In the Arena

Reactionaries in New York

The Democratic candidates for mayor in New York threaten to return the city to the horrors of the David Dinkins era.

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New York City Council Speaker and New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn attends a rally in front of City Hall to show support for a paid sick leave bill in New York, March 29, 2013.

The Democratic candidates for mayor in New York are campaigning to win the support of the teachers union. They threaten to return the city to the horrors of the David Dinkins era. 

Back at the turn of the 1990s, New York City was a mess. Crime was rampant. The schools were dreadful. Children in foster care were brutalized because–as the head of the Child Welfare Agency said–”oversight is racist.” The mayor was an incompetent. And, above all, the city was run for the benefit of its employees rather than its citizens.

What followed was 20 years of governance by moderate Republicans, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. Crime is now at an historic low. The city is booming. There have been improvements in the schools, especially for those who’ve been lucky enough to attend a string of brilliant charter schools in poor neighborhoods like Harlem. The public employees unions still remain the major power brokers in the city, but they’ve been held in check.

That progress is severely threatened now. Two weak Republicans are running and seem distinct underdogs. Unless some non-reactionary Democrat stands up as an independent defender of the public good, the way Ed Koch did 35 years ago, a period of backsliding seems imminent for the city.

I wonder what Andrew Cuomo, a governor who has been willing to take on the reactionary hacks in the Democratic Party, thinks of this situation.

81 comments
BenAdolph
BenAdolph

I lived in NYC in early 90s, lets get some history straight from that time. Dinkins was indeed a hack but he inherited a fiscal mess and the crime situation was in fact turning around when Giuliani came in. He actually did pretty well under circumstances. If you need a reminder of how dismal NYC was during last Koch years see Ken/Amy Burns film on the Central Park Five, as well as Wall St scandals etc.

kellyjo5150
kellyjo5150

Reactionaries ???  Got your terminology reversed...they are PROGRESSIVES who wish to return NYC to Detroit on the Hudson status.   Guess New Yorkers finally figured out they wanted adults running the show.  Joe, why doesn't your insight apply to the country as a whole ?  Do you think Obama and Company, including the current Chicago mayor, are closer to Guiliani or Dinkens ?    

marloweshakespeareconnection
marloweshakespeareconnection

Around 15 years ago I am watching a local NYC CBS news political roundtable (Channel 2 with Jim Jensen or Marcia Kramer).  And there was Joe Klein being critical of the National Education Association.  I thought to myself, a liberal journalist go after the teacher's union?  About time!  If you have taught in the NYC public school system and if you lived in NYC during the bankrupt 70s or during the horrendous Dinkins years, you know in your heart that Joe Klein is spot on.  And he understands that the dems who ran NYC in the 70s and during Dinkins Admin were not known for their management skills, to put it kindly.  They were disorganized party hacks who were all about spend, spend, spend and patronage ad absurdum (while the city burned).  Joe Klein, still keeping it real!


KatyBee
KatyBee

Joe Klein from his soft perch in corporate media America has gone shooting ducks in a barrell. We teachers work so hard and get home so tired it is difficult to fight back. And we do it to teach your children, your precious, precious children. If you don't think we are worth the barely liveable salary, if we are so inept, if our joining an (Ameican-made) union is so horrifying to you, send your kids to private school in another country. Stop bashing us, you whiney pig.

MaryJenkins
MaryJenkins

Rudy Guiliani was a disaster.  Michael B, not much better. The schools have not improved under his watch.  What happened was that the economy improved during the 90's--Rudy had nothing to do with that; it was a nationwide phenomenon.  NYC is now all but unaffordable for the poor and middle class. destor23 is right. Stop and frisk has not decreased crime.  The economy did it.  NYC has not suffered to the degree that the rest of the country has, thanks to the bank bailout.

destor23
destor23

Joe's entire basis for this post is that candidates for mayor would like the endorsement of the local teacher's union.  That's it.  Apparently, if you're anything other than a full throated enemy of a group of people who have organized for fair pay and fair work rules, you are a reactionary nutcase.  Meanwhile, in this Bizzarro world of Joe's, Rudy Giuliani is a moderate Republican.  That is a statement that only a middle aged white guy who has never been stopped and frisked by the NYPD would ever make.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> The Democratic candidates for mayor in New York are campaigning to win the support of the teachers union. They threaten to return the city to the horrors of the David Dinkins era. 

Blatant, unsubstantiated fearmongering. Which candidates are threatening to roll back what policies and why will that bring back 'the horrors'? What are the specifics, Joe, or are you just getting your knickers twisted up over something that you've demonstrated that you know little about? It's like you are stuck back in 1989, imagining that the world now is the same as it was 25 years ago.

