Most mayors are, for the most part, Manhattan mayors. The bulk of the city’s visibility is in Manhattan. More people visit Manhattan. Major events happen in Manhattan. But all parts of the city matter.
The people of Rockaway are not snow birds or vacationers. They live there full time, and many of them are not back home. The same is true for Staten Island.
Having returned from Seaside Heights this weekend, it was obvious that many of those homes are not rebuilt a year after the storm. There is still a lot of construction. There are red tags on homes that cannot be lived in right now.
Roads, a year later, still detour cars to alternative routes. A used car or boat motor for sale may just be something that spent some time underwater. The storm was more than these communities were prepared to deal with. Rockaway is not back, and neither is Staten Island. The question is what will next year look like?
This is the reason we have a government. Waiting for the private sector to rescue and rebuild will not do it. Whether you are a small government conservative or a big government progressive, these are the unique circumstances where government can move the ball downfield and call for rapid re-building.
What will these new pols brings us in the next year? That is what we should be keeping a watchful eye on in the next few months. Without sounding like Rahm Emanuel, these difficult times are also a chance for people to show how effective they can be in providing for their constituents.
Remember how former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca was considered presidential timber shortly after restoring the Statue of Liberty (and his company)? Iacocca got some help from the government, but he also was able to turn things around. Doing right by the people comes with its own rewards, and sometimes even a little more.
Big Cities and The Lost Art of Making Things
Recently, a study of the census indicated that in over 50 American cities 25 percent of the population is at or below the poverty level. Many of those people are under the age of 18.
Politicians can utilize all kinds of innovative techniques to address poverty in both cities and rural areas, but as long as we do not have manufacturing bases in these areas, we are only delaying the problem. Without a middle class, there is higher crime, less education, and less hope.
Not all students are headed to law school. Not all of them are headed to college either. While education is important, there is no infrastructure for those who are not cut out for academics, and that is a tragic loss.
Last week, the federal government agreed to help Detroit to the tune of $300 million. Cities need to restructure labor contracts where needed and bring manufacturing back to some degree.
We will not be at the levels of production that we were at before other economies like China and India developed, but we can still climb back. Retraining our workforce is the only way to dig out from these ugly statistics.