Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Going local

Home again.  

Left Tokyo just as the Nikkei was dropping 5%-- further proof that you can run but can't hide.   Is it reassuring to know that, on a global scale, we're all in this together?

The local scene never fails to shock and amuse.  Columnist Mike Kinsley--a colleague of mine from New Republic days--once coined an idea which has proven itself to be spot on time and again: namely, when it comes to government corruption and  malfeasance, the scandal is not what is illegal but what is legal.

The Long Island Rail Road disability scandal is a prime example of the Kinsley principle in action. That approximately 97% of LIRR retirees legally qualify for and receive federal disability payments did not appear to be a problem to senior leaders at the railroad.  However---shock, shock!!--the LIRR discovered that many of these same employees might be double dipping into private disability plans, which prompted a call to State Attorney General Cuomo, according to today's NY Times.  Go figure.

Put me on the list of those who oppose a third term for Mayor Bloomberg.  I support the mayor and think he would do a fine job in a third term.  However, term limits is the law in this municipality, and even though there are circumstances when laws need to be overriden, this is not one of them.  The notion that mayoral continuity at times of crisis is sufficient grounds to overturn a public vote on this matter (2 public votes, in fact) holds no water.  And it's been tried before.  Rudy almost had us convinced to postpone (or cancel!) the 2001 mayoral election with a similar argument in the wake of the 9-11 catastrophe.  NYC will survive the departure of Mr. Bloomberg.  Time to consider whether we need term limits at the federal level.  Put me on the list of supporters for that one.

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