February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
The more power Michael Bloomberg is given in this regard, and the more accolades he receives (undeservedly), the more rights he will (gladly) take from New Yorkers.
It’s a power thing.
He’s not even aware he’s doing it. He really thinks he knows what’s best. That’s why he disdains being questioned by the press (those he deems in a lower station than he).
We need more editorials and people speaking out on this, and all the current issues – blizzard tragedies and mismanagement, City Time, the city’s failing and over-tested educational system, continual looking out for corporations and developers as we watch basic NYC services cut.
Even if you don’t smoke and don’t condone smoking, this latest undertaking by Mayor Mike with the help of the NY City Council goes too far.
NY Times : “A Smoking Ban Goes Too Far:”
New York Times Editorial
Too Much of a Good Thing
Published: February 4, 2011
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his campaign against cigarette smoking eight years ago, most New Yorkers breathed a sigh of relief. The great indoors — bars, restaurants, hotels, office buildings — all are now smoke-free by law, making New York City a healthier place. And, for those already addicted or tempted, the city offered kits to help people stop smoking and gruesome television ads to try to keep them from starting.
That antismoking campaign has been a great public service, but now the mayor and City Council have overreached. The council voted — 36 to 12 — to ban smoking outdoors in city parks, beaches and even plazas, including in Times Square.
No smoking at the crossroads of the world? The vortex of tourism that brings smokers and nonsmokers in great numbers? The site of the world’s most famous New Year’s Eve party, where who knows what goes on? All of this takes the mayor’s nannying too far, even for those of us who want to avoid the hazards of secondhand smoke.
Already smokers are forced to huddle outside, these days perched on the city’s gray, leftover snowdrifts. Starting in early summer, after the mayor signs the bill into law, they will not be able to stray onto the 14 miles of city beaches or into the city’s 1,700 parks, not even Central Park or windswept Battery Park. Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do — take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?
Some City Council members wanted to find a less-drastic solution — like having the ban but establishing smoking areas on the beach or patches of the park. It’s not great, but it’s better than an all-out ban. Also, the city would have to provide a lot more receptacles for cigarette butts and enforce antilittering laws in those areas.
Meanwhile, there is talk that the mayor and the City Council want even more, like banning smoking near doors of office buildings and apartments. They need to take a deep breath and remember that we tried prohibition 90 years ago. They called it a noble experiment. It turned into a civic disaster.
January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Hard to keep up right now with all the great pieces that are showing off the totality of Mayor Bloomberg and his tenure in NYC, the anger people feel towards him. Has it all been piling up, like snow and trash in our city, or was it there all along?
New York Times‘ live blogging of his State of the City address yesterday (January 19th). The comments are particularly illuminating. See here.
December 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Sheepshead Bites blog updates on the difference in snow removal in their nabe vs. Mayor Bloomberg’s above. Post from yesterday, Tuesday, December 28th, two days after the storm:
When I ran a quote earlier today of Bloomberg saying, “The world has not come to an end. The city is going fine” – well, I was beside myself. I stewed for a bit, and began to wonder if I was being overly harsh on the city. It was, afterall, an enormous amount of snow dumped on us in a short amount of time.
But screw that.
The final straw was when BrooklynQ sent me the photo of the street Mayor Bloomberg lives on, perfectly plowed, almost as if it never snowed at all. On the right is my block, unplowed, and with every car under several feet of snow.
I’ve walked up and down my street several times today, and heard neighbors saying the same things: “Where’s the city? Where’s the Department of Sanitation? Where’s Mayor Bloomberg?”
It must be pretty easy to urge patience when you’re well taken care of. It must be pretty easy when every agency caters to your needs, paid for by our greenbacks. It must be pretty easy to shrug off our complaints, as if our contribution – in both taxes and the workforce – amount to nothing.
As of now we have no roads, no buses, no trains.
New York Times:
As of this minute, 1,100 comments on the Has Your Street Been Plowed? blog entry about the difference between the Mayor’s Block and Butler Street in Brooklyn — one plowed, one steeped in snow.
… back to Mr. Bloomberg … whose offhand comments reveal more than he might imagine of his worldview. (He once described the city as a “luxury product,” not necessarily affordable to all, and, after a sweaty summer blackout left tens of thousands sweltering, suggested that New Yorkers owed a debt of thanks to Consolidated Edison.) So on Monday, after the Blizzard of ’10, with his vast metropolis at a near standstill, our mayor affected insouciance.
“The world has not come to an end,” he said. “The city is going fine. Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. I think the message is that the city goes on.”
A-ha. As long as the tourists are happy.
Well, this certainly took the attention off City Time.
Photo of Mayor’s Block: Corey Kilgannon, New York Times
December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Despite a City Council hearing in late 2009, Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News keeping a consistent spotlight on its overblown budget, and Controller John Liu asking the Mayor to suspend payments until an audit was completed, it is only now with a federal investigation that Mayor Bloomberg is taking CityTimes’ mismanagement somewhat seriously. Only because he has no choice. The media is, at last, focusing some long delayed scrutiny on the Mayor, and, somewhat reservedly, his city management skills.
