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New York City residents threw in the towel. Gotham’s quality of life is declining, but only 11 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in last Tuesday’s local elections. Nearly all current members of the New York City Council were re-elected.
Instead of going to the polls for new leadership, New Yorkers are abandoning the city and voting with their feet. Alarmingly, since 2020, more New Yorkers have fled the city than there were on Election Day.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Big Apple can be a safe and prosperous place. But our politicians have no vision or priorities for a better future.
Last year, Mayor Eric Adams announced a plan called “Rebuild, Regenerate, Reinvent: New York City’s Blueprint for Economic Recovery,” which includes 70 initiatives. A priority of 70 means no priority at all. He proposes a “hub for digital game development” and “a unique cultural district on Governors Island.” These are far from necessities when the city is trying to pull itself off a fiscal cliff.
Late last year, Adams and Gov. Cathy Hochul announced a new “Roadmap to the Future” for the city. 40 more initiatives. Blah blah blah.
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Here’s our four-point agenda for turning New York around.
Prevent freeloaders from coming to New York.
Mr Adams warned that cities would be “destroyed” if large numbers of migrants continued to flow in seeking shelter and services. City services for New Yorkers have been cut, even fire protection and sanitation equipment, to cover the costs.
That’s not acceptable. The city’s “right to shelter” legal mandate is a magnet. New York is the only city required by law to accommodate all visitors. The mandate stems from more than 40 years ago, in a 1981 agreement between the city and homeless advocacy groups. All elected officials should support Mr. Adams in the legal battle to overturn it. The city will continue to take its own measures, but it will not accept new entrants without limit.
In the meantime, future migrants should be housed in tents and barracks, not in luxury hotel rooms that many tourists cannot afford.
Stop the city from falling into lawlessness.
Shoplifting and subway crime are the main problems, not murder or rape.
Shoplifting incidents in New York City have increased 64% over the past four years, more than any other city. In 2019, the New York State Legislature changed the law so that repeat shoplifters can no longer go to jail. In 2022, newly elected District Attorney Alvin Bragg vowed not to prosecute them. But city law enforcement officials need to find ways to make shoppers feel safer.
Some subway passengers say New York City police’s new robot patrols are ‘better than humans’
Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute says subways are twice as dangerous per passenger as they were in 2019. The mentally ill homeless man is not eliminated and threatens the passengers, eventually pushing someone onto the tracks or committing another serious crime. Social services teams and police must work together to remove these mentally ill homeless people and get them into treatment.
Improving public safety will help New York recover. Pedestrian footfall in the city’s business district is down 33% compared to pre-lockdown levels. Office vacancy rate is 18%, the highest since the early 1990s.
The Big Apple ranks ahead of 18 other U.S. cities, including quiet Boston and remote Boise, Idaho, for future economic and real estate growth. Only Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco are doing worse.
Reduce your taxes.
New Yorkers have the highest combined state and local tax burden in the nation. Businesses here are also being taxed to death. Since the end of 2019, a whopping 158 Wall Street firms have relocated their headquarters, fed up with crime and high taxes.
Hotels here are losing business because a 5.875 percent occupancy tax and steep property taxes make rooms more expensive than in other cities. New York cannot tax its way out of decline. We need tax cuts to get back on our feet.
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Let’s protect the Jews of New York.
New York is home to 1.6 million believers, making it the largest Jewish community of any city in the world. Attacks at Cooper Union, the Brooklyn Bridge and elsewhere have left Jews wondering if they are safe here. Police and prosecutors alike must take decisive action to prevent further attacks.
This four-item agenda is like night and day from the chaos and lack of focus that is sinking New York City.
The same over-promising, over-spending, and lack of priorities are ruining Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and other cities.
Click here to read more about Betsy McCaughey