“Gotham Grows Up” | The New York Times Close Up with Sam Roberts

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♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>>I’M SAM ROBERTS OF “THE NEW YORK TIMES.” WELCOME TO THE “NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE UP.” IN A MOMENT WE’LL TALK WITH ONE OF THE CITY’S FOREMOST CHRONICLERS, THE HISTORIAN MIKE WALLACE. HE’S WRITTEN A SEQUEL TO HIS PULITZER PRIZE WINNING “GOTHAM,” THIS ONE CALLED “GREATER GOTHAM.” IT’S REVIEWED IN THE SUNDAY TIMES BOOK REVIEW. MY TIMES COLLEAGUES DISCUSS THE WEEKS LEAD STORIES ON THE BACK STORY. AND I’LL OFFER SOME FINAL WORDS WITH CODA. FIRST, MIKE WALLACE, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND CUNY’S GRADUATE CENTER. HIS LATEST WORK CONTINUES THE EPIC “GOTHAM: THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY TO 1898.” HE WROTE THAT WITH TED BORROWS. WITH “GREATER GOTHAM: A HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY FROM 1898-1919.” IT’S JUST BEEN PUBLISHED BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AND IT WAS REVIEWED IN “THE SUNDAY TIMES BOOK REVIEW” BY THE TIMES’ JOSEPH BERGER. THIS IS JUST AS MAGISTERIAL A BOOK AS “GOTHAM” WAS. IT HAS MORE THAN A THOUSAND PAGES. THAT TAKES A BIG INVESTMENT FROM READERS, MIKE. WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO WALK AWAY WITH AFTER THEY’VE READ IT?>>I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE THEM GET A SENSE OF HOW THE CITY WORKED, HOW IT DEVELOPED, AND SOME BACKGROUND ON HOW THE CITY FUNCTIONS TODAY. I WOULD LIKE THEM TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. I WOULD LIKE THEM TO ENJOY. IT’S COMPOSED OF HUNDREDS OF STORIES. THERE’S 1,351 NAMES IN THE NAMES INDEX.>>ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I FIND FASCINATING, BECAUSE YOU TELL THE STORY THROUGH PEOPLE, WHICH MAKES IT SO MUCH A WONDERFUL NARRATIVE, IS THE THRUST OF THE BOOK IS ALL ABOUT CONSOLIDATION. CONSOLIDATION CORPORATELY, CONSOLIDATION GOVERNMENTALLY. WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND CONSOLIDATION IN THAT PERIOD?>>PEOPLE LIKE JPMORGAN AND JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER DIDN’T LIKE ONE ANOTHER. THEY DIDN’T GET ON. BUT THEY AGREED ON ONE THING, FREE ENTERPRISE, CAPITALISM WAS FOR THE BIRDS, THAT YOU LET CUTTHROAT COMPETITION BE THE RULES OF THE ECONOMIC GAME, FIRMS WOULD LOSE PROFITS, THEN THEY WOULD BE UNIONIZED, THEN IF YOU REPRESSED THE UNIONS THERE WOULD BE SOCIALISTS CALLING FOR AN END OF CAPITALISM, THIS WAS A TERRIBLE WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD AS FAR AS THEY WERE CONCERNED. 