown." That's a very dangerous combination.

And apropos of nothing we were killing a few minutes this evening when we spotted the ever energetic Mr. Friedman regaling Charlie Rose with his bullet-point world view presentation. [ed. note - you'd think with a guy this tight with the intelligentsia someone would sign him up for presentation lessons by now, because while chewing the cud with Charlie he was hopping in his seat and flailing his arms like an overly-caffeinated palsy sufferer. ]

But we digress. Here's a tip for spotting a blowhard pundit: eventually they all come around to the conclusion "we aren't graduating enough people in engineering and science." As corollaries to this earth-shaking theorem, the windbag spouting this inevitably isn't in engineering or science; doesn't work with engineers or scientists; and doesn't realize that, hey, we don't really need 50 million engineers and scientists in a country of 295 million to keep the lights on, computers humming and to come up with a few dozen good ideas each week.

Then, as surely as electrons repulse each other what happens is once we climb on the "won't someone churn out more engineers" train the next boom cycle derails and suddenly untold legions of unemployed and unemployable programmers, physicists, engineers and bushels of other scientists are standing on street corners.

In the spirit of global sharing, we have a tip for good Mr. Friedman: "what we need, Thom, are more people with good business ideas and business models so we can keep the engineers, chemists, biologists, researchers, physicists and other scientists we have happily and productively employed." However, to drop a dime in your krazy kitty we'd be more than happy to send you back to school to get an engineering degree. We'll even give you a choice of CalTech or MIT; that's - Calcutta Technical Institute and Mitrandishia Institute of Technomics. Just let us know which you'd prefer and, then, say hello to the rest of the Class of 2007!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005
Steadily Putting Us in the Poorhouse

Our illustrious state legislature, never one to leave a dime unspent, has just finished patting itself on the back for passing the first ontime budget in 21 years. (See Assembly Completes Passage Of Fair, Balanced, On-Time Budget, NY State Assembly, Press Release, Mar. 31, 2005, available at Let that sink in for a minute : an entire generation passed before NY State had an on time budget.

Does this mark a rebirth of The Empire State? Hardly. This $105- to $106,000,000,000 (that's BILLION with a B) dollar budget includes various increases at three-times the inflation rate -- not exactly penny pinching -- and raises a wide variety of "fees." (See E.J. McMahon, Budget Hoax, N.Y. Post, Mar. 30, 2005, available here (detailing fiscal machinations in current budget process)).

If New York State and New York City continue spending on their current trend we predict there will be many more people like Mrs. Helming of Long Island, below, who has thrown in the towel and called it quits. Her letter was printed in the Mar. 21, 2005, issue of Newsday, here, and recently read on the floor of the NYS Assembly during the budget process last week. It certainly speaks to the experience of many people in New York who are screaming "enough!" Not a week goes by without us wondering here at Angry New Yorker if NYS is the best place for our children to work and live when they're grown, and its increasingly difficult each year to convince ourselves it is.

We hope Mrs. Helming doesn't mind if we reprint her letter here, too.

Sad to go, but so long to the cost of LI living,
Jodi Helming lives in Holtsville.

March 21, 2005

Dear Long Island:

We are leaving you. It is sad, but true. First of all, we cannot afford to live here anymore.

My husband and I both work full-time and have two young children. We purchased a three-bedroom home, much in need of a number of renovations, for almost half a million dollars. Our property taxes are so high that our monthly payment has become a financial burden we can no longer manage.

What has cost us half a million dollars here on Long Island will cost less than half of that in other parts of this country. So we must ask ourselves the difficult question: Why should we stay on Long Island when housing is simply unaffordable? [ed. note - this is a question every member of the state legislature in the New York City area should ask themselves daily.]

In addition, the recreational activities in which we'd like to participate all have a cost attached. As we venture out on a Saturday morning, looking for a free or low-cost activity, we notice one thing - fees, fees, fees. Fees to ride the carousel in the mall ($2 per child, two children, at least two rides around = $8). Fees to visit a children's museum ($8 per person = $32 for our family). Fees to go to a petting zoo ($12 for adults, $10 for children = $44). Fees to park our vehicle in a lot to go to the beach or a park ($8, unless you can make it there before 8 a.m. in the summer).

So it is not just about affordable housing. It is about affordable living. [ed. note - another mantra the state legislature should sear into their Albany desktops.]

Life here then too often is fraught with complications and therefore becomes a constant struggle. Our weekdays are already complicated. Since it was nearly impossible to find affordable housing close to where we work, we have a long commute (80 miles round-trip) to work each day. [ed. note - See Americans Spend More Than 100 Hours Commuting to Work Each Year, Census Bureau Reports, Press Release, Mar. 30, 2005, available here (noting "[o]f the 231 counties with populations of 250,000 or more covered by the ACS, Queens (41.7 minutes), Richmond (41.3 minutes), Bronx (40.8 minutes) and Kings (39.7 minutes) – four of the five counties that comprise New York City – experienced the longest average commute-to-work times."); Patrick McGeehan, The Long and Winding Road, to Work: Many Travel 90 Minutes or More, One Way, N.Y. Times, Mar. 31, 2005, available at here (detailing recent Census report's findings that "six of the seven counties in America with the highest concentration of extreme commuters [with one-way commutes of 90 minutes or more] were in New York" and that "[a]mong residents of big cities, New Yorkers had the longest average commutes, clocking in at 38.3 minutes.")]. Since we must both work to manage the financial burden of our monthly mortgage payment, we take our two young children to a day-care center. And so we want our weekends to be simple.

Yet, they are just as complicated as we work to try to find ways to combat the cost of recreation on Long Island (not to mention the traffic).

In many other parts of the country, the living situation is different - much more affordable, much simpler, much less of a daily struggle. Families (who have purchased a home that is most likely much more reasonably priced than one on Long Island) can visit museums, brand new parks with well-maintained, updated, safe playground equipment, clean and new picnic facilities and beautiful gardens - all for free. [ed. note -- again, are you listening Governor, Assembly, Senate?]

We are looking for a better and a simpler life for us and for our children. We think we have found it. So do hundreds of other families whose moving trucks are lined up in back of ours, set to leave Long Island. Give us reasons to stay here, and we will turn our moving trucks around.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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