New York City is in deep trouble.
The City's lazy and incompetent mayor lives in his far-left ideological bubble and is incapable of coming to grips with the gravity of the issues New Yorkers are grappling with.
De Blasio has learned nothing from the failure of the "Liberal Experiment" carried out by Mayors Robert Wagner and John Lindsay in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Those two mayors, who had laid claim to the proud banner of liberalism, were committed to the left's insatiable appetite for expansive government and the imposition of their social policies regardless of the cost.
Mayor Wagner set the tone for that liberal approach to governing when he said, "I do not propose to permit our fiscal problems to set the limits of our commitments to meet the essential needs of the people of the city."
That guiding philosophy led to policies that destroyed the City socially, economically and fiscally.
By the early 1970s, New Yorkers were witnessing a city in decline. There were staggering welfare rolls, decaying infrastructure, skyrocketing taxes and spending, rampant crime, graffiti-laden subways and filthy streets.
And after years of mismanagement, the city fell into the fiscal abyss in 1975.
Well, Mayor de Blasio has been following the Wagner-Lindsay roadmap with the same disastrous results. And the COVID pandemic has only exasperated the situation.
Alarmed by the decline in the City's quality of life — dirtier streets, rising crime, failing public schools, etc. — hundreds of thousands have fled to the suburbs.
The government-ordered shutdown has been driving even more people out as well as destroying the City's economic base.
Take, for example, the City's restaurant industry.
Prior to the pandemic, there were over 23,000 restaurants and pubs that employed 317,000 working-class folks. Those establishments paid wages of $10.7 billion in 2019 and had $27 billion in taxable sales.
By August, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office reported restaurant "employment was still only 55% of its level in February 2020 before the pandemic hit."
There are estimates that in the next 6 to 12 months, one-third to one-half of restaurants and pubs that were open prior to the pandemic, will permanently close.
If that comes to pass, up to 12,000 could shut their doors and up to 159,000 people could be out of work.
What has been de Blasio's reaction to this dire situation? He said he is not concerned with the restaurant crisis because only rich people dine out. He showed no interest in the 300,000 people employed in that industry.
Soaring retail shop vacancies are also taking a toll.
The Wall Street Journal reported on October 14, that "three buildings on Madison Avenue's main retail corridor have sold for about 80% below peak prices in 2014, signaling that depressed Manhattan retail real estate prices continue to tumble."
In other words, those buildings sold at $1,340 per square foot versus $7,589 in 2014.
Rents for store fronts in that high-rent district have also crashed. "The average rent dropped to $822 a square foot in the second quarter this year from $1,607 in 2015."
Failing businesses, empty hotels and office buildings translates into drastically declining sales, income and property taxes.
And after seven years of spending money like a drunken sailor, the mayor is facing a fiscal crisis not seen since the 1970s.
What can be done to restrain a hapless mayor who is incapable or unwilling to tackle budget deficits for as far as the eye can see?
A new report penned by E.J. McMahon, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, gives the answer: "Governor Cuomo needs to push for legislative reactivation of the state Financial Control Board (FCB), created by Governor Hugh Carey in the 1970s, to oversee the City's finances."
The FCB, whose members include the governor, the mayor, the state comptroller, the city comptroller and three outside members, possessed the authority to accept or to reject proposed City budgets and contracts. It had oversight of the 3-year financial plan the City presented to the board.
The FCB also had other significant oversight powers. It could order the City to go back to the fiscal drawing boards, and if the City failed to comply, the FCB could impose its own budget or order operating cuts.
Employing the powers of the FCB, Governor Carey saved the City from an inept mayor.
Now it's time for Governor Cuomo to come to the rescue and save New Yorkers from their floundering mayor.
As McMahon points out in his study, the FCB is the right vehicle for Cuomo to "provide external pressure on the mayor and city council to achieve urgently needed labor savings and to enforce hard limits on spending during a difficult post-pandemic recovery period."
If Governor Cuomo fails to act, he will be guilty of permitting the City, under the insouciant leadership of Mayor de Blasio, to continue on the treadmill to fiscal, economic, and social oblivion.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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