Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Life On Mars

ABC tried its hand this television season with an American version of BBC's "Life On Mars": A New York City detective gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. Bizarre hi-jinks ensue: He can't understand what he's doing there and must figure out how do his job as a cop without a cellphone, internet or any other modern conveniences. Anyway, the opening of LOM includes the line, "It's as if I've woken up on another planet." Hence, the title. Alas, it never quite caught fire in the ratings. The series finale is tomorrow evening (when Sam may or may not get home).

New Yorkers can be forgiven today if they feel something like they are suffering through the LOM plot: The state legislature acted yesterday as if it was on another planet -- and another time period -- by agreeing to a budget with a 10 percent increase in spending and an $ 8 billion tax hike (including multiple income tax hikes). In the middle of an ugly recession.

As my colleague, Fred Dicker, puts it, this $132 billion budget is a throwback to the days right before New York (city and state) nearly went bankrupt. It's all the worse, given that accidental Governor David Paterson said repeatedly last year that it was time for "belt-tightening" and that taxes would only be raised as a "last resort." Yeah, right. when politicians say that they will raise taxes only as a last resorty, better believe that that's the first resort they'll check into. For what it's worth, Paterson signed his political death warrant by agreeing to this budget (behind closed doors with Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and the real uber-Albany power, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver).

It will be difficult to become any less popular than Paterson is now (19 percent approval rating in the latest of several plunging polls). But, this budget may just do the trick.

Get ready to start saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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