disgraced N.Y. politician
disgraced N.Y. politician
Raymond Harding, 77, the influential former leader of New York state’s Liberal Party whose last years were tainted by scandal, died of cancer Aug. 9 in the Bronx, his family said.
Mr. Harding was an important power broker in the state’s sharp-elbowed political world, helping elect Mario Cuomo (D) as governor and Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) as mayor of New York City.
The party lost its ballot line in 2002 when Cuomo’s son, current Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, failed in his first bid for the office. He pulled out the race and, with his name on the Liberal line, the party fell far short of the necessary number of votes to stay on the ballot.
Born Branko Hochwald in Herzegovina, Mr. Harding came to the United States as a boy after the family fled the Balkans during World War II. He took his American name from a radio program, “David Harding, Counterspy.”
He was an aide to Gov. Hugh Carey (D) from 1975 to 1977, when Mr. Harding took the helm at the Liberal Party. The party backed both Republicans and Democrats and, because New York allows candidates to add up ballot lines, the small party frequently made the difference between winning and losing.
He jolted the Democrats in 1989 when he backed Giuliani against David Dinkins, a Democrat. Dinkins won but when Giuliani finally took office four years later, Mr. Harding was rewarded as a lobbyist and with jobs for his two sons, Robert and Russell. Russell would in 2005 be sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling $400,000 from the city’s Housing and Development corporation.
And in 2009, scandal reached the elder Mr. Harding when he admitted he took $800,000 for doing favors for the disgraced state comptroller, Alan Hevesi (D). Felony charges against Mr. Harding were dropped and he was spared jail when sentenced for a misdemeanor. Hevesi is serving one to four years in prison for an influence-peddling scheme.
Benjamin W. Heineman Sr.
Benjamin W. Heineman Sr., a Chicago-based corporate lawyer and businessman who helped modernize U.S. railways and advised President Lyndon B. Johnson, died Aug. 5 in Waukesha, Wis., after a stroke, his family said. He was 98.
Mr. Heineman was chief executive of Northwest Industries, which he formed in 1968 as a holding company for Chicago & North Western Railway, then for his other business ventures, starting with insurance. He sold the railroad to its employees in 1972 and retired as Northwest Industries’s CEO in 1985, when the company was acquired by Farley Industries for $1.4 billion.
Author Tom Murray, in his 2008 history of the C&NW, said “the Ben Heineman revolution” that began in 1956 included transitioning the carrier to all-diesel locomotion, eliminating steam; developing a computer-based system for keeping track of freight cars; establishing a department to help shippers find locations for new plants and warehouses; upgrading “worn-out” commuter cars around Chicago; and cutting back on money-losing intercity passenger routes.
In his first involvement with railroads, Mr. Heineman was credited with modernizing Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway after leading a proxy battle to take it over in 1954.