**A Guest Post from TAM Shifra**
It was a hard act to follow, from the get-go. I mean, who could have possibly succeeded Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and have done so well? Rudy cleaned up the city; he transformed Times Square from a drug-and-porn-infested hellhole into a lovely, clean promenade. Under Rudy, drug addicts could no longer jump at cars that were waiting for the red light to change, “cleaning” the windshield with filthy rags and demanding money for the “service.” Panhandlers could no longer accost pedestrians for loose change. Crime – murders, car thefts – dropped significantly. And on 9/11 – Rudy’s pain, anger, and determination to help us “get through this” – well, we got through it. We knew that the grown-ups were in charge.
Enter Michael Bloomberg. A life-long Democrat. Years ago, he was a regular guy, working in finance, like thousands of others. He had a great idea. He invented a bond information system known as “the Bloomberg” that was used all across Wall Street. It made him a fortune.
Bloomberg wanted to be Mayor of NYC. He switched parties, ran as a Republican. (He has since switched parties again, this time as an Independent.) Spent a small fortune of his own money. (Well, he has billions, so no worries.)
Mayor Bloomberg started out just fine. Cancelled parking rules for weekends, so you could park just about anywhere, free. And he implemented a wonderful system for providing quick access to city government information and non-emergency services. All you do is dial “311” and a real-live person will ask you, “How may I direct your call?” And, you then get another real-live person, to respond to questions. Nice.
So, when did the romance begin to sour? I think the Bloom Was Off the Rose (pun intended) five winters ago. I call it the NYC Motorists’ Day of Outrage.
But first, some background on one of the really obnoxious and annoying features of this city: Alternate Side Parking. Three words that strike fear in the hearts of NYC car owners. Here’s how it works (or, doesn’t work). In order for street cleaning trucks to drive down each block, sweeping the gutters, motorists cannot park on one side of the street during street-cleaning days. (You are allowed to double-park on the other side of the street during those hours, but God help you if you did not know about Alternate Side Parking – your car will be locked in by double-parked cars during those hours. And you had better be ready to move your car exactly, and I mean *exactly* when ASP ends, or You Will Be Ticketed!)
Now, here is where it gets crazy: There are many different permutations of the street-cleaning hours e.g., Monday and Thursday 8:30-10:00, Tuesday and Friday, 11:30-1:00. Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30 12:00. And, in some places, Wednesdays, 11:00-12:30. But God forbid the rules should apply to a whole neighborhood. Instead, every few blocks, the days/hours change. (I heard there is a block in Brooklyn where half the block has one set of days/hours, and the other half has a totally different set.)
One winter day in ’07, it snowed. Really bad. And the snow removal teams, bless ‘em, plowed all the snow from the middle of the streets to the curbs, as they usually do, trapping the cars in hard snow banks. The next morning, the cops had a field day, ticketing everyone for failure to move their cars for Alternate Side Parking. People went nuts! And what was Bloomberg’s response? People shouldn’t be so lazy. Get up earlier, shovel out your cars. As one furious woman told a reporter, “I had no problem digging out my car. But where exactly was I supposed to move my car to?
OK, Bloomberg did apologize, and the parking tickets were voided.
But from that moment on, I realized: Bloomberg is an elitist, insufferable, condescending **expletive deleted.**
And then came the Great Salt Ban of 2010.
I was standing in line at a Starbucks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (Uber-Lib country). A young woman in front of me ordered a sandwich. She asked for extra salt. “Nope, can’t do that,” said the guy. (barista? whatever.) I was shocked. “Wait!” I said, in a voice just a little too loud, “You *can’t,* as in, “I don’t have a salt shaker?” or, “I can’t because it’s against the law?” The guy responded, “Not allowed to give extra salt.” “OMG!” I shouted, “WE LIVE IN A POLICE STATE!” (OK, I should have said “nanny state,” but I was upset.)
(Note to TAMS: if we ever meet for coffee at a Starbucks, I am usually very well-mannered.)
I did not know about the Slurpee Law until I read Tammy’s post. Truth be told, I never had a Slurpee. I love junk food, but I do have standards. Slurpees look awful. Full of food coloring and chemicals. But now that they’ve been banned, I’m thinking about the Supersized Slurpee. I think I really really want one.