But even after eight years as governor, Mr. Carey remained an enigma. The witty storyteller who could charm an audience alternated with the irascible loner who alienated many of his allies. The brooding, private man, father of more than a dozen children, who mourned the deaths of his wife and, earlier, two sons killed in a car crash, gave way to a man who engaged in an exuberant, very public romance that led to a second marriage.
Hugh Carey rose to power as a Democrat outside his party’s machine. He began the 1974 campaign for governor as a recently widowed congressman from Brooklyn, a long shot who was not taken seriously, yet he cruised to one of the most resounding victories in the state’s history.
Yet he spent his final years as governor frustrated. Absent an emergency, he often seemed bored with the job.
The political strategist David Garth, who was one of Mr. Carey’s closest associates, once said of him: “Hugh Carey on the petty issues can be very petty. On the big stuff, he is terrific.”
Mr. Carey’s stature grew in his decades out of office, and he was hailed as a hero by Republicans and Democrats. As he acknowledged, his handling of government finances overshadowed all else he did.
In an interview in 1982 in his last days in office, he said, “The objectives I set forth I’ve achieved in terms of a state that’s respected fiscally, a city that’s now well on its way back to concrete foundations.”
In four terms as governor, Mr. Rockefeller had built a legacy of state universities and highways but also of much higher taxes and enormous debt. The pattern was repeated at the local level; under Mayor John V. Lindsay, a Republican turned Democrat, New York City had to borrow money for day-to-day operations. The 1974-75 recession opened yawning deficits and exposed years of unsound practices.
On Jan. 1, 1975, Mr. Carey declared in his inaugural address, “This government will begin today the painful, difficult, imperative process of learning to live within its means.”
He immediately faced a cascade of emergencies, as various state authorities, New York City, Yonkers, several school districts and ultimately the state itself flirted with collapse.
New York City lay at the core of the crisis. Mr. Lindsay’s successor as mayor, Abraham D. Beame, was taking drastic action, cutting tens of thousands of jobs, but a solution lay beyond the city’s grasp. In May 1975, Wall Street firms refused to sell the city’s bonds, threatening its ability to pay its bills.
Mr. Carey responded with a series of audacious moves to keep the city afloat. He created the Municipal Assistance Corporation to borrow money for the city. He created and headed the Emergency Financial Control Board, with the power to reject city budgets and labor contracts, giving him vast new authority at Mr. Beame’s expense.
By seizing control of the city’s finances, and then telling the mayor that he had to fire his closest aide to placate the bankers, Mr. Carey permanently soured his relationship with Mr. Beame, who had helped him get elected. But such tough measures were necessary to keep the enterprise afloat. Felix G. Rohatyn, the investment banker whom the governor appointed to head the Municipal Assistance Corporation, later said of Mr. Carey, “He was the only one who had any credibility left.”
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
8378 31957 51
his path of destiny / how he learned what he was here to learn = Governor.
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