Taking Stock | The New York Times Close Up with Sam Roberts

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♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪ SAM: I’M SAM ROBERTS OF THE “NEW YORK TIMES.” WELCOME TO “THE NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE UP.” PRESIDENT TRUMP CONTINUES TO AMAZE, FAZE AND FRUSTRATE, NOT ONLY THE VOTERS, BUT CONGRESS AND THE WHITE HOUSE STAFF. WE’LL BE JOINED BY MY FORMER “TIMES” COLLEAGUE, DAVID CAY JOHNSTON HE HAS COVERED TRUMP FOR MANY YEARS. HIS LATEST BOOK BEARS THE OPTIMISTIC TITLE, “IT’S EVEN WORSE THAN YOU THINK: WHAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOING TO AMERICA.” MY “TIMES” COLLEAGUES ASSESS THE WEEK’S LEAD ISSUES ON “THE BACK STORY.” AND I’LL OFFER SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON “CODA.” BUT FIRST, DAVID CAY JOHNSTON. “IT’S EVEN WORSE THAN YOU THINK: WHAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOING TO AMERICA.“ IT’S JUST BEEN PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER AND REVIEWED IN SUNDAY’S TIMES BOOK REVIEW. THE REVIEWER SAYS IT IS NOT QUITE AS HORRIBLE AS YOU FEARED.>>WELL, I DISAGREE WITH THE REVIEWER. THERE HAS BEEN SUPERB COVERAGE OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WHITE HOUSE. THE PALACE INTRIGUE. THIS SKILL OF TIMES REPORTERS IN SOME OF THE WASHINGTON POST AND ELSEWHERE ARE ASSESSING WHAT IS GOING ON HAS BEEN EXTRAORDINARY. WHAT IS NOT BEING COVERED IS GOVERNMENT. WHAT IS BEING DONE TO OUR GOVERNMENT? I GO THROUGH A NUMBER OF THE FEDERAL AGENCIES AND SHOW THAT TEAM TRUMP, IT IS NOT DONALD HIMSELF, HE’S A LAZY GUY, WHO LITERALLY DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING, TEAM TRUMP HAS DEPOSITED WHAT I CALL POLITICAL TERMITES INTO THE STRUCTURE OF OUR GOVERNMENT. THE ARE EATING AWAY AT IT. THE ABILITY OF THE EPA TO ENFORCE THE CLEAN WATER ACT HAS BEEN COMPROMISED. THE PROGRAMS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO HELP STUDENTS AND VETERANS ARE BEING COMPROMISED. I GO THROUGH A NUMBER OF THE FEDERAL AGENCIES TO SHOW THAT OUT OF SIGHT, JUST LIKE TERMITES ARE, THEY ARE RUINING THE FUNCTIONS OF OUR GOVERNMENT THAT ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT ORDINARY PEOPLE FROM MISBEHAVING PREDATORS.>>WOULD YOU SAY THAT MOST OF THIS INFORMATION IS OPEN, BUT MOST GOVERNMENTS ARE LOATH TO UNCOVER IT. WHY IS THAT?>>MOST JOURNALISTS.>>RIGHT.>>THE GENERAL WAY YOU GET A HEAD IN YOUR CAREER IN JOURNALISM IS NOT BY DOING WHAT I DID, WHICH IS READ UP SKEWER LAWS AND REGULATIONS AND FIND THE STORIES THAT WAY. IT IS BY COVERING THE BIG THINGS THAT WILL BE ON TV. I NEVER WANTED TO BE A WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT OR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. ALTHOUGH I DID AT THE L.A. TIMES WHEN REAGAN WAS ELECTED PROPOSED THAT I BE THE FOURTH WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT. THE ROLE WAS I COULD NOT LEAVE L.A. THE EDITOR SAID, HOW WOULD YOU DO THAT? I SAID, I COVER THE PAPERWORK. CHARLIE SAVAGE, WHEN HE WAS AT THE BOSTON GLOBE, HE WON HIS PULITZER FOR DOING THAT, COVERING THE PAPERWORK. WE NEED TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO OUR GOVERNMENT. WE ARE OWNERS. WE SHOULD ACT LIKE OWNERS. THE NEWS BUSINESS NEEDS TO DEVOTE MORE RESOURCES TO WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE FUNCTIONS OF OUR GOVERNMENT. THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS TO ASSIGN A REPORTER EVERYDAY TO DO WHAT WE DO, AT OUR NEWS SERVICE, WE READ THE FEDERAL REGISTER.