One of the great crimes of New York is the severe shortage of waterfront parkland. Manhattanites rarely get a glimpse of the two rivers that encase their island, a problem which in recent years has been addressed by the nascent development of the Hudson River Park along the West Side from the Battery to West 59th Street. But thanks to a petty coalition of fringe environmentalists backed by Representative Jerrold Nadler and two out-of-state Senators, New Yorkers may have to wait beyond 2003 for the riverfront to be transformed from a dilapidated landscape of rotting piers into a lovely and usable park.
As The Observer ‘s Josh Benson reported last week, the United States Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether to issue permits for construction to begin on the park’s piers. But longtime political fusspot Marcy Benstock, backed by Mr. Nadler and Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, is trying to make the permits contingent upon a Federal Environmental Impact Statement, which would delay construction for as long as four years. You see, Ms. Benstock wants the riverfront to deteriorate, so that it may return to what she envisions as some idyllic, prehuman state of nature. Why she doesn’t just move to some uninhabited isle is anybody’s guess.
The park is being supported by Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Charles Schumer, as well as by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, who told The Observer , “This park has been more thoroughly reviewed than any other in the city.” Also giving the thumbs up are the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Marine Fisheries Service. But Ms. Benstock found a publicity-loving politician, Mr. Nadler, who empowered her by asking for the Federal E.I.S. (Mr. Nadler seems to be on something of a self-promoting media blitz: He recently turned up in Vanity Fair .) Ms. Benstock also bamboozled Senators Kennedy and Kerry to write letters in favor of an E.I.S., based on an unspecified threat to their state’s fishing industry.
Mr. Nadler should stop putting his own vanity first, and join forces with his own state’s Senators and residents, who, one can safely assume, might enjoy the miles of landscaping, bike paths and other perks the park will bring.
Few public figures have ever been dispatched to career heaven swifter than football coach Bill Parcells. When he shocked New York Jets fans and players on Jan. 3 by resigning as the team’s head coach, the New York sportswriters he had bullied for years instantly began carving his bust for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He found himself compared with some of the sport’s greatest coaches, including Vince Lombardi.
Without questioning Mr. Parcell’s tactical genius, it bears mentioning that he has left behind a mess wherever he has gone, that he has never failed to put personal and financial goals ahead of loyalty to his team and that he has been a serial abuser of players who failed to worship at the altar of his genius. Call him football’s greatest drama queen.
All but diehard Giants fans forget that when he guided the team to a Super Bowl championship in 1987, he tried to open talks with the Atlanta Falcons, even though he had a year left on his contract. Pete Rozelle, then-commissioner of the National Football League, had to step in and say that Mr. Parcells could not coach in Atlanta. Then, after the Giants won another Super Bowl in 1991, he abruptly quit–he had some heart problems at the time–and handpicked his successor, Ray Handley, who turned out to be one of the worst coaches in Giants history. By the end of 1991, the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was complaining that the coach backed out of a five-year contract.
Then, Mr. Parcells returned to the sidelines to coach the New England Patriots. When he brought the team to the Super Bowl, he again created unbelievable turmoil by trying to duck his responsibilities. He wanted to come back to the Meadowlands to coach the Jets, but once again a damn contract got in the way. But he got what he wanted: the Jets job from which he so recently walked away.
Lombardi said, in sentiments Mr. Parcells and his apologists would echo, that winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing. Oddly enough, there was a time when pride and character also mattered. Those virtues, however, will not be inscribed on Mr. Parcells’ Hall of Fame plaque.
An ‘A’ for New Chancellor
The appointment by the New York City Board of Education of banking executive Harold Levy as interim schools chancellor contains a lesson for a disappointed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani–never fire anybody unless you have your own guy ready to take his place–and a measure of hope for parents of New York City public schoolchildren. The Mayor’s outburst at the appointment of Mr. Levy, an executive with Citigroup and a member of the State Board of Regents, was unfortunate, since Mr. Levy was a solid choice. With his New York roots and management background, Mr. Levy would seem to be the kind of interim chancellor with whom the Mayor could work well.
Mr. Levy’s knows the city’s educational bureaucracy–in 1995 he headed a commission on the condition of school buildings–but is thankfully not a product of that bureaucracy. A Manhattan native who graduated from the Bronx High School of Science, Mr. Levy took undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell University and worked at Salomon Brothers and Travelers Group before joining Citigroup. And he seems to be aware of the problems of public schools: After all, he sends his children to the Dalton School.
One hopes the Mayor will take advantage of Mr. Levy’s strengths and rise above real or imagined political intrigue. The city’s 1.1 million public schoolchildren deserve no less.