The Wall Street Journal - June 09, 2012by MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL
"It would mean a lot fewer workers, I'll tell you that," Mr. Bloomberg warned on his weekly WOR-AM radio show.
The mayor's aides said the exact number of jobs that could be eliminated--either through layoffs or attrition--has yet to be determined. But Mr. Bloomberg's latest salvo in the ongoing battle over taxis adds fuel to the fire as he and some of the city's top elected officials jockey to avoid blame for a potentially enormous blow to the city budget.
Last week, a state judge issued a restraining order blocking the city's plan to bring new street-hail taxi service to the boroughs outside Manhattan. The judge ruled that the Bloomberg administration improperly skirted the City Council when it won approval from Albany.
As part of that initiative, the city planned to issue 2,000 new medallions for the existing yellow-taxi fleet, which would produce the estimated $1 billion that is now in jeopardy. The court's ruling--and the dramatic impact it could have on the city's $68.7 billion budget--has left Mr. Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sparring over the fallout.
Mr. Bloomberg signaled Friday the revenue loss would elicit a fresh wave of layoffs.
"It would be a very serious thing," the mayor said. But "my hope is that we will prevail. We think that we're right on the law."
The mayor's aides have indicated that the budget, which is expected to be approved in the next few weeks for the fiscal year beginning July 1, will continue to rely on the $1 billion in revenue. But if the matter isn't resolved in the next few months, administration aides suggested major cuts could be ordered as early as January.
Mr. Bloomberg said it would be "difficult" to deal with the loss of revenue in the upcoming year's budget, but he said the impact would be "devastating" for the following year's budget. The deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 2013 is already estimated at $3 billion."The mayor broke the law and got caught--now he's claiming there's nothing he can do about it," said Mr. de Blasio, who filed a brief in support of the lawsuit challenging the mayor's taxi plan. He is urging the council to pass a so-called home rule message in support of the plan.
"The mayor and City Council have the power to make this right," he said. "They can pass a home rule and ensure the revenue comes in as planned. It's that simple."
But aides to the mayor and the council have said they can't pass a home rule message unless the state Legislature requests it. In a statement issued Thursday after the public advocate held a press conference on this issue, Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the mayor, accused Mr. de Blasio of "special interest advocacy on behalf of taxi fleet owners."
"Too bad his half-hearted pleas for the City Council to get himself out of this jam won't work legally," Ms. Wood said. "Instead of playing politics, he should have supported taxi service for all New Yorkers from the start."
The back-and-forth between the mayor and Mr. de Blasio is only one dimension of the politics at play. Mr. de Blasio, who is planning a campaign for mayor, has also been critical of Ms. Quinn, a potential mayoral rival, saying it was a "mistake" for the council to let the mayor go to Albany without a home rule message.
Ms. Quinn has never taken a position on the mayor's taxi plan. In a statement, her spokesman, Jamie McShane said, "We are deeply concerned at our ability to reach a balanced budget agreement without $1 billion in funds for programs and services that New Yorkers depend on."