>>WHEN WE LOOK AT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, IS IT THAT WORSE THAN ANY OTHER? YOU TALK ABOUT AN INVESTMENT BANKER APPOINTED AS AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN, THE REVIEWER SAYS, BARACK OBAMA APPOINTED CAROLINE KENNEDY AS AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN. AREN’T THERE ALWAYS POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS LIKE THAT?>>YES. THERE ARE. I DON’T HAVE OBJECTIONS TO THAT. WE SELL THOSE AMBASSADORSHIPS. WE ALWAYS HAVE. WHAT THE REVIEWER DIDN’T SAY, THE POINT, THE CONTEXT OF WHAT I SAID WHICH IS MOST PRESIDENTS APPOINT TWO PROFESSIONAL AMBASSADORS FOR EACH POLITICAL AMBASSADOR. WITH TRUMP, IT IS OVERWHELMINGLY POLITICAL AMBASSADORS THAT HE HAS APPOINTED. THAT IS WHAT SHOULD TROUBLE US. THAT WE HAVE THIS REALLY HIGHLY TRAINED STAFF OF PEOPLE AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT WHO WE HAVE INVESTED ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY. THEY ARE BEING SHOVED ASIDE FOR POLITICAL APPOINTEES. AT THE TIME I WROTE THE BOOK, WE DID NOT HAVE AMBASSADORS IN AUSTRALIA, LIBYA, EGYPT, SAUDI ARABIA, JORDAN, A BUNCH OF COUNTRIES WHERE WE HAVE IMPORTANT ECONOMIC OR MILITARY INTERESTS.>>SOME PEOPLE ARE OVERWHELMED BY THE NEGATIVE COVERAGE, THE TIMES AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. EVEN IF, AS YOU SAY SOMETIMES IT MAY NOT BE SUBSTANTIVE ENOUGH. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION?>>I TRIED REAL HARD TO COME UP WITH THINGS, SO I CAN SAY DONALD HAS DONE THIS OR THAT RIGHT. NO, I THINK THIS HAS BEEN AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER FROM THE BEGINNING. AND FOR A SIMPLE REASON. DONALD TRUMP, WHO I HAVE KNOWN FOR 30 YEARS, IS NOT VERY SMART. HE LITERALLY DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING. HE JUST MAKES STUFF UP. AS YOU KNOW, I AM A WIDELY RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY ON TAXES. MY NEXT BOOK IS PROPOSING A WHOLE NEW FEDERAL TAX SYSTEM FOR THE UNITED STATES. DONALD TRUMP HAS TESTIFIED THAT HE KNOWS NOTHING OF ACCOUNTING. HE HAS ALSO SAID HE IS A GREATEST EXPERT OF ALL TIME ON TAXES. NOBODY KNOWS MORE THAN HIM. IF YOU DON’T KNOW ACCOUNTING AND YOU CLAIM TO BE A TAX EXPERT, THAT WOULD BE LIKE ME SAYING I AM THE WORLD’S GREATEST AIRPLANE DESIGNER OF ALL TIME. WHAT IS A WING?>>RIGHT. HE CALLS YOU, AND YOU QUOTE HIM IN THE BOOK, HE CALLS YOU A WEIRD DUDE AND HE SAYS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING HIM FOR 25 YEARS IN A NEGATIVE FASHION AND YET HE IS THE PRESIDENT. HOW DO WE ACCOUNT FOR THAT? WITH ALL THE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY, HE STILL HAS AT LEAST ONE THIRD OF THE POPULATION SUPPORTING HIM. WHY? DAVID: DONALD IS A MASTER CON ARTIST. HE IS THE GREATEST CON ARTIST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. HE SPENT HIS ENTIRE LIFE CHEATING