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Keith St. John's Victor A. Lord Courage of Convictions Award Presentation at Equinox 2003 Annual  Meeting, Harold Rubin recipient.

Victor Lord, an Albany attorney and past president of the Board of Directors of Equinox, devoted his life to the service of others.  He lived his beliefs through his tireless advocacy for civil, humanitarian, and political rights, often in the face of obstacles and opposition.  Equinox has chosen to pay tribute to Victor’s legacy by honoring an individual in our community who embodies the ideals of the courage of one’s convictions in the service to others...the ideals that guided Victor’s life.  We are pleased to have Athena Lord, Victor’s wife, and Sara Lord, his daughter with us tonight. 

 

I am delighted to see some of the other recipients here with us this evening:  Pat Beetle and Bob Lamar, and wish to acknowledge those who could not make it tonight:  Reszin Adams, Maria & Roger Markovics, Dr. Alice Green, Donna DeMaria, David Kaczynski, Linda Miller, the Reverend Peter Young, the Reverend Philip Grigsby, Elizabeth Pearson, and Vanessa Williams.

 

This year’s Victor A. Lord Courage of Convictions Award recipient certainly exemplifies the traits we admired so much in Victor.  Harold Rubin has been called a gadfly, a watchdog, and a community activist among other things---names, I am sure, he hears with pleasure.

 

 Born in the Bronx, Harold came to Albany in 1950 with his wife Ruth to begin a 38 year career in state government, retiring in 1989 as a Chief Budget Examiner for New York State.  He served under five governors in increasingly responsible positions.  Along the way, he earned masters and doctorate degrees in public administration.  So far, this doesn’t sound much like a gadfly, does it?  But just listen to some of these headlines that featured stories about Harold Rubin: 

 

bullet“Rubin Spearheads Attack on Lax City” (Knickerbocker News 7-27-76),
bullet “Budget Aide Faces Carey’s Revenge” (New York Times 11-7-78), 
bullet“Albany’s Fighting Neighborhood Associations—Shifting Power to the Residents” (Schenectady Gazette 4-24-80), 
bullet“Mad-as-Hell Taxpayer Draws Cheers”  (Knickerbocker News 12-2-80),
bullet“A Constructive Critic Maintains Neighborhood Watchdog Role” (Times Union 5-4-96)
bullet“After 20 Years, Albany Leaders Toast Activist” (Times Union 6-6-96),

 

Harold has served as a watchdog, critic, and thorn-in-the-side of three mayors, pushing the city to improve code enforcement, create a strong Historic Resources Commission, write an informative budget, hold nighttime meetings on zoning issues, allow public input at Common Council meetings, and spend more Community Development money on housing.  He was, in the words of one city official, “the conscience of Albany’s neighborhoods.” 

 

Since moving into his house on Chestnut Street in 1964, he has spearheaded the neighborhood coalition network in Albany.  He has held practically every post in Center Square Association, including president for 7 years.  He founded the Coalition for Effective Code Enforcement in 1974, challenging the city to live up to its own codes.  And in 1976 became the first Chairman of the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations, serving in that position for 20 years.  He has also served on the boards of the following organizations:  Historic Albany Foundation (co-founder), Friends of the Albany Public Library, Senior Services Centers of the Albany Area, Albany Police Athletic League (Charter member), the Neighborhood Resource Center, and the Retired Public Employees Association, from which he received the Marion Martin Award for distinguished service on behalf of public retirees.

 

Always non-partisan, always a gentleman, Harold Rubin has nonetheless always been willing and able to challenge the system when it failed to deliver.  We thank him for his commitment to strengthening the community in which we all live.  It is my great pleasure to present Harold Rubin with the Victor A. Lord Courage of Convictions Award.