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City Hall needs to move fast to bolster real estate, NYC finances

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City Hall needs to move fast to bolster real estate, NYC finances

Along with The Post’s graphic stories of how Gotham has become a Ghost Town are some painful, cold numbers — including a lot of hard news for the city’s real-estate market. City leaders need to do what they can to halt the slide — and adjust their budgeting to reflect the new reality.

Many office workers won’t be returning to their desks post-pandemic. Instead, they’ll keep working from home or from new offices outside Gotham, especially in lower-tax Florida.

A Palm Beach County official recently cited about 30 major financial firms considering a move there. Goldman Sachs has scouted sites in south Florida. Companies like Elliott Management and Citadel plan at least satellite offices in the Sunshine State. Morgan Stanley will shrink its New York footprint as part of global consolidation.

All that is fueling a far-softer commercial real-estate market. In a report Tuesday, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli notes a nearly 10 percent drop in billable assessed commercial-property values for the coming fiscal year, the “sharpest” drop ever.

Wall Streeters’ diaspora is shifting “vast amounts” of wealth out of the city, putting pricey apartments up for sale and bloating the high end of the residential market, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, the residential market is hurting from high-end to low. In January, rental vacancies topped 5 percent, vs. less than 2 percent in January 2020, The Post’s Sarah Paynter reports. Residential-sale prices were off a full 20 percent.

Retail space is no better: In its Fall 2020 Manhattan Retail Report, the Real Estate Board of New York noted that rental asking prices per square foot fell by as much as 25 percent year over year in 17 Manhattan retail corridors. Overall, the city is looking at a 4.3 percent slip in property values, the first such drop in nearly a quarter-century.

Let’s face it: New York City’s post-pandemic “normal” will be very different, with revenue likely to stream in far slower than once projected. Even another fat handout from Washington can only cushion the long-term pain.

DiNapoli cites a $15.6 billion cumulative cash shortfall over the next three years, possibly larger. Yet a year into the pandemic, City Hall still wants to operate as if it’s business as usual.

The best fix: Arrest the outbound flight of businesses and residents by making the city attractive again, curbing violent crime, easing taxes and regulations on businesses. City Hall must also bring spending growth in line with realistic revenue expectations. It’s a whole new ballgame.

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Opinion

The MTA’s still failing to end massive overtime abuses

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The MTA's still failing to end massive overtime abuses

Despite service reductions amid the lockdowns, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s overtime bill barely dropped last year, with a whopping $1.1 billion, down just 17 percent from 2018’s record $1.38 billion.

The Empire Center, which first exposed the MTA’s suspiciously vast OT payouts two years ago, reports that 431 employees pulled at least $100,000 in overtime, with 667 collecting more in overtime than in regular pay.

In what’s likely the tip of the iceberg, the feds have indicted five Long Island Rail Road employees (most of them flagged by the Empire Center and/or The Post) on conspiracy charges for fraudulently raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars by abusing the transit’s “honor system.”

It took several lawsuits for the watchdog to get the MTA to make public the incriminating payroll data, and various MTA units still “have trouble” coughing it up each year.

MTA Chairman Pat Foye claims the agency is “addressing potential abuses as quickly and efficiently as possible,” but the linchpin anti-fraud fix, installing fingerprint timeclocks, went off the tracks during the pandemic. And the agency blew past its end-of-February deadline for a new timeline for reforms after the abrupt departure of Chief Operating Officer Mario Peloquin.

We’ve supported the MTA’s successful efforts to get major bailouts from the feds, but the agency needs to get serious about breaking the bad habits that let employees rob it blind.

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Opinion

The $8T (and growing) Biden wants to spend on changing America forever

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The $8T (and growing) Biden wants to spend on changing America forever

Eight trillion dollars. That’s how much President Joe Biden has proposed in new spending — in just the 2½ months since taking office. It’s an absurd figure, equal to more than a third of America’s entire yearly economic output.

And it’s overwhelmingly meant to transform the nation — to empower and enrich Democratic special interests, lock in permanent Democratic control and impose radical left-wing ideas.

Biden’s latest hit: $1.52 trillion in discretionary spending. That follows $1.9 trillion for last month’s American Rescue Plan, $2.3 trillion for Part I of his infrastructure plan and another $2 trillion or so expected soon for Part II.

That mind-blowing $7.7 trillion total doesn’t even count another $3 trillion or so in entitlement spending and $300 billion in debt-service costs; add that in, and you’re talking about spending that’s more than half the nation’s $21 trillion output.

Where would all the cash go? Mostly to Democratic allies and left-wing fantasies: unions and their members, Democratic states facing budget gaps, government bureaucrats, Green New Deal wish-lists and Dem-friendly corporations.