WORKERS, INCLUDING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, SWINDLING INVESTORS, NOT PAYING OTHERS, AND HE IS NOT A BUSINESSMAN. BUSINESS PEOPLE, AND I FOUNDED A CORPORATION WITH MY SON, CREATED A BUSINESS TO CREATE WEALTH. DONALD IS A CASH EXTRACTOR, JUST LIKE A MOB BOSS, HE REACHES IN AND PULLS MONEY OUT UNTIL IT COLLAPSES, HE MOVES ON TO HIS NEXT MARK. EVEN IN THE CASINO BUSINESS. THAT IS WHAT HE DID. DONALD KNOWS HOW TO SELL. HE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE YOU THINK HE IS A GREAT BUSINESSMAN. HE IS THE GREATEST DON JUAN IN AMERICA. THANKS TO THE NEW YORK POST AND ITS SILLY COVERAGE OF HIM. HE HAS APPEALED TO PEOPLE WHO ARE IN DESPERATE ECONOMIC STRAITS. THE BOTTOM 90% OF AMERICANS HAD A LOWER INCOME IN 2012 THAN THEY DID IN 1967. THE YEAR I FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL. DONALD HAS APPEALED TO THOSE PEOPLE. HE SAID HE WOULD BE THEIR SAVIOR. I ALONE CAN SAVE YOU. HE WAS GOING TO DRAIN THE THE SWAMP. THOSE IDEAS THAT WASHINGTON IS TAKING CARE OF THE RICH AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE, I KNOW DONALD STUDIED MY APPEARANCES ON TELEVISION FOR MY BOOKS I WROTE WHILE I WAS AT THE TIMES. PERFECTLY LEGAL. FREE LUNCH. THE FINE PRINT. THEY WERE ABOUT THESE HIDDEN MECHANISMS THAT REDISTRIBUTE MONEY UPWARD. DONALD DID THE EXACT OPPOSITE.>>YOU POINT OUT YOU HAVE WRITTEN FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES WARNING THAT THE FRUSTRATIONS CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT FAVORING THE RICH WOULD SOMEDAY EXPLODE. WHY HAVEN’T THEY EXPLODED?>>THEY HAVE IN THE SENSE THAT DONALD TRUMP WON THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE.>>AND IS FAVORING THE RICH AGAIN.>>ABSOLUTELY. AND DOING THINGS LIKE — THERE IS A CHAPTER IN MY BOOK CALLED A BANKERS OVER BRAINS WHERE THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT HAS TAKEN THE SIDE OF THE BANKERS AGAINST THE STUDENTS WHO BORROWED MONEY. MANY OTHER POLICIES AS WELL. DONALD SET I WILL FIX THESE PROBLEMS. HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO FIX THEM AND HAS NO INTEREST IN FIXING THEM. THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM IS STILL THERE. THE BOTTOM 50% OF AMERICANS LIVE IN WHAT I CALL ECONOMIC TERROR. I LIVE IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK. 50 YEARS AGO, THE RICHEST CITY IN AMERICA BECAUSE OF XEROX AND KODAK AND OTHER COMPANIES. TODAY, EVERY SIXTH PERSON IN ROCHESTER LIVES AT LESS THAN HALF THE POVERTY LEVEL. FOR A FAMILY, THAT MEANS, YOU ARE GETTING BY ON $1000 A MONTH AT MOST. WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS. IT WILL SPILL OVER INTO REAL TROUBLE EVENTUALLY IF WE DON’T ADDRESS THIS INEQUALITY WHICH HAS BEEN LARGELY CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT POLICIES THAT NOBODY KNEW ABOUT UNTIL I DUG THEM AND OTHER PEOPLE I WORK WITH DUG THEM OUT OF THE PUBLIC RECORD.>>FRANK BRUNI HAD A COLUMN IN THE TIMES THAT EXPRESSED A FAIR AMOUNT OF OPTIMISM FOR THE DEMOCRATS. AND IN TERMS OF TAKING THAT CONGRESS, OR AT LEAST THE HOUSE. IN THE POOL OF CANDIDATES AVAILABLE FOR 2020 TO RUN AGAINST DONALD TRUMP IF HE IS THERE IN 2020. WHAT DO YOU THINK?