Lynne A. Weikart

 

On her book Follow the Money: Who Controls New York City Mayors?

Cover Interview of October 21, 2009

A close-up

Some people have told me that the most interesting part of the book was the chapter on Rudy Giuliani and his decision making.  I don’t agree.  I think the chapter on Mayor David Dinkins is the most interesting and the most challenging to write because Mayor Dinkins faced a fiscal crisis that was as severe and difficult as the 1975 fiscal crisis.  And, in my judgment, the fiscal policies of Mayor Dinkins were outstanding.  Time and again Mayor Dinkins placated the bankers while keeping his public policy goals in the forefront - the “safety net” of social services to the city’s poorest citizens.  However, he failed to convince the city’s citizens that he was a capable leader, and thus only served one term.

Another example of the extraordinary power of the state government over the city was the struggle between Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay.  Time after time the Governor blocked attempts by the Mayor to increase taxes to deal with the city’s growing deficit.  Both the Governor and State Legislature were quick to add to the city’s spending through giveaways to the unions but at the same time the state government refused to agree to increases in city taxes.  Eventually, the debts became too enormous and the city came close to bankruptcy.