Webmasters and developers are a forgiving bunch. After all, they spend their day gently correcting problems with code, layout and all things that can go wrong with a website. It would seem our New York crew would be a cynical bunch, but competing with the eternally happy west coast means stepping away from the traditions of the New York City curmudgeon. Many of us have start-up money, after all, so let us be guarded if an investor is nearby so everything is on the up and up!
In truth, there are many things to be worried about for New York City’s Internet workforce. Job security is number one, but we are also very focused on increasing our footprint outside Manhattan-centric Silicone Alley. Easy commutes, whether by public transit, by bike or by foot seems to get a lot of attention from our lot. We forgave Mayor Bloomberg for buying city council and abolishing the office’s two-term limit for himself so he could serve three, because his legacy is epic in the number of accomplishments for which he improved the young IT professional’s life. Let’s talk New York Bike share with no deaths to date because of hundreds of miles of dedicated bike lanes in the five boroughs. Also in the category of making the city more livable, he’s developed hundreds of acres of waterfront for city parks and walkways, many of them wired for our work-out-of-home convenience. He then proceeded to remove traffic entirely from the center of Time Square. He’s the one who banned smoking practically everywhere, which we mostly agree on. The big social reforms are his legacy. It’s true that his sponsorship of “stop and frisk” policies has been his major downfall with liberal New Yorkers. Racial profiling is wrong, he admits, but hood profiling is good for getting jerks who steel iPhones off the streets. Never mind that the stopped are the same skin color. Practically always. Mayor Bloomberg lost battles we wanted him to lose, to remove large sodas from bodegas, but more often we wanted him to win his fights, for instance to reform the broken school system to feed talented technologists into our industry. But he’s succeeded in leadership, a short man in a tall role who proved to be the ultimate webmaster with a lot to brag about if that were his style. It’s not, and his modesty in front of a microphone would be something of a cultural treasure if he didn’t sound so sniveling. He’s a nebbish and a technologist at his core, after all.
New York has learned what the rest of the country is still learning about their elected leaders. Don’t elect the guy you want to have a beer with; elect the guy who’s going to call you out for not logging in the next day and keeping the website secure. Elect the algo guy. Now, New Yorkers may be joining the rest of the United States in their desire for affability over logic. Our new mayor Bill de Blasio, the guy from next door standing at the grill, holding a spatula and wearing an apron. “There are those who have said our ambition for this city is too bold,” he stumped. “But we are New Yorkers!” The fire’s hot and he looks pretty damn good next to his multiracial friends and family, out back his Park Slope brownstone and talking on progressive matters – save matinees in the harbor, police friendlier and fairer, tax those richer than himself. But he pays lip service to helping our causes, without laying out any concrete strategy for what he will do to help the technology sector:
“Mayor Bloomberg and the city created the Applied Science Center. And I’ve often been a critic of Bloomberg, but that’s something where I agree with him 100 percent and I think it’s a great step forward for this city. But let’s be clear; it’s one piece of the equation. But beyond that, the next frontier is the city university system. That’s what a lot of folk in tech said to me would be the real difference-maker, both in terms of speed with which CUNY could graduate people who are ready to go into jobs right now, and just the sheer volume of people that could be handled at CUNY rather than Cornell. There are a lot of people who grew up in New York City, who would love to get those tech jobs, need the additional training, and could use some help with financial aid. The city can play a powerful role in addressing that….” Source
But what about that other mayoral candidate, the Republican, who speaks a business talk most of us need to hear but sort of gloss over when hearing it? Joe Lhota in front of a microphone is like going to a symposium hosted by the DMV. His style is a holdover from days running the MTA where employees are required to avoid eye contact and frown as part of protocol for working in the subway. He’s certainly a better business man. He managed the spectacular revival of the subway system following Hurricane Sandy, and was deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani, so he would not have ended police racial profiling. That’s bad on principal. But his real problem was he was a big, fat zero in front of the microphone, and he offered scant evidence for any significant plan to help New York’s technology sector:
“Our high-tech businesses need to be nurtured and expanded. Mayor Bloomberg should be given a lot of credit for his efforts to expand the high-tech industry in our city. I want to continue his efforts and further develop bio-tech as part of the diversification of our economy. We have some of the greatest hospitals and medical schools in the world and we should take advantage of their expertise in making NYC a hub for bio-tech.” Source
Perhaps Mike Bloomberg’s most lasting legacy for technology interests in the city is the hiring of the City’s first Chief Digital Officer, with the stated goal of improving communication with residents and businesses by enhancing government transparency and working closely with digital media. We hope our new mayor brings more power to Rachel Sterne (#rachelhaot) who fills this newly established position. She’s our pick for the coming term, so we’re optimistic the new mayor will be there to support her in her fight for technology’s interests in New York City.