>>I THINK THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A BIG PROBLEM. WHAT ARE THEY FOR? WE KNOW THEY ARE AGAINST TRUMP. I OFTEN CALL THEM, IN REFERENCE TO THE AWFUL BEER NO ONE SHOULD DRINK, LITE, REPUBLICAN LIGHT. THE DEMOCRATS HAVE TO COME UP WITH PROGRAMS AND POLICIES THAT APPEAL TO PEOPLE AND TELL THEM THEY ARE IN THEIR INTEREST. WE SHOULD BE FIXING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE. I HAVE GONE TO CHINA, YOU GO ON A ROAD IN CHINA COMPARED TO HERE, THEY ARE NOT COMPARABLE AT ALL. WE NEED TO INVEST IN BASIC RESEARCH. HALF OF THE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN COUNTRIES SINCE WORLD WAR II IS BECAUSE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVESTMENTS IN SCIENCE. COMPANIES ONLY FUND APPLIED RESEARCH, NOT BASIC RESEARCH. WE NEED TO BE INVESTING MORE IN EDUCATION. WE ARE NOT DOING THOSE THINGS. WE ARE PULLING AWAY FROM THEM. THE DEMOCRATS, I CAN TELL YOU WHAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE FOR EASILY. MORE FOR THE RICH, I CAN’T TELL YOU WHAT THE DEMOCRATS ARE FOR.>>I ASKED MAGGIE HABERMAN IN THIS WHEN SHE WAS ON THE PROGRAM, WHAT IS YOUR PREDICTION FOR TRUMP? RETIRE, RESIGN, REELECTED, INDICTED, IMPEACHED?>>I CANNOT SEE DONALD TRUMP EVER RESIGNING. UNLESS THERE WAS SOME HORRIBLE HEALTH INCIDENT. DONALD BELIEVES HE SHOULD RUN THE COUNTRY. HE BELIEVES HE IS SUPERIOR, HE IS THE SMARTEST GUY WITH THE GREATEST MEMORY. HE HAS BEEN TALKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT SINCE 1985. IF DONALD IS IMPEACHED AND REMOVED, AND NOT BEEN CRIMINALLY INDICTED, PROSECUTED AND JAILED, HE WILL SPEND THE REST OF HIS DAYS TRAVELING THE COUNTRY, — VIOLENCE AND REVOLUTION. WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE DURING THE CAMPAIGN WHEN HE WAS TRIED TO GET PEOPLE TO COME TO HIM, HE WOULD SAY, BEAT THAT THE GUY UP. IF HE IS VOTED OUT BY THE PRIMARIES OR GENERAL ELECTION, IT WAS A RIGGED ELECTION. HE SAID THAT HILLARY CLINTON REALLY LOST THE POPULAR VOTE. THERE IS NO GOOD ENDING TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. AMERICA WILL ENDURE AND GET PAST THIS, BUT HOWEVER DONALD LEAVES, THERE WILL BE TROUBLE. IT WILL NOT BE A GOOD ENDING.>>IF THE DEMOCRATS TAKE OVER CONGRESS, THE PRESIDENCY, AT SOME POINT, CAN’T A LOT OF WHAT DONALD TRUMP HAS DONE, TEXAS, AND OTHER THINGS BE REVERSED?>>THERE ARE TWO AREAS WHERE THAT IS NOT TRUE. ALL THE JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS. BARACK OBAMA WAS NOT ALLOWED TO APPOINT PEOPLE BECAUSE HE WAS GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF BEING BLACK WHILE PRESIDENT. SECONDLY, THERE’S GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE, I GO THROUGH THIS IN THE BOOK, THAT MANY LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS, PARTICULARLY THOSE WITH THE ENVIRONMENT, HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED. THEY CANNOT BE USED OR THEY WILL BE ATTACKED IF THEY ARE USED IN CRIMINAL AND CIVIL ACTIONS. THAT CAN’T BE UNDONE. YES, MUCH OF THIS DAMAGE CAN BE UNDONE. BUT NOT ALL OF IT. THEY TRADE DAMAGE TRUMP IS DOING IN THE WAY HE IS HELPING CHINA, WHICH HAS ITS OWN PLAN TO COMPETE AGAINST THE TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP WHICH I WAS A LEADING CRITIC OF, IS DOING HORRIBLE DAMAGE TO US. WHEN I WAS IN AUSTRALIA, EVERY PERSON I TALKED TO FROM GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DOWN TO THE CHAMBERMAID AT MY HOTEL, SAID AUSTRALIA MUST PIVOT AWAY FROM WASHINGTON, TOWARDS BEIJING. YOU HARDLY SEE THAT IN THE NEWS IN THE UNITED STATES.