• Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 10)

Lindsay gives the impression of looking upon organized labor as a Democratic anachronism, arteriosclerotic in an era of social change, anti-integrationist in a city with a large nonwhite minority, complacent and irresponsible. That he is often right makes little difference to union leaders. In the school dispute, he is widely accused of posturing and of angering all sides with categorical statements.

"John is overwhelmed by the force of public opinion," notes one man close to both sides. "He expresses himself very well, and the next morning the New York Times approves. But in the process he's humiliated the other guy.

He doesn't understand or he doesn't choose to understand what are the requirements of union leadership. The thing a union leader wants above all else is to look good to his membership. John has repeatedly made these guys look bad, and now they hate his guts."

Similar matters of pride were at stake in the police and firemen's dispute. The police turned down an exceedingly generous contract—which, despite their cries for Daley, would give them a base pay level of $10,750 a year, considerably more than the Chicago cops, and a 14.6% boost over two years—not because it was too little, but because the firemen would be getting as much. The policemen protested that they should receive more because of the greater hazards of the job. Renewing an old status rivalry, the firemen declared that they would accept not a penny less. The garbagemen, by contrast, have accepted their contract. Some other city unions urged the Mayor to hold tight, saying they would have to reopen their contracts if the police received an added sweetener. And 40,000 more public service employees threatened to strike for equal treatment when their contracts expire in December.

Restoring Grace

In cutting through other tangles that choke his city, Lindsay has done better than just about anyone else could have. Not always appreciated in New York—or in Nelson Rockefeller's Albany—he is generally regarded in Washington offices that handle urban programs as the best big-city mayor in the country.

One of his biggest accomplishments has been to restore some measure of grace to a city not noted for its civility, and to slow, if only by a fraction, the numerous forces that make New York an increasingly unlivable city. Under Lindsay, the parks have been made into attractive recreational centers, with cafes and musicales and bicycling on roadways that are closed to cars on weekends and holidays. Air pollution has been cut slightly, and the level of design in civic architecture has been raised. Plans are being pushed through for a great network of new subways, and the grandiose, frequently destructive schemes of the expressway builders have, for the most part, been restrained from running great swaths of concrete through residential areas.

Fragile Link

The city government has been reorganized to follow the simpler federal outline, and advanced techniques of systems analysis are being applied to bureaucratic procedures that had not changed by more than a jot in a century. Still in dire need of money, the city's budget has been brought in line with income. Thanks to Wagner's custom of floating long-term loans to pay current operating expenses, New York had "rainy day"

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10