The letter below was printed in the Chisago County Press, June 21, 2007. Since it is not online at that paper’s web site, it is included here for convenience of the reader.
NYC had right idea
To the editor:
In January of 2002, the mayor of New York City faced a $6 billion deficit and the same tough choices as Governor Tim Pawlenty.
But facing the same three options; cut services, raise taxes or both and against the advice of his advisors - Mayor Michael Bloomberg raised taxes 18.5 percent. By the following summer his approval ratings had plunged to 31 percent.
The success of his strategy, however, is undeniable. New York City has added 151,000 private sector jobs and has attracted 44 million visitors through a not for profit marketing juggernaut aptly named NYC & Co.
The city, where residents are treated like business customers, touts a $1.3 billion surplus and Mayor Bloomberg’s approval ratings hover between 70-75 percent.
In contrast, Minnesota’s growth has fallen for two consecutive years, now ranked 30th in the country, and for the first time ever, Minnesota’s unemployment rate exceeded the national average.
The difference is Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman, understood what Governor Pawlenty, an upstart lawyer/politician, didn’t. Mayor Bloomberg saw public transportation, clean streets and safe neighborhoods as critical to maintaining the “brand” that makes New York City successful.
Minnesota, like New York City, has a “brand” that business people and residents understand and protecting that “brand” will be more productive than abandoning it.
“I’ve always joked”, says Bloomberg, “that the difference between having the courage of your convictions and being pig-headed is in the results.”
Did he just call Governor Pawlenty pig-headed?
I believe he did.
In the former letter he argued that Governor Pawlenty should have pushed for a substantial tax increase, suggestively comparable to Bloomberg's 18.5% increase in 2002. In the latter, one week later, he argued taxes should be decreased. This conflicted letter writer wants it both ways! Inside of two weeks, in two papers, he has two views.