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Old 01-05-2013, 01:38 AM  
Uncle Pat
papapang2007 papapang2007 is offline 01-05-2013, 01:38 AM

My Uncle Pat, who has always been a great inspiration to me and many others died Thursday. He was a great man. RIP Uncle Pat.



Andrew P. O'Rourke, former Westchester county executive, dead at 79


Andrew P. O’Rourke, the Westchester county executive from 1983 to 1997, who left his mark on the county through major public works projects, the expansion of county parkland and the privatization of the county medical center, died last night at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx after a long illness. O’Rourke, who went on to serve as a state judge, was 79.

In O’Rourke’s 15 years in office, Westchester County bought more than 1,000 acres of open space and turned a former dump into Croton Point Park. He also secured public support for referendums to build a new terminal at Westchester County Airport, expand the county jail and renovate the county center.
O’Rourke’s son, Andrew P. O’Rourke Jr., said his father was surrounded by friends and family in the weeks before his death. Now it’s time for a celebration of his life, he added.
“It’s a great loss,” O’Rourke said. “It’s a great loss for Westchester. It’s a great loss for myself and he’ll be surely missed. He was a great champion of the people.”
O’Rourke, a progressive Republican, started his political career in 1965 when he was elected to the Yonkers City Council. He served on the council until 1973 and was a member of the Westchester Board of Legislators from 1974 to 1982, becoming board chairman in 1978.
Known for his sense of humor and charm, O’Rourke became county executive in 1983 when he was appointed to replace Alfred DelBello, who had resigned to become lieutenant governor. He was elected to the remainder of DelBello’s term in November that year and reelected in 1985, 1989 and 1993.
He moved to Somers in the late 1980s.
After one of the campaigns, he gave Anthony J. Colavita, the Republican county chairman at the time, a four-foot battle ax that he dubbed the “Close Combat Award.”
“That was the kind of guy he was,” said Colavita, who last saw him in August at a long lunch where they “kidded around about the old days.”.
DelBello said he and O’Rourke came up through Yonkers and county politics together and, though they came from different parties, they were always able to sit down and work out what was best for Westchester. That is an important legacy, he said.

“Despite our political infighting he would always come down on the right side for the county,” DelBello said.
County Executive Rob Astorino said O’Rourke had a major impact on the county and he often turned to him for his wise counsel.
“Those who knew him will remember him for his extraordinary wit and charm as well as his compassion for all,” Astorino said in a statement. Astorino directed that flags at county buildings be flown at half staff in his honor.
While county executive, O’Rourke was an architect of welfare reforms, particularly requiring recipients to work, that later took hold across the country. He also faced an explosion in the county’s homeless population in the 1980s and began to build transitional housing to address the county’s reliance on motels to house homeless families. He had been on welfare himself as a child after his father died when he was 2 and his mother became blind.
“He knew that people needed just a hand, not a handout,” O’Rourke Jr. said.
O’Rourke was born in Plainfield, N.J. and lived on Manhattan’s west side before moving to Yonkers. He graduated from Fordham and New York University Law School. He served as a captain in the Air Force and in the Naval Reserves and was a rear admiral in the New York Naval Militia.
He was loyal to the Republican Party, DelBello said.
“I think he saw that as his means of succeeding,” he said.
At the end of his time on office, O’Rourke signed the agreement to lease Westchester Medical Center to a quasi-public corporation to move the budget and employees off the county’s books. It was one of several efforts at privatization that he coupled with budget and staff cuts to try to keep taxes down starting in tough times in the early 1990s
After leaving the county executive’s office, O’Rourke served as a judge in the Court of Claims and then won a seat on the state Supreme court in 2000. He became the resident justice in Putnam in 2004 after sitting in Rockland and retired in December 2009. In 1991 he was nominated for a federal judgeship but was never confirmed.
O’Rourke ran for governor in 1986 against Mario Cuomo, drawing attention to Cuomo’s refusal to debate him by carrying around a cardboard cutout of the Democratic incumbent.
“I used to meet with him regularly and I was always telling him I’ve got to find a candidate for governor,” Colavita said. Then one day they met and Colavita told him, “I’ve got a candidate, that’s the good news. The bad news is you’re the candidate.”
He told his family going it it was going to be a virtual suicide mission, and it was the only race he ever lost, his son said.
Despite that, “he said it’s the greatest honor in the world to be asked to run for probably the second greatest office in the United States,” the younger O’Rourke said.

In 1986, while county executive, he ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, the father of the current governor, Andrew Cuomo.

"Andy always put his deep intellect, self-deprecating humor, and unwavering integrity toward serving the people of New York," the current governor said in a statement, citing O'Rourke's ability "to gracefully disarm political opponents as well as ease the tension of a heated debate in the courtroom."

"Despite our political differences, my family and I have always considered Andy a close friend and colleague, and he will be dearly missed," Cuomo added.

Among his accomplishments as county executive, O'Rourke expanded the Westchester County Airport, the county jail and open space. He also renovated the Westchester County Center and turned a former dump into Croton Point Park.

In the 1980s, he built transitional housing to address the county's homeless population and reliance on motels to house homeless families.

"The Westchester County Center would not be here today if he had not initiated and championed its complete rehabilitation," Astorino said. "The Westchester County Airport might still have a Quonset hut for a terminal if not for him. And our county's North and South County Trailways would probably not exist."

O'Rourke replaced Alfred Del Bellow, who resigned to become lieutenant governor. Andrew Spano, a Democrat, succeeded O'Rourke.

O'Rourke later served as state Supreme Court justice in Rockland and Putnam counties.

"Andy O'Rourke was a great judge, an outstanding county executive and most important, he possessed a warm, funny and generous spirit," former Gov. George Pataki said in a statement. "He brought excellence and integrity to all he did in public life and will be greatly missed."

O'Rourke began his political career as a member of the Yonkers City Council, serving from 1966 to 1973. From 1973 to 1982, he served on the County Board of Legislators, the last four years as chairman.

Known for his wit, O'Rourke ran television spots when he ran for governor featuring himself and a life-sized cardboard cutout of Mario Cuomo, whom O'Rourke tried to portray as the "one-dimensional governor" who refused to come out and debate. O'Rourke took the cutout, which had a constantly moving mouth, with him on campaign appearances, too.

Astorino, who said he often turned to O'Rourke "for his wise counsel and historic perspective," directed flags at county properties to fly at half-staff.

RIP Uncle Pat

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Old 01-07-2013, 10:35 PM   #11
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Very sorry, Papa...

RIP Pat
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:04 PM   #12
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so sorry papa


R.I.P
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:11 PM   #13
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My condolences Papa.

Rest in peace Mr O'Rourke. You sound like a man I would have liked to meet.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:17 PM   #14
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My sympathy to you and your family Papa.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:55 AM   #15
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Sorry for your loss brother, What a great man and thank for your service Uncle Pat. I guess this is a hereditary thing cause we have a great man in you Papa! My condolences to the entire family..
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:34 AM   #16
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Default Phil Reisman: 'Mute Mario' has kind words for O'Rourke

Before there was Clint Eastwood and the infamous empty chair, there was Andy O’Rourke and the cardboard cutout of Mario Cuomo.

