You may have already seen it happening. Subway cars are far less clean than they were a few months ago. The public transportation system, which was so ugly in the 1970s, is on its way back to those challenging times. All at a time when the mayor - not even a year ago - wanted to encourage people to use public transportation as a means to cut down on congestion.
The mayor is good at managing budgets, and in this case, we are seeing an across-the-board cut in services. This is not good news, but it is rooted in fairness. A few years ago, Marco Rubio, a state legislator in Florida wrote a book called 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. As New Yorkers, we are not as concerned with Florida's economy, although they seem to be in some difficult straits as well (especially in their real estate market), but the concept is important to us. What are some ideas that can help New York's future?
1. It appears that the current administration's stimulus package will pass the Senate after it flew though the House. The city has been made to feel that it will be more of a priority to Washington than it was the last eight years. In that case, we may be able to save jobs in a few sectors, namely public schools, emergency services, and law enforcement.
2. People that are losing their jobs in the city - whether in the private or public sector - may be looking to go back to school. The city and state have to make sure that city and state residents are the focus when it comes to admissions to its academic institutions.
3. The city may have to re-examine how it pays city retirees in the future. Working for the city is hard work and people need to retire with a stable income - especially when they risk their lives. But remember that in some sectors people that work for the city for 20 years can pad their salary with tons of overtime in the last few years, and thus retire with yearly incomes that trump their average salary. Add to this the fact that people are living longer, and you have large payouts that the city might not be able to handle.
4. We've heard the story a thousand times, how the president's father came to the United States on a scholarship and attended Harvard University. That opened the door for his son to have a better life in the United States. These scholarships are there for us to attract the best and the brightest, and it's a good plan. But we are in times when we might want to focus any new scholarship money on our own kids at the undergraduate level. This is not to suggest taking anything away from people now benefiting from a scholarship. But going forward, we need to build our economy back from the inside out, not the other way around.
5. The closing of our private schools is hurting the city. Our public schools are overcrowded, and now we face the possibility of laying-off teachers. We need to re-examine a voucher program or a tax credit program that will allow parents to explore other avenues of education. This will allow the public schools to work with less if they are forced to face cuts. Private schools can do this work at a fraction of what the city pays, with better results.
6. The city should do whatever it can to make sure that it does not stop any new construction projects. Construction (which involves all trades such as electrical, cement, drywall, paint, steamfitters, etc) is one industry where if it buckles, the economy can really take big negative hits. Construction is also a pressure point in an economy where if it thrives, other industries begin to climb back. Franklin Roosevelt knew this, and started his public works projects to begin priming the pump of the economy. The World Trade Center and any new subway systems need initial investment and should go ahead as planned. It will help the city climb back.
7. Any bailouts that go to private companies should have a clause that states that new jobs that come from the help that they receive from government have got to be in the United States. Whether it's the big automakers or AIG or Citibank, their return to financial glory has to take place in upstate New York, New York City, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc. These lower-middle class folks should not have to bail out companies that take their jobs to India or Sri Lanka. (No offense to those countries, they have shown themselves to be hard workers and pretty innovative.) Is that too much for the government to ask of these companies? That they agree for a ten-year period to house new jobs in the United States. Ten years would be enough to rebuild the nation's economy where it would have strong staying power.
If you have other ideas, comment on my blog at www.queensledger.com. I will read them and we can see who we need to reach in order to put some new ideas for New York City into play.
Michael Steele Heads the GOP
On Friday morning, I emailed Belinda Cook, Michael Steele's communications director. Steele was supposed to call me last week, and he was called into meetings, and so there was a lot of back and forth email. I wished him good luck on Friday morning.
He was chosen as the new chairman of the GOP on Friday afternoon.
The left-wing bloggers immediately criticized it as choosing an African American just so the party does not look as though it is racist. No need to point out the irony here now, is there? But the fact is, Steele has been in state politics for a long time in Maryland, and served as its first black statewide elected official.
Steele brings two things to the Republican Party. First, he believes in a large-tent membership approach in order to bring about new ideas and new candidates. This would not have been the case if some other people got the nod. Secondly, Steele is a devout Catholic. Catholics make up a large percentage of voters - and they live in pivotal places. That could prove helpful to the beleaguered party. Steele was a good, even-tempered, sensible choice.