Leaving New York City
I recently took a job that will take me West for eight out of the next nine months. With my applications to graduate school going out this fall, it's possible that my days as a New Yorker are waning.
I have mixed feeling about it.
I grew up here. My parents are in the area. My closest friends are here. My church is here. There are wonderful things to do, including museums, sports, entertainment, etc.
There are a lot of reasons to love New York.
Yet I'm not so sure the city is moving in the right direction.
Those of you who read this blog know that I think Rudy Giuliani was the greatest mayor New York City ever had. He saved this city from crime, grime, and hopelessness.
He did it by fighting crime, making sure the trash was picked up on time, graffiti was off the walls, the homeless were off the streets, and proved that working people and businesses were welcome in New York City.
It took a lot of work. The mindsets of New Yorkers needed to change. Government began to care about "quality of life" issues, and the city was reborn.
They week after Rudy left office, I saw an obvious increase in homeless people walking around in Manhattan. I now see the same four or five homeless people walking around in my neighborhood in Astoria on a regular basis. No one in the city government seems to care that they are there, no one seems concerned that they are panhandling at the subway stations, and it does not appear that the city is doing anything to get them housing (unless they consider the Steinway Street subway stop low income housing).
Graffiti is on the rise. In Rudy's day, graffiti would be painted over and cleaned up within days. Now, when something goes up, it pretty much stays there. Slowly but surely, the walls in our community belong more to vandals than to property owners.
The subway service is getting more and more unreliable. I don't care what the statistics say, trains are being re-routed more than they have in years. Some stations, like the ones on Roosevelt Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, are seemingly cleaned only sporadically. The "G" line supposedly goes to Steinway Street, although I haven't seen it in over a year. The subways are just getting worse and worse.
Then there's the "if you see something, say something" campaign on the NYC subways. How exactly? I hardly ever see police officers on subway cars, the doors are locked now so I can't walk to other subway cars (where the train conductors are), and my mobile phone does not work underground. If I see some guy putting together a bomb on the subway, how exactly am I supposed to tell someone in authority before it goes off? Am I supposed to yell louder?
Then there is the issue of jobs. They are leaving NYC. The financial companies that are the bedrock of our economy have been going through post-September 11th diversifying. Rather than keep all of their employees in one building, they spread them out into various areas, including New Jersey and Connecticut. It's the smart thing to do for them, but bad for New York City.
I don't see a light in the tunnel for these issues. Nominal Republican Mike Bloomberg seemingly would be the candidate to change these problems if he were not already mayor and leading the charge for them. I don't see Freddy Ferrer or C. Virginia Fields caring about "quality of life" issues in places like Astoria, nor do I see Anthony Weiner or Gifford Miller ever getting elected.
It's a classic case of a "rock and a hard place" for New York City voters. They want things to be better, but there doesn't seem to be anyone out there who is saying they will do it.
I hope New York keeps things up.
When I come back, I'd like to be in a safe, clean, prosperous city.