Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio Buries His Anti-Poor Agenda in The NYC Budget.

NYC (as well as the rest of the United States) is being burned, mobs are creating anarchy, and the ruins are buried so that historical documents, monuments, ideas, and people are obliterated. The goal? To make sure that future generations of children of any color, race or creed will never know, hear, or read about our history of challenges in obtaining "Equality For All".

The Civil War will be in the history books, of course, but the Declaration of Independence will be changed so that the word "men" will be changed to "People", and excuses will be made for leaders such as Thomas Jefferson, who was a slave owner. Evidently, according to the Cancel Culture mob he wasn't a great guy after all.

I abhor the public shaming of people for little or no reason. If someone is spreading hate and defaming a person because of their speech, race, religion, or whatever, call them out on it, give details, and say why you think this person should apologize and stop what they are doing. Put your name on it. The internet is very powerful. The person who wants to stop someone's speech should say so, with their name and reasons. This is before the alleged "bad" person's house has been burned down, killed, his/her family destroyed, etc.

And NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is going along with this, or so he wants the cancel culture mob to believe. But de Blasio's budget shows another side.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio
I am no fan of Bill De Blasio, as seen by all who read this blog or any of my other blogs and websites. If you disagree, send in a comment and I will publish it, with your name. I do not publish any comments without a name attached unless asked to do so by the sender with reasons for concern. I never publish a person's name who asks that I not do so. Your opinion matters. But so does mine.

Below are posts with more of the hypocrisy of the Mayor who has now defunded the Fair Fares program to the tune of $65 million in favor of the predominantly white commuters who use the ferries to get to work.

 See some of Bill's other decisions:

Our politicians are slow learners: School approaches, and parents are left on their own

What do you think?

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Bill de Blasio just protected transit for NYC’s well-off — at the poor’s expense
, July 2, 2020 

A pair of small choices in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new budget tells a lot about his true priorities — or, at least, his refusal to let facts stand in his way.

The mayor managed to cut $65 million in funding for the Fair Fares program, which lets low-income New Yorkers get 50 percent discounts on MetroCards. That helped him protect his beloved East River ferry system — which serves mainly higher-income folks.
A survey of over 5,000 ferry riders, done last year by the city’s Economic Development Corp., found that they’re mostly white, wealthy and come from waterfront neighborhoods. Just 36 percent are people of color, while 65 percent make over $75,000 per year, the survey found. It showed that most use the service for leisure trips, not to commute.
Over the objections of city Comptroller Scott Stringer, de Blasio this year dumped $62 million on eight new ferry boats — that is, just about what he’s now cut from Fair Fares. In all, the waterborne white elephant gets $637 million in the new budget.
The mayor insists the ferry system is all about “equity” and “access” — but that’s entirely in his imagination, even more so than the rest of his “progressive” agenda.
See some of Bill's other decisions:

School Safety Officers Will Stay at the NYPD, Says Mayor Bill

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Staff Are Disgusted With His Mismanagement and Failures

Mayor Bill de Blasio at 195 Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn on Monday, May 25, 2020. 
(Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

The best thing Mayor Bill could do is resign, ride off into the sunset.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

De Blasio staffers pen letter slamming mayor’s handling of NYC protests and criminal justice failures
JUN 03, 2020  11:50 AM

About 200 current and former staffers of Mayor de Blasio are assembling an open letter that criticizes his handling of recent protests — the latest misstep, they say in a series of failures to reform policing of communities of color.

“A lot of us in this administration joined because the mayor was very vocal, in a sincere way, and focused on police accountability, on advocating [and] fighting specifically for black lives,” Christopher Collins-McNeil, who previously worked in the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, told the Daily News on Wednesday.

“He hasn’t. He’s failed at step after step, juncture after juncture since the beginning,” he added.

The letter, expected to be published Wednesday, calls out the mayor for failing to quickly fire Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who placed Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold in 2014; letting the NYPD’s budget balloon even as crime has dropped during his administration; refusing to end the use of solitary confinement in city jails; and a litany of other grievances.

The tipping point for the staffers came when the mayor strongly defended aggressive policing during protests sparked by the death of George Floyd over the weekend.

“We definitely don’t take pleasure in calling him out but we find that it’s necessary at this point,” said Essence Franklin, who left the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity in December and has been organizing the letter with Collins-McNeil.

“We hope that this will again get the mayor’s attention because we have a responsibility to hold city government accountable,” she added.

