By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Bloomberg apparently believes he can get the feisty new City Councilwith blacks, Latinos, and white liberals dominating the Democratic caucusto do a Vallone and roll over on a mayoral budget, satisfied with a few million in service restorations. He also apparently believes that a union-influenced council will ratify a budget that asks nothing of the city's wealthiest or its commuters, closing a $4 billion hole solely through attrition, service cuts, work-rule changes, and other employee contributions.
On the plus side, he's at least indicated that he expects every agency, including the New York Post-protected police and fire departments, to find ways to shave costs, presumably focusing on crunching overtime and assigning civilians some functions currently performed by uniformed employees. Gifford Miller, the new council speaker designate, told the Voice that he agrees with Bloomberg that tax increases "should be avoided if we can," but added that "we can't afford to take anything off the table." Bill Perkins, the Harlem councilman whose Miller endorsement will undoubtedly give him a leadership position in the new council, said Bloomberg's no-new-revenue position "doesn't sound too creative" and is "premature." Perkins said Bloomberg was "echoing the past administration's attitude," adding that the mayor took his position "without talking with the council."
Pointing to an Independent Budget Office finding that the city could gain a half billion in revenue with a 1 percent surcharge on people making a half million in income, Perkins said, "My eyes are open to all possibilities." Voice interviews with several leaders in the new councilincluding Angel Rodriguez, who lost the speaker race to Millerfound unanimous skepticism about the mayor's position.
Bloomberg may be responding to state senate Republican leader Joe Bruno, who told the Post last week that he would not support legislation authorizing the city to increase taxes. But if this preemptive bow to GOP recalcitrance in Albany is just a sample of Bloomberg realism, why is he pushing forward with his campaign for state approval of mayoral control over the school system when the assembly Democrats have made it just as clear that they aren't aboard? A united Bloomberg-council insistence on new revenue authority can prevail in Albany, just as it did during the city's last two fiscal crisesin the '70s and the early '90sand some taxes can be boosted without state legislation.
As partisan as Bloomberg's tax approach has been, his new team has been put together without regard to party or narrow ideology, leaving many Giuliani favorites out in the cold. But there are prime positions yet to fill, especially the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Parks, the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), and Youth and Community Development (DYCD). The current DYCD commissioner, Jerry Cammarata, is pressing hard for reappointment, though he was rejected unanimously by the Bloomberg transition committee, which sent three other names to the mayor. Also ex-borough president Guy Molinari's Staten Island representative on the Board of Ed, Cammarata was nominally active in the Bloomberg campaign, with one of his aides gathering a record number of petition signatures for the candidate.
Joel Miele, the DEP commissioner, is also fighting to hang on at DEP or elsewhere in the administration. Robert Kennedy Jr. and other environmentalists have long made Miele's mismanagement of the city watershed a major issue and are vigorously opposing his retention.
Research assistance: Peter Bailey, Sam Dolnick, Rivka Gurwitz, Jeffrey Herman