The Public Interest

Gothams fiscal crisis: Lessons Unlearned

E. J. McMahon & Fred Siegel

Winter 2005

IT IS certainly a memorable image: New York City mayor Abe Beame standing before the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and leaving a plaintive, one-word note--"HELP." At that time, 30 years ago, the Big Apple needed all the help it could get. It was in the midst of a financial crisis the likes of which had rarely been seen in any American metropolis before. At that point, not even a spectacularly effective mayor could have pulled the city back from the brink, so all the spectacularly ineffective Beame could hope for was an answer to his prayer. He didn’t get it.

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