Following are notes and biographical highlights of my worklife journeys. Click on any picture to view a larger image - (Images open in a new window.) It's been a grand adventure! One filled with wonderful people. Links will take you to additional notes (where indicated.)
GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER - MY BOSS, MENTOR, STILL A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller was elected to office four times (beginning in 1958), made a serious bid for the presidential nomination in 1964, and later served as President Gerald Ford's Vice President. His visionary programs included sweeping public and public-private initiatives in education (State University of New York), transportation (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), affordable housing, and public infrastructure (Albany Mall).
I was recruited to be a manager in the newly formed New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority and served as member of Governor Rockefeller's team. During the very troubled days of the Long Island Rail Road - just after NYS MTA's purchase of the nation's busiest commuter railroad -- there were serious service interruptions and an unending wave of crisis events that eroded public confidence in the LIRR. The line, many experts believed, was coming close to a point of collapse. A crisis manager was needed. So I left a "cushy job" (said the New York Post) at American Airlines to step in.
What I found when I arrived at Jamaica headquarters was not good: 90,000 commuters depended on the LIRR to/from New York City - many were Wall Streeters, bankers and other professionals. Without reliable LIRR and MTA tranport and/or connections, New York City's economy would be affected - already, stock exchange and banking offices were being disrupted by late arriving Long Island employees. There were 270,000 "rides" a day and most were usually disrupted by one event or another during those dark days.
As the media pounded away everyday, Governor Rockefeller stepped in and, leveraging his considerable political capital and winning personality, bought time for the line to transition to state agency status, for a re-organization of the LIRR management team, and for the effects of massive capital investment to begin to show. I was point person in this five-year effort, serving as Director of Public Relations and Community Affairs, and often seconded to MTA for specific regional communications and public affairs projects. (Including campaigning to win approval for New York's largest transportation bond issue, roughly $30 billion in 2004 dollars.) (http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/lirr/)
Earlier I had been active in the governor's campaigns, serving as founder and chairman for the "Pilots for Rocky" organization, and barnstorming the state to generate aviation community support for "Rocky." We happy band of pilots flew around the state rallying our fellow airmen to "VFR" - Vote For Rocky.
MONKEYIN' AROUND - LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD STYLE
MORE MONKEYIN' AROUND
In early 1973, as the LIRR was shut down by a strike by the various operating unions for more than six weeks, I began thinking about the next chapter in my career. I was living in the hotel at the entrance to Kennedy International (on duty around the clock) and serving as spokesman for the negotiating teams (LIRR management and union leaders) "through" the federally-appointed mediator who was trying to settle the strike so the 90,000+ daily commuters and 80,000+ other riders could have service from the 100+ stations along the nine branches.
A headhunter called; some folks were apparently monitoring my spokesman duties (on radio, television, in the daily newspapers) and appraising my role as crisis manager -- would I be interested in coming to Wall Street? The New York Stock Exchange, the venerable institution founded in 1792, was being re organized with a new management team, a new board of directors, a new full-time chairman -- and the succession plans were being put in place for new officers. The LIRR strike ended; service resumed; I resigned and reported to 11 Wall Street as the new head of communications.
There were two officers senior to me, and I was to understudy them until they would be moving on. In the turmoil of the time, that happened quickly and they were gone and I was suddenly the point person, head of the communications staff and chief spokesman for the NYSE. These were difficult times for Wall Street and the investors, and the center of the turmoil was often the Exchange.
Paperwork snarls almost paralyzed the Street in the late 1960s, and members of Congress were circling with a hunger for "reform." The Exchange created a new board (half of the directors were "public" representatives, and half were from the Exchange member firms). A full-time chairman was recruited - James Needham, a commissioner of the Securities & Exchange Commission. He began recruiting a new management team...and so, the call from the headhunter to me. I reported to Chairman Needham.
Our "Street" boss was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Donald Regan, then Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. He was an able and fierce representative of the interests of Wall Street and served 1973-75. (In 1981 President Ronald Reagan would name Regan as Treasury Secretary; he would move then to White House Chief of Staff.)
The big immediate action that I plunged into was in Washington DC -- was taking place in the Subcommittee on Commerce and Finance of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in the House of Representatives. California Congressman John Moss (Democrat) led the 1973-1975 campaign to enact "the most comprehensive securities legislation passed by Congress since the passage of the original securities laws in the 1930s, following the market crash of 1929." (Source: John Moss Foundation: http://www.johnemossfoundation.org/h_rowen.htm)
I had an exciting introductory period as I began my new job:
My timing was good on one hand - my old boss, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, elected four times to the office, stepped down as New York State Governor on December 18, 1973, in the same year that I moved on from state government service in the ranks of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority / LIRR. It was a good decision to move on.
On December 19, 1974, "Rocky" became Vice President of the United States on (serving 1974-77). At the time, I found this to be incredible: President Nixon`s running mate and our elected vice president, Spiro Agnew, was forced to resign in October 1973, and President Nixon selected Gerald Ford to be VP (he was a prominent member of Congress for many years). Then Nixon resigns, Ford becomes president and he selects an un-elected VP - my old boss, Governor Rockefeller. Two unelected leaders guiding our nation through a very rough patch!.
And as a highly-regulated and closely-watched institution, the New York Stock Exchange was often in the media spotlight with one crisis after another.
After several intense years with the above activities I decided to move on to become a consultant and crisis and issues advisor to corporate managements. During my time at the Exchange I had close relations with dozens of company managers responsible for communications and investor relations, and provided advice on timely disclosure, materiality and disclosure, corporate governance, and related topics. I decided to do that full time in my own venture, Boerner Communications, Inc. (organized 1976).
