How am I doing? — de Blasio edition

The Bitemaster winters in the breathtakingly beautiful Transbaikal where it’s so cold that the politicians keep their hands in the own pockets, where we have to light a fire to thaw out our words just to know what we’re saying, where we measure the ambient temperature in degrees Rankine because it feels warmer (today, it’s 450 degrees Rankine outside).

Though we’re a bit isolated, we do manage to keep up with the news from North America on our short wave radio, thanks to late-night “skip” propagation.

One figure who’s been in the news a lot lately is New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. He’s now in his second term. and here’s how we think he’s been doing:

  • Affordable Housing — this was always a scam. It wasn’t going to happen and it will never happen, unless we repeal the fundamental laws of economics. And de Blasio is smart enough to know he was lying when he made his campaign promises.
  • New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) — NYCHA houses 400,000 people in 300 developments. The housing stock is aging, and the money from the state and federal governments is drying up. It’s not going to get any better in the near future no matter what de Blasio does.
  • Rikers Island — the Rikers Island jail has an average population of 10,000 inmates. Current plans call for the jail to be closed and the inmates to be housed “in the community.” The idea of closing Rikers is a complete scam. Nobody wants a bunch of prisoners moved from an isolated island to their block. Even if it were to happen, what will they do with the island? It will probably go to Trump for $1.
  • Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) — If ACS takes too many children away from their parents, there’s a hue-and-cry in the media. If they let too many die at home with their parents, there’s also a hue-and-cry. It’s a perpetual “can’t win” and it doesn’t matter how much money you spend, either.
  • Education — every administration claims to have “fixed” the city’s education system but none has succeeded. The problem is not money — the city spends plenty. The problem is that the city has no coherent education policy. Biteme has attempted to fill the void here and elsewhere on this blog.
  • Police — the citizens want to be safe on the streets but don’t want to be harassed (or worse) by the police. It’s a difficult balancing act and I’m not sure any other city has done better.

So how does de Blasio’s report card look? We grade on a pass-fail system and give him a “pass.”

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

According to the Wall Street Journal (1/27/2016), the student loan market is starting to heat up.

It’s good news for big financial institutions, which expect to make a mint when Trump lets the private sector take over a larger portion of the student loan biz.

Of course, we’re already on the hook for about a trillion dollars in loans — money that we’re unlikely to ever see again.

Part of the cause is that, when the government throws money at something — like college tuition — prices inevitably go up. Just like housing prices rose during the 2001-2005 housing bubble (thanks largely to Bill Clinton. Andrew Cuomo and George W. Bush’s policies of promoting home ownership by minorities).

While I’m waxing eloquent on economics, I’ll explain why the housing bubble burst: The Federal Reserve raised its interest rate from mid-2004 to mid-2006. In 2006, housing prices started to decline. That led to the subprime mortgage crisis. By December 2007, we were in the midst of a recession. Q.E.D.

We gettin’ screwed again

A highly-placed source at NYCHA — the New York City Housing Authority — tells us that the Authority plans to privatize the management of some of their public housing buildings.

My first thought was: cool! Now De Blasio can say that the inevitable NYCHA screw-ups aren’t his fault, they’re the fault of the management company!

But what’s in it for the management company? Our source hints that they’ll jack up the rents. And who will pay those rents? The city taxpayer, of course.

Ronald Reagan would be proud.

Ooopsie! Obama, Cuomo and De Blasio shut barn door after the cows have left

The East Harlem shelter where a man was nearly decapitated by a mentally-ill resident was raided by cops on the hunt for hidden weapons.

Correction! The Bitemaster saw a headline that refereed to the “DHS” and jumped to the conclusion that it was referring to the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, the article was referring to the NYC Department of Homeless Services. The Bitemaster regrets the error and promises to never, ever make a mistake again.

Now that Deven Black has been murdered at a Harlem homeless shelter, public officials are falling over each other to show that they’re doing something about his tragic death.

Obama sent in the Department of Homeland Security. WTF? The murder was both horrible and senseless but it had nothing to do with national security.

Governor Cuomo ordered the City to post an officer at the shelter until the DHS is done there. What the City needs is more state funding for rent subsidies, shelters and mental health services.  Instead, it gets a meaningless gesture by a Governor whose current preoccupation is with showing that his is bigger than the Mayor’s.

De Blasio has assigned 24/7 peace officers and extra staff at intake centers and residences. This, at least, is useful, if too late for Mr. Black.

The city’s homeless problem goes back over thirty years. Thanks to city and state initiatives, housing for poor people was replaced by housing for the well-to-do, and tens of thousands were ejected from state mental hospitals to fend for themselves on city streets.

It’s a sorry mess, exacerbated by homeless advocates who opposed crackdowns on criminals in the shelters.

Does the Bitemaster have a solution? Not really. But he thinks that the return of Class B Multiple Dwellings (i.e., housing for poor people) and improved mental health services would go a long way. Even if it’s too late to save the life of Deven Black.

Source: DHS cops raid Harlem shelter where man was killed – NY Daily News

De Blasio’s Housing Authority turns on the heat only when temperatures go below 25 degrees outside

Now that’s cold!

