NY Post - March 06, 2011by STEVE CASSIDY, UFA President
LMDC was awarded more than $2 billion in taxpayer funds and currently sits atop a $700 million war chest it has yet to spend. The LMDC is best known for its massive failure to tear down the Deutsche Bank building on schedule. Instead, taxpayers were subjected to a seven-year nightmare, with hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns, massive corruption, federal indictments and the deaths of two New York City firefighters on Aug. 18, 2007.
While some of the LMDC's projects are viewed as important, currently there are hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for pet projects, which include a performing-arts center, a waterfront esplanade and funding for dozens of art, theater and dance organizations and a proposed cultural center.
It's time policy leaders recognize that public safety must be a priority.
Mayor Bloomberg's recent budget continues to slash public-safety funding. As New York City struggles to recover from the global financial crisis, it is critically important that the city have the resources to maintain public safety. Without it, there is no tourism industry, no vibrant Wall Street and no ability to attract families that wish to live and work here.
I am advocating that the mayor, who controls half of the LMDC board, use his clout to secure half of the remaining LMDC war chest ($350 million) to be used to keep New York safe and secure over the next five years.
Despite the fact that there has been no successful terrorist attack on our city in the last nine years, New York clearly remains the No. 1 target for terrorists. The May 1, 2010, attempted car bombing in Times Square illustrates this.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has said there have been 11 failed terrorist plots against our city since 9/11. Continuing staff cuts to the NYPD and FDNY are a clear threat to public safety.
In February, Mayor Bloomberg reduced staffing levels on FDNY companies to save about $15 million a year. He has once again proposed closing 20 fire companies effective July 1 to save another $30 million, while the NYPD head count has been reduced by over 6,000 officers.
Crime statistics are rising in the wake of these cuts, and the mayor's February staffing reductions have already left hundreds of families homeless and led to unnecessary fire deaths.
By simply earmarking $70 million per year for the next five years from the LMDC, the city can put more police officers on the street and keep firehouses fully staffed and open. This infusion of cash for public safety will ensure that New York remains the safest large city in America. Safety and security are the main ingredients for a strong and thriving economy. This is a smart investment at this time that will pay dividends for New York and its taxpayers.
Steve Cassidy is president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York and co-chair of the New York City Police-Fire Public Safety Alliance.