In the Shadow of Wagner: Plebiscitary Politics in New York City

  • Richard M. Flanagan
Chapter

Abstract

Mayors since Wagner have labored in his shadow. The decline in party government and the centralization of administrative power in city hall that Wagner shaped is the environment in which all mayors must labor. Events such as the fiscal crisis in the 1970s, the elimination of the remaining check on the mayor—the Board of Estimate in the 1990s, and the continued erosion of party government have sharpened the contours of the new order. Democratic mayors since Wagner have with great difficulty sought to stake individual claims to power while using the remnants of the old party system to build grassroots support. Republican mayors have sought to build alternative, candidate-centered political machines. Mayors of both parties have been successful implementing reforms through administrative fiat, but less successful when reform required mobilization of political coalitions. The new mayoral-centered plebiscitary politics discourages citizen participation in local governance. While administrative centralization can create efficiencies and block corruption, civic disengagement threatens the legitimacy of city government.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 7.
    The stifling concept comes from Gerald E. Frug and David J. Barron, City Bound: How States Stifle Urban Innovation (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Lynne Weikart, “The Giuliani Administration and the New Public Management in New York City,” Urban Affairs Review, 36:3, January 2001, 359–381; David Rodgers, “Management versus Bureaucracy,” in Joseph Viteritti, editor, Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2014), 110–114.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Wilbur Rich, David Dinkins and New York City Politics (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 131–144.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Joyce Purnick, Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power, Politics (New York: Public Affairs Press, 2009), 207–208.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    Jeffery Henig, “Mayoral Control: What We Can and Cannot Learn from Other Cities,” in Joeseph Viteritti, ed., When Mayors Take Charge: School Governance in the City (Washington DC: Brookings Press, 2009), Location 346.Google Scholar
  6. 30.
    Andrew Kirtzman, Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City (New York: William Morrow, 2000), 76Google Scholar
  7. 32.
    Fred Siegel, The Future Once Happened Here: New York, D.C., L.A. and the Fate of America’s Big Cities (New York: Encounter Books, 2000).Google Scholar
  8. 36.
    For the classic statement of motivations involved in political participation, see James Q. Wilson, Political Organizations, updated 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  9. 39.
    Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001).Google Scholar
  10. 42.
    Lorraine C. Minnite, “How to Think About Voter Participation,” Report Prepared for the New York City Charter Revision Commission, July 2010, 5. Report provided by the author. This memo came to my attention after reading Joseph P. Vitteritti, “After the Fall: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream,” in Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream, Joseph P. Viteritti, ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2014).Google Scholar
  11. 48.
    As David Eichenthal noted, “The interaction of the media and the mayor’s executive power has helped build the public image of the mayor over the past thirty years—especially the image of management of the city at times of crisis” (Changing Styles and Strategies, 73–74). David Eichenthal, “Changing Styles and Strategies of the Mayor,” in Jewel Bellush and Dick Netzer, eds. Urban Politics: New York Style (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1991), 73–74.Google Scholar
  12. 49.
    Richard C. Wade, “The Withering Away of the Party System,” in Urban Politics: New York Style, ed. Jewel Bullush and Dick Netzer (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1989), 286.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

Personalised recommendations