1898 AND 1904 THEY ENGINEERED A MASSIVE CONSOLIDATION OF THE ECONOMY. THOUSANDS OF SMALL FIRMS WINKED OUT AND WERE REPLACED BY LARGE CORPORATIONS LIKE UNITED STATES STEEL. THEY ARGUED THIS WAS IN FACT NOT A POWER GRAB, NOT ROBBER BARONISM, BUT IT LEFT THE ERA BEHIND AND ALLOWED YOU TO DO PLANNING AND SMOOTH OUT THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE BUSINESS CYCLE. THEY HAD THE WINDS OF HISTORY BLOWING THEIR SAILS FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE. THE NOTION THAT CONSOLIDATION WAS A SOLUTION TO VARIOUS KINDS OF PROBLEMS WAS ALSO APPLIED TO THE POLITICAL SPHERE. THEY AND THEIR COHORTS THOUGHT THE NOTION OF THE TWO GREAT CITIES AROUND THE HARBOR AND SCORES OF POLITICAL JURISDICTIONS WERE COMPETING WITH ONE ANOTHER. THIS WAS NUTS, WHO WAS MINDING THE STORE? THE PORT NEEDED WORK, THERE WAS SEWAGE POURING INTO IT, THE DOCKS WEREN’T BIG ENOUGH. THESE PROBLEMS COULD BE DEALT WITH IF THE CITIES WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER, AND THEY WERE IN 1898. CONSOLIDATION BECOMES A MANTRA OR A MEME, IF I’VE GOT “MEME” STRAIGHT, THE LIBRARIES CAME TOGETHER TO CREATE THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY. COLUMBIA COLLEGE IS A DROWSY SCHOOL FOR MIDDLE CLASS GENTRY. NOW, IN THIS NEW EARLY 20th CENTURY ERA, THEY DEVOTE THEMSELVES TO TURNING OUT THE CORPORATE EXECUTIVES, THE MANAGERS, THE PROFESSIONALS, COMBINED WITH THE MEDICAL SCHOOL, WITH THE LAW SCHOOL, WITH THE NURSING SCHOOL, WITH THE TEACHING SCHOOL, AND THEY CREATE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. THIS IS CONSIDERED DE RIGEUR FOR DIFFERENT INSTITUTIONS.>>YOU DECIDED TO CONDENSE IT SOMEWHAT AND TELL THE STORY THROUGH NEW YORK. IN THE COURSE OF THAT, DID YOU DISCOVER THAT THERE IS A NEW YORK EXCEPTIONALISM, THAT NEW YORK IS DIFFERENT FROM THE REST OF THE COUNTRY?>>THE DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE IS PROBABLY OVERRATED BUT NOT BY MUCH. THE SCALE OF THE CITY, ONCE NEW YORK AND BROOKLYN COMBINE, THEY ARE NOW FAR AND AWAY THE BIGGEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY, TWICE THAT OF CHICAGO, THE NUMBER TWO. AND THEY’RE PULLING UP TO THE NUMBER ONE CITY ON THE PLANET, LONDON. SO SIZE IS ONE THING. THE DEGREE TO WHICH WALL STREET IS AN INFLUENCE, A MALIGN ONE, DEPENDS ON YOUR PERSPECTIVE. IT’S THE CENTER OF CULTURAL IMPORTS. IT’S THE CENTER OF LABOR IMPORTS. THAT OF COURSE FOR SOME PEOPLE IS A PROBLEM. THIS IS THE MAJOR PORT FOR ENTRY OF IMMIGRATION. IN THIS PERIOD THERE’S A MASSIVE SURGE OF IMMIGRATION. IT’S NOT JUST THAT IMMIGRANTS COME IN, IN A DISOWNED, ONE BY ONE DROPLET FUNCTION. THEY MOVE INTO THE ENCLAVES, THE JEWISH ENCLAVE, THE IRISH ENCLAVE. THEN SUSTAIN THEIR CULTURE. THIS IS CONSIDERED BY SOME IN THE HEARTLAND AS AN UN-AMERICAN AGGLOMERATION OF STRANGE PEOPLES. AND THERE’S DISMAY AT THIS. ALSO THERE ARE TOO MANY BLACK PEOPLE, TOO MANY JEWS, TOO MANY CATHOLICS. THERE’S TAMMANY HALL, CORRUPT POLITICIANS. THE COUNTRY IS IN FAVOR OF PROHIBITION. NEW YORK IS GOING TO FIGHT IT TO THE LAST DROP.>>LITERALLY THE LAST DROP. YOU’VE BEEN DESCRIBED AS A RADICAL HISTORIAN. IS THIS A RADICAL HISTORY?