My boss, Jim Needham, did not survive long as the reformer of the Exchange; he left shortly after I did (he departed in April 1976).
I learned a lot during my tenure at 11 Wall Street, many lessons that I applied over the years as an issues and crisis management consultant to boards, CEOs, CFOs, and senior managers. I`m proud to say that I am an alum of The Big Board.
CAPTAIN HANK ON THE AIR ... AND OVERHEAD
AVIATION WRITING LED TO GREAT ADVENTURES LATER
Early in my journalist career, I was an aviation and aerospace writer, serving as East Coast Editor of Flight, the magazine published for the corporate aviation community by the bigger-than-life Texan, George E. Haddaway. (George's aviation collection is now the centerpiece of the new "Frontiers of Flight" museum rising in Dallas near Love Field under the patronage of co-founder  US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. See http://www.flightmuseum.com/about.htm for information.) For additional information on George Haddaway See: http://www.lsfm.org/Bios/george_haddaway.html
I was also New York Editor of Air Transport World (http://www.atwonline.com) when that airline industry magazine was launched by aviation writer Joseph Murphy. My full-time job at the time was associate editor, feature writer and columnist with the Long Island Daily Commercial Review, one of the nation's first regional business newspapers, where I filed aviation stories as well as business and finance news and feature stories, and penned three columns a week.
Paul B. Townsend was the Editor and Publisher of The Review (the newspaper was later sold by Paul and wife Terry to Dolan Publications, owners of many regional newspapers in the USA and is now Long Island Business -- http://www.libn.com/). Paul was my mentor, supporter and inspiration for adopting the habit of envisioning "what might be..." (Click here for a tribute page to my mentor, Paul Townsend)
When Federal Aviation Administrator Najeeb Halaby announced that he was stepping down, he granted me his last interview in that office. That 5,000-word article cemented a long-term relationship (I had covered Mr. Halaby at FAA), resulting years later in a close business relationship when 'Jeeb left the Chairmanship of Pan American World Airways to launch Halaby International. Halaby had the support of Lawrence Rockefeller, Robert Anderson (oilman) and Thomas Watson, Jr. (IBM) in developing new ventures in developing markets.
Joining forces, Jeeb Halaby and I pursued many adventures in global markets, including extensive business activities in the Middle East. One day, a young Princeton grad showed up in the Halaby offices seeking an interim assignment while considering grad studies at Columbia School of Journalism. Miss Lisa Halaby moved "temporarily" to Amman, Jordan to assist her Dad and Hank and colleagues with various projects.
She was intelligent, worldly, hard working, and innovative, and a great help to us with various ventures, including positioning of the Kingdom of Jordan's growing airline, Alia-The Royal Jordanian Airline.
One thing led to another; Miss Halaby married His Majesty King Hussein (a Halaby-Boerner client for many years), and became Queen Nour al-Hussein (Light of Hussein). I had the privilege of coordinating worldwide media coverage of the wedding and have remained a friend of the Royal couple. King Hussein tragically passed on in 1999 after a heoic battle against cance. As I told a TV interviewer, "He was the first to reach for peace, and the US has lost an important ally in the Middle East." Fortunately, his son King Abdullah, is perhaps even more supportive of American interests in the region, and an able leader of the Jordanian people. I knew him when he was a young student here in the U.S.
For interesting stories of the newspaper's first 50 years, see: http://www.libn.com/libnat50.cfm>
For info on Mr. Najeeb Halaby, see http://www.leelanau.org/alumni/hall_halaby.asp
For info on Her Majesty Queen Nour al Hussein see her Web Site: http://www.noor.gov.jo/index.htm
PBT IN 2000
AVIATORS - FRIENDS
YOU TOOK THAT?
We honored the two county executives on Long Island who encouraged aviation use. H. Lee Dennison (right), Suffolk County Executive, was a pioneer in encouraging the preservation of airports in his county, including Republic. Ralph Caso, Nassau County Exeuctive (center) often opposed airlines and the Port Authority because of airport-related noise, but was supportive of general and specialized aviation in the county.
ADDRESSING THE 1990S CREDIT CRUNCH
The 1980s were often troubled times for bankers: The Crash of 1987, the $500 billion S&L disaster, and failure of literally hundreds of banks, and reaction by Congress and bank regulators resulting in severe tightening of credit. In the early 1990s, a coalition of retailers, investors, service firms and real estate developers engaged me to assist in breaking the gridlock between lenders and commercial borrowers...known popularly as the "Credit Crunch." Drawing on my experience with banking and financial services, I developed a set of recommendations that were presented to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, FDIC and other regulators to consider to ease credit (and get the economy moving!). A series of public meetings around the nation followed Washington meetings, and a number of the suggestions were adopted to open the credit window.
ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES - CLIENT SUCCESS STORY
MIDDLE EAST PILOTING
SAVE THE WINE INDUSTRY
In the 1980s, a new industry popped up out of the ground on Long Island's North Fork - grape growing and wine making ("Vitis Vinifera" varieties such as Chardonnay and Merlot). As the new industry developed, I helped a few hardy pioneers organize the "Long Island Grape Growers Association," (LIGGA). In seeking support for legislation (and funding) to help New York State's beleaguered wine-grape industry, Governor Mario Cuomo asked me to get involved to help get legislation passed. As part of the omnibus package, $2 million ($5MM in 2004 dollars) was appropriated to help the industry, and the New York Wine Grape Foundation was formed by the Legislature. I was nominated to the board by Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink and appointed by Governor Cuomo, and served as foundation secretary, and chairman of the Marketing Committee, which created the "Uncork New York" campaign. (http://www.newyorkwines.org/index2.asp)
ON BOARD AND INTERVIEWING
Copyright 2005 H.L. Boerner. All rights reserved.