Volume 22, Number 06 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 26 - July 2, 2009
Ending the senate follies
Let’s give New York State’s senators credit for something: No one else has ever made a clearer, more convincing case proving the depths of Albany’s dysfunction while also showing how desperate the need is for fundamental change. While Democrats and Republicans shout, fight over gavels, lock each other out and waste taxpayers’ money, many many pressing bills are on hold.
New York City and other localities need tax measures to close their deficits; mayoral control of the schools is about to expire; an opportunity to grant gays marriage equality is being stalled. In addition, we have heard little talk of the ethics and housing legislation, which, prior to the coup attempt June 8, was supposed to reach the Senate floor imminently.
“Albany will do anything to prevent ethics reform,” one senator joked to us. We only wish it were only a joke.
Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger had it right last week when she said on these pages and elsewhere that both the Democrats and Republicans are to blame for the mess. The two sides, whether it be through binding arbitration or some other way, must quickly find a way to share power and debate bills in this 31-31 tie to get through this session.
Then we’d like to see Krueger, Sen. Dan Squadron and other reformers on both sides of the aisle force their way into the fray, put party loyalties aside and demand the needed changes — ethics and campaign finance reforms as well as non-partisan district lines. Only then will we get a legislature that represents the people of this state, not the money interests. And while they’re at it, change the state constitution so we always have a lieutenant governor who can break ties in the Senate because we know we can’t trust senators to do that.
Starting off at Square One
Next week the Hudson Square Business Improvement District begins its operations with Ellen Baer at the helm. The former printing district west of Soho is now home to a growing residential population, creative firms, hotels, and large and small media companies, including this paper.
The area is full of small, interesting restaurants but desperately needs more varied retail with basics like a food market, a pharmacy and a dry cleaner. The biggest problem, which Baer has already identified, is unsafe and unfriendly traffic conditions exacerbated by the Holland Tunnel-West Side Highway, poorly designed intersections, the one-way Verrazano Bridge toll, and congested Canal St.
Perhaps the biggest issue is the city’s plan to park three districts of sanitation trucks in a hideously outsized structure in Hudson Square, forcing the trucks to shuttle between the Upper East Side and Lower Manhattan. Since BIDs are beholden to the city, we know Baer will not be criticizing the plan publicly, but we hope she takes up the fight behind closed doors in order to at least lessen the impact Downtown.
Our first impressions of Baer are good. We wish her well as she sets out to improve our neighborhood.