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.
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."
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.
The political career of David Dinkins is set against the backdrop of the rising influence of a broader demographic in New York politics, including far greater segments of the city’s “gorgeous mosaic.” After a brief stint as a New York assemblyman, Dinkins was nominated as a deputy mayor by Abe Beame in 1973, but ultimately declined because he had not filed his income tax returns on time. Down but not out, he pursued his dedication to public service, first by serving as city clerk. In 1986, Dinkins was elected Manhattan borough president, and in 1989, he defeated Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani to become mayor of New York City, the largest American city to elect an African American mayor.
As the newly-elected mayor of a city in which crime had risen precipitously in the years prior to his taking office, Dinkins vowed to attack the problems and not the victims. Despite facing a budget deficit, he hired thousands of police officers, more than any other mayoral administration in the twentieth century, and launched the “Safe Streets, Safe City” program, which fundamentally changed how police fought crime. For the first time in decades, crime rates began to fall—a trend that continues to this day. Among his other major successes, Mayor Dinkins brokered a deal that kept the US Open Tennis Championships in New York—bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the city annually—and launched the revitalization of Times Square after decades of decay, all the while deflecting criticism and some outright racism with a seemingly unflappable demeanor. Criticized by some for his handling of the Crown Heights riots in 1991, Dinkins describes in these pages a very different version of events.
A Mayor’s Life is a revealing look at a devoted public servant and a New Yorker in love with his city, who led that city during tumultuous times.
"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
Summer in the City takes a clear look at John Lindsayâ€™s tenure as mayor of New York City during the tumultuous 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson launched his ambitious Great Society Program. Providing an even-handed reassessment of Lindsayâ€™s legacy and the policies of the period, the essays in this volume skillfully dissect his kaleidoscope of progressive ideas and approach to leadershipâ€”all set in a perfect storm of huge demographic changes, growing fiscal stress, and an unprecedented commitment by the federal government to attain a more equal society. Compelling archival photos and a timeline give readers a window into the mythic 1960s, a period animated by civil rights marches, demands for black power, antiwar demonstrations, and a heroic intergovernmental effort to redistribute national resources more evenly.
Written by prize-winning authors and leading scholars, each chapter covers a distinct aspect of Lindsayâ€™s mayoralty (politics, race relations, finance, public management, architecture, economic development, and the arts), while Joseph P. Viterittiâ€™s introductory and concluding essays offer an honest and nuanced portrait of Lindsay and the prospects for shaping more balanced public priorities as New York City ushers in a new era of progressive leadership.
The volumeâ€™s sharp focus on the controversies of the Mad Men era will appeal not only to older readers who witnessed its explosive events, but also to younger readers eager for a deeper understanding of the time. A progressive Republican with bold ideals and a fervent belief in the American Dream, Lindsay strove to harness the driving forces of modernization, democratization, acculturation, inclusion, growth, and social justice in ways that will inform our thinking about the future of the city.-- Mike Wallace, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of GothamDick Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor of New York, 2009–2010
With those inaugural words, William Jefferson Clinton began his first term as President of the United States. Now, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a former White House aide provide the first penetrating, thoughtful evaluation of President Clinton's leadership.
Before he was voted into office, Bill Clinton told the authors in an interview that he wanted to be a transforming leader, a president who would fashion real and lasting change in peoples' lives, in the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But how has this president, who has sought to lead from the center with his vice president, Al Gore, and the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, measured up against his own stated goals and the aspirations and performances of other presidents since World War II? From the health care debacle and the 1994 midterm elections that swept the Republicans to a majority in both houses of Congress to the effect of scandal and impeachment on his ability to govern, Dead Center examines the leadership style of Bill Clinton and offers a forceful challenge to the strategy of centrism.
There is no more respected presidential historian than James MacGregor Burns, author of several acclaimed books on leadership and the Pulitzer Prize-winning study of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Georgia J. Sorenson adds her own insights as a political scientist and presidential scholar. Their combined efforts have resulted in an incisive, informative, authoritative work and an absorbing read.