Saturday, November 23, 2013

NYC History, Past Campaigns and Obituaries 475

A Muckraker Who Was Eulogized Even by His Targets (NYT)  “Our credo must be the exposure of the plunderers, the steerers, the wirepullers, the bosses, the brokers, the campaign givers and takers … So I say: Stew, percolate, pester, track, burrow, besiege, confront, damage, level, care.”  — Wayne R. Barrett, 1945-2017, on his prayer card

 - a hero to us all -in the battle between  & -Pwrful, has earned respect & a 🇺🇸👏

Barrett earned his social consciousness medal the hard way, living and working in Brownsville in the 70-80s, one of the city’s most impoverished places
The muck he raked: Remembering Wayne Barrett (NYDN) He was a repository of a vast trove of knowledge on city politics, wrested from a galaxy of inside sources. He was, we know from personal experience, a gracious and generous man.  Most meaningfully, he was a methodical and unforgiving hunter of truth and pursuer of justice in a city and state where the powers that be often go to extraordinary lengths to conceal truth and serve self over public.   In decades of reporting and writing, mostly for the Village Voice but also for the Daily News and other outlets, he uncovered, in granular detail:
The corruption that riddled the late mayoralty of Ed Koch.
The rise of Rudy Giuliani as mob-busting Manhattan U.S. attorney and his descent as mayor into the depths of vindictiveness.
The compromising entanglements of Sen. Al D’Amato.
The crimes of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The twisted trail of real-estate deals that vaulted Donald Trump into celebrity status, and dragged him down into bankruptcy.

With every breath, he seethed with something close to rage over how the wealthy and connected wield their influence to pervert the priorities of those entrusted with serving the public. He dropped out of seminary but carried with him a righteous furor at those who put their own bank accounts and careers before their duty to the poor and the weak and the rest of us who play by the rules. Wayne Barrett was more than a colleague. Wayne Barrett was a paragon.

There Goes Wayne Barrett  (Village Voice) When Barrett's investigation of the South Bronx city councilman Ramon  Velez's land holdings took him to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Velez (right) went after him with a broomstick.
Wayne Barrett, Who Taught Me Everything, Is Gone JustWhen We Need Him Most (NY Mag) Talking politics with Wayne Barrett was like flipping through the index of New York’s underbelly, his memory a truck-tire-size Rolodex of misdeeds, with pattern recognition coded to political networks. Wayne could play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with any political figure or corruption scheme of the past 40 years, constructing a web of bad guys out of his head. And “they were almost always guys,” he’d say, smiling. After the deadlines had passed, Wayne would sit back and tell stories of what happens when you dig deep. In the mid-’80s, when he was on the trail of a corrupt city-council member named Ramon Velez, the politician (who was a 300-pound man) tried to strangle him in Puerto Rico. Following Donald Trump around Atlantic City in 1991, Barrett was arrested, charged with defiant trespass, and chained by the arm to a cell mate who masturbated all night. Another time, when he came to question a few men in a parking garage, they held his face inches from the revved-up tire of a car because he was investigating their boss. In his memoir, Senator Al D’Amato called Wayne “a viper.” He drove Donald Trump crazy. All the bad guys hated him, which is how you knew he was a hero.

What I learned from Wayne Barrett (Errol Louis, NYDN) But the heart of the paper, for me, was the restless and relentless investigations of Barrett, who died Thursday, and the late Jack Newfield. Week after week, they chronicled a city where crime was rising, housing was crumbling and grassroots heroes were desperately trying to save neighborhoods from predatory landlords, indifferent judges and corrupt politicians. Barrett not only named and shamed individual pols; his stories amounted to a running commentary on their clubs, cronies and connections, making clear who was swapping favors and sweetheart deals in the back rooms. His work on the scandals of the Koch administration in the 1980s, summarized nicely in the classic book “City for Sale,” remains the gold standard of how to explain the way political power operates.  Lesson learned. With Barrett, every lie from people in power was a personal affront, to be resented, remembered and reported. It was the right and necessary way to do journalism in the 80s. These were years when borough presidents doubled as all-powerful party bosses, controlling the nomination of judges, councilmembers and state lawmakers and simultaneously serving on the Board of Estimate, which voted on virtually all city contracts.  Backroom bribery followed as day follows night, and a maelstrom of corruption swept the city, with one borough president committing suicide and another getting packed off to prison. A key player in catching the crooks, as Barrett often reported, was an ambitious U.S. attorney named Rudy Giuliani.  Corruption in ever-changing forms remains a permanent challenge for democracy, and news organizations are discovering, belatedly, that there is no substitute for the Barrett brand of newsgathering — methodical, relentless, with honesty, attitude and anger. That is how you tell the story of a great city. That is what my friend did every day, and I am grateful to have known and worked with him.