You may be wondering where the Bitemaster has been for the last few weeks. Sure, he sometimes has to do some housework at the BiteCastle, such as shoveling coal into the furnace and garbage into the fusion generator. But mainly he’s been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of unadulterated bullshit emanating from the country’s Republican party. Just climbing out of the festering pile is a Herculean task and we don’t have the Alpheus and Peneus rivers to help us.

On rare occasions, a Democrat will also screw up. One example is De Blasio’s New York City Housing Authority. Its problems aren’t new (see our previous NYCHA posts) but turning off the heat until outdoor temperatures fall below 25 degrees is just unacceptable. Not to mention the problems with mold that the City is unable to keep at bay.

NB: Running NYCHA is not easy. Its population is about 400,000, making it the 40th largest city in the U.S., larger than Miami, Minneapolis, and New Orleans. And compared to other cities, New York has actually done a fairly decent job with its public housing.

Source: NYCHA turns on heat only when temps fall below 25 degrees

De Blasio wants NYCHA to evict criminals more quickly

A Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman told The News the mayor has ordered a overhaul to make it easier to evict criminal NYCHA tenants.

The policy of evicting criminals from New York City Housing Administration projects has been in place for years. But the City does more than just evict the criminal — they evict the family.

Which actually makes sense. If sonny-boy is dealing crack from his bedroom and he gets evicted, his mother will likely to let him back in. The only solution is to evict all the tenants of the apartment.

But here’s the rub: the evictees have to move somewhere. Maybe they’ll move into your subway station, into Central Park or perhaps they’ll squat in that empty building across the street from your condo.

It’s a real problem and De Blasio apparently hasn’t thought it through.

Source: EXCLUSIVE: De Blasio wants NYCHA criminal evictions quicker – NY Daily News

Beware the gentry: they don’t like your music!

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in West Oakland received a cease-and-desist letter from the city threatening them with $500 a day in fines plus a $3,500 nuisance fee, CBS San Francisco reports. Church members believe the sudden complaints about the choir are due to the fact the area is becoming gentrified.

When the rich techies move in, you’d better abide by their standards. One local Yuppie commented:

I paid good money for a 3000 square foot house in an underdeveloped neighborhood. All I’m trying to do is improve the community by getting the riffraff out. Hell, if they’re not making in the mid-six figures, they have no business being here anyway. Besides, after I put in a 70-hour week at the office, I’m entitled to party hearty on Saturday night. Then, on Sunday morning, I usually wake up with a massive hangover and have to put up with these idiots and their awful “gospel” music. If they won’t keep it down, we’ll get City Hall to chase them the fuck out of here.

Source: Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter neighborhood

De Blasio launches $12M plan to help tenants avoid eviction; Biteme rejoices, briefly

Mayor de Blasio launched a plan Monday to hire lawyers to help tenants fight off evictions and avoid becoming homeless.

When we heard that de Blasio has a plan to prevent people from becoming homeless, we were thrilled. The idea is that the city will help tenants fight evictions, thus keeping them in their apartments and out of the shelters.

The bad news is that, according to the often-prescient Prof. Hell, the majority of people who actually get evicted in New York City either cannot afford their rent or cannot maintain their apartments in a safe condition (they’re hoarders).


Source: De Blasio launches $12M plan to help tenants avoid eviction

DeBlasio’s Law Department says murder victim should have known ‘risks’ of public housing

In July of 2013, Olivia Brown was murdered by a vagrant in the Lincoln Houses. The following year, her mother Crystal Brown, sued the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which runs the Lincoln Houses project, claiming that NYCHA’s notoriously lax security was to blame for her daughter’s death.

The Bitemaster is not a lawyer and cannot say whether the City is immune from such suits or whether landlords generally are liable for the murder of their tenants, but the City has introduced a novel defense: they claim it was Olivia’s fault for living in the dangerous Lincoln Houses.

If you’re in a baseball stadium watching a game and you’re hit by a foul ball, you generally can’t sue. The doctrine is called “assumption of risk.” The idea is that baseball fans know the risks of attending a game and take those risks upon themselves.

That’s pretty much what De Blasio’s lawyers are asserting in this case:

“All the risks, hazards and dangers were open, obvious and apparent to [Brown] and said risks, hazards and dangers were openly and voluntarily assumed by [Brown],” said the documents, filed Thursday.

But shouldn’t the risks at least be prominently posted? I propose a sign such as:

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

Source: City: Murder victim should have known ‘risks’ of public housing | New York Post

Billionaires are working for you and me

In New York City, Uber is running television ads saying how they really care about people in minority neighborhoods and how they’re creating thousands of new jobs. Airbnb ran ads touting how they help little old ladies put their boychiks through college. And the Rent Stabilization Association (trade association of NYC landlords) ran ads telling how their real purpose is to create affordable housing.

Based on valuation by recent investors, Uber is worth about $50 billion and Airbnb is worth about $20 billion. The Rent Stabilization Association’s members control about a million apartments, worth in the tens of billions of dollars.

I’d say “bite me,” but first I have to go and throw up.