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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Youth Board Leader Who Calmed Race Tensions dead at 81


He asked two men with street credibility for help: the brothers Albert and Larry Gallo, leaders of a Mafia family. The idea was that they could advise white youths, particularly Italian-Americans, to stay cool, just as black nationalists had been enlisted to reach out to black youths. The Gallos agreed; their motive, apparently, was to gain some positive publicity and perhaps a friendlier environment in which to run their nefarious businesses.
It seemed to work: the crime bosses ordered youngsters to stay out of the East New York neighborhood and cooperate with the police. Albert Gallo underlined the message by slapping a youth to the floor in a local luncheonette for using a racial epithet.
William H. Booth, chairman of the city human rights commission, commended the Gallos for doing “a fine service for the city.”
Others, though, including the police, were less admiring. They noted that the two Gallos had recently served 30 days in jail for refusing to answer a grand jury’s questions about rackets, and that their brother Joseph, known as Crazy Joey, was serving a prison term for extortion. Critics excoriated Mr. Arricale for giving the Gallos introductory letters written on city stationery.
The Brooklyn district attorney said Mr. Arricale (pronounced ar-uh-KAHL-ee) was guilty of “a deplorable abdication of responsibility” and convened a grand jury to examine his arrangement, but no indictment resulted.
Nor did riots occur. Weeks later, Mayor John V. Lindsay defended Mr. Arricale. “You can’t always deal with people who are leaders in the Boy Scout movement,” he said. “Sometimes you must call upon individuals with fairly rough backgrounds.”
Mr. Arricale died of congestive heart failure on Aug. 26 in Brookhaven, on Long Island, his daughter Frances Arricale said. He was 81 and lived in Bayside, Queens. Besides his daughter Frances, he is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Maria Rogge; another daughter, Irene Arricale; a son, Marc; and two grandchildren.
Mr. Arricale had a succession of jobs in the city government and the school system, often pressing liberal causes. Henry Stern, a former parks commissioner, who like Mr. Arricale was a young Liberal Party soldier in the 1960s, called him “an irrepressible, irreverent reformer.”
“There are no Frank Arricales in city government today,” Mr. Stern said in an interview on Thursday.
As personnel director for the city schools in the late 1970s, Mr. Arricale oversaw putting hundreds of laid-off teachers back to work as the city emerged from a severe fiscal crisis. But he resented being compelled to assign them to schools on the basis of race to comply with federal guidelines intended to rectify what the government called a pattern of discriminatory hiring in the city schools.
He and others, though they agreed with the policy’s racial goals, considered it a quota system, one that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan likened to Hitler’s Nuremberg race laws and called a “prescription for division and hostility” in the schools.
After the city negotiated an end to race-based assignments in 1978, Mr. Arricale said, “I felt I had to go along with the racial placements in order not to lose millions of dollars to youngsters, but at the same time I was revolted and offended by the procedure.”
In the 1980s and early ’90s, Mr. Arricale was superintendent of school districts in Brooklyn and the Bronx. But he was fired by the Bronx board in 1992, accused of being indifferent to the needs of black students. He and others vigorously denied the charge.
Frank Clement Arricale, the son of a tailor, was born on April 16, 1930, in Manhattan and reared in the Bronx. After attending St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers for five years, he abandoned his plan to become a Roman Catholic priest and decided to teach, doing graduate work at Fordham University and Teachers College at Columbia University.
He taught in high schools and colleges, including St. John’s University, and held executive positions with the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Catholic Interracial Council of New York and the Police Athletic League.
Joining Mayor Robert F. Wagner’s administration in 1961, he worked in the controller’s office, became a spokesman for a city relocation agency that helped people who had been forced from their homes, and directed a mayoral agency that helped dropouts.
After working on Mr. Lindsay’s campaign in 1965, he was appointed executive director of the Youth Board, focusing on job creation. In 1966, four months after the Gallo affair, Mayor Lindsay put him in charge of the relocation agency. He resigned in 1969 to run for a City Council seat in the Bronx, but lost. He then became executive director of Brotherhood in Action, a group promoting racial and ethnic harmony.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/05/nyregion/frank-c-arricale-youth-board-leader-who-calmed-race-tensions-dies-at-81.html?_r=2


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