Not to mention stupid. Why wouldn't Democratic candidates want the support of a teacher's union? Their votes and campaign contributions don't count? 

> There have been improvements in the schools, especially for those who’ve been lucky enough to attend a string of brilliant charter schools in poor neighborhoods like Harlem. 

Well, if you let public schools cherry-pick their students, raise barriers to entry, accept high expulsion rates, and poach resources from successful schools in areas where 'reform' isn't needed or wanted, then perhaps their performance - which is more related to parent/student motivation and poverty level than teachers* - would improve to 'brilliant' levels as well.

Unsurprisingly, Klein doesn't quite have his finger on the pulse of public sentiment:

"

...As Mayor Bloomberg ticks down the last months of his term, the public has lost its enthusiasm for mayoral control of schools, which he acquired in 2002, and for the businesslike agenda of charter schools, high-stakes testing, and all that goes with it. A January 2013 poll from Quinnipiac found that 63 percent of city voters want shared control of the schools, a steep drop from 2009, when a majority favored mayoral control. And by a 53 percent to 35 percent margin, we now trust the teachers' unions more than the mayor to protect the interests of schoolchildren.

"

(*at 10-20%, teacher quality is the primary school-based determinant of student success...external factors such as parental involvement and household income level are greater influences)

TruthHurts1
TruthHurts1

Can Joe write about Los Angeles too?  What he wrote about N.Y. is absolutely applicable out here.  We could use some of his blunt honesty here in Los Angeles.  And it needs to come from someone like him or another liberal.  This place is a disaster.

KountyKobbler
KountyKobbler

requrie  Klein  the leadership over NYC  schools for 3 yeras  and he will feel what it is like to  lead  20 thousand cats in  a uniform march across town to his own drum beat  Near imposable.. but you cant teach till the  learnd get taught the facts lf living life with  real people.

XX
XX

Every one of the 34 OECD member countries except for the United States and the country it co-oped in the 1970s, Chile, has a paid sick leave requirement.  In other words, every civilized country in the world except for the USA has paid sick leave...including countries with far better Human Development Index, employment, GDP, per capita and median income stats than the United States.  The same is true for universal, public health care.  Apparently Joe Klien believes that all of the Industrialized world is run by "Reactionaries" intent on destroying civil society and miring it in a cesspool of "rampant crime."  Wisdom is known by all her children, as Jesus Christ said.

XX
XX

The only reactionary hack is Mr. Klein himself, which Salon.com accurately added to its hack list in 2010.  Senseless, anti-empirical canard swinging anti-reason, where vast generalized descriptions of something are linked - without any evidentiary chain - to supposed culprits based on a simplistic one-to-one logic, without actual evidence:  that's what you get every time.  The unionization rate (called "union density" by the BLS) has been falling in NYC and the USA since 1953.  In the US itself it is now only 11.5% overall and around 9% in the private sector.  Decades of dismantling of the labor relations protections by the Supreme Court and by right-wing congresses and complicit corporatist Democrats have, in combination with the endless slew of Neoliberal outsourcing trade agreements from the Democrats and Republicans, have decimated the labor movement in the country, to the detriment of wages and working conditions for the majority and overall economic demand for everyone.  When, in 10 to 15 years, only 1 percent of the American workforce is unionized, who will the irrational champions of ANTI-REASON and slip-shod, baseless thinking like Joe Klein, demonize in their counter-enlightenment, name and blame witch hunts?

La_Randy
La_Randy

So Klein blames teacher unions for the crime rate in New York and anybody who asks for their endorsement is proposing to return to an earlier era of high crime and dysfunctional government. 

Rich! Not to mention that he points out one bad apple then declares the whole crop bad. Clear projection with no evidence, unless this wall street 3rd way democrat can foretell the future.

With this meme in mind I present this example of a charter school system gone mad and proclaim them all bad.

Why doesn't he point this out? I am sure grifters in the new public funded charter school education system will stamp out crime, clean up our cities and republicans will the end all be all of governance.

What a comedian!


denmarks47
denmarks47

.........as Carter said: "Let them eat cake."  And if NY reverses its current responsible course it will be eating some very bad stuff.

paulejb
paulejb

New York City has been operating under the best gun control law that exists. It is known as Stop & Frisk and has reduced the murder rate to record lows. Any one of the pandering quintuplets will that that policy lapse and the murder rate will soar. That is what you get with Democrats.

False_Believer
False_Believer

Hah! I detect a circular argument here. If the Democratic candidates were so bad, why would anyone vote for them? The author seems to be telling us to vote on the basis of a brand name, while complaining about others allegedly doing the same thing with the other brand. Maybe what we need is an app to dumb down the candidates' prospectuses for those who find it too tough to make an informed decision.