>>MY FORMER TIMES COLLEAGUE, THE BOOK “IT’S EVEN WORSE THAN YOU THINK: WHAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOING TO AMERICA” HAS JUST BEEN PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER. REVIEWED IN THE SUNDAY TIMES BOOK REVIEW. YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF IF IT IS WORSE THAN YOU THINK. LET’S SEE WHAT MY TIMES COLLEAGUES THINK WHEN WE RECONVENE FOR “THE BACK STORY.”>>WELCOME BACK TO “THE NEW YORK TIMES CLOSE UP. ANOTHER STORMY WEEK, IN SO MANY WAYS. PRESIDENT TRUMP, AGAINST WHITE HOUSE STAFF ADVICE, CALLED VLADIMIR PUTIN TO CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS RE-ELECTION. GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO TOURED NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC HOUSING AND CALLED THE CONDITIONS DICKENSIAN. CYNTHIA NIXON OFFICIALLY ENTERED THE DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL SWEEPSTAKES. FORMER CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE QUINN SCATHINGLY DENOUNCED HER CANDIDACY. JOINING ME TO DISCUSS THESE STORIES AND MORE ARE MY TIMES COLLEAGUES CONTRIBUTING WRITERS CLYDE HABERMAN AND ELEANOR RANDOLPH AND CITY HALL BUREAU REPORTER WILLIAM NEUMAN. LET’S LOOK AT THAT SWEEPSTAKES. THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. CYNTHIA NIXON SAYS SHE IS OFFICIALLY IN IT. HOW SERIOUS A THREAT IS THIS TO ANDREW CUOMO’S SEEKING REELECTION?>>I THINK HE OUGHT TO PAY ATTENTION. IF HE WERE WISE, HE WOULD NOT BE AS DISMISSIVE AND NASTILY DISMISSIVE AS HE IS CAPABLE OF. AND TREAT HER WITH RESPECT. ON THE OTHER HAND, SHE HAS NEVER RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE BEFORE. I AM ALWAYS AMAZED — WE SPEND ALL OUR TIME ATTACKING POLITICIANS, BUT IT IS HARD TO RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. IF YOU HAVE NEVER DONE IT BEFORE, YOU DISCOVER QUICKLY HOW DIFFICULT IT IS. ON TOP OF THAT, THERE MAY BE A REACTION AGAINST CELEBRITIES THINKING, I CAN DO THAT. ESPECIALLY IN THIS STATE, WHICH DID NOT VOTE FOR THE CELEBRITY CHIEF IN WASHINGTON. HE WAS FROM NEW YORK. WE WILL SEE. I THINK SHE HAS STRENGTHS. BUT ALSO MANY HANDICAPS.>>ONE OF THE THINGS I THINK IS, LOOK, WE ARE COMING TO THE END OF MARCH. AND IN ALBANY, THIS IS THE TIME WHEN CUOMO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE BECAUSE YOU HAVE GOT THIS $168 BILLION BUDGET BUT IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE NEGOTIATED BY THE END OF MARCH. THIS IS THE POINT WHEN HE CAN ACTUALLY GET A LITTLE OF THE LIBERAL CRED HE NEEDS TO DEAL WITH CYNTHIA NEXT.>>HOW WOULD HE DO THAT? WHAT WOULD BE THE STEPS HE WOULD TAKE?>>HE HAS PUT MONEY INTO — EXPAND THE NUMBER OF DAYS YOU CAN VOTE IN NEW YORK. THEY NEED TO GO AHEAD AND MAKE THAT HAPPEN. THERE ARE A FEW REFORMS THAT ARE GOOD THAT WHICH — TO OUTLAW THE LIMITED LIABILITY CORPORATIONS AS CONTRIBUTORS TO POLITICIANS. HE COULD DO A FEW THINGS LIKE THAT BECAUSE I THINK WHAT CYNTHIA NIXON IS REALLY GOING TO DO IS PUSH HIM — SHE WILL TRY TO PUSH HIM MORE TO BE A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT. THIS IS HIS CHANCE TO REALLY MAKE AN IMPACT IN THAT WAY.