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.