- Politics and Social Issues»
Giuliani - A Politician Who Delivered
Credit where credit is due
As a life long socialist I do not actively look for opportunities to praise Republicans, but it would be churlish and dishonest not to recognise the outstanding contribution Rudolph Giuliani made to the City of New York - even wthout 9/11. When he was elected Mayor, New York City was close to being an ungovernable basket case. From 1990-1993 New York had lost 350,000 private-sector jobs and unemployment was already 10.2%. Under Giuliani New York gained 485,000 new private sector jobs, and unemployment fell to 6.3%. Figures for other aspects of city life are even more impressive.
Get Inspiration Where You Can!
Anyone who has actually served the public as an elected representative knows how hard it is to achieve anything significant. On a national scale one cannot help but be impressed by the achievements of the Attlee Labour Government. On the municipal stage Herbert Morrison, Ken Livingstone and Rudolph Giuliani have all demonstrated significant achievement in the governance of a major city. Had September 11th 2001, or "9/11" as the Americans call it, not happened, Giuliani would have received much more credit for the eight years of results he delivered as Mayor of New York.
Crime and Society
Crime impacts on people where they live, and crime impacts more on the poor than on the rich. The rich can move away from crime-ridden areas, but the poor normally cannot. So a significant reduction in crime is even more important for the quality of life of the poor than for the quality of life for the rich. From 1994 to 2001 shootings reduced 75%, and murders by two thirds. There were 1,200 fewer rapes in 2000 than in 1993. Robberies fell from 85,883 to 32,213. Burglary fell from 100,933 to 38,155. Auto theft fell from 11,611 to 35,673.
Crime and the fear of crime have psychological effects on individuals and communities. With each of the hundreds of thousands of offences that did not happen the downward effects on morale did not happen. Giuliani made New York one of the safest cities in the United States. He improved the quality of life for New Yorkers immensely.
Even in the notorious Rikers Island prison inmate on inmate violence dropped from over 2,500 violent incidents a year in 1991 to 70 in 2001.
Numeric Analysis Rules
In every aspect of New York's municipal organisation statistical informaton was gathered, frequently for the first time. If no-one inspects the city parks for cleanliness, the managers tend to concentrate on other problems, but if park cleanliness is something the managers have to report on, cleanliness moves up the agenda. Clean parks attract more people, more people reduces crime, so cleaning parks reduces crime and increases the usage of parks. Everyone's quality of life improves.
Graffiti has a huge visual effect. Remove graffiti and keep removing it and the entire environment is improved. People prefer to sit on clean benches under clean walls rather than on graffiti strewn benches under graffiti strewn walls. So graffiti was counted and graffiti was quickly removed.
Upsetting to visitors to New York and to commuters alike was the squeegee men who tried to obtain money from motorists by obscuring their windscreens and then smearing them cleaner. It was decided to enforce the jaywalking byelaws against the squeegee men, ending a long running problem wthin days.
The number crunching process started with the police force, measuring the number of offences of different kinds. The precinct captains were not expected to end crime, but they were expected to reduce serious crime. As serious crime reduced across the city, less serious crime was targeted. If one area reduced street robberies, the other precincts were under pressure to do better. The emphasis was on getting criminals off the streets, not just displacing them. Ninety thousand illegally held firearms were confiscated over an 8 year perod, because it was recognised that illegal weapons were often associated with serious crime. They were therefore a higher priority.
The results with the police were so effective that the concept was extended to every city department. They drew up their own grids, but they all had to measure and analyse.
Rikers Island started screening inmate visitors better. Folk with outstanding warrants for unpaid fines, child maintenance arrears, or failure to attend court were arrested at the prison. Prisoners committing assaults were tried and were given additional sentences to lengthen their imprisonment. Once prisoners knew this really would happen, assaults reduced. Prisoners in possession of more cigarettes or sweets than they could explain must be extorting them from other prisoners, so the stashes were confiscated.
A City Wide Approach
If something was recognised as a priority it was then a priority for every relevant manager in the city. The statistical grid would show up those managers making insufficient progress in a geographic area, and appropriate action would be taken by senior management. The appropriate action might be additional resources for a short perod to get on top of a problem, but more often all that was needed was advice from more successful colleagues.
Some services like Construction and Purchasing were amalgamated for economies of scale.
In Britain we have an annual ritual of crucifying a social worker when one of the children for whom she is responsible dies. At one child a week on average there is never a shortage of scapegoats. Under Guiliani, care of children was stripped out of the Health and Welfare directorate after yet another scandal and was set up as a new Directorate reporting directly to Guiliani. The new Director had himself been fostered. Two initiatives made great inroads into the problem. One was to speed up and increase the levels of adoption. Over 8 years this greatly reduced the fostered population. The private fostering agencies were also graded on their performance in terms of support for foster parents, visits to fostered chldren, foster stability and the like. The least successful agency lost its contract - but the children stayed in their current foster homes -transferred to a successful agency.
Social worker case loads reduced from 24.2 cases per caseworker in 1992 to 14.1 cases in 2000.
Tourism and Job Creation
Making New York safer was important for tourism. The tourism tax on hotel beds was one of the highest in the USA. The tourist bed tax was progressively reduced, cheapening New York as a tourist or conference destination against other cities. An additional 20,000+ jobs were created in the tourist industry because there were more tourists. And income from the tourist tax actually went up because of the higher hotel occupancy levels. For the first time in decades, new hotels started being built.
New York was now a desireable city in which to live. More corporate HQs came to New York, and more important -companies stopped leaving.
Welfare rolls were high, and Guiliani brought in measures to reduce unemployment. People who have not worked for some years are genuinely doubtful about their ability to perform in a job. Employers are also dubious. For many longterm unemployed, workfare on minimum wage as a park cleaner or telephone answerer in a council office became a stepping stone to paid work in the private sector. Some private sector agencies coached and helped the tougher cases, being paid only by results, one of the results being the worker still being employed six months after initial placement.
When 9/11 hit, Guiliani and his team were within months of the end of Guiliani's second term as Mayor. By law he could not stand for a third term.
Guiliani was one of the best Mayors in the nation, very experienced, and he had a very competent and experienced team.
Guliani had already set up New York City's first ever major emergency planning team, and rehearsals and scenaros were regularly conducted. His team were not running round like wet hens, but were swinging into action within minutes of the first crash. Members of the team died in the Towers, and their intended HQ had to be abandoned because it was too close to the Towers. Guiliani was actually trapped in a damaged building for a while, but the team were in action without him.
Guiliani and his team are credited with generally excellent responses to an appalling disaster.
Read The Book!
Omelettes and Eggs
It is said that one cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. The eggs feel particularly strongly about this. Guiliani faced down strikes in different ways. He used his powers of patronage to appoint people who shared his vision, sidelining and firing people he perceived as ineffective. He was a tough negotiator and a tough leader. American politics is not for shrinking violets. As a former US District attorney who successfully prosecuted Mafia bosses, and took action against organised crime while Mayor, Guiliani was tough.
Guiliani the man had his failings. So do we all. But as a politician he delivered for the people of New York.
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