The turkey memo

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the immortal Frederick O’Reilly Hayes, writing as John Lindsay’s budget director in New York to someone in the school construction agency who was trying to blame project delays on the Budget Bureau.

December 30, 1968


TO: Jason Nathan

FROM: Fredrick O’R. Hayes

SUBJECT: LaGuardia High School

O, you turkey! You pious turkey! You sanctimonious turkey!

Having belatedly discovered that the Music and Arts High School had something to do with Lincoln Center, having belatedly intervened in the planning process, having delayed construction for a year and added $3.3 million to costs – now, you worry about the Bureau of the Budget ” hacking around for six months on the cost issue.”

You’ll forgive me I see some kinship with George Bernard Shaw’s father whom GBS described as “a teetotaler by conviction and a drunkard in practice.” But at least Shaw, Sr. had the redeeming characteristic of limiting both preachment and practice to his own liquor.

Just a word on gratuitous libel. A check on the Meridian MIS indicates a maximum of two projects held up in Budget for as long as two monthly reports. This year, you and CPC have been on the critical path of this particular baby for longer than the cumulative Budget delays in project months on the entire education construction program.

Tell Ratensky to drop dead. Drop dead yourself.

N.B. If the Board of Education people are “terrified” that could be the best thing that’s happened to me all year.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

3 thoughts on “The turkey memo”

  1. In the annals of politics, these comments rank up there with Secretary of War Elihu Root communicating to TR that “you have shown that
    you were accused of seduction… and proved that you were guilty of rape

      1. The gunboat diplomacy that lead to the Panama Canal — and I have to give our mutual friend Peter Reuter the credit for directing me to the wonderful quote by Root.

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