Strictly Stasi
by Anthony Stasi
Oct 20, 2009 | 2909 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The mayoral debates opened last week with a heckler interrupting Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the issue of term limits. “Why are you here, Mike?” hollers a male voice from the back of the room. Bloomberg calmly dismissed this by saying “It is New York…”

The mayor is often not happy with hearing about term limits, or how the law was changed in order to allow a third term. The sidestepping of term limits this year speaks a little to how government listens to the people, but whether it is really an important issue in regard to managing the city is spotty.

We hear Comptroller Bill Thompson often refer to Bloomberg as his Republican opponent as a way to align the mayor with the national party, which is in a wilderness period, to be polite. His literature states clearly that he is the Democrat. But does anyone really associate Mayor Bloomberg with the Republican Party?

We need to hear about how the MTA is going to be funded for the benefit of all New Yorkers. We need to hear how public schools are going to innovate with increased charter schools, so that good students can excel in New York City without the need to find a private school that can prepare them for higher learning. Focusing on specific issues like that would help all of us.

You would at least expect the media to keep real issues on the table, but instead we get treated to questions like the one from Juan Manuel Benitez from New York 1 Noticas, who wanted to know why Comptroller Thompson has not hired more Latino New Yorkers in his city office. With the city in financial straits, is this really the question you want to ask the most powerful financial manager in New York City? It would be nice to see a diverse pastiche of employees at all city levels, and for the record, Thompson’s office is very diverse, and he should not have to waste his time answering questions like that.

Bloomberg had to entertain this question as well. He answered his question in Spanish. The mayor said he looks for the best and brightest regardless of where they come from. Bravo.

The state of New York – Albany – has a debt problem. This will affect the city. This needs to be discussed. What is our relationship with the governor right now? Is the commuter tax a possibility again? When it was in effect, it brought New York City $400 million a year.

The “pay to play” issue is very relevant to our city. Both the Office of the Comptroller and the Office of the Mayor are elected offices. When it comes to making decisions about the city’s pensions, which are gigantic, it is vital to keep political interests out of the process. Money managers should be independently chosen as well. Politics has to be taken out of this equation. It is a “must” in cleaning up this process.

The city pension issue is the biggest one facing our city's economy. Without dealing with how pension funds get invested and when the city actually starts paying pensions, you are really approaching city policy by saying "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" The city cannot continue paying out pensions to people that are 45 years old, and expect to have enough money left for future city employees. And the funds that we invest those pensions in need to be relatively safe and appropriate.

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