90th Birthday Celebration for Judge Sam Fredman

 

March 9, 2014
Knollwood Country Club
Elmsford, New York

Welcome to a celebration of the 90th Anniversary of the Natal Day of a Westchester Legend:  Sam the Man … Mr. Justice Samuel George Fredman!

This is indeed an historic occasion … so much so they even changed the clocks all over America for him last night!

You’ve left your hearth and home on this March 9th as another Spring hovers on the horizon after a long, mean, drodsome Winter.  You came because you wanted to be with this amazing man who has meant so much in all our lives … not alone because you admire, respect and revere him … but for many of us … we’re here because we truly love the man.

Here assembled are his friends political … his friends judicial … his friends religious (we even have not one, but two cantors who will perform later with a special song!)

And we really have – as you can see with only a cursory and very brief perusal of the lovely ballroom of this great Westchester country club – the White Plains Establishment!

I know White Plains.  It’s where all my divorce lawyers are!

Even a New Rochelle guy can recognize and not fail to be impressed by the standing and stature of those from your home heath who are here to celebrate with Sam.

There are so many of high estate from White Plains alone … I wonder who would get the headline in The Journal News if a bomb suddenly went off.

But come to think of it … I know we have Mayor Tom Roach … and former mayors Al DelVecchio and Joe Delfino … if it was The Journal News … it would probably be Adam Bradley!

The other mayors (and Milton Hoffman) will forgive me!

# # # 

Teilhard de Chardin, the great Jesuit philosopher-paleontologist, memorably wrote of the “Diminishments’ we all suffer.  It’s a great word:  diminishments.  Sam … as we observe you now with all your powers intact and very much on display with your friends tonight … we’d have to conclude that – somehow – you’ve managed to conquer all those “diminishments” and put them to exile.

I don’t know how you manage to do it, Mr. Justice – in every season.  As I approach senility, I’m reminded that Sirio Maccioni, the great Ringmaster of Le Cirque recently delightfully observed that Italians have a saying:  “If you wake up in the morning and nothing aches … you’re dead!”  But Sirio is only 81.  So what the hell does he know!

# # #

I won’t intrude for very long on your evening … but as I think about Sam Fredman and what he means to our county and state and his profession … I’m reminded of something said a long time ago, during a moment of reflection by a friend of his – a former governor, in fact – who has had a great impact on both our lives.

Mr. Cuomo once told me he prays for “Sureness.”  For sureness …

And even as I approach 76 myself … I’m not sure about a lot of things.

But of only this am I sure:  We are sure that you are a great man, Sam Fredman.

And when the history of our time in Westchester and New York State is written, compiled and bound and preserved … your name will be writ large as one of our foremost leaders, as one of our legends.

And we thus have to put you right up there with the great Nelson Rockefeller … and Ed Michaelian … Bill Luddy … and Nita Lowey, that extraordinary woman who graces us with her presence today.  And Fredman belongs with Dick Daronco, WVOX’s former Pelham Town correspondent, whose name adorns our courthouse … and New Rochelle’s Alvin Ruskin … the Judges Gagliardi … William Butcher … and Malcolm Wilson, of sainted memory.

These are – and were – the giants of our time in the Golden Apple.  And you are among them.  Forever.

These proceedings are greatly enhanced by the presence of Westchester Democratic chairman Reggie Lafayette … New York Democratic State Party Treasurer David Alpert … Appellate Justice Mark Dillon … the great squire of Winged Foot (and Bedford) Mr. Justice Nick Colabella and Nancy Colabella, his Irish wife! … also the Dean of the Westchester press corps:  Milt Hoffman … Court of Claims Madame Justice Terri Ruderman and her husband Jerry Ruderman … also the Surrogate of Westchester and the Pride of the FBI:  Mr. Justice Anthony Scarpino.  And a scion of a great Westchester family Kevin Plunkett, who, as Deputy County Executive, is so highly respected as is his boss Rob Astorino.  And, yes, Kevin is the brother of the estimable Bill Plunkett.

# # #

Sam’s great friend, the former Chief Judge Frank Nicolai is at a class reunion at the Coast Guard Academy in South Carolina.  But we’re so glad to have Aileen Nicolai and their daughter Dr. Angelique Nicolai!

## #

Also Carolyn Abramowitz and Colonel Jeff Abramowitz, regimental commander at Fort Knox, Kentucky!

# # #

And Cantor Jack Mendelsohn and his wife Cantor Freida Mendelsohn with a special song for Sam.  I wanted Irish bagpipes!  We had them already to go!  But Sam said:  “Save that for the broadcast next Monday!”

I’m not sure if the cantors will perform in English or Hebrew?  If it’s in Hebrew … I will translate for you!  But go slow …!

We have some very important speakers who will pay tribute to Mr. Justice Fredman.

But first I want to share with you a lovely, graceful note dispatched this week from the Chicago office by the managing partner of Sam’s 11-hundred member law firm, Wilson Elser:  Daniel McMahon.  He’s Irish … with the “Gift” … so what do you expect?  But listen to this as it really captures Fredman:

“It’s not often we get to wish someone a happy 90th birthday, let alone one of our colleagues at Wilson Elser.  Sam Fredman has enjoyed a rich and storied career as a matrimonial attorney, a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and, most recently, a sought-after master arbitrator.

Much to our delight, Sam chose to round out his career at Wilson Elser (unless we’re but a stepping stone!) where for the past 12 years he has worked in our White Plains office as counsel and mentor to many grateful colleagues and clients.

Sam’s ability to bring together divergent parties and find common ground among their varied interests epitomizes his successful legal career.  He brings these same talents to bear in his private life, where he has been a beloved and legendary figure in several educational, governmental and religious organizations in which he has played key leadership roles.

A member of “The Greatest Generation,” Sam served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943 – 1946 and saw action in the South Pacific and Japan – for which we thank him.  Of course “greatest” aptly describes Sam on a number of levels, as those who daily benefit from his wisdom, wit and unwavering good cheer well know.”

 

                                                             - – - Daniel J. McMahon, Esq.

 

There’s also a note which arrived at WVOX yesterday marked:  “Saturday Delivery” from a very special individual who many of your know and we all admire.  He was called by the Boston Globe, “the great philosopher-statesman of the American nation.” I have disrespectfully called him a “failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name.” 

Here’s what he wrote for Sam.  It’s very brief.  We also have a recording of it for you, Judge.

Sam:

“I regret not being able to be present in person on this auspicious occasion when you are proving that doing good for others assures … longevity.

I’m not surprised … that you have manifested your high intelligence, your immense generosity, and your political expertise, all accompanied by your joyous love of life.

My toast to you is for continued good health and I make it in Italian … because in Italian it is very special.  In Italian I say to you I wish all good things for you … per-cento anni … for 100 years, at least …

Keep going.  Keep going, Sam … we love you.”

Signed … simply … Mario.   Here’s the Original.

# # #

And finally, the real VIP’s and those closest to Sam:  his sons and heirs and his grandchildren:  Neil Fredman and his wife Michelle.  Andy Fredman and his wife Susan.  And his grandchildren Daniel and his wife Stephanie … Ariel and her husband Perry Stuart … Joshua and compadre Jamie  and Alie, who works in education with Eva Moscowitz.

# # #

Sam …  We’ve had a lot of letters.  And I just wanted to share one more Cindy found in our archives at the station.  It was a personal letter to you about a piece you did for the Times when David Brooks, their brilliant columnist, had suggested that his readers do a “Life Report.”  Here’s my reaction to your submission: 

“Mr. Justice Sam:

I read your “Life Report” for David Brooks.

And while beautifully done with all your graceful style and marvelous wit … I hope you will forgive the observation that it does not nearly capture the greatness – and yes, the goodness – of the Sam Fredman we know and love.