“Ours is the only profession paid to tell the truth.” The great Wayne Barrett 
Andrew Cuomo ‏@NYGovCuomo  Wayne was a truth finder and a truth teller. He was never afraid to speak truth to power, and those who listened were the better for it
Wayne Barrett, Tenacious NYC Reporter of Trump, Dead at71 (WNBC) nvestigative reporter Wayne Barrett, a scourge of New York City power brokers from Rudolph Giuliani to Mike Bloomberg during a decades-long career with the Village Voice and an early and tenacious chronicler of President-elect Donald Trump, died Thursday at age 71.  Barrett, who had been battling interstitial lung disease, died at NYU Langone Medical Center, his family told The Associated Press.  Starting in the 1970s, there was no more dedicated muckraker than the gruff, relentless Barrett, a self-described "country boy from Lynchburg, Virginia" and graduate of Columbia University's journalism school who evolved from founding a teen Republican group to becoming an impassioned leftist as an adult. Fellow journalists regarded him as a role model and even some politicians grudgingly acknowledged his skills and integrity.  "I tell the young people still drawn to this duty that it is the most honorable one in America, and that I have never met a corrupt journalist," Barrett wrote in his farewell column for the Voice, which laid him off at the end of 2010 after more than 30 years.  His many scoops ranged from the criminal past of Giuliani's father to the many votes missed by then-Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, who had accused the man who would defeat him for re-election in 1998, Democrat Charles Schumer, of similar lapses. Schumer would later say the revelation helped him win. D'Amato would call Barrett a "viper."   "Mr. Barrett has become the unrivaled master of long, dense articles about the unsavory side of New York's political culture," The New York Times wrote of him in 2011. 

"He has passed decades digging through government archives, court transcripts, property records, police blotters and campaign filings, weaving tales of corruption and hypocrisy involving union leaders, neighborhood power brokers, real estate developers, mayors and governors."  Few reporters knew Trump as well as did Barrett, whose death came less than a day before Trump was to be sworn in as the country's 45th president. He began covering the budding real-estate developer in the late 1970s and his expertise and the cache of records sitting in his basement drew dozens of reporters from around the world after Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015.  "The most remarkable thing is that the leading birther in the United States is succeeding this president (Obama), Barrett told "Democracy Now!" interviewer Amy Goodman shortly after Trump's stunning defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton. "It's just - I mean, I just - I can't imagine it."  

Barrett's "Trump: The Deals and the Downfalls," published in 1992, uncovered Trump's ties to various unsavory characters involved with the construction of Trump Tower, investigated claims of bias against prospective black tenants in Trump buildings and prompted gaming officials in New Jersey to probe various Trump associations. Barrett also wrote books on Giuliani and another New York mayor, Edward I. Koch, co-authored with his Voice mentor, the late Jack Newfield.  In recent years, he was a contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast and a fellow at The Nation Institute. He is survived by his wife, Fran; his son, Mac, and a legion of former Voice interns and Columbia graduate students whom he mentored.  Barrett's "Trump: The Deals and the Downfalls," published in 1992, uncovered Trump's ties to various unsavory charactersf involved with the construction of Trump Tower, investigated claims of bias against prospective black tenants in Trump buildings and prompted gaming officials in New Jersey to probe various Trump associations. Barrett also wrote books on Giuliani and another New York mayor, Edward I. Koch, co-authored with his Voice mentor, the late Jack Newfield.

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In recent years, he was a contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast and a fellow at The Nation Institute. He is survived by his wife, Fran; his son, Mac, and a legion of former Voice interns and Columbia graduate students whom he mentored.  "Atlantic City cops who doubled as part-time Trump security even confiscated my pocket tape recorder," he wrote. "When I was chained to the wall in an Atlantic City holding pen for hours that night - also by cops who were moonlight for Donald - I began to get the point: Trump had decided not to cooperate with this book."

 Wayne Barrett, Fierce Muckraker at The Village Voice, Dies at 71 (NYT)  In 37 years at The Village Voice, Mr. Barrett took on New York’s builders, landlords and politicians, among them Donald J. Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani.* Remembering Wayne Barrett, the journalist who changed mylife (NYDN) WayneBarrett, muckraking journalist and Trump biographer, dies at 71 (Washington Post) Mr. Barrett was a journalistic institution in New York, where he was dreaded if not loathed by the same public officials who, in occasional unguarded moments, conceded a certain respect for his intellect and doggedness on the trail.  He wrote for the Voice, the counterculture weekly with a reach that outpaces its modest circulation, from 1973 until he what he described in a New York Post column as his “sudden and involuntary end” amid budget woes in 2010. The New York Times called him “the junkyard dog of city political reporters who has drawn blood from generations of elected officials.” * RememberingWayne Barrett, in his own words * The (Ex) Voice of the Village Wayne Barrett Looks Back (NY

Barrett reserved his harshest criticism for TV news
"All of my life, I have believed and said, we're in the truth-telling business. Our job is to tell truth," he told CNN. "I can't say that anymore about broadcast journalism."

