Roosevelt Coalition

Rebuilding New York

Vickie Paladino

Vickie Paladino

Candidate for City Council District 19

How will you get New Yorker’s back to work?

The road to a rapid economic recovery will be difficult, but not impossible by any means. New York is still the greatest city in the world, and our legendary reputation as the center of commerce and culture will serve as a magnet for future business and talent — but only if we make smart decisions today.

Our first order of business MUST be to lift all COVID restrictions as rapidly as possible; we self-destructed our economy with what we now understand to be overly draconian lockdown and curfew policies that went on FAR longer than they should have. Other states took a lighter touch with these restrictions and saw similar infection rates without the same economic catastrophe as we’re experiencing.

But even more importantly for attracting new business and investment to the city, we MUST guarantee that these lockdowns and restrictions can never be implemented again for virtually any reason. There is a very real fear that lockdowns will now simply become part of the public policy toolkit, to be deployed for any number of future ’emergencies’ as determined by increasingly political and subjective measure. This cannot become our reality here in New York. There will be a permanent and fatal drag on our economic development unless we make it clear that ‘lockdowns’ for any reason other than the most dire and tangible threats to public safety, are illegal. The fact is that no entrepreneur or businessperson is going to risk major investment in New York if they believe the political leadership of the city can simply unplug the economy again. We need legislation specifically outlawing lockdowns in perpetuity, or our business community will NEVER feel confident in this city again.

Our next step must be to zero-out all COVID-era fines on New York City businesses, and refund any and all fines already paid by these businesses. Everyone in this city did their best to comply with the confusing, arbitrary, and often contradictory regulations coming from our municipal agencies, and the harsh penalties levied were frankly unwarranted in most cases. In the interest of stimulating and supporting our crucial business community, all of these fines must be dismissed, and all paid fines must be refunded immediately.

We need an entire slew of tax cuts across the board — retail, payroll, property, corporate, and income taxes must be reduced. By exactly how much and for how long is up for discussion, but we need to send a message that this city is serious about economic development, and tax cuts will send that message. Property taxes on commercial space in particular must be drastically reduced in order to help avert a total collapse of the commercial real estate market, which is now on the brink of disaster. And a one-year (or more) sales tax holiday will help draw consumers into New York stores and help get them shopping again.

We need to make low-interest loans and grants available to existing and prospective entrepreneurs, and we need to drastically cut the bureaucratic red-tape that makes opening a business in New York a complex and frustrating process. I would favor a one-stop rapid licensing bureau that would make the process of registering and licensing a new business take no more than 24 hours regardless of the business type, along with rapid grant and loan applications.

The restaurant, nightlife, and entertainment industries took a huge hit during COVID, and are in need of particular help. These are linchpins of New York culture and a massively important part of what has made this city an attractive destination for tourists, residents, and business investment. We need to jumpstart the industry with a grant program specifically tailored to restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, to help existing venues catch up on their rent, make renovations, and keep their staff employed. We also have to incentivise new venues to open as well, and we can do that by greatly streamlining the process to receive liquor and cabaret licensure and providing low-interest loans to help get these new ventures off the ground. I would also propose a two-year tax abatement for all restaurants and bars in New York City.

And finally we need to stop strangling our business community with high energy costs and unnecessary bureaucratic overhead. We need to let go of industry-killing ‘Green New Deal’ pipe dreams, escalating minimum wage demands, and all the other unnecessary and often ideologically-motivated pet projects that stifle our business community, drive up the cost of doing business, and discourage new investment.

How will you make our city’s streets safer?

There can be no economic recovery until public safety is restored. It is crucial that the business community and public at large feel secure in their property and in their communities. This means the NYPD needs to be fully re-funded, likely with a budget increase to make up for the damage that has been done to the department during the past eight years of neglect.

More important than any dollar figure in the budget, however, is empowering the NYPD to actually go out and do their jobs. That means identifying and replacing bad commanders installed by Mayor DeBlasio who undermine the mission of the NYPD for political reasons. It also means communicating to the rank-and-file officers that the city government has their back once again, and that they will not be thrown under the bus by City Hall.

On a tactical level, we need to expand the plainclothes anti-crime units who are responsible for almost all gun arrests in the city. We also need intelligent and aggressive gang units who will begin the hard work of dismantling the dangerous gangs which have moved into our most vulnerable areas, including MS-13 and others like them. And we need regular uniformed patrols throughout the city, keeping the peace and enforcing the ‘broken windows’ philosophy of quality of life law enforcement which has been proven to work in this city.

But most of all, we absolutely MUST end the truly insane practice of releasing all criminals without bail. This is the single most destructive policy in the history of our city, as it basically eliminates all immediate consequences to committing street crimes. There cannot and will not be any significant restoration of public safety until criminals actually face consequences for arrests again. This means aggressive law enforcement at the street level, harsh bail guidelines — particularly for repeat offenders, and prosecutors who will actually follow through on charges.

Beyond that, we need to renovate and fully open Rikers Island, and abandon plans to build multiple jails throughout our communities. Rikers Island is an asset to our public safety, it is a centralized and efficient way to deal with prisoners, and it is cost-effective. Closing it and operating multiple jails throughout the city is not only a costly and wasteful use of public funds, but it will degrade and threaten the safety of the neighborhoods in the surrounding areas.

