Monthly Archives: February 2010

Building NYC’s Tech Industry

A week ago we asked our readers to comment about why NYC’s middle class has vanished 44% faster than in the rest of the United States since 1970. We cited reasons suggested by a NYC think tank, the Center for an Urban Future. One of them: a NYC job mix that had “shifted away from positions that provide middle-income wages and benefits.”

In a companion 2009 report, “Building New York City’s Innovation Economy,” CUF suggested specific ways for NYC to encourage job growth in the tech sector, including linkages between research universities and tech entrepreneurs. Continue reading

Hail to the Chief!

Our good friend, Patricia Dolan, has assumed the presidency of the Queens Civic Congress. It’s about time!

Pat has been the (usually) low-keyed behind-the-scenes driver for the Queens community’s voice in politics and government for as long as we’ve known her. She’s the right woman for the job. Continue reading

NY Post: Keep the Council Kosher!

We try not to miss  Queens Crap, which continues to be entertaining, timely, and informative, even though it lacks some of the anti-Bloomberg focus it had before its favored candidate for mayor, Tony Avella, lost his bid last fall.

But even this popular and populist website, which describes itself as “focused on the overdevelopment and ‘tweeding’ of the borough of Queens in the City of New York,” occasionally fails to read between the lines.  We were surprised when those lines had appeared in the pro-Bloomberg NY Post.

When a Post editorial tried to link instances of corruption by individual legislators with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s use of “pork” to keep members in line, Queens Crap asked about Quinn, “Will she really reform the council?” The Crapper seemed to forget who would benefit most if the Post got its wish and the Council suddenly went Kosher.

Eliminate “pork” and “lulus,” the extra compensation that the Speaker hands out to loyal Council members for chairing committees, and you’ll end up with a Speaker who is less able to unite her members when it comes time for the Council to say “no” to something the mayor wants to do. What would happen to overdevelopment and “tweeding” then?

Term Limits: The Rub with re-Democratizing NYC

NY City Hall

One of the perquisites of being Mayor of NYC is that you get to decide who in the city can make millions of dollars. Officially, the path to city deals—for concessions, leases and major development projects—goes through any one of a number of committees, boards and commissions that dole out the city’s money, seemingly (partially) independent of the mayor. Yet, unofficially, or at least a level or two below the surface of public perception, the mayor’s fingerprints are all over the process. For all of these decision-making groups have two things in common: They were established through the 1989 charter revision, and the mayor appoints a majority of their members. Changing this with a new charter revision will be no simple task. Continue reading

Mom and Pop

Photo: Todd Selby for NY Magazine

While we realize that no good screed goes unpunished, we want to note one of New York City’s most readable — and trenchant — commentaries on current politics, big business, developers, and their incestuous relationship: http://momandpopnyc.blogspot.com, the blog of lobbyist Richard Lipsky, voice of the Neighborhood Retail Alliance.

The Village Voice has called Lipsky New York’s best small-business lobbyist. The Times has commented: “In Mr. Lipsky, Howard J. Rubenstein, the public relations executive, meets the late Saul Alinsky, the radical community organizer.”

With credentials like these, Mr. Lipsky doesn’t need us. But we’ll continue to read his blog, because it always goes for the gut. We just hope it never goes for ours.

Staten Island Advance Calls for Independent Charter Commission

In a February 13 editorial, the Staten Island Advance gloomily speculated about the prospect of Mayor Bloomberg’s friend, Billionaire Ronald Lauder, serving as chair of Bloomberg’s anticipated 2010 charter revision commission, and said “The chairman, we believe, should be someone who is totally independent of the mayor as well as other city officials — someone who has no dog in the charter revision fight. It’s the mayor’s commission, but its work will outlast this particular mayor.”

Our comment: “The Advance is right on the mark in criticizing NYC’s one-size-fits-all approach to government, and in calling for an independent charter revision commission. The key, however, will not be the identity of the commission’s chair, but the identity of its executive director. This is who heads up the staff, sets the agenda for the commissioners, and shapes the information that gets out to the press and the public.”

Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize

Several days ago, CityPragmatist observed that former Bloomberg charter revision commission chair Ester Fuchs seemed ideally positioned to play a role at this year’s charter revision commission. A day later, the Daily News floated the name of CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein as Bloomberg’s pick for 2010 chair. The next day, silive.com, the news blog of the Staten Island Advance, floated the name of Billionaire Ron Lauder as Bloomberg’s pick. Then, someone called to our attention yet another chair designation: Anthony Crowell, a Bloomberg senior counselor, reported by Edward-Isaac Dovere of City Hall News. What’s going on here? Continue reading