City in Crisis – New York in 1975-76
Producer, Reporter, Narrator: Gail Pellett
Presented by: WBAI-FM, New York
Aired on: Pacifica Newwork     Date: 1976

In 1975, New York City faced a debilitating fiscal crisis — government employees, teachers, firemen, librarians and social service providers  suffered lay-offs.  Hospitals and fire stations closed.  Libraries reduced their hours, senior centers closed.  And people felt a real pinch in rising rents.   These were hard times in the city.  Brought on by poor accounting practices and and loans.  The city begged for federal help  indicating that if New York failed financially it would have countrywide and international ramifications, but then President Gerald Ford turned the request down.  Hence the famous New York Post headline:  Ford to City, Drop Dead.

A consortium of fiscal experts were identified to create a special commission – the Municipal Assistance Corporation or otherwise known as Big MAC —  to reform accounting practices, negotiate with unions and place the city on sound fiscal footing again, a process that took several years.  Felix Rohatyn, wizard financier from Lazard, steered MAC and the re-financing process for  years.

Weaving interviews with people on the street, housing advocates, students, teachers, librarians, firemen, and social agency workers with experts in the field of urban planning and economics, this documentary explores the context and consequences of the fiscal crisis.

Felix Rohatyn, Director, Municipal Assistance Corporation

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