The Golden Age of Giuliani

This is an article about New York City, the current mayor of which is a socialist, so what better way to begin than with a quote from Marx?

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Oops, great quote, but wrong Marx.  Try this one:

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

In NYC, where this writer has lived since 1977, history repeated itself as tragedy on November 5, 2013,when New Yorkers elected Bill de Blasio mayor, repeating – or should that be compounding? – the error made on November 7, 1989, when they elected David Dinkins to the same office.

What was NYC like in those days?  Well, let’s just say that one would have been much better off reading Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities than actually to have lived through the Dinkins Era – or, as the writer likes to think of it, the “Fat Al Sharpton Period”:

History repeated itself as farce on July 9, when the writer logged onto the internet and was greeted by this delightful image and story (emphasis mine):

Here’s an up-close look at a quality-of-life offense the City Council wants to decriminalize.

This urinating vagrant turned a busy stretch of Broadway into his own private bathroom yesterday – an offense that would result in a mere summons if Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and her pals get their way.

Wrapped in rags and a Mets blanket the hobo wandered into traffic at around 10:30 a.m. and relieved himself as cabs, cars and buses whizzed by between West 83rd and 84th streets on the Upper West Side.

Likely, few if any Upper-West-Siders know this homeless man’s name.  But can there be a New Yorker who lived on the Upper West Side in the 1990s, who didn’t know – and fear – the name Larry Hogue...

…aka the “Wild Man of the Upper West Side”?  The Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1992:

They call him the "Wild Man," and he's been terrorizing the Upper West Side for seven years.

Larry Hogue, a 52-year-old homeless crack addict, roams the streets with an assortment of weapons--a machete, a screwdriver, an ice pick--and police say he has a penchant for chasing women with small dogs and pushing pedestrians into traffic.

He's been arrested or sent to mental hospitals at least 37 times since 1985, but always ends up back on the streets[.]

Well, at least the “Wild Pisser of the Upper West Side” isn’t “chasing women with small dogs and pushing pedestrians into traffic.”  Yet.

Piss-Man, unfortunately, is but one example of the increasing number of homeless people, of both sexes, one sees on the streets of Manhattan these days.  Indeed, along Piss-Man’s “beat,” one frequently encounters homeless people sitting cross-legged behind cardboard signs, begging for handouts, in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore at 82nd St. and in front of the church at 79th.  Before the McDonald’s between 82nd and 83rd closed and the space became vacant, one could find a homeless man crouched beside the entrance there, too.

And then there are the subways.  Anyone who has stood by a subway track, waiting for the train, knows that the area is basically a giant echo chamber.  Imagine, then, the sonic assault on the eardrums caused by the so-called bucket drummers…

…obnoxious Buddy Rich wannabes, who sit on upturned plastic five-gallon buckets all day, beating on other five-gallon buckets with sticks.  And if one thinks one can escape the cacophony when the train arrives, one would be, so very, very wrong…

Or perhaps, Señor, you think you would enjoy a serenade during your subway ride – in Spanish, of course…

Break-dancing aficionado?  There’s a subway car for that…

And always, always, the beggars…

And those actually are the high points.  The writer lives in Harlem, where, not long ago, a man was shot, right across the street from his apartment on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.  Three times.

But let us stick to the high points for now, lest this article become too long.  From the above article, about the “Urinator,” who, like the Terminator, will be back – many times, unfortunately:

It reminds me of the pre-[Rudy] Giuliani era,” said Jim Hoover, 60[.]


The writer, for years, edited self-study continuing education courses for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), where he encountered a phrase “the tone at the top.”  “Tone at the top” is simply the commonsense concept that in any business, large or small, the leader’s personality and, more important, philosophy, sets the tone for the entire organization.

So, too, in government.  If a mayor does not subscribe to the broken windows theory, it doesn’t matter what his police commissioner believes.  If the mayor doesn’t believe in the broken windows theory, the inevitable result will be a lot of broken windows that no one bothers to fix.

New York’s current mayor, Bill de Blasio, clearly does not believe in and/or care for the broken windows theory.  But another, former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, did, and he applied it to great, and greatly beneficial, effect.

