Let’s shift topics. Would you rather have a drink with Robert Moses or Jane Jacobs?
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t drink.
“I don’t drink”? That’s a nonanswer.
I mean, Moses clearly is someone that anybody who’s been in government, as I have been, would like to have a drink with.
Do you think that you and Jane Jacobs would see eye-to-eye on much?
I don’t know.
Despite the fact that you oversee an organization that boasts more than 12,000 members, many of them brokers, you’ve never worked as a broker yourself. Has that ever hampered your ability to understand their particular needs?
No. I mean, when I was with the city, I did economic development, and so, you know, was I functioning as a broker? I don’t think I was functioning as a broker. But when I came here I had the talent of brokers and owners to support me, and I’ve had a tremendous learning experience from the best people in the world in terms of doing real estate, everywhere from brokers to owners, financial institutions, residential, commercial.
So I’ve been to school. And I think I understand a lot of what’s needed to pull deals together, which is what brokers are so great at. I don’t think I’d be a bad broker, but I’ve never gone for a license. I didn’t want to get into potential conflict-of-interest issues.
Governor Pataki appointed you to the New York State Real Estate Board in 1996. What’s more influential: that or the Real Estate Board of New York?
They’re two different organizations. The state board of real estate is really an advisory group that makes recommendations on real estate policy to the governor. I was also then appointed by Joe Bruno when my term was up with Pataki, and I served for 10 years. And one of the things I’m very proud of is that I chaired the education committee on that board and we revamped the curriculum for continuing education for people with licenses.
REBNY is very different from that. We’re a lobby organization, and so, in terms of who’s more influential in getting to the governor? It might be his own state board of real estate. Who’s more influential in terms of dealing with the legislature, the city council and the governor? I’m betting that it probably is REBNY.
Speaking of betting, early on in your career you worked for the New York City Off Track Betting Corporation. Do you ever go out to Belmont to make a bet?
No. I never was a race fan. I’ve been to Belmont once, and I’ve been to a dog track once, and it’s not something that I enjoy. I mean, a horse is a beautiful animal, but it’s not something that I enjoy. Now, I haven’t been to Aqueduct yet either—for the gambling.
When’s the last time you took a vacation?
Well, I haven’t really taken a vacation. I normally take off between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’ll take days here and there, and I take long weekends in the summer. And other than that, we really haven’t gone away. I used to go away. Actually, let me take it back. Easter week we went skiing for a week out in Vail.
Do you ski?
I mean, you’re spoiled when you ski there. I mean, there are other wonderful—especially out West—other wonderful places. I’ve been to Jackson Hole, but we’re just so used to Vail, and we’ve done spring skiing there. I’m not a big cold person, and the weather is usually perfect out there, and you ski the top half of the mountain. And it’s ideal.
I’m so used to talking to real estate professionals who, when you ask about hobbies, they usually just talk about golf.
Well, I do play golf, but I didn’t play much this year. My handicap went way up, and, in part, I just couldn’t get out.
Hopefully, you’ll get a chance.
Believe me, nobody’s crying for me. But I’m not asking for that. But four weeks ago, I came down with pneumonia, so that actually had me out of the office for a few days.
But you’re back in action now?
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