Monday, January 24, 2011

NYC Should Control NYC

New York City needs more authority over its own affairs. The New York State government in Albany is not an appropriate parent organization to run NYC from a distance.

Albany's Greater Dysfunction

The NY State government in Albany is more dysfunctional than the NYC government, and the NY State financial situation is far worse than the NYC budget shortfall. Therefore, having NYC decisions made in Albany is counterproductive and harmful.

New York State is well known for having the most dysfunctional government in the United States, and it has a $9 billion budget deficit that will grow to $17 billion over the next two years. Even massive tax increases will not solve New York State's budget problems. Without assessing blame, we can all agree that New York State is troubled right now. With our new Governor giving every indication that he is ready to take serious action to turn around our state's fiscal woes, there is hope for a brighter future.

New York City is not is good condition, but it is in far better shape than our state. NYC has a budget deficit of just $2.4 billion and hope for the Wall Street recovery to shrink that deficit even further. We have been very critical of the Mayor's efforts to increase revenues for NYC through regressive taxes and his general incompetence in leading our city's economic and fiscal apparatus. But, the Mayor's incompetence and fiscal failures do not approach the level of dysfunction we see in Albany.

Albany Ruling NYC

For too many areas of NYC governance, Albany is in charge.

The NYPD residency requirements are set by Albany. The NYPD is overloaded with leadership and individual officers who mistreat NYC residents. One of the reasons for that unfortunate reality is the fact that NYPD officers are not required to be NYC residents themselves. Some NYPD officers have always hated NYC and its residents, and their attitude shows in their behavior. By making NYC residency a requirement of the NYPD, many of the problems caused by the NYPD would be reduced. Because NYC cannot set its own residency requirements, we must suffer the costly abuse and mismanagement so common within the NYPD.

Our city's rent control policies are burdened by Albany control as well. In 1971, Albany took away New York City's authority over its own rent control regime. Mayor Bloomberg has opposed returning control to New York City, even though he is our city's Mayor. New York City should manage its own affairs in housing rather than operating based on preferences from politicians who will never even visit our city. The Mayor could not be more wrong on this topic, and Albany could not be a worse place from which to make specific decisions about life in New York City.

The New York Times editorial last week asked for our city's pension regime to be controlled by NYC rather than by Albany. Pensions are a major reason for the expected fiscal challenges looming for our city, yet our city cannot drive the pension regime to match our city's resources. For now, Albany has been very generous with NYC pensions, but if Albany moves to gut the pensions of our city's workers, our city is powerless to protect itself. Mayor Bloomberg is correct to seek New York City control of its pensions, and we hope that he will be successful in that quest. If he succeeds in acquiring control, we hope that he will not use it to abuse working families the way he has abused our city with regressive taxes, race-based policing, and incompetent management.

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