>>WHAT WAS CHRISTINE QUINN THINKING WHEN SHE CALLED CYNTHIA NIXON AN UNQUALIFIED LESBIAN? OR WASN’T SHE THINKING?>>SHE SAID IN A CLUMSY WAY. WHAT SHE MEANT WAS THAT I WAS A QUALIFIED LESBIAN, YOU DID NOT SUPPORT ME WHEN I WAS RUNNING FOR MAYOR. YOU SUPPORTED DEBLASIO. YOU ARE UNQUALIFIED. THAT IS WHAT –>>THAT IS WHAT SHE MEANT.>>IT WAS VERY CLUMSY AND NOT VERY SMART.>>WHAT ABOUT HER ACTING AS A SURROGATE FOR CUOMO AND IT IS A CUOMO-ESQUE KIND OF AGGRESSIVE. THIS ALL FALLS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE FEUD BETWEEN CUOMO AND DEBLASIO. AND THEN SHE SERVES AS A SURROGATE THERE BECAUSE SHE RAN AGAINST DEBLASIO AND WAS DEFEATED. MY QUESTION IS WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION? IT TAKES A LOT. IF HER MOTIVATION IS TO BE A STALKING HORSE FOR THE MAYOR OR TO SOMEHOW BE SERVING THE MAYOR’S PURPOSES BY PUTTING –>>OR PRODDING CUOMO TO THE LEFT. CUOMO CAN COME BACK QUITE LEGITIMATELY AND SAY, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, I WAS THERE. TOUGHER GUN LAWS? I WAS THERE. AND A BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS. HE IS NOT EASILY PIGEONHOLED AS SOME RIGHT WING DEMOCRAT. I THINK SHE IS A STALKING HORSE FOR DEBLASIO IN SOME WAY. I KNOW THE MAYOR IS DENYING IT AND SAYS I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS DECISION. BUT I WOULD CHECK HIS FINGERS AND MAKE SURE NONE OF THEM ARE CROSSED.>>SPEAKING OF STALKING AND CLUMSY MOVES, WHY IS THE MAYOR GOING TO FLORIDA TO A RED SOX GAME? [LAUGHTER]>>HE GOES THERE EVERY YEAR, I THINK.>>THAT MAKES IT OK.>>HE IS GOING IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SNOWSTORM. THE SUN CAME UP AND MELTED A LOT OF THE SNOW. HE IS THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK, A RED SOX FAN, HE DOESN’T HAVE — HE HAS A TIN EAR OFTEN.>>OK. THAT IS A REASON. ELEANOR, WHAT DO WE THINK IS GOING TO BE THE FATE OF CONGESTION PRICING? NOW WE SEE A NEW TERM COMING UP CALLED VALUE CAPTURE. THAT IS A CATCHY ONE.>>VALUE CAPTURE IS REALLY SOMETHING THAT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT REVENUE FOR THE CITY ARE REALLY ALARMED ABOUT. WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT IS THAT IF REAL ESTATE IS BUILT OR SOLD NEAR AN MTA STATION, THAT MONEY SHOULD GO — USUALLY THAT MONEY GOES TO THE CITY. THEY ARE SAYING THAT MONEY SHOULD GO TO THE MTA. IF YOU TAKE SOME OF THAT OUT, YOU REALLY SORT OF HOBBLE THE CITY BECAUSE IT HAS VERY FEW WAYS TO RAISE TAXES AND RAISE REVENUE. REAL ESTATE IS ONE OF THE FEW WAYS THAT THEY CAN DO THAT. THAT IS REALLY — PEOPLE ARE ARGUING AGAINST, PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT THE REVENUES FOR THE CITY.