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.
In 1978, Ed Koch assumed control of a city plagued by filth, crime, bankruptcy, and racial tensions. In 1989, by the end of his mayoral run and despite the Wall Street crash of 1987, neighborhoods and infrastructure were being rebuilt. Unlike many American cities, Koch's New York was growing, not shrinking. Gentrification brought new businesses to neglected corners and converted low-end rental housing to coops and condos. Nevertheless, not all the change was positive-AIDS, crime, homelessness, and violent racial conflict increased, marking a time of great, if somewhat uneven, transition.
For better or worse, Koch's efforts convinced many New Yorkers to embrace a new political order that subsidized business, particularly finance, insurance, and real estate, and privatized public space. Each phase of the city's recovery required difficult choices between moneyed interests and social services, forcing Koch to be both a moderate and a pragmatist as he tried to mitigate growing economic inequality. Throughout, Koch's rough rhetoric (attacking his opponents as "crazy," "wackos," and "radicals") prompted the charge that he was racially divisive. The first book to recast Koch's legacy through personal and mayoral papers, authorized interviews, and oral histories, this volume plots a history of New York City through two rarely studied but crucial decades, the bankruptcy of the 1970s and the recovery and crash of the 1980s.
Every city and every state needs a Richard Ravitch. In sixty years on the job, whether working in business or government, he was the man willing to tackle some of the most complex challenges facing New York. Trained as a lawyer, he worked briefly for the House of Representatives, then began his career in his familyOCOs construction business. He built high-profile projects like the Whitney Museum and Citicorp Center but his primary energy was devoted to building over 40,000 units of affordable housing including the first racially integrated apartment complex in Washington, D.C. He dealt with architects, engineers, lawyers, bureaucrats, politicians, union leaders, construction workers, bankers, and tenants?virtually all of the people who make cities and states work.
It was no surprise that those endeavors ultimately led to a life of public service. In 1975, Ravitch was asked by then New York Governor Hugh Carey to arrange a rescue of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, a public entity that had issued bonds to finance over 30,000 affordable housing units but was on the verge of bankruptcy. That same year, Ravitch was at CareyOCOs side when New York CityOCOs biggest banks said they would no longer underwrite its debt and he became instrumental to averting the cityOCOs bankruptcy.
Throughout his career, Ravitch divided his time between public service and private enterprise. He was chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 1979 to 1983 and is generally credited with rebuilding the system. He turned around the Bowery Savings Bank, chaired a commission that rewrote the Charter of the City of New York, served on two Presidential Commissions, and became chief labor negotiator for Major League Baseball.
Then, in 2008, after Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal and New York State was in a post-financial-crisis meltdown, SpitzerOCOs successor, David Paterson, appointed Ravitch Lieutenant Governor and asked him to make recommendations regarding the stateOCOs budgeting plan. What Ravitch found was the result of not just the economic downturn but years of fiscal denial. And the closer he looked, the clearer it became that the same thing was happening in most states. Budgetary pressures from Medicaid, pension promises to public employees, and deceptive budgeting and borrowing practices are crippling our statesOCO ability to do what only they can do?invest in the physical and human infrastructure the country needs to thrive. Making this case is RavitchOCOs current public endeavor and it deserves immediate attention from both public officials and private citizens."
"A tremendously impressive combination of reporting and analysis that illuminates not only New York's situation, but also the most basic trends in the politics and economy of the nation as a whole" - James Fallows, Washington Editor, THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
"Absolute must reading for anyone concerned with New York and the urban future." - George Sternlieb, Director, Centor for Urban Policy Researcch, Rutgers University
Chris McNickle argues that New York City Mayor David Dinkins failed to wield the power of the mayor with the skill required to run the city. His Tammany clubhouse heritage and liberal political philosophy made him the wrong man for the time. His deliberate style of decision-making left the government he led lacking in direction. His courtly demeanor and formal personal style alienated him from the people he served while the multi-racial coalition he forged as New York’s first African-American mayor weakened over time.
Dinkins did have a number of successes. He balanced four budgets and avoided a fiscal takeover by the unelected New York State Financial Control Board. Major crime dropped 14 percent and murders fell by more than 12 percent. Dinkins helped initiate important structural changes to the ungovernable school system he inherited. His administration reconfigured health care for the poor and improved access to medical treatment for impoverished New Yorkers.
McNickle argues that David Dinkins has received less credit than he is due for his successes because they were overshadowed by his failure to fulfill his promise to guide the city to racial harmony. This stimulating review of a transitional period in New York City’s history offers perspective on what it takes to lead and govern.
In this frank memoir—a story of duty, family, justice, politics, and resilience—Andrew Cuomo, New York State's fifty-sixth governor, reflects on his rise, fall, and rise again in politics, and the tough (but necessary) lessons he has learned along the way.
Born to first-generation American parents in the working-class neighborhood of Queens, New York, Andrew M. Cuomo grew up in a family anchored by a shared belief in community, hard and honest work, and helping others. His father, Mario, led by example, as a tireless advocate for local residents, instilling in his son a passion for public service. From stapling up posters as a sixteen-year-old during his father's first political campaign to managing at twenty-five Mario's successful 1982 bid for New York State governor, Andrew Cuomo witnessed at a young age the power of politics to effect change for the common good. These experiences, reinforced by deeply held personal values, guided him, from novice campaign manager to visionary reform crusader to Clinton cabinet member—at thirty-nine—to groundbreaking governor of his home state. Laying out his unique approach to challenging the status quo, All Things Possible is not a traditional political memoir, but rather one man's revelatory reflection on a life defined by a commitment to public service, and the hard-won truths gleaned from both his struggles and his successes.
In recounting his uphill battles to redefine the way America deals with homelessness, rehabilitate the legislative process in Albany, and bring marriage equality to New York, Cuomo presents an inspiring blueprint for greater political cooperation and efficacy. He also unflinchingly examines his failed 2002 gubernatorial bid, which heralded a dark period of political and personal turmoil, to illustrate why failure is inextricably bound up with success, why we should never forget where we come from, and the importance of balancing personal and professional commitments. And he proves, through all that he's achieved since his victory in the 2010 election, that our biggest triumphs lie not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.