Nov
06

A transit ‘to do’ list for an incoming mayor

By

It’s going to take some time to get used to the idea of Mayor Bill de Blasio. It’s the first time New York City has had a new chief executive since 2001, and times, for better or worse, sure have changed. In a sense, with Michael Bloomberg on the way out, de Blasio will have a clean slate, but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn from and adopt the good ideas of his predecessor. Particularly in the transit and transportation realms, de Blasio would be wise to take a page from the Bloomberg playbook.

As de Blasio and his family celebrate the night away a few blocks away from my apartment, I’d like to offer up a list of suggestions for New York City’s 109th mayor. These aren’t exhaustive or exclusive ideas, but they are paths de Blasio should take if he wants to improve access for everyone in New York City — a key part of the campaign rhetoric that landed him in Gracie Mansion.

1. Invest in transit; pay attention to the MTA

Over the final years of his reign, Mayor Bloomberg seemed content to punt on the MTA. He got into a name-calling fight with then-MTA Chair Joe Lhota in the aftermath of Sandy and seemed out of the loop when it came to the MTA’s recovery efforts. But he wasn’t a disinterested bystander during the majority of his tenure. He ushered in the 7 line extension, fought hard for congestion pricing and has led, via his DOT appointees, an effort, albeit a slow one, to bring Select Bus Service to the city.

De Blasio should pick up the mayor’s zeal for transit and push forward on it. He shouldn’t necessarily fight for city control of the MTA, but he shouldn’t ignore transit. His board appointees can be strong advocates for the city, and de Blasio himself can fight for transit investments and expansion projects by putting the city’s money on the line. The subway is New York City’s, and its mayor can lead the charge to make sure the subways are better tomorrow than they are today.

2. Keep SBS but bring on real Bus Rapid Transit

New York’s approach to bus rapid transit is this half-hearted thing called Select Bus Service which is a bunch of basic operational upgrades disguised as something better. While other U.S. cities implement dedicated lanes, signal prioritization and various other hallmarks of bus rapid transit, we get pre-boarding fare payments, painted lanes with lax enforcement and no flashing lights because some Staten Islanders threw a fit. De Blasio has the opportunity to reshape the streets, and his Department of Transportation should take a good long look at a real BRT network instead of today’s Select Bus Service.

3. Keep — and expand — the borough taxi program

A few days ago, Dana Rubinstein wrote a comprehensive piece on de Blasio’s close ties to the taxi industry, and it’s one that should raise some eyebrows. In it, our future mayor expresses skepticism over the green borough taxi program, and Rubinstein draws connections to his close association with the upper echelons of the cab industry. In a Jill Colvin piece, de Blasio said, “If we’re going to make any changes to it, we better damn well make sure we don’t disrupt that which works now.”

We could debate for hours whether or not the current taxi system “works,” but the borough cabs should remain and expand. They’ve been quite popular in areas where yellow cabs are scarce or non-existent, and they calm the need to rely on private cars while generating revenue — in the form of medallion sales and metered fees — for the city. It’s a win-win for everyone but medallion owners, and they don’t need the help from Gracie Mansion.

4. Expand bike lanes, safe streets and pedestrian plazas

One of Mayor Bloomberg’s and Janette Sadik-Khan’s signature moves have been the popular pedestrian plazas, an expanded bike lane network and safe streets initiatives. A vocal minority have objected to some of these efforts on spurious grounds, and the truth remains that they make our city’s streets safer while encouraging local business. Times Square’s pedestrian makeover, for instance, has led to record-high rents in the area, and plazas in Jackson Heights and Fort Greene have been popular with residents and business alike. Meanwhile, though, children — and all New Yorkers — continue to suffer injury and death at the hands of reckless drivers.

Nearly two weeks ago, de Blasio raised a few eyebrows when he apparently waffled on street safety, but this is an issue that requires strong leadership. The new mayor should come out in favor of continuing measures that save lives while making the city more pleasant for pedestrians, those who drive the economy and make New York the vibrant urban area it is. From Day One, he can set the tone with his DOT Commissioner, and all eyes will be on him to keep making progress.

