First it was NPR, now it’s The New York Times: reliably blue outlets are raising the alarm on public pension funding in a big way this week. The Times report is a real tour de force, several times raising the specter of bankrupt, foundering Detroit as a precedent New Yorkers should keep in mind as they enter the de Blasio years. One money quote among many: “Pension analysts compare the worsening situation in New York to watching someone try to fill a sink when the drain is open.” The chart included in the article would make anyone’s blood run cold.The article details the rat’s nest of competing and colluding interests that bedevil meaningful pension reform in New York City, but it finally returns to focus on Mayor de Blasio:
Mr. de Blasio, notably, did not mention the word “pension” during his hourlong budget presentation in May. Mr. Bloomberg, by contrast, raised the issue often and made his final formal speech a stemwinder on pension costs.
In May, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced he would try to commit $1 billion to smaller investment firms led by minorities and women, despite research showing that initiatives geared toward emerging firms make it harder to achieve top investment returns.Mr. North said that Mr. de Blasio’s recent deal with the teachers’ union — and two subsequent deals with health care workers and nurses — would necessitate bigger pension contributions from the city. But precisely how much bigger remains unknown because the contracts are complex.
If de Blasio continues to play the ostrich on pensions, his tenure as Mayor will likely prove to be disastrous for New York City. One can only hope that the stark reality of the numbers facing him, along with pressure from otherwise reliable liberal allies in the media, will force on him a “Nixon-to-China” moment.
But given all we’ve seen and heard of Hizzoner thus far, we’re not holding our breath.