BellaMia7
BellaMia7

Liberals begging for some Republican leadership?  They could have had it at the Federal level too - now they have Scandal-gate.

KahnKeller
KahnKeller

I am a big believer in people getting the government.... they deserve ...so...lets see what NYC elects...

barneydidit
barneydidit

So the Conservative message seems to be: "Anything short of a "true conservative"- someone that refuses to budge on the "core beliefs", is a RINO, and not fit to hold office....unless a moderate Republican has demonstrated some significant success in governing...then they're OK because at least they don't have a "D" after their name".  OK, got it. 

karl.schulz70
karl.schulz70

One of the best articles you've written, Mr. Klein, because it tells what seems to be the truth: Republicans are better at crime fighting than Democrats. I am not a card-carrying Republican and don't agree with everything that the Republicans promote, but I've thought for years that NYC's republican mayors and their get tough on crime policies have brought down the murder rate. In Chicago it's impossible for Republicans to take the mayor's office, so the Democrats know they don't have to do more than window dressing to address crime. The murder rate is also at least 3 times higher than that of NYC. New Yorkers actually have a choice; Chicagoans don't.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

Republicans once had a President resign. The only President ever to resign. In disgrace no less. Oh my, we can't let a party like ever win anything.

This is a totally partisan sermon with zero factual base. Apparently union hating with no justification is enough. What is wrong with the editors at Time that they let this brainless piece of drivel get past them. They should dock Joe's pay for wasting company time.

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

Let me see if I have the logic of this piece correct, anyone who seeks the support of teachers is black, incompetent and in favor of the sexual abuse of children.


Is that correct?

SpikeLee
SpikeLee

@BenAdolph Democrats have to remember that Ed Koch is Joe Klein's hero because of identity politics.  The fact that Ed Koch caused many of problems that David Dinkins had to face does not impact the mind of a Bill O'Reilly or a Joe Klein.

"There have been improvements in the schools, especially for those who’ve been lucky enough to attend a string of brilliant charter schools in poor neighborhoods like Harlem."

Are these imaginary Michelle Rhee-esque improvements, and an excuse for a wealthy guy to attack unions?  Without documentation or reference, I can only refer to Joe Klein's history of being bamboozled by so-called "reformers" and their made up numbers that fall apart when challenged.

jmac
jmac

@grape_crush The Democratic  candidates . . .   "have begun laying out ideas.  Mayor Bloomberg and his aides are upset that the visions aren't his.  But they should not deny that alternate visions could exist, or the possibility that they could be better than the one we have."  (NY Time's Editorial).  

Klein seems to hear the word 'union' and lose his eyesight.  The same with the word 'regulation' as he drives across the nation meeting with regular folk (in the heartland !).  Neither word is scary.     

barneydidit
barneydidit

@paulejb But it looks like you get all kinds of improvements when you put moderate Republicans in charge Paule...so where are you hiding all of  your moderate national candidates?

paulejb
paulejb

@False_Believer 

After 20 years out of the Mayoral office in NYC you can expect to see every Democrat contender in a panderpalooza to earn the endorsement of public employee unions. There will be nothing that is too extreme to gain that end. The bidding war for union endorsements has already begun, so for NYC taxpayers, it's Katie bar the door.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@BellaMia7 Too funny Bella. You guys just had the most scandal-plagued administration in history with Bush...and you're preaching about a Democratic scandal-gate?

paulejb
paulejb

@BellaMia7 

Even Joe Klein is able to see how unsuitable each of the panderer quintuplets is for the office of Mayor of New York City. I can't wait till Weenie Wagger Weiner throws his whatever into the ring.

rohit57
rohit57

@barneydidit This is a silly knee jerk comment.  None of the Republicans mentioned by Joe Klein are members of the Tea party, all are moderate.  I remember a pre-Giuliani New York.  While not exactly a nice man, Giuliani did return New York to civility and you were once more safe to ride the subways.


rohit57
rohit57

@karl.schulz70 Yes, and it is not just the murder rate.  There is also the pleasure of feeling safe in the subway and the street and not having to ride in a subway car covered by graffiti.

