Real Clear Policy: #WasteOfTheDay Week 146 157_wotd_wk_146

November 27, 2023 12:50 PM



NYC Service Cuts Due To $7 Billion Budget Gap, Migrants

November 27, 2023


New York City taxpayers will see their own services cut — police, schools, sanitation, libraries — in lieu of paying the massive bill of caring for an estimated 143,000 migrants.

City officials predict it will spend $11 billion on housing migrants over the next two years.

Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city’s $7 billion budget gap — due in large part to the cost of housing and feeding migrants and the reduction in federal aid for COVID — will mean 5% cuts across the board at city agencies.

Most importantly, a freeze in hiring at the NYPD will drop the number of police officers to its lowest since the 1990s, CBS News reported.

Thirty years of progress in public safety could be gone in a flash, as the next five classes at the police academy will be canceled, without information on when they would resume. There are typically four classes each calendar year.

That will drop the number of officers from 33,541 to about 29,000 in the fiscal year starting next July. That's the lowest number of cops since the 1990s.

Mid-year budget cuts to schools will result in cuts to the universal pre-K and 3-K programs, with an undetermined number of the 37,000 vacant slots left unfilled. 

Residents can expect to see dirtier streets, as there will be fewer litter baskets, mostly in the outer boroughs and residential areas, while there will be cuts to sanitation programs to clean pedestrian areas, greenways, empty lots and other areas, CBS News reported.

Hours will be reduced at libraries throughout the city, including ending all Sunday services, news outlet The City reported.

Members of the NYC Council Common Sense Caucus have pushed back against Adam’s statements that the city is obligated to provide shelter to the migrants, calling the crisis “self-created, the result of decades of terrible policies and irresponsible decisions.”

They have challenged Adam’s claim that the city’s right-to-shelter law requires the city to “house, feed and provide every service imaginable to foreign nationals at our taxpayers’ expense.”

The city is in court after Adams tried to limit the law in certain circumstances, but was sued by homeless rights advocates. Gov. Kathy Hochul has backed Adams’ effort to limit the law, saying the rule was never meant to “house literally the entire world.”



New York City Paid $87 Million For Wrongful Convictions

November 28, 2023


The City of New York will pay $17.5 million to a man who was wrongly imprisoned for two decades, the largest such settlement ever paid by the city, The New York Times reported.

George Bell was convicted with two other men for the 1996 deaths of the owner of a check-cashing store in East Elmhurst, Queens, and an off-duty police officer who was providing security.

But in 2021, a judge tossed their convictions and scolded prosecutors for withholding evidence and making false statements at trial.

Joseph A. Zayas of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court said the prosecution had “completely abdicated its truth-seeking role in these cases.” Two prosecutors who had overseen the cases and who were still working in the Queens and Nassau County DA’s offices later resigned.

Bell also reached a $4.4 million deal with the State of New York.

The exonerations of the three men came right after Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz took office and created a unit to review cases that might have resulted in wrongful convictions.

In Fiscal Year 2022, New York City paid $87 million to settle 16 wrongful conviction cases — the most of any single year, according to a report from the city comptroller’s office.

Overzealous prosecutors that aggressively go after supposed bad guys with no regard for the truth harm all the people involved — those behind bars, the victims, both families — and taxpayers who have to pay for their mistakes.



Troubled Train Tunnel Gets Another $3.8 Billion In Federal Funds

November 29, 2023


The delayed and over-budget Hudson River tunnel project in New York and New Jersey received yet another $3.8 billion from U.S. taxpayers, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

The funds will be used to build a new two-track train tunnel under the Hudson River and refurbish an existing one connecting Newark, NJ to New York City, The New York Daily News reported.

The tunnel project now has a $16 billion-$17 billion price tag.

On an average day, 425 trains pass through the tubes of the existing North River tunnel, a route serving Penn Station that opened in 1910.

That wear and tear, plus the salt water damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, has led the tunnel to need a serious overhaul. The project will add another tunnel with two tracks under the river.

The $3.8 billion comes shortly after the project got a record-breaking $6.9 billion in July, The New York Post reported.

That collective $11 billion from the federal government accounts for about 65% of the total tunnel construction costs, with the remaining $5 billion to be split by New York and New Jersey.

The tunnel project is part of a larger Gateway project, which aims to increase the number of trains running between New York and Newark Penn Stations along the Northeast Corridor line.

This tunnel project’s $16 billion price tag has increased, up from $11 billion, with the federal government’s share ever increasing.

Even when the $6.9 billion was awarded in July, The New York Times reported“Gateway’s planners still hope to receive more funding from other federal programs to raise Washington’s share of the total cost to at least half” of the remaining $16 billion it will take to complete the project.

Which leads to the recent $3.8 billion award.

Taxpayers in the rest of the country shouldn’t be paying for two-thirds of a massive project they’ll never use, especially one with out-of-control costs.



Throwback Thursday: Federal Program To Teach Teens To Make Shirts Made Zero Shirts

November 30, 2023


Throwback Thursday! 

In June 1982, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce gave $700,000 — over $2.2 million in 2023 dollars — to a non-profit that was supposed to teach minority students how to make T-shirts. But not a single shirt ever got made.

For this wasteful spending, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the two departments a Golden Fleece Award. He gave awards to wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.

“Department auditors warned Commerce officials that the project was doomed to fail and fail it did,” Proxmire said then. “Not one T-shirt was produced for sale, not one minority youth found a job, but the taxpayer lost his shirt.”

The project was supposed to spur youth-owned and operated manufacturing enterprises.

But it failed. There were 76 trainees enrolled but none received useful training, the senator said. Of the 13 people who were supposed to have graduated, a majority didn’t realize they finished the program, most had been in the program for less than two months, and nine months after “graduation” none had found jobs related to their training.

Program administrators wasted taxpayer money by hiring the nephew of a Commerce Department official as a plant coordinator even though that position wasn’t in the grant proposal, and they hired other staff for plants at which no training or production took place.

They also paid for travel costs and phone bills of employees conducting private business, and paid more than $350 to buy T-shirts as presents for the board of directors and Commerce officials.

“This is an especially painful fleece since the goals of the program — to reduce teen unemployment and provide skill training — were so laudatory,” Proxmire said.



NY State Judges Will Get Pay Bump To $232K

December 1, 2023


New York Gov. Kathy Hochul recently voiced her support of a plan to give state Supreme Court justices a 10% pay raise over 4 years, from their current $210,900 to $232,000, The New York Post reported.

The current salaries of the trial-level judges is more than that of 47 state governors and just $18,000 shy of Hochul’s $250,000, the highest-paid governor in the country.

The average annual gubernatorial salary across all 50 states in 2022 was $148,939.

“Public safety is my top priority,” Hochul said of her support for the pay increase. “We cannot protect the safety of the public without a well-functioning court system. We need to attract and retain talented judges and we need our courts to fairly and promptly dispense justice.”

Rowan Wilson, chief judge of the state’s highest judiciary, the Court of Appeals, has a $240,000 salary that will jump to more than $268,000 under the guidelines.

State legislators got a pay hike earlier this year, boosting their base salary from $110,000 to $142,000.

Hochul’s recommendation went to the Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation, which will vote on the raises soon.

Victor Kovner, an attorney and one of three Hochul appointees on the seven-member panel, argued the 2.54% hikes every year is comparable to salary increases for the state government’s unionized workforce.

However they try to justify it, $232,000 is a lot to pay over 350 trial-level judges.

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