>>IT’S RADICAL IN THE SENSE THAT IT GOES TO THE ROOT OF THINGS. AND IT EMBRACES IN ITS NARRATIVE EVERYBODY. TRADITIONALLY, IN THE U.S., NOT ONLY — IN THE 1950s WHEN I WAS A KID STILL, THE NARRATIVE IN AMERICAN HISTORY WAS EXTREMELY NARROW GAUGED. THERE WERE NO BLACKS IN THE TRADITIONAL STORY. THERE WERE SLAVES, BUT THEY WERE HAPPY. GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER DID SOMETHING WITH PEANUTS. BETSY ROSS WAS DOING THE AMERICAN FLAG. ET CETERA, ET CETERA. AND IN THE ’60s AND ’70s, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS DEMANDED ENTRY TO THE REAL WORLD, SO THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT, THE GAY MOVEMENT, ANTI-WAR, ANTI-VIETNAM. HISTORIANS INCORPORATED THOSE PEOPLE IN THE HISTORICAL NARRATIVES. IN TANDEM WITH THE SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN THE STREETS, WE REDISCOVERED THE HISTORY OF RACISM, OF SEXISM, IMPERIALISM AND THE LIKE. THIS WAS RADICAL BY THE STANDARDS OF THE DAY.>>AND WHAT’S COME OUT IS A BOOK THAT IS FILLED WITH FASCINATING FACTS AND, AS YOU SAY, FUN. THANKS TO PROFESSOR MIKE WALLACE FOR JOINING US. “GREATER GOTHAM: THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY FROM 1898-1919.” JUST BEEN PUBLISHED BY OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, REVIEWED IN THE SUNWAY TIMES BOOK REVIEW BY JOSEPH BERGER. MY “TIMES” COLLEAGUES JOIN ME FOR THE BACK STORY IN JUST A MOMENT.>>>WELCOME BACK TO THE “NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE UP.” WHAT KIND OF WEEK WAS IT? THE MAYORAL CANDIDATES OR SHALL WE SAY COMBATANTS HELD THEIR FIRST DEBATE ON TUESDAY. THE AUDIENCE MAY HAVE BEEN RECRUITED FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. DISTURBING STATISTICS RELEASED BY THE STATE REVEAL THAT MORE THAN 100,000 STUDENTS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE CITY WERE HOMELESS AT SOME POINT LAST YEAR. MOVIE MOGUL AND MAJOR DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONTRIBUTOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND WORSE. JOINING ME TO DISCUSS THESE STORIES AND MORE, MY “NEW YORK TIMES” COLLEAGUES, CONTRIBUTOR WRITER ELEANOR RANDOLPH, CITY HALL BUREAU REPORTER WILLIAM NEUMAN, AND METRO EDUCATION REPORTER KATE TAYLOR. YOU HAD TO SIT THROUGH THAT MAYORAL DEBATE ON TUESDAY NIGHT. DID ANYONE MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF WHO THEY WERE APPEALING TO IN THIS CAMPAIGN?>>I DON’T THINK IT AFFECTS THE OUTCOME OF THE ELECTION, FIRST OF ALL BECAUSE THERE’S SUCH A WIDE GAP BETWEEN THE MAYOR AND HIS OPPONENTS, THE RECENT QUINNIPIAC POLL HAS THE MAYOR UP 44%. IT’S AN OVERWHELMINGLY DEMOCRATIC CITY, ET CETERA. I THINK VERY FEW PEOPLE WATCHED THE DEBATE. BUT WHAT — >>WHY DID THEY BOTHER DEBATING THEN?