Saturday, October 9, 2010

New York State of Mind

I know, I know, you have all been frantic with worry about what is happening in New York these days. Well, we just had our state primary on September 14 and, now that the dust has finally settled, the political landscape is becoming clearer. Over the next few weeks I will try my best to keep you up-to-date on the very contentious races in the Northeast, the tax-payer money being wasted, the growing list of politicians under indictment, and the ongoing trials and tribulations of living on Planet Big Apple...

Sports: No update is complete without the mention of the New York Yankees. The Yankees are so close to winning the World Series that Mayor Bloomberg is talking tickertape parade! I mean, they have only 194,000 games left in the season, right? Not to rain on his parade (no pun intended), but the Yankees may have to beat the Texas Rangers first! Can you believe that? Let me repeat that - the Texas Rangers! The Mayans may have been right - the Universe is turning upside down!

Local News: Finally! Another problem that has been haunting this city for generations has finally been resolved. What problem could it could be, you ask? Could it be we have finally won the War on Poverty or sheltered all the homeless? No, it was something much more insidious – those killing machines known as “street signs”. Thanks to the Federal Highway Administration and their fabulous work updating the Uniform Traffic Control Devices manual, the Federal copy editors are demanding all of our 250,900 street signs from the Bronx to the Battery be upgraded from the barely legible ALL CAPS signs to the much more readable and safer Only the First Letter Capitalized models [see above photo]. Oh, did I mention that it is costing $24 million? At least, we know that the street sign makers and installers will have a happy Christmas this year!

More local news: It is hard to tell which side of the fence Mayor Michael Bloomberg is going to land on any specific issue, but we can all rest our heads easy at night knowing that Mayor Mike is looking out for our health. He is so concerned with our health that New York City should be renamed 'Bloomberg-ban-istan'! In the last few months, he has called for a ban on smoking in all parks, beaches, and open spaces and has already banned drinking beer and hard liquor (but oddly not wine) at concerts at public parks, banned driving in certain areas like Time Square, banned transfats from our restaurants, and banned fund-raising bake sales from our schools. And just this week, he petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to get permission to ban recipients of food stamps from using their money to buy soda and other sugary soft drinks. Well, maybe that last one isn’t so bad, but we all wish that he would concentrate on more pressing matters like well, say the rising crime rate, the tanking local economy, unemployment or…the MTA fare hikes!

Did someone say MTA fare hike? Oh, yeah, me. The MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) just voted to increase the bus and subway fares for the fourth time in five years. It seems every time they say that this will be the last fare hike for awhile, we find out that “awhile” only means 8-10 months. Of course this last hike comes after drastic cuts in service of underused routes that took effect this summer including the cut to my beloved X90 bus (for which now I must travel by sardine can…I mean, subway to work every morning, but I’m not bitter…). Of course many of those underused routes are because of the widespread unemployment in the Wall Street/Financial sector, but why dwell on that…

Which brings us downtown for an update on the NY Ground Zero Mosque/ Park51/Cordoba House/whatever-they-are-calling it this week: Elie Weisel, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, put forth a possible solution to an otherwise very contentious issue. He went public with a proposal that, as a show of good faith, the mosque project should opened up to include all religions and should be expanded into an interfaith center to bring Jews, Christians, and Muslims together. And in that spirits, he said "Let's do it together. Let's finance it together. Let's do programs together. Let's promote religious understanding together." So far there has been no response from Imam Rauf or any other Cordoba House et al officials to Mr. Weisel’s proposal. And just in case you were wondering, the present location of the project is about 200 steps from Ground Zero. Really, I walked it…

On to the political news – Okay, so as I stated above, we had our Primary on September 14th. And in race for Governor, we have Andrew Cuomo, current Attorney General and son of the former three-term Governor Mario Cuomo, running against Buffalo multi-millionaire businessman and political outsider Carl Paladino. Before the primary, I was certain that Cuomo would win with no problem and the Republican challenger would just be there as window dressing. Well, as it turns out, Cuomo is having a tougher time than I thought possible. There are so many issues at play in this election year, that it is not so preposterous to think that Paladino could defeat Cuomo.

