The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975

SUNY Press
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The Man Who Saved New York offers a portrait of one of New York’s most remarkable governors, Hugh L. Carey, with emphasis on his leadership during the fiscal crisis of 1975. In this dramatic and colorful account, Seymour P. Lachman and Robert Polner’s examine Carey’s youth, military service, and public career against the backdrop of a changing, challenged, and recession-battered city, state, and nation.

It was Carey’s leadership, Lachman and Polner argue, that helped rescue the city and state from the brink of financial and social ruin. While TV comedians mocked and tabloids shrieked about the Big Apple’s rising muggings, its deteriorating public services, and the threats and walkouts by embattled police, firefighters, and teachers, all amid a brutal recession, Carey and his team managed to hold on and ultimately prevailed, narrowly preventing a huge disruption to the state, national, and global economy. At one point, the city came within a few hours of having to declare itself incapable of paying its debts and obligations, but in the end stability and consensus prevailed, and America’s largest city stayed out of bankruptcy court. The center held.

Based on extensive interviews with Carey and his family, as well as numerous friends, observers, and former advisors, including Steven Berger, David Burke, John Dyson, Peter Goldmark, Judah Gribetz, Richard Ravitch, and Felix Rohatyn, The Man Who Saved New York aims to place Carey and his achievements at the center of the financial maelstrom that met his arrival in Albany. While others were willing to let the city go into default, Carey was strongly opposed, since it would not only affect the state as a whole but would have reverberations both nationally and internationally.

In recounting the 1975 rescue of New York City and the aftershocks that nearly sank the state government, Lachman and Polner illuminate the often-volatile interplay among elite New York bankers, hard-nosed municipal union leaders, the press, and influential conservatives and liberals from City Hall to the Albany statehouse to the White House. Although often underappreciated by the public, it was Carey’s force of will, wit, intellect, judgment, and experiences that allowed the state to survive this unparalleled ordeal and ultimately to emerge on a stronger footing. Further, Lachman and Polner argue, Carey’s accomplishment is worth recalling as a prime example of how governments—local, state, and federal—can work to avoid the renewed the threat of bankruptcy that now confronts many overstretched states and localities.
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About the author

Seymour P. Lachman served as President of the New York City Board of Education and University Dean of the City University of New York before being elected to the New York State Senate, where he served five terms. He was consulting editor of The United States in the Middle East and was coauthor (with Barry A. Kosmin) of One Nation Under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society and (with Robert Polner) Three Men in a Room: The Inside Story of Power and Betrayal in an American Statehouse. He is currently Director of the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College, Staten Island, where he is also a Distinguished Professor in Residence.

Robert Polner, a former award-winning reporter for Newsday, works as a public affairs officer for New York University and its Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He was the editor of America’s Mayor, America’s President? The Strange Career of Rudy Giuliani, and coauthor (with Seymour P. Lachman) of Three Men in a Room: The Inside Story of Power and Betrayal in an American Statehouse. He also cowrote (with Paul Schwartzman) New York Notorious: A Borough-by-Borough Tour of the City’s Most Infamous Crime Scenes. His work has been published in Salon, The Guardian, Columbia Journalism Review, and The Progressive, and he has taught journalism at New York University and Columbia University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jul 31, 2010
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Pages
229
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ISBN
9781438434544
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Political
Political Science / American Government / State
Political Science / Political Process / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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 Shines a light on the dark corners of New York’s legislature and points the way to much-needed reform.
Failed State is both an original account of a state legislature in urgent need of reform and a call to action for those who would fix it. Drawing on his experiences both in and out of state government, former New York State senator Seymour P. Lachman reveals and explores Albany’s hush-hush, top-down processes, illuminating the hidden, secretive corners where the state assembly and state senate conduct the people’s business and spend public money. Part memoir and part exposé, Failed State is a revision of and follow-up to Three Men in a Room, published in 2006. The focus of the original book was the injury to democratic governance that arises when three individuals—governor, senate majority leader, and assembly speaker—tightly control one of the country’s largest and most powerful state governments. Expanding on events that have occurred in the decade since the original book’s publication, Failed State shows how this scenario has given way to widespread corruption, among them the convictions of two men in the room—the senate and assembly leaders—as well as a number of other state lawmakers. All chapters have been revised and expanded, new chapters have been added, and the final chapter charts a path to durable reform that would change New York’s state government from its present-day status as a national disgrace to a model of transparent, more effective state politics and governance.

