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Thingish Things

Shake Down, Council Style

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Sep• 28•11

New York City is at it again. At least the City Council is. Mayor Bloomberg, who has infinitely better sense than the Council, hasn’t definitively said if we will back the Council’s new kick-back scheme that would force banks holding City money to “give back to the community.”

In non-government parlance, that’s called a “shake down.” I’ll do business with you if you give a taste of the action to x, y, and z. The City can legally do that of course. No one is forcing Chase or Bank of America to do business with the City. But it amounts to regulatory harassment. It forces banks, which provide the vast majority of City tax revenue, to do things outside their core strengths — and to hire entire divisions of personnel that have nothing to do with banking.

And why is it that the banks always get the squeeze? Dozens of industries do business with the City. Does Crayola have to fix up little league fields? Do the gasoline companies that fill MTA buses have to give New Yorkers free oil changes? Do city uniform providers have to clothe us? (Please do not forward this to ambitious Council Members.)

What’s the difference between a rubber stamp and the New York City Council?, the ¬†overused quip goes. A rubber stamp leaves an impression.

That’s not true anymore. The City Council leaves a clear impression on the New York City banking industry: Screw you.

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