We The People: Mend Fences and Tend to a Goal

It’s true fine words mend no fences, but the right words caninspire a vacant heart or arouse a drowsy mind.

Former Congressmember Weiner finally took responsibility for hiswords and images. He could not discharge his duties effectivelyafter the Tweet seen around the world. We can return to theimportant tasks at hand — budget reduction, economic growth andtax fairness.

Mayor Bloomberg is set to fire teachers although high schoolgraduation rates climbed to 73 percent in 2010. In 2011, City Hallwill increase the Department of Education central office budget byseven percent to hire lawyers instead of teachers! He is preparedto axe teachers and firehouses and increase the education budgetfor litigation

In 2010, New York City paid $520 million to claimants who sued it!NYPD awards exceeded all other payments ($138.5 million). Analternative system of compensation for these claims or a plan ofaction to reduce the claims could save millions to repair roads andpay teachers

There is money to be saved in our gargantuan budgets. If theadministrators responsible for them had incentive bonuses, toreduce spending without compromising service, billions could besqueezed out of most budgets. The DOE spends $142 million everyyear to provide meals for students. It serves applesauce procuredfrom China more than 11,000 miles away. New York apples should bemade into applesauce by New Yorkers for school meals. New York Cityshould spend some money on that plan. It would use budget money toprovide local jobs and utilize local resources.

We must use our heads if we want to make sound economic decisions.A sensible temporary increase to the debt ceiling before a defaulton our obligations happens must be passed. Congressmember Grimmmust make his voice heard and encourage a swift resolution or thedebt ceiling crisis will further slow a sluggish economy. Althoughthis is a good time to force spending cuts, we cannot insist on aperfect plan and reduce international confidence in oureconomy.

There is public ethics reform in Albany. New York State passed areduced budget on time. There is a good chance a fair rentregulation extension and a property tax cap will be passed soon.The property tax cap needs to be modified for New York Cityresidents. The mayor knew the property tax for New York Cityresidential homeowners that he implemented (based on arcaneassessed values) would ensure perpetual tax increases forhomeowners in New York City. We still need Senate approval for theAssembly bill to put a moratorium on natural gas hydrofracking nearour watershed We need to trim billions in New York State debt andtrim $500 billion from the national debt by reducing spending andspending wisely.

Democrats and Republicans worked together in Albany and they needto do it in Washington, D.C. too. It is time to consider freshapproaches to our tasks and dedicate ourselves to good plans, notideal solutions. Words won’t accomplish the difficult tasks but ourlawmakers can use them to foster cooperation on our common goals:budget reduction and job retention.

Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the State ofNew York and is a Democrat.

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