David Dinkins

On What Makes New York Great:
I have to confess that sometimes as we travel about the city and we have gridlock traffic because we are repairing roadways or something, I'm reminded of the expression someone said some time ago -- that New York would be a great city if they ever finished it. But it is a wonderful city, wonderful people. The people really are what make New York City great.

On New York As The Capital Of The World:
Some of us claim that New York City is the capital of the country, indeed the capital of the world. Now, that may be a bit much for those who don't come from New York, but clearly we are an important city for reasons of our cultural advantages. The art and culture that is New York, communications, finance, all these things help make up New York. The rest of the country should be happy that we are what we are.

On The Fiscal Crisis Of The 1970s:
I became City Clerk in 1975 and Herman Badillo, counseled bankruptcy. He advised that that was the way to go -- which many of us thought would be a terrible mistake because, who would do business with you again? Today, certain people file for bankruptcy, businesses and individuals, and it no longer has the stigma it once had. Now it's almost considered wise, a way to regroup and come back again. But certainly in 1975, 1976, 1977, that was not the image of one going bankrupt. Bankrupt meant you cannot pay your debts and that you owe more than you have. It would have been a terrible thing for the city to have done. We ultimately did get assistance from the Federal Government, but it was a loan guarantee. We borrowed money, it helped us with bonds and what not, and the Federal Government backed it, but it was a guarantee, it was not a grant. And we not only paid it off, but we paid it off ahead of time. We paid it off during Ed Koch's stewardship, and the Government made money on the City of New York. So it's a mistake for someone to think that they bailed New York out. They did assist us, for which we are grateful, but it's a mistake to say we bailed New York out by giving them a grant of money to help those poor people who throw it away on welfare. That was not the case.

On Robert Moses:
Robert Moses left a legacy. To be sure, we would not have had the kinds of development that we had, had he not behaved as he did. Which incidentally doesn't mean that it was necessarily a good thing to so behave. There was a lot of pain in the wake of some of the things that got accomplished and he fought with mayors and governors along the way, but he did achieve a lot of development that would not have occurred otherwise, and that no way could occur today.

David Dinkins
Photo: Joan Vitale Strong
A former Mayor of the City of New York, Dinkins's career in public service began in 1966 in the New York State Assembly. Prior to being elected President of the Borough of Manhattan in 1985, he served as President of the New York City Board of Elections and City Clerk. Dinkins was elected Mayor of New York City in 1989, serving a four-year term. Currently a professor in the practice of public affairs at Columbia University, and host of a weekly public affairs radio program, Dinkins graduated from Howard University and Brooklyn Law School.