Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Musings on New York's mayors

New York Magazine has a couple interesting articles. "Bloomberg’s Blind Spot" discusses the blinders that often accompany technocracy and various governmental failures under Mayor Bloomberg. From the article:

Each of us has a blind spot, a hole in our vision where the light-gathering retina connects to the optic nerve. Politicians have other kinds of blind spots—pet projects, favored benefactors—and, in a bureaucracy as large as New York’s, they can breed trouble. Ed Koch started programs that were then used by Democratic Party bosses for patronage hires; 100,000 fraudulent welfare recipients took advantage of John Lindsay’s faith in the War on Poverty.

As a partyless billionaire who pays for his own campaigns, Mayor Bloomberg has no obligations to doctrine or donors, but he has a different kind of failing—a failing that’s just enabled one of the largest scandals of his administration, with four consultants arrested for allegedly misappropriating almost $80 million from the CityTime program to digitize the municipal payroll. And in a way, the project fits an established Bloombergian pattern: ambitious restructuring efforts whose technocratic idealism gives way to old-fashioned unsupervised governmental inefficiency.

Interestingly, I think that DC's Mayor Williams had an element of the same idealism which got him into trouble as well. Mayor Williams expected his agency appointees to employ technocratic idealism and carry out improvements, without his always defining how they should do it (not unlike the article in Food & Wine about cooking from recipes as technical documents versus "recipes" as guides--"Become an Intuitive Cook: Thomas Keller's Cooking Lessons"). Many times, they didn't go about their work the way he intended.

The second article, "The Greatest Mayor: “How Would Dinkins Have Done, Had He Come After Giuliani?” Being a larger-than-life character helps. But so does keeping the streets plowed," is a roundtable discussion to determine "the best mayor of New York City," although it focuses only from pre-WWII (Fiorello LaGuardia) to the present. It's an interesting read.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home