Michael Powell (@powellnyt): The Lion is dead. Wayne Barrett, best, most passionate of investigative reporters, has passed. Hard to believe that Life Force extinguished

Michael Benjamin   Rest in Peace, Wayne Barrett. You were a good and faithful servant to the public in the journalistic pursuit of justice and speaking truth to power.

Nat Hentoff An Institution of Social Justice
"Brilliant self effacing mensch who was one of my mentors at the Voice. You could debate any issue with him without name calling, denigrating each other or shouting... He always had time to talk, but wanted to know what YOU were working on and if there was anything he could do to help. He had a sharp sense of humor and was one of the most generous of men.. When I would call him to speak to my students, the answer was simple: when and where? They were enthralled by him and he stayed after class and graciously answered questions.. In New York Times speak, he was "laid off."   No, he was fired because he was considered too old, a form of discrimination that didn't seem to bother the alleged "leftists " remaining at the paper at the time, one of whom told me that Nat was a "dinosaur."  His age excluded him from being part of the liberals protected class.. Sadly, I knew too many intolerant "progressives " in 1986 who shunned him at the paper, refusing to even say good morning because they disagreed with some of his views. This was 30 years before Trumpism ruled the day. They couldn't get past their immature hatreds to see the whole of Nat.  The cable networks have exacerbated this bad behavior but it was alive and well on 13th street and Broadway in Greenwich Village, the capital of "liberal " thought.   America has lost an institution. I feel blessed to have had his support and friendship (even when we disagreed)." Jim Capalino

Daily News Cuomo's Plan for Penn Station Not Grand Meets Cash Reality
Well, he’s doing something: Cuomo's Penn Stationambitions meet cash reality (NYDN Ed) Proclaiming that New York had to once again build big and great, Gov. Cuomo in January announced that — ASAP —he would transform Penn Station into “a modern, iconic gateway to New York” fit for the 21st century. He pretended last week to keep his pledge with the resuscitation of decade-old plans to build a train hall in the Farley Post Office across the street. It’s a grand idea — and has been since Gov. Pataki selected the same developers to do much the same work because, as owners of many nearby properties, they have a viable financing scheme. They envision building an enormous public space, topped by a one-acre glass skylight, that would better accommodate Long Island Rail Road, NJTransit and Amtrak passengers who are interested in coming and going at the Eighth Ave. end of Penn Station. Without minimizing those virtues or the benefits of putting the rest of Farley to use, the project lacks the glory Cuomo advertised when he said Penn station “will be dramatically renovated.” While Cuomo vows that better is still to come for Penn, the immediate outcome explains why New York no longer builds big or great. Because it ain’t got the money.

Remembering Maggi Peyton Peyton, a New York political aide for more than forty years, died this week at the age of 82

