Volume 79, Number 4 | July 1 - 7, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


End the Senate follies

Let’s give New York’s state 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 the gavel, lock each other out, pull apparent tactical tricks on each other and waste taxpayers’ money, many, many pressing bills are on hold.

It was unclear whether the Democrats’ passage of 75 bills on Tuesday would withstand scrutiny after a Republican state senator charged that counting him present to get a quorum was a “fraud.” No — what’s a fraud is this entire, insane situation.

New York City and other localities need tax measures to close their deficits. Mayoral control of the schools expired last night — Democrats said the issue was too “controversial” to vote on now, but will take it up at some later point. 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 state Senate coup on June 8, was supposed to reach the Senate floor imminently.

“Albany will do anything to prevent ethics reform,” one senator joked to us. We wish it were only a joke.

Democratic state Senator Liz Krueger had it right recently when she said 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, state Senator 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 nonpartisan district lines drawn by someone other than the state senators themselves. 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 at square one
This week the new 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 newspaper.

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 inhospitable traffic conditions exacerbated by the Holland Tunnel and West Side Highway, poorly designed intersections, the one-way Verrazano Bridge toll and congested Canal St.

Perhaps the biggest issue for the neighborhood’s future is the city’s plan to park three districts of Department of Sanitation garbage trucks in a hideously outsized structure in Hudson Square. Since BID’s have a virtually symbiotic relationship with city government, we know Baer won’t be criticizing the megagarage plan publicly. But we hope she takes up the fight behind closed doors 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.

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