This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Bill Beutel (WABC TV), Jim Jensen (WCBS TV), and Gabe Pressman (WNBC TV) question Mayor Robert F. Wagner. In his 12th year as Mayor, Wagner says that he plans to pursue a fourth term as Mayor of the City of New York. There are many references to the "power struggles" in state government.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 70550
Municipal archives id: T735
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Live from Gracie Mansion. A conversation with Mayor Robert F. Wagner. As Mayor Wagner begins his twelve year as mayor of the city of New York W A B C T B W C B S T V and W N B C T.V. go by to bring you this broadcast with Bill Beutel W A B C T.V. news Jim Jensen W C.B.S. T.V. news and Gabe Pressman W N.B.C. T.V. news Mayor if you are beginning the last year of the or third term as mayor of New York City do you intend to do something unprecedented in the history of New York and run for a fourth term as mayor and if so why. Gabe I have certainly given this serious thought and I have I would say that it's and most likely that I well provided my health holds up and we're here. And I'd say I'm doing this I have this in mind not that I think it is going to be important in my life or in the history of the city that they have a mayor who's been elected for four terms that would be certainly the motive the motive would be as far as I'm concerned that I feel there are still things to be done programs that I have and that she hated and thought of and that that opportunity for service to me is a great thrill and a great satisfaction I know that oftentimes it has great burdens at both the physical strain to a lot of criticism but I've often thought that the joy of leadership is exceeded by the burden of responsibility since the beginning of the year not very much has been done in Albany. Where many people say that you personally are involved in what has been described as a personal power struggle I'd like to ask you sir how you can if you can justify spending virtually the past month in the pursuit power in Albany when in fact there are so many things to be done in New York City this must have taken time and energy away from the work you normally spend your time on in New York City well just to correct a few things I have spent very little time matter in Albany my time is spent practically all together on the work of the city of New York that is a reason that I have not participated in any of the discussions and secondly I haven't sought to participate in any of the discussions I said at the beginning right after the election. That this was up to the legislators that I felt that it would be the best interest and follow precedent if if the minority leaders were promoted into the speakership and majority leader in the Senate speakership in the assembly and since then of course that hasn't didn't happen immediately I think if it had they'd moved ahead and now we find the situation. In the deadlock at this point I sincerely hope that way may be found just as rapidly as possible to resolve it so that they can get down to work out some time has been lost but of course there's no reason why the legislators can't stay longer than they would ordinarily to make up for this time it isn't absolutely lost there is a delay in getting the out of the problems that. Face the state and face the legislators but my. The real part of my time is spent with the problems of the city of new and very little of that as far as the so-called power struggle is concerned I'm not involved in the Power Struggle to the extent that I'm not in the goshi eight are involved I hope that they can come up with the leaders in both houses who are good I'm not promoting any particular candidates I just hope that they can come up with good leadership and be able to get on with the business of the state and present a fine record for the Democratic Party Time and time again you read in here that it's an open open secret battle between you and Senator Kennedy for control of the party in the state of New York Jim over the years I sort of used to. Reading and hearing about matters over which I though very little such as any battle of this kind reiterated time and again that Kennedy and I are old friends worked very hard for his of. Lection we are good friends now I know we'll continue to be good friends and work for the. State and for the city together the country I suppose this is good copy and the more it's repeated the more people believe it but I can assure you there isn't any such if you if. You are a direct participant in the discussions at Albany you have been given credit or blame depending upon point of view for the deadlock in Albany because of your up to this point unwillingness to accept what appears to be the majority the will of the majority within the Senate and the assembly and so forth leadership is going to bill I haven't any right to say whether they should have majority rule this is up to the legislators and I have not directly or indirectly told any of the legislators what they ought to do discuss these matters with them this is up to them and this isn't anything new as a matter of fact this is a question of staying out of a caucus as was said. Just the other day way back in one nine hundred thirteen when the battle was on their those days the United States Senate was elected by the state senate before the popular election of United States Senate. A gentleman named belied blue I believe was the one who was supposed to win and had the majority of the vote of the Democratic Party and Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt was the one who led the battle against. Sheehan he led only with a minority of the votes and did the historians point out even in the date leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate was my father in the assembly out for the spit and both of them told Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt that he had every right to stay out of the caucus so long as he. Wanted to continue that battle and he held it up for months and finally they withdrew it and I have to say Now this isn't anything novel and I am not the one behind this this is up to the legislators and I think we ought to clarify that once we have a rock my principal position as mayor of the city of New York and that's what I spend my time on as the mayor you just sitting sitting in this very room two weeks ago you told the press that. The old line Democratic bosses were at it again and you charge Of course that state chairman Macallan had offered bribes to get votes to settle this leadership conflict and you expressed shock that this was going on what is the difference Mr Mayor between a boss and a LEADER Well I suppose I would define it as this I think Leader and the most part should be one who is directly responsible to the people and talks about the leader in the broadest sense one who is to decide on policy last to make the decisions should be one who is directly responsible to the people and if the people don't like what he does they can defeat him at the Lexx the next election if they approve what he does they can elect him and as far as leadership in the augmentation part of the party is concerned I think. That pot should be confined only to. Going as a nation for elections for primary day for General August as a snow policy not public policy as the mayor and I don't lie I would say in the legislature I had hoped. At the beginning they could have moved ahead with the leaders they had elected in the past but that's water over the dam I hope they now settle it and as I said before I'm not a negotiator in this operation I am not taking in any