Maggi Peyton, for more than 40 years the very model of the quintessential and indispensable behind-the-scenes New York City political aide, died at her Manhattan home on Wednesday, October 26, after a long illness.  She was 82 years old.  One of the closest of all the campaign staffers who helped advance the political fortunes (and manage the dispiriting defeats) of the late feminist icon Bella Abzug through many hard-fought state, city, and local election campaigns in the 1970s, Ms. Peyton was serving at her death as Director of Arts & Culture in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.  Remarkably, Ms. Brewer is the fourth Borough President for whom Ms. Peyton worked over the  course of some 35 years in city service, undoubtedly a New York City record for political appointees.  She had also served under former Borough President Andrew Stein—working also as a special assistant when he served as President of the New York City Council from 1986 through 1993—and more recently for Borough Presidents C. Virginia Fields and Scott M. Stringer, for each of whom she worked for eight years.  Ms. Peyton specialized for these Manhattan officials in community relations, staff management, the efforts to build community boards, and funding for both public and private cultural organizations. Ms. Peyton, a onetime ballet dancer and founding member of the Manhattan Women’s Political Caucus, originally set out to create a consulting firm to manage political campaigns and produce campaign literature.  Her earliest collaborators were young West Side Democratic insurgents Richard Morris, later an advisor to Bill Clinton, and Richard N. Gottfried, now the longest-serving member of the New York State Assembly.  Instead she went to work in 1975 for Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug’s unprecedented campaign for the U. S. Senate, tirelessly accompanying Bella over the next two years to all of the state’s 62 counties, and to innumerable late-night and weekend meetings, debates, and campaign rallies.  After Ms. Abzug narrowly lost the 1976 Democratic primary, Ms. Peyton played the same role—that of chief personal aide to the candidate— in the intensely fought but similarly unsuccessful Abzug for Mayor campaign of 1977.  She also worked informally for Ms. Abzug in her failed races for the East Side Congressional seat vacated by Mayor Ed Koch on the Upper East Side in 1978, and in a Congressional comeback bid from her onetime Westchester community in 1982.  Ms. Peyton also worked closely through the years with former New York State Lieutenant Governor Mary Anne Krupsak and former Carter White House official Margaret (Midge) Costanza.  In most of the campaigns she helped manage, Ms. Peyton was a key part of history-making efforts, promoting the first woman to run for the U. S. Senate from New York, the first to seek the mayoralty, and the first to serve in the state’s second-highest office. Famously tight-lipped about her bosses, politically sophisticated, intensely loyal, unflappably calm, and a brilliant vote counter in tight elections across the state, Ms. Peyton was also active in the West Side political club Community Free Democrats, and as president of the tenants’ association at Park West Village, her longtime residence.  In recent years, Ms. Peyton had been leading a battle to prevent or limit the size of a nursing home tower proposed for a small parking lot in front of her home at 784 Columbus Avenue.  She was also a founding and long-serving member of the board of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute (BALI), an organization specializing in training and empowering middle school-to-college-age girls from around the country, created by the late congresswoman’s daughter Liz.  At her death, Ms. Peyton was serving as BALI Treasurer. Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1934, Maggi Peyton attended Boston University and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Boston Conservatory.  She was married to the late J. Randolph Peyton, a singer who performed at the New York City Opera, with the Alvin Ailey Chorus, and at Town Hall, among other venues.  She is survived by her two sons, J. Randolph Peyton, Jr., and Sean Michael Peyton, along with Sean’s wife, Cheryl, and two grandchildren, Avalon and Cassidy.  Ms. Peyton was predeceased by her daughter Allegra.  A wake will be held Friday, October 28th, from 4pm to 8pm at Frank Campbell’s Funeral Home.  Funeral and burial will be private in Nashua, NH. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a special fund in her honor at the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, 105 Duane Street, #21C, NY NY 10007.  This article was written by Maggi Peyton’s longtime friend and co-worker, Harold Holzer, and a collection of coworkers and friends of Peyton.

A Pol From An Era When Albany Leaders Where Challenged and Communities, Voters Come First Has Died   
Frank J. Barbaro, Liberal New York Lawmaker, Dies at88 (NYT) Frank J. Barbaro, a former longshoreman and liberal state assemblyman from Brooklyn who was Edward I. Koch’s chief challenger for re-election to a second term as mayor of New York, died on Sept. 4 at his home in Watervliet, N.Y. He was 88. The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Mary, who is known as Patty, said.  Mr. Barbaro (pronounced BAR-ba-roe) was a liberal Democrat who won election as a legislator 12 times. But he also shattered some of the lances he wielded while championing sometimes quixotic causes during nearly 50 years as a candidate. He first ran, unsuccessfully, on an antiwar platform for the Assembly in 1968; last spring, he was elected as a  Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention from upstate New York. (He had moved to Watervliet, in Albany County, a decade ago.) In between, he lost elections for Brooklyn borough president, mayor and Congress. In the Legislature, Mr. Barbaro was a fierce advocate for organized labor, tenants and minorities. He later served for six years as a State Supreme Court justice. He attributed his political radicalization to the Vietnam War. After leading neighborhood rent strikes, he was elected in 1972 to the Assembly, where he was chairman of the Labor Committee and served through 1996.

The Media Only Covers Fort Greene Park When Some Burns A Flag Or Places A Bust There 

Clueless Protested Burning An American Flag On the Sacred Burial Ground of Revolutionary Colonists Who Died Fighting for Freedom from the King Of England 
Protesters tonight plan to burn an american flag tonight in Fort Greene Park in honor of those who died at the hand of Dylan Roof in the chruch in South Carolina.  The Facebook site says that Dylan Roof isn’t an isolated actor – he is a product of a consistent pattern of state-sponsored terrorism and racialized dehumanization in America.”  What the protesters did not understand or care about is the very park that they are holding their flag burning is the sacred burial ground of the colonists martyrs who died for the right to protested against their government. The Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial crypts are the resting grounds to the more than 11,500 New Yorkers, American prisoners of war who died in captivity aboard sixteen British prison ships during the American Revolutionary War.  More people died on those ships than in the entire revolutionary war (4100).  During the American Revolutionary War, which began in 1775, the British arrested scores of soldiers, sailors, and private citizens simply because they would not swear allegiance to the Crown of England. 

American Flag Burned Tonight Fort Green Park

Those apprehended were deemed by the British to be prisoners of war and were incarcerated. When the British ran out of jail space to house their POWs they began using decommissioned or damaged ships that were anchored in Wallabout Bay (near the Brooklyn Navy Yard) as floating prisons.    Life was unbearable on the prison ships, the most notorious of them being the Old Jersey – which was called "Hell" by the inhabitants. Disease was rampant, food and water were scarce or nonexistent, and the living conditions were horrendously overcrowded and wretched. 

NYPD Saves Protesters From Bikers
The cop-bashers who couldn’t protest straight (NYP)  Nothing says “rebel” quite like being saved from a pummeling by the men and women you’re protesting against. The anti-cop group “Disarm NYPD” staged a pre-Fourth of July flag-burning Wednesday night in Fort Greene Park — but the protesters’ plans went up in smoke when a group of furious bikers moved in to teach them a lesson. The activists had publicized the event as a response to “systemic racism” in NYPD policies. They originally intended to burn a Confederate flag to (somehow) make that point, then changed their minds, opting instead to light up Old Glory. “We maintain, unwaveringly, that both the Confederate flag and the American flag are symbols of oppression,” the group announced. But when the handful of protesters arrived at the park, they were met by dozens of counter-protesters equipped with water guns. Then members of the Hallowed Sons Motorcycle Club lit into the flag-burners — at which point New York’s Finest came to the rescue, sheltering the protesters and escorting them safely out of the park.Cops save anti-NYPD flag-burners from angry bikers (NYP)  Now, they probably love the cops. A group of flag-burning anti-NYPD protesters needed New York’s Finest to save their skin from a gang of angry bikers who tried to the pummel them in a Brooklyn park for setting Old Glory ablaze Wednesday.* Demonstrators confront American flag burners in Brooklyn — 'Tonight we're going to make sure there's a flag standing' (NYDN) * Brooklyn’s Obnoxious SecretFlag Burning Ends With a Whimper (Daily Beast)

CHESTNUT ROASTED Matt Stonie defeated 8-time champ Joey Chestnut in theNathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. (NYDN) * If one had money they could purchase food from the many entrepreneurs who rowed up to the boat to sell their wares. Otherwise, the meager rations would consist of sawdust laden bread or watery soup. A great number of the captives died from disease and malnutrition. Their emaciated bodies were either thrown overboard * Cop haters plan flag-burning rally at NYC park(NYP) * Planned Flag Burning In Fort Greene Park Is Meant ToCriticize Racism, Say Organizers (Fort Green Focus) * The mass grave for 11,500 in the middle of New York City ...  * The mass grave under Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park [WATCH ... * Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial, Brooklyn, New York * Prison Ship Martyrs Monument

A Treasure Trove of New York City's Historic Photos, Mapped

Fascinating Show About How NYC Became 'The Capitol of Everything' 

New construction is needed, the best of the past must be preserved, and the resulting conflicts and debates are unavoidable. Flashback The Surprising Role Jackie Kennedy Onassis Playedin Saving Grand Central * Protect the past and future as the city Landmarks Lawmarks 50 years (NYDN)

Pete Hamill on the 1977 Blackout 

Labor Leader Gotbaum Dies . . .  A Labor Leader Who Looked Out for the City's Well Being 
Victor Gotbaum, Labor Leader Who Helped Save New York From Bankruptcy, Dies at 93 (NYT) In 1975, New York was on the brink of default, and Mr. Gotbaum, as the main negotiator for the city’s unions, helped City Hall and creditor* Labor giant Victor Gotbaum dies (NYP) Victor H. Gotbaum, a shrewd and combative Brooklyn native who headed the nation’s largest municipal employees’ union for two decades and played a pivotal role in saving New York City from bankruptcy in 1975, died last night at the age of 93. His death was confirmed by his wife, former NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.* Victor Gotbaum, the City’s Shop Steward (NYT) It is hard not to be nostalgic for people like him who recognized the need for shared sacrifice.* Victor Gotbaum, 1921-2015 (NYP Ed)* Editorial: Victor Gotbaum, New York giant (NYDN) * Mayor de Blasio Hails Victor Gotbaum: 'A True New York City Warrior' (WSJ) * Michael Goodwin recalls the late NYC labor leader Victor Gotbaum, though he once called Gotbaum “irascible” in the early 1980s.* The late Victor Gotbaum's political choices as a cautionarytale of union power. (City Journal)
Most enduring Victor Gotbaum quote: “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.”
The Brooklyn Paramount to Rock Again

