Letter From NewrnYork Cityrnby Herbert I. LondonrnLife as PathologyrnThe tumultuous events at the New YorkrnPost over the last few months serve as arnperfect metaphor for New York. Thisrnoldest daily in the United States, establishedrnby Alexander Hamilton, is (as 1rnwrite) fighting for its life amid courtroomrnrecriminations over its ownershiprnand purported losses of $1.5 million arnweek. When the peculiar and volatilernAbe Hirschfeld was granted ownership ofrnthe tabloid, he announced that BillrnTatum, owner of the Amsterdam Newsrnand well-known race-baiter, would bernthe paper’s editor. This decision, alongrnwith rather bizarre public commentsrnfrom Hirschfeld (“The Post will makernme G-d”) and the wholesale firing ofrnmany of the newspaper’s stalwarts, led tornan open rebellion by its staff. Despiterntheir unemployment, many of the newspaper’srnemployees continued to turn outrnthe paper, excoriating Hirschfeld andrnTatum in the process. It could easily bernpostulated that only in New York couldrnsuch a zany set of conditions evolve.rnNew York was described as late as thernearly 1960’s by Jan Morris, historian ofrncities in the throes of deterioration, asrnthe center of international culture, arncommunications mecca, a place electricrnwith opportunity. Since then, however,rnits slide has been perceptible, ^ ew Yorkrnis not what it was and may never evenrnbe what it is. Recently Mayor Dinkinsrncalled a press conference to congratulaternhimself and his administration on arnreduction in homicides from more thanrn2,000 annually to 1,900. This announcementrnwas used to show that New York isrnon the “road to recovery.”rnYet when Brian Watkins, a young tennisrnenthusiast, came to New York for thernU.S. Open, he became one of the city’srnmany casualties, brutally killed while defendingrnhis mother who was being attackedrnby muggers in the subway system.rnThe day after this incident, MayorrnDinkins went to Washington to testifyrnfor tighter gun-control laws. But BrianrnWatkins was killed with a knife. Whenrna known drug-dealer was killed in an altercationrnwith cops, the mayor used taxpayerrnmoney to have the drug-dealer’srnfamily travel from the Caribbean to NewrnYork for the funeral. When thugs boycottedrna Korean-owned grocery in Flatbush,rnthe mayor told police to ignore arncourt ordinance restricting the boycottersrnfrom the entrance to the store.rnHe described the episode as “a communityrndisturbance.” When the Lubavitcherrncommunity in Crown Heightsrnwas attacked by ruffians after the accidentalrndeath of a 10-year-old child, policernwere restrained from converting arnviolent one-sided episode into a race riot.rnHowever, after Yankel Rosenbaum wasrnkilled in retaliation for the death ofrnGavin Cato (the 10-year-old killed in thernaccident) the mayor did not consider itrnappropriate to attend the Rosenbaumrnfuneral service. So much for evenhandedness.rnThe consequence of such actions andrninaction has been the conversion of thisrncity into a racial tinderbox. Yet it isn’trnonly race that divides the city. WhenrnJoseph Fernandez, former chancellor ofrnits school system, insisted on imposing arn”Children of the Rainbow” curriculumrnthat in part promotes tolerance forrnhomosexual activity, several local schoolrndistricts balked. One of them. Districtrn24 in Queens, led by 72-year-old grandmotherrnMary Cummins, fought tenaciouslyrnuntil Fernandez was ousted by arnmajority of the Board of Education andrncompliance with the curriculum proposalrnwas made voluntary. The mayor supportedrnFernandez throughout this incidentrnand lobbied vigorously for hisrnretention as chancellor.rnSimilarly, the mayor fought relentlesslyrnagainst the Ancient Order of Hiberniansrnso that homosexuals couldrnmarch in the St. Patrick’s Day paradernand carry signs declaring their sexual orientation.rnWhen the courts ruled againstrnthe mayor and the homosexual demonstrationrnwas declared off-limits, Dinkins,rnalong with Governor Cuomo andrnPresident of the City Council AndyrnStein, did not march in the parade—anrnevent known as much for political participationrnas for demonstrations of respectrnfor the sons and daughters of Erin.rnYes, events surrounding the Post are arnmere microcosm of a city wracked byrnculture, race, and class warfare. The NewrnYork public schools, once the envy of thernworld, have been converted into a literalrnand figurative battlefield. One school onrnthe west side of Manhattan, Park WestrnHigh School, collected more than arnthousand weapons after a metal detectorrnwas installed at the beginning of thern1992 school year. And since Fernandezrnurged the distribution of condoms in thernpublic school system as a preventive forrnAIDS, despite parental objection, classesrnhave been organized to promote theirrn”proper” use. It is hardly an exaggerationrnin this city to contend that studentsrnmight spend more time putting condomsrnon cucumbers than on solvingrnquadratic equations.rnAt the moment there are 540 municipalrnemployees in the city work force forrnevery 10,000 people in the city. That ratiorndoesn’t mean very much until it isrncompared to the second highest such ratiornamong American cities. Detroit hasrn206 municipal workers for every 10,000rnin the population. New York is by anyrnmeasure the last and most entrenchedrnbastion of socialism in the world. Therernare more school administrators (5,400) atrn110 Livingston Street, the nerve centerrnof the city’s school system, than there arernfrom Portugal to the Ural Mountains.rnThe size and scope of the city workrnforce explain in large part why nothingrnworks in the city. Recently I was askedrnto appear on a television program atrnWNYC, located on the 31st floor of thernmunicipal building. When I arrivedrnthere I was told that the main elevatorrngoes to the 28th floor and another elevatorrnto the 31st. This was well and good,rnexcept that I couldn’t find the second elevator.rnI proceeded to knock on a doorrnwhere I was greeted by a twinkie-eatingrncity worker. “Waddaya want?” he asked.rn”I’m looking for the elevator to the 31strnfloor,” I responded. “Yeah, so is everyonernelse. Just get in line and I’ll let you knowrnwhere it is.” Incredulous, I asked why Irnhad to wait in line when all I wanted tornknow was where the elevator is located.rnSomewhat irritated, he said, “I’m justrndoin’ my job. This is what my supervisorrntold me to do.” Alas, here is socialismrnNew York style. Mere civility is nowrnforced into the cauldron of city politics.rnThere are 1.1 million people on welfarernm New York City; 300,000 peoplernwork for the city government; and onernout of every seven New Yorkers residesrnin a rent-controlled or rent-stabilizedrnapartment. Moreover, private-sector jobsrnare declining, with the city losingrn375,000 since 1989, or more than 25 percentrnof the nation’s total. The net departurernrate from New York is more thanrn120,000 since the decade began, and ifrnthe price of one-bedroom condos everrnJULY 1993/45rnrnrn