Thursday, September 9, 2010

"We Live in Extraordinary Times"- Talking points by Zimmer and her Council for justifying needless Police layoffs are inaccurate: NY Times, economists

According to an August 30, 2010 story in the NY Times, by nearly every standard of economic health, New York City and the surrounding area's recovery (including Hoboken) from the financial crisis and the recession it started is well under way. The typical resident in the New York City metropolitan area is less likely to be unemployed or to be facing foreclosure or bankruptcy than the average American. Homes in the metropolitan area have held their value better than in most other cities across the country as more people are actually moving to the region than deserting it. Tourists continue to flock to the city, filling hotel rooms at the highest rate in the country, and at rising prices (including the "W" in Hoboken).

So, it is somewhat puzzling when words such as those spoken by Hoboken Councilman-at-Large David Mello at a recent Hoboken Council Meeting indicate otherwise. According to Mello, "we live in extraordinary times, and tough decisions need to be made, because the economy hasn't yet recovered." Mayor Zimmer echos the same words when she is quoted as saying "We are in a tax crisis." According to the NY Times and leading economists, people in the NYC/Hoboken area are NOT living in extraordinary times and it is especially difficult to say we are in a "tax crisis" when there is a $20,000,000 SURPLUS to the budget.

This use of the "extraordinary times" rhetoric is precisely the rationale the private sector has been using to whittle down their workforce, lower operating costs, raise their stock prices, and push worker productivity to the point of exhaustion and burnout. These practices are now backfiring in business as productivity has fallen by the largest amount in over 4 years. The private sector has reached the limits of squeezing more work out of fewer workers. These failed practices are not needed in the area of public safety, especially when the security and peace of mind of a city's citizens are at stake...and when there is a $20,000,000 surplus.

Nonetheless, these seem to be the "talking points" employed by the Zimmer administration in justifying substantial police layoffs. In a town with a residential population of almost 50,000 and a daily commuter traffic of twice that amount and a weekend population that swells with young people enjoying Hoboken's nightlife--- one must wonder at the rationale for these cuts.

We must ask the difficult question: Is the economy the reason for the police layoffs, or the excuse?

Please watch the video below for details:

Photo: Police Chief Anthony Falco listens to public comments during Wednesday night's meeting. Credit David Jolkovski