Much cooler weather

Ah. Much nicer temperatures in NYC.

A NYC story – I’ll link to the NY Times’ version – the passing of Edith I. Spivack, described in the NY Times’ obituary as “by far the longest-serving civil servant in the department and quite possibly in the city.” I also liked the anecdotes about her:

A colleague, Jeffrey Friedlander, the first assistant corporation counsel, said that Ms. Spivack’s formal expertