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.
Hard Feelings represents more than five years of Ken Auletta’s work for The Village Voice, New York magazine, the Daily News, Esquire, and The New Yorker. During that period he won a loyal following and established a reputation as the rare journalist who covers both politicians and the government. He covered the news and made the news with his famous and controversial New Yorker profile of Mayor Ed Koch and his startling exposé of lawyer Roy Cohn in Esquire. These pieces also display his versatility—hard, investigative reporting as well as precise, thoughtful essays—with subjects ranging from the ambitions of Ted Kennedy to the tribulations of Jimmy Carter, the maneuvers of a local politician to the struggles of an embattled high school principal.
One of Auletta’s chief concerns is the press itself: how the former publisher of the New York Post managed the news; how media expert David Garth manipulates it; how Tom Brokaw became a victim of it; and how passion for scandal and easy cynicism threaten it. The postscripts he has written for this volume address many of the central issues of journalism. A case in point is Auletta’s own use of controversial taps revealing Mayor Ed Koch’s private feelings about relations between blacks and Jews; another is his examination of the questionable coverage of Nelson Rockefeller’s death. Does a public figure have a right to privacy? Is there such a thing as too much press access? To whom does the reporter owe allegiance? What are the ethics of journalism?
In his stories and his second thoughts on them, Ken Auletta offers a provocative analysis of how a reporter works, views his profession, and evaluates his achievements with intelligence and feeling—hard feelings.
"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
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 family's 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 Carey's side when New York City's biggest banks said they would no longer underwrite its debt and he became instrumental to averting the city's 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, Spitzer's successor, David Paterson, appointed Ravitch Lieutenant Governor and asked him to make recommendations regarding the state's 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 states' ability to do what only they can do—invest in the physical and human infrastructure the country needs to thrive. Making this case is Ravitch's current public endeavor and it deserves immediate attention from both public officials and private citizens.