First of all, Cuomo is considered the political insider and a NYC dweller. So it's now shaking out as the NYC dwelling, arugula-eating, Obama supporting Albany insider versus the business-savvy Upstate, self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate, outsider. It’s making for great drama and Paladino is playing up these difference for all it is worth. Trust me, he is not running a very pretty campaign. It's turning out to be more of a one-sided, bareknuckle brawl. Just this week (and to everyone's horror), Paladino called the longtime leader of the State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, a “criminal”. Paladino called him a "criminal" because of Sheldon's refusal to put forth any ethics or tort reform legislation while at the same time being on the payroll of the largest plaintiffs’ firm in the state and refusing to divulge what exactly he does for them and how much he is being paid. Not very PC of Carl, but as NY Post reader Charles Compton of the Bronx put it in his letter to the editor today, “Silver might not technically be a criminal, but that’s probably because he writes the laws”. And the fallout is in the direction of Cuomo. Cuomo has up until now refused to challenge anyone about anything, and is looking weaker and more “insider-y” with each passing accusation. So who knows what will happen on Nov 2. At this point Cuomo leads Paladino 55% to 36% in a Sienna Poll. In May it was 64% to 23%.

Next week, House and Senate races - Rangel, Gillibrand and Schumer with a little O'Donnell and McMahon thrown in for good measure...

Okay, I can't leave without saying something about New Jersey. I mean, New Jersey is so close it could almost be New York if it really wanted to…

Very Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not kidding about cutting the state budget and getting New Jersey back on more solid financial footing. This week, he put the brakes on a proposed new commuter train tunnel under the Hudson, by stating that…get this…the State of New Jersey doesn't have the money! He withdrew his support for the project after learning that it would cost at least $2.5 billion more than the original price tag of $8.7 billion and New Jersey would be responsible for the cost overrun. They just could not afford it. Have you ever heard such ridiculous excuse? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was not pleased and came to Trenton to talk some sense into Christie. According to LaHood’s people, the project is back on the table, but Christie said otherwise. More on Christie next time too…

11 comments:

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I hope this is only an ugly rumor. But I just heard that the voracious jurisdictional battling unions managed to kill the Tavern on the Green. It was one of my pleasantest memories from my sojourn in New York City, and I had planned to visit it again, possibly this coming summer. Say it ain't so, Bev.

And is it going to be the Yankees versus the Giants in this year's World Series? After their loss to the Braves in the second playoff game, I'm not holding my breath for SF. But I can dream, can't I?

AndrewPrice said...

Sounds like you need a Bloomberg-ban. This is the problem with liberals, they want to control everyone else's lives. Maybe he should just cut to the chase and dictate how everyone spends their time. He can draw up approved schedules for every day!

Change the signs is a great example of just how stupid our government can be. Why throw out perfectly good signs to replace them with other signs of equal or lesser value. . . and whack the taxpayer in the process? Only a bureaucratic mind could come up with that one.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry to tell you the sad news, but Tavern On The Green closed on New Years Eve and the beautiful Chrystal Room is just a memory thanks in large part to Mayor Bloomberg. The Leroys who operated the Tavern for decades (and also the Russian Tearoom) decided to close it down. And after a lengthy court battle, it was decided that the city owned the name "Tavern On The Green" As a matter of fact a follow up report was just in the Post today.

The guy that owns and operates the BoatHouse, another Central Park restaurant, bid to take over the TOTG and the Unions were demanding that he honor their old contract. In the middle of the negotiations, Bloomberg decided to backed the unions thereby killing the negotiations, the bid and shuttering the Tavern On The Green forever. THe outside garden is turning into a food court and the building will be turned into a tourist center or something. The article today said that the entire place has been stripped, so to open another restaurant would cost millions. And to top it off, the Boathouse employees are being pressured to unionize which will probably end up closing down the Boathouse too. Another great job by Bloomie!

