Letter: Carey: Sack an outstanding servant

To the Editor,
As I study the faces on the dais at Rye City Council meetings, I ask myself which of the men up there would I like to “have my back” in a time and place of danger. Which of them would I like on my side when the going is tough? Run your eye all the way along the dais, starting at the left end.

There is no hesitation in my choice: Joe Sack is the one.
And as my eye passes from face to face, I ask myself another question: Which of the men has a keen enough mind, enough energy and enough skill with words to take on and finish on time a serious public policy study?

There is no hesitation in my selection: Joe Sack is the one.
How do I know? Because Joe and I have been there together and done that.
It is seldom that anyone has the kind of chance I have had to size up a candidate in contrast with others by means of both close-up observation and also working together. Not only have I watched Joe Sack in action in City Council meetings, but I have also worked closely with him on a difficult and complicated local government project.

In March 2010, Mayor Douglas French announced: “I have asked former Mayor John Carey and Councilman Joe Sack to make a recommendation to the council on establishing a volunteer Litigation Case Management Committee to act as an advisory panel on our legal process. I have also asked them to make a recommendation on the structure of our Legal Department and our retainer agreements…[W]e do not want to miss this opportunity to review our overall legal operation.”

As to my own qualifications to perform this study, I had then been a member of the bar for nearly 60 years, including years of service as an assistant district attorney and a trial judge in both the New York State supreme and county courts. I had been a partner in a major New York City law firm for three decades.

It took Joe Sack and me two months to complete the requested study and submit it to the mayor and City Council. We made more than 20 separate recommendations. We dealt in detail with questions like when the city should hire outside legal counsel; how outside counsel should be selected and supervised; whether Rye should hire a deputy corporation counsel or a paralegal or legal secretary; what the qualifications of the corporation counsel should be and how that person should be selected and compensated.

I regret to say that the City Council chose to ignore the report Joe and I had spent so much time and energy over, and did not even acknowledge its receipt. Our recommendations were totally disregarded. We were amazed that a group of adult public officials could behave in so incomprehensibly rude a fashion, not to mention their lack of common courtesy. I hope to find out some day why this stonewall response was selected and by whom.

I usually vote for Democrats, in keeping with a strong tradition in my family. But I have voted for a Republican for President and once for a Republican judicial candidate.

Am I voting Republican for mayor this year just because there is no Democratic candidate running? No. If I had wanted to vote for a Democratic mayoral candidate, I could have run myself, a truly “last hurrah.”

No, the reason I am voting for the Republican mayoral candidate in 2013 is that Joe Sack is one of the most outstanding public servants I have seen in Rye since my family arrived here in 1956.

I was on the City Council for 14 years, including eight years as mayor, after having been politically active for several years before that, so I have had a chance to observe a lot of our public servants and to judge their qualifications and performance. It is seldom that anyone has the kind of chance I have had to size up one candidate in contrast with others by means of both close-up observation and working side by side on a joint project. Rye will be a better place with Joe Sack leading the City Council.

John Carey,
Former Rye City mayor