I’m talking about the Sam Fredman who was a “nice man in a murky profession,” which appellation I gave you so many years ago.  Or the Sam Fredman the lowlifes and sharks in your matrimonial tribe used to derisively dismiss as a “settler” … a “conciliator” … a “compromiser.”  And it wasn’t meant as a compliment.

I just don’t think that comes through in the retrospective you prepared for Brooks.

Nor does the Sam Fredman who always steered his Democratic Party to champion hopeless, but worthy pursuits … as when a failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name who dared aspire to be governor had only a meager 9% in Westchester.  But he had Fredman.  Nita Lowey had 4%.  But she had Fredman.

Actually, as I think about it … I may do my own “Life Report” one of these days.  I’ll have to stretch and scramble to come up with some commendable things I’ve done in my already long life. 

But if there were a few worthy moments during my erratic stewardship of Bill O’Shaughnessy … they could not have been accomplished without you.  Because I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the radio podium and broadcasting platform you helped protect, defend and save harmless in all the seasons of my life.

Yours is a beautiful piece.  But you can do better by Fredman.  You should enlarge and expand on it and make it into a book.  A whole chapter should be devoted to how you advocated for Jewish causes over the years … without trampling on the free speech and opinions of others.  And how you subtly and with gentle persuasion and compelling wisdom always kept me and mine firmly inclined to the Jewish view on matters domestic and international …”

Now here is the Man of the Hour:  Mr. Justice Sam Fredman, who has promised to keep it to an hour and a half.

# # #

Sam:  if you forget everything said here tonight … all the encomiums and expressions of your worth and value to so many … remember only this:  collectively … and individually … We … love … you!

# # #

We should thank John Sarcone for using his influence to persuade Knollwood to take us in after this party became too big for another venue.  You should know, in the intimacy of this grand ballroom, that this was to be a rather “restrained” affair with but a few of Sam’s nearest and dearest.  But, Sam being Sam, it grew and grew.  And so we thank John Sarcone and Mauro Piccininni , the general manager, for our use of the hall.  The dinner was spectacular!  And the next time somebody takes a shot at “country club food” … send them to Knollwood and Brother Piccininni!

# # # 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include these remarks about Justice Samuel G. Fredman.

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

William O’Shaughnessy Interviews Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

William O’Shaughnessy

President & Editorial Director

WVOX and WVIP

Interview with 

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

President & CEO

NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Company

Super Bowl XLVIII

February 27, 2014

 

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. ran Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, the very first outdoor-cold weather gridiron classic in N.F.L. history.  He was a former president of American Express and as a young man had a very important post in the Reagan White House.  We spoke of his Catholic faith, his friendship with Cardinal Dolan and his Westchester family.  Kelly has been a class act in every season.  And he’s only 55.

Although the legendary sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once called Sports “the toys of a nation,” football, which resembles sanctioned violence (our Westchester neighbor Commissioner Roger Goodell will forgive me) has appeal for many of our neighbors. 115 million watched the extravaganza hosted by Kelly and his NY/NJ Super Bowl associates.

We were flattered that just a few weeks after the big event he came by his homet

own station for this interview.  We talked of many things – besides football.  Al Kelly is quite a guy, as you will see …

William O’Shaughnessy:

Good morning, Westchester … it’s what the Brits would call a “brilliant day” here in our home heath of Westchester.  For the next several minutes while we’re in your care and keeping – we have someone I’ve been looking forward to interviewing for a long time.  You’ve read about him in the public press.  This is his home heath as well, New Rochelle.  He grew up around here.  He’s an Iona guy.  He was an elder of Iona College.  He has enormous influence around that campus because he raises a lot of money for them.  But in recent years he had a career change.  You may have known him as the president of a small, tiny, little company called American Express … Amex, the huge credit card company – where he served for many years as president with our New Rochelle neighbor Ken Chenault, husband of Kathryn Chenault.  His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.  And recently – you must know this – he’s been running the Super Bowl.  Al Kelly … are you glad you did it?

Al Kelly:

Good morning, Bill.  It’s a pleasure to be with you and the folks of Westchester County.  I’m delighted I did it.  It was a wonderful event for this region.  Considering the fact that Super Bowls have been played for almost five decades and 1/16th of the National Football League is in this region and calls this region home, in my mind it was high time this great game for American sports came to the greatest area in America and I think we put on a terrific show … this region has so much to offer.   It was really my pleasure to really play a bit of a “maestro” role in bringing tens of thousands of people together to make it a success.  But we’re really pleased with the way it went.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Was it a success, Al Kelly?

Al Kelly:

I do believe it was, Bill … on all accounts.  It was the most watched television show in television history. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

How many people?

Al Kelly:

111.5 million people.  It beat the Super Bowl of three years ago when the Giants beat the Patriots by a few points.  One of the reasons it did so well on television despite the fact it wasn’t a terribly competitive game, was because we were able to create an atmosphere where this really was – in this area – almost like either the Giants or Jets, or both, were playing in it.  And the reality is we had a 51 share in this market where a typical Super Bowl where the Giants or Jets are not in would get a 30 share.  And that’s because we got the region fired up about this great opportunity. There was a 21% increase in the number of credentialed media that followed this game.  6,400 credentialed media came to the Super Bowl and Super Bowl week.  One of the things I looked at from the very beginning – as did the Tisch, Mara and Johnson families – was that we wanted to take this platform of the Super Bowl and make sure we did some good for the community.  Typically a host committee would struggle to raise a million dollars for a single project.  We have raised almost 12 million dollars and we have initiated or completed or have in progress over 50 projects on both sides of the Hudson River, all aimed at school-age youth and facilities they use after school … in the evenings … on the weekends and in the summers.  We did a playground in White Plains, a brand-new playground from scratch.  We have done community center renovations.  We put new ball fields in place.  And these are things, Bill, that are going to last for decades.  And my hope is that people are going to say that in 2014 the Super Bowl was played here and this field, this community center, this playground we are enjoying today – five, ten, fifteen years later – came about because of the Super Bowl being here.  That “Legacy” element is the most gratifying work we’ve done.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr. … you’re working for the Maras … and I’m reminded that Wellington Mara, of sainted memory, sat right at that very microphone, several times … and also the Tischs and Woody Johnson of the Jets.  How’s that different from working for a board of directors of Amex, where once you presided?

Al Kelly:

Well, interestingly enough, this is a job where I don’t think I’ve ever had more bosses. New York-New Jersey Host Company is a company.  In addition to being CEO, I was chairman of a board that had eight members on it.  The owners couldn’t be members of it because we were a “not-for-profit” organization and the Giants and Jets are “for profit” organizations.  So we actually had an “advisory committee” where I met with the owners once a month. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Were they easy to deal with?

Al Kelly:

They were terrific.  I have to say, they were perfect bosses.  They were there when I needed them.  They largely left me to do my thing.  We called upon them tremendously as far as appearances.  I had them at many breakfasts, cocktails parties and unless they were traveling, they would never say no.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  I knew the Maras and I knew John Tisch a bit.  I didn’t know the rest of the Tisch family and I didn’t know Woody Johnson before I got into this and they really have been a real pleasure to deal with.  Interestingly enough, John Tisch and Woody Johnson, who were the co-chairs of this, were both born in New Jersey and today live in Manhattan.  And for them to share a New York-New Jersey Super Bowl was important to them personally because this was their home area and the fact they were able to show off their terrific new stadium to the world also gave them a real sense of pride.  And it is a beautiful facility they’ve built.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr., head of the Super Bowl, do you think there will ever be another one around here?

Al Kelly:

Obviously, it’s one of the smallest, elitist clubs in the world, the 32 owners of the National Football League.  They determine where the Super Bowls go.  And as of the current by-laws in the League:  A:  It can only be in a region where there is an NFL franchise.  And B:, Bill, there is this rule that the commissioner allowed a one-time pass on which a Super Bowl can only be held in a region where there’s an average temperature in February of at least 55 degrees.  So, obviously, that was waived, even though we got pretty darn close to 55 degrees on February 2nd. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You were bailed out by the weatherman.  What if we had a blizzard?  Would you be scrambling now to explain the weather?