5. Solve the Penn Station Problem

I’ve written extensively on Penn Station lately but still have no answers. Madison Square Garden remains an obstacle; inter-agency cooperation remains an obstacles; costs remain an obstacle. Mayor de Blasio is uniquely positioned to lead an effort to come up with a master plan for Penn Station while encouraging the various interests to work together. It could be his lasting contribution to New York City but will take a considerable about of work, effort and leadership to see through.

Honorable Mentions: Expand CitiBike, consider a Red Hook/waterfront light rail system, pay some attention to Vision 42, ponder the 7 line to Secaucus, Phase 2 of the Second Ave. Subway.



70 Responses to “A transit ‘to do’ list for an incoming mayor”

  1. Stephen Smith says:

    No love for TriboroRX (which is all of the sudden much more possible due to upcoming FRA reform) or rapid transit-ifying the Atlantic Branch?

    • Add ‘em to the list. As I said, it’s non-exhaustive. I’m sure I missed more than a few good viable options. We should probably include tearing down the Sheridan too, yes?

    • de Blasio might not be in office when ESA opens in July 2013 2019, so he might not have anything to do with transit-ifying the Atlantic Branch. They’re still quite a ways away from ironing out the particulars of post-ESA operations on the LIRR.

      • Alon Levy says:

        In some parts of the world, they figure out operating plans before they start construction, not after they start running trains.

        • Not here, though. They have a rough idea of what they want, but they’ll figure out the specifics “at a later date.”

        • Nathanael says:

          I think that was given up in the US because such operational plans were inevitably hilariously outdated by the time construction was finished, 30 years later.

          If we had quicker construction projects it would make sense, but does anyone seriously think that the original 1920s plan for Second Avenue Subway operations is of any utility today? (Yes, they did figure out operating plans before they started construction!) Or the 1970s plan? Heck, even the 1990s plan is probably not really usable at this point.

          • Henry says:

            Not true; LA Metro has a pretty good idea of what its transit system will look like come 2030 (should everything go according to plan).

            The 1990s plan wouldn’t be outdated because literally nothing has changed about the project since then – you’ve got a two-track line, with one full-length 2nd Av service, one Uptown-Broadway service, and one Queens-FiDi service. (That was not mentioned in the plans, but it could become a reality should trunk capacity be built in Queens.)

            The 1970s plan was part of a Program for Action, and included, among other things, a J that still ran above Jamaica Av in Jamaica, a bypass along the LIRR, and a train line to SE Queens using a LIRR branch. Those things will not be happening for a long, long time.

    • al says:

      $10 million X-Prize for $333 million/mile subway. Have every interest group who would benefit contribute.

      • Alon Levy says:

        The prize would do exactly nothing. A syndicate that can build a $333 million/mile subway in New York can bid $400 million/mile, outbid everyone else by a hue factor, and still make a large profit.

  2. Epson45 says:

    The next mayor is doomed.

  3. Alon Levy says:

    6. Push through, and seek and obtain funding, for future subway expansions including future SAS phases, Triboro, Utica, and Nostrand. If Bloomberg could burn $2 billion on the subway to nowhere, de Blasio can find $4 billion for SAS Phase 2.

  4. MH says:

    5. MSG is definitely an obstacle especially after they spent the last 3 summers renovating the arena no way that cablevision budges at this point of time. Dolan has a fixed toy that competes with the arena in Bkn.

    • David Brown says:

      If you ask who the single biggest loser in New York is in 2013, it starts and ends with James Dolan. Last night two former Cablevision (CVC) Employees lost in Elections to be NYC Mayor and Nassau County Executive. This after the City Council voted to limit the MSG Lease to 10 years, and Ed Mangano chose Bruce Ratner over Dolan to Redevelop Nassau Coliseum. Also do not think De Blasio and Mangano are unaware of who Newsday endorsed ( endorsements not worth kitty litter box liners as it turned out). No one is scared of CVC or Newsday anymore, and I suspect that Dolan will be selling soon enough, and thus will not be a problem when it comes to a new Penn Station. Are there other issues? Yes but James Dolan will not be one of them. I predict Dolan is gone in 5 Years. That includes the Cable Systems and the Garden.

