Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Why I don’t follow politics lower than Mayor

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Sheldon Silver, D-Lower East Side, has decided to spearhead a move to save the MTA by instituting payroll taxes on employers and add tolls to the East River crossings to the tune of, well, subway fare. Poetic, sure, but consider that the opposition argument that it’s unfairly benefitting Manhattanites (because it’s not like Manhattanites haven’t been paying through the nose in taxes to keep the crossings aloft for all those Bridge & Tunnellers already) has usually been his argument, despite representing Lower Manhattan.

NYC, like all major American cities, has a hate-hate relationship with its suburbs, in that they represent nontaxable people who use city services but live beyond the city line. The first half of NYC’s history, the problem was solved by simple annexation (hey, Queens, you’re mine now) to jurisdiction-ignoring authorities (bridges, bus depots and commuter trains can be considered “ports,” right?).  The problem in most every other industrialized nation is solved by having the ‘state’ basically be the metropolitan area + the suburbs + the exurbs, such that one couldn’t conceivably live close enough to commute to the urban core daily but far enough to avoid paying taxes for it.

Silver, on the other hand, seems to have this sort of relationship with himself, considering he killed previous attempts on a commuter tax as well as Bloomberg’s congestion pricing (cited by Silver that his compatriots, upstate Democrats, complained it was a de facto commuter tax. No shit, Sherlock.) only to devise a plan that could conceivably quadruple-tax NYC for the same damn service.

This is why I would sometimes prefer a benevolent dictatorship. Things that benefit everybody should not be this hard to maintain. Seriously, folks.

“You Be Da Man!”

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So sayeth R-FS* Michele Bachmann to GOP leader Michael Steele.

Some good may come of this. For starters, Republicans may once and for all kill gangster-inflected hiphop.

*Flyover State

You’re Not Helping

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I, in my years of bike messengering and commuting via bike in Manhattan, have developed many strong opinions on helmets, bike lanes, traffic laws, activists and public image in general. I know that my take on the matter is a mishmash of conflicting views (that I self-servingly liken to a microcosm of the city itself) and justifications that don’t work beyond their intended audience.

For instance, I wear helmets sparingly because I feel I’m not as aware, aurally, of my surroundings when I have one on (that, and the aerodynamic shape of certain helmets – especially with the little plastic bill in front – seem to ensure that they’d crack on impact anyway) and if I’m to be broadsided by a crosstown bus I’d prefer avoidance than mitigation. Read the rest of this entry »

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