If you were paying attention.
I recently read Robert Fitch’s The Assassination of New York, which is about the transformation of New York City and was published in 1993. It’s always fascinating to see how and if ‘current events’ books hold up years later. Fitch’s work does, in that he describes how gentrification was happening and would continue to happen in NYC. He also places that gentrification in a larger economic context, one that a quarter of a century later has been forgotten by most urban planners, even the ‘good guys.’
But that’s not what this post is about, it’s about Il Trumpe. Fitch mentions Trump when describing the 1980s (p. 164):
Just about the same time Twentieth Century Task Force was promoting the idea of New York as the capital of the world, Donald Trump was articulating his own more free-wheeling brand of globalism. The customer Trump had in mind for his Tower on 57th Street was not
the sort of person who inherited money 175 years ago and lives on 84th and Park Avenue…I’m talking about the wealthy Italian with the beautiful wife and the red Ferrari.
Trump explained he filled up his condos so fast with Europeans, South Americans, Arabs, and Asians, anxious to avoid being vetted by snooty co-op boards that he was able to double the offering prices.
Trump Tower’s global dimensions were genuine, if not exactly those emphasized by Mr. Trump himself. It was built with the help of illegal Polish aliens hired off the books to remove asbestos at a fraction of union scale. Naturally, Trump said he liked their work ethic. On some days, hundreds, even thousands, of workers from Poland and elsewhere around the globe “stood in lines down the street, waiting, begging” for jobs at Trump Tower. And, shades of Zoe Baird, Trump would later testify he didn’t even know what “off-the-books” meant. Welcome to what academics called the Global City’s “informal sector.”
Trump Tower’s globalism was also manifested in the disproportionate number of its residents who belonged to international crime syndicates. There was David Bogatin–the Russian émigré crime family member who bought five condos. And Robert Polo who bought half a dozen while he faced charges “in more countries than most people have visited.” They joined Luchese and other crime family associates, who, while they have been in New York a while, still retain a certain international panache.
People knew he was a bagman. If both the media and professional Democrats hadn’t sucked at their jobs, maybe 2016 would have been different.