>>BECAUSE THEY’RE REQUIRED TO UNDER THE FINANCE RULES. IF YOU TAKE MATCHING FUNDS, YOU’RE REQUIRED TO DEBATE. BOTH THE MAYOR AND MS. MALIATAKIS DO. AND BO WAS INVITED BECAUSE HE REACHED A CERTAIN FUNDRAISING THRESHOLD EVEN THOUGH HE DOESN’T PARTICIPATE. I WAS IN THE AUDITORIUM, AND THEN THE NEXT DAY I WATCHED PART OF IT ON WHAT PEOPLE SAW ON TELEVISION. IT’S BEEN AN ELECTION, A CAMPAIGN THAT HAS NOT REGISTERED PRETTY MUCH WITH ANYBODY. IT’S BEEN ALMOST WITHOUT INTEREST BOTH ON THE PRIMARIES, AND NOW IN THE GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN. AND AT LEAST FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF, IT HAD A PULSE. THERE WAS ENERGY. I THOUGHT THAT THE MAYOR, WHO VERY OFTEN CAN COME ACROSS AS ABOVE IT ALL AND PROFESSORIAL AND EVEN UNINTERESTED IN STUFF THAT YOU KNOW HE’S INTERESTED IN, LIKE EDUCATION AND OTHER THINGS, WAS FORCED TO, WITH ALL THE CROWD SHOUTING AND HECKLING, HE HAD TO SPEAK OVER THESE PEOPLE AND LEAN FORWARD. HE WAS ACTUALLY LEANING INTO HIS JOB, WHICH IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS FEEL AND THEN HE HAD TO RESPOND PRIMARILY TO NICOLE MALIATAKIS WITH CERTAIN BARBS AND CHARGES.>>DO HIS RIVALS HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE ON ANY ISSUES?>>NO. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. FOR ME, THE GREATEST SHORTCOMING OF THE DEBATE WASN’T ALL THE HUBBUB AND THE NOISE AND THE SHOUTING. IT WAS THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE HERE THE MAYOR, WHO KNOWS THE ISSUES BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS, WHETHER YOU LIKE HIS POLICIES OR NOT, HE DOES THAT JOB. AND THEN YOU HAD THE TWO CHALLENGERS WHO ARE VERY SOFT ON ISSUES, AND THEIR ROLE HAS MOSTLY BEEN TO CRITICIZE THE MAYOR, TAKE POT SHOTS AND NOT COME OUT WITH REAL PROGRAMS OR ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES.>>I WAS JUST SO GLAD NOBODY HAD A WEAPON, BECAUSE — >>NONE OF THE DEBATERS.>>THAT WAS THE STRANGEST DEBATE I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME. IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO ANOTHER DEBATE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD HOLD IT AT DE BLASIO’S GYM AND EVERYBODY SHOULD STRIP DOWN AND WRESTLE. IT WAS LIKE PUNCHING BAGS, AND ALL THIS SCREAMING FROM BO DIEDLE. YOU COULD SEE WHY THERE WAS MORE ENERGY IN THE ROOM, DIEDLE SHOUTS, HE’S LIKE A SCREAMER AT THE CIRCUS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.>>HE COMES OUT OF FOX NEWS AND “IMUS IN THE MORNING.” WHAT HE’S LEARNED ABOUT THE MEDIA IS YOU’RE PROVOCATIVE AND OUTRAGEOUS AND YOU TAKE EXTREME POSITIONS AND YOU SHOUT AND THAT’S HOW YOU GET ATTENTION. THAT’S WHAT HE BROUGHT TO THE DEBATE. THAT TOOK AWAY, OBVIOUSLY.>>WHAT ABOUT HAVING AN AUDIENCE?>>IT ALSO CAME FROM THE AUDIENCE. THOSE WERE LARGELY BO’S PEOPLE.>>I THINK HE PACKED THE HOUSE.>>I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT, BECAUSE THE TICKETS WERE OPEN.>>YEAH, BUT IF YOU WERE JUST WATCHING AND YOU WERE LISTENING, EVERY TIME BO DIEDLE SAID SOMETHING, THE AUDIENCE, THE ONLY TIME YOU HEARD ANYTHING ELSE, A COUPLE OF PEOPLE YELLED “FOUR MORE YEARS.”>>A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE SHOUTING “FOUR MORE YEARS.”