This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Isaacs, member of the New York City Council, discusses the City Council and city government.
Moderated by Jay Nelson Tuck.
Panelists: Stan Siegel, Lillian Affan, and Kevin McGrath
The City Council could change, but there be a representative group with grass roots. Proportional representation was a far better system for electing representatives. Parties have no right to exist as parties in the city administration. Responds to suggestions the NYC secede from the state. Scandal in the borough presidents' offices published by the New York Post. Believes the government could say well over $100 million if city employees worked harder. Hospital strike.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 72093
Municipal archives id: LT8466
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Should the city council be abolished is New York due for a Republican mayor the city getting its stash Share of state revenue for the answers to these and other questions listen now to the campus press conference every Sunday at this time editors of colleges papers question is where the personality our moderator on campus press conferences the noted newspaper Len and editor Dan also talk now to introduce the panel and the savings guest here is Mr Tuck Good evening our guest tonight on campus press conference has a record of distinguished public service to the city of New York that goes back for half a century Here's the honorable Stanley Stanley M. Isaacs a long Republican member of our city council who is in Boston by the Liberal Party Mr Isaacs is a lawyer who first began to practice here fifty four years ago and has been actively working in public affairs ever since he was moral president of Manhattan from one hundred thirty eight to one hundred forty one and in that office he accomplished something which most politicians only dream of they reduced the budget by more than twenty five percent. He was also largely responsible for the planning and construction of the Franklin D. Roosevelt drive along the East River Mr Isaacs was first elected to the city council in one nine hundred forty one and he has been a member continuously since then he is active in a great many civic organizations and has received money awards for his public service. Here TONIGHT Question councilman Isaacs our stance on the goal of the N.Y.U. square Journal lowing on our from of the Hunter College our O. and Gov grass of the forum student bar association stance younger question sir at the risk of asking your question which is rather closely tied up with your own words do you think that the present city college or the city council system ought to be eliminated but I can answer dispassionately without personal concern I think not I think many changes should be made in the city charter and will the name when the charter a vision commission is finally approved and the pointed but I do believe we need some grassroots VII's in the city structure and it would be unsound in the city of five boroughs and eight million population to have only one bar of President from each bar representing the masses of the people I think a council of twenty five and sound it might well be merged with the broader That's the net and given quite different powers but we should have a representative body with grassroots. Well sir the council used to be elected by a compassionate representation you're going to like it either way. But you're the only Republican who survived the change to the system do you think was healthier than under the Paul the our system I think it was infinitely better under the P.R. system because we had better standards for the selection of Councilman they had to appeal to the voters of the entire barrel and not just run in a district where in most cases their election is sure whether they're good bad or indifferent meant whether we had a far greater variety as a result of that the last console elected by who are still representation involved and I wrote a total of twenty five. Twenty three rather twelve Democrats and eleven assorted opposition to Communists which were as a result responsible for the destruction of the system two members of the American Labor Party two members of the Liberal Party and five members of the Republican Party and I think there's a great advantage in having great a device today and better qualified math when you think the council now. You're outnumbered one to twenty four to one without water one is an automatic rubber stamp by virtue of that fact isn't an automatic rubber stamp if I said they were it is true that they resent but they're overwhelmingly a one party and unless I have something that is very important that appeals to everyone lies pretty hard to get support for it if the leaders of the Democratic Party are apologies and then I can never get out. I believe the better for the mayor and cells in the city administration to have a less one sided concept. That the proposed charter additions included really going back to the proportional representation system the charter revision law provides for a commission which will advise the charter in all respects doesn't have to make changes in every respect might bring an amendment. To the existing justice or bring in an entirely new charter but it's completely independent and can make whatever changes it wants and can propose a revival of the proportional representation system if it chooses to do so I hope it well. Religion out on the city level where would you say the real bone of contention between the parties live well is no bone of contention between parties parties have no right to exist as parties in the city ministrations as Cyril a guardian used to put it there's no difference between a Republican a Democrat or a liberal when it comes to cleaning the streets of building housing or what have you. The it's some really sound and that's been accepted by people who are interested in city government for for more than half a century that the it's proper for people of different parties to group together and join together for better government government and later Jews is their standard bearer the very best qualified man and it doesn't make any difference what his party is for example one of the best manners and I think the best medicine the other had was John Prine Mitchell who instructed by a consensus of the groups composed of the Republicans and independents and Democrats and see around a guardian was similarly elected by groups of all thoughts including independent Democrats Republicans independents generally members of what was then called City fusion party which meant a group of independents and it didn't make any difference from my point of view at least what party state right or nationwide the candidate belongs to as long as he is best qualified just equipped that's the experience to run isn't a government well. Given. Since you're the only Republican on the city council and now we have a Republican governor do you feel that the present state government is giving the city a stash share of the revenue. I think Green isn't a very solid hours there's no way of measuring exactly what the city should receive the figures are very clear and very true the city of New York the wealthiest in the country pays somewhere between fifty to fifty five percent of the gross taxes collected by the state half of the state's collections go back to localities the city Racine's only thirty eight percent of all of the state funds it goes back to localities so of course we receive far less than we pay but that's part of the system just as the state state of New York is infinitely more by way of taxes and other contributions to the federal government and it receives by way of federal aid for housing or what have you it's a natural thing and proper thing the state gives to the city of New York on under