>>ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE IS A CERTAIN ELEMENT OF JUSTICE. IF YOUR PROPERTY VALUES AT SHOOT UP AS THEY DO BECAUSE THERE IS A SUBWAY NEAR YOU, LANDLORDS AND DEVELOPERS SHOULD PAY FOR THAT WHICH MADE THEM WEALTHIER. ELEANOR: LOOK, THE CITY ONLY — THE STATE HAS MANY, MANY WAYS TO COLLECT REVENUE. THE CITY ONLY REALLY HAS ONE BASIC WAY. IF THEY DON’T DO IT THAT WAY, THEY REALLY — THEY HAVE TO GO TO ALBANY AND GET PERMISSION AND ME KNOW HOW THAT WORKS. ESPECIALLY WITH THIS MAYOR AND THIS GOVERNOR. I THINK IT IS A VERY BAD PRECEDENT TO START PULLING THIS PARTICULAR REVENUE STREAM AWAY FROM THE STATE. YOU KNOW, WE DON’T KNOW WHETHER THAT MONEY WOULD ACTUALLY GO TO THE MTA. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, ACTUALLY, CUOMO IS IN CHARGE OF THE MTA. THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONES PUTTING THE MONEY. I KNOW HE ARGUES THE CITY HAS SOME ROLE IN IT. BUT BASICALLY, CUOMO, THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CYNTHIA NIXON IS GOING TO DO. SHE IS GOING TO REALLY LINK CUOMO TO ALL THE PROBLEMS WE ALL HAVE WITH THE MTA. THAT WILL BE A LEGITIMATE LINK.>>WHICH MAY MAKE HER A STALKING HORSE FOR THE MAYOR OF DEFLECTING ANY CRITICISM, A LOT OF WHICH IS VALID, ABOUT HIM. IN THE CITY’S CONTRIBUTION FOR MASS TRANSIT AND A BUNCH OF THINGS. THE TRUTH IS, WE ARE BEING TERRIBLY HOBBLED BY THESE TWO GUYS PUNCHING EACH OTHER. IT IS LIKE THE OLD AFRICAN LINE, WHEN THE ELEPHANT FIGHT, GRASS GETS TRAMPLED.>>WHAT IS THE MAYOR DOING GOING TO FLORIDA? HE IS CREATING AN OPENING FOR THE GOVERNOR TO DO SOMETHING. EVERY TIME THE MAYOR LEAVES TOWN, THE GOVERNOR IS HERE, TO TAKE ANOTHER ONE POKE.>>A LEARNING CURVE THAT HE IS PICKING UP ON IN THAT REGARD.>>THE MAYOR.>>YEAH, THE MAYOR. THE GOVERNOR COMES IN LIKE THAT.>>ABSOLUTELY. SPEAKING OF A LEARNING CURVE AND POTENTIAL OPPOSITION, DAVID HAS A STORY COMING UP ON THE CITY COUNCIL AND BOLDING ITSELF.>>THAT’S RIGHT. TODAY, THE CITY COUNCIL PASSED ITS OWN BUDGET, WHICH IT DOES WITHOUT NEEDING THE MAYOR’S OK. IT INCREASED ITS OWN BUDGET BY ABOUT 25%. WHAT THAT DOES IS IT GIVES IT — IT IS HIRING MORE INVESTIGATORS, FINANCIAL ANALYSTS, AND LAWYERS TO PREPARE ITSELF FOR DOING OVERSIGHT OF THINGS THE CITY GOVERNMENT DOES AND THE MAYOR’S OFFICE DOES. IT WILL PREPARE IT TO CARRY OUT ITS OWN CHARTER REVISION EFFORT WHICH IS PLANNING TO DO. IT SHOWS THE COUNCIL WANTS TO BE MORE INDEPENDENT.>>ON THE GOVERNMENT’S STANDPOINT, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD THING.>>COREY JOHNSON THE NEW SPEAKER SAID HE WOULD MAKE THE COUNCIL MORE INDEPENDENT. IN COMPARISON WITH HIS PREDECESSOR. HE IS MAKING GOOD ON THAT. IT IS INTERESTING TO WATCH BECAUSE THE COUNCIL IS TRYING TO FORGE ITS OWN WAY WHICH IS DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WE WERE SAYING EARLIER FROM WHAT IT WAS UNDER CHRISTINE QUINN AS WELL. THE MAJORITY OF THE COUNCIL MEMBERS NOW ARE TERM LIMITED. THEY ARE IN THEIR LAST TERM. THEY ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WHAT COMES NEXT. AND TAKING A FEW WHACKS AT THE MAYOR WHILE YOU ARE STILL IN THE COUNCIL MAY BE A WAY TO WIN POINTS HERE AND THERE AND POSITION YOURSELF FOR WHATEVER YOU WILL DO AFTER THIS.>>SOMEBODY OUGHT TO BE HOLDING THE MAYOR ACCOUNTABLE, CERTAINLY.>>WILL BE INTERESTING IF THEY TAKE UP CERTAIN ISSUES THAT MAY BE SPECIFICALLY BE OF INTEREST, IN NEED FOR WOMEN IN NEW YORK CITY. ONE OF THE DISTRESSING FEATURES OF THIS COUNCIL IS THAT THEY ARE VERY SHRUNK IN NUMBER OF WOMEN ON IT. 51 COUNCIL MEMBERS I THINK THERE ARE NOW 11 OR 12 WOMEN. THAT IS PRETTY PATHETIC FOR A CITY LIKE THIS.