>>AND I ASSUME THAT WAS FOR DE BLASIO.>>I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, IN TERMS OF THE ISSUES THEY DIDN’T DEBATE, AS AN EDUCATIONAL REPORTER, IT WAS PARTICULARLY FRUSTRATING THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE A SERIOUS DISCUSSION ON EDUCATION, ON WHICH THE MAYOR HAS MANY WEAKNESSES AND HIS RECORD HAS PLENTY OF HOLES TO POINT OUT AND CHALLENGE, AND HIS OPPONENTS WERE NOT EQUIPPED TO DO THAT. ONLY TIME IT CAME UP WAS WHAT IS THE CITY DOING ABOUT RACIAL SEGREGATION OF SCHOOLS, AND DE BLASIO GAVE A KIND OF WANDERING RESPONSE AND THEY DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT.>>EVERYBODY WOULD AGREE THAT TURNING EDUCATION AROUND IN THE CITY IS A GENERATIONAL JOB. IS THERE ANY WAY OF DETERMINING WHETHER IT’S GOTTEN ANY BETTER UNDER MAYOR DE BLASIO?>>WELL, DE BLASIO WOULD SAY LOOK AT THE FACT THAT TEST SCORES FOR ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE CONTINUING TO SLIGHTLY IMPROVE. IT’S HARD TO SAY THAT REALLY MEANS ANYTHING, BECAUSE THE TESTS HAVE CHANGED, AND THEY CAN TAKE UNLIMITED TIME. GRADUATION RATES HAVE CONTINUED TO IMPROVE, SO THAT’S GOOD. BUT IT’S HARD TO SAY WHETHER THAT’S THE RESULT OF CHANGES THAT WERE MADE BEFORE OR ANYTHING THAT DE BLASIO HAS DONE. I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE TWO MAJOR EDUCATION POLICIES THAT DE BLASIO HAS PURSUED ARE HIS PRE KINDERGARTEN EXPANSION, WHICH AS MEASURED SIMPLY BY THE NUMBERS IS A SUCCESS. IT WILL BE A LONG TIME TO SEE IF THAT HAS AN EFFECT ON HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION.>>YOU HAVE TO ASSUME IT’S A NET PLUS OR IS GOING TO BE.>>IT IS ABSOLUTELY A NET PLUS. EVEN THE MAYOR’S EDUCATION CRITICS WOULD AGREE WITH THAT. HIS OTHER MAJOR POLICY, WHICH HAS BEEN MUCH LESS CLEARLY SUCCESSFUL, IS WHAT’S CALLED THE RENEWAL SCHOOLS INITIATIVE, WHICH IS WHERE HE BASICALLY SAID WE’RE NOT GOING TO CLOSE STRUGGLING SCHOOLS, WE’RE GOING TO THROW MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AT THEM AND TRY TO IMPROVE THEM, AND IT’S NOT CLEAR THAT THAT’S WORKED.>>YOU SAID EARLIER THAT THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF TEACHERS SITTING AROUND DOING NOTHING?>>WELL, THEY’RE NOT PRECISELY DOING NOTHING. THIS IS — WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT IS THE ABSENT TEACHER RESERVE, WHICH IS A GROUP OF TEACHERS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR POSITIONS BUT ARE STILL GETTING PAID FULL SALARIES. AND SO THIS COSTS — >>LOST THEM BECAUSE OF WHAT?