The nation faces a catastrophic debt crisis. We must reducespending and reduce the national debt. According to theCongressional Budget Office, the payment of interest on thenational debt will take over nine percent of the entire economy by2035.Local debt policy has been as irresponsible as federal debt policy.New York City debt increased by more than 90 percent in less than10 years. The mayor can’t pay teachers or maintain infrastructurebut his administration wants an exemption from responsibility forpoor economic decisions. The mayor was able to vastly increase hispersonal fortune during his tenure, so why hasn’t he been able toapply that same Midas touch to city fortunes?Gerard Denault, the executive in charge of CityTime, was recentlyarrested for accepting $5.6 million in bribes from Technodyne, themain subcontractor for the payroll management project. The mayorballyhooed the project as a magic elixir for worker productivityand record-keeping. The only thing CityTime was efficient about waswasting tax money.Why didn’t the hundreds of MBA drones the mayor hired realizesomething was amiss when a $60 million dollar project ballooned toover $740 million? The mayor may have prospered during BloomyTimebut New York City lost out during CityTime.The September 11th Memorial and Museum plans to open the memorialon the 10th anniversary of the attack. More than $350 milliondollars was raised from private sources for the project, includingpenny jars donated by schoolchildren.Joe Daniels collects more than $370,000 a year in salary as the CEOwhile 11 other staffers collect more than $150,000 a year. Despite$20 million in anticipated additional revenue from sales of amemorial medal, the CEO is talking about an entrance fee for thememorial. There is something wrong if a not-for-profit organizationwith a budget of over $600 million cannot open the memorial withoutan admission fee.The mayor stated the memorial executives are paid only a fractionof what they are worth. It is hard to imagine the mayor could be agood judge of the worth of an employee, considering Denaultreceived over $400,000 a year in salary while managing his $700million dollar fiasco. This makes me discount City Hallinsinuations that the city’s fiscal difficulties are truly theresponsibility of lazy and greedy public employees.Governor Cuomo is approaching the end of his first legislativesession at the helm of the S.S. Excelsior. He is being damned withfaint praise by the tabloids which describe the year as only animprovement of Albany instead of a transformation of it. In Albany,an improvement is a transformation!The governor announced a tentative agreement with the 66,000-memberCSEA public employee union which contains unpaid furloughs,increased contributions for health benefits and salary freezes.This collaborative plan would share the pain of fiscal hard timesand prevent layoffs.The employees expected to sacrifice deserve to be assured that thesacrifices made are not wasted by the government. We need to reduceour debt. A dollar spent to pay down principal will increase ourcreditworthiness and free future tax dollars for investment insteadof interest. Our president, our governor and our mayor need to getserious about debt. The road to fiscal balance begins with smallsteps.
Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the Stateof New York and is a Democrat.