  5. David Brown says:

    Everything starts with how much must be paid to the Municipal Unions after the Elections, then we can determine how much is left for Transit and anything else. One of the big problems that he will face does indeed deal with how much rent costs ( I was reading that in some cases 50% of income goes to that). However, you also have to look at how profit margins for building owners ( talking the “Little Guys” here not Vornado or Related). The problem is Socialists only see one side of the equation: Other parts like taxes, regulations, commodities ( fuel utilities and water come to mind) insurance and FEMA Rezoning after Sandy will be another. Housing Preservation is another issue ( a effective tool by NIMBY’s to keep their values up and keep others out). This has nothing to do with ” greed” but everything to do with the cost of doing business. Let me give you an example: I was headed up 3Rd Ave on Monday, and I saw a lot of boarded up apartments ( with active retail on the ground) below 116th Street. I do not know who the owners are, but it made me wonder if the owners figure it is better to wait until everyone finds out about SAS Phase II (which would increase property values), and either redevelop then or sell as opposed to going through the expense of renovating now? If anyone does not think this happens, they need to read up on 50 West Street, vacant for 30 years and now being Redeveloped. Just pay taxes on the property. This is something to a watch for when it comes to Penn Station. If I own property, And I think that they will build a new Penn Station and MSG, ( and of course, Rezone), I will consider closing down buildings when leases expire and if there are housing rentals and people move out, do not let anyone else move in. By the way shutting down buildings is already happening on a Broadway in the 20s. Something to watch for.

    • Michael K says:

      He will have to tackle the not-so-easy-to-solve problem of it simply being unprofitable to build basic housing. Either luxury housing or low income subsidies. Where will the municipal workers with a family live on a combined 100k salary?

      The zillow.com affordability calculator says they can only afford a $334k home – they are forced out to the suburbs.

      • Eric F says:

        $334k gets you a fairly undesirable suburb and/or one pretty far out there.

      • Tower18 says:

        My family is lucky enough to take in more than that, and we can’t afford a house either. Why do these municipal workers need single-family homes? 2 and 3 bedroom apartments are available in MUCH of the city for around $334,000. Hell, there are houses available in solid neighborhoods for not too much more than that (saving a little more money means you can afford more house eventually). Frankly, one could make the argument that if all these municipal workers lived in the city instead, the neighborhoods and schools in large swaths of the outer boroughs would be much better than they are today, making formerly undesirable parts of the city into more hospitable places.

        However, starting from the premise that everyone ought to be able to afford a single-family home in New York City is doing it wrong.

      • Bolwerk says:

        It’s not unprofitable. It’s illegal.

        Still, suburbs are more expensive than the city (besides maybe Manhattan) because transportation costs go up so much.

        • Phantom says:

          The LI and Northern suburbs can be by far the most expensive choice due to eye popping property taxes that will kill you over time.

          • Alon Levy says:

            Yes, exactly. The schools in those suburbs have the per-student funding of private schools, so what would be otherwise paid in tuition is instead reflected in property taxes.

      • Henry says:

        Many people rent, and it’s a valid choice for them to make. Unfortunately, rents are so high in Manhattan now that middle-class residents are now being pushed into the outer boroughs.

  6. John-2 says:

    Over the years, the mayor of New York, to be successful in whatever their goals have been, has had to be something of an SOB in order to avoid being rolled by others leading their own power bases (even Bob Wagner threw Carmine DeSapio under the bus and basically killed off what was left of Tammany Hall in order to win re-election in ’61). The mayors of New York who have been considered personally the nicest guys, like John Lindsay or David Dinkins, are the ones who’ve ended up losing control of operations because they failed to exert enough control early on.

