WARNING TO PEOPLE CONSIDERING VOTING FOR RUDY

The following column was written by Alair Townsend, who was a Deputy Mayor for Finance under the former Mayor of New York City. The column speaks for itself and is on the Web.

Viewpoint: Rudy supporter leaves the camp


Published: March 19, 2007 – 11:55 am

 
Rudy in 2008? not for me.

I voted for him three times for mayor — the first time when he lost to David Dinkins, and his second and third successful runs. I won’t vote for him a fourth time.

There’s no doubt that Rudy Giuliani left New York a better, resurgent place. He led an all-out assault on crime, throwing resources and sophisticated deployment at the problem he believed overrode all others. He cut taxes and explained why lowering the cost of living and doing business in New York was crucial. He dramatically reduced the welfare rolls, emphasizing work rather than entitlement.

But his abrasive, stick-in-your-eye style wore thin and began to create problems instead of solving them.

I do not believe he has the temperament to be president. He does not work well with others. He would have to fundamentally change his style to work effectively with Congress and international leaders. I don’t believe he can.

Mr. Giuliani was able to accomplish much of his local agenda because he was a strong personality in a strong-mayor form of government. He was much less successful in convincing the state Legislature to enact reforms he sought, such as giving the mayor control of the schools.

He was critical of community leaders such as Al Sharpton, whom he considered a mere rabble-rouser. He also refused for years to meet with African-American elected officials, such as state comptroller Carl McCall and Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields.

He withheld routine information about governmental operations from other elected officials, civic groups and the news media until he was repeatedly sued and ordered by courts to release it.

He was intransigent in dealing with state-controlled entities such as the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. His style was not to negotiate on behalf of the city but rather to confront or demand, or maintain a stony silence. That approach meant missed opportunities for the city.

Mr. Giuliani set himself up as an arts arbiter by threatening to cut funding for a local museum because of a painting he labeled antireligious. The leaders of a number of arts organizations courageously signed a protest letter. Others did not. Those who signed and those who did not shared the fear that the mayor would cut their funding in reprisal.

After I wrote about this battle, I received many letters from businesspeople citing their fear of speaking out and the specific areas in which they felt vulnerable to retaliation.

Mr. Giuliani dispatched an aide to tell Yasser Arafat to leave a concert at Lincoln Center celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. I was no fan of Mr. Arafat, but he had an invitation from President Bill Clinton. Lincoln Center was not Mr. Giuliani’s living room, and the mayor’s action did nothing to advance progress in the Middle East.

For the past seven years, we have had a president who has shared some of Mr. Giuliani’s least admirable traits. Mr. Bush seems to live in a bubble, closing himself off from people whose opinions could be helpful. He has shown recklessness in taking the nation to war. Our standing in the world reflects this. I don’t want more of the same.

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