No city in the world has seen more intense political battles between bosses and reformers than New York, which is home to America's original party machine, Tammany Hall, and its most spectacular urban corruption scandals. In these battles, reformers have always presented themselves as white knights, gallantly crusading for good government against the petty and corrupt hacks who are driven by self-interest. So it remains today. But, as The Scandal of Reform makes clear, this good versus evil storyline is mostly mythù an urban legend perpetuated by a reform community that has always been more selfrighteous than right and more interested in power than in democracy.
The Scandal of Reform pulls the curtain back on New York's reformers past and present, revealing the bonds they have always shared with the bosses they disdain, the policy failures they still refuse to recognize, and the transition they have made from nonpartisan outsiders to ideological insiders.
Francis S. Barry examines the evolution of political reform from the frontlines of New York City's recent reform wars. He offers an insider's account and analysis of the controversial 2003 referendum debate on nonpartisan elections, and he challenges reformersùand members of both partiesùto reconsider their faith in reforms that are no longer serving the public interest.