During the time that I was much involved with the South Africa project George Nager asked me to sit in on a meeting of volunteers for Assemblyman Stanley Harwood. I went to the meeting, but did not have time to help with the 1970 campaign. However, when 1972 came around I volunteered for that campaign and became the number one assistant to the campaign manager, Debby Harwood.
I became the local Democratic Committeeman, joined the 13th Assembly District Democratic Club, helped publish its newsletters, and was its vice-president.
Although he lost the 1972 election for the state Assembly, Stanley Harwood was impressed with the way I operated in getting things done expeditiously. In March 1973 he asked me to help him get elected as County Democratic Chairman, and he succeeded in winning that election. That fall, 1973, was the time of an election for County Executive, and after several campaign managers had resigned, Stanley asked me to take over the campaign. I agreed and stayed there until the election, even though the campaign was futile. Our daughter Joan helped with the campaign by driving the candidate, Bill Deeley, to his appointments in her new car. By the time the campaign was over I was fed up with Stanley, and didn’t even invite him to a party we hosted after election day. He and Debby never forgave me for that.
Some of the campaign workers that helped in the County Executive campaign asked me to run for the Assembly seat that Harwood had lost in 1972, and I agreed to do it. Irwin Grand designed a logo for me, I had buttons made (and still have some) and prepared literature. I spoke at several Hempstead Town Board meetings, Legislative hearings, Public Service Commission hearings, Democratic club meetings, etc. either as a candidate or representative of the Democratic Club.
My campaign stressed pocketbook issues such as property taxes, and restoration of confidence in elected officials. I said I would discontinue all outside business activities to be a full-time assemblyman with a year-round office in the district.
I did not expect to be opposed for the nomination but Harwood could not forget that I had snubbed him at the party and he looked around for someone to oppose me. He told everyone that the district could not be won by anyone except a Jew from East Meadow, and then found Sam Millman to meet those qualifications. After a short campaign for the nomination I lost narrowly in the vote of committeemen for the official designation, decided not to run a primary, and Sam went on to lose the election, despite those “qualifications.”
During the Deeley campaign I had met Angelo Orazio who was, at that time, running for Supervisor of North Hempstead. He lost that election, but in 1974 he was running for Assemblyman. After I lost the nomination he asked me to come to a campaign meeting of his, at which time I decided to help in his campaign. I did my kind of thing for the campaign, preparing literature, getting signs put up, getting out mailings, etc. Again, I did not do much supervision of people, but appeared to be the campaign manager, while Angelo did the campaigning. November 1974 was the election just after President Nixon resigned from office and the Democrats won the New York Assembly after many years as the minority.
For the first time, after various previous tries at elective office, Orazio won the election, defeating John Kingston, the Majority Leader of the Assembly. He asked me to go to Albany and help him set up his office. We were told to take the office of the person he had defeated, and we moved into the beautiful suite of the Majority Leader. Even though Angelo was called “The Giant Killer” he was only allowed to stay in that office for a few days. After getting the Albany office settled I helped get an office set up in his district.
When he took office in Albany, Assemblyman Orazio hired me as a “session employee” to help him set up his office in Albany, and then when that was done my duties were to help out until about July 4th when the session usually finished. His budget, as a new Assemblyman, was small so there was no indication that I would continue working in Albany. However, that was to change.
The spring of 1975 was a time of intense interest in energy matters, after the 1973 Arab oil boycott, long gasoline lines, and sky-rocketing prices. Dan Haley, a Democratic Assemblyman from the northern-most district of the state pressed the Speaker to create a commission to study the energy problem and find solutions and in the last weeks of the session the NYS Legislative Commission on Energy Systems was created. Angelo, being an electrical engineer, was asked to serve on that commission, and he suggested that I, with both political and engineering experience, be hired by the Commission as a staff member.
I started work with the Commission in the fall of 1975, and there met Max Berking. We worked together for Dan Haley until Dan lost his election in 1976. Then, in January 1977, Angelo was appointed chairman of the Commission and Max and I were appointed Legislative Director and Technical Director, respectively.
Angelo then hired Helene Conroy to be the Administrative Director, so Max and I did no administrative work, with Max being the contact person with other legislators and me working on the technical parts of legislation. Max remained a close friend to Clare and me until he died in 1997. Click to learn more about our friendship with Max.
Now that I was a Commission employee I went to Albany every week with Angelo, usually driving North on Tuesday morning and returning on Wednesday night or Thursday. We would share the driving of his Lincoln, and later his diesel Cadillac. The first year I shared a room with him in a motel and then after that I would rent an apartment to share with Bill Alexander, Max, or Ed Grouse, and later a studio by myself. Every night we would go to dinner, usually Max, Angelo, and me, and Clare when she was in town, and sometimes with Helene and other staff members. Sometimes we would go to restaurants near the Capitol, or sometimes we would go further out of town to places like Beefsteak Charlie’s (that had a great salad bar with shrimp). Often, at Bella Napoli, a block away from the Capitol, we would see other members of the legislature or Justices of the Court of Appeals.
This was a period when Clare was very active as State PTA Legislative Chairman, and she would, perhaps in half the weeks, go to Albany with us, and go around to other legislators to lobby for the PTA’s agenda. She loved having our Xerox machine and an IBM Selectric typewriter available for her projects.
In 1979, after the 1978 election, the Assembly created a Standing Committee on Energy and Angelo was made its chairman. I stayed with the Commission for a short while and was asked by the new chairman (Bill Hoyt of Buffalo) to prepare a list of meetings I had attended in the previous two years, which you can see if you click here. I disliked working with the woman in charge of Hoyt’s staff, so I talked to Angelo, and during the 1979 session I transferred to his Energy Committee as Technical Director. This entailed working more directly with the Legislative Bill Drafting Commission on new legislation, and less in the energy research and studies area. During this period I coordinated with other members of the legislature on energy matters, and continued to organize, chair, or testify at numerous state, regional, and national hearings and seminars on energy, stressing conservation and solar energy.
The Energy Committee had a much smaller budget than the Commission, so after the 1980 election Angelo wanted to cut back on some of his costs. I had reached the age and other requirements for retirement so I retired and stayed on Angelo’s staff in a very minor way, going to his Long Island office occasionally.
Angelo lost his re-election bid in 1984 and so I ended my career in Albany, going back on (Senate) payroll for a short period during Angelo’s bid for the state Senate in 1986.
From 1974 to 1986 I either managed or did the “nuts and bolts” of all of Angelo’s campaigns, and some others in the years when he was not running. In the 1975 year of the New York State proposition for a Womens Rights Amendment I helped the county legislature campaign of Barbara Kross with a campaign flyer and suggestions for publicity. (She lost.) Then in 1984 I was treasurer of the Long Island Committee for Walter Mondale, candidate for President. (He lost too.)
I can’t remember all the miscellaneous local campaigns for which I prepared flyers, from the Sweeney campaign in 1940 (see Chapter 5), School campaigns that Clare was active in, Newman Baum’s campaign for the library board in 1984, to Jim Ward’s run for the school board in 2008.
At one point I needed to do an elaborate mathematical evaluation of a solar energy plan that the Long Island Lighting Company was proposing, and decided to try using the Assembly’s big computer to do the calculation. This meant borrowing some books from the library and learning the fundamentals of programming. After a few quick instructions on how to connect to the mainframe computer I wrote my program, using the BASIC computing language, and was pleased that I was able to get the results I wanted.
I clearly had the desire to do more computing….
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