Chosun1
Chosun1

@DerekHologram -- The problem is that all 5 of the union candidates are running for office by promising more for the employees of the city than they are discussing issues that will actually make the city better for its citizens.    That is really Joe's point.  It has to do with the fact that New York City went from being a place of disorder and chaos to a well-run city that has a good vibe to it.  My wife grew up in Brooklyn in the 1970s and 1980s, having vowed never to return during the Dinkins debacle.  We moved back towards the end of the Giuliani era -- she was shocked at the fact that the trash was picked up, graffiti was largely gone, the subways were safe, one could walk the streets without being continually harassed by thugs....  Joe has a very valid point.  The city government needs to be run for the benefit of the citizens, not just the unions.  The unions already own the city council.  The mayor's office has been the only thing keeping them in check.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

Excluding the "black" part, the rest is just the inevitable outcome not the desired one.

paulejb
paulejb

@DerekHologram

It's not support of teachers that they seek. The five Democrat yahoos seeking the NYC mayoralty merely want the blessings of the teacher's union bosses.

Teacher's union bosses take their lead from another former boss Albert Shanker who averred that "When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."

TyPollard
TyPollard

@jmac @grape_crush 

Joe Klein and Thomas Friedman should car-pool to meet "regular Joes" to confirm their biases.

ahchu871
ahchu871

@rohit57 @barneydidit Excuse me. New York civil???  Since when???  I've never seen more INDIFFERENT AND RUDE people then New Yorkers. The city is NOT friendly, or courteous during Giulanis time to the present.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@rohit57 @barneydidit That was actually my point rohit- none of the Republicans mentioned are members of the Tea Party, all are moderate. If one listens to Conservatives though as to why Romney and McCain lost their elections, it was NOT because they moved from their lifelong moderate stances and pretended to be ultra-conservative, it's because they "failed to energize the base" because the weren't conservative enough. So ultra conservative credentials are the key to success according to these Republicans...yet at the same time they're quick to point out the successes of moderate Republicans if there are opportunities.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@paulejb@DerekHologram @paulejb @DerekHologram Better hard working people in the Teacher's Union doing public service than the creeps, thieves, and mega-criminals on Wall Street. Better a first year social studies teacher than a grasping, industry destroying hedge fund manager.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@paulejb @DerekHologram Better hard working people in the Teacher's Union doing public service than the creeps, thieves, and mega-criminals on Wall Street. Better a first year social studies teacher than a grasping, industry destroying hedge fund manager.

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

@paulejb @DerekHologram let me revise the logic then, anyone who seeks the support of teachers is black, incompetent and in favor of the sexual abuse of children, because children don't pay union dues. 

I can only imagine the difficulty devising an experiment to test Klein's thesis.


barneydidit
barneydidit

@paulejb @barneydidit Ah yes....the "not like Japan, or Sweden, or New Zealand, or Canada, or New York City" argument. But apparently Democrats are the same in Detroit or the national scene,  ok, got it now. 

barneydidit
barneydidit

@paulejb @barneydidit @BellaMia7 Really Paule? You're going to tell us that George W. didn't have one of, if not the THE most scandal-plagued presidencies in history with a straight face?  According to Wikipedia he had 11 primary scandals, and 148 sub-scandals...seems like just a few more than Obama's 3. 

rohit57
rohit57

@ahchu871 @rohit57 @barneydidit True, New Yorkers, especially those in Manhattan are not particularly friendly.  But public amenities have improved since Giuliani's time.

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

@paulejb @DerekHologram @NicholasCameronFlynn why, because all Black people are incompetent? I checked his record and crime actually went down under Dinkins. He reversed a trend that had been going on for 30 years partly by increasing the size of the police force by 25%. I can't find anything on him pandering only to the teacher's union either. His successor took credit for most of the reduction in crime and if anyone was corrupt it was Koch. Dinkins is also credited with:

  • The cleanup and revitalization of Times Square, including persuading the Walt Disney Corporation to rehabilitate an old 42nd Street theater;
  • Major commitment to rehabilitation of dilapidated housing in northern Harlem, the South Bronx and Brooklyn despite significant budget constraints-—more housing rehabilitated in a single term than Mr. Giuliani did in two terms;
  • The USTA lease, which in its final form Mayor Michael Bloomberg called "the only good athletic sports stadium deal, not just in New York but in the country";
  • Mental-health facility initiatives; and
  • Policies and actions that decreased the size of the city's homeless shelter population to its lowest point in 20 years.

One has to wonder why Klein attacked him so mercilessly and has tried to rewrite history. 

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

@NicholasCameronFlynn @DerekHologram @paulejb According to Klein the attempt to win support of the teacher's union is a return to the "horrors" of the black man, David Dinkins, and his era of incompetence and the molestation of children. I think my interpretation is analogically consistent with the "logic" of his "argument." It doesn't surprise me that his "argument" appeals to the far right.

paulejb
paulejb

@DerekHologram @paulejb 

Sorry, Derek, but only one of the pandering quintuplets is black, but they are all somewhere to the left of Joe Stalin.