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Bureaucracies don’t die easily. Following the news of the impending layoffs at the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, we are compelled to praise this as a move in the right direction. While this agency has been an invaluable asset to the Lower Manhattan community following the attacks of 9/11, it is nearing the end of its mandate and its mission.
That being said, to have the L.M.C.C.C. disappear altogether would be an unwise decision. Retaining two staff members and continuing to allow the agency to serve the residents and workers in Lower Manhattan, is a must.
The alphabet soup of agencies and non-profits that sprang into existence as a result of the 9/11 attacks is a testament to the strength and agility of our government and civic organizations to respond to an overwhelming and crippling crisis. It is a healthy development when we are finally able to see the end of many of these organizations’ missions. It means that we are returning to normal, and that our existing institutional universe of city and state agencies can handle the flow of business, without the need of ad hoc organizations. All these organizations that are being phased out need a comprehensive sunset plan to cover business in the pipeline and their dedicated staff that have served the public.
It is clear that since Governor Andrew Cuomo took office there appears to be a sea change in the works in terms of our city-state agencies. His move to streamline government operations where there is redundancy, or where existing governmental organizations can do a better job, is a welcome one. These tight budget times call for tough choices and trade offs, and it is better to cut redundant bureaucracies than to see services to our schools or to our most vulnerable citizens cut.
But once again, we must call again for more dialogue and transparency from our city and state governments when it comes to decisions which directly affect our community. On the particular scaling back of the L.M.C.C.C., many residents truly attest to the role the L.M.C.C.C. has played in their lives, whether it be in resolving complaints about construction-related noise, or in simply providing them with the right person to contact regarding a question about construction on their block.
Would it have been so hard to hold a public hearing to allow community members to have their say in this latest decision? We think not.
A public discussion is part of a well thought-through sunset plan, and lends more legitimacy to the process.