New York City is often considered a metropolis that is always chasing progress and perfection, and what better time to set new goals than at the turn of a decade? Prominent New Yorkers and celebrities have weighed in and discussed their projections for the Big Apple in the New Year.
While many are somewhat skeptical about New Year’s resolutions, they continue to be made each year by millions. Whether it is a goal to lose a few pounds, be a better person, or work harder, it’s common for people to take the initiative to better themselves or the world around them at a time when fresh starts are customary. But what do some of New York’s most prominent individuals think New York should focus on this year? Let’s find out.
Jimmy Breslin, 80, Author and newspaperman
“First, you’ve got to find a way to get rid of Albany. They’ve got people up there — I mean, all you have to do is look at what they’re up to. For 30 years, they let this guy Bruno, for example, just go on and on and on. It’s the seat of larceny, so I say just get rid of it.
Then you have to start a real newspaper. Do the newspapers today even attack anybody anymore? They had Bloomberg winning by a mile and a half. The people know more than the newspapers and the television does. They sure knew not to like Bloomberg as much as they were told to. People are getting away with murder all over the place, and the papers have a chance to say something about it. But they just don’t do it.”
Donald Trump, 62, Real estate mogul and TV personality
“Obviously, the city needs to get rid of its tremendous debt, but what would be really fantastic, really fabulous, would be to see the city roads and, especially, the guardrails get fixed up. Whenever I drive the roads in this city, I see these terrible, truly awful guardrails. They’re dented, they’re broken, and some of them are completely rusted out. To me, it’s supposed to go hand in hand: You fix the roads and then you fix the guardrails simultaneously, but it doesn’t seem to happen that way. So debt and the guardrails — but almost more, I’d say the guardrails. The guardrails are just in such bad shape.”
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, 50, Editor, The Nation magazine
“I think it’s very serious — it’s actually almost Dickensian — that we’re planning to cut reduced student fares on the subway. The hard-core thought about that would be the idea of free transportation altogether. People might laugh at it, but it’s something that the city should actually think about.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the New Deal lately, too, and how this great city could be a place where we launch some sort of new pilot W.P.A. program. We already have the writers and the thinkers and the creators in place. So a program like that would be about job creation and economic development, but also creativity and how creativity inspires community development and renewal. It would also be about rebuilding the city — its parks, its highways, its schools and its post offices, but then its theaters and its music and its visual arts, too.
The crisis of the economy is a hugely serious one, but there’s also a crisis of the spirit.”
Eliot Spitzer, 50, Former governor, attorney general
“I would love to see investment bankers actually do God’s work.”
Oliver Stone, 63, Movie director
“For a city that’s been so revitalized, that’s become so incredible again, the airports are a disgrace. Any chance I get, I fly out of Newark. Even the smallest airports in China are better than La Guardia, and you can just forget about J.F.K.
My second choice is a little less important, maybe, but the cabdrivers here are horrendous, and something needs to be done. I’d say 22 percent of my cab rides recently have ended in near collisions. They drive like they don’t even care, like they just want to get to their destination.
But as much as I dislike the taxi drivers, the bicyclists are worse. I was almost hurt, twice, seriously, by bikes. One time, at night, a guy was going the wrong way down the street and almost ran me down. He called me an expletive, so I called him something back, and he came at me with a knife! I can’t believe their sense of entitlement.
Lastly, and I know it’s not doable, it’s just a hypothesis, but they ought to send Bloomberg up to Albany. You need a strong man up there. The best solution for New York is to get him up there as governor and let him clean house.”
Russell Simmons, 52, Hip-hop entrepreneur
“Mayor Bloomberg, do what you can to uplift the poor. The divide between rich and poor is growing in New York, so the need is better education and better educational opportunities for everyone.
We also need meditation in the schools, quiet time for kids. Sitting still is so important. There’s so much research out there now about the chemicals in the brain and how they react to sitting still. If you can’t have arts education, meditation won’t entirely replace it, but it doesn’t cost anything to just sit still.”
Robert Burck, 39, The Naked Cowboy of Times Square
“I’m waiting for the city to put my new product line into the Times Square retail center that’s coming. So far, we’ve got Naked Cowboy shot glasses, Naked Cowboy T-shirts, Naked Cowboy protein powder and a Naked Cowboy tequila.
It would also be nice if they could open up a Times Square wedding chapel. I’m an ordained minister. It’s a multimillion-dollar industry. Why let all those people go to Vegas to be married by an Elvis impersonator when they can do it in a unique way, right here in New York, by either myself or one of my licensed franchisees?”
George Steinbrenner, 79, Principal owner, New York Yankees
“New York City should resolve to rise above the tough economic times and maintain its determination, energy and spirit. New York is a city of winners, and it shouldn’t let its spirit sag even for a minute.”