Making New York Work: What Gets in the Way? (A Common Good forum)

On May 7th, 2012, Common Good co-hosted a forum with the Manhattan Institute and the Citizens Budget Commission entitled “Making New York Work: What Gets in the Way?” The event, which focused on the bureaucratic and legal impediments to sensible government in New York City and State, was the first in a series of planned forums exploring the structural challenges facing New York; future events will focus on, among other things, the business climate and education reform.

Common Good founder and chair Philip K. Howard made the opening remarks, calling attention the myriad ways in which sensible government decision-making is thwarted by open-ended mandates, byzantine bureaucratic requirements and the proliferation of overly-specific and inflexible rules. Next came a panel discussion, moderated by Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, and featuring Howard, Port Authority President Patrick Foye, New York City Human Resources Commissioner Robert Doar, and City Operations Director Elizabeth Weinstein.

Each panelist brought a unique perspective to the debate.  Foye derided the counterintuitive environmental review requirements that massively delay eco-friendly upgrades to the Bayonne Bridge.  Commissioner Doar spoke about the City’s rigid civil service system, which ties managers’ hands by preventing sensible hiring and firing decisions.  Weinstein concluded by describing the astonishing complexity of City government, and the unwieldy and inefficient ways in which it interacts with itself.  Following their talks, the panelists answered questions from the audience, and the evening concluded with a brief reception.