conferences on it my job is to be the mayor you'll be almost the mayor that the yes I see hearings have indicated your position and feel the fact that only Ray Jones testified as to what you charged there was a difference of opinion among all the others and some directly contradicted Mr Jones including on the killing himself Well it's a question of. Who is to be believed I am confident that what I stated was the truth I believe the information that was given to me I didn't participate in it I said that and as far as my position is concerned it's very clear and I don't see any further discussion people believe your version I sincerely hope so because one thing I've never tried to do is get the people on the subject of people Mr Mayor in writing about town taxi cab driving a cup of coffee in a restaurant people who bring up you know say. What's going on. The mayor and those on those people are they playing this little game just for their own fun and amusement. How would you answer that criticism and how would you answer I say that's very well as far as I'm concerned not playing this game for fun or Miami is meant I have said time and again I sincerely hope that they can come up with good people to be leaders people who will be free of any and all either on my part or anybody else's pot to do a good job that's all I want to see done so that they get on with the business provided they can come up with if you're not directly involved or you say could you offer an observation as to what they are doing commentary understand what is your opinion as to their activity good bad or indifferent how do you view it from down here what I would say that. The impression is that they should get on with the business and organize sometimes that's easier said than done when there are these conflicts existing up there I do hope that they will so be able to organize as as rapidly as possible as I said before. We don't have to realize that this is a little lost time completely. In the past it's been a general feeling that there's almost a constitutional amendment that chap to finish the legislature by the end of March there isn't such a thing they can go on to June I remember when you when I was up there years ago we went into June but you know now the great harness yet but I mean isn't time completely lost I'm not happy I don't think any of the exam accredits happy with it we'd like to see it resolved in the best way to resolve it is among the legislators Mr Mayor. Pointed out a moment ago the only man who has a stand she did your testimony be should be Mr McEwen was J. RAYMOND JONES. Considering the fact that prior to his election the state Democratic chairman back in ninety six the one with your backing and at least publicly sort any right and prior again publicly so to this announcement last week this charge Mr McCain on the record was spotless now it appears. Yes I see testimony to check only with Mr Jones not with Mr O'Rourke or Weinstein or English or you would not listen I mean I don't think it's all on the record I think that a lot more important things to talk about in the short time we have here but just to clarify I stated clearly that I did Mr Weinstein I did check with Mr. That senator Bronston admitted it to me that was what I made in the public testimony and I think it's all on the record sir and there's no sense in going over a lot of past history of last week I think there are a lot more that we can ask here on this program just one thing mealing with the city one more thing if I may sir how did you feel when Mr Weinstein Mr workman did not back you up subsequently before the. Well I stated my position is plainly that is that they did confirm the story of Mr John it's not what I feel good bad or indifferent about it isn't going to make Mr Mayor you said earlier that if your health permits you will run for a fourth term and I assume that therefore you will run for a fourth term this fall do you look healthy you look very healthy Mr Mayor last few days that. You say that. There's a lot of unfinished business that you want to take care of can you name the primary areas of unfinished business that you see in the next five years well I would say they are in a number of them cotton fields. Field of housing we do have a tremendous housing program and such a large city is I sometimes people don't realize that we have for instance over six hundred thousand people living in public housing subsidized housing with a family lived in slums and now have a decent home we have almost two hundred thousand new units over the past years in middle income housing but we do know that there's still lots of slums we still know that there are still lots of people and youngsters living in conditions that are not going to be helpful to them to grow to be good citizens and good healthy citizens and we know there's a lot to do more to be done not just in building new housing but in rehabilitating some of the old housing that's about to deteriorate so that raise homes can be preserved and make good and decent for so many people we know that in the field of education. We still have to do more in building new schools and proud to say that in time I've been mayor we don't want school new schools and with Pad more room to put on more additions and I think in the combined history of the city but still a lot of schools that need to be replaced more playgrounds provided for the youngsters more teachers given to him a rise in quality education particularly in the so-called the pressed areas you asked me the question I'm going to finish her. Job opportunities for our youngsters we know that there's so much more need for at least a high school education to encourage their youngsters to state so high school and those that do drop out to train them for jobs so that they can compete in the market and not be compelled to go on welfare one thing we want to do and make sure that we have not only in this city in this country we don't want lots of people to live their whole lives on the dole. This is a strain on the city sustain on the state and federal government and it's a terrible disaster for these people. A lot of these things still must be done and these are some of the general areas I could let name a lot more we could stay here for a few hours on. Hooper square for three years and was going to committee down there trying to get something done and as I understand they had a meeting with you Friday which was canceled because you had the cold have a meeting on. The matter of a low rent housing versus middle rent town originally as I understand they presented were for middle and high with everything that they had they had they had a proposal. For a. Title one project urban renewal and part of the plan was that they would use a certain area that was an income but practically just a few people on there to build public housing to be able to move some of the people off the site into this house and I'd say now the square project has been considered but it is in as I understand in a priority list and probably we couldn't get the money for it from the federal government this is what I understand for a number of years. That was a reason for the delay because we just have so much money and we have so many projects and. We can't build them all at one time they would say a number of people wanted to see middle income housing use in their so called they can spot and they said they could build it right away the public housing would sort of have to go along simultaneously with the development of the program and there was a tug of war between public housing and the middle income housing and the president let's drill they plan for the public housing and we're going to sit