Finally, someone is making a federal case out of honoring Hugh Carey.
On Tuesday, Rep. Ed Towns (D–Fort Greene) pushed through a bill that would rename (or, more accurately, name) the federal courthouse on Cadman Plaza East and Tillary Street “Hugh L. Carey United States Courthouse.”
The House overwhelmingly passed Towns’s bill, which would honor the man who served seven terms in the Congress, the governor who saved New York City from bankruptcy, the Democratic powerbroker who tightened the belt on the state’s profligate spending by saying “the days of wine and roses are over,” the liberal lion whose greatest regret is that he didn’t run for president in 1976, the savvy marketer who put the term “I love New York” on every tourist’s lips.
It’s expected to sail through the Senate.
“Of course it should be named after him — a lot of things should be named after him,” said Ed Koch, the former congressman and mayor who watched Carey’s leadership from a front-row seat.
“He was simply one of the greatest governors the state ever had, and certainly the greatest in the modern era,” Hizzoner continued. “Yet he has not been sufficiently appreciated. He saved both the city and the state from bankruptcy. I don’t think anyone else could have done it.”
Yeah, but naming a federal courthouse after a man who stood up after Ford told the city to drop dead — isn’t that like naming an airport after a president who fired the air-traffic controllers?
“No, it’s a perfect place because it will have his name in big letters, as he deserves,” Koch said. “The building doesn’t matter. After all, Carey built the convention center on the West Side and it was named after Javits, who had nothing to do with it.”
If it makes his desk, President Bush is expected to sign it. And why not? Late in life, Carey started acting more like a Republican than the Democratic standardbearer he was since his earliest days in politics, saving brownstones in Park Slope from the wrecking ball.
He endorsed Rudy Giuliani (and attended his wedding — the one to Judi Nathan, not the one to Donna Hanover or the subsequently annulled one to Regina Peruggi). And Carey was a bigwig in Democrats for Bloomberg, which helped get a Republican elected mayor.
The former governor, who could not be reached for comment, was last seen escorting then-gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer around Park Slope last year, showing off the very brownstones that he saved.
Carey will turn 88 on April 11.
In a related story, the House passed Towns’s other bill, this one to rename the Bankruptcy court on Cadman Plaza East after Conrad Duberstein, a Brooklyn College graduate and longtime chief judge of the federal bankruptcy court.
Duberstein died in 2005.