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew: And the signs aren't any bigger or better or more visible. They are just in lower case. It's insanity. And what do we need new signs for anyway? No one graduating from the NY school system can read anyway.

AndrewPrice said...

Good point Bev. At least they didn't insist that they replace them with some sort of picture language.

Tam said...

I read about the signs, maybe on Big Government. These people spend money just for the sake of spending money. Unbelievable. It is so refreshing to hear Christie say "Sorry, can't afford it." There is a rumor of ANOTHER state sales tax increase in AZ for the police this time. Of course, the standard threat of losing officers and essential services is at the tip of the tax pushers' tongues, even though we all know that when times are tough, you cut essentials LAST, and you don't spend money on STUPID THINGS!!! Grrr.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, They're doing the same thing here. They whine that they need to raise taxes and threaten to cut fire and police if we don't agree.... and they never mention cutting park services, firing clerical staff, cutting salaries.

They have even taken to turning off every third street light and they are no longer cutting the weeds in the medians on main streets -- though they continue to repair roads that don't need it, they continue to spend money on beautification project, and they keep talking about building new events centers and garbage like that.

They're also spending a fortune redoing all of the sidewalks to put ramps for wheelchairs.

It's obscene.

ScottDS said...

I'm sure I'll become cynical and jaded one day but I'm still having fun and, truthfully, I never want to lose what I call my "tourist mode." I'm sure the natives avoid it like the plague but I still like walking around Times Square, seeing all the tourists react in wonder, just like I did when I first visited NYC about ten years ago.

(By the way, the new Pop-Tarts shop is worth visiting at least once. Interesting deserts they have though it's really all about the presentation and merchandise.)

Let's see... in Northern NJ, they cut Light Rail service on the weekends from Tonnelle Ave. to Hoboken Terminal, so I have to take it to Newport, then hitch a ride on the Light Rail going the other way back to Hoboken. Not the worst thing ever but I'll be happier when I don't have to use it! :-)

And I'm embarking on a career in voice-over. I just recorded my demo last week at Engine Room Audio (42 Broadway) and it turned out pretty good! It's all in the early stages though a friend of mine bought me a nice mic so I can audition from home.

And today I went to the NY Comic-Con. One word: CROWDED!! I've been to the San Diego Comic-Con and, dare I say it, this was just as big. I resisted the urge to buy anything but I did get a nice peak at some upcoming Star Wars books and the Alien Blu-Ray set (in alien egg packaging). I also took in a couple of panels - cool stuff.

StanH said...

What was the quote by Wesley Snipes in “Demolition Man” to paraphrase, …we’ve become a wussified version of ourselves.” Sadly NYC under Bloomberg is proof that Wesley is a prophet.

Bev, Lawhawk, the Braves might have something to say about it, I know! …I’m dreaming. The juggernaut this year, sadly, is the Phillies.

The changing of the “street signs,” is a sign of the stupidity of government, fire’em all!

Individualist said...

Bev

I actually think I understand Bloomberg's concerns regarding the street signs. I am not sure that the $25 million is worth it but consider this.

TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS LIKE YELLING IN PRINT.

I am sure that Bloomberg has recently spent some time blogging after his 10 year neice showed him how to turn the computer on and this revelation shocked him. Therefore New Yorkers must trade out these signs otherwise they will just accentuate the stereotype of the brash and loud New Yorker.

See when you look at is that way, well it is as completely undertandable as Hillary Clintons foreign policy moves over that last two years or even Tim Geitner;s tax advice.

BevfromNYC said...

OMG, Individualist! I never thought of that. You are probably absolutely totally right! It WILL make for a softer, gentler NYC if they are all in standard Title case. I'm feeling the "brash and loud" just melting away with each passing street corner...

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