The Irreplaceable Pat Moynihan

So now we know who will be taking Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s place in January.

Depressed yet? You should be. Mr. Moynihan’s imminent departure after a quarter-century in the U.S. Senate leaves the state-and the city-without one of its great champions. We will get by without him, of course, but it will be a good deal more difficult, and not nearly as much fun.

Only an out-of-towner or a hack would ever suggest that Mr. Moynihan has been anything but one of New York’s most accomplished figures. From welfare reform to transportation policy, the Senator has been a master of big concepts and a drafter of small policy details. He was as effective in preserving the deductibility of state and local income taxes during the Reagan administration as he was in fighting for New York’s top-notch medical schools when they were under assault by the Clinton health-care plan. These might seem like the kinds of details the onetime professor would leave to others-but that stereotype of Mr. Moynihan as a detached intellectual unwilling to roll up his sleeves and do the scutwork of governance has never been true.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a native of Oklahoma, showed early on that he had a clear-eyed understanding of the U.S. Senate. When he was running in the Democratic Senate primary in 1976, he and his opponents were asked what committee assignments they would request. Mr. Moynihan’s foes mentioned high-prestige committees like Foreign Affairs and Judiciary. Mr. Moynihan promised to seek a spot on the drab Finance Committee, because that’s where the money was and New York was in the midst of a fiscal crisis.

Mr. Moynihan’s legacy will be with us a very long time. In the early 1990’s, the Senator effectively rewrote U.S. transportation policy to allow states to spend federal highway money on mass transit. The ensuing bill dispatched billions to transit projects throughout the state. When, in a few years, you take a train to Kennedy Airport, or you leave the city via the new Pennsylvania Station, you might give silent thanks for the work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

How About N.Y.C.?

You may have noticed that New York City was shockingly absent from the Presidential and Senate races. Neither Presidential candidate came to town (except to raise money), and the Senate campaign was all about upstate New York, breast cancer and Muslim money. In the waning days of the race, even the Mayor ignored the city; he chose to fly to Florida and stump for the national ticket. No candidate promised much of anything to the city, which they treated principally as a money tree. But now is the time to take a glance at the issues that matter to New York City, and which should be of particular concern to those who hope to take Rudolph Giuliani’s job next year.

First, let us simply say we hope the candidates for Mayor can show themselves to be above the flaws of the cast of characters who dominated the political headlines for the past year. New Yorkers won’t abide candidates who are as insulated as George W. Bush, as pandering as Al Gore, as disingenuous as Hillary Clinton or as trivial as Rick Lazio.

On the issues, crime must be No. 1. Any City Hall hopeful must immediately make clear that he or she is as committed to public safety as the current Mayor. Without safe streets, residents will simply leave, followed by businesses, restaurants, theater producers, tourists-in short, the city would be gutted. We know there will be some liberals who, in a post-Giuliani age, will be running on what you might call a let’s-bring-crime-back ticket, who will essentially run against the police. This would be immature and foolish; surely few are nostalgic for the David Dinkins years, when the city’s murder rate was four times as high as it is today.

Next, we must deal with the continuing mess of the public schools. Schools Chancellor Harold Levy has shown himself to be an independent thinker and has let some light into the dank bureaucracy of public education. One trusts the Mayoral contenders will display this spirit and not be co-opted by the teachers’ union. Other challenges include developing housing so that the middle class does not move out; encouraging commercial development, including a sports stadium on the West Side of Manhattan; and doing an even better job with sanitation and keeping the streets clean.

Of course, Mr. Giuliani had the benefit of a national economy that set records for growth. The next occupant of Gracie Mansion will be taking over the city when economic conditions are less certain. Now that the big races are over, let the real race begin.

Smart Parking

One area of city life that has been notably lacking in intelligent oversight is traffic-specifically, the way delivery trucks have been permitted to use the streets as parking lots. Every day trucks block traffic, either double-parked or simply left for hours jutting out into the street. The city’s Department of Transportation has finally adopted a policy of “congestion pricing” that will ration access to streets by charging trucks fees for using loading zones during peak periods in midtown Manhattan. Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., the drivers will have to feed new, computerized parking meters. The impact should be felt immediately, since trucks will now have a motive to make their deliveries quickly and then leave.

The plan-the first of its kind in the country- will be tested out in the area east of Times Square; one hopes it will be expanded to include not only other gridlocked areas but cars as well. If there is a fault with the program, it’s that the fees are far too low: $1 for one hour, $3 for two hours, $6 for three hours. Who are they kidding? A charge of $5 per hour would be a reasonable start for the privilege of parking in the world’s most vibrant business center.

