Rudolph William Guliani, 107th Mayor of New York City, 1994 - 2001
On January 1, 1994, Rudolph W. Giuliani became the 107th Mayor of the City of New York; four years later, the city he inherited has undergone an unprecedented transformation. The early 1990's were a difficult period for urban centers across America, where the ravages of drugs and violence were most acutely felt and left the greatest number of casualties. Nowhere was this more the case than in New York City. While cynics declared the city ungovernable, New Yorkers yearned for change.
Rudolph Giuliani was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1944, the son of working class Italian immigrants. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Manhattan College in the Bronx, and New York University Law School, graduating magna cum laude. In 1970, Giuliani joined the office of U.S. Attorney and was later named Chief of the Narcotics Unit before becoming Executive US Attorney. He was named Associate Deputy Attorney General in 1975, and after spending three years in private practice, was named Associate Attorney General in 1981. Giuliani was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1983, earning national acclaim for his prosecution of organized crime figures, drug kingpins, and white collar criminals. In 1989, Giuliani ran for mayor and was defeated by David Dinkins.
Giuliani ran again for mayor in 1993, this time as the candidate of the Republican, Liberal, and Independent—Fusion parties. His message of fiscal responsibility and attention to quality of life concerns resonated with New Yorkers, who elected him over incumbent David Dinkins. Giuliani used the occasion of his inauguration to stake out an ambitious agenda for change, and to reach out to New Yorkers by touring the five boroughs. He called upon New Yorkers to "look anew" at their city: "Dream with me of a city that can be better than the way it is now. Believe with me that our problems can be reduced, not magically resolved. Plan with me to make the realistic changes that will actually make people's lives better than they are right now, and work hard with me to apply these plans to improve our city."
Between 1990 and 1993, the murder rate in the city averaged 2,000 a year, 340,000 jobs disappeared or moved elsewhere, and taxes were increased $1.5 billion. Upon taking office, Giuliani set out to reverse New York City's downward spiral and improve the overall quality of life.
To reduce crime, he implemented a "zero tolerance" approach, placing an emphasis on enforcing laws against nuisance crimes as well as serious offenses. Since 1993, the city has experienced an unprecedented 44 percent drop in overall crime and a 61 percent drop in murder, making New York the safest large city in America.
To stimulate the city's stagnated economy, Giuliani reduced the tax burden by eliminating the Commercial Rent Tax in most areas of the city, reducing the Hotel Occupancy Tax, and eliminating the Unincorporated Business Tax. As a result of these targeted tax cuts, the hotel and tourism industries are thriving, 180,000 private sector jobs have been created, and a national financial magazine named New York City the most improved American city in which to do business. Giuliani also cracked down on organized crime to lift the illegal tax the mob had exacted on certain New York City industries for generations. As a result, the Fulton Fish Market, the carting industry, and the city's main convention center have been liberated from organized crime, saving businesses and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Faced with a $2.2 billion budget gap upon taking office, Giuliani lowered projected spending by $7.8 billion through a series of cost cutting measures and productivity improvements. He reduced the city's payroll by over 20,000 jobs without layoffs. He kept the rate of spending below the rate of inflation for the first time in New York City history and created a $500 million reserve fund.
In 1993, 1.1 million New Yorkers were receiving welfare. To bring an end to a philosophy that encouraged dependency on public assistance, Giuliani implemented the largest workfare program in the nation. Since his welfare reforms were enacted in March of 1995, 340,000 people have been moved off the rolls, saving $650 million annually in city, state and federal funds. To date, 175,000 people have completed the Work Experience Program, which provides welfare recipients with training to find permanent employment.
Giuliani is also credited with introducing a new level of accountability and higher standards of performance into the school system. Working with Board of Education Chancellor Rudolph Crew, school based budgeting has been enacted, providing for an accurate account of Board of Education spending. New programs aimed at providing computers, arts education, and tutoring, have also been implemented. Reading and math scores are now on the rise. Giuliani is also negotiating to have the Police Department assume responsibility for creating a safe environment in New York City's public schools.
Giuliani's sweeping reforms and hands-on style of leadership have prompted many comparisons to Fiorello LaGuardia [in fact, one of Giuliani's first official acts as chief executive was to move LaGuardia's desk back into the Mayor's Office]. Pledging to wage a comprehensive assault on drug abuse, and vowing to sustain and improve upon the successes of his first term, Giuliani ran for reelection to a second term in 1997. With the support of an unprecedented coalition of city leaders that transcended political, religious and ethnic affiliations, Giuliani defeated Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger — making him only the second Republican reelected as mayor since Fiorello LaGuardia.