Sunday, December 12, 2010

Richard Ravitch: Gotham's Savior, Beaten by Albany

Wall Street Journal

In the pre-dawn gloom of Oct. 17, 1975, with New York City hours away from declaring bankruptcy, real-estate developer Richard Ravitch hosted a secret summit at his Upper East Side apartment. In attendance were Gov. Hugh Carey and teachers' chief Albert Shanker. "Ok, I'll do it," said Shanker, agreeing to invest large amounts of union pension funds in bailout bonds. The deal rescued Gotham.

In November 1979, Mr. Ravitch took the helm of the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (for no pay). The transit system was starved of capital; its decaying $50 billion physical plant was held together by glue and spit. Labor unrest exploded over pay cuts, culminating in an 11-day strike in April 1980. The next year, Mr. Ravitch began wearing a bulletproof vest to work after someone fired a .22-caliber bullet into MTA headquarters and struck a transit cop in the groin.

After relentless lobbying in Albany, Washington and on Wall Street, Mr. Ravitch prevailed: By 1982, he won approval to sell fare-backed bonds, coaxed new revenues out of tax-credit schemes with private businesses, and set in motion a multi-billion dollar "Marshall Plan" of capital improvements that kept the subways running.[...]

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.