What has been referred to by a cynical New York media as the annual “budget dance,” a choreographed clash which begins every year with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s threats of austerity – cutting jobs, closing firehouses, the discontinuation of after-school programs, followed by posturing from city council members and program directors, with all roads leading to an inevitable happy ending – ended this week.
As Mayor Bloomberg’s second to last year in office passes its halfway point, many – in both the press and in politics – are weighing the pros and cons of this yearly ritual.
“Today I proudly commend Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and all of my colleagues in the New York City Council for coming together and delivering a grand slam for hardworking families all across New York City,” Councilman Vincent Gentile said in a statement sent to Bay Ridge Odyssey. “Even during these tough economic times, our senior centers, after-school programs and our firehouses have all been saved. This was a banner year.”
The current budget held some particularly good news for residents of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst. According to Gentile’s office, Heartshare’s Beacon program at McKinley I.S. 259, as well as after-school funding for the programs at PS 102, PS 186, PS 229,and PS 200 have all been restored.
A discussion on the so-called budget dance, which aired on the NY1 program Inside City Hall Monday evening, compared the collective feeling of déjà vu – when the city council and mayor seem to reliably reach a deal resulting in no cuts – to the movie Ground Hog Day, and – most notably – to the children’s story the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
After all, what happens when people stop believing, stop listening to groups warning of impending cuts? While at least one elected official on the program admitted that the melodrama may be a good thing, most did not approve.
To paraphrase part of the discussion – How will we react, host Errol Louis asked, when the threat is real?
At least fiscal year 2013 will go down as yet another period in time when the crisis was averted, programs stayed open, and elected officials, as well as the rest of us, rejoiced.