Al Kelly:

Well, from the beginning, two things I knew I couldn’t control were the weather and who was going to play in the game and thus determine the competitiveness of the game.  Despite the fact that a lot of people paid a lot of attention to the weather, I never really worried about it per se.  I just made sure we were prepared.  We had great cooperation from Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg and then Mayor DeBlasio who came in and was incredibly supportive in his early days in office.  We have great assets in this region.  We know how to clear snow.  In fact, both governors and the mayor were prepared to prioritize where the snow removal happened based upon the day of the week in Super Bowl week and what events were happening and where they were happening.  Truthfully, Bill, it would have taken the wrong storm at exactly the wrong time to impact the game because typically, even in a blizzard, we have a period of eight to ten hours where we’re paralyzed.  But after that you could start to get it cleared out.  There have been a couple of times this winter where it started to snow at 11 in the morning and it snowed until 10 at night.   Obviously, that kind of day would have been a problem.  But I invited Cardinal Dolan, a good friend of my wife Peggy and me, about six months before … and  I gave him the assignment of praying for good weather.  Unfortunately, the Cardinal ultimately couldn’t come to the game but I think the fact that if he’s ever up for sainthood, I’ll be able to say that he had a miracle by creating the best day in 2014 to date, including today, which was February 2nd.

William O’Shaughnessy:

I just got a note from him this week, His Eminence will claim credit for this, you know how he operates!

Al Kelly:

And he should … I’m happy to give it to him!

William O’Shaughnessy:

His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. … he’s a Westchester guy, lives in Rye with his wife Peggy.  Didn’t you two fall in love right in our backyard here?

Al Kelly:

We did.  I grew up in the Crestwood section of Yonkers.  Peggy grew up in Port Chester.  I actually met her at her senior prom at Holy Child where she was …

William O’Shaughnessy:

Was she with somebody else …?

Al Kelly:

She was with somebody else!  I was a year older, a freshman at Iona College after four years at Iona Prep.  She was going to Iona College … so I was introduced to her at the prom and six months later, in December of 1977, I took her to an Iona College basketball game and that was our first date and we dated for seven years and September of last year, we were married for 30 years, so we’ve been together quite a while …

William O’Shaughnessy:

And you have a few children?

Al Kelly:

We do, we have five children.  Our two boys are graduates of Iona Prep.  Our two girls are graduates of the School of the Holy Child where I happen to be Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  And believe it or not we have this incredible gift of a fourth grader who is ten years younger than our fourth child and 17 years younger than our oldest child and she is an absolute gift from the good Lord and she keeps us as young as can be.  She is a fourth grader at Resurrection School in Rye. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, Jr., you’re what I used to call a “Castle Irishman.” It’s a term of admiration, it’s not a pejorative term.  You remind me of another son of Westchester … Jim Comey, he’s got five kids.  And what does Comey do?  He’s head of the FBI!  Is this a Roman thing … you’ve got to have five kids?  Kelly … and Comey?  Or the Plunketts!

Al Kelly:

I don’t know … I’m the oldest of seven.  We never really set out, when we were engaged or in our early years of marriage, with a particular number of children in mind.  It is what it is.  There was no plan for us vis a vis children.  But we have five terrific kids.  The older four have gone to … Boston College and we’ve had four BC graduates.  Father Lahey, their president, told me our fourth grader is already accepted into the Class of 2026! 

William O’Shaughnessy:

So your faith – the Catholic faith of the Roman Church – means a lot to you? 

Al Kelly:

It does.  I grew up … my parents still live in the Crestwood section of Yonkers. My dad goes to Mass every single day at Annunciation in Crestwood.  I can’t quite be that loyal.  It does mean a lot to me.  I’m very fond of our current cardinal and he has me extraordinarily involved in the Board of Trustees of Saint Joseph’s Seminary.  I am on the Finance Council of the Archdiocese of New York.  I’m the Vice President of the New York Catholic Foundation.  So he’s a hard guy to say no to.  I have a lot of faith in him and a lot of faith in our Church.  It is an important part of my life.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, who better to ask:  What do you think of the new Pope?  I can’t get enough of the guy …

Al Kelly:

I do think he’s been an incredible breath of fresh air.  One of the challenges the Church has is that it has lost a great deal of people.  Not necessarily to other faiths or other churches … just the fact that they’ve lost them.  I think they can be brought back and I think Pope Francis has been a real evangelist and I happen to think Cardinal Dolan has that similar personality.  And quite frankly, Bill, not enough priests have this evangelistic personality and objective where they really need to understand the Church is about the people and we need to have the people there for the Church to be vibrant.  I think that message the Pope is sending is that we need people back and involved in the Church and I think he’s done a wonderful job of setting tone in his first year as Pope. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly … Mario Cuomo … father of our present governor, Andrew Cuomo, was rooting for your friend Cardinal Dolan to be pope.  Did you ever talk to the cardinal and say, did you want the job?

Al Kelly:

Well, I think he, like many people in that position, would do whatever you are asked, much like our incredible young women and men who serve in the military.  I’ve gotten a chance to witness some of these people in this role of running the Super Bowl.  These people are incredibly selfless and do what they’re needed to do and go where they need to go and I think people like Cardinal Dolan will do what is necessary and what is right.  And if the wisdom of the other 125 Cardinals would be that he should be the pope, I think he would gladly embrace that.  If the wisdom is that he should be the head of the Archdiocese of New York, he would be happy doing that as well.  That’s one of the great things about him: he’s living in the moment. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred Kelly, Jr. … I don’t want to patronize you, but you have neighbors … in Scarsdale, Bronxville, Rye and Bedford … places with a lot of “yuppie,” hedge fund guys who take and give nothing back.  Do you and Peggy ever get kind of discouraged when you look around you … at the lack of manners … the lack of involvement?  The selfishness?

Al Kelly:

We do what we do and we don’t look around at others or judge other people.  I think both of us feel extraordinarily blessed.  I’ve had success from a combination of hard work and good fortune and our big things are healthcare and Catholic education and that’s the real core or our focus from a charity perspective, Bill.  It’s something we believe: if we’ve had some good fortune, we should try to help other people where we can.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Second time I’ve mentioned him, but Mario Cuomo said he prays for “sureness.”  Your Catholic faith, you’ve spoken eloquently of it this morning … are you … sure … about all this? 

Al Kelly:

You have to have faith.  Without it, it kind of leaves a void.  Does that mean our Church is perfect?  It’s far from it.  And it has its warts like every other or many other organizations do and I think one of the things Pope Francis is trying to do is deal with some of those warts.  Whether you look at the lack of men going into the priesthood …  I don’t know what it’s going to be like for my kids.  Who is going to say Mass on Sunday?  I know there are many more priests retiring every year than there are being ordained and obviously it’s just mathematics!  So that certainly is a concern for me.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Did you ever think about being a priest?

Al Kelly:

I never did, no.  I don’t know why.  It is a calling … but it is not something I’ve thought about. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly, Jr., we’ve roamed far and wide.  Let’s get away from your soul and your Church for the moment and your friend the cardinal … and go back to the Super Bowl which you ran, in every telling and in every account, brilliantly.  What’s next?  You also ran that little company American Express, which has been so good to me, in every season.  Aren’t you also a director of Hershey and a big insurance company?