>>THEY LOST THEM FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS. IN SOME CASES THE CITY TRIED TO REMOVE THEM FOR MISCONDUCT OR INCOMPETENCE AND WAS UNSUCCESSFUL BUT DIDN’T RETURN THEM TO THEIR PREVIOUS SCHOOLS, EITHER THEY WORKED AT SCHOOLS THAT CLOSED OR HAD ENROLLMENT LOSS, BUDGET REASONS, SOMETIMES PRINCIPALS USE THAT TO GET RID OF THEM. THEY’RE STILL GETTING PAID. THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING FOR JOBS BUT IT’S NOT CLEAR ALL OF THEM WANT TO GET JOBS BECAUSE IT’S EASIER TO JUST GO SUBSTITUTE IN A CLASS. SO THEY GET SENT INTO SCHOOLS FOR A MONTH AT A TIME, EITHER SUBSTITUTING OR IF THE PRINCIPAL CAN’T FIND ANYTHING FOR THEM TO DO, THEY PUT THEM IN THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE. NOW WHAT THE CITY IS DOING, BECAUSE THIS IS A HUGE EXPENSE AND THEY HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT SOMETHING ELSE TO DO, THEY’RE GOING TO PLACE THESE PEOPLE IN SCHOOLS THAT HAVE VACANCIES, IF A PRINCIPAL HAS A SCIENCE PERSON TO FILL, THEY’LL SAY, YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS TEACHER.>>ARE THEY GOING TO PLACE THE TEACHERS THEY TRIED TO FIRE IN THESE SCHOOLS?>>THEY MAY. THEY SAY THEY HAVE DISCRETION, THERE WERE CONCERNS ABOUT THEIR HISTORY. BUT THE TEACHERS THEY TRIED TO FIRE MAY BE AMONG THEM. I THINK THEY’VE BEEN VERY HESITANT TO DO THIS, BECAUSE SOME OF THESE TEACHERS ARE NOT PEOPLE YOU WOULD WANT IN CLASSROOMS. THE WHOLE BLOOMBERG — THE BLOOMBERG ADMINISTRATION, IN A DEAL WITH THE TEACHERS UNION IN 2005, ESTABLISHED THIS POLICY THAT YOU COULDN’T FORCE TEACHERS ON PRINCIPALS AND YOU COULDN’T FORCE TEACHERS INTO JOBS THAT THEY DIDN’T WANT. IT WAS THIS IDEA OF MUTUAL CONSENT HIRING THAT HAD NOT BEEN THE CASE BEFORE, PREVIOUSLY A SENIOR TEACHER COULD CLAIM A VACANCY IN A SCHOOL AND THE PRINCIPAL HAD NO SAY. THE BLOOMBERG ADMINISTRATION RECOGNIZED, RIGHTLY, THAT YOU COULDN’T VERY WELL HOLD PRINCIPALS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE AT THEIR SCHOOL IF THEY COULDN’T CHOOSE WHO TO HIRE.>>IT’S TOO BAD THEY CAN’T USE SOME OF THAT MONEY AND RETRAIN SOME OF THESE PEOPLE NOT TO BE TEACHERS. MAYBE THEY’RE NOT — MAYBE THEY’RE GOOD PEOPLE BUT NOT MEANT TO BE TEACHERS.>>WELL WHAT SHOULD THEY RETRAIN THEM AS?>>ENTREPRENEURS. HEDGE FUND OPERATORS. TALK ABOUT MONEY, THEY COULD BE PLUMBER OR ELECTRICIANS. THAT WOULD BE GREAT. BUT CLEARLY — >>I’M NOT SURE THAT’S PRACTICAL.>>YOU CAN’T JUST THROW PEOPLE OUT ON THE STREET. THAT WOULD BE WORSE.>>YOU CAN’T SEND THEM BACK TO SCHOOLS IF THEY’RE NOT COMPETENT, CAN YOU?>>LOOK, THE WAY THE UNION WORKS, YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY FIRE THEM. WHAT YOU NEED TO DO — >>WHY NOT, IF THEY’RE NOT COMPETENT?>>THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION.>>THE UNION HAS TAKEN A VERY HARD LINE ON JOB PROTECTION. ONCE YOU’RE TENURED, IT’S VERY HARD TO FIRE SOMEBODY.>>AS WELL IT SHOULD BE, BUT THERE OUGHT TO BE SOME LINE.>>THE UNION DRAWS THE LINE VERY FAR IN THE DIRECTION OF JOB PROTECTION.>>HOW MANY TEACHER VACANCIES ARE THERE THAT ARE GOING TO BE FILLED NOW?>>THERE ARE SOMETHING ON THE ORDER OF 800 VACANCIES, POSSIBLY. IT’S ESTIMATED THEY’RE GOING TO PUT ABOUT 400 TEACHERS IN VACANCIES.>>HOW MANY ARE SITTING AROUND DOING NOTHING AT THE MOMENT?>>AT THE MOMENT, I THINK IT’S AROUND 12 OR 1300. AGAIN, THEY’RE SUBSTITUTING IN SCHOOLS. THEY’RE NOT DOING NOTHING. THEY’RE NOT FILLING PERMANENT JOBS.