The non-defense discretionary budget Biden released, for example, grows a whopping 16 percent, including a 41 percent bump for the Education Department. Title I funding for the nation’s schools (and teachers’ unions) alone would spike 121 percent. (Never mind that the left-center Brookings Institution finds “little evidence” that Title I funds are “effective.”)

Spending for the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development balloon at least 14 percent, up to 28 percent — music to the ears of government employees.

Biden’s $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” plan similarly shells out hundreds of billions to benefit labor groups and their members.

It calls for yet another expansion of Medicaid, for example, to fund caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities. And it’s designed to promote above-market-rate union wages and mandatory union membership, as Biden also aims to neuter state right-to-work laws that let employees opt out of unions.

The goal: to balloon unions’ ranks — and the dues they collect. Groups like the Service Employees International Union, which represents health-care workers, will then use its riches, and the power that comes with them, to elect more left-wing Democrats.

The plans also steer hundreds of billions toward clean-energy programs via subsidies to utilities, electric-car makers and Green New Deal white elephants. Think Solyndra — the solar-panel company that got $535 million in Obama-era funding and then went belly up — on steroids.

Then there’s the $350 billion for state and local governments (i.e., fiscally reckless Dems, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio) in the $1.9 trillion “rescue” package Biden already rammed through.

And don’t think the money went for COVID or economic stimulus, as Dems pretend, since most of it’s to be spent down the road, not the next few months. Besides, the economy has been well on its way to recovery even without the new trillions — as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have indicated.

No, every single push from this president is for a total transformation — a massive expansion of government, union power, Democratic control and Green New Deal boondoggles. All financed via trillions in debt and redistributive new taxes to please far-left socialist-leaning progressives. If Biden & Co. get their way, say goodbye to America as we once knew it.

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Opinion

Letters to the Editor — April 18, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — April 18, 2021

Kimmel’s joke flop
Maureen Callahan was spot-on with her article about the Hunter Biden and Jimmy Kimmel comedy routine (“The lowlife of the party,” April 10).

There should be no doubt in any open-minded American’s mind that Hunter Biden is the “Fredo” of the Biden family, and Kimmel is taking advantage of the opportunity to try to turn the debacle into a comedy act.

The serious criminal accusations against Hunter Biden, which become more difficult not to believe every time he opens his mouth, are not the least bit funny.

Kimmel’s exploitation of this pathetic individual shows that he is a bottom feeder who will do anything in the quest for laughs and TV ratings.

Richard L. Mills
Bardonia

Royal family fix
Condolences to the royal family on their loss. May Prince Philip’s soul now rest in eternal peace. He had a full, rich and rewarding life (“Duke’s Earth-first farewell,” April 13).

Meghan Markle and Archie will stay in California and Prince Harry will attend his grandfather’s funeral and also actively participate in the service.

This could prove to be Harry’s and the Royal Family’s gut-check moment. Hopefully, neither will pass up any opportunity to reconcile, as his 94-year-old grandmother surely isn’t getting any younger.

Regardless, this is, first and foremost, a family’s time to grieve and remember their loved one. May it not become a crude and tasteless media circus or fodder for the tabloids.

Vincent Ruggiero
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Killing tourism
Recently, a tourist was shot in Midtown (“A Plan for NY Revival: No Shooting Tourists,” Nicole Gelinas, PostOpinion, April 12).

It may become the final nail in the coffin for New York City.

With COVID becoming less of an issue, the city desperately needs a shot in the arm from tourism. But if shots are felt by tourists, the decline will accelerate.

The cops are terrified to do their job, and the businesses that desperately need an infusion of cash can only sit and hope. It’s a bleak picture already, but after one or two more incidents like this, the city can kiss tourism goodbye for a very long time.

John Fleming
Punta Gorda, Fla.

Reform’s victims
It’s understandable to put Rafael Mangual’s (“Suffer the Children,” PostOpinion, April 15) and Ed Mullins’ (“The Real ‘New Normal’ Is Criminality,” PostOpinion, April 15) opinions on the same page. They go hand in hand.

Laws have been changed because the criminal-justice system and law enforcement have been deemed inherently racist. And it has swept the country. Some say it’s more fair. What’s fair about more senseless deaths?

It’s known that in any city, residents want law enforcement so their kids can play outside without fear and people can go about their business safely.

Leadership has lost sight of its duty to protect the people first. The police are handcuffed and our children are being killed. Where’s the fairness there?

B. Tonuzi
Wanaque, NJ

Unmasked upside
Thank you, David Marcus, for once again putting my exact thoughts into words (“Mask Forever?” PostOpinion, April 14).

I, too, understood the reasons behind wearing face masks, but the “forever mask regime” is beyond troubling to me. Nothing gives me more joy than seeing a wide open smile from people of all walks of life.

That smile of kindness and recognition is so human, so uplifting. We cannot allow fear to keep us from this joy.

Jayne Lee
Rockaway

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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