Following his death on August 9th at the age of 72, Bill Lynch is rightly being recognized for his legendary role in New York and national politics - as the architect of David Dinkins's historic 1989 election as Mayor of New York City, as the "rumpled genius" to whom countless politicians turned for advice, and as mentor for legions of up-and-coming political organizers and activists. It's an extraordinary legacy - made all the more remarkable by his devotion to what then-Mayor Dinkins called New York City's "gorgeous mosaic".
I had the pleasure - and it was truly a pleasure - of working with Bill Lynch, when he was Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs and I was CEO of New York City's hosting of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. It was a pleasure, because Bill had certain standards that needed to be met; he made those very clear, and, if they were being met, he was always pleased to see you and always willing to help when challenges arose. It's impossible to think of him now without seeing him smiling broadly, conveying fully that you were allies in an important shared endeavor.
In the case of the convention, he wanted the event to reflect well on the city and the Mayor, he cared that the Democratic Party be happy with its choice of New York, and he wanted the convention's hosting to reflect the breadth and diversity of the city. It needed to involve and highlight the city's gorgeous mosaic - and that mosaic was broad: not just ethnicities but geographies, categories of business, and more.
Under his watchful eye, those of us orchestrating the hosting of the convention took the required opening reception for delegates and converted it into 56 delegation parties spread across all five boroughs, so that the delegates would visit a wide variety of cultural institutions and neighborhoods, not just midtown Manhattan. That would, in turn, produce business opportunities for catering companies and other service providers in those neighborhoods.
We then created promotional events that increased business opportunities even further, and their success is evident in the fact that three of those events still promote New York City more than 20 years later. Those events are Restaurant Week, which started with a $19.92 prix fixe lunch; Broadway on Broadway, the free outdoor concert promoting the Broadway season, and Fashion Week, which got its start as "New York Is Fashion", with convention delegates invited to join in the first time that New York City's major fashion houses gathered under one tent to show their creations. The question for Bill was always: How could the greatest number of New Yorkers benefit from the city's hosting of the convention?
Bill's commitment to the gorgeous mosaic is similarly clear from the roster of political candidates for whom he worked: Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, David Dinkins, Fernando Ferrer, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, John Liu, Carl McCall, David Paterson - to name just a few.
Bill Lynch was the quintessential New Yorker - not just because he was so embroiled in its politics, so influential in its political life, but because he embraced the entire city: its mixture of people, ideas and points of view. He loved the give-and-take of it, and he always took pleasure in the fact that he had somehow put himself in the middle of it all. His smile was broad and knowing - it conveyed the pleasure of being in the thick of New York, working with friends on the latest effort to increase social justice, and advancing further the gorgeous mosaic.
When Bill Lynch died, NYC Restaurant Week 2013 was taking place with more than 300 restaurants participating: still promoting the city that he loved, still carrying forward Mayor Dinkins' legacy, still demonstrating that as many people as possible should have an opportunity to benefit from the city's success. If I had been able to remind him of that, it would have brought a broad smile to his face.
The author is Chief Operating Officer of the New York City-based public relations firm Goodman Media International.