    That’s the situation de Blasio faces. Whether you like or dislike what he wants to do, or whether you like or dislike what the last two mayors have done, he can’t come into office the way Lindsay did in 1966 and basically get whipsawed by all the special interest forces who were just waiting for an easier touch than Bob Wagner/Michael Bloomberg. New York just doesn’t do well with a weak chief executive afraid of making enemies (including people who might be considered natural allies) of so we’ll see how de Blasio navigates the waters start on January 1.

    • Eric F says:

      “he can’t come into office the way Lindsay did in 1966 and basically get whipsawed by all the special interest forces”

      I’m not sure I buy that. I listen to NPR a lot (which is why I’m always SO ANGRY!!!), and there seems to be a very deep vein of thought on the left that very plush benefits and big contract settlements for government employees are a fairly unalloyed good policy outcome. I’m not sure that the Deblasio types are going to be concerned by sweetheart deals, I think many believe that a renewed era of ever upward revenues to government employees is a progressive goal.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Pataki, Giuliani, and Bloomberg all gave public employees sweeter deals than Koch, Dinkins, or the elder Cuomo.

        Maybe it’s because newsrooms are full of “conservative” old gray men who are the only ones who would remember or care, but Lindsay might quite possibly be the last NYS Democrat to ever fit that mold and he’s been out of power for almost 50 years.

        And I say “quite possibly” because I don’t even know if Lindsay actually fits it, not because someone might have fit it afterward.

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          Linday was elected as a Republican and re-elected as an independent on minor party lines. He later changed his registration to Democrat to run for higher office.

          • Bolwerk says:

            The only interesting thing about that point is this: ridding the GOP of empathetic people didn’t start with the neo-cons or Tea Party. It started half a century ago.

            • Larry Littlefield says:

              That’s the wrong lesson. LaGuardia was a Republican too.

              • Bolwerk says:

                I wouldn’t call him unempathetic. He was delusionally idealistic. Like de Blasio.

                • Eric F says:

                  “ridding the GOP of empathetic people didn’t start with the neo-cons or Tea Party. It started half a century ago”

                  You could just use fewer words and say “I hate you”.

                  By the way, regarding terms like “empathy” and “generosity”: these relate to things you do with your own time and your own money, not with the resources of others. I have found that everyone becomes Albert Schweitzer when it comes to other peoples’ money.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Unsurprisingly, you don’t know what empathy is. It has to do with understanding other people and their needs, not being nice or generous to them.

                    In any case, I bet you’re still for keeping a civil government around that has taxation powers. You know, the power to redirect other people’s money to public coffers? The GOP certainly believes in this, and votes to do it extensively for its cronies’ own benefit.

                    • David Brown says:

                      Bolwerk, you mean to tell me that multimillionaire Hollywood Celebrities, have “Empathy” for Working People? Hearing the likes of Miley Cyrus, or Lady Gaga talking about how “Awful” the GOP is, does not exactly inspire confidence in their point of view. You can throw in Bill Maher, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Jane Fonda, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Woody Allen, and countless others. Throw in BILLIONAIRES like George Soros and Warren Buffet, and you get the picture. Nowhere but nowhere, is that clearer than on Immigration: The same people who complain about a lack of “Affordable Housing”, a lack of “Decent Wages”, Cuts to “Vital” Social Programs, and overcrowding in Public Schools also want to increase Immigration What does anyone in their right mind think more Immigration will have in those areas? I would actually cut the Defense Budget (and other Pro-GOP “Crony” Programs) in Half, and put it towards the Debt and Social Programs in exchange for 10 years of no more Immigration, so we can help those poor people who actually WANT help. But that means actually giving a “damn” about those in need, and Liberals don’t.

                    • Nathanael says:

                      Of course, immigration really isn’t an issue any more, but people haven’t noticed.

                      The net migration has been from the US to Mexico for quite a few years now.

                      Illegal immigration is a sign of a healthy and successful society which people want to live in. If you haven’t got people banging on the doors trying to get in (and we DON’T), you’ve screwed up badly.

                    • Henry says:

                      I would also like to point out that our current immigration policy makes no sense; we educate foreigners in our universities, but then send their potentially productive selves back to their home countries once they’re done. Since immigrants found a disproportionate amount of new companies, and many of them have the skills that American companies require but cannot find in the domestic workforce, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by shutting the door to all immigration.

                  • Eric says:

                    The problem with conservatives is that they aren’t generous.
                    The problem with liberals is that they’re generous with other people’s money.

                    • Nathanael says:

                      The problem with right-wingers is that they delusionally imagine that billionaires “deserve” their money.

                      That money is printed by the federal government, guys. You have that money solely due to the good graces of society.

              • Stu Sutcliffe says:

                He was elected as a Republican in 1933 and reelected as one in 1937. Shortly after that election, La Guardia changed his registration to be a member of the American Labor Party. He ran in the Republican primary in 1941 and narrowly beat ot a challenge by an opponent who was highly critical of La Guardia’s progressive views (he was closely aligned with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and supported American intervention in World War 2). After La Guardia decided not to run for reelection in 1945, the Republicans rejected his candidate to replace him, Newbold Morris.

      • John-2 says:

        The main point is that successful mayors in New York have to be able to eventually say ‘no’ not just to the people or special interest groups who didn’t support them, but to at least a few of those who did or they will get rolled by the other alpha males in the asphalt jungle.

        Because he came from behind late, de Blasio as noted doesn’t have all that many special interest groups he’s indebted to, so he’s got a fairly blank slate to work with. But so did Lindsay, and he was challenged at 12:01 a.m. on 1/1/66 by Mike Quill and lost that standoff, setting the stage for the rest of his term and the general mindset, to borrow ultimate political animal Robert Moses’ line, that “If you elect a matinee idol mayor, you get a musical comedy administration.

    • Alon Levy says:

      Yes, in order to be successful at typical Koch- or Giuliani- or Bloomberg-era power plays, mayors have to be assholes. That’s because you can’t do assholish things like building prestige projects, lining up the pockets of your cronies, or sterilizing the city of all its residents, without being an asshole.

      • John-2 says:

        Name me a mayor since World War I in New York who’s been considered anything close to a success who hasn’t been a bit of a jerk (my dad had to deal with LaGuardia in his waning days in City Hall and said he was a total a-hole. But he was also the most successful NYC mayor of his generation in getting things done that he wanted, even if some of the things — like ripping down the els before their replacements were fully ready — aren’t things most people on this board would be happy about).

        • Bolwerk says:

          By itself, Getting Things Done is nothing more than action for action’s sake. And action for action’s sake usually means stupid, regretable action. Really, the reverence people have for LaGuardia is a bit hard to justify. Much as was built then, he wrecked the city’s infrastructure about as much as any mayor could have.

          In any case, what is passively “considered” success is largely tabloid-driven bunkum. People crap on Dinkins, but he didn’t exactly do much damage and, frankly, deserves credit for some of the successes Giuliani gets credit for.

        • Alon Levy says:

          What Bolwerk said. LaGuardia is a success in the sense that he got his agenda enacted. He’s a failure in that the agenda wasn’t much good for the city. He was very colorful and cared about doing good, but there was nobody around to tell him that giving Moses more power wasn’t good or that he was bad at getting federal money during WW2.

          • Nathanael says:

            My father remembers LaGuardia for reading the comics out loud on the radio.

            This was actually started as an anti-union activity — LaGuardia read the newspapers during a printers’ strike. Everyone was so entertained that apparently he kept reading the comics over the radio after the strike was over.

          • John-2 says:

            Like other three-term mayors of New York — including the current one — those last four years weren’t too kind to Fiorello, which might explain his testiness when my dad had to deal with him in 1944-45.