So now we know who will be taking Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s place in January.

Depressed yet? You should be. Mr. Moynihan’s imminent departure after a quarter-century in the U.S. Senate leaves the state-and the city-without one of its great champions. We will get by without him, of course, but it will be a good deal more difficult, and not nearly as much fun.

Only an out-of-towner or a hack would ever suggest that Mr. Moynihan has been anything but one of New York’s most accomplished figures. From welfare reform to transportation policy, the Senator has been a master of big concepts and a drafter of small policy details. He was as effective in preserving the deductibility of state and local income taxes during the Reagan administration as he was in fighting for New York’s top-notch medical schools when they were under assault by the Clinton health-care plan. These might seem like the kinds of details the onetime professor would leave to others-but that stereotype of Mr. Moynihan as a detached intellectual unwilling to roll up his sleeves and do the scutwork of governance has never been true.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a native of Oklahoma, showed early on that he had a clear-eyed understanding of the U.S. Senate. When he was running in the Democratic Senate primary in 1976, he and his opponents were asked what committee assignments they would request. Mr. Moynihan’s foes mentioned high-prestige committees like Foreign Affairs and Judiciary. Mr. Moynihan promised to seek a spot on the drab Finance Committee, because that’s where the money was and New York was in the midst of a fiscal crisis.

Mr. Moynihan’s legacy will be with us a very long time. In the early 1990’s, the Senator effectively rewrote U.S. transportation policy to allow states to spend federal highway money on mass transit. The ensuing bill dispatched billions to transit projects throughout the state. When, in a few years, you take a train to Kennedy Airport, or you leave the city via the new Pennsylvania Station, you might give silent thanks for the work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

How About N.Y.C.?

You may have noticed that New York City was shockingly absent from the Presidential and Senate races. Neither Presidential candidate came to town (except to raise money), and the Senate campaign was all about upstate New York, breast cancer and Muslim money. In the waning days of the race, even the Mayor ignored the city; he chose to fly to Florida and stump for the national ticket. No candidate promised much of anything to the city, which they treated principally as a money tree. But now is the time to take a glance at the issues that matter to New York City, and which should be of particular concern to those who hope to take Rudolph Giuliani’s job next year.

First, let us simply say we hope the candidates for Mayor can show themselves to be above the flaws of the cast of characters who dominated the political headlines for the past year. New Yorkers won’t abide candidates who are as insulated as George W. Bush, as pandering as Al Gore, as disingenuous as Hillary Clinton or as trivial as Rick Lazio.

On the issues, crime must be No. 1. Any City Hall hopeful must immediately make clear that he or she is as committed to public safety as the current Mayor. Without safe streets, residents will simply leave, followed by businesses, restaurants, theater producers, tourists-in short, the city would be gutted. We know there will be some liberals who, in a post-Giuliani age, will be running on what you might call a let’s-bring-crime-back ticket, who will essentially run against the police. This would be immature and foolish; surely few are nostalgic for the David Dinkins years, when the city’s murder rate was four times as high as it is today.

Next, we must deal with the continuing mess of the public schools. Schools Chancellor Harold Levy has shown himself to be an independent thinker and has let some light into the dank bureaucracy of public education. One trusts the Mayoral contenders will display this spirit and not be co-opted by the teachers’ union. Other challenges include developing housing so that the middle class does not move out; encouraging commercial development, including a sports stadium on the West Side of Manhattan; and doing an even better job with sanitation and keeping the streets clean.

Of course, Mr. Giuliani had the benefit of a national economy that set records for growth. The next occupant of Gracie Mansion will be taking over the city when economic conditions are less certain. Now that the big races are over, let the real race begin.

Smart Parking

One area of city life that has been notably lacking in intelligent oversight is traffic-specifically, the way delivery trucks have been permitted to use the streets as parking lots. Every day trucks block traffic, either double-parked or simply left for hours jutting out into the street. The city’s Department of Transportation has finally adopted a policy of “congestion pricing” that will ration access to streets by charging trucks fees for using loading zones during peak periods in midtown Manhattan. Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., the drivers will have to feed new, computerized parking meters. The impact should be felt immediately, since trucks will now have a motive to make their deliveries quickly and then leave.

The plan-the first of its kind in the country- will be tested out in the area east of Times Square; one hopes it will be expanded to include not only other gridlocked areas but cars as well. If there is a fault with the program, it’s that the fees are far too low: $1 for one hour, $3 for two hours, $6 for three hours. Who are they kidding? A charge of $5 per hour would be a reasonable start for the privilege of parking in the world’s most vibrant business center.

The Irreplaceable Pat Moynihan