Mayor Lindsay, a contrary view

Hi Sam,

As much as I prefer to not discuss politics with you, I want to share some thoughts with you regarding Mayor Lindsay.

You say that he tried to do his best to be a good mayor. I hope that isn't simply based on his photo-op interest in chess. So you were invited to the Fischer-gets-the-key-to-the-city event. Does this make Pataki a swell guy because he presented the plaque to me when I won a chess tournament in Peekskill about six months ago? The governor even played Beatrice a blitz game. Impressive! Even Fischer's connection to chess and to you doesn't make him a good person. A taxi driver told you Lindsay ruined the city to your disbelief. Did you drive a taxi when Lindsay was mayor? I did. Lindsay helped drive taxi fleets out of business. He wouldn't enforce the laws against gypsy cabs unless the fleet owners would allow him to say how they should spend their money. The nice-enough-for-The New York Times term, "gypsy cabs" was used despite being an ethnic slur. Now Sam Sloan can drive a horse-hired cab instead of driving being a fleet worker. I remember Lindsay running for mayor in 1965, before you landed here. I said then, that he wasn't a Republican, he wasn't a Democrat - he was a Lindsay, an opportunist. I didn't say that about any other mayoral candidate before or since. He did switch parties for his next run. He was a Republican from New York's silk stocking congressional district who said, "I am against all public unions." That was more conservative than most New York Republicans. When Lindsay was elected in Nov. 1965, he refused to talk to the Transit Workers Union until he took office on Jan. 1, 1966, the same day the union was to strike if they had no contract. Lindsay decided to create super agencies in city administration. This resulted in a school chancellor position being created and filled with an anti-teacher administrator who had proven this in two other states. Lindsay wanted decentralization to create local school boards to which he could appoint people. It turned out that boards were to be elected. They worked out fine for the purpose of provoking (as per court ruling) the 1968 (Sept-Nov) teachers' strike. Lindsay had been playing the race card to fight teachers and others by saying he was needed as protection from them, as if they were animals. He screwed up the uniformed service contracts due to his ignorance of their indexing, which cost the city money. Union contracts did not cause the near bankruptcy. Lindsay expenditures on consultant contracts ran $125 million a year for eight years. Instead of using city personnel more, he gave out this money as payoffs and to claim outside studies justified his policies. He also must have failed to collect real estate taxes to the same tune, despite landlords deducting taxes not paid on their federal returns. Lindsay ran for president in Republican primary in Florida. He took city personnel on city time there, but when he got caught, it became their vacation time. He seemed to want to create, with Sen. McCarthy (Gene not Joe), a party based on the cities. If you look at the map of the 2000 presidential election that indicates by color who won each county in the US, that is a developing idea. Lindsay spent city money to use firefighting personnel to deliver food to his meetings - and then the next mayor had to let firefighters go due to the budget crunch. Lindsay thought he was a great man who would be president. The movie named after Serpico may give you some idea of Lindsay's deliberate failure to deal with police corruption. One character in the movie who Serpico met with to his dissatisfaction, seems to represent three actual members of Lindsay's team. "Crusader: The Hell Raising Career of Detective David Durk," by James Lardner, Random House, 1996 describes New York City's history of police corruption and David Durk as more Serpico than Serpico. Lardner shows more about Lindsay and the conflict between his ambition and being the best mayor he could be. (One date in the book is off by a year - otherwise it rings true.) I believe you'll find the late Lardner family history is liberal. Many of Lindsay's liberal supporters were able to ignore his anti-union activities. They would defend him against my analysis by saying, "They're all like that," referring to politicians. I would tell them that Lindsay nominated Agnew for vice president at the Republican National Convention and turned around and got credit from liberals for bashing Agnew. Of course, Agnew was a crook and after leaving office was a paid anti-Semite. The truth was that Lindsay only seconded the scoundrel's nomination, but his supporters didn't know. Lindsay told people to "work within the system," which only meant support him. When his party primary rejected him in 1969, he ran as a Liberal and won. This was due to the division among the Democrats. Mario Proccacino won their primary and the others, despite pledging to support the winner did not (for example, Herman Badillo and my former neighbor Bob Abrams). 1969 brought Lindsay many "M's" to use . Mario, the Mets, the moon, and the Moratorium. The latter was held on Oct. 15 1969 (I hope-my head hurts from trying to remember.) This was an anti-war event, not only in New York City, but internationally. Did you say Quill was a commie? It is true that communists really existed and were not fictitious like witches as the slur "witch-hunt" was used by the anti-anti-communists. The international coordination was commie front run. The "M" events helped Lindsay and led you to your phrase "tumultuous times" which somehow gives Lindsay credit he doesn't deserve and exonerates him from blame he does deserve.

I hope that refutes 1. g4.

Your move,

Lonnie Kwartler


Sam, Thanks for your kind words about Mayor Lindsay. I actually didn't know him, but worked for his brother (and campaign manager), George Lindsay, for many years until his death in 1994. What a prince of man he was -- and so was John...The whole family seemed to cherish and uphold the very highest of ideals in American life. Yes, he was handsome, which is all that people seem to know/remember about him in this crazy, celebrity-mad society. But he was completely unaware and/or uninterested in that himself, and just wished so much to be of genuine, valuable service to the City he loved. It's nice to see someone else who can understand and appreciate what really good people are all about. I wish you could read his brother, George's, essay on ethics. I know it inspired me (his legal assistant!) to a simply better, more dignified life.

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