In 1993, New Yorkers elected Rudy Giuliani – it’s hard to call him Rudolph – and almost overnight, New York City rose from the dysfunctional depths of the Dinkins – and Koch, and Beame – administrations.  The Three-Card Monte hucksters…

The squeegee men…

… the whores, the beggars, the litter, the psychologically and mentally ill people wandering the streets unimpeded, uncared-for, as if letting people who clearly needed help wander through the city – and life – unhelped was somehow good for them…they all vanished.

Suddenly, a city thought to be ungovernable was not only being governed.  It was being governed well.

And a city that was becoming increasingly unlivable for all but the wealthy, a city that appeared headed for the brink, like the writer’s hometown of Detroit, began to change for the better.

For a short time, lasting perhaps into the latter third of Michael Bloomberg’s mayoralty, New York became a wonderful city in which to live.

Call it the Golden Age of Giuliani.

But only for that proverbial brief, shining moment.  Rudy Giuliani – Rudy Giuliani, the miracle worker who performed a miracle on a city that desperately needed one – is gone.  Bill de Blasio governs now, and, sadly, the Golden Age of Giuliani is disappearing almost as quickly as it arrived.  All of the elements – and people – who made everyday life so unpleasant for the average New Yorker are back:

Is this Christmas 2014 — or 1974?

A stark reminder of New York City’s bad old days appeared on the streets of Manhattan Thursday , as three-card monte dealers turned out in force on Fifth Avenue.

An army of the shady gamblers — offering both crooked card and shell games — set up between West 53rd and 56th streets, fleecing Christmas tourists like hapless rubes in an old-time movie.

And, of course, the beggars, some quiet, and some not so quiet (emphasis mine):

A foul-mouthed panhandler with a message of hate is the new welcome wagon for visitors to the Crossroads of the World [Times Square].

Daniel Kimery, 36, greeted tourists on Wednesday with a hand-lettered sign saying:  “F–k You!!!  Pay Me!!!!!!!  I need money 4 Drugz & Hoez & Weaponz Mother F–kerz!”

Kimery also drew frightened stares by cursing and ranting at passers-by while wearing a sleeveless green T-shirt promoting the “Occupy” movement.

And in Midtown, in the Port Authority Bus Terminal parking garage, a 21-year-old woman was beaten and raped.

There is a lesson to be learned from New York’s progressive (in both senses of the word) decline – and Detroit’s, and Baltimore’s, and California’s, but especially New York’s.  The lesson is that liberals never learn, and they never give up.  Like a president who, seeing relative calm in Iraq, said “Mission Accomplished” and brought the troops home prematurely, losing all that had been gained by his GOP predecessor, New Yorkers in 2013 viewed the lovely, livable New York City that Rudy Giuliani and his tough-on-crime, fix-broken-windows policies gave them; deluded themselves into thinking that those results were permanent, that it was now safe to discontinue them; and elected a liberal, socialist(!) mayor dedicated to reinstituting the progressive policies that created the mess that Giuliani cleaned up, on the apparent belief that it will be different this time.

Well, it won’t be different, this time or anytime.  To the contrary, after little more than a year and a half into Bill de Blasio’s term, it’s already bad and getting worse.

Yet, amid the despair, there may be hope.  After all, is the New York City that elected Bill de Blasio not the same city that, viewing the wreckage of the Dinkins administration, wisely opted to go in different direction and elected Rudy Giuliani to clean up the mess?  Surely New Yorkers will, once again, realize their error and make Bill de Blasio a one-term mayor, replacing him with “Giuliani II,” another tough, crime-busting, broken-window-fixing man – or woman – who will clean up Bill de Blasio’s messes.  Surely, having been given a second lesson, New Yorkers will acknowledge the bankruptcy of liberalism as a governing philosophy and, going forward, elect only GOP mayors.

This writer is sure that by the time de Blasio leaves office, even the most liberal New Yorker will have resolved not to repeat, for a third time, the mistake of electing a progressive, as sure as he is that the clock on the wall says 5:00 and that he must leave you.

Time to feed the unicorns.

Gene Schwimmer is a New York licensed real estate broker and the author of The Christian State.  Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter.