Did you ever hear that expression what can go wrong will. Be careful what you wish for. Closing any firehouse in the inner city is a bad idea but the Mayor’s office just released the names of the firehouses it is targeting for closure. The Mayor’s office and the FDNY have been trying to keep the names of the companies on the chopping block private. However, a contentious City Council meeting Monday forced the details of the closures to be made public. Of the 20 firehouses to be cut under the plan, eight are in Brooklyn
One of those selected for closure is Engine 220 at 530 11th Street in Park Slope. A statement released by Councilman Brad Lander provides specifics as to what the closure of Engine 220 would mean for the community, saying “this fire company keeps my family, and me, and much of Park Slope safe. If the Bloomberg Administration is allowed to proceed with this closure, arrival times at fires will increase dramatically in our neighborhood. According to stats provided to the City Council, the first arrival time would jump from 3:38 to 4:08 seconds (a 19% increase), and the second arrival time would go from 4:08 to 5:24 (a 30% increase). An extra minute to get an engine company to a fire can be the difference between life and death.
So when do these political games end? When is enough, enough? We can put the lives of the citizenry at stake and yet continue to fund tax cuts for the corporations and the rich? Moreover, it’s not just firehouses feeling the wrath of budget shortfalls. Over 6,000 teaching positions in the public schools are being eliminated, cuts to youth programs, homeless services, elder-care programs, continuing education programs, libraries and cultural organizations.
Mayor Bloomberg is constantly complaining about the state’s budget shortfalls but at the same time he was a vocal supporter of Governor Cuomo’s repeal of the so-called millionaires tax, which imposed a small surcharge on state income tax of the top 2%. The elimination of this tax funnels nearly $5 billion back into the pockets of New York’s richest at the expense of slashing state funding for education and other services. Not to mention that the Bloomberg is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this tax cut.
To add insult to injury, this transfer of wealth from the masses of working people to a narrow financial elite is being carried out under conditions in which New York City’s financial sector is rolling in cash. Wall Street firms such as JPMorgan Chase reported a 48 % increase in profits over 2009 and a 47 % increase for the fourth quarter of 2010 over the same period the previous year. JPMorgan netted a profit for 2010 of $17.4 billion and Citibank earned $10.6 billion. The five richest New Yorkers, including the mayor himself, have a combined net worth of $92 billion.
Without a doubt working class New Yorkers have had enough of these political shenanigans that is turning into reckless behavior. Hopefully during the next election go around they will get rid of all these bums.