Can You Hear Me Now?
Mayor Bloomberg was spotted recently wearing not one, but two hearing aids. For quite a long time now I thought his refusal to balance a budget or to listen when his constituents begged him not to tax them to death was a reaction of arrogance and stubbornness. Could I have misjudged our mayor? Could I have been too harsh in my criticisms of our guy, Mike? Could he be warm and fuzzy and I just didn’t see it?
Any driver in Manhattan probably begged Mayor Mike to leave Broadway traffic in the theater district as it was. Any enjoyer of Macy’s fireworks from, let us say, Rockaway probably asked the Mayor politely not to ship the fabled fireworks demonstration to the Hudson River where we could no longer see them. When the mayor chipped in twice with taxpayer money to build two new baseball stadiums he never even considered putting a retractable roof on either or both; or, simply considered not building either in these dire economic times. Do you think he heard when teachers begged him not to make teaching prescriptive and to bring creativity back in the classroom? Locals figured he heard us last St. Patrick’s Day Parade when we begged him not to charge us an intra-borough or East River toll or not institute congestion pricing in Manhattan (the only borough he acknowledges). When we saw Mike opening three schools where one used to be, (that’s three times the number of administrators with top salaries, bleeding classroom education budget dry), and we asked him how he could justify spending so much of his education budget on top salaries, he didn’t hear. Remember when we asked for a competitive size swimming pool in Rockaway’s west end from which we could fill all of our future life guard positions? Perhaps we should have signed our request.
What I cannot forgive Mike for not hearing is the sound of disgust I make each day because I know that Big Brother is not only watching me, but eager for me to err in my day to day life so that his designated employees can fine me for each error I commit. Nuisance tickets given subway passengers for taking up two seats when a car is empty or crossing legs are invasive and cruel. The blood money derived from such summonses is the gotcha penalty you get for stepping out of line in Bloomberg’s fiefdom. However that is only the beginning.
Wake up with me on a Tuesday morning, Mike, the day of recycling collection. What is that I see, a man in a uniform leaving his city car going through my garbage? This guy can’t wait to find an aluminum pan in my paper trash; or better still, plastic in my general garbage so that he can slap me with a hefty fine. How do I feel about somebody poring through my garbage? Violated! Are you listening, Mike?
When I run to Beach 116 Street for a quick hardware stop, I not only have to buy a slip of paper to stick on my dashboard to stave off being fined, I have to leave my car in the snow, trip to the Muni-meter, estimate the time my errand will take, pay, return to my car, place the receipt on the dash and hope the hardware store doesn’t have a long check-out line so that I can return before the time I purchased expired. Who is watching my every move hopeful I will make a mistake? A guy in a city car in uniform is salivating in hopes that I don’t follow the rules. How do I feel? Eery. Can you hear me, Mike?
When I drive to Brooklyn, I dutifully stop at the camera light (Toys ‘R Us) always smiling so I will be photogenic (if need be) and continue to my destination with my seat belt secured and my phone inoperative. Before parking my car, I read and re-read the four or five signs on the pole closest to
Letters me to see if I am within the rules to park there (talk about justification for making English the national language). Sometimes I can’t figure out what is legal when; and, English is my first language. I am surprised the signs are not written in multiple languages. Maybe the poles are too short. I imagine if a driver can’t read English he has a good excuse for arguing the ticket through Berlitz on line. If you send the fine in late, there is a penalty. If you challenge the summons and found guilty you will have to pay an additional penalty. Talk about intimidation! How do I feel? Creepy!
Because you failed to cut spending and cut back services three years ago in anticipation of a sagging economy, you are compensating by ticketing, taxing and tolling the outer borough middle class to death. Nobody else converts water into dollar signs quite like you, Mike. Moreover, who is better at turning one failing school into three failing schools? Did you extend your term as mayor so your successor wouldn’t publicly embarrass you for your shortcomings that were bound to surface under a new administration?
You treat us like fools, Mike. You have failed to create a budget and stick to it. You have not frozen salaries but, in fact, raised some. You have not furloughed city employees or even considered austerity steps to balance our city expenditures. Instead, you punish drivers, subway riders, homeowners and small business owners by invoking nuisance tickets and raising existing taxes and fees knowing you could always squeeze another nickel from the middle class. You have failed as mayor and it is time you submitted your resignation from the job you never should have been able to get re-elected to in the first place. Can you hear me now?