Renovation plan for LIU Paramount by Barclays team re-announced; revised capacity seems closer rivalry with Loew's Kings(AYR)  There's no much new in the press release yesterday Storied Brooklyn Paramount to Make Comeback, subtitled "Paramount Events Center to Restore Legendary Theater to its Former Glory in Partnership with LIU Brooklyn," compared with the news Billboard broke in January regarding the plan spearheaded by Barclays Center principals to renovate Long Island University's Brooklyn Paramount Theare.

Gadfly George Spitz RIP
George Spitz, Civic Gadfly Who Helped Transform Marathon, Dies at 92 (NYT) Mr. Spitz, who was a perennial, if not quixotic, candidate for public office, is credited with recasting the New York City Marathon from a Central Park race into a citywide event. George N. Spitz, a relentless gadfly who is credited with recasting theNew York City Marathon from a four-lap run around Central Park with 339 finishers to a celebratory five-borough race that has become the largest of its kind in the world, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 92. * Farewell to George Spitz, a New Yorker extraordinaire(NYDN) He was a perennial, if not quixotic, candidate for public office. And while he never won any of his campaigns, they gave him a platform from which to promote municipal improvements — including thwarting thieves by instituting the direct deposit of public assistance checks and informing the electorate with voter guides — which he eventually prodded the government to adopt. George has authored articles in New York Newsday, Daily News, USA Today, Our Town and Social Policy on various public policy issues, including Opposition to War, Social Security, Healthcare, Classic Movies, Pensions, Government Reform and Sports.When he sought the Democratic mayoral nomination in 2001, Mr. Spitz, then 78, declared unabashedly, “I’m the only vegetarian, only road runner, only veteran of World War II, only senior citizen, only union person, only Orthodox Jew and only high school dropout in the race.” He came closest to winning office in 1968, as the Democratic and Liberal Party nominee for the Assembly in the 66th district, on Manhattan’s East Side. His platform included a vow not to paste posters on lampposts, stuff fliers in mailboxes or overwhelm voters with loudspeakers. He also proposed that his fellow candidates share the cost of printed directories that would inform constituents of their positions.  “It may seem far-fetched, and I may sound like a nut,” he explained later, “but something must be done to reduce the cost of a campaign, or else the time will soon come when only a rich man can afford to run for even the lowliest of elective offices.” He was endorsed by The Time

Cultural Change: NYC Used to Be Full of Gadflys

He never stopped advocating. Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Manhattan Democrat, recalled that when she visited him in the hospital recently, he gathered a group of hospital interns and doctors and asked them to detail how much they owed in student debt as he lobbied her for relief. “He was very effective at pushing people who were in a position to get things done,” she said. A vegetarian and quasi-pacifist, George Spitz is a member of Congregation Orach Chaim. A graduate of Columbia College, B.A. with majors in economics and accounting, George is active with Class of 1949. A marathoner, Spitz played a key role in transforming the race from a little-noticed four-loops around Central Park to the five-borough extravaganza now taken for granted. Among his other brainstorms: direct deposit of welfare checks. Spitz kept running (for office and on foot) until he broke a hip a few years ago.
Fittingly, he was on his way to testify to the Charter Revision Commission. He was a man who dedicated his life to his fellow New Yorkers, an epitaph of high honor. While he pursued an infinite agenda — abandoning the Second Avenue subway project in favor of building a trolley line was a perpetual theme — he was not without wit. In 1978, at 55, he was the oldest contestant in the annual Empire State Building Run-Up. He explained that he had made it to the top of the skyscraper, moaning and groaning, thanks to the mother of five he was trailing. “She has beautiful legs,” Mr. Spitz said, “so I just followed them up the last 44 flights.”* George Spitz 1922-2015 (NYP)