The letter includes a list of action items based on expert research, Collins-McNeil and Franklin said.

The points include slashing the NYPD budget, firing police officers who used excessive force and the creation of an independent commission to investigate the mayor and NYPD’s response to protests in May and June.

Signatories span offices within the administration, the letter organizers said.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Sarah McNally: NYC Needs Legislation That Will Encourage Landlords To Keep Their Storefront Tenants


Calla Kessler/The New York Times
A few years ago the empty storefronts on the upper east side of Manhattan became noticeably widespread. First avenue, Upper East Side? Looks like the depression, especially now.

COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem. What kind of city will we have when - or if - this pandemic ends? It's not going to be good, with small storefront owners pushed into bankruptcy by landlords whose incentive to keep tenants at high rents remains in force.

Somebody do something.

Betsy Combier,
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

What Could Kill My New York Bookstores?
It won’t be Amazon or the coronavirus. It will be artificially high rents.

By Sarah McNally, NY TIMES, May 29, 2020
Ms. McNally is the owner of McNally Jackson Books and Goods for the Study

Every weekday I drive to my four bookstores, pick up our customers’ orders, wedge them into the back of my car and take them to the Cooper Station post office. My route takes me to Williamsburg to Downtown Brooklyn to the South Street Seaport, and ends at my original store in NoLIta.

I sweep the deserted sidewalks — if you own a shop, you’re responsible for the sidewalk — and I wonder how many of the stores and restaurants around mine will be able to reopen and pay the debts they accrued during the lockdown.

So many closed long before the pandemic. I miss my old neighbors in NoLIta, the restaurants and their chefs, the bodega that magically had everything I needed, like Mary Poppins’s carpetbag, the Buddhist monk from the Tibetan store who gave me cardamom for tea, the bar where I had the most beautiful date of my life.

How many more distinctive stores and restaurants can our city lose before we find that we are no longer New York, but a dead-faced simulacrum?

Years before Covid, many city blocks had been reduced to a few overlit national chains — Dunkin’ Donuts, Metro by T-Mobile, Subway, Starbucks — and a whole lot of dark, depressing vacancies. Almost every business owner I spoke to or read about seemed to give the same reason: soaring rents. In some neighborhoods, even as vacancies are increasing, rent keeps rising.

When you think about it, this violates everything we think we know about free markets. From 2007 to 2017, vacant retail space roughly doubled, according to a report by the New York City Comptroller’s Office. Logic would dictate that rents would drop — if no one wants your space, wouldn’t you lower the rent? But in fact, in Manhattan, retail rents rose by 22 percent in that period, according to the report.

In 2018, even the national chains began closing more spaces than they opened. Rents have come down somewhat in a few heavy shopping arteries, but on the streets where I was looking to open stores, rents didn’t seem to budge. In 2019, rent for my NoLIta store jumped from $360,000 a year to $650,000.

You might think that small businesses in New York are simply natural victims of a Darwinian system that favors chains and e-commerce. Amazon makes a good villain. Every time I see a postal worker pushing a dolly full of boxes, I search for a single non-Amazon package — just one to break the feeling that I’m trapped in an Amazon-branded virtual reality. I am usually disappointed.

But this hardly explains our rising rents. If New Yorkers insist on shopping online, then there should be less demand for New York retail space, and it should become less valuable, not more. It is natural for landlords to want to charge as much as they can, but in a rational world, with citywide vacancy rates estimated at about 6 percent to 20 percent, you’d think landlords would prefer some rent to no rent. But when landlords have sufficient income from residential rent, they can afford to leave stores vacant.

Every part of New York has different issues with real estate, but in the neighborhoods I know, landlords are holding out for higher rents, or they feel they can’t lower our rents because of the terms of their mortgages. That makes us victims of the financial industry, not of the free market.

A lender provides a commercial mortgage based on a building’s appraised value, which is based on its rent roll. If landlords lower rent, their buildings become less valuable. Moreover, if a landlord owns many buildings in the same area, and she lowers the rent on even just a store or two, her entire portfolio loses value in the eyes of the bank, because future appraisals will assume a lower market rental rate. That’s why an empty store that theoretically commands a high rent can be a safer option for a landlord than a reliable tenant paying a reasonable rent.