>>IS THERE ANY INDICATION IN THE DEBATE OR SO FAR IN THIS CAMPAIGN, WHAT THE MAYOR INTENDS TO DO DIFFERENTLY, IF ANYTHING, IN A SECOND TERM SHOULD HE WIN IT?>>IT’S FASCINATING, HE HAS RESISTED COMING OUT AND SAYING HERE IS MY SECOND TERM VISION. HE WAS ASKED ABOUT THAT AT A NEWS CONFERENCE THIS WEEK. AND HE WAS ASKED, WELL, WHY DON’T YOU TELL US A FEW NEW THINGS.>>WHY SHOULD WE VOTE FOR HIM?>>HE REFUSED, HE SAID, WELL, YOU KNOW — BECAUSE IT WAS ALSO POINTED OUT WHEN HE RAN THE FIRST TIME, HE CAME OUT WITH THIS LONG LIST OF, I FORGET, 100 AND SOME THINGS HE WAS GOING TO DO. WHERE IS THE LIST THIS TIME? HE SAYS, IT’S DIFFERENT, I’VE BEEN MAYOR FOR A WHILE, I’VE GOT ALL THESE THINGS IN PROCESS, SO I’M GOING TO BE CONTINUING WITH MANY OF THOSE THINGS, BUT I’VE GOT SOME ANNOUNCEMENTS BUT I’LL BE MAKING THEM IN THE COMING WEEKS. IT WAS VERY TRUMPIAN. WHAT HIS PEOPLE TALK ABOUT AND WHAT HE TALKS ABOUT, THEY SAY, WELL, WE’VE PROMISED TO CREATE 100,000 GOOD PAYING JOBS. WE’RE GOING TO BE ROLLING OUT THE BODY CAMERAS FOR POLICE OFFICERS. 3-K. THOSE ARE THE THREE THINGS THEY MENTION MOST OFTEN. 3K HE DOESN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO DO, HE’S ALREADY ANNOUNCED IT. BODY CAMERAS, THAT COMES OUT OF THE CONTRACT WITH THE COPS AND IT’S ALREADY A DONE DEAL, IT HAS TO BE IMPLEMENTED. THE 100,000 GOOD PAYING JOBS IS THIS SQUISHY, NONEXISTENT, NON-PLAN PLAN, WHERE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO MEASURE.>>THEY HAVE THIS WHOLE INTERNAL PROCESS OF KEEPING TRACK OF THAT. AND — >>WHAT IS HE UP TO?>>I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE PERCENTAGE IS. BUT THEY GO THROUGH AND THEY TRACK THOSE. I THINK THAT THEY WOULD TELL YOU THEY’VE GOTTEN A LONG WAY ON MANY OF THEM.>>I MEAN, HOW MANY POINTS UP, HE’S WHAT, 44 POINTS UP. THE GUY IS COASTING. HE’S REALLY TRYING NOT TO MAKE A MISTAKE, THAT’S WHAT HE’S DOING NOW.>>WE EXPECT TO HAVE THE MAYOR ON OUR PROGRAM NEXT WEEK SO WE’LL ASK THESE QUESTIONS DIRECTLY TO HIM. THANKS TO ELEANOR RANDOLPH, WILLIAM NEUMAN AND KATE TAYLOR FOR JOINING US. I’LL BE BACK WITH FINAL WORDS IN A MOMENT.>>>ONE OF THE STUDENTS IN ALAN BENNETT’S PLAY “THE HISTORY BOYS” WAS ASKED TO DEFINE HISTORY. HE THINKS FOR A MOMENT AND APPLIES, HISTORY IS JUST ONE DAMN THING AFTER ANOTHER. THAT’S THE MYOPIC MINDSET OF MANY NEW YORKERS, WHICH IS ANOTHER REASON TO KEEP CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS ON HIS COLUMN IN COLUMBUS CIRCLE. LIKE MOST MONUMENTS, THE STATUE COULD PROVIDE A TEACHABLE MOMENT. YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW IT FROM THE PLAQUE THAT’S NOW AT ITS BASE. THE TEXT SUMS UP LIFE IN THESE WORDS. SCOFFED AT BEFORE, DURING THE VOYAGE MENACED, AFTER IT CHAINED. THE MENACED PART IS ACCURATE, GIVEN HIS MUTINOUS CREW. THE SCOFFING WAS VALIDATED BY THE FACT THAT HE NEVER FOUND THE REAL INDIES AND BLUNDERED