Have you ever been out to dinner with a group where some members of the party order appetizers and steaks, pick a premium bottle off the wine list and signal for extra truffle shavings on their gnocchi while others at the table order a side salad and water?
And doesn’t it always seem to be the case that as soon as the bill gets dropped, one of those Joey Chestnut wannabees suggests “everyone split the bill” as he picks the Wagyu sinew out of his Châteauneuf-du-Pape-stained teeth?
This very story is playing out at City Hall — not over food, mind you, but over funding, with the mayor and those elected officials who demanded more and more migrant spending now suggesting we all suffer the same cuts.
In my private life, I hang out with some down-to-earth people. In my public life, perhaps not so much.
If I join a dinner table with friends and declare, “Nothing for me, just a glass of wine” (admittedly a rare occurrence given my healthy 17-stone frame), one of my dear pals will inevitably pick up the tab. “Don’t be silly,” they’d say. “You didn’t order anything.”
But of course, my personal friends aren’t total gavones, to use their native Staten Island parlance.
They wouldn’t spend over their credit-card limits, they wouldn’t bankrupt their rainy-day funds.
If their Uncle Joe told them there would be no family bailout, they would have tightened their belts instead of running up his Amex.
Yet my friends in City Hall and the state Legislature acted just the opposite when it came to spending on migrants.
Even when it was clear the federal government would not chip in a dime and the governor would barely leave the tip, many of them demanded the city order the Lobster Thermidor, the Beef Wellington and the Canard à l’Orange for our migrant guests.
And when the quality of our hospitality was subpar, those same elected officials demanded our migrants be treated to the Four Seasons, not the Motel 6. Surely they need all sorts of wraparound services and amenities, so they ordered room service.
At some point over the summer, the maître d’ approached the man at the head of the table, Mayor Adams, and gave him a glimpse of the tab. But by then it was too late.
The city was spending more per migrant per year than the combined annual salaries of three rookie firefighters. Next fiscal year’s roughly $6 billion bill for our four-star Michelin migrant soirée could cover the entire Waffle House-scaled budget of the state of Mississippi.
But going back to those impolite dinner guests — not everyone was ordering off the top shelf.
Many of my colleagues were reading the price list and looking for the early-bird specials. Some said they weren’t eating; some just passed on dessert. Not all ran up the same bar bill.
And as far as my colleagues from Staten Island, both Democrats and Republicans, we took one look at the fancy menu and said, “No way, let’s eat somewhere else.” When it came to migrants, we wanted drive-thru Burger King to go.
Now that the check is on the table, why should our constituents have to pay? They did not want, support or ask for this meal. We even sued to shut the restaurant down!
The same goes for many rational elected officials from all over the city. Countless wanted only two slices and a Coke, and now their constituents may be forced to pay for the surf and turf from the next table over.
The migrant crisis is finally entering its own predictable aftermath.
There were some politicians who had false hope that the federal government would bail us out, and there were others who simply put on their woke blinders.
Yet the outcome was painfully obvious to anyone who has to balance a checkbook or pay a credit card bill at the end of each month.
The right way to handle the migrant deficit is just like the right way to handle unequal ordering at dinner parties. Let our gluttonous elected officials — those who believe they have all the money in the world to spend — be the heavy hitters they pretend to be, the big machers who graciously pick up the entire tab.
When there are cuts to be made on police staffing, firehouses, school-safety agents, trash pickups or whatever, spare the districts where responsible elected officials and their constituents demanded we stop this out-of-control spending.
As the waiter drops the bill this month, the public must call out those politicians who suddenly find it a convenient time to use the restroom. They must be the ones to pony up and not give New Yorkers another reason to dine and dash.
Joe Borelli is the minority leader of the New York City Council.