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Remarks On The Occasion Of Presenting The Herbert Brownell Lifetime Achievement Award Of The New York Young Republican Club

By Ann Brownell Sloane

June 15, 2005

Good evening.

President Cariello, Officers of the New York Young Republican Club, Committee Chairs, Advisors and Members of the Club, honored guests, I am delighted to be with you on the occasion of your annual dinner in this the 93rd year since the Club was founded. Special, thanks once again to Vice President Rick Brownell, no relation, for staying in touch during the past year and contacting me to join you this evening.

Tonight we honor a very special person, and a friend, Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff. He is a long time active supporter and participant in the efforts of the Republican Party. Tonight, we mark his exemplary public life with presentation of the Herbert Brownell Lifetime Achievement Award of the New York Young Republican Club.

Herbert Brownell, my father, began his public service in 1928

“...when a call was sent out for young lawyers to watch the polls for signs of corruption. Many of the young lawyers I knew participated,” he notes in his 1993 book, Advising Ike, the Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell, “and it led several of us to become involved with the New York Young Republican Club”. He joined the Club in 1929 – 76 years ago.

In November 1952, twenty four years after starting out in politics, and at 48 years of age, but still active with the NY Young Republican Club, Herbert Brownell had served five years in the State Assembly, managed Governor Tom Dewey’s Gubernatorial and Presidential campaigns, served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, operated as chief strategist and manager of Ike’s 1952 convention nomination, served as Ike’s full time personal Presidential Campaign Representative, and was asked by Ike to be Attorney General of the United States of America on the day following the 1952 presidential elections. That by way of introduction of Herbert Brownell.

By way of introduction to you of tonight’s honoree Connie Eristoff, I want only to highlight, for you cannot imagine the numerous and high responsibilities he has undertaken in his life, so I repeat, I want to highlight the remarkable breadth and depth of his public service, first in the volunteer military, then in politics, in government, and in the community. It is truly an exceptional record.

In the Military, Connie served on active duty as a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve, including a year in the artillery in Korea, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

Connie then anchored his public service in the law, obtaining his degree from Columbia Law School, so that law practice, specializing in environmental, land use and administrative law, underpinned his public service.

In Politics , as a member of the NY Young Republican Club, he, volunteered in that first, and by some of us, never to be forgotten 1958 insurgent primary, followed by three Congressional and two Mayoral campaigns of John V. Lindsay. In that first mayoralty in 1965, Connie was city coordinator, responsible for creating a field force that included 122 storefronts and administering 10,000 volunteers. Proudly, I was one of Connie’s volunteers, heading up a storefront on 106th Street in East Harlem. Connie served as assistant to Congressman and Mayor John Lindsay. He ran for office. He served on the New York Republican State Committee. He worked for President Ford as a member of the NY State Rockefeller delegation to the 1976 Republican National Convention delegation.

In Government, at the City level he served as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Highways and later, as Administrator of the NYC Transportation Administration under Mayor Lindsay.

At the State level, he held appointments from Governor Cuomo, Governor Wilson, and the Chief Judge of the State of New York; his appointment as a Member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority included confirmation by the NYS Senate.

By federal appointment, Connie served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush as Region II Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an area covering NY, NJ, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with responsibility for EPA’s programs for the control of air and water pollution, industrial discharges, toxic substances, pesticides, ocean dumping, hazardous wastes, as well as the Federal ”Superfund” for the clean up of hazardous waste sites.

The number of board positions by which Connie contributed his service to community is simply astonishing. By way of example, he served
• on the board of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, one of his many efforts that proclaim rich stewardship of the environment;
• as a trustee of Phipps Houses, he worked to improve low income housing in our City, and
• As an American Friend and founder, he honored his heritage by making time to support the people of the Republic of Georgia. And finally.
• In his speeches and writings, Connie voices his concerns, asking then, as we must today, about the political Center ---Can it hold?

We are fortunate and grateful, Connie, that you chose steadfast service to our country, our political system and your communities. This is in contrast to the reticence of people today to render public service. That reticence has consequences to the Nation.

Like the man we honor this evening, Herbert Brownell found such service as far from being a burden. I QUOTE from his memoir: “such service pays rich dividends in attracting clients, friendships, and new outlooks and interests in life.”

Brownell goes on to say that, “objections are raised that public service is no longer attractive because first, it entails a complete loss of privacy and second, it can compromise one’s beliefs in a particular cause to which one is dedicated.” One hopes, he says, “that the media will someday act more responsibly, preserving its watchdog role while striving to minimize needless invasions of privacy. But in the interim, citizens must accept the burden because of the overriding need for their entry into public service. Our system of government will fail without them.”

To the second objection to entering public service, Brownell points out that QUOTE “that participation in politics and government entails compromise of principle…A citizen can serve the public weal; it is said, more effectively by supporting a particular cause such as women’s rights or protection of the environment. This is an appealing position on the surface. It eases the conscience by allowing one to avoid situations where compromises must be made to obtain any action and where choices are not often easy. But it fails to recognize that in a diverse nation such as ours a myriad of interests, views, and even principles must be brought together and reconciled for the public good…

He continues, “These two objections to public service are potent. But there is an overriding need for voluntary citizen participation in government to preserve our liberties and our political system. Their preservation depends on maintaining a constitutional government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’…Citizens of goodwill who are willing to take part in our politics play a vital role in maintaining the ordered liberty that has been and remains so central to its continuation.” UNQUOTE

We hear echoes, indeed, these are the same issues which we face today, and I suggest they are at the root of government’s inability effectively to grapple with the serious business of the country.

Connie, we are fortunate that you persevered in both government and politics, and by example, inspired your son Andrew, also to embark on that path. And while we are on the subject of inspiration and service, let us acknowledge the importance of another model in Andrew’s life, his mother, Connie’s wife, Anne Phipps Sidamon Eristoff.

Enlightened, persevering service to community, government, country, and to political party, over an adult lifetime, is at the heart of the values being honored with presentation this evening of the New York Young Republican Club’s, Herbert Brownell Lifetime Achievement Award.

It is high personal pleasure to celebrate these values in the person you have selected to receive this Award tonight, Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff.

Club members, you have selected a Republican whose lifetime of service in politics, government and community, constitutes the model we commend to all who would keep this Country honest, vibrant, responsible and free.

And so I present the Herbert Brownell Lifetime Achievement Award of the New York Young Republican Club tonight, not only on behalf of the Club, but also on behalf of the family of Herbert Brownell, my sister Joan, my brothers Tom and Jim, my husband Bob, and our two children, Margaret and Douglas.

With that, let me hand over this plaque and congratulate our honoree, Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff.

 

For more information about the New York Young Republican Club, click HERE