“Three Men in a Room was an important book when it came out over a decade ago, and sadly little has changed since then. In the context of high-level corruption convictions and the ongoing investigations by the US attorney’s office, Failed State reminds us just how much needs to be done, and offers constructive recommendations about the kind of reform we so desperately need in Albany.” — Senator Liz Krueger, 28th New York State Senate District

“We’ve all heard that Albany’s a mess, that there’s too much bad politics and sometimes corruption in the legislature. It’s all true. How can that be? Are there any voices crying out ‘to do it right’? Seymour Lachman’s Failed State takes you on a personal journey that explains how and why it can be that bad, as he discovers exactly what a lonely voice trying ‘to do it right’ can do—and what it can’t. This is a ‘read it and weep’ book by a principled man who was a legislator for close to a decade. But better than weeping, read it—and do something.” — Peter C. Goldmark Jr., former New York State Budget Director and President of the Rockefeller Foundation

“In Failed State Seymour Lachman provides a bird’s-eye view into how New York’s state legislature works—and doesn’t work. Coupled with his extensive historical review, as a former legislator Lachman offers deep insights into what’s wrong with Albany and helps make the case for fundamental changes. His sweeping analysis lays a foundation to make New York government more responsive to the public it purports to serve. For all New Yorkers looking to better understand their state government, Failed State is a must read.” — Blair Horner, Executive Director, New York Public Interest Research Group

“Seymour Lachman writes about Albany dysfunction as only an insider can. He knows firsthand what it is to be bullied and extorted by political bosses, to have to cast votes on massive, secretly negotiated budget deals on a few hours’ notice, to be the target of nakedly partisan gerrymandering, and to watch a parade of his colleagues go to prison for corruption. Failed State vividly documents a sordid era of New York history and provides a practical guide to real reform.” — Bill Hammond, The Empire Center

“The unifying theme here is that New York State government is broken and is not likely to mend itself. Lachman proposes a number of reforms that he believes will restore democracy—among them, the holding of a constitutional convention, which New Yorkers will vote on in November 2017. Timely and valuable, Failed State will help voters understand what the stakes are when making that decision.” — Peter J. Galie, coeditor of New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness

Praise for Three Men in a Room

“Startling: a political book that actually informs the public.” — Jimmy Breslin

“Three Men in a Room is a perceptive account of a state legislature in urgent need of reform, and of how to accomplish it. Senator Lachman had a front-row seat in Albany, as I once did. He also brings years of academic experience to this compelling and important book. Read it and take it seriously—for democracy’s sake.” — Hugh L. Carey, New York State Governor (1975–1983)

“Required reading for any New Yorker who wants to understand what’s gone wrong in Albany—and why. This book provides an invaluable dissection of Albany’s dysfunction from the perspective of an idealistic insider who emerged from the experience with his principles and credibility intact.” — Edmund J. McMahon Jr., Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy

“Both edifying and horrifying: Lachman’s privileged perspective on New York’s legislative practices is essential reading for would-be reformers.” — Artvoice
The life and times of an instrumental figure in New
York City’s recovery from the fiscal and social crises of the 1970s and 1980s,
and in the general revitalization of the city over two
generations.

Lew Rudin was one of New York City’s
most influential power brokers in the latter part of the twentieth century, but
he was also one of its most indefatigable boosters. Born in the Throgs Neck
section of the Bronx on April 4, 1927, Rudin rose to become cochairman, with his
brother, Jack, of one of New York’s oldest real estate dynasties, Rudin
Management. It is for his civic involvement, however, that he is best
remembered. Whether helping to get the New York City Marathon off the ground, or
rallying corporate and labor leaders to come to the city’s aid during the fiscal
crises of the 1970s, Rudin worked tirelessly on behalf of the city he loved. The
Association for a Better New York, which he founded in 1971 in response to
growing concerns about the city’s decline, continues to play a vital role in
virtually every area of municipal life, from transportation to
education.

In Mr. New York, Seymour P. Lachman chronicles
Rudin’s life and interesting times, and his love affair with the city he never
ceased to believe in. Drawing on published materials as well as personal
interviews with family members, business associates, and federal, state, and
city officials, Lachman paints a portrait of a man who, by the time of his death
in 2001, had truly earned the nickname “Mr. New York.”

