Considering the calendar, this
should be my “Christmas Column.”
But, with apologies
to Hallmark — and as one who is
grumpy, yet hopefully
not grinchy beyond
my years — welcome
to my Festivus celebration.
Join me in
the “airing of grievances”
and “feats of
strength.” Every week
I get to pay homage to
Frank Costanza by
letting you know I’ve
got a problem with
this or that.
Well, I”ve got a lot
of problems with how
the state, led by Gov.
Andrew Cuomo (who
treats New York City
Now you’re going to
hear about it, but it’s
not just Cuomo — the
state’s laws codifi ed
this harsh treatment of the city long
before he became Governor.
However, Cuomo — thanks in part
to his undisguised animus toward
Mayor Bill de Blasio — has made
things worse in recent times, capped
off by the pandemic response.
There is rarely an issue where
Cuomo doesn’t try to override local
decisions or throws out his chest to
make clear he’s the one making a call.
Often it’s arbitrary, sometimes it’s
petty, and seemingly done to punish
That includes shutting down the
city’s overnight train service with no
announced plan to bring it back — all
the while his appointed MTA highlights
the merits of Lyft and UBER
when discussing workers who are
off-hours and don’t have transit available
when coming or going to a job between
1 and 5 am.
That can also mean slow walking
the city’s lockdown, halting indoor
dining within the fi ve boroughs while
his own stats show it’s not a COVID
infection leader, not authorizing borrowing
powers that previous mayors
got immediately in crises to avoid layoffs,
COURIER L 24 IFE, DECEMBER 25-31, 2020
or even the handling of lost deer.
I could go on, but that would take me
‘till Festivus 2021.
So now that I’ve “aired” the grievances,
we can move
on to the “feats of
strength” in which
one must pin an opponent
in a wrestling
that happens, Festivus
So, how would
feats of strength
play out in this instance?
Give the city
legal muscle to control
its own destiny.
Local control would
help on all of these
issues. That means
that the New York
City transit system
would shift from the
MTA to the umbrella
of NYC Department
Allow the city to determine
its types of taxation and set
its rates. Reimagine property taxes. A
governor should not override a mayor
without legislative approval. The
mayor of the biggest school system in
the country should have the fl exibility
to open and close schools as circumstances
I know that constitutionally, cities
are not autonomous; they are creations
of states. However, our largest
cities have become the economic and
cultural engines of our country and
we must not let envy or power trips
stifl e them.
If the state’s power over these issues
was working, I’d be fi ne, but it
The state has had its chance. It is
time for the state to stop taking credit
for the good and blaming the city for
all failures like inadequate subways.
If the city is going to get blamed, it
should be for things under its control.
Maybe the city should be its own
sovereign state. Now, that would be
pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Mike Racioppo is the District Manager
of Community Board 6. Follow
him on Twitter @RacioppoMike.
‘Twas the eve of ‘21
BY SARAH BAYLISS
’Twas the night before New Years, and huddled inside
We refl ected on things. 2020—What a ride!
With heartache and hope, it was a year of all years
With bright spots and dark ones, sprinkled with tears
It brought us together, all over the land
Hoping to get our dear country in hand
So many stepped up, each in their own way
Some risking their lives for a better new day.
The protests, the Tweets, the many donations
We honor all those who gave lives for our nation
The postcards, the phone banks, the insults and hang-ups
Small slights to endure by those folks who dialed up
Arizona! Nevada! Georgia! We cried
We prayed that the new day would really arrive
The spread of good news got everyone out
Dancing in streets, and from rooftops, the shouts
“Queens Man Evicted!” from the Queens Daily Eagle
No love lost from that borough, and most of its people
And all throughout COVID, we grieved those we’d lost
As seasons advanced, from blossoms to frost
Amid hunger and fi res, evictions, and sadness,
and hatred, fake news; oh, where was the gladness?
Show after show, and meal after meal
We turned to our pets and each other to deal
In nature, volunteer work, in blogging and art
We each found our way to take part and take heart
On the darkest of days, shared snippets of wit
Some humor and grace came from those most hard hi
Wait, what’s going on? A surprise birthday Zoom?
Such small acts of kindness lit up the room
Bring on that vaccine. Can’t come soon enough!
Meanwhile, gotta house clean. How’d I get so much stuff?
Give away all those things; fi ll a need, share some fun.
2020, you tried us! And still, we’re not done
The new year is here, but the battles aren’t fi nished
Keep strong, stay alert and engaged, and stay in it
Can’t wait to see more from that Kamala Harris!
But when, oh when, will I get back to Paris?
Some day. But for now, gotta love what you got.
With these friends and family, that’s surely a lot.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that human affection
Endures through pandemics and weak Wi-Fi connections
So take care, stay well, and do what you do
And soon, when it’s safe, I can’t wait to see you!
Sarah Bayliss (@shbayliss) has lived in Park Slope for 18 years.
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