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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Suburbanites Should Care About NYC Term Limits

Several hours after the polls have closed for New York City primary elections (which in most districts are the de facto general election), it appears at least four incumbents supporting term limits will go down to defeat and a fifth incumbent (the Bronx's Maria Baez) trails by ninety votes in a three-way race likely to go to a recount.   The voters have spoken.

Now the main event -- the mayor's race -- is between putative Mayor-for-life Mike Bloomberg and current Comptroller William Thompson.

Anecdotal stories are emerging in recent weeks about how businesspeople and visitors are feeling nickel-and-dimed in New York.   Stories emerge of city residents being ticketed for imagined infractions and suffering penalties of over one hundred dollars each.   A picture takes shape of a City looking to soak its residents and businessowners at every turn, from overt taxes and fees to the unofficial "penalties" and "fines" which act as a hidden, capricious and arbitrary tax.

Numerous parking lot operators have told this author that their business has been down significantly in the last year.   Some parking lots in Manhattan have actually reduced their rates.   This is virtually unheard of.   However, in a recession these businesses are doing what they can to combat an increasingly hostile City government that is, in their view, taking an ever more adversarial approach to the people who live and work within it.

These changes and added hostility impact non-City residents as well.   Our suburban neighbors choose to live in the suburbs for various reasons, but let's focus on the fact that they live in our suburbs.   They are not living in Philadelphia's suburbs.   If they live in Englewood instead of Cherry Hill, in Greenwich instead of Hamden, it's because of our City.  

If they become less inclined to work here (for example, because of the City's increasing hostility towards all automobiles), shop here or seek entertainment here, our City suffers.  Our workers suffer.   Our suburban friends also have a stake in keeping our City free and open and friendly to all.   When the City becomes a less desirable place, the value of their homes in our suburbs will also decline.  The appeal of these leafy suburbs around our City has its genesis not in the leafy streets along the Hudson River or the North Shore, but in the appeal and magnetism of our City.   People want to be in the City -- at least some of the time -- and it is the appeal of the proximity to New York that makes these suburbs the highly-prized bedroom communities that they have become and remained over the decades. 

Our suburban friends and fellow businesses are not indifferent to the mayoral race.  They have a significant stake in this election as well and they may feel the pain and inconvenience of the changes described above.   This 'suburban army' is a secret, well-financed and motivated weapon in the battle to take back our City.   Those of us upset over the arrogance that gave rise to the evisceration of term limits should waste no time in using this precious resource in the upcoming general election.

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