“Lew Rudin’s life
is a gift that keeps on giving, through the work, generosity, and friendships of
his family and through the inspirational example he set for other successful
people: if you do well, you must also do good. Because of Lew, New York is
stronger, safer, and cleaner. And because of Lew, my life and the lives of
countless others are richer.” — from the Foreword by President Bill
Clinton

“Presidents, governors, and mayors knew Lew by his first name,
and US senators and representatives always returned his calls. There are
families in every city that have nobility attached to them. The Wagner family is
one of them and the Rudin family is one also. They take the position that the
city is bigger than all of us and needs all of us to attend to its needs.” —
Mayor Ed Koch

“Some people put on airs. Some people are condescending in
their positions in life, but not Lew. Lew could be with a queen, with a king, it
didn’t matter—it was always Lew. Lew was himself, and that is a remarkable
trait.” — Matilda Cuomo

“Lew Rudin was a wonderful man. I never had any
reservation about doing business with the Rudins. They were elegant. The family
has integrity, character, and whatever they did was ethical.” — Kenneth
Langone

“Lew Rudin in good times and bad times stood out for the good
things of New York.  He dropped everything to fight the good fight for the city.
He was a remarkable person.” — Howard Rubenstein

“Lew
Rudin was a patriotic, dedicated person and a great public servant.” — Henry
Kissinger
Since the election of Scott Walker, Wisconsin has been seen as ground zero for debates about the appropriate role of government in the wake of the Great Recession. In a time of rising inequality, Walker not only survived a bitterly contested recall that brought thousands of protesters to Capitol Square, he was subsequently reelected. How could this happen? How is it that the very people who stand to benefit from strong government services not only vote against the candidates who support those services but are vehemently against the very idea of big government?

With The Politics of Resentment, Katherine J. Cramer uncovers an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle: rural political consciousness and the resentment of the “liberal elite.” Rural voters are distrustful that politicians will respect the distinct values of their communities and allocate a fair share of resources. What can look like disagreements about basic political principles are therefore actually rooted in something even more fundamental: who we are as people and how closely a candidate’s social identity matches our own. Using Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s prominent and protracted debate about the appropriate role of government, Cramer illuminates the contours of rural consciousness, showing how place-based identities profoundly influence how people understand politics, regardless of whether urban politicians and their supporters really do shortchange or look down on those living in the country.

The Politics of Resentment shows that rural resentment—no less than partisanship, race, or class—plays a major role in dividing America against itself.
 Shines a light on the dark corners of New York’s legislature and points the way to much-needed reform.
Failed State is both an original account of a state legislature in urgent need of reform and a call to action for those who would fix it. Drawing on his experiences both in and out of state government, former New York State senator Seymour P. Lachman reveals and explores Albany’s hush-hush, top-down processes, illuminating the hidden, secretive corners where the state assembly and state senate conduct the people’s business and spend public money. Part memoir and part exposé, Failed State is a revision of and follow-up to Three Men in a Room, published in 2006. The focus of the original book was the injury to democratic governance that arises when three individuals—governor, senate majority leader, and assembly speaker—tightly control one of the country’s largest and most powerful state governments. Expanding on events that have occurred in the decade since the original book’s publication, Failed State shows how this scenario has given way to widespread corruption, among them the convictions of two men in the room—the senate and assembly leaders—as well as a number of other state lawmakers. All chapters have been revised and expanded, new chapters have been added, and the final chapter charts a path to durable reform that would change New York’s state government from its present-day status as a national disgrace to a model of transparent, more effective state politics and governance.

“Three Men in a Room was an important book when it came out over a decade ago, and sadly little has changed since then. In the context of high-level corruption convictions and the ongoing investigations by the US attorney’s office, Failed State reminds us just how much needs to be done, and offers constructive recommendations about the kind of reform we so desperately need in Albany.” — Senator Liz Krueger, 28th New York State Senate District

“We’ve all heard that Albany’s a mess, that there’s too much bad politics and sometimes corruption in the legislature. It’s all true. How can that be? Are there any voices crying out ‘to do it right’? Seymour Lachman’s Failed State takes you on a personal journey that explains how and why it can be that bad, as he discovers exactly what a lonely voice trying ‘to do it right’ can do—and what it can’t. This is a ‘read it and weep’ book by a principled man who was a legislator for close to a decade. But better than weeping, read it—and do something.” — Peter C. Goldmark Jr., former New York State Budget Director and President of the Rockefeller Foundation

