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"At Others' Expense": article draft by Roosevelt Fitzgerald




1980 (year approximate) to 1989 (year approximate)


From the Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers (MS-01082) -- Drafts for the Las Vegas Sentinel Voice file. On New York Mayor Ed Koch's policies.

Digital ID



man001019. Roosevelt Fitzgerald Professional Papers, 1890-1996. MS-01082. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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OCR transcription





How soon we forget.
Sometimes one has to wonder if some people are indeed who they say they are or if they seek revenge on others because of something which might have happened to them or someone in their family or even in their ancestry.
A long time ago—another lifetime it seems--! tried my hand at learning to play football. I didn't know anything about the game and everything that I did was wrong. I am convinced that the only reason the coach kept me around was that I was bigger and stronger than any of the other guys. I guess he figured that if he could manage to teach me even a little bit it would help the team. In the meantime, however, he was called upon to explain and demonstrate things to me over and over again. At the end of the first couple of weeks though, he took me to the side, gazed at me for the longest time and then said; "The next thing that you do right will be the first."
His comment did not bother me overly much and he did not intend it in any mean way. Both of us knew that I was a novice and was attempting to grasp something totally alien to me. After a few more weeks it all began to come together and I was making tremendous progress. I got better and better and the coach complimented me every day. That is the process things usually take—start at scratch and keep getting better all the time. Every now and again an anomaly to that process raises its head. I can think of no better example than that found in New York City.
Of course I'm making reference to the mayor of that place. He seems to be regressing at every turn. Rather than getting better and better, he is indeed becoming worse and worse.
A mayor is supposed to unify a city--bring people together for the good of the community. A mayor represents the entire populus and not just those who resemble him/her or who voted for them. Every candidate campaigns by building a const!tuency--a following—a cadre of citizens who will cast their votes for him. In the final analysis, the candidate with the greater number of votes takes office. This does not mean to imply that those who voted for the losers must get out of town. It also does not mean to suggest that the great mass of the population which is under eighteen years of age and not qualified to become registered voters are beyond the protections of the law or not included in the considerations of those elected. Also, there are always those who meet the qualifications but for one reason or another are unregistered—they are not fossilized until the next election when they manage to become registered. Finally, there are those thousands of people who meet every requirement but one- permanent address. Those that we euphemistically call "street people" are not unceremoniously disenfranchised.
Now, about the New York mayor and his treatment of those people. For many reasons and most of them legitimate, those people are homeless. They have had everything either taken away or lost or stolen. While they were mesmerized by their own personal traumas the world went on and they cannot find a place to latch on to.
They are surrounded by great wealth and prosperity. They can see it, hear it, smell it but they cannot feel, touch or experience any part of it. They are almost lost but they're doing the best they can. If they could, they would be in a nice home with filled cupboards and refrigerators and freezers. They would have nice clothes and they would be showered and shaved and combed and "normal." But they're not any of that. They
are at the mercy of others--of strangers who do not have overly much them-
selves but who, some of them, share a bit of what little they have and they recognize that "there, but for the grace of God, go (they)."
The mayor wants to make it against the law for people to beg. He wants to drive them off the streets. He's convinced that such people are a blight upon the community--that they are ugliness personified and that they make the city look bad.
I would guess that the mayor must be about sixty years old or so. He experienced the depression years either as a bystander or a participant. He must have seen some of the "hoovervilles" and soup lines and "hobos" hopping freight trains. He must have heard and seen people asking; "Say buddy can you spare a dime?" or "Say brother can you help me out?"
If that's not enough, then I'm certain he has known Jews who were caught up in the Holocaust. Those six million human beings that the world allowed those atrocities to happen to while it stood idly by being more concerned about appearances--about protocol—about a bunch of stuff that while it might have been important should have been put on a back burner because there were millions of people dying and who could not wait for things to sort themselves out in some prearranged interval. More specifically, he must have heard about Warsaw, Poland and the Warsaw ghetto where Jews were herded and kept in worse conditions than animals. Where they were crowded one on top of the other with never enough food or heat or water or any of the other basic things that human beings need in order to live a decent life. He must have heard some of the survivors who told tales of death, dying, pestilence, disease, suffering, crying babies, children, women and men. He must have seen the pictures of people curled up next to building for warmth with haggard looks, socket eyes, and skulls only covered by the thinest membrane of skin imaginable. He must have
choked up at the sight of skeletons covered with skin and dead on the
streets waiting for a cart to come along, shovel them up, carry them off to mass graves and be covered with lime and covered up while their oppressors had a field day and the mayor of that city make wise cracks.
I haven't always known about Koch and even after I first found out about his mere existance he was just another mayor of the "big apple." He did not really matter to me one way or the other because I had no data on him. As I acquired data I began to determine that I did not really like the man but I could not pin down any particular reason. Then there was the Jesse Jackson episode and I get really upset when people fire off blasts at our eagles. I began to think that the man was a racist. Then there was the Irish episode where he said one thing today and something totally different the next day. I began to think that he was impetuous. Then there was the thing about pan-handlers on the streets of New York. I began to think he was uncaring. Then I read his book. The man is an egotistical maniac who just happens to also be arrogant with no reason. Then I saw an advertisement for the old "Munsters" television show that featured grandpa and I knew then that the mayor had missed his calling.
I'm glad he exists. He makes me happy to be the way I am.