We don’t know what the vacancy rate will be when the shutdown is finally over, but without a plan to help us, it will almost certainly be catastrophic. In France, the government offered to suspend rent for small businesses closed during the lockdown, so that when the country reopened, stores and restaurants could, too.

In New York, by contrast, the meter is ticking every day. When the shutdown is over, small-business owners like me will be expected to pay our back rent, despite months of lost revenue. And our excessively high rents will remain in place even though fewer customers may be allowed in our shops, fewer diners in our restaurants, fewer clients in our salons.

This is a systemic problem, but there has been no systemic solution offered. At the start of the pandemic, state legislators proposed suspending commercial rents for small businesses that have suffered financial losses for 90 days, but the bill is languishing in committee. The City Council passed a law that will keep landlords from enforcing personal guarantees on leases if the tenant has defaulted on rent because of the pandemic. That means my landlord can’t seize my personal assets, like my car, if I were to default. The law is a lifesaver for people when their businesses sink, but it does nothing to keep us afloat.

The federal government has allocated money for small businesses, but we have to spend most of the money immediately on wages, or find a way to pay it back. That money is important for workers across the country. Unfortunately, it won’t help businesses in New York pay back all those months of rent that we will owe.

During the pandemic, as before, the killer of New York storefront business will be rent. Even now, facing a post-Covid twilight, too many landlords would rather have vacant stores than retain paying tenants by helping them through these months of closure. We need intervention to encourage landlords to keep their storefront tenants.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Mayor de Blasio Wants Trump Bailout After Using NYC Public Money Pots For His Own Purposes

Bill de Blasio
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
NYC Mayor de Blasio has angered New Yorkers with his spending on his wife and other people who do not contribute much to the City in return. We don't want to get into his choice for Department of Education Chancellor, Richard Carranza, but we have to.

Now our Mayor wants to borrow $7 billion from the Federal government.

Can someone stop this train?

‘Deception And Fraud’: HUD Official Accuses Mayor De Blasio And NYCHA Of Wasting Millions In Public Housing Funds

De Blasio Donor Says He Steered Thousands in Bribes to Mayor’s Campaigns

De Blasio and ‘co-mayor’ wife have wasted $1.8B of taxpayer money

Betsy Combier

With no word from Washington, de Blasio eyes drastic budget maneuver

New York City’s finances, a deep well that Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped to expand the municipal budget, are in crisis: The pending shortfall has surged $1.6 billion over the past month alone, prompting the mayor to seek a power so unusual, it was barred after the city’s 1970s fiscal crisis.

De Blasio’s declaration Wednesday that he wants the option to borrow his way out of the hole — barring a multi-billion dollar coronavirus relief package from the Trump administration — led to a clarion call from fiscal watchdogs for more austerity first.

Scott Stringer, the Democratic city comptroller running to succeed de Blasio, estimated that borrowing to cover $7 billion in expenses now would cost the city nearly $11 billion over the next two decades. He seconded the push for federal funding, but sounded the alarm over City Hall’s extraordinary request.

“While it's too soon to rule out any specific budget action, New Yorkers should know that under the mayor’s proposal our children could be paying over $500 million a year for the next 20 years,” Stringer said. “I urge extreme caution.”

Others were even more dire.

“The city has not come close to what it needs to do to control spending to get its fiscal house in order,” Andrew Rein, head of the Citizens Budget Commission, said in an interview. “Borrowing should be near or at the bottom of any list and we are not close to there yet.”

But other resolutions are anathema to de Blasio, who entered the 2013 mayor’s race with a call to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay for universal pre-kindergarten. (He won the policy, not the tax, after taking office.)

Instead, the mayor is hoping to get through this crisis without substantive budget cuts. He’s bristled at calls to reduce city services or delay raises workers are guaranteed through labor contracts. Layoffs and furloughs are a last resort, he’s said. He’s even skipped his routine demand that Albany raise taxes on top earners and high-end home sales — targets he has eyed virtually every year of his mayoralty.

City officials said he is concerned about the potential exodus of millionaires who keep the economic engines humming, and realizes some New Yorkers may not be able to afford current property tax bills, let alone higher ones.

In similarly dire financial straits de Blasio's predecessor, Mike Bloomberg, relied on politically unpopular tax increases: He raised property taxes 18 percent following the Sept. 11 terror attacks and pushed for a 7 percent increase after the financial collapse years later. He repeatedly cut social services and tried to close fire houses and elderly centers. He even wanted to get rid of the office of public advocate, which later served as a mayoral launching pad for de Blasio. And during his final term in office, Bloomberg balked at the demands of municipal unions, leaving the entire workforce without contracts.

