Our Readers Name Officials
Who Are Honest and Decent;
We Report the Results Here.
Henry J. Stern
March 3, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, after excoriating the denizens of the Albany sewers, our thoughts turned positive and we asked our readers to suggest the names of public figures whom they believed to be honest and decent. Some readers picked one name. Others sent in a list. This is not a scientific poll and represents only the sentiments of those subscribers who chose to express themselves. If any of you missed out and want to add your preferences to those already listed, please feel free to do so by responding to this email with the names of your choice or choices.
The politician who came in first was former Mayor Ed Koch. The first runner-up was declared ineligible because he is a writer for NYCivic and, like in regular contests, employees or relatives of the sponsor cannot participate or win prizes in such competitions. He thanks those who were kind enough to pick him for the honor.
The next tier contains six names of people with good reputations: Congressman Jerrold Nadler, followed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and retiring District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. A good number of our subscribers come from the Upper West Side, and have been represented by all three of these elected officials.
Then came seven people who are highly regarded, three of whom have passed away. The late United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003); Deputy Mayor, president of the Board of Education and Councilman at Large Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (1944-93); and Councilmember Stanley E. Michels (1933-2008). The four who are still with us are former Governor Hugh Carey, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Councilmember Gale Brewer and State Senator Eric Schneiderman. Both Ms. Brewer and Mr. Schneiderman represent the Upper West Side of Manhattan, along with Congressman Nadler.
Honorable mention went to a variety of people. In alphabetical order, they are Mayor Cory Booker of Newark; former Senator James Buckley, who was the only person elected to the United States Senate on the Conservative Party line (in 1970); the late Winston Churchill; former Governor Mario Cuomo; Assemblyman (since 1971) Richard Gottfried; Pete Grannis, Assemblyman (1975-2006), now New York State Commissioner of Environmental Protection; Elizabeth Holtzman former Brooklyn Congresswoman; District Attorney and NY City Comptroller; Charles J. Hynes, Brooklyn District Attorney since 1990; Robert F. Kennedy, US Attorney General (1961-64) and US Senator (1965-68); Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Peter King, US Congressman from Long Island since 1993; Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Mayor of the City of New York (1934-45); Richard Ravitch, former MTA chair (1979-83); Claire Shulman, former Borough President of Queens (1986-2001); Harry S. Truman, President of the United States (1945-53), Vice President (Jan.20 – Apr.12, 1945), US Senator from Missouri (1935-45); Paul Volcker, chair of the Federal Reserve (1979-87) and now chair of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Although most of these names are probably well known to you, we list the principal offices they held because some of us do not recall, or never knew, precisely what they did and when they served. Of the 16 who are listed above, Sir Winston, Senator Kennedy, Dr. King, Mayor LaGuardia and President Truman have passed away. We honor their memory.
Now we go to a longer list of those who were cited only once. Some are great historic figures. Others are contemporary present and former public officials. Some are well known, some practically unknown. Generally, we will not list the offices they held or sought, but anyone who is curious about any name is invited to e-mail NYCivic and we will respond promptly with the information you desire. Here is the list, which consists of 85 additional names:
Robert Abrams, Bella Abzug, Robert Adams, Harold Adler, Adrian Benepe, Stephen Berger, Richard Blumenthal, Mindy Bockstein, Charles Bowsher, Bill Bradley, Jim Brennan, Richard A. Brown, Amanda Burden, Clifford Case Sr., Edward Cox, Howard Dean, Bertrand Delanoe (Mayor of Paris), Thomas Dewey, Thomas DiNapoli, Paul H. Douglas, Perry Duryea, Abba Eban, Ronnie Eldridge, Anthony Fasulo, Russ Feingold, Stanley Fink, Eric Gioia, Judah Gribetz, William Henry Harrison, Gordon Humphrey, Stanley Isaacs, Dennis Jacobs, Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Barbara Jordan, Rufus King, Galen Kirkland, Everett Koop, Oliver Koppell, Liz Kruger, Dennis Kucinich, Ted Kupferman, Jessica Lappin, Micah Lasher, Louis Lefkowitz, Herbert Lehman, Franz Leichter, Arthur Levitt, Sr., Abraham Lincoln, John Lindsay, John Liu, Herbert London, Christopher Lynn, Carolyn Maloney, Carl McCall, Carolyn McCarthy, Eugene McCarthy, Bill McCollum, George McGovern, Golda Meir, Ruth Messinger, Gifford Miller, Marshall Miller, Milton Mollen, Robert Morgado, Eva Moskowitz, Daniel O’Donnell, Michael Pesce, Colin Powell, Dan Quart, Christine Quinn, Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt IV, William Fitts Ryan, Leonard Sandler, Fred Schmidt, George Shultz, Sam Schwartz, Paul Simon (the Senator not the singer), Alfred E. Smith, Eliot Spitzer, Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, Governor Coke Stevenson. Scott Stringer, Morris Udall, Robert Vansittart, Senator Robert F. Wagner, George Washington, Anthony Weiner, Mark Weprin, Wendell Willkie, David Yassky, John Zuccotti.
Without making judgments about particular individuals, we believe that most of the people nominated were good public servants, with reputations for honesty and competence. The degree of these qualities may vary with each person, but in general they are able and decent, and deserve the commendation they received.
The point of this exercise was to find people we can look on with respect, and we believe that, for the most part, we succeeded. If you despair of the quality of everyone in government, look at this list and take heart in the fact that it contains a lot of good apples. If you are in public life and are not on the list, it is not our fault – It is because no one nominated you. Consider what you might do so that the next time we take this poll, you will be inscribed in the book of good deeds.
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