NY mayor will greet Reagan warmly while labor turns a cold shoulder
With a great deal of fanfare, President Reagan will visit the Big Apple on Labor Day to give a new sign of his administration's support for the nation's largest city -- a check for $85 million.
The check represents the federal "down payment" on the planned construction of Westway, the controversial Manhattan highway project.
But behind the outward delight with the president's visit, many officials, including Mayor Edward I. Koch, who earlier had supported the President's budget and tax cuts, are turning decidedly sour on "Reaganomics."
According to the most recent figures from Mayor Koch's Washington office, the effect of the federal cutbacks will result in the loss of $653 million from New York's operating and capital budgets this fiscal year.
The National Governors Association has estimated that the Reagan budget will cost states about $12 billion in reduced aid, a major portion of which eventually would have been passed on to big-city coffers.
But despite the cool winds that usually blow off the East River outside Gracie Mansion the mayor's official residence, the President's reception will be warm when he meets Koch here Sept. 7.
There are several reasons for the mayor's cordiality. For one thing, this is the first official meeting of the two men in New York since last August when then-candidate Reagan said he would vote for Koch for mayor even if Koch "was running on a laundry ticket."
The President's high opinion of Mayor Koch has to a large extent been reciprocated by the Mayor. While taking issue with the specific nature of some of the President's budget cuts, the mayor has lauded Reagan for having the courage and foresight to try to trim federal fat even as he (Koch) has tried to do at the city level.
It is no secret among top Koch aides that when the mayor meets the President, "he's going to be in their with hat in hand," as one of the aides puts it. The mayor is expected to broach the subject of cuts in mass transit funds to see if there is a possibility that some of these cuts can be restored down the line.
Meanwhile, no matter how warm the President's reception at Gracie Mansion, it won't offset organized labor's cold shoulder. The President has not been invited to the city's first Labor Day parade in 13 years. which is being sponsored by local affiliates of the AFL-CIO. Predictably, many of the striking air traffic controllers will be marching down Fifth Avenue in protest of the administration's handling of the strike.
Harry Avrutin of the city's Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO, says the absence of an invitation should not be considered a "snub" to the President. He went on to say, however, that he and other labor leaders hope the President will soon have a change of heart about the striking controllers.