Al Kelly:

Well, I am not currently on the Hershey board anymore, but I am on the board of Met Life and  recently, in January, I joined the board of Visa in San Francisco and I’m on the board of New York Presbyterian Hospital where I spend a fair amount of time.  I think it’s a phenomenal facility and phenomenal organization.  I don’t know what’s next, Bill.  I’m going to take the next six – eight weeks and help them get things cleaned up and closed down, bills to pay, reports to write, tax returns to file, audits to complete.  And then I want to take some time.  I’m not looking to jump into anything.  I have to decide if I want to go back into a big corporate job or do a portfolio of things.  The thing I know for sure is I want to work full time, it’s just a matter of whether I piece together four or five or six different things that role up to a full time role.  Or whether I take a full time role in corporate America.  I also have to decide how strongly I feel about going back into financial services which is kind of where I have the most experience.  But it certainly has become an incredibly regulated industry.  

William O’Shaughnessy:

Football … Al Kelly.  I once had a conversation … again I summon the name of Well Mara, of sainted memory.  I once asked Mr. Mara:  isn’t it really sanctioned violence.  You seem like a nice, gentle guy.  Are you uncomfortable when you see them get knocked around and flattened on the field?

Al Kelly:

These folks are in incredible shape.  I’ve had the good fortune of  watching a couple of N.F.L. games from the field and from that angle and perspective, Bill, you really see how fast and tough the game is.  I think it’s one of the challenges and Commissioner Goodell talked about it.  One of the challenges for the  League is how to make sure these young men who play the game are as protected as they can possibly be.  But on the other hand, the roughness, the toughness of it is part of the attractiveness of the game.  I have to say that although I’m a football fan, I’m probably a college basketball fan more than anything else.  I didn’t take this job because of this dying love for football – or even of sports – I took this job because of a love for this region of the country where I grew up and seeing that this incredible, ultimate football game could be a catalyst for economic benefit, tourism, charitable legacy work for this region and galvanize people around the Super Bowl much more than just watching a football game.  And that’s what got me excited about this opportunity and has me feeling good about it now that it is over.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Flash … I’ve got a thought.  Have you ever thought … Al Kelly, Jr. … about politics?

Al Kelly:

There was a time, Bill … probably as little as ten years ago when I did.  My father dabbled in it a little bit in Yonkers …

William O’Shaughnessy:

What did he do?

Al Kelly:

He ran for the local city council in Yonkers.  I have to admit, I’ve been quite turned off, quite honestly.  To fix it, we almost would need a wave of people to come in at the same time with the same objective of saying let’s get rid of this nonsense and say what do we must do to really fix our problems.  It feels like whether it’s at the state or federal level, the country is paralyzed and I’m the kind of guy who likes action, likes closure and I don’t see a lot of action or closure in government right now, so that’s not something I see myself doing at this point.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Is there anybody out there whose conduct commends itself to your favorable judgment?  Anybody you admire abroad in the land?

Al Kelly:

Well I think Rob Astorino has done a terrific job as the Westchester county executive.  I know people see their property taxes going up.  But their taxes aren’t going up because of the Westchester tax.  Westchester County taxes are a small piece of it.  Rob, I think, has taken very much a business approach to this by not trying to make his job bigger, but to make his job smaller.  And to try to really focus on what’s important.  And I think he’s done a really nice job in Westchester. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

What about the governor he might run against?  Andrew?

Al Kelly:

Well, I think Governor Cuomo has done a good job as well.  He took on the courageous decision of doing something about the Tappan Zee Bridge and these are not easy decisions because of the fact that it takes years and years for these things to happen and you start these projects and you’ll never see them end on your watch.  And I know when I was at the White House, President Reagan initiated the new 747′s that would serve as Air Force One … but he was never going to fly on a 747 as Air Force One.  But those were courageous decisions to start something somebody else is going to get credit for.  That takes some courage. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

When you were at the White House, what did you do for President Reagan?

Al Kelly:

I was in charge of Information Technology for eight of the eleven agencies that comprise the Office of the President.  So I had the desktops, which at the time were word processing machines and I was converting over to IBM pc’s.  I was there during the email system profs which got a lot of  attention during the Iran Contra affair where John Poindexter and Bud McFarlane and ultimately Ollie North all had their … the history books will write that it is the first time people realized that – unlike phone calls that go away when they’re over – emails don’t disappear. … what really was the first instant of an email being a real zinger and capturing something that somebody did after the fact when the person would have thought it might have been private or might have gone away.  It was an incredible time for me as a young person to have a job of that stature and be able to enjoy Washington which is a wonderful city … a great place to live and we enjoyed the three years we were down there.

William O’Shaughnessy:

What did you think of Ronald Wilson Reagan?

Al Kelly:

I can’t say enough good things about him.  Again, a guy who had vision, tried to pull people together of all kinds.  We’ve talked about it, but it’s true … he and Tip O’Neill could get in a room together – their politics were vastly different – but let’s get stuff done.  It’s been so disappointing to me that President Obama and John Boehner can’t get in a room and put stuff aside and say: for the good of the country, let’s just get things done!  I’d be hard pressed for anybody to be terribly impressed with the list – or lack of a list – of things that have gotten done, unfortunately, since president Obama became President.  It’s not all his fault.  But it’s a short piece of paper.  It’s not a chapter in a book. It’s not even probably a full page in a chapter.  That’s because Washington has been really in a state of being paralyzed. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

What do you think about President Barack Obama?

Al Kelly

I did not vote for him … but when I watched him on Election Night and when I watched him on the first Inauguration … I said: you know what … this is going to be good for the country.  He is going to be a real breath of fresh air.  He’s going to bring people together.  He’s going to galvanize people.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been.  It’s been anything but that.  He’s been a bit too divisive and hasn’t really galvanized people.  And unfortunately, president of the United States is a humungous job and, quite frankly, if you look at his resume and his background, you wouldn’t hire him for president of practically anything. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You would … not?

Al Kelly:

You wouldn’t … just on the merits of what he’s got on his resume!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Could he have run the Super Bowl like Alfred Kelly, Jr.?

Al Kelly:

I don’t want to get into that … I’m sure many people could have done a better job than I did.  I’m happy with what I did, but I don’t want to get into comparing who else could have done it.

William O’Shaughnessy:

I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but as I think about all the information and computer stuff in your background … you don’t look like a “computer geek” … yet your were running the damn White House.

Al Kelly:

Well, you’ve got to remember, Bill …  I have a 1980 Computer Science degree from Iona College and today my 10-year-old runs rings around me.  You wouldn’t want me …

William O’Shaughnessy:

You’re kidding …?

Al Kelly:

Oh, my gosh!  It’s changed.  It’s one of the most incredible things about the last 30 – 40 years, the changes in technology. And the speed at which they are changing.  It is truly amazing.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Al Kelly … you’re a man of so many parts … I have to ask what you think of this NSA spying on our European friends? It seems everything you do these days, the government is watching …

Al Kelly:

Well, I think the government has to do its job of safeguarding us.  I think it’s one of the principal jobs of the Federal Government … to safeguard our borders and safeguard our liberty.  And I’m not smart enough, Bill, to judge exactly what we ought to do to make sure we’re safe.  That said … I do think some spying, some active listening, probably has to play a role in that activity of protecting our freedom and protecting our way life and protecting our borders.  Whether it has gone too far is not really – I don’t have enough information – to make that judgment.  I’m not sure there’s really anybody in the private sector that does have enough information to make the judgment if we’ve really gone too far.  I could tell you we’d all be very upset if the Federal government wasn’t doing the things necessary to protect our liberty … because at the end of the day the thing that makes our country the great country it is, is that it is a true democracy and we do live in true freedom where you have all kinds of states doing all kinds of things but we all do coalesce as one country behind our freedom!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred F. Kelly … what does F stand for?  I’ll bet I can guess.

Al Kelly:

Francis …

William O’Shaughnessy:

You’ve been very generous to indulge my curiosity about you and my questions.  I’ve admired you from afar for a long time.  How old are you now?

Al Kelly:

55, Bill … a young 55!

William O’Shaughnessy:

But you’re not finished yet, are you?