            But the point still stands about ‘nice guys’ as mayor. Whether it’s a Dinkins, a Lindsay, a Beame or the mostly-forgotten Vincent R. Impellitteri, if you don’t have a bit of a mean/nasty streak in you, the people wanting to take advantage of you do, and you’re never going to seem fully in control of the office.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Your entire evaluation just seems wrong. I have trouble seeing any of those guys as unaccomplished besides maybe Impy, though perhaps I am leaning too much on Caro’s assessment in that case.

              I’m not sure I see a nasty streak in Bloomberg. He seems like a bit of a busybody, but a rather “nice” one who sincerely believes he is doing the right thing by taking away big sodas and letting Ray Kelly assist blacks to the pavement.

              And some of these assumptions…just, who the hell pushed over Dinkins? Or Beame? Maybe Lindsay got pushed over, but all three of these guys were in office under enormous pressure that Giuliani, Bloomberg, and even Koch never faced.

  7. Eric F says:

    Although correlation does not equal causation, the recent ultra liberal types in NYC have not heralded major infrastructure projects. When you are basing your appeal and philosophy on cultural issues, the notion of improving lives by pouring concrete probably seems incongruous. I expect more in the way of bike lanes and pedestrianizing, which is really a cultural marker as opposed to a method of moving a critical mass of anything. But who know, maybe he’ll surprise us. Perhaps he’ll even change his name back to Wilhelm at some point.

    • Henry says:

      Really? Our Democratic delegation to Congress has been very good, and very vocal about our needs as a region. Meanwhile, we have a Republican governor across the river who made his name by killing the biggest transit project in recent memory (proposed by a Democrat).

      The main reason no one has talked about pouring concrete in the five boroughs since 1968 is $$$. The last time the City took on massive infrastructure expansion by itself, it went bankrupt. The State is also pretty indebted, and the FTA has to spread its money around in a way that is slanted against New York (if only ridership and cost-benefit analyses were used, the FTA wouldn’t be funding most commuter rail projects, and New York would be getting most of the money, which isn’t politically sound.) The closest a politician has come to putting his money where his mouth is would be Bloomberg and CP, but that got shot down.

  8. lawhawk says:

    The bus, pike, and pedestrian protections from sheltered lanes/expanded sidewalks, and bus bulbs are no brainers and relatively inexpensive to implement.

    Expand CitiBike beyond what they had envisioned even for the second phase rollout. It’s already successful, and pushing it beyond its current area would have significant benefits. This too is relatively inexpensive.

    The big ticket items are dealing with the mega projects. Step up and get 2d Ave Phase 2 funding lined up, so that construction can get underway to take advantage of the fact that work is winding up on Phase 1.

    Look at expanding rail and true BRT in the outer boroughs. Take a hard look at expanding rail service to Staten Island.

    Contemplate faster ferry service to SI – additional boat or several smaller and faster ferries operating concurrently with the current fleet (perhaps with a surcharge to cover the higher costs) leaving from St. George. This would be an interim step.

    Push hard for Gateway or additional tunnel to NJ. Rationalize service in NYP.

  9. Bolwerk says:

    #1 should be: subway expansion. Lots of it. There are plenty of worthy projects to discuss.

    SBS is exactly how to improve buses. A private, grade-separated ROW for buses is more expensive than for trains. Trains cost less to operate too. There is room for improvement with SBS, like signal prioritization, but the goal of changes to the bus system should be to reduce the costs of buses, not to increase them.

    Of course, that’s no excuse for continuing to ignore light rail.

  10. Scott C says:

    Why just Phase 2? He should push for funding for the full line. I know it is a lot of money, but if we keep doing it piecemeal, there is a chance portions that are badly needed don’t get built.

    Personally, I would like to see a proposed system expansion that, in scope, is close to the unbuilt IND Phase 2. There is certainly demand, and large portions of the city are underserved or overcrowded.

  11. Larry Littlefield says:

    The real to-do-list is to object to fare increases and service cuts, support wage increases for unionized employees, and demand that the state fund the capital plan including a full length Second Avenue Subway, all while taking no responsiblity at all for the MTA.

