New York faces a number of crises thanks to governments at the state and city level that continue to spend big, while failing to manage effectively.
Two of the biggest challenges facing New York City are crumbling public housing, and a mass transit system that has ground to a halt.
Political leadership – Governor Cuomo on the MTA and subways, and Mayor de Blasio on public housing – bears much of the responsibility. Either these guys have been out to lunch, or in the case of Cuomo, actively pushing resources to flashy projects, like sprucing up stations and launch parties, instead of needed fixes.
There is another factor, organized labor which has driven some of the highest construction costs in the world, specifically, big union boss Gary La Barbera who heads the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC), which means he leads most of the construction unions in the city.
The only thing rapid about the subway system these days is its decline. High costs and shifted funds have driven a record number of delays and a decline in ridership.
Most notoriously, the Second Avenue subway extension cost $2.5 billion per mile of track. A New York Times investigation found costs around the world for similar projects were generally under $500 million per mile of track.
How can these costs be so high? Well one reason is that there were 900 workers for 700 jobs.
“Trade unions, which have closely aligned themselves with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other politicians, have secured deals requiring underground construction work to be staffed by as many as four times more laborers than elsewhere in the world, documents show”, the Times reports.
Interestingly enough, New York City’s public housing has struggled with high costs as well.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has seen a string of horror stories more numerous than Scream films. Unfortunately, whether it’s the dead body in the stairwell or children with lead poisoning, these stories are very real.
NYCHA is currently stuck with an estimated $31.8 billion bill for repairs, and they’re $25 billion short on the money, thanks in large part to La Barbera and the BCTC driving up costs.
Plumbers for NYCHA have been raking in huge overtime as well, with the New York Post exposing that one made more in overtime than Mayor de Blasio’s entire salary in 2016.
These guys have been living high on the hog at taxpayer expense, and are a key part of the city’s and state’s issues with high transit and public housing costs.
Finally a campaign from the Center for Union Facts is aiming to shed light on the leadership behind the costly mess.
BCTC chief La Barbera had to settle with his own union over charges he allowed a worker to avoid payments to worker benefit funds.
The BCTC was also named in a suit over timesheet fraud, and tricking a developer to pay $42-per-hour for coffee delivery.
This kind of shadiness might be humorous, if it was not part of gouging taxpayers on an epic scale and impacting major public projects. New York taxpayers have dealt with enough abuse. The city is not just expensive, it’s situations like this that drive out-of-control costs.