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New York Post


Qs For GOP Wannabes

August 28, 2013

By Nicole Gelinas

And please be specific

Tonight at 7, the Campaign Finance Board will present the first of two debates in the GOP mayoral race. Here are some questions for candidates John Catsimatidis, the oil-refinery and Gristedes mogul; Joe Lhota, the former Giuliani-era deputy mayor, MTA chief and Madison Square Garden exec, and George McDonald, founder of the Doe fund, which finds work for homeless people.

* The city will face a $2 billion deficit next year on a $56.3 billion budget. Every labor contract is expired. You’ve all ruled out retroactive raises, which could cost $7.5 billion. Yet union leaders demand back pay. What would you do if a union threatened an illegal strike? Would you fire striking workers?

* Pensions for city workers will cost $8.3 billion this year. Police pensions are $2.5 billion. The city has more retired cops (or surviving spouses) than active cops. Did Gov. Cuomo’s 2011 pension reform — which raised retirement ages and worker contributions, but only for future employees — go far enough? Can New York keep itself safe if police officers can retire after 22 years? Should city workers have 401k-style pensions instead?

* One of you (Catsimatidis) has been hitting a rival (Lhota) over hiking tolls at the state-run MTA last year. But pension (and health) costs are eating away at the MTA’s budget, too. Mr. Lhota, when you were MTA head last year, did you impress upon Cuomo that the MTA needs both pension and health-care cost reforms?

Mr. Catsimatidis, what’s your specific plan to cut the MTA’s costs or services so that riders and drivers don’t have to pay more?

* Mr. Lhota, you’re taking similar heat for calling Port Authority police officers “mall cops.” A question for everyone: In 2010, 10 Port Authority police officers made more than $200,000, not including benefits, thanks to overtime that doubled their pay. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who controls the Port Authority with Cuomo) has reportedly said he wants Port Authority police to patrol the new World Trade Center site, even though it would be cheaper to have NYPD cops do it.

Does the PAPD need cost cutting? Should the murder of 37 PAPD officers on 9/11 prohibit politicians from making changes?

* The New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries are preparing to sell off valuable land to pay for repairs. Would you make more room in your budget for libraries?

* Do you think Mayor Bloomberg has done a good job of making sure building developers comply with noise, safety and waste-disposal laws? Would you do anything differently so that New Yorkers don’t have to suffer because of illegal practices?

* Your Democratic rivals all agree that New Yorkers should always know where the mayor is. Does the mayor have a right to privacy?

* Two of you propose to overhaul the horse-carriage industry. (Lhota would replace horses with electric cars; Catsimatidis would move stables to Central Park.) What other legal, private businesses would you abolish or micromanage as mayor?

* Since Bloomberg launched CitiBike in May, nearly 75,000 New Yorkers have bought annual memberships, and 35,000 people a day use the service. Would you expand it beyond Midtown so that store owners are better connected to customers in other parts of the city?

* Bloomberg has changed money in politics. He gives money, rather than takes it. Would you disclose the personal or corporate donations you’ve made or directed these past three years, so voters can decide if these gifts might create any conflicts?

* Would you ever raise taxes? If so, how? Would you levy a new income tax on the rich even though the rich already pay a disproportionate share of taxes, or would you raise property taxes or sales taxes so that more people share in the pain?

* The Democrats talk about inequality, noting that New York creates high-wage and low-wage jobs, but not enough middle-class jobs. Is it the mayor’s job to ensure income equality? Should the mayor decide what jobs come to New York, through subsidies for certain companies and industries, or should the mayor treat all law-abiding companies and industries fairly and equitably?

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