“In Failed State Seymour Lachman provides a bird’s-eye view into how New York’s state legislature works—and doesn’t work. Coupled with his extensive historical review, as a former legislator Lachman offers deep insights into what’s wrong with Albany and helps make the case for fundamental changes. His sweeping analysis lays a foundation to make New York government more responsive to the public it purports to serve. For all New Yorkers looking to better understand their state government, Failed State is a must read.” — Blair Horner, Executive Director, New York Public Interest Research Group

“Seymour Lachman writes about Albany dysfunction as only an insider can. He knows firsthand what it is to be bullied and extorted by political bosses, to have to cast votes on massive, secretly negotiated budget deals on a few hours’ notice, to be the target of nakedly partisan gerrymandering, and to watch a parade of his colleagues go to prison for corruption. Failed State vividly documents a sordid era of New York history and provides a practical guide to real reform.” — Bill Hammond, The Empire Center

“The unifying theme here is that New York State government is broken and is not likely to mend itself. Lachman proposes a number of reforms that he believes will restore democracy—among them, the holding of a constitutional convention, which New Yorkers will vote on in November 2017. Timely and valuable, Failed State will help voters understand what the stakes are when making that decision.” — Peter J. Galie, coeditor of New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness

Praise for Three Men in a Room

“Startling: a political book that actually informs the public.” — Jimmy Breslin

“Three Men in a Room is a perceptive account of a state legislature in urgent need of reform, and of how to accomplish it. Senator Lachman had a front-row seat in Albany, as I once did. He also brings years of academic experience to this compelling and important book. Read it and take it seriously—for democracy’s sake.” — Hugh L. Carey, New York State Governor (1975–1983)

“Required reading for any New Yorker who wants to understand what’s gone wrong in Albany—and why. This book provides an invaluable dissection of Albany’s dysfunction from the perspective of an idealistic insider who emerged from the experience with his principles and credibility intact.” — Edmund J. McMahon Jr., Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy

“Both edifying and horrifying: Lachman’s privileged perspective on New York’s legislative practices is essential reading for would-be reformers.” — Artvoice
The life and times of an instrumental figure in New
York City’s recovery from the fiscal and social crises of the 1970s and 1980s,
and in the general revitalization of the city over two
generations.

Lew Rudin was one of New York City’s
most influential power brokers in the latter part of the twentieth century, but
he was also one of its most indefatigable boosters. Born in the Throgs Neck
section of the Bronx on April 4, 1927, Rudin rose to become cochairman, with his
brother, Jack, of one of New York’s oldest real estate dynasties, Rudin
Management. It is for his civic involvement, however, that he is best
remembered. Whether helping to get the New York City Marathon off the ground, or
rallying corporate and labor leaders to come to the city’s aid during the fiscal
crises of the 1970s, Rudin worked tirelessly on behalf of the city he loved. The
Association for a Better New York, which he founded in 1971 in response to
growing concerns about the city’s decline, continues to play a vital role in
virtually every area of municipal life, from transportation to
education.

In Mr. New York, Seymour P. Lachman chronicles
Rudin’s life and interesting times, and his love affair with the city he never
ceased to believe in. Drawing on published materials as well as personal
interviews with family members, business associates, and federal, state, and
city officials, Lachman paints a portrait of a man who, by the time of his death
in 2001, had truly earned the nickname “Mr. New York.”

“Lew Rudin’s life
is a gift that keeps on giving, through the work, generosity, and friendships of
his family and through the inspirational example he set for other successful
people: if you do well, you must also do good. Because of Lew, New York is
stronger, safer, and cleaner. And because of Lew, my life and the lives of
countless others are richer.” — from the Foreword by President Bill
Clinton

“Presidents, governors, and mayors knew Lew by his first name,
and US senators and representatives always returned his calls. There are
families in every city that have nobility attached to them. The Wagner family is
one of them and the Rudin family is one also. They take the position that the
city is bigger than all of us and needs all of us to attend to its needs.” —
Mayor Ed Koch

“Some people put on airs. Some people are condescending in
their positions in life, but not Lew. Lew could be with a queen, with a king, it
didn’t matter—it was always Lew. Lew was himself, and that is a remarkable
trait.” — Matilda Cuomo

“Lew Rudin was a wonderful man. I never had any
reservation about doing business with the Rudins. They were elegant. The family
has integrity, character, and whatever they did was ethical.” — Kenneth
Langone

“Lew Rudin in good times and bad times stood out for the good
things of New York.  He dropped everything to fight the good fight for the city.
He was a remarkable person.” — Howard Rubenstein

“Lew
Rudin was a patriotic, dedicated person and a great public servant.” — Henry
Kissinger
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