Al Kelly:

No, I feel … I’ve got a 10-year old.  No, I’m not finished.  I honestly think there will be at least two more chapters to my life.  Probably three … I want to continue to have a very active corporate career over the next number of years, again in one job or in a portfolio of jobs.  I’ve had a dream that, in my first stage of retirement, I’d go teach at the college or graduate school level and that remains a dream I would like to fulfill.

William O’Shaughnessy:

What would you teach?

Al Kelly:

I would probably teach a combination of management, leadership classes as well as product marketing classes … not computer science classes!  And the third chapter would be to travel, enjoying grandchildren, continuing to catch up with friends and those kinds of things. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Let me beg another moment, Alfred Francis Kelly, Jr., what makes a good manager?  Who better to ask?

Al Kelly:

Bill, I feel there’s a huge difference being a good manager and a good leader.  I think a good manager is somebody who makes the trains run on time and fixes problems and has good follow-up and runs good meetings.  I think a leader ideally does those things … but a leader sets a vision.  A leader makes sure their ego is in check and their most important job in the world is to get great people around them.  A leader is somebody who is incredibly empathetic to their people and doesn’t look at their people like an asset like a building or technology, but realizes their people are human beings and treats them as such.  For me, the ultimate test of somebody being a good leader is if someone will follow them to the ends of the earth and work for them and tell other people you should work for this person.  Those are kind of the litmus tests of what I think are great leaders and many of them are good managers.  Some great leaders may not be as good on making the trains run on time, but they’re smart enough to put people in place who do know how to make the trains run on time. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

He ran the Super Bowl, among many other things.  His name is Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.  He’s a child of Westchester, a son of our county and we’re so proud of him.  Are you going to write a book about all the pressures and all the people and all the pleadings and importunings visited on you for tickets to that damn Super Bowl?  And the parking passes, even worse!

Al Kelly:

I don’t think so.  I probably could write a somewhat interesting book!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Did a lot of people pressure you?

Al Kelly:

It wasn’t too bad.  I was amazed at the amount of … I wouldn’t call it pressure … but interesting was the amount of people who wanted to work on this effort.  I probably got a thousand resumes or inquiries and at its height I had 31 full-time people.   So, I don’t know whether that’s a sign of when I started … we were still – not that it’s great now – still coming out of the hangover period of the late 2008 – 2009 meltdown.  But I also think the N.F.L.’s got an incredible brand.  The Super Bowl is incredible.  This was a Super Bowl of many firsts and to that end people were very interested.  I got ticket requests like crazy, but we were able to manage through it. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Would you like Goodell’s job?

Al Kelly:

Roger has done a phenomenal job and has many, many great years ahead of him and I root for him to do well for decades to come.  I’ll go do something else and let him do his job! 

William O’Shaughnessy:

One final, crazy question … you and Peggy courted at the Beechmont, the local saloon.  Do you ever go back?

Al Kelly:

We haven’t been back in a while, I have to confess.  It’s probably been four or five years since we’ve been there.  Bill, when we first got married we lived in Mount Vernon and then we lived in two different homes in New Rochelle and when we lived in New Rochelle we would go there.  But now we’ve been up in the Harrison-Rye section of the county for almost seven years now.  So we don’t necessarily come down.  We come down a lot for Iona College basketball games but I haven’t been to the Beechmont or a lot of the New Rochelle hangouts I spent a lot of days and nights at in my Iona College years.

William O’Shaughnessy:

You honor us with your presence.  I promised your office … I’m running late, and they’re waiting for you in Manhattan!

Al Kelly:

Bill, thank you.  It’s been a pleasure to be with you.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. is his name … it will be interesting to see what’s next for this guy.

 

# # # 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with Alfred F. Kelly, Jr.

 

 

DSC_0012[1]

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

Winter Notes 2014

“In the midst of winter … I found within myself an invincible summer.”

                                                                                                    – - – Albert Camus

 

I’ve always loved the quote.  And now as I sit at my desk on this January day struggling to pull together my fifth book (another anthology), I shake off the cold weather blues by reflecting on just how lucky I am. 

I’ve written previously of the good fortune which has accompanied me in every season of my already long life … even during the turmoil and chaos of recent years.

Happy Rockefeller once told me:  “Good friends rally round when life turns sad and difficult.”  And Mario Cuomo advised me recently to “sweep away the rubble …”  But I can’t discard my gratitude to some wonderful individuals whose encouragement and friendship sustained me during the travails of the last several years.

You will recognize a lot of familiar, if disparate, types among these good souls.   But every single one of them went out of their way to do something nice for me and mine at least once.  But I must admit I taxed the friendship of a great many on an almost daily basis.

As I consider my good fortune and tally up my blessings … there are, to be sure, some others.  But these are the ones whose generosity I’ll remember. 

