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Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me
How I Beat 20th Century New York State's Most Corrupt Political Machine
by Paul Van Buskirk

Overview


As District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey cracked Tammany Hall, thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, he could not crack the Upper New York State machine. In this modern-day David vs. Goliath tale, a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption.
Read more

Description


As District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey cracked Tammany Hall, thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, he could not crack the Upper New York State machine. In this modern-day David vs. Goliath tale, a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption. In the first half of the 20th century, Michael "Big Mike" Tecumseh Smith founded a political machine which, after aligning with Albany's Democratic powerhouse Dan O'Connell, became impossible to crack. After several generations of inept management, Dr. Paul Van Buskirk rejected his own prominent Republican family's views and publicly called for change. The move, led by Van Buskirk's ruthless, methodical organization, led to the Citizens Party defeating the Democrats in 1963. In this political memoir, Dr. Van Buskirk details the thrilling events leading up to the Citizens Party's nationally-recognized victory over the political machine. It also recounts how, once in office, the Citizens were inspired by President Johnson's progressive War on Poverty to channel their ingenuity and community spirit into revitalizing their decrepit mill town, steering it to become a federally-designated Model City while also earning Look Magazine's highly-competitive All-America City Award. With a sharp wit and a careful eye, Dr. Van Buskirk shares shrewd political observations and offers cautionary advice about the stark differences between running a political campaign and running a city. He also discusses the behind-the-scenes intrigue – including an attempt on his life – that eventually led to the Citizens Party's demise. Despite occurring half a century ago, the tales of corruption and political scheming, as well as the people's rise from apathy to action, will resonate in a current era of political upheaval.
Read more

About the author


Dr. Paul Van Buskirk is a licensed engineer, nationally-recognized city planner, and an accomplished educator, political leader, and author, described in Legendary Locals of Cohoes (2013) as "one of the greatest political leaders in the city's history" and recognized by the Albany Times Union (1966) as a "political giant" for his role in overthrowing the Cohoes arm of the Albany Democratic political machine. At the age of 31, he was selected for the "Distinguished Service Award" by the Albany County Junior Chamber of Commerce for his leading role in many civic projects and for helping his city be recognized as an All-America City. Look Magazine (1967) credited Dr. Van Buskirk for his role in "breaking the grip of an entranced political machine that had used every trick to stay in power." The New York Times (1973) published a piece on Van Buskirk's use of state-of-the-art management techniques to revitalize the city he grew up in.. He is the author of Resurrection of an American City (General Learning Press, (1973), a case study of the Model Cities Program. He is also a contributing author of the book Improving School Board Effectiveness (Harvard Education Press, 2015), about the relationship between school board governance and student performance. His serial essays, "European Nations are Solving Their Urban Problems" (2015), are part of the Baum Digital Collection at George Mason University. He has co-authored several articles for Planning Magazine and several research papers on urban modeling, water resources, and school board governance. He is the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from Barry University in Miami, Florida. In 2020, he was inducted to the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows. He studied engineering at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and received his PhD in behavior sciences from Barry University of Miami. He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Award and the Charles Evens Hughes Award from the American Society for Public Administration for his "courageous and imaginative work" in local government. He established a consulting firm with clients in the Northeast, the Southeast, and Puerto Rico. He is currently chairman of the board of Metro Forecasting Models, LLC, having developed copyrighted forecasting models for scores of local governments and school boards, primarily across the Southeastern U.S.
Read more

Book details

Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Subgenre:Political

Language:English

Pages:258

Format:Paperback

Paperback ISBN:9781098307981


Overview


As District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey cracked Tammany Hall, thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, he could not crack the Upper New York State machine. In this modern-day David vs. Goliath tale, a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption.

Read more

Description


As District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey cracked Tammany Hall, thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, he could not crack the Upper New York State machine. In this modern-day David vs. Goliath tale, a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption. In the first half of the 20th century, Michael "Big Mike" Tecumseh Smith founded a political machine which, after aligning with Albany's Democratic powerhouse Dan O'Connell, became impossible to crack. After several generations of inept management, Dr. Paul Van Buskirk rejected his own prominent Republican family's views and publicly called for change. The move, led by Van Buskirk's ruthless, methodical organization, led to the Citizens Party defeating the Democrats in 1963. In this political memoir, Dr. Van Buskirk details the thrilling events leading up to the Citizens Party's nationally-recognized victory over the political machine. It also recounts how, once in office, the Citizens were inspired by President Johnson's progressive War on Poverty to channel their ingenuity and community spirit into revitalizing their decrepit mill town, steering it to become a federally-designated Model City while also earning Look Magazine's highly-competitive All-America City Award. With a sharp wit and a careful eye, Dr. Van Buskirk shares shrewd political observations and offers cautionary advice about the stark differences between running a political campaign and running a city. He also discusses the behind-the-scenes intrigue – including an attempt on his life – that eventually led to the Citizens Party's demise. Despite occurring half a century ago, the tales of corruption and political scheming, as well as the people's rise from apathy to action, will resonate in a current era of political upheaval.

Read more

About the author


Dr. Paul Van Buskirk is a licensed engineer, nationally-recognized city planner, and an accomplished educator, political leader, and author, described in Legendary Locals of Cohoes (2013) as "one of the greatest political leaders in the city's history" and recognized by the Albany Times Union (1966) as a "political giant" for his role in overthrowing the Cohoes arm of the Albany Democratic political machine. At the age of 31, he was selected for the "Distinguished Service Award" by the Albany County Junior Chamber of Commerce for his leading role in many civic projects and for helping his city be recognized as an All-America City. Look Magazine (1967) credited Dr. Van Buskirk for his role in "breaking the grip of an entranced political machine that had used every trick to stay in power." The New York Times (1973) published a piece on Van Buskirk's use of state-of-the-art management techniques to revitalize the city he grew up in.. He is the author of Resurrection of an American City (General Learning Press, (1973), a case study of the Model Cities Program. He is also a contributing author of the book Improving School Board Effectiveness (Harvard Education Press, 2015), about the relationship between school board governance and student performance. His serial essays, "European Nations are Solving Their Urban Problems" (2015), are part of the Baum Digital Collection at George Mason University. He has co-authored several articles for Planning Magazine and several research papers on urban modeling, water resources, and school board governance. He is the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from Barry University in Miami, Florida. In 2020, he was inducted to the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows. He studied engineering at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and received his PhD in behavior sciences from Barry University of Miami. He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Award and the Charles Evens Hughes Award from the American Society for Public Administration for his "courageous and imaginative work" in local government. He established a consulting firm with clients in the Northeast, the Southeast, and Puerto Rico. He is currently chairman of the board of Metro Forecasting Models, LLC, having developed copyrighted forecasting models for scores of local governments and school boards, primarily across the Southeastern U.S.
Read more

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