    That’s the lesson of Bloomberg’s congestion pricing.

    There is no evidence that DeBlasio will be responsible. And if he were responsible, Cuomo and the state legislature would just respond by defunding the MTA more.

  12. LLQBTT says:

    So de Blasio is a progressive and yet he defends the taxi industry who as it happens serves mostly the wealthy. So it’s all about a fair shake for all until you need a cab? Hmmm…

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Wealthy people takes cabs? What’s your definition of wealthy? Most “wealthy” people have their own cars or are driven around in Lincoln Town Cars and never see the inside of a yellow cab.

  13. Lady Feliz says:

    Clean. The. Damn. Stations. A few tiles, a hose and some Hefty bags. Don’t need a million bucks to do it either.

    • Henry says:

      To be fair, a lot of the grime you see in stations is due to water damage, mold, and corrosion; I don’t think a power hose would be particularly useful here.

      The next mayor should shovel some serious money into fixing up the stations, above and beyond what’s currently in the capital plan.

  14. David Brown says:

    Here is my take on this Election there are a lot of angry people in New York, and the big question for Bill De Blasio is this. Do you want to be popular and suck up to Municipal Unions, NIMBY’s Al Sharpton and that bunch? (He has mandate to do exactly that), or do you want to build bridges,and lead while not being a wuss? The lesson of Christie Quinn is you have to have principles and stand up for them ( I felt she would be far worse than De Blasio because she would get rolled by every Special Interest Group known to man). Say whatever you think of Mike Bloomberg ( and I disagreed with him on Social Issues like Gay Marriage and Beverage Choice), you cannot accuse him of being weak (getting stuff like Hudson Yards is a Major plus so is finishing the Manhattan Trunk of Water Tunnel # 3). Transportation is one issue where a leader ( regardless of Political beliefs) can make a difference. There will be plenty of vocal opponents of the Second Ave Subway and any other such poject ( even bike lanes had lawsuits). We all know the reasons: Traffic, noise, character of the neighborhood, and all the rest. God willing, I will be gone before Bloomberg leaves office ( Arizona). But the answer to the question I posed will determine how many more follow me? It starts with the East Side Midtown Rezoning. Make it happen

    • Alon Levy says:

      I agree Bloomberg isn’t weak. I just don’t see it as a good thing. Henry VIII wasn’t weak, and Charles II was. Under Henry VIII England became one of the most totalitarian countries in Europe if not the single most totatliarian, and the death toll from mass executions relative to population was similar to that of such mass murderers as Ho Chi Minh and Chairman Mao. Charles II couldn’t keep the throne, and his weakness led to the chain of events at the end of which absolute monarchy collapsed and England became a democracy.

      Likewise, in the US, the strongest presidents were in some cases the most pernicious: the genocidal Andrew Jackson, the slavery-expanding warmonger James Polk, and the segregationist Woodrow Wilson.

      Cities, like countries, need rule of law, democratic checks and balances, and broad distribution of political power. The strong mayor system subverts that, and the stronger mayors completely demolish rule of law. Under a strong mayor, getting permits for routine activities can be held up if the mayor wants to flex political muscle: see here for a fictionalized but true account of one example.

      • Eric says:

        How do you decide which presidents were “strongest”?

        On my list of strongest presidents I’d have to put FDR. He served the most terms, and died in office rather than being defeated. I wonder if you find him to be pernicious.

