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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 5, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with david dinkins, the former mayor of new york city who has put down what he has learned in more than five decades in a new text called "a mayor's life." we are glad you have joined us with former mayor david dinkins coming up right now.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: being the mayor of new york is called the second most difficult job in america. he just chronicled his life and times governing new york's gorgeous mosaic. i'd add you back on the program, sir. glad to have you
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back on the program, sir. we will get straight to the text. there is a major race happening in the city of new york. michael bloomberg got the city council to give him a third term. herself in terms of being the next mayor, but one of those finalists got his start working for you. tell me you have endorsed and take it away. >> i endorse bill thompson, the past controller. mike bloomberg did pretty well. lost by four or five points. but the mayor spent over $100 million. billorsed him again, but
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one. he worked in our office in city hall and worked with bill lynch, known to many as a rumpled genius. it brought him along as he has done so many others. bill is dead now and has his reward. but he has left quite a legacy. >> you endorse him now that he is one of the two finalists? >> absolutely. i called them on election night and congratulated him, offering to do whatever i could the help. -- to help. he not only worked for us, but his wife did, too. she worked in our speech office. the office of the reporters, the news office. she was terrific.
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very pleased that they are together. i suppose the whole world knows about dante and his afro. tavis: you are the first african-american mayor, but he is married to annette -- an african-american woman and his son has a huge afro. the president gave his afro a shout out. most multicultural ever,ltiracial new york there has only been one african- american mayor? the same is true in l.a., but we are talking about new york. there clearly have been people equal to the task. the aforementioned bill thompson
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is one of them. there are others who did not seek the office. patterson once ran for lieutenant governor of new york and 161 out of 62 counties. mayor undera deputy ed koch. there are just a number of people that have not sought the office. in 88, you may recall that jesse did better than any other second place candidate. those persons that we got registered voted for me in 1989.
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it was a four-way race. the metropolitan transit authority. the most articulate and knowledgeable person i have ever encountered. the conventional wisdom was that we would not win. you have to get 40% to avoid a runoff. election, general 9/11 has not yet occurred. a margin of only 50,000. >> to what do you attribute that?
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my response was always, why do you ask? the answer, i believe, is racism. we lost by about the same margin in 1990. in the book i mentioned racism, but that is not the total reason. in 1989 if have one a lot of white folks had not voted or me. laterainly did not lose of the solely because black that did not vote for me. well insm is alive and our country and certainly new york. it is not as bad as it once was.
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dr. king'sy that dream has not yet been realized and things are not what they need to be. but thank god would they are not what they used to be. fors: but the current race the mayor of new york is bringing back some of that rancor of years ago. times, he worked for you, others hung out with mr. giuliani. the giuliani and dinkins thing all over again. >> if it is a rerun of the giuliani and dinkins years, i hope it's '89, when i won. tavis: all jokes aside, going
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through the text, i have been honored and blessed to have .nown you there is a rub that is often associated with you. crime was out of control, racism was out of control. i got the sense that whatever you did right, you did not get the credit for it. >> >> that is one of the reasons that we did this book. i assumed office in january the first of 1990.
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the way some people write about it, you would think there was no when ed koch was mayor. was rampant crime during those years and there are a lot of reasons for it. but what we did was to turn to what you call community policing. get cops out of their patrol cars and onto the street. and it worked well. the current police commissioner of new york was the first deputy police commissioner for the first year or so of my administration.
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i appointed him police windley brown had to step down because his wife was ill. they did every job from cadet to commissioner. he is a colonel in the marine corps and i was a private first class. as a matter of fact, i love to tell the story about how and one .ccasion, i greeted him my said, i have a title of own and i outrank you. petty officer first class united states coast guard reserve. she has been elevated to chief. if you encounter for anna veronicacall her -- kelly, call her chief and she
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will know you have been talking to me. tavis: you talk about any number of race incidents. in fact, it casts a light over you that did not shine so brightly about the way you handled some of these race incidents. the crown heights is a serious situation by far. motorcade, where the the driver lost control and struck two little black children. word went around the community very rapidly. take away the whites injured and
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left the black children to die. it was not true. that, a result of divinity student was attacked and stabbed by a gang of blacks. him in the hospital and were told he was going to be all right. the physicians had overlooked a second wound. spread around the community, they were in quite a combat. permitting blacks to attack jews. that is not true and not what
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happened. i took too long before i said to the police, whatever you are doing, it isn't working. let's get this under control. best in the world at riot situations and they did not do a good job on that occasion. i accept the blame and the buck stops here. we did do a lot of things right. we brought crime down as early as 91. we spent $47 million keeping the library open six days a week. it may not sound like much, but thatould when i remind you
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hadpublic library system not had six-day service for a quarter-century. t safe city program helped us and produce beacon schools. schools beyond the hours of instruction that did things, programs designed by the community and paid for by the city. not only for the young people. not just in new york.