The story of the cutout is a part of New York political lore — and it was briefly mentioned in many published reminiscences, appreciations and obituaries of O’Rourke, the former Westchester county executive who died last week at age 79.
Even Cuomo talked about it, but only in a WVOX radio interview that few people probably heard. (This not meant to disparage the station nor to discount its influence in the local community, but only to say that it has a limited AM signal.)
O’Rourke, a Republican, ran for governor against Cuomo in 1986 and lost by a wide margin. He was woefully underfunded.
If he had been blessed with wealth anywhere equal to that of another Cuomo opponent, Pierre Rinfret, a multimillionaire who ran in 1990 and was also clobbered, O’Rourke might’ve made it a closer race.
Rinfret lost in a landslide because he was practically a certified nut. Members of his own party called him a “brainless wonder” and a “buffoon,” among other things.
But O’Rourke was witty, charming and as erudite as Cuomo. Handsome, straight-backed and white-haired, he looked like he had been sent from central casting to play the part of a candidate
In his recollection of the man last week, Cuomo was nothing less than gracious.
O’Rourke was a “heroic figure,” he told WVOX interviewer William O’Shaughnessy, “because he was such a powerful coming together of good things. His intelligence, his vision, his sense of humor, his sense of fairness, made all the political labels meaningless.”
Back to the infamous cutout. The story goes that Cuomo, though heavily favored to win re-election, wouldn’t debate the challenger. According to some accounts, O’Rourke agreed to appear at a couple of dozen debates around the state. Cuomo accepted none of the invitations.
The frustrated O’Rourke accused the incumbent of ducking him. So he tried a little humor to smoke out the governor; he commissioned the creation of a Cuomo dummy, a one-dimensional cardboard likeness to stand in at the debates. Milt Hoffman, a retired senior editor at The Journal News, noted in a wonderful column that appeared in Sunday’s edition, that O’Rourke referred to the cutout as “Mute Mario.”

Apparently, it wasn’t a perfect representation

Cuomo recalled in the interview that “it was a very good image of me, except it was considerably thinner than I was because it was just cardboard.” (It was reportedly about 4 inches shorter, too.)
The former governor gave a cryptic explanation for why he avoided the debates. He said that early in the campaign he and O’Rourke “had always gotten together,” but the harmony between them soured.
“We had a small disagreement for a time which required on my end that I not debate until the very last moment and he — bright man that he was — thought of a way to deal with that.”
Cuomo didn’t say what the disagreement was about. However, he allowed that O’Rourke said something “about Andrew, I didn’t like.” He was, of course, referring to his son and current governor, Andrew Cuomo, who ran his re-election campaign at the time.
“And I decided to punish him,” Cuomo said. “But he punished me by debating the cardboard figure.”
What was the disagreement? And what did O’Rourke say that upset the governor?
A trip into the archives might clear up the mystery.
According to an Oct. 7, 1986, story written by Marc Humbert of The Associated Press, it seems that O’Rourke had attempted to tie Cuomo with a series of New York City corruption scandals that were coming to light at the time. O’Rourke’s running mate, Ulster County District Attorney Mark Kavanaugh, riled the Cuomo team when he said the scandals “grew out of a political organization where Cuomo made his bones.”
Cuomo said “made his bones” was a Mafia expression applied to someone who commits a major crime — murder, for instance. Kavanaugh told Humbert he didn’t know the origin of the term.
In retaliation, the Cuomo campaign then said the governor wouldn’t debate O’Rourke unless he released 10 years’ worth of tax returns and also handed over documents allegedly showing that he had done legal work for county agencies while he served as an elected county official.
Getting into the act, Andrew Cuomo said his father wouldn’t debate an opponent who made an “ethnic slur.”
Well, let’s cut to the chase. None of the allegations was ever proved on either side. And the two men did eventually debate each other, but only once.
Wounds inflicted in the heat of the campaign also healed quickly. The two men showed class. They quickly reconciled and became allies in helping to shelter Westchester’s homeless. As Hoffman pointed out in his piece, they also came together in keeping the troubled General Motors plant open in the county for about a dozen years before it finally was closed.
The ranks of the old warhorses are thinning. These are the politicians who know how to compromise, who know how to put the public first.
O’Rourke was one such politician.
“O’Rourke was good,” Cuomo said. “O’Rourke was very good. Mario Cuomo is not bad. But I tell you that cardboard cutout was a winner.”
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