certain rules. Very much more than half of the amount given for welfare throughout the state my recollection is sixty percent or more it gives the city of New York far more than half the FOR HEALTH SERVICE The one place where we get far less than we get and and which really throws the balance out of gear is for education and the reason is very simple. We need support schools here and via through largely through real estate taxes and other sources and our we have here in the city of New York real estate taxes forty percent of which are paid not by people that live here but from the hotels the office buildings the last there on the set is for that matter the restaurants the department stores as a part and I trawl over the country and in addition to those who live there pay somewhere around fifty percent of the total ten percent is Lake and land and all of you take of county upstate and like taking our county if you want our Franklin County in the Adirondacks they have to support schools too and we want them to have schools just as good as ours got valorous we want to good schools throughout the state they have a tax payer it's real estate tax payers only the little people that live there the farmers who live in that neighborhood the retail stores which they support they have nothing else to raise taxes from and under the circumstances they need far more state aid and we do now well as a formula to devise some years ago I'm not sure of the date five chance of a healer then why you which is a formula on which funds for education are now distributed is fair or should be revised I don't want to say. I'm sure it should be revealed and maybe it should be revised so that we get more but not we won't get much more on the NE justified for me I want to say this true for the first time this year the state has aided the city colleges we never got a penny from the state before except for teacher education there they contributed something like seven or eight million dollars a year to the City College but this year for the first time for the running operation of our free college system we get approximately one sixth of a course for the place two years of operation from the state that was adopted this year via the introduced by Senator Mitchell I hope that some will be increased. Stands for thirty some odd large disparity between the amount really as a whole to pay then to the state and the amount of the city gets back has led some people to not so just barely a factor suggest that the city three seed from the state what sort of creative to give to a lot like what I think it's private nonsense in the face plated cancer seed unless Congress votes Act and the state legislature votes it and the people of the city of New York College I hope I know that Congress will never vote in the state legislature will never vote it and I hope the people of this city will be sane enough not to ask you because I can't think any of anything that would wreck the city through our effectively and to turn the city government over to local control without any state constitutions limiting many areas in which we can operate and when of the state laws and without the state services that we get just take for example the question of presents The prisons are all located upstate No I don't boast of this but more than half of their occupants come from New York City to live in the prisons all over the map where Wellings there's a lot of vacant land in Staten Island but I don't want to see it doing so that's the most of the asylums and and and agencies that take care of the mentally ill or upstate institutions we secede we have to provide them all here do we want to build them here and put them here at the a shot where out of L.L. case we lose an awful lot to lose far more than we gain through. Service finite it comes to another matter have you been reading research in a New York Post recently on the scandal in the bar a president's office I read some of those articles Yes well we all had for years as for a president of Manhattan you managed to reduce the budget of that office substantially during that time do you think there is much waste that the Post charges were justified Unfortunately I believe in every office. Our of our president in this city except Staten Island which I know nothing and that may be true they have to speak directly the same conditions exist which I found when I do productive or oppressed I found condition the payroll was loaded with people who didn't do a stroke of work it was a haven of the political refugees who wanted to be on the payroll but didn't want to make any contribution I can give you examples if you want our assurance or it was most interesting to me because I came into that office green and here's one thing I found this is just one of many there were eighty seven messengers in the US may not have messed with the needed five current and that's a fine how did it happen very simple these men were all appointed as laborers Africa quiet no civil service examination then they were made so a labor because they got extra pay by the still alive then they were appointed as messengers because that meant they had to do no wait to report to no one attended their own business and drop paid well listen I was cause I got rid of all but about five that I needed overnight as one example another example is in the painting area I found that they used to send out a squad of six on road had to be prepared repaired every I sent one of my confidential men at once out to see whether we could get along with for differences I looked around the streets they didn't all seem to be busy in various ways he came back laughing and with only one case where he found six men on the job six men reported his presence looking for a five only were present the others were away tending to their own doesn't and then I could give you a list of the top level people in the office who are supposed to be engineers like the commissioner of our awakes and the deputy commissioner and the chief engineer and consulting engineer we had one engineer allowed for a list apparently is exactly what posters finding today of high rates of interest probably Is there any single can be done about it virally solely by them are almost to be done by the individual or a process through. It shows it must be done in the long run by the borough president but the mayor has great power as the mayor wants to institute at least he pretty well I won't say pretend claims to introduce an austerity budget which is sheer nonsense because an austerity budget but payroll graft is not only in the bar of president's office but a elsewhere in the city is no less charity budget where else other payroll grafters Well I would mention the cooperation counsel's office and any number of hacked lawyers there who carry on living and practice so they get a job with a Corporation Council and the Corporation Council doesn't use them because they're not able enough to be you and I'm sure that same thing is true in many other areas I'm not going into details now if you ask me if I can probably this I say no to any more than I can close it what the poster is displayed is existing in the borough president but I know enough to know it exists you know it did exist when you were there and presumably does again and it doesn't exist in every department and then a man like Commissioner Moses for example who may have flaws wouldn't stand for a lot of waste was on his payroll. And other commissioners similar restaurants Rick suppose what is your best estimate of how much money the city could save if every employee did a good day's work well I'm told I'm exaggerating but I don't believe I believe they could say well over one hundred million dollars mind you mind you that's only five percent of the total budget of the total budget is two billion one hundred seventy five million dol