Roy Goodman was truly a good man, an honorable man, a dedicated, caring, personable, and accessible “Statesman of the Senate.” Albany has seen few men of his education, intelligence, integrity, humanity and generosity of spirit. He possessed a quick wit and a good sense of humor, never used to criticize or belittle but rather used effectively to calm emotions and console during difficult discussions.
We became friends, spoke often in his office or lunched at a nearby restaurant, where I brought my long list of ideas. He counseled on what was do-able and what likely wouldn’t happen in our lifetime!
Senator Goodman was a strong advocate of tenants rights for safe, good, affordable housing. He encouraged tenant groups to meet with him in Albany to prepare for discussions on rent regulations. He suggested I attend and bring other co-op and condo owners in support of tenants, which was a new angle and well received. On another occasion, he arranged for a long-requested but not forthcoming meeting to discuss a review of City and Suburban Homes for landmark consideration. This model of housing reform apartments was in danger of demolition, and was waiting almost two years to be scheduled for review. Senator Goodman not only accomplished a meeting date but, upon hearing about the Commission’s backlog of applications, provided a grant to hire an additional staffer to enable “the train to pick up speed.” Although the timing still took more than a year, this application and a great many others were faster scheduled than they would have been without the senator’s funding initiative.
On still another community-wide concern, our senator achieved a meeting with the president of a large, prestigious hospital who had refused to meet with neighbors of several blocks facing demolition due to the hospitals’ large-scale development plan. The president agreed to meet only with the senator, but relented when Goodman insisted I be present, representing a newly formed coalition of residents.
He treated us with warmth and respect, and was admired and loved by us. He wanted the different city groups to share objectives, so he arranged an annual luncheon meeting where 20 or more group leaders each had three minutes to describe one of our current projects needing input for direction, ideas, funding or legislation. He responded to each of us, some at the meeting and others in scheduled office meetings for follow up.
Senator Goodman was a strong supporter of the arts, and we attended concerts together with our spouses. Additionally, the senator had a strong, excellent singing voice and enjoyed Christmas caroling and songfests, in earlier times.
How much we will all miss you, dear Roy, and how grateful we are, your constituents, colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, and your many friends, for the high standard you set for public service — and personal friendship.
Betty Cooper Wallerstein is president of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association
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