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The New Wagner Mayoralty and the Shaping of Modern New York

  • Richard M. Flanagan
Chapter

Abstract

After the 1961 election, Mayor Wagner possessed new charter power and was a Democratic Party mayor free from the influence or control of Tammany or other party organizations because of his decisive victory. Running on his liberal, New Deal policy record, Wagner entered his third term at the height of his powers. While he exercised significant administrative powers with the revised charter, his efforts to organize and discipline the Democratic Party in the city as the new chief were frustrated and less successful. By the end of his third and last term in 1965, most of the characteristics of the modern political system in New York were in place: a strong administrative mayor, a weak party/strong interest group system, and strong programmatic linkages between the mayoralty and the public.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Daley became Cook County Democratic Chair in 1953, and won the mayoralty a year later (breaking a campaign promise that he would step down as party chief). Most commentators about Chicago politics note how Daley used both posts in tandem to keep an iron grip on politics in his city. While Daley exercised unparalleled power, the cost, of course, in the view of many was the loss in democratic accountability, as well as democratic input into many decisions. See Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard Daley—His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2000).Google Scholar
  2. 31.
    Ester R. Fuchs, Money and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 37.
    Anthony King, “Building Coalitions in the Sand,” in The New American Political System, Anthony King, ed. (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1978). Quoted text is the summary of King’s argument in Jeffery L. Pressman and Aaron B. Wildavsky, Implementation: How Great Expectations in Washington are Dashed in Oakland (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1973), 164.Google Scholar
  4. 38.
    Off-track betting legislation finally passed in Albany during John Lindsay’s term in 1970, and the first betting parlors opened April 1971. While the Lindsay lobbying effort in Albany was, for the most part, ineffectual, the fiscal crunch of the late 1960s forced many state legislators with ethical qualms about extending gambling to overcome their reluctance. The experiment was a disappointment. Revenue targets were not reached, and the parlors were not well managed. The bigger problem was that the public preferred the spectacle of regional casinos to the old-fashioned pleasure of playing the ponies. See Peter Kerr, “OTB’s Bright Promise Fades To Uneasy Future,” The New York Times, April 7, 1986, B1; Richard M. Flanagan, “Off-Track Betting Corporation (OTB),” in The Encyclopedia of New York State, Peter Eisenstadt and Laura-Eve Moss, eds. (Syracuse: Syracuse Univ. Press, 2005), 1131.Google Scholar
  5. 40.
    On the rise of the nonprofit sector (consumers of government services, both in the form of city contracts and the recipients of government services) and municipal labor (producers of government services), see Steve Malanga, “Who Runs New York?” City Journal, Autumn 2003 at http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_4_who_runs_ny.html Steve Malanga, “NY’s New Tammany Hall: Social Services Grab Economic, Political Clout,” Crains New York Business, October 31, 1994, 1. For a recent statement of the enduring power of New York City’s public employee unions, see Gregory Mantsios, “Labor and Community: Ambiguous Legacy, Promising Future?” Rethinking the Urban Agenda: Reinvigorating the Liberal Tradition in New York City and Urban America. John Mollenkopf and Ken Emerson, eds. (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2001), 75–91.Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    Scott Larson, Contemporary Planning in New York City: Building Like Moses with Jacobs in Mind (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 2013)Google Scholar
  7. Bruce Berg, New York City Politics: Governing Gotham (New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 2007).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard M. Flanagan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Flanagan
    • 1
  1. 1.City College of New YorkCollege of Staten IslandUSA

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