Pataki and Bruno: The Midwest Mentality

Less than three years after a devastating terrorist attack, New York City is bouncing back. The municipal treasury, while not exactly flush, is in better shape than it was even a few months ago. This, you would assume, is good news, not only for the city but for everybody in New York State. The city, after all, is the state’s economic engine, and when the city is doing well, the benefits are spread far and wide.

Unfortunately, Governor George Pataki and his allies in the Republican-controlled State Senate don’t see it that way. They despise the city, are envious of its power and seek any excuse to short-change their fellow New Yorkers living in the five boroughs.

Because the city’s finances have improved, the powers that be in Albany say they are not sympathetic to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s request for $400 million in state aid. This is an outrage, and it is based not on budgetary requirements, but on an outright dislike for the city and all that it stands for.

The Mayor’s request is extremely reasonable, especially when you consider that he asked for nearly $3 billion last year. What’s more, the city pays $2.6 billion more in state taxes than it receives in state aid. The city provides the jobs that maintain suburban property values, the corporate profits that fuel state revenues, and the cultural attractions that bring tourists to the city and state.

And yet, or perhaps as a result, jealous upstate lawmakers love to torment the city over money. What a contrast to the way the French treat Paris-as a national treasure, worthy of a portion of that country’s treasury.

The city is more than the most important jurisdiction in the state. It is the financial capital of the world, home to the United Nations and its many missions, and the intellectual capital of the country. It’s bad enough that George W. Bush has written the city off politically. But it’s a civic outrage that Governor Pataki kisses up to Mr. Bush’s attitude, perhaps to win a federal job in a second Bush term.

State Senator Joseph Bruno, an upstate Republican who serves as majority leader of the State Senate, is emblematic of the anti-city sentiment upstate. He is positively Midwestern in his attitude, that banal distrust of both New York and Los Angeles. Sure, New Yorkers can be arrogant-for example, we know it’s impossible to get a decent meal outside the city-but does that make us villains?

It is time for people like Senator Bruno and Governor Pataki to put aside their small-minded prejudices and acknowledge reality. After all, without New York City, the state simply could not exist.

Stuyvesant Does It Again

Are New York kids just smarter? This ain’t chutzpah, it’s fact: Once again, Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan has more semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search than any other school in the country-19, to be exact, tying its record from last year. In fact, for seven of the past 11 years, Stuyvesant has boasted the greatest number of semifinalists in the nation’s most prestigious science competition. Past winners of the Intel contest-formerly known as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search-have gone on to receive five Nobel Prizes, 10 MacArthur Foundation grants and three National Medals of Science. This year’s winners will be announced in March.

Among the Stuyvesant semifinalists are Eugenia Ester Lee (“Characterization of Hepatitis-G Infection in Children Born to H.I.V.-Infected Mothers”) and Naazia Amina Husain (“Learned Fear of Phobic vs. Neutral Stimuli After Pavlovian Conditioning”). Stuyvesant wasn’t the only city school to shine; other semifinalists include six each from the Bronx High School of Science and Midwood High School in Brooklyn, and four from the Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. Over 50 percent of the 300 semifinalists were from New York State-a fact that speaks to the need for our universities to harness this talent.

Stuyvesant’s success in nurturing so many of the Intel winners is a reflection on the entire public-school system, since the winners typically started out in neighborhood public schools and then won admission to Stuyvesant on a competitive basis. It’s important for New Yorkers to recognize the teachers who stood behind these students and nurtured a spirit of scientific inquiry.

It’s notable that, with the exception of the Brearley School, which has one semifinalist, the city’s elite private schools are absent from the Intel semifinalists. No Chapin, no Dalton, no Collegiate, no Trinity. Where’s all that tuition money going? It’s all too clear that the private schools are not providing a top-notch education in the sciences, content to make a name for themselves with low-cost investment in a humanities curriculum. That’s all fine and good, but does the world really need more liberal-arts majors, who only end up as professors, politicians, actors or-worst of all-journalists?

Graydon Carter Blows Smoke

Graydon Carter, what are you up to? Put a rein on your bloated ego and stop being a pompous ass.

As chronicled last week by The New York Times , Mr. Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair , has decided that he is above the law in New York, particularly the law banning smoking in indoor public places like restaurants and office buildings. While it’s true that Mr. Carter is Canadian, he is still subject to the laws of this city. But he seems to love nothing more these days than ostentatiously lighting up a cigarette in protest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s smoking ban. City inspectors have issued him three summonses for smoking in his Condé Nast office, and Mr. Carter has turned his editor’s letter into a critique of Mr. Bloomberg.

Mr. Carter’s sense of persecution-and self-importance-is truly stunning. For the once-humorous, now apparently humorless former editor of Spy to complain that he is being spied upon as he sucks and stubs his cigarettes shows a self-regard and lack of perspective that comes to many who achieve a mild position of power in society-one great enough to disturb their fellow citizens with their whining, but not great enough to make a difference. Why Mr. Carter, who edited The Observer for a time, would resent the great city he lives in for trying to prolong his life is beyond us. But his bogus argument that Mayor Bloomberg’s admirable steps to clean New York of nicotine addiction, and thin the ranks of people in city hospitals suffering from cigarette-induced disease, are actually a personal vendetta against him is as offensive as the secondhand smoke he imposes upon his helpless and suffering dinner companions.

But Mr. Carter still seems to think he’s striking a blow for the common man. He told The Times, referring to Mr. Bloomberg, “He’s rich; I’m not.” That Mr. Carter-who commands a huge salary and an exorbitant expense account and lives in a Manhattan townhouse-could claim with a straight face that he is not “rich” is rich indeed. Perhaps Mr. Carter should chat with some of the waiters who serve him his four-star dinners. They could explain to him that making a living off tips is hard enough without having to inhale toxic cigarette smoke all night.

Wake up, Graydon, and smell the nicotine! The life your Mayor is trying to save is, despite your irritating arrogance, your own.

Pataki and Bruno: The Midwest Mentality