Skip to comments.City That Never Sleeps Grows Uneasy Without Rudy
Posted on 01/17/2003 2:48:03 PM PST by blam
In Foreign Parts: City that never sleeps grows uneasy without Rudy
By David Usborne in New York
18 January 2003
The other night, we were passing a fancy new apartment block in the Chelsea area of Manhattan (units rent for $6,000 (£3,500) a month) when a large rat zipped across the pavement. Nasty, I thought.
It was surely even less pleasant for the tramp sleeping in cardboard boxes across the street. It's only an impression, but Manhattan seems to be getting scruffier again.
Every night, honking rubbish trucks disturb my sleep, yet the heaps of bursting bin- bags outside never seem to get smaller. As temperatures stayed below zero last week, the homeless crowded subway stations.
I also find myself feeling a little less safe. Nothing untoward has happened to me or to any of my friends. But I can't shake the sense that this town I love is in danger of slipping back to the bad old days of a decade or so ago, when no one walked alone at night for fear of attack.
In this, I am not unique, even though statistics show the murder rate continues to fall. Indeed, there were fewer murders in the city last year under 600 than in any year since 1963. Compare that to the 2,245 murders reported in 1990. Yet a recent poll in The New York Times showed that one in three New Yorkers thinks their city is less safe now than it was four years ago.
There are reasons for the anxiety. People say they feel the absence of Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor credited with making the city safe.
And the economy has soured since Michael Bloomberg took over as Mayor a year ago. A budget crisis has driven the police department to get rid of 3,500 officers in a year 9 per cent of the force. And more cuts are coming.
Experts have long held that there is a link between urban decrepitude (think rats) and crime. It's the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention.
Then there is the bizarre story of Charles Boccaleri, which, if you wanted to be fanciful, might be interpreted as a sign from the gods assuming anyone up there is watching over us that the dark ages of the Seventies and Eighties are stalking us once again.
Mr Boccaleri, himself a bit of a drifter, died on 19 October after being stabbed in Greenwich Village.
This kind of thing happens, of course, but the difference here is that the attack happened in 1981. The fellow, almost as if he wanted to jog our memories of what it used to be like in the city, waited more than 20 years to die.
Doctors, who declared the cause of death as manslaughter last week, agreed such cases are extraordinarily rare, but that they can happen. Apparently Mr Boccaleri, who was 46 when he died, suffered from a build-up of scar tissue around the intestines that eventually restricted his blood flow.
All of us tend to pay more attention to murders when they occur close to home. Someone else dead in the Bronx? Who cares, is usually the response here in midtown Manhattan.
But last week the papers were full of the case of Burke O'Brien, a 25-year-old banker, who met his death last weekend just after arriving in the city from Chicago to start a job at the Bank of America.
His killing chilled me. He was walking back to his cousin's apartment last Saturday at about 4am after going out clubbing when he and a friend were accosted by two men demanding their wallets.
He resisted and was shot in the chest. It happened on the Lower East Side on Orchard Street. I have wandered there late at night myself on a few occasions. What makes it more worrying is that a close friend in the city left a bar on an adjoining street, at that precise hour on the same evening, even though he saw nothing of the incident.
On Wednesday, Mr Bloomberg said he was staking his political reputation on fixing the city's failing schools system. It is a vital mission, of course. But it seems he needs also to pay more attention, if not to rats and broken windows, then to rising crime or correction to the perception of rising crime. Keeping up the numbers of cops might be a first step.
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And Bloomberg fools no one...he is a Democrat.
Bloomberg is a very useful idiot. His role is to remind people, as the 2004 election approaches, of what really changes when the liberals get back in.
They always talk a good game, but the next thing you know, the squeegie guys are back. And you start seeing rats. People you know are getting mugged; that wasn't happening when "fascist" Giuliani was in charge. Our health-conscious liberal officials banned smoking finally, but now your favorite restaurant is closing; business is down 30%. It was supposed to feel good, but the reality sucks.
BURGLARS [Rod Dreher] Derb's mention of burglars prompts me to report a rather minor couple of incidents, but ones that I think are significant, in part because "broken-window" things like this are starting to happen all over New York again, or so it seems from conversations with friends here. I live in a pretty good middle-class neighborhood. We've been seeing a bit more vandalism lately, and hearing stories of women being threatened on our formerly calm streets. There was even a rape outside a hospital half a block away, which is in no way a minor incident. A couple of nights ago, someone troubled himself to unscrew and steal the brass cover of the mail slot of our building, and also the brass handle on the top of a board we use to cover a trash can. It's no big loss, obviously, and we're blessed that nothing worse has happened -- yet. Still, these things are another reminder that New York criminals in the post-Giuliani era are getting bolder. Oh yes: junkies are starting to congregate on the street outside the neighborhood methadone clinic. That never happened when Rudy was in charge. Posted at 02:15 PM
Isn't that the truth. Don't want to risk health and safety. Before I go down an unfamiliar street, I always stop and look for deadly clouds of cigarette smoke linguering in the air. Wouldn't want to be at risk...
Please Freepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent ping list.
What people fail to mention in articles such as this, however, is that Rudy got the cops OFF THEIR AS-SES in the coffee shops and OUT ONTO THE STREET. Although there are still great cops on the force, it appears that some members of the NYPD are starting to SLACK OFF under Commissioner Ray Kelly (who was Dickens's commissioner as well).
I myself still feel fairly safe, but that will last just until I get mugged (which will probably be soon, thanks to Blunderberg and New York States lack of a Right-to-Carry law).
The squeegie guys are back. We encountered one causing a massive traffic jam on the West Side Highway in early December. My husband was incredulous that there were no policemen around to control the situation. About a week or two later, the NY Post reported more sightings around town. Very depressing...
Don't get me wrong- I'm on a first name basis with the reasonably functional bums in my neighborhood and have been for years through the Guliani era- the folks sleeping on the floor of the 86th St Station are folks I've never seen before.
When Ray Kelly disbanded the Street Crimes Unit- that was a stern message to good cops that their work will no longer be tolerated. Only criminal appeasement for this Police Comissioner. The Democrat gets my vote next year.
My friend Allie always called it, "The Larry and Harry Hogue Brothers Revue."
You should see the lovely jaundiced gentleman always begging me for change at the 57th Street/Carnegie hall N//R/Q/W stop.
I grew accustomed long ago to block out the "homeless," most of whom are single men who were kicked out of the projects/Section 8's by their old lady for drinkin' and druggin' too much.
The funny thing is, they tend to stay out of Brooklyn, although they seem to enjoy sleeping on the R train all the way out to Bay Ridge (there smell makes my occassional late night commute SOOOOO enjoyable).
Stop it! You're killin' me!
Considering anyone without a home can get put up, for free, by the city- not in a shelter, mind you, but a nice hotel or a subsidized apartment.....There are no homeless in NYC anymore- just bums.
I agree. He did not create New York's fiscal mess and has been raked over the coals over his projected ways to balance the city's budget. O.K. there will never be another Rudy. We all feel his absence and I, for one, do not feel as safe as I used to. How can you patrol a city with a reduced police force? If they don't raise property taxes, don't levy another commuter tax and don't reduce the size of the city's labor force, among other measures, how will they make ends meet? We wish we had Rudy back, but even he isn't a magician.