De Blasio has an entirely different attitude toward governing. He fought Bloomberg’s cuts when he was in the City Council, barely slashed anything after taking over City Hall in 2014 and has in fact increased the budget some $20 billion during his six years in office.

So instead, he is pinning his hopes on Washington replenishing the city’s coffers while seeking borrowing authority from Albany — in each case leaving the city's fate in the hands of a political adversary. (Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw cold water on the idea Tuesday.)

“We are now $9 billion in the hole between the current fiscal year and the one that begins July 1,” de Blasio said Wednesday. “We project unfortunately beyond next fiscal year additional lost revenue that will hold us back further. There is literally no way that we can solve this problem without federal help or without having to make very, very painful choices that will affect the quality of life in this city.”

De Blasio projected a $7.4 billion revenue shortfall when he released his budget in April, largely due to a loss of personal income taxes as the job market faltered.

City officials attributed the additional $1.6 billion the mayor announced on Wednesday to the grim state New York finds itself in after two months under assault by Covid-19: Even lower sales and real estate taxes than budget officials initially forecast.

The city routinely takes on debt to pay for long-term construction and infrastructure projects, but it is not allowed to borrow for its annual operating budget — a prohibition dating back to the financial crisis of the 1970s. New York City had been borrowing money to stay afloat then borrowing more to pay off prior loans. In the spring of 1975 the banks cut off the city's cash supply.

“The city’s leading bankers who had been its principal lenders came to see the mayor and the governor and told them both that nobody would lend the city a nickel under any terms,” Eugene Keilin, who was general counsel for the budget office at the time, said in a recent panel discussion. “The amount of the borrowing had gotten so high, and the explanations for it so vague that the city was not trusted.”

The administration is still paying off some of those loans today.

Dean Fuleihan, first deputy mayor, acknowledged the rarity of de Blasio's latest request.

“You would only want to do this kind of borrowing in extraordinary times, and that’s exactly what this is,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

De Blasio, during his daily briefing, pointed out that Bloomberg was able to secure a similar ability from Albany after Sept. 11, and Cuomo has gone in the same direction to cope with the state’s finances amid the coronavirus crisis.

“It's not something we want to use or intend to use in the first instance, but it's something we need as a last resort if our federal government isn't there for us,” he said. “If we're going to maintain basic services here in this city, we need some capacity to borrow.”

Nearly 1 million city residents have already filed for unemployment, Broadway hasn’t put on a show in months and stores and restaurants across the five boroughs remain mostly shuttered.

And while officials in Washington, D.C. fight over an aid package for local governments, the de Blasio administration has about one month to devise a balanced spending plan for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

“Their basic strategy is to just borrow and beg their way to next January and hope for a new [federal] administration,” said Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the fiscally conservative Manhattan Institute. “But in the long-term, and with the change of the city’s economic well-being, that is not going to get you very far.”

Meanwhile, City Hall is set to pay $1.5 billion in retroactive raises to part of its workforce come October, Gelinas said. She has long criticized the mayor’s practice of allocating future funds for past work, something he did in settling the contracts Bloomberg had allowed to lapse.

Instead of asking for blanket revenue replacement from a divided federal government, Gelinas and the Citizens Budget Commission suggested that the city further cut its expenses.

But the mayor has never embraced budget cuts.

Year after year, he’s asked agencies to voluntarily come up with savings plans, arguing that forced reductions in their spending were a hallmark of the austere Bloomberg years he sought to reverse.

Only a small portion of de Blasio's recent $2.7 billion savings plan comes from recurring cuts. The largest programmatic loss, an annual summer jobs program for teens, will be back in next year’s budget provided the coronavirus is contained.

And while the city clocked a savings of $50 million on snow removal — since it barely snowed this winter — there is no guarantee that next year’s weather will be as mild.

Only once has the administration tasked its agencies with a mandatory belt-tightening exercise called a "program to eliminate the gap."

“It involves going through carefully and squeezing out the cellulite that builds up in every department,” Alair Townsend, the budget director for former mayor Ed Koch, said in an interview. “If you don’t force it out, it just grows and grows. The mayor never wanted a PEG program. He thought it sounded like cutting services, and cutting services was not progressive.”