This is also true for homeless shelters and similar facilities. They simply have no business being located in our residential communities because they threaten the safety of the neighborhood, drive down property values, and overall degrade confidence in the city as a whole.

How will you address the city’s increasing budget deficit?

Budget deficits are best addressed with economic growth. Our first order of business must be to get NYC back on track for growth above all else. We will never even begin to address our deficit until businesses and jobs begin to return.

With that having been said, our current strategy seems to be to disregard the budget deficits entirely and simply wait for the political winds in Washington to blow in favor of massive bailout packages. This is reckless and frankly insane, but it’s the preferred path for our current leadership and I have not seen any indication of this unspoken policy being reconsidered in a serious way.

The fact is, we need to cut spending wherever we can. Pretty much any program that doesn’t immediately contribute to the economic growth of the city will have to be cut back on. This means standing up to the public-sector unions which have bled the city dry for decades, cutting social services including welfare — particularly for illegals, and more than anything it means seeking opportunities for privatization wherever we can.

The city tries to do way too much for way too many, and we just cannot afford it anymore. Our focus needs to be on economic growth and job creation, not expanding our already-bloated welfare state. Once we are back on secure economic footing, we can begin to reexamine public spending priorities again.

How will you stop the exodus of residents from New York City?

It’s no secret that New Yorkers are fleeing the city in record numbers. Our tax base is leaving for states with lower taxes, less crime, and more freedom. We cannot ignore this reality, and we can’t write these people off. This is a real problem rooted in the terrible policy decisions made by our political leaders.

First must be the restoration of public safety. People simply do not want to live where they don’t feel safe, and increasingly they do not feel safe in New York City. This is a very simple cause-and-effect equation that our current leaders just don’t seem interested in addressing at all. This means removing homeless shelters from residential areas, increasing police patrols, and working to restore confidence in our ability to keep people safe in their own neighborhoods. There is nothing more important than this.

Next must be the easing of all COVID restrictions, particularly around schools, as well as a law preventing these measures from ever being instituted again. Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t want to invest in an economy that could be deactivated on a whim, nor do parents want their children in a school system that could be completely shut down for months or even years just as easily. It’s hard to put into words just how infuriated parents have been with public school closures, as well as the death-grip the teachers unions seem to have over our school policy. For many citizens it’s just easier to move to elsewhere than hope for sanity to return to New York City government.

We also need school choice. Increasing the cap on charter schools (or removing it altogether), incentivizing private education, and instituting a voucher program so low and middle income families have real options for educating their children is crucial to keeping families in New York as well.

Second, we need property tax cuts across the board. Property taxes are absolutely killing home ownership, particularly in middle-income coop and condo situations, which make up some of the most affordable housing in the city. It’s a complaint we’re hearing from every single corner of New York, and everyone seems unwilling to do anything about it. It’s time we got our arms around the problem and gave some relief to homeowners before they decide it’s just not worth it anymore and leave.

Another major — and overlooked — issue is that of municipal fines and the overall cost of living in this city. Red light cameras, speed cameras, bridge tolls, parking violations… these things increase the misery index of regular people who are just trying to live their lives, and contributes to an overall sense that living in New York just isn’t really worth it anymore. For longer than I can remember, the city has used traffic enforcement essentially as a cash machine; squeezing people for additional revenue whenever needed. DeBlasio’s absurd ‘Vision Zero’ program was simply the latest example of the city’s attempt to extract more money from it’s working class population. And while serious traffic violations must be pursued, a drastic reform of our traffic enforcement and fine system must be undertaken.

The fact of the matter is that while New York has always been expensive, there is now a tangible sense that we’re simply not getting a return on our investment as citizens anymore. And the only way to reverse this is going to be with serious municipal reforms that lower the cost of living, increase safety, and put people back in control of their own lives. Period.

How will you bring back tourism?

Once again this begins with public safety. Tourists are not going to visit a place they’re scared of. Getting public safety under control must be the first priority.

Next is economic development, particularly restoring the restaurant and entertainment industry. People come to New York for our legendary restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment venues, and they have all been hit incredibly hard by our wrongheaded COVID restrictions. I want to see a restaurant and nightlife renaissance in New York. We need to incentivize investment in this sector with tax breaks, abatements, and loan guarantees. Liquor and cabaret licenses should be made extremely easy to qualify for, and entrepreneurs and investors need to know that we’re never going back to lockdowns ever again.

We will also incentivize tourism with a long-term retail tax holiday, cutting taxes on hotel stays, and ending the city’s absurd war on AirBnB rentals.

Once we begin to bring our restaurants and entertainment back and get public safety under control, tourism will again flow into in New York as it has in the past.

How to Reach Us

General and press Inquiries:

Emily Sachs
The Coalition to Restore New York
esachs@c2rny.org

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Paid for by The Coalition to Restore New York. Rich Constable, President. Top Three Donors: 1) Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. 2) Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. and 3) MSG Networks Inc. Not expressly or otherwise authorized by any candidate or the candidate’s committee or agent. More information at nyc.gov/FollowTheMoney