>>THANKS TO CLYDE HABERMAN, ELEANOR RANDOLPH AND WILLIAM NEUMAN FOR JOINING ME. I’LL HAVE SOME FINAL WORDS ON “CODA” NEXT.>>BASEBALL IS A GAME OF STATISTICS, BUT THERE’S ONLY ONE GREATEST HIT. THAT ONE OCCURRED 110 YEARS AGO NEXT MONTH. NOT ON THE FIELD OR EVEN INSIDE A STADIUM, BUT SUPPOSEDLY ON THE SUBWAY. ON MAY 2, 1908, “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” WAS REGISTERED WITH THE U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE. THAT SAME DAY, AN AD FOR THE SHEET MUSIC APPEARED IN THE NEW YORK CLIPPER. IT WAS FIRST PERFORMED AT THE AMPHION THEATRE, ON BEDFORD AVENUE NEAR PETER LUGER’S IN BROOKLYN. IT WAS RECORDED THAT FALL AND CATAPULTED TO THE TOP-TEN CHARTS. IT BECAME THE THIRD MOST POPULAR SONG IN AMERICA, AFTER “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” AND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. ACCORDING TO THE BOOK “BASEBALL’S GREATEST HIT,” THE LYRICIST WAS JACK NORWORTH WHO ALSO WROTE “SHINE ON HARVEST MOON.” IT’S SAID THAT HE WAS INSPIRED BY AN AD FOR THE POLO GROUNDS THAT CAUGHT HIS EYE WHILE HE WAS RIDING THE NINTH AVENUE EL. THE COMPOSER WAS ALBERT VON TILZER. HE LATER WROTE “I’LL BE WITH YOU IN APPLE BLOSSOM TIME.” THE SONG PROVIDED ENVIABLE AND ENDURING PRODUCT PLACEMENT FOR CRACKER JACK, WHICH, COME TO THINK OF IT, I’VE NEVER EATEN ANYWHERE ELSE BUT A BASEBALL GAME. THE “ONE, TWO, THREE STRIKES, YOU’ARE OUT” OF THE CHORUS, OF COURSE, SINGS THE PRAISES OF THE PITCHER, NOT THE BATTER. AND, BY ONE THEORY, THE BASEBALL ANTHEM LIONIZES AS MANY MISSES AS HITS FOR ANOTHER REASON, IT HAS A HIDDEN FEMINIST AGENDA. EVER WONDER WHY WE SING “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” WHEN WE’RE ALREADY THERE? THE ANSWER IS IN THE SECOND STANZA. THE WORDS MAY, OR MAY NOT, HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY TRIXIE FRIGANZA, AN EARLY 20TH CENTURY SUFFRAGIST WHO HAPPENED TO BE THE LYRICIST’S GIRLFRIEND. IN THAT STANZA, KATIE CASEY’S BOYFRIEND INVITES HER TO THE THEATER. SHE BEGS HIM TO TAKE HER TO A BALLGAME INSTEAD. SHE’S OBVIOUSLY BEEN BEFORE. SHE KNOWS THE PLAYERS’ NAMES. SHE’S EVEN TOLD OFF UMPIRES. IN OTHER WORDS, MS. CASEY CAN BE LADYLIKE, BUT CAN ALSO COMFORTABLY APPEAR ANYWHERE IN PUBLIC AND BE JUST AS DEMONSTRATIVE AS ANY MAN. BASEBALL IS THE GREAT LEVELER. EACH SEASON, LIKE THIS ONE, BEGINS WITH A BLANK SLATE. AND, INFINITE PROMISE. BASEBALL, SAYS NYU’S JOHN SEXTON MORE THAN MOST SPORTS, EVOKES FAITH AND DOUBT, BLESSINGS AND CURSES, MIRACLES WE ASSOCIATE WITH SPIRITUALITY. MAYBE THAT EXPLAINS SOMETHING ABOUT ITS ANTHEM. NORWORTH AND VON TILZER WROTE “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME” WITHOUT EVER HAVING SEEN TWO MAJOR LEAGUE TEAMS PLAY. FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES AND CUNY-TV, I’M SAM ROBERTS. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

One comment

  1. Published 3 weeks ago and seems like 3 years and 30 scandals ago. Meanwhile, all Johnston says about the termites is true and the damage is still being done.

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