      • David Brown says:

        Alon Levy, no one in their right mind should compare Dictators and Monarchs to Mayors. While mentioning Presidents do not forget Hoover, Carter, and Buchannan all of who are regarded by Historians as not only weak, but inferior to Jackson and Polk. If you look at the last four Mayors: Koch, Dinkins, Gulliani & Bloomberg, which one is considered the worst? Dinkins of course. He was so weak and pathetic that even De Blasio avoids him. That is actually a good sign, because he may recognize how NOT to Govern & Lead, and that means the Dinkins style. Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.” (Albert Einstein). When it comes to New York, we have are so fractured that we define ourselves by where we live and (or)what area we come from. Even if it is right next door (such as Ridgewood to Bushwick). That means of course, everyone has very different agendas and priorities (for example: Most people want more Homeless Shelters: But NOT in my backyard ( Residents of Fort Greene or Carroll Gardens: go send them to Crown Heights or East New York), or people from Ridgewood HATE being compared to Bushwick, which is why they dread the idea of being turned into Bushwick Part II). Being able to comprehend that and overcome those differences is what leadership is all about. Note: I am not even getting into racial and (or) religious differences. David Dinkins failed that test at Crown Heights, which is why he lost the Election to Gulliani.
        Taking this to De Blasio, I preferred him to Quinn, not because I agree with him, because I perceived her as weak (and said so). Lets see if he has the cojones to stand up to the most extreme elements in his Party (as well as NIMBY’s and other Special Interest Groups) and get positive things accomplished? We will get a clue with the East Side Midtown Rezoning, and the Union Contracts.

        • Bolwerk says:

          What is this “considered” thing people keep mentioning? Who is doing the considering? A committee of the NY Post, Daily News, Fox News, and a Ouija board communicating with the spirit of Nathanael Bedford Forrest?

          Dinkins dented homelessness, cleaned up Times Square, and may have initiated the crime drop we are enjoying today. The “weakness” authoritarians sense in Dinkins is the fact that he was a conciliatory reaction to what were perceived as the excesses of Ed Koch’s theatrics. Had he been “tough” and thrown his weight around like Koch or Giuliani, they’d be talking about what an uncivil Negro thug he was. There really is no winning for Dinkins.

      • Nathanael says:

        “Under Henry VIII England became one of the most totalitarian countries in Europe if not the single most totatliarian, and the death toll from mass executions relative to population was similar to that of such mass murderers as Ho Chi Minh and Chairman Mao. ”

        FWIW, most of this was actually set up by Henry VII; Henry VIII was, if you can believe it, mellow compared to the totalitarian Henry VII, whose greatest claims to fame are, in order, the seizing of the throne without a legitimate claim using a foreign army; “Morton’s Fork”; censorship of the newspapers; and the murder of all persons with potential legitimate claims to the throne. (This last actually completely screwed up his attempts at a dynasty, of course.)

        • Bolwerk says:

          Henry VII’s attempts at a dynasty went fine, except for the fact that his son seemed to only shoot X chromosomes into wife after wife. But that’s always the risk of patriarchal, patrilineal dynasties.

          (I’m actually a descendent of one of Henry VII’s daughters, Margaret. So, be thankful for his sexual exploits, or you’d miss my cutting commentary!)

  15. paulb says:

    I once was told that every initiative to pull up the Sheridan runs into fierce opposition from the businesses at Hunts Point, and politicians tend to listen in that direction.

    • David Brown says:

      One of De Blasio’s first order of business concerns the fate of the Hunts Point Market. I am sure that in order for the Merchants to stay, one of the conditions is the Sheridan must remain. If however, they don’t come to an agreement, it might be a great opportunity to clean up the entire area (junkyards also while they are at it), and try at put affordable Waterfront housing (in conjunction with a Metro-North expansion.)

    • Henry says:

      Hunts Point does not want the Sheridan gone. At this point, I believe NYSDOT is considering a street boulevard; the complete removal and replacing with parkland was dismissed.

  16. Nathanael says:

    (1) Encourage wheelchair accessible taxis, citywide, reversing Bloomberg’s policy of fighting against wheelchair accessibility. Once this is done, it will be possible to reduce the costs of Access-a-Ride.
    (2) Knock some heads at the MTA and tell them to make stations wheelchair accessible whenever the station is being shut down for six months for major renovations. Comply with the spirit of the ADA, not just a cramped and tendentious misinterpretation the letter of the law. In the long run, this will vastly reduce the costs of Access-a-Ride.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>