INSTEAD UPON A NEW CONTINENT. AS FOR THE CHAINED, COLUMBUS GOT OFF EASY. HE SPENT SIX WEEKS IN A SPANISH JAIL FOR BRUTALLY TORTURING THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE HE ENCOUNTERED. BEFORE WE SAY GOODBYE COLUMBUS, WE WOULD BE WISER TO CONSIDER HIM IN CONTEXT. WHILE MANY CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS IN THE JIM CROW SOUTH WERE SET UP TO DEFY SOCIAL PROGRESS, COLUMBUS’ WAS CONCEIVED AS A CELEBRATION OF ETHNIC PRIDE. THEY SHOULD RENAME THE PLAQUE TO SPECIFY WHAT HE ACCOMPLISHED AND WHERE HE TRANSGRESSED. HE COMMITTED HIS BARBARISM IN 1492. THINK HOW FAR WE’VE ADVANCED FOUR CENTURIES LATER IN 1892, WHEN ITALIAN AMERICANS IN OUR CITY OF IMMIGRANTS, WERE HONORING THEIR COMPATRIOT WITH A STATUE. THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT THEN WAS STILL AWARDING CONGRESSIONAL MEDALS OF HONOR TO AMERICAN SOLDIERS WHO, LIKE COLUMBUS, HAD JUST MASSACRED THE INDIANS. IF WE TOPPLE COLUMBUS, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA OR NEW YORK, FOR THAT MATTER? THE DUKE OF YORK HAD HIS INITIALS BRANDED ON THE CHESTS OF SLAVES WHO HIS COMPANY KIDNAPPED IN AFRICA. OR GEORGE WASHINGTON. WHEN HE WAS INAUGURATED AS PRESIDENT IN 1789, WASHINGTON HAD MORE SLAVES WORKING FOR HIM BACK HOME IN MT. VERNON THAN FEDERAL EMPLOYEES IN NEW YORK. LESS THAN A DECADE AFTER THE COLUMBUS STATUE WAS UNVEILED, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY’S HALL OF FAME WAS DEDICATED IN THE BRONX. AT THE DEDICATION ON MEMORIAL DAY IN 1901, THE NAMES THAT AROUSED THE LOUDEST CHEERS FROM CIVIL WAR VETERANS WERE WASHINGTON, GRANT, ROBERT E. LEE. “THE NEW YORK TIMES” EDITORIALIZED EVEN THEN AGAINST INCLUDING LEE, AND THE BITTERNESS THAT IT WOULD AROUSE. THE SAFE AND HEALING SILENCE OF THE LAST TEN OR 15 YEARS HAS BEEN BROKEN, THE EDITORIAL SAID. THE AGREEMENT TO DISAGREE HAS BEEN VIOLATED. IN HIS DEDICATION ADDRESS IN 1901, SENATOR CHAUNCEY DEPEW DEFINED FAME AS MAKING HISTORY. HE DESCRIBED FAME AS FLEETING, REMINDING HIS LISTENERS THAT MANY GRAVES IN FRENCH CEMETERIES ARE LEASED FOR 20 OR 50 YEARS, THEN RECYCLED. PERHAPS, HE SUGGESTED, INDUCTEES TO THE HALL OF FAME SHOULD BE RECONSIDERED PERIODICALLY TOO. IS AMENDING A PLAQUE JUST A SOP? WOULD ANYONE READ IT? AS A MANHATTAN BOROUGH HISTORIAN SAYS, IS REINTERPRETATION TURN A STATUE MEANT TO BE TIMELESS INTO A TANGENTIAL HISTORICAL ARTIFACT? SYMBOLS KINDLE MEMORIES AND CONVERSATION. MAYBE WE NEED MORE OF THEM, NOT LESS. BECAUSE THE MORE WE REMEMBER THE PAST, THE MORE WE REALIZE, AS MAYA ANGELOU WROTE, THAT HISTORY CANNOT BE UNLIVED BUT IT NEED NOT BE LIVED AGAIN. FOR “THE NEW YORK TIMES” AND CUNY-TV, I’M SAM ROBERTS. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

One comment

  1. So glad this so valuable, informative programming has found a new venue. Spectrum's cutting the show was beyond a lame programming move.

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