First TV Master David Garth Has Died 

It Time to Name A College After Herman Badillo 
de Blasio Does Not Rest or Attend the Funeral of the City's First Major Puerto Rican Elected Official 
Badillo Widow: de Blasio’s Absence From Funeral a ‘TerribleInsult’ (NYO)* Bill de Blasioskipped Herman Badillo's funeral, spotted at gym instead(NYDN) While other New York politicians mourned the nation’s first Puerto Rican-born congressman on Sunday, de Blasio was working out at the Park Slope YMCA. Badillo's widow, Gail, says the mayor's snub was 'disgraceful.'* De Blasio vowed to make a national push for immigration reform, even though it faces long odds in Washington when the GOP controls both houses next year.* Paying his disrespects(NYP Ed) * But Mayor de Blasio was a no-show for this public moment of grace for New York. And it wasn’t because of urgent city business: He was working out at a Park Slope Y. “What a terrible insult,” says Badillo’s widow, Gail, who noted that other pols who couldn’t make it at least called to offer her their condolences. But not Mayor de Blasio.* Mayor Bill de Blasio called Herman Badillo’s widow Tuesday night to offer his condolences for the political trailblazer’s death, but Badillo said she did not want to divulge the details of the private phone conversation, the Daily News reports

R.I.P. Herman Badillo 
Badillo's best moment may be after rushed, deadly 71 trooper attack Attica. 'There's always time to die' (NYT) * Herman Badillo, a former congressman and Bronx borough president and the first Puerto Rican to have been elected to those posts, has died at the age of 85, State of Politicsreports:  * Herman Badillo, 1929-2014(NYP)* Herman Badillo (1929-2014) in ‘78 @The_Almanac1st Puerto Rican-born U.S. House member (1971-77), deputy NYC mayor* A New Yorkgiant (NYDN Ed)

Taking a Spin Through New York City’s History

As part of course titled “History of the City of New York,” Professor Kenneth T. Jackson, 75, and 200 Columbia University students take an all-night bike ride, pedaling by New York City landmarks and historic sites.

Anyone who doubts the devotion of our armed forces needs look no further than those veterans who served their country even as it pushed them into the closet, U.S. Rep. CharlesRangel writes in the Daily News:  Editorial: Thanks of a grateful city(NYDN) * Ticker tape parade for Iraq, Afghanistan vets put on hold (NYDN) * A classic: Why Andy Rooney hated being called a veteran - (CBS)* A Salute to the Greatest Living American 

True News for Years Has Been Giving George Spitz Credit for Coming Up With the Idea for the 5 Borough Marathon . . .  We Are Glad That the Road Runners Club Caught On

Gadfly George Spitz Was Exposing Corruption In NYC Before the Internet, Maybe before type
One Man’s Vision: Footrace in Five Boroughs (NYT) By even the dauntingly high standards of New York, the man who “invented” the New York City Marathon, George Spitz, is a bona fide character. Two weeks after this year’s marathon, he will celebrate his 92nd birthday by doing what he does most days: writing the history of New York City for an independent book project On Oct. 30, New York Road Runners will induct Mr. Spitz into its Hall of Fame. The other inductees are German Silva of Mexico, a two-time New York champion; Kathrine Switzer, a women’s running pioneer; and Allan Steinfeld, a former Road Runners president.

Meet the New San Gennaro Mob the Same As the Old San Gennaro Mob  
EXCLUSIVE: San Gennaro Feast is a famine for local charitieswhich collect under 5% of massive proceeds — just slightly more than when themob dished out the dough(NYDN)The current treasurer, Vivian Catenaccio, was allowed to stay on after it was revealed that her brother, Frank, was identified by law enforcement as a made member of the Genovese family. Frank has since died. In 2000, the late Anne Compoccia, then head of the charity, was charged with skimming money from Mulberry St. merchants. She later pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. In recent years, this altruism has all but evaporated. In fact, in two years — 2007 and 2009 — the group gave zero dollars to charity, tax forms reveal. In 2012, the last year for which tax forms are public, Figli took in $768,000 and gave out $55,000. That’s 7%.

.No Matter How Weak NYC's Party Machine Gets the Party Never Ends
Democratic leaders ran for cover Monday from legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to vote in New York and become eligible for health and other benefits now reserved for citizens, the Post reports: 

Weaken Political Machines, Tammany Hall

Moses Change NYC, Caro's Power Broker Book Also Changed NYC
Lobbyists Today Have the Power to Run A Shadow Government Like Moses, Where is the Updated Book?
Forty years ago today, Caro’s magisterial 1,296-page life of New York master builder Robert Moses rewrote the rules of biography.MASTERWORK – “'The Power Broker' Turns 40: How Robert Caro Wrote a Masterpiece: Forty years ago today, Caro’s magisterial 1,296-page life of New York master builder Robert Moses rewrote the rules of biography,” by Scott Porch, an employment lawyer in Savannah writing a book about social upheaval in the ’60s and ’70s, for The Daily Beast: “He drew a series of concentric circles … with a single dot—Robert Moses—in the center. The first circle was Moses’s family and friends, the next circle was people in regular contact, and so on, to an outer circle of people who knew Moses, and dealt with him, and were willing to discuss it. “Realizing the book was going to happen whether he wanted it to or not, Moses relented. ‘So you’re the young fellow who thinks he’s going to write a book about me,’ Moses said at their first meeting at his summer cottage on Long Island out past Jones Beach on May 26, 1967, turning on the charm … Caro interviewed Moses seven times over the next year. … Robert and Ina Caro—the only research assistant who has worked on any of his five books—would eventually conduct 522 interviews for ‘The Power Broker.’” See a pic of Caro’s office