I’m grateful for their kindness in any season …

And I don’t forget …

Cindy Adams … Roger Ailes … Ahmet Aloqui … Eleanor Alter, Esq. … Gregorio Alvarez … Joe Amaturo … Joe Apicella … David Aronson, Esq. … Michael Assaf … Rob Astorino … Fabio Avendano … Jon Ballin … Vanessa Battle … Special Agent Charles Beaudoin …Joseph Berger … Kara Bennorth … Henry Berman … Judge Jeffrey Bernbach … Karen Dobbis Bernbach … Jerry Biggins … Robert Blau … Carol Bobrowsky … Dr. David Breindel … Gerardo Bruno … Colin Burns, Sr. … Billy Bush … Jonathan Bush … Dr. Steven Butensky … John Cahill … Suzanne Calabrese … Kylie & Louis Cappelli … Father Michael Carnevale, OFM … Peter Carpenter … Commissioner Pat Carroll … John Catsimatidis … Lachlan Cartwright … Trooper Matt Cashman … Chuck Castleberry … Father Joe Cavoto, OFM … Guillaume Chamot-Rooke … Jody Chesnov … Jennifer & Douglas Clement … Maria Cuomo Cole … David Patrick Columbia … Judge Matthew Cooper … Tim Corvo, Esq. … Jerry Cummins … Bill Cunningham … Jim Cunningham … Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo … Governor Mario M. Cuomo … Matilda Raffa Cuomo … Cynthia Foster Curry … Tony Damiani … Mayor Ernie Davis … Robert Davis … Lydia Devine, Esq. … Fred Dicker … Judge Tom Dickerson … Fiorita & Michael DiLullo … Joey DiMarco … Chief Lou DiMeglio … Abramo DiSpirito … Timothy Cardinal Dolan … David Donovan … Jimmy The Doorman … Jose The Doorman …  Judge Ann Dranginis … Bruno Dussin … Dr. Fritz Ehlert … Dr. Marc Sabin Eisenberg … Kevin Scott Elliott … Lee Elman … Ambassador Edward Elliot Elson … Frank Endress … Judge Saralee Evans … Erica Farber … Michael Fasano, Esq. … Tony Federici … Steve Fisher … Dick Foreman … Joe Fosina … Justice Samuel George Fredman … Judy Fremont … Scott Fybush … Cindy Hall Gallagher … Dr. Tom Gallagher … Ambassador Charles Gargano … Leon Geller … Christine Gemelli … Jim Generoso … Simoni Gentile … Raul Geraldo … Edward “Ned” Gerritty … Gary Gerstein … Judge Charles Gill … Marla Golden … Marty Goldsmith … Terry Golway … Shari Gordon, Esq. … Jeff Greenberg … Rich Guberti … Jo Hallingby … Ron Harris … Michael Harrison … Graham Hastedt … Donald Hayde, Esq. … Cynthia Hayes … John Hennessy … Billy Herman, Esq. … Luis Hernandez … Maggie Hernandez … Debbie Hield … Trooper Jim Holm … Judy Huntington … Billy Jacobs … Joan Jedell … Richard Johnson … Robert Johnson … Thomas Johnson … Dr. Bob Jones … Charlie Kafferman … Larry Kaiser … Noel Kane … Mel Karmazin … John Kelly … William Kennedy … Mike Kinosian … Hon. Henry Kissinger … Ralph Kragle … Erwin Krasnow, Esq. … Cappy LaBarbera … Senator George Latimer … Franco Lazzari … Mike Licalzi … Philip Lombardo … Salvatore Lombardi … Egidiana Maccioni … Marco Maccioni … Mario Maccioni … Mauro Maccioni … Sirio Maccioni … Alec MacGillis …  Kevin Mackin, OFM … Ed Mancuso … John Mara …  Carl Marcucci … Charles Masson … Michaele McCarthy … Brian McCormick, Esq. … Kevin Barry McGrath, Esq.  … John McKenna … Patrick McMullan … Paolo Middei … Barbara & Joseph Migliucci … Faith Miller, Esq. … Judge Sondra Miller … Mark Miller … Suzi Mion … Dr. Sandy Mirabile … Jay Mitchell … Wendy Moger-Bross … Joe Mondello … Tom Mullen … Betty Ann Mummert … Dan Murphy … Deborah & Declan Murphy … Mark Murphy … Ryan Murphy … Ted Murphy … Fred Nachbauer … Joe Napolitano … Jimmy Neary … Ambassador Edward Noonan Ney … Judy Ney … Vu Nguyen … Julian Niccolini … Margaret Noonan … Deborah Norville & Karl Wellner … Ken Norwick, Esq. … Amelia Nulty … Flynn Nulty … Tucker Nulty … Dr. Joseph Nyre … Anita Oken … Ellen & Ray Oneglia … Bill O’Neill … Cara Ferrin O’Shaughnessy … Coco O’Shaughnessy … David Tucker O’Shaughnessy … Isabel O’Shaughnessy … Julie Ascenzo O’Shaughnessy … Kate Wharton O’Shaughnessy … Lacey O’Shaughnessy … Lily O’Shaughnessy … Matthew Thayer O’Shaughnessy … James O’Shea … Phyllis Steves & Bob Partridge … Gregg Pavelle … Alina Pedroso … Dr. Paul Pellicci … Joe Percoco … Al Pirro, Esq. … Judge Jeanine Pirro … Kathy & Dr. Rich Pisano … Ray Planell … Caryl Donnelly Plunkett … Kevin Plunkett … William Plunkett … Postmaster Vincent Polacco … Mary Porcelli … Dr. Ken Porter … Assemblyman Gary Pretlow … Dominic Procopio … Doug Quinn …  Dan Rather … Ambassador Ogden Rogers Reid …  Joe Reilly … Phil Reisman … Elva Amparo Reynoso … Eric Rhoads … Dan Ribicoff … Anthony Riccardi … Murray Richman, Esq. … Judge Vincent Rippa … Col. Marty Rochelle … Joseph “Jim” Rocco … Tim Rooney, Sr. … Cristina Rose … Janine Rose … Alan Rosenberg … Marjorie Rubin … Gianni Russo … Constable Pete Russo … Ed Ryan … Dr. Steven Safyer …  Emilia St. Amand … Joao “Bamboo” Santos … Steve Savino … Mike Scully … Judge Judy Sheindlin … Judge Alan Scheinkman … Michele Silva Thomas, Esq. … John Sterling …  Liz Bracken Thompson … Geoff Thompson … Mark Simone … Barry Slotnick, Esq. … Emily Smith … Jan Johnson Smith … Liz Smith … John Spicer … General Joe Spinelli … Rob Speyer… Renee & Stuart Stengel … Don Stevens … Gayle Stevenson … Chuck Strome … Howard Sturman … Laurie & Rob Taishoff … Joan & Val Taubner … Tom Taylor … Steve Tenore … Ann Wharton Thayer … Janet & Wes Tilden … Jonathan Tisch … Father Robert Tucker … Irma Valencia … Jesus Valencia … Charles Valenti … John Valenti … Sean Vokhshoorzadeh … Alex Von Bidder … Ron Vuy … Mario Edwardo Wainer … Sabrina Wender … Ed Whitman … Bud Williamson … Rabbi Amiel Wohl … Greg Wright … Francis X. Young … Zahir Ziani … William Zimmerman … Guliano Zuliani … Todd Zuzullo.  

I still love that “invincible summer” line.  But before summer comes spring.

Pitchers and catchers report next week.

# # #

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this piece.

 

The Passing of Ambassador Edward Noonan Ney

William O’Shaughnessy

President

Whitney Media

WVOX and WVIP

 Re: 

The Passing of

Ambassador Edward Noonan Ney

January 10, 2014

 

“Edward Noonan Ney was the classiest ad man who ever climbed into a gray flannel suit.

He was the Fred Astaire of Madison Avenue and the most charming guy in the room. 

He was the very antithesis of the Mad Men we see on television.  Ed classed up the profession.”

 

Contact

William O’Shaughnessy
914-235-3279
914-980-7003

The Passing of Bob Grant

“We are all his students.  And anyone who approaches a microphone on this sad day owes him.

He could be infuriating, caustic and, often, outrageous.  But he was an American Original and a great champion and exemplar of Free Speech. 

I know he’s been lethal on the subject of the extraordinary individual I most admire in public life in America.  And he once called me a ‘Stooge for Mario Cuomo.’  And that’s when he was in a really good mood!

But Bob Grant was a gifted performer and a provocative social commentator.  As the Dean of talk show hosts, he was without peer in our profession. 

I always thought the guy was like Lazarus in the Bible:  you couldn’t kill him!”

 

Contact

William O’Shaughnessy
914-235-3279
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com


WO Interview w/ Roger Stone author of The Man Who Killed Kennedy … The Case Against LBJ

William O’Shaughnessy

President & Editorial Director

WVOX and WVIP 

Interview with 

Roger Stone

author of

 The Man Who Killed Kennedy …

 The Case Against LBJ

Also Reflections on President Obama … Nelson Rockefeller …

Mario Cuomo … Andrew Cuomo … Chris Christie … Richard Nixon

 

December 10, 2013

 

William O’Shaughnessy:

As the snow falls here in the heart of the Eastern Establishment, our first snowstorm of the year … we have with us this morning, for the next several minutes while we’re in your care and keeping, a man of politics and he’s also a man of letters.  You’ve see him on cable television. many, many times.  He’s been an advisor to presidents of the United States.  His name is Roger Stone.  His new book is controversial, for sure.  That’s no surprise.  Roger Stone, your book is called The Man Who Killed Kennedy, The Case Against LBJ.  Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that Lyndon Johnson whacked Jack Kennedy?

Roger Stone:

I really do.  Not only do I believe it, but my book goes far beyond theory or conjecture.  I make the kind of case you could take to court.  I make the kind of case that uses fingerprint evidence, eyewitness evidence to tie a man – Malcolm Wallace – who I demonstrate is a hit man for Lyndon Baines Johnson – I take him right to the sixth floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository building.  I don’t argue that Johnson did it alone, I do think there was a – I hate this word – “conspiracy” to kill JFK.  I do think the Central Intelligence Agency, organized crime and big Texas oil was in it.  Indeed, I just named all the key allies of Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Johnson is the missing piece of the puzzle that’s been sitting in plain sight for 50 years.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone … you even suggest Jack Ruby was an LBJ guy. 

Roger Stone:

Yes … the Warren Commission tells us Jack Ruby has no known connection to organized crime.  That’s an absurdity.  He’s a soldier for Carlos Marcello.  Carlos Marcello is the mobster who runs the mob in both Texas and Louisiana.  Marcello’s ties to Johnson are indelible.  Indeed, Marcello paid Johnson $55,000.00 month in a bribe to protect his illegal gambling operations in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.  In fact, within days of Lyndon Johnson becoming president, the wire taps that Attorney General Robert Kennedy put on organized crime figures are immediately terminated.  So yes, I argue that Ruby had a long relationship with Marcello, and Marcello has a long relationship with LBJ. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You counseled presidents, among them Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.  You have some fabulous quotes from Nixon.  Do you think Nixon really believed LBJ was the bad guy?

