Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The Decline of New York City

Given my location at the center of the New York action, I occasionally try to keep everyone informed about how things are going in the Big Apple.

As of now, four months into the new Eric Adams mayoralty, things are not going well. One gets the sense that things are falling apart.

From the onset of the Adams administration we, among many others, expressed optimism about the new mayor. After all, he could not be worse than Comrade de Blasio.

Besides, Adams tends to say the right thing and seems prone to implement good policies. For now, however, the results belie the impression. 

First, in my collection of local news is a piece by John MacArthur in the Spectator:

As New York emerges from its third wave of Covid, an exceptionally creepy atmosphere has developed on the streets and in the subways, where at times conditions appear to have fallen somewhere between post-modern anarchy and medieval misery. In such a setting, statistics seem almost pointless, although it’s impossible not to be aware of the rising murder and assault rates. According to the NYPD, crime in the city in February was 59 percent higher than February last year. Car theft doubled. Rape was up by 35 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll found that New Yorkers are more worried about crime now than any time since 1999.

As for the rising crime rate, we can place some blame with Adams, and some with criminal friendly district attorney Alvin Bragg. And we should place blame on the politicians who instituted bail reform and who have been hard at work decriminalizing crime.

Among the signs of how badly this is going is one simple fact-- city prosecutors have been quitting in massive numbers. 

The Daily Mail has the report:

Hundreds of New York City prosecutors have left their jobs because of low pay and high workloads in the past year, putting more stress on an already overburdened justice system as crime continues to skyrocket in the Big Apple.

Assistant district attorneys are burned out because of two laws that took effect in January 2020, right as the pandemic was about to send crime soaring. 

The laws require prosecutors to quickly share evidence with defense attorneys in order to ensure a speedy trial. 

But the high volumes of paperwork - sometimes hundreds of pages per case - combined with a load of up to 100 cases at once and low starting pay have sent prosecutors fleeing for the private sector, the New York Times reports.

So far this year, 36 prosecutors in Brooklyn have quit, along with 44 in Manhattan, at least 28 in the Bronx and nine in Staten Island.

The low morale and dwindling workforce adds to the soft-on-crime approach of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has vowed that armed robbery would be treated as a misdemeanor if the firearm didn't 'create a genuine risk of physical harm.'

Meanwhile, a 2020 law that ended cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies has returned more criminals to the street. The law, meant to stop people from languishing in jails just because they can't make bail, is now meeting pushback from high-level city officials, including Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Crime in New York City is up 45 percent from last year, according to the latest figures released on March 27. Felony assault is up 19.1 percent and robberies are up 46.1 percent from last year. Both of those offenses are eligible for bail.

Yes, indeed, some local politicians are trying to address the problem. For now they have enjoyed very limited success.

Among the other bad signs about the city is this-- truancy has spiked in city public schools. Children are not going to school. Their parents apparently no longer care to send them. No one is quite clear about the reason, but the news is alarming.

Susan Edelman reports for the New York Post (via Maggie’s Farm):

The citywide rate of chronic absenteeism among NYC public-school students has risen to a staggering 40 percent, The Post has learned.

With 938,000 students enrolled in NYC’s schools, that means some 375,000 kids are missing too much school and falling too far behind.

But that number is likely an undercount because students out with COVID or quarantined could be marked present if they logged in online or had minimal contact with a teacher.

“It seems shocking the number is so high, but it could be even higher because they’re not always marking kids absent,” said education watchdog Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters.

Why is it happening?

Heightened anxiety, depression, fear of bullying, and restrictions on fun after-school activities such as sports have also led to lagging attendance, principals say.

​​They also cite the DOE’s policy since early in the pandemic to no longer use attendance as a requirement for students to pass.

“They know everyone’s going to get promoted,” a principal said. “There’s no fear of not getting promoted, so they don’t have to come in if they don’t want to.’

As for the prospective future of children who are not in school, there is no cause for optimism. This is bad news for the children and bad news for the country.

I’ve heard of chronic absenteeism rates of 50% or more since the start of the pandemic,” said Joanna Smith-Griffin, CEO and Founder of AllHere, a Boston-based company that helps districts boost attendance.

Calling it the “the canary in the mine,” she said, “Education leaders need to see dropping attendance and, even more alarmingly, enrollment, for what they really mean – a student population still reeling from the physical, social and emotional trauma of a pandemic and an overall breakdown of trust in public institutions, including schools.”

Does this have anything to do with the fact that the teachers’ unions, along with the CDC, have done their best to keep schools closed. Children lost the habit of going to school and are having serious problems recovering it.

And, of course, office buildings are still largely empty. Zero Hedge reports this side of the story:

Since the virus pandemic, Manhattan landlords have been struggling with a glut of commercial real estate properties as companies shrink corporate footprints and implement hybrid work models that allow white-collar workers to work remotely. 

Demand for office space in NYC was dismal in the first quarter. Space available hit another record high as the availability rate across the metro area hit 19%, the highest since the dark days of the Dot Com bust (2000), according to Bloomberg, citing a new report from Savills Research.

To top it off, Mayor Adams has reversed his original directive about masking toddlers. You see, toddlers are at very little risk from Covid, and their cognitive and emotional and social development is damaged by masking. So, Adams had decided to rescind his mask mandate… or, he did so until he changed his mind and reinstated the mandate.

But then, a pregnant city attorney on maternity leave, by name of Daniela Jampel got up at a press briefing and berated Adams for changing his mind. For the crime of going off script and for pretending to be a journalist, she was fired.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media outrage:

A New York City attorney who works for the city's Law Department has been fired after posing as a reporter to grill Mayor Eric Adams about why he's still masking kids.

Daniela Jampel, 38, was ousted from her role on Monday, hours after berating Adams at a press conference that was intended to discuss LGBT rights. 

She has since tweeted unrepentantly, saying: 'Je ne regrette rien' (I regret nothing), before adding: 'The fight continues.' 

It might feel like the canary in the coal mine, but it looks like an early sign that our new mayor is in way over his head.


Jimmy Caughey said...

I knew this was going to happen when Adams was elected. He puts on a good act, but not fooling me.

I was planning it for a while, but this was the last straw. I quite the Bronx DA's office in January.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that NYC is in the dumpster. The mayor did that.

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