life in NYC

michael perelman michael at
Fri Jul 17 08:29:47 PDT 1998

KPFA interviewed a small newpaper owner from Jackson, Miss. which has gone much further.

Doug Henwood wrote:

> I had the New York City street artist Robert Lederman on my radio show last
> night. Lederman has been arrested 33 times for such grave offenses as
> selling paintings on the sidewalk, handing out leaflets, holding up signs,
> organizing demos, and, perhaps the gravest offense of all, drawing pictures
> of Rudy Giuliani with a Hitler moustache. Lederman is rightly obsesed with
> the privatization of public space and the corporatization of everything - a
> worldwide phenomenon, for sure, but which is very advanced here in Rudy's
> New York. Giuliani, for example, has essentially privatized Central Park,
> turning it over to a foundation led by right-wing hedge fund hotshot
> Richard Gilder (a major contributor to Gingrich's Progress & Freedom
> Foundation, and a large stockholder in the ill-fated ValuJet airline).
> According to Lederman, hundreds of people are arrested in Central Park
> every week now for "quality of life" infractions, which include,
> apparently, the crime of having black or brown skin. It is now illegal to
> give a speech in Central Park without a permit, to have a gathering of more
> than 20 people without a permit, and even to carry a protest sign without a
> permit. Rudy has also banned demos in front of City Hall - despite the fact
> that he himself led a near-riot of drunken cops making racist noises about
> ex-Mayor David Dinkins in City Hall Park when he was first running against
> Dinkins.
> Also, big chunks of the city have been turned over to Business Improvement
> Districts (BIDs) - private quasi-governments run by capital, who handle
> sanitation and "security." Lots of the folks arrested for QOL violations
> end up sentenced to community service, which often means sweeping and
> painting for the BIDs. Rudy's been steadily replacing unionized city
> workers with various forms of low- and unpaid workers - workfare people
> clean the parks and sweep the streets, a private foundation (the Doe Fund)
> has been putting ex-druggies to work emptying trashcans on the Upper West
> Side (they're paid, but not much, and required to enroll in a forced
> savings program to teach the bourgeois virtues), and the QOL folks are
> slaving away for the BIDs in a way that would make a Mississippi jailer
> proud.
> Though there's been a bit more grumbling over the last few months about the
> Disneyfication of New York, the broad nature of this crackdown hasn't
> provoked all that much notice, much less opposition. Lederman's trying
> hard, and the ACLU has been filing some lawsuits, but the ruling class has
> been solidly behind Rudy. Of course there was some embarrassment when his
> workfare guy said on TV the other week that "work makes you free"; evoking
> the slogan over the entrance to Auschwitz is not a way to make friends in
> New York.
> Is anything like this going on elsewhere in the country?
> Doug

-- Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321 E-Mail michael at

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