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at least call them something else. in our effort to produce the united states tennis center. re,ei e were able to do that is what you have to do. we did such a great job that that u.s. open generates more .evenue years is northe of $700 million. tavis: since you are talking and theur successors,
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poles and the clay -- polls indicate who will written this -- win this race. mike bloomberg gets high marks, generally speaking, for quality of life issues. i think he has utterly missed the boat. issues of race and class. that is what you see being played out in this enthusiasm that he has around him right now. takee feel he is going to on the issue of race and class in new york. give me your assessment of what you would be saying to ask how to navigate issues of race and class.
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>> well, first, overall, he's been a good mayor and did a good job. i think he made a serious error of judgment seeking a third term. they change the law in order to achieve that. error andat was an that may be the first time i have said that publicly. it,ld him before he did that it would negatively impact his legacy. and it has. it may have cost the election. if you have $30 billion that you made yourself, it is hard to not believe you are the smartest guy in the room. and he is a pretty smart fella that does a lot of good things.
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i recall introducing him on one .ccasion some years ago i made it a point in my introduction that i did not know , and ioing to get to do made the observation that mike bloomberg was a philanthropist before his involvement with government and politics. that counts for something with me. i know that i had a consumer affairs commissioner that wanted to do something about smoking. the way he was attacking it, they were going to take down the were and ballparks that right on camera much of the time advertising cigarettes. we did not get very far with that. mike has done that. you don't smoke in public places in new york anymore.
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people have gotten used to it. never bothered me, anyways, since i quit smoking in 1962. , including smokers, agreed that he was right about that. quantity of the sugary drinks that one can purchase has not been nearly as well received. overall, he has done a pretty good job. i failed to mention his situation with respect to race. and i taken a heavy hit have to tell you when i am asked is -- in my response any segment of our society,
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police, firefighters, school teachers, there is a certain percentage that will not follow the rules and will miss behave. maybe with one segment of our society it is one percent. group might be me, doter once said to i think that what happens is there are some police use stop anddon't frisk in an appropriate fashion. they may decide because of one's skin color.
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tavis: he has been absolutely stubborn about that. --he needs to it knowledge located as you know, a few years ago, he was stopped by police
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officers. they should have known who he was. had they known, they certainly wouldn't have stopped him. and ray kelly had done this, they would have run you out of new york city. they would not have tolerated a mayor of color approving that. right.are probably i will accept that, too. tavis: let me get back to the book. how would you like for your to be viewed? i wasould hope that
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remembered as somebody who liked people, especially children. love kids and i maintain that they are our future. them the ability to achieve their potential. we don't own this planet, we hold it in trust for them. >> kind of hard to talk to the former mayor and on the eu of the mayor's race, to not get his thoughts on the current state of life in new york. i want to thank the mayor for taking all those questions about life in new york and i want to celebrate and thank him for coming on to talk about his book thomas beating about the stuff we wanted to know about years after being the mayor of the city of new york. a gorgeous mosaic that he said over and over again. new york city is a gorgeous mosaic and indeed, it is.
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we are honored to have the chance to see you serve. thanks for coming on the program again. >> thank you, buddy. ands: thanks for watching as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with award-winning journalist eric schlosser about command and control, nuclear safety. we will see you then. captioned by the national captioning institute >> and by contributions to your
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pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs. >> be more. pbs.
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good morning and welcome to forum. i'm michael krasny. hello, i'm dave iverson. 20 years ago in the winter of 1993 michael krasny hosted his first forum program. he has been at it ever since conducting conversations with the authors and artists, leaders and innovators, scientists and scholars who shape life in the bay area, the nation, and the world. a conversation that's also a daily exchange with all of you. michael is also the author of three books, including "off mike: a memoir of talk radio and literary life." and since 1970 he has been a professor of english at san francisco


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