Roger Stone:

I don’t think he believed it initially.  I think he originally believed the story that the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told him, which was that Lee Harvey Oswald committed this crime … that he was a Communist … and that he acted alone.  Once Nixon saw Ruby blow Oswald away on national TV as millions of others did … Bill, I’m sure you remember that horrible day … he immediately recognized Ruby as a man who had been introduced to him in 1947 as a protégée of Lyndon Johnson.  And, indeed, Richard Nixon had put Jack Ruby – then known as “Jacob Rubenstein” – on the House Un-American Activities Committee payroll as a part-time informant at the behest of his colleague Congressman Lyndon Johnson.  The most telling quote though is Nixon … when I finally asked him, point-blank and he said: “That was the thing about Lyndon and me … we both wanted to be president … but I wasn’t willing to kill for it.” 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone …  JFK … television has been awash with reminiscences of that awful day. The problem with all of them is they all end with a caisson and a riderless horse going down Pennsylvania Avenue.  Does it really matter who pulled the damn trigger … who shot him?  Does it matter?

Roger Stone:

Sure it does.  The American people have been falsely led to believe that, firstly, it was Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone and then that fell apart.  There are so many questions about the Warren Commission’s conclusions.  I don’t see how any person with any objectivity or intelligence can believe them.  Well then, the government falls back to the idea that it was an “international conspiracy” and that JFK was somehow killed by the Russians or Cubans of which there is not one iota of evidence.  John Kennedy was killed by a domestic conspiracy.  He was killed because he was trying to lead this country toward the exits in Viet Nam.  He was killed because he refused to invade Cuba again.  He was killed because he refused to assassinate Castro.  He was killed because he was making certain monetary changes in our money policy.  He was killed because he repealed the oil depletion allowance … the sweetheart tax breaks oil millionaires get.  I don’t think there is any question he was removed in a coup d’état.  And as the Latins say: the person who derives the greatest benefit from the crime is the person who committed it.  That would be … Lyndon Baines Johnson.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone, tell us about this so-called LBJ hit man. What’s the story on this cat? 

Roger Stone:

Malcolm “Mac” Wallace is a person who worked for Lyndon Johnson throughout his whole life in a series of political patronage job.  He is an “expert marksman,” the highest honor the US Marine Corps awards.  Whereas  Oswald was merely a “marksman” which is the lowest rating they provide.  I tie Wallace and LBJ in my book to a series of eight murders in Texas.  Murders to cover up corruption.  Murders to cover up embezzlement.  Murders to cover up vote stealing.  Lyndon Johnson could order up a murder they way you and I could order up a ham sandwich.  Wallace is indelibly tied to Johnson again and again.  When he gets indicted for one of these murders – for first degree murder – he is bailed out by two of Johnson’s biggest fundraising fellows and he is defended at trial by Johnson’s personal attorney John Cofer.  He actually gets convicted – Wallace this is – of first degree murder, but he gets a five-year suspended sentence.  And I trace him to murders involving the Billy Sol Estes case where government informants who were squealing on Johnson’s corruption were murdered – at least three of them.  Henry Marshall, an Agriculture agent who was looking into Johnson’s relationship with Billy Sol Estes, the flamboyant Texas wheeler-dealer, was found murdered.  That’s another of Mac Wallace’s victims.  So I think this is the absolute key point people forget. In November of 1963, John Kennedy was not just going to dump LBJ from the ticket, Johnson was a man staring into the abyss.  He was facing Federal prosecution in two gigantic scandals of the time.  The Bobby Baker Scandal – Baker was the secretary of the Senate and essentially had accepted millions in bribes for Johnson.  But more importantly: the Billy Sol Estes Scandal where Robert Kennedy and the Justice Department are aggressively pursuing Johnson and they had leaked a package to Life magazine.  Life magazine has nine full-time reporters on the ground in Texas digging into Johnson’s corruption for a December 1st cover issue.  That’s the end for LBJ.  He’s not just facing political oblivion … he’s facing federal prosecution and the penitentiary.   And in November of 1963 it makes him a very, very desperate man. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

The book is called The Man Who Killed Kennedy … The Case Against LBJ.  We’re speaking to the author Roger Stone.  Roger, we want to ask you about some presidents you’ve known.  But I’ve also got to ask you … LBJ has some relatives around.  Have you heard from any of them?  

Roger Stone:

I understand that the Johnson Library Board, where two of his daughters serve, is not very happy.  I was booked by CNN to be on with Erin Burnett on their Crossfire program until Tom Johnson, the former chairman of CNN, who also happens to be a member of the LBJ Library Board, spiked the segment.  I find that disappointing because that’s Soviet style censorship.  I don’t ask you to believe my book.  I just ask you to consider it.  Read it and see what you think for yourself.  But for CNN or the Huffington Post, for that matter, or the Washington Post or the New York Times to come along and say: don’t read that … you shouldn’t read that … that’s censorship.  And it’s really very sad.  I’m happy to say that thanks to the interest of programs like this one, Bill, and talk radio and the Internet … and thank God for Fox Television in this case … my book has gotten more than enough exposure.  It is a New York Times bestseller.  It was number 19 last week in the nation out of the top 100.  It’s a USA Today bestseller.  It reads like a crime novel.  It a story of ambition and greed and politics and power and intrigue and  murder and cover-up.  It’s kind of a fast-moving thriller in a way.  And the political connections, I think, will astound people. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

It is a fast-moving thriller, all right.  Who the hell knew you could write!  You’ve counseled presidents … you’re a man of politics.  You’ve got a lot of pretty good research in here …

Roger Stone:

I’ve got a great research partner … Mike Colapietro.  But the truth is: I’ve always been able to read.  The problem is to write.  I’ve always been spending my time writing advertising copy for the various clients and causes I work for.  And, of course as you know, it’s a lot easier to write a book without limitation than it is to write, say a 30-second radio ad.  Or a 60 second radio ad.  It’s tough to get it into 60 seconds sometimes.  I have a book coming out in September which is really the sequel.  It’s called Nixon’s Secret.  It will explain the connection between the Bay of Pigs and the Kennedy assassination and Watergate.  They all are interrelated.  More importantly, it will explain the Nixon pardon by Ford and it will also explain the 18 1/2 minute gap.  So I think history has often wanted to know why were these guys breaking into the Watergate.  Nixon was 25 points ahead of his opponent.  Why did he need to do that.  Why in the world did Ford sacrifice his reelection and pardon Nixon?  That’s the next topic I intend to tackle. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger … I hope this doesn’t sound like a silly question, but are you looking over your shoulder?  Are you concerned someone is going to whack you

Roger Stone:

That was a concern of my wife and my family when the book was finished.  But in all honesty, what I generally found when I went to Texas is that LBJ was a man who ruled by fear rather than by affection.  Now it’s very easy to find people who love Jack and Bobby Kennedy.  It’s very hard to find anybody who loved Lyndon Johnson.  People were for him because they feared him.  They feared his retribution.  Indeed one was with Billy Sol Estes, one of his closest associates who went to prison and kept his mouth shut. Sol Estes went to a Texas grand jury … and he laid out the details of eight murders before the grand jury including the murder of John F. Kennedy.  Billy Sol Estes writes to the Justice Department in detail accusing Johnson of the murder of John Kennedy.  Why?  Because Johnson was dead and there was no more retribution to be let out.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger we’ve followed you for years … how old are you?

Roger Stone:

61.  A spry … 61.

William O’Shaughnessy:

You’ve counseled presidents.  You shuttle between Washington, New York, Miami.  Give us your read on Barack Hussein Obama.