The Mayor That Knew the Buck Can't Sell A Key 
Abe Beame’s key to the city doesn’t sell in eBay auction(NYP) Nearly four decades after leaving City Hall and 13 years after his death, Abe Beame still gets no respect. A “used” ceremonial “Key to the City” from the 104th mayor — blamed for bringing the city to the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s — is listed on eBay for $924.73. As of late Wednesday, the key had no takers, even though the seller said he’d entertain lower bids. Beame has almost nothing in New York named for him but a plaque below a tree on Third Avenue near East 34th Street that he planted himself.

 Nobody's Coming to NYC's Party

New Amsterdam Became New York 350 Years Ago. Don’t Expect a Party.(NYT) In "The Fall of New Amsterdam," by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, Peter Stuyvesant (with wooden leg) with residents of New Amsterdam in 1664. No celebration is planned for Tuesday to honor the 350th anniversary of when a settlement known as New Amsterdam became New York in a bloodless regime change.

Richard Ravitch  . . .    
The Education of a Public Man(NYT)
Richard Ravitch’s “So Much to Do: A Full Life of Business, Politics and Confronting Fiscal Crises” synthesizes a memoir, a citizen’s manual into making government work and an “ode to democracy.”

The First Night The Lights Went Out
Today on WNYC in 1965: Mayor Wagner's press conference on the great NYC blackout. 

By Digitizing Images, Museum Opens a Window Into the Past(NYT)
Fiorello H. La Guardia got an airport named for him, Edward I. Koch a bridge and, now, John V. Lindsay a street. But New York’s mayors are not usually afforded such honors.* NYC's Central Park drive renamed for John Lindsay(WSJ)

The Rise and Fall of Penn Station (American Experience) In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.

Old Penn Station New York City with aerial & skyline views of Manhattan & Empire State Building etc.




First Ever Video Footage (1893) of New York Fire Brigade

Breslin Mailer 51st State Again

Progressive Secession?
Downstate's war on Upstate:Secession movement in NY pushes for Big Apple to split from Upstate Washington Times


When America Produced Leaders Not the Political Class We Have Today 

Ken Burns' fantastic documentary on Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. To watch the documentary on the Roosevelts — Teddy, Eleanor and Franklin — debuting on public TV Sunday is to be transported to a sorrowfully bygone era when American politics produced giants. Where is today’s Teddy, the overly timid, sickly little boy who self-consciously grew into a brash, unstoppable man, charging up San Juan Hill with bullets whizzing, hunting bear at close range, swashbuckling as New York City police commissioner and busting trusts in the White House?

Read Political Consultant O'Brien's TR Book
It is Inauguration Day, March 4, 1901. New Vice President Theodore Roosevelt uncovers a vast international conspiracy that has already claimed the lives of Queen Victoria and other world leaders. Aided by British spy Sidney Reilly, Roosevelt races to prevent more attacks around the globe. But the threat they fight has already reached 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ...

Great Blogs
Forgotten New York

Exploring New York City's Past with Library Maps(WSJ)
A portion of the New York Public Library's map collection was made available for people to download last week, the first time the fascinating maps have been available for library users to download as high resolution images without having to worry about copyright infringement.

American Experience: The World that Moses Built Part 1


NYC's Mass Grave at Fort Greene Park - What Remains

This New York City Map Will Offend Pretty Much Everyone 

Hot Bagels



Driving Around New York City - 1928


Tenement Life 1860-1910


What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (1901)

Frances Perkins and the New Deal

This is what I found in a book about Francis Perkins

FDR offered her the job of Labor Secretary before this meeting.

The meeting occurred in February 1933 in his NYC ofice. 

She held her demands on a sheet of paper and advised FDR that he would have to submit legislation to accomplish these goal before she would accept the post.

A 40 hour work week

A minimum wage

Worker's compensation

Unemployment compensation

Social Security

health insurance

As you can see these items formed the basis of the modern welfare state and the relationship of the

individual to the federal government. These were revolutionary proposals for them and in some quarters are still controversial.

At the end of the meeting FDR said would back her every item.

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