Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975

The above is from a June 30th, 2010 interview at ny1.
I was at a book talk at the Tenement Museum last night for The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975 It featured Robert Polner, an award-winning journalist and political writer, who works as a public affairs officer for NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and Tom Robbins, the legendary investigative reporter of the Village Voice and union steward.
Kevin Baker, the historical novelist, moderated the discussion. By doing so he extended his record for the number of appearances as a book talk host. He did his usual great job while adding Woody Allen and Helmut Schmidt impersonations to his versatile shtick.
An excerpt from a review in the irish echo.
A letter from a future rival a half century ago changed Hugh Carey’s life. The authors of a new study of the two-term governor argue further that it altered the course of New York’s history and even that of the nation.
“I don’t know what would have happened to New York if Hugh Carey had lost the governorship,” said one of them, Seymour P. Lachman, in reference to an election 14 years later.
The following year, 1975, President Ford told the city to “drop dead,” in the Daily News’ words, when it asked for a federal bail-out.
That piece of mail all those decades ago, however, was from Republican Congressman Francis E. Dorn saying his office had conducted a poll that showed John F. Kennedy would be beaten by a 3 to 1 margin in his 12th District in Brooklyn.
“Carey bristled at the mailing,” write Lachman and his co-author Robert Polner in “The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975.” He felt that the Democrat’s family background and charisma would be advantages against Richard Nixon, a law-and-order Republican who might otherwise be expected to win in the 12th District.
He asked the local Democratic boss whom the party was running against Dorn. “We haven’t got anybody and down at headquarters, nobody wants to put any money into it,” he was told. “They’re sure he can’t be beat.”
So Carey, lawyer, businessman, decorated World War II veteran and father of a growing family, decided to take on the well-respected, four-term Dorn. In November, the Democrats won the White House and the 12th District.
JFK, of course, was a Catholic who could trace all of his family roots to Ireland; Carey, now 91, remains the only directly elected governor of New York with that ethnic profile. And while the Kennedys acquired fabulous wealth in three generations in America, the Carey did well enough in two.
Hugh Leo Carey was born at home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on April 11, 1919. He grew up one of six brothers in what the authors describe as a “business-minded family.” His father, Denis “D.J.” Carey, was the only son of Michael and Delia Carey, immigrants from County Galway who worked in America as a laborer and a house-worker. D.J. married Margaret Collins, the daughter of immigrants from County Tyrone, and the couple together ran the motor oil distribution company he founded in 1920s. It went bust during the Great Depression, but the family had established a firm toehold in the industry and Ed Carey, the governor’s older brother, became a billionaire.

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