Roger Stone:

Well, I think he’s the worst president in my lifetime.  I am not surprised because his record in the US Senate did not indicate great achievement.  No great legislative achievements.  No great accomplishments.  He wrote two biographies.  But he didn’t write any major legislation.  I frankly think now we’re into a lame duck situation where he’s got three whole years, but his public credibility is destroyed.  These are the lowest unfavorable ratings since Richard Nixon and that was at the height of a national scandal.  So I don’t have the highest regard for him, and as you know, many, many times the most able men do not become president.  I always thought Nelson Rockefeller would have been one of our greatest presidents. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Agreed!

Roger Stone:

He had the talent.  He had the capability.  He had the “big picture” knowledge.  But he could never get there.  I think that’s tragic that a country would elect somebody like Barack Obama.  But a man like Nelson Rockefeller – for example – would never become president.  I think Robert Kennedy would have been a great president.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Speaking of which … what about Mario Cuomo?

Roger Stone:

Mario Cuomo would have been a great president!  These are big men.  Big men who think big thoughts.  Mario had the “size” for the office.  Nelson Rockefeller had the “size” for the office.  Instead we’ve elected some men who I believe to be midgets when it comes to stature and kind of a “big picture” instinct when it comes to where they want to take the country.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone … is there anyone abroad in the land today, 2013, that you admire who is fighting the good fight?  A good politician? 

Roger Stone:

I’ll tell you a guy who is very, very underrated is Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin.  Not only did he implement some serious, serious reforms to government and brought the government back into surplus from having enormous deficits, but he’s got a job boom going on.  He’s made really serious changes in the state’s public employee pension system to make it more affordable for the taxpayers.  He’s the one guy I think might be able to hold together the moderate wing and the tea party wing of his party or I should say the regular wing and the tea party wing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Chris Christie.  I like his “in your face Jersey style.”  I know it works in New York.  I know it works in Jersey.  I don’t know if it will work in Iowa.  I don’t know if it will work in New Hampshire.  I think it may be a regional thing.  He’s a very able man but it remains to be seen whether he can put it together.  I like Rand Paul from the point of view I like the things he stands for.  I don’t think he’s very attractive as a candidate.  He looks like he slept in his clothes.  He needs a haircut.  Ted Cruz.  No thanks … no thank you!

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger … I can’t let you got without asking you point blank who is going to be the next president after Obama? 

Roger Stone:

You know I’ve been in this business long enough to know that in politics a year is a lifetime.  Never mind three years.  This is wide open.  Unlike previous presidential elections where there was a front-runner based on the fact they had run before.  So McCain runs and loses and then four years later he comes back and wins the nomination.  Romney runs and loses then four years later he comes back and wins the nomination.  It’s almost like you have to have a warm-up run before you can get there.  It helps you become well known enough in the country and helps you build a core of supporters around the country to help you get there.  There is no such candidate this time.  Everyone being talked about on the Republican side certainly is a first-time candidate.  It is not apparent to me that Hillary Clinton is going to run.  I don’t think she’s made up her mind.  Should she run, she’ll be very, very formidable.  But those who say, oh, she’ll walk right in, there’ll be no contest.  That’s what they said about her the last time.  It doesn’t work that way.

William O’Shaughnessy:

How about the son of Mario Cuomo, Andrew, the governor?  I’ve watched him grow in wisdom and age …

Roger Stone:

I have very high regard for Andrew Cuomo.  I think Andrew Cuomo has tried to take New York in a different and more moderate direction.  I am glad to see that the Moreland Commission is beginning to take on the Legislature on full disclosure.  If Hillary Clinton does not run, then the only giant left in the Democratic Primary is Andrew Cuomo.  I don’t see anybody else in that field.  I think that Andrew Cuomo has grown as a politician so dramatically since his losing race for governor … he’s a man who understands power and authority and how to use it.  He’s a man who understands politics.  He avoids overexposure.  He speaks when he has something to say, but he’s not out “hot-dogging” for the media every day just to get his name in print.  I had many fundamental disagreements with him besides the fact that he’s a friend of mine.  But he’s a tremendously able man. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone … we’re roamed far and wide.  You remain a fascinating character after 61 years. Are you still doing the best dressed list for Esquire?

Roger Stone:

Yes … this year’s Best and Worst dressed.  I try to compile the 10 best and worst dressed in the world.  It comes out on New Year’s Day.  And it’s retrospective.  So in other words, I will have to produce the list of the best and worst dressed people in the world for the year 2013.  And if you have any suggestions on either side of that … please shoot me an email.

William O’Shaughnessy:

Do you still wear a tie, Roger Stone?

Roger Stone:

You know, I’m the last guy in the entire State of Florida who actually still wears a necktie.  And I wear one every day as I have every day since I was in the first grade.  I think I was born in a suit!

William O’Shaughnessy:

When you go out for supper, do you wear a jacket?  A sport coat?

Roger Stone:

Sure, I wouldn’t go out for supper without wearing one. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

You don’t do Dress Down Fridays in Florida … ?

Roger Stone:

That whole philosophy to me is a mistake. There’s an appropriate way to dress in the workplace.  And I think dress good, look good, feel good is one of my basic rules.  I can go the Bermuda Look once in a while when it gets really hot.  I will wear a blue blazer and Bermuda shorts and knee shorts.  But by and large I’m not a very informal guy.  I didn’t own a pair of blue jeans until I was in my forties and my first wife bought them for me. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

So you’re still a spiff at 61.  And a hell of a writer.  It’s called  The Man Who Killed Kennedy.  The Case Against LBJ.  And, as I mercifully yield, you’re absolutely certain he was behind it …?

Roger Stone:

I think anyone who reads the book will put it down and say Guilty.  Guilty as hell.  There’s no doubt in my mind that he plays a significant role.  Let’s take the final piece of evidence.  When his car goes into Dealey Plaza, three car lanes behind the president of the United States as it makes the 120 degree turn, Lyndon Johnson before the first bullet has been fired – and that’s the key – hits the deck.  He’s on the floor.  How do we know this?  Photographic evidence.  We’ve got the exact time the photograph was taken because it’s a news photograph.  And therefore we’ve got the time of the first shot.  It’s clear Johnson hits the deck before the first shot.  There’s also the memoir of Senator Ralph Yarborough, he was in the car with Johnson.  He notes that Johnson abruptly hits the ground before the first shot.  And then there is Secret Service member Rufus Youngblood, who tells the Warren Commission that he heard the first shot and pushed Johnson to the floor.  But then after Johnson’s death, he recanted and said … well … having been shown the news photograph that contradicts that … I really only said that because the president told me to.  So Johnson is on the floor fiddling with a walkie-talkie in the middle of a motorcade where both sides of the street are filled with friendly people.  What does he know that we don’t know?  Why is he hitting the deck? 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Questions … they’re all in the new book called The Man Who Killed Kennedy.  The Case Against LBJ.  We’ll look forward to your new book coming out all about Richard Nixon and the Cubans.  What’s the name of that?

Roger Stone:

Nixon’s Secret.  It is the secret that not only allowed him to make the greatest comeback of all time in American history but also brought him low in Watergate.  And at the same time allowed him to avoid prison through a full presidential pardon.

William O’Shaughnessy:

I want to let you in on a little secret … you may know this.  But late in life Richard Nixon and Mario Cuomo became pen pals.  Did you know they had a mutual admiration society?

Roger Stone:

I did know that because Nixon always said there were politicians of poetry and there were politicians of prose.  Mario was a politician of poetry.  He was an orator.  Nixon admired his capability as a speaker and as an orator.  And I think Mario Cuomo admired Richard Nixon’s intellect, big picture intellect about China and Russia and international affairs.  I find that men who are enormously talented in politics are always attracted to each other despite the fact that they might be in different parties. 

William O’Shaughnessy:

Roger Stone … thank you.  What a tour you’ve taken us on …

 

 

# # #

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.  He operates two of the last independent stations in the New York area: WVOX and WVIP.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files” was released in January, 2011.  He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with Roger Stone.

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-980-7003
wfo@wvox.com

Cindy Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com