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  • Quality of Life Alliance

Don’t Be Fooled By Republican’s Snow Job

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on January 1, 2011

Last week, the East Coast got clobbered with a doozy of a snow storm.

Even taking into consideration the huge amount of snowfall, it appears that most of the leadership on the coast proved to be a big old failure.
The right wing’s dreamboat, Chris Christie, pulled a Scott Walker and was no where to be found during the crisis, as that he was apparently screaming at Mickey Mouse for being too lazy or something. In a show of poor management skills, New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor was also off on vacation at the same time.
New York City faired no better, with streets going unplowed for days, leading to all sorts of troubles with emergency vehicles getting stuck, people being stranded from work, etc.
The right was quick to jump on a rumor that a couple of supervisors told the city’s plow drivers to do what basically equated to a job slowdown. Bloomberg, in a classic CYA maneuver, called for an investigation into whether this happened. Bloomberg needed to do something, because every northern municipal leader knows that one failed snow clean up could kill their political career.
The right wingers jumped all over this as an excuse to get rid of public employees and their unions.
But the evidence is starting to point right back at Bloomberg and the trending management style of cutting services to the bone and privatizing what’s left.
First of all, Bloomberg needs to CYA because he apparently never called a snow emergency.
Via the Gumshoe, we find that Crooks and Liars spells out the real issues at hand:

It’s probably no secret that Wall Street has the same attitude toward New York City that they have toward the rest of the country: “You’re lucky to have us.” That’s why, instead of taxing them, Bloomberg bends over backwards to make them happy. After all, they might move to New Jersey!

So Bloomberg keeps cutting. He laid off 500 sanitation workers and privatized much of the snow plow operations. Guess what? Plows sat idle because employees of the private contractors were on vacation during the holiday.

Harry Nespoli, head of the sanitation workers union, warned of potential problems back in October:

Better hope for a warm winter because the number of city sanitation workers has dipped so low that they might not be able to handle a big snowstorm, union officials say.

“The city is rolling the dice,” said Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association. “We’re noted as the best snow-fighters throughout the world.”

The city has hired only 200 sanitation workers since 2008, but hundreds more have retired, Nespoli said.

There are fewer than 5,800 sanitation workers on the job,compared with 6,216 one year ago and 6,473 in 2008. And there are no immediate plans to hire new sanitation workers before the winter.

“We’re going to do the best that we can with what we have, but it might take longer to dig out the city,” the union chief said.

“We cover more than 6,300 miles during a major storm. That’s like going to California and back twice.”

Yes, the city not only laid off hundreds of sanitation workers, they put the supervisors back on the streetand made them take a $5000 pay cut. (Not great for morale, since landlords don’t offer a rent cut.)

District Council 37 came up with its own list of ideas, saying the city could generate more than $500 million a year by cracking down on uncollected taxes and reducing the number of city contracts.

“Layoffs of any city worker will end up costing the city money,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts.

“Layoffs in the city’s Department of Finance are particularly self-defeating. These are revenue-generating positions. The millions in tax revenue that goes uncollected because the Department of Finance is understaffed amount to tax breaks for the wealthy,”Roberts said.

In other words, what we are seeing is the beginning of the austerity movement up close and personal. This is the America that the Teapublicans wanted for us. For them to be whining about it and trying to put the blame on others is typical, but still loathsome.
The real lesson has also been summed up by the author at C&L:
This is why it’s such a bad idea to run government like a business. This isn’t a business, it’s agovernment. It has to provide basic services, no matter what.

 

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