10:41 am Mar. 22, 20132
Yesterday at the 92nd Street Y, during yet another Democratic mayoral forum, a pre-taped, "man on the street" interlocutor in a red Cornell sweatshirt asked the candidates what they would do about the city's "third world nation"-caliber roads and bridges.
Their answers varied, slightly, but were nearly all based on one basic idea: they would seek to fund city infrastructure improvements with other people's money.
The sole possible exception was comptroller John Liu, whose response wasn't precise enough to qualify: "I've got a plan that will unleash the inherent value of New York's land," he said.
At the forum, sponsored by the 92nd Street Y and the New York Observer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said the city should tap into its pension funds to invest in affordable housing, but he also made a big point of saying that the mayor of the country's largest city should use its bully pulpit to plead for more infrastructure funding from the federal government.
This is somewhat optimistic, assuming as it does that the advent of a Democratic mayor of New York will make the Republican-controlled House less averse to spending more on city infrastructure.
But: "The next mayor of New York City is going to have to be once again, as mayors were in the past, the spokesperson for urban America nationally," de Blasio said, and he or she will have to "fight for fairness when it comes to issues like infrastructure and mass transit."
Former comptroller Bill Thompson and former Brooklyn councilman Sal Albanese concurred.
Thompson also said the city should use more public-private partnerships, and both he and Albanese said they would create a new cabinet position, a deputy mayor for infrastructure, though they declined to elaborate on how that sort of position would result in fewer potholes and safer bridges.
Meanwhile, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, said, "We can and should borrow more" to underwrite road and bridge repair.
You can watch the whole debate here.
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