Anthony Weiner, to Mayor Bloomberg in 2011
Weiner was an unwise choice for mayor even before he lied about tweeting shirtless selfies and crotch shots. New York can do better.
William F. Buckley, Jr., addressing the people of New York City during his Mayoral campaign in 1965.
Source: The New York Times, November 2, 1965
In New York City, kids who make trouble are routinely removed from school altogether and placed in suspension centers, holding cells or juvenile detention lockups. In the old days, you got a detention slip for scrawling your initials on a desk. Now a student can be given a summons by a school police officer. If the kid loses it or doesn’t want to tell his parents, it becomes a warrant—and a basis for arrest.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, some 77 percent of New York’s school police interventions are for noncriminal matters like having food outside the cafeteria, having a cellphone or being late. Other minor offenses like shouting, getting into petty scuffles or being on school grounds after hours fall into the category of “disruptive behavior”—an offense that can get a student suspended. Just 4 percent of police interventions are in response to “major crimes against persons.”
But what’s a teacher to do? In New York City, police officers outnumber guidance counselors by more than 2,000.
Hey so you might not feel like your own personal economic conditions have turned the corner quite yet - but don’t worry, someone out there is definitely doing really well right now. Developers can’t even keep up with the booming demand for Manhattan condos. Offerings include three-bedroom apartments from $9.25 million and 564 square foot studios from $750k, so act now while supplies last! (via jakke)
I’m reminded of this recent NYT article, which states that “the higher the price, the higher the concentration is likely to be of owners who spend only a few months, a few weeks or even just a few days each year in their apartments. This very costly form of desolation means that some of the city’s most expensive residential buildings stand mostly dark, lonesome and empty on the inside.”
I don’t claim expertise in economics but residential towers that are largely empty can’t be good for Manhattan neighborhoods.
It is unfortunately routine for recently deceased public figures to be ceaselessly praised by the media. At best, one may find an obituary or tribute that briefly mentions the deceased’s policy failures but then dismisses these failures by saying something like “love him or hate him, Mayor Koch left his mark on New York City.” Every Mayor has of course left his “mark” on the city he’s governed but reminiscing about “large” personalities means nothing to the victims of destructive policies. One cannot expect perfection from politicians but citizens deserve, at least, displays of empathy and a willingness to do good, no matter how seemingly insurmountable the legal or political challenges. Koch’s “colorful” personality sometimes served as an excuse for casual maliciousness and the targets of his abuse were often people most desperately in need of support.
We should remember Mayor Koch’s successes and the many people whose lives he bettered but if we excuse his failures, we grant a special privilege to powerful people and discard the legacies of those without such power.
By no means is this an authoritative account of Koch’s decidedly mixed record. It is instead a summation of his failures, which are receiving little attention today.
From the New York Post:
The liberal Koch was the first Democrat to represent the district in 31 years. But his politics edged to the center of the political spectrum during his years in Congress and pulled to the right on a number of issues after becoming mayor.
His answer to the war on drugs? Send convicted drug dealers to concentration camps in the desert. Decaying buildings? Paint phony windows, complete with cheery flowerpots, on brick facades. Overcrowded city jails? Stick inmates on floating prison barges.
Koch successfully navigated the city to financial health, a major accomplishment, and helped ease New York’s housing predicament. But his mayoralty was also marked by corruption, and the city he presided over was one suffering deeply from homelessness, the crack epidemic, and fraught racial relations that his blunt style, and abusive police force, did little to assuage. Widely understood to be a closeted gay man, Koch’s inaction during the early stages of the AIDS crisis earned him the eternal enmity of the activists in the ACT UP crew, and the playwright Larry Kramer, who called Koch an “evil man.”
…Homelessness and crime increased, driven in part by the crack epidemic, and AIDS, new and not entirely understood, was leading to hundreds, then thousands, of deaths. Koch did little to stop the rise of crack cocaine, and his police force was implicated in a series of brutal incidents, exacerbating his tense relationship with the black community, which had been difficult since he closed Harlem’s Sydenham Hospital in his first term (a decision for which he later expressed regret).
His relationship to New York African-Americans was sunny compared with his legacy among AIDS activists and many New York gay men. Though he’d been gay-friendly as mayor, he took almost no action against the burgeoning epidemic, which was claiming thousands of lives in New York City alone.
Koch also endorsed Rudy Guiliani in 1993, George W. Bush in 2004, and Rep. Peter T. King, who once stated that ”80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists. …This is an enemy living amongst us.”
Koch was an early supporter of the Iraq War and even when he withdrew his support in 2007, he did his best to terrify Americans, advising them to “prepare for the battles that will take place on American soil by the Islamic forces of terror who are engaged in a war that will be waged by them against Western civilization for at least the next 30 years.” He was “outraged” by President Obama in 2010 for a perceived mistreatment of Israel. Indeed, his views on foreign policy were hawkish at best, neoconservative at worst, as demonstrated in this televised debate with journalist Jeremy Scahill.
Koch’s outsized ego, insensitivity, and warped sense of logic were perhaps best represented by his declaration of divine approval in a Harlem church in 1985: “I know that nothing happens here on this Earth that wasn’t ordained by God. I know that. You know that. And therefore, while I know that it was the people who elected me, it was God who selected me.”