Thursday, April 18, 2002

New York City Blues

New York City is still reeling from the 11th of September. The budget deficit is now $5 billion and counting. The cost of debt service is rising. The city's pension plans are in trouble. State and Federal aid to plug the gap probably won't be forthcoming. Wall Street profits are off considerably. Big employers (like Merrill Lynch and Citigroup) are downsizing and relocating to New Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut. Big Media is still mired in the advertising recession, now in its 6th quarter. All in all, a grim picture.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's only answer is yet more cutbacks in city services, which he outlined yesterday. They include reductions in fire department and police department services. Here's the kicker: The proposed cuts, described by the Mayor as "onerous," don't come close to closing the budget deficit. You can read the numbers by clicking here (registration required).

More distressing than the numbers though, is this paragraph from Russ Smith's Mugger column. Recounting the first day of Little League downtown, Smith writes: "I have enormous admiration for the men and women, such as League president Vito Suppa, J.C. Chmiel and Wally Turbeville, who cobbled together a season during the winter, facing not only the attrition of participants–so many people have moved from the city, cutting the number of players to approximately 300 from last year’s 600–but also the complicated task of finding alternate fields for the teams, since Stuyvesant High’s outdoor facilities were destroyed on Sept. 11."

From 600 to 300 Little Leaguers in one year is emblematic of New York City's woes.