Today’s New York Times reports that, as far as back as 2003 – before the project ballooned to $722 million in costs and was defrauded $80 million by consultants – the overseer of the CityTime project, Richard Valcich, warned of over-billing and questionable activities by the project’s designer, Virginia-based company, SAIC. CityTime is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors.
From the Times’ article:
In a scathing letter made available on Monday through a state Freedom of Information Law request, the city official in charge of overseeing the project, known as CityTime, accused the company that designed CityTime, SAIC, of repeatedly delaying the project in order to get paid more, failing to hew to basic industry standards and rewriting contracts on its own. The official even predicted, sarcastically, that SAIC would try, in a year’s time, to charge the city “8,000 hours” for shoddy work.
The letter, dated Feb. 19, 2003, offers a devastating critique of the company, and raises questions about the city monitors of the project — the mayor’s and comptroller’s offices. And the consultants hired to ensure quality control, it appears, were doing very little of it.
CityTime says they addressed the concerns in the 2003 letter; Richard Valcich has since retired and was not available for comment to the Times.
Joel Bondy was the person who replaced Richard Valcich in 2004 at the Office of Payroll Administration.
Juan Gonzalez reports on the Valcich letter in today’s New York Daily News:
SAIC’s “commitment to quality is almost non-existent and is reflected from the top down,” Valcich wrote. He added the city had spent “approximately $35 million on CityTime and does not have a tangible system to show for it.”
A more damning assessment is hard to imagine – but in all the City Council oversight hearings about CityTime the past few years, no one at OPA or City Hall ever mentioned the Valcich letter.
Only when City Controller John Liu took office this year and immediately began an audit on CityTime, did these problems come to light.
Valcich had complained about $35 million in 2003. The price tag under Bondy zoomed past $700 million.
A big part of the cost, The News reported in March, was the 230 SAIC consultants being paid an average of $400,000 annually as consultants on CityTime.
And that’s on top of more than a dozen Spherion consultants who were raking in similar amounts.
Spherion consultant Mark Mazer, for example, who federal prosecutors charged last week as the mastermind of an $80 million CityTime fraud, was paid $449,000 in consulting fees by the city in 2009.
So when Bloomberg says that CityTime was just something that fell through the cracks, someone should tell him to read the Valcich letter.
See Juan Gonzalez Daily News’ Cover Story on CityTime March 26, 2010, ‘Consultants’ getting $722M from city for doomed CityTime computer project
December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
As a new blog, there’s some things to catch up on and CityTime has gotten some (much deserved) cutting press – at last, New York City’s illustrious mayor is receiving some in-depth scrutiny.
From the New York Post! 12/15/10:
Mayor Bloomberg’s CityTime Scandal –
Editorial: It’s Mike’s Mess
Prosecutors have charged four consultants with ripping off $80 million from a program to develop an electronic-timesheet system for municipal employees.
Yet still on the loose is the guy responsible for a possible loss on the project of nearly 10 times that sum.
This would be Mayor Mike.
After all, work on CityTime — an automated time-tracking system for city employees, started just before Mike took office — was supposed to cost $63 million. Its current price tag?
A staggering $722 million.
And the project still isn’t done.
Where’s Michael Bloomberg been?
…He recently said, with characteristic, um, modesty, that he should be in the running for best New York City mayor ever.
But just as Ed Koch had to live for years with the Parking Violations Bureau scandal of the late ’80s, Bloomberg is going to be wearing this albatross for a very long time indeed.
You might recall in 2009 that the New York Post endorsed Mayor Mike’s doing away with voted-in term limits based on the rationale, “This is not the time for untested leadership in City Hall.”
For starters, Mike needs to quit his oh-so-cute flirtation with presidential politics and resign himself to the reality of being mayor.
After all, didn’t he twist the city’s term-limits law into a pretzel to glom a third term?
… Critics are blasting him for negligence: “The cost . . . is way beyond $80 million,” City Councilwoman Letitia James said. “We can save all of the proposed layoffs” of city workers for that money.
New York Daily News: Mike’s Doozy (Saturday, December 18, 2010) :
“One person got suspicious – and it wasn’t the mayor or controller. Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez began highlighting the scope of the boondoggle as well as taking note of what seemed enormous consulting fees. Bloomberg was, ahem, not pleased.”
BB ed.: Perhaps if the media who follow the Mayor as journalists would recognize he’s fallible and may not be what he seems (to them), stop believing every press release sent their way, thereby giving detailed examination and review to “Mayor Mike” and the way he is running this city, they’d soon realize what New Yorkers are already aware of – that Michael Bloomberg is far from being “best mayor ever.” Bloomberg only is allowed to put forth that notion because the media has been so compliant – up until now – allowing him to believe his own press; press which has been highly manipulated by City Hall’s PR department.
Huffington Post: Henry Stern, CityTime, Major Crime
December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
There’s a great piece by Mike Lupica in today’s NY Daily News, “Mayor Bloomberg, intoxicated by power, rides coattails of NYC’s iconic greatness.”
Why do the sports writers cover politics so well?
From the article:
Michael Bloomberg said this week that he doesn’t want to be President of the United States, really he doesn’t, he just wants to be remembered because of the job he has, third-term imperial mayor of New York.
“I want to go out being, having a reputation as a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever,” Bloomberg said one week ago on “Meet the Press.”
So Bloomberg, like his predecessor Rudolph Giuliani, becomes another mayor who seems almost intoxicated by the power that comes with the office and the title. Only it is never the mayor who is great, always the city.
Bloomberg thinking this way, thinking out loud this way on national television, is just another example of the jockey confusing himself with the horse, as if Ron Turcotte had confused himself once with Secretariat.
It is never just the city of money, where the mayor who wants to be remembered as the greatest of them all talks about $80 million disappearing from a mosh pit known as the CityTime project this way: “Big projects have big things that slip through the cracks.”
You can take the Daily News Poll here: Greatest mayor ever?
(Right now, votes marking “Absolutely not! He’s not even close.” are at 68%.)
December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
New York Times Letter to the Editor
Raising Public Recreation Fees in New York
Published: December 19, 2010
“To Trim Deficit, Mayor Seeks Increased Fees for Recreation” highlights the contradiction in doubling the price for public exercise facilities in the midst of a campaign to prevent obesity.
New York City is the home of some of our nation’s first and most exemplary public spaces, including pools, sports fields and recreation centers that were free until 2002. As a doctoral student, I trace the rise of New York’s public spaces in creating the vibrant civic life of which we are so proud.
Frederick Law Olmsted had more than Central Park in mind when he wrote, in 1870, that “this problem of public recreation grounds … should at once be made a subject … of a very generous character.” At a moment in which tough budgetary choices need to be made, the health of New York’s citizens should be held up as a priority far into the future.
Naomi Adiv, Brooklyn, Dec. 13, 2010
The writer is a member of the CUNY Public Space Research Group.
From the article:
The Bloomberg administration has proposed doubling the admission fee (BB ed note: e.g., fee would rise from $75 a year to $150 a year at centers with pools) at the city’s 32 recreation centers and increasing the fee to play on tennis courts and ball fields.
The proposed increases are a tiny part of Mr. Bloomberg’s strategy to find new revenue as the city prepares for drastic, across-the-board cuts, including major decreases in the teaching force and cutbacks in services for vulnerable children.
Yevgeniya Bukshpun, a policy analyst at the city’s Independent Budget Office, told the Times: “The fee increase may seriously undercut access in low-income communities that are likely to be especially sensitive to price increases.”
Billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg rarely considers those who do not inhabit his social stratosphere and who are less financially stable than he – his budget cuts only affect those New Yorkers with whom he has little to no contact. Corporations, developers and fellow billionaires? They are left unaffected and untouched.
BB ED. Note: A public hearing must be held before these increased fees can be implemented.
Original article: To Trim Deficit, Mayor Seeks Increased Fees for Recreation, New York Times, December 8th, 2010
December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News: CityTime project scandal finally begins to unravel (12/16):
Federal prosecutors have finally begun to unravel one of the biggest scandals of the Bloomberg era.
But one major question remains: Where were city officials all those years that computer consultant Mark Mazer and his cronies allegedly stole more than $80 million in taxpayer money from the CityTime project?
How did a cutting-edge payroll system meant to eliminate fraud and waste by public employees become what prosecutors say is a nest of even bigger fraud, waste and money laundering by private contractors?
The first person who should answer that is Joel Bondy.
As executive director of the Office of Payroll Administration for the past six years, Bondy was the man in charge of CityTime.
He was the guy who kept defending the project at City Council hearings even as it fell years behind schedule and its cost spiraled from $63 million to more than $700 million.
Why has Bondy not been fired?
60 comments thus far at the article.
Bayside Patch reveals:
If you’ve been reading the Daily News‘s Juan Gonzalez, the arrest this morning of a quartet of computer scamsters accused of ripping off a city payroll and time-keeping system for $80 million shouldn’t be a big shock.Gonzalez has been banging away at the city’s hugely inflated “CityTime” project for months, naming names and citing cost overruns. The idea behind this project was to make paying workers and keeping track of their hours easier.
BB ed. NOTE: if you know nothing else – know this:
It was originally supposed to cost $63 million; the clock now stands at $628 million…
The Mayor’s endless budget cuts are significantly impacting quality of life for New Yorkers, limiting access to libraries, senior centers, firehouses, proper education, police department, animal shelters, animal protection, upkeep of parks, and so much more. As additional details continue to be revealed, this scandal and the lack of oversight for YEARS by Mayor Bloomberg and his Administration becomes more exceedingly outrageous.
So, Juan Gonzalez asks a spot on question — Why hasn’t Joel Bondy been fired?
Is it because self-proclaimed uber-manager extraordinaire (is that redundant?) NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg can’t fire anyone for fear it will draw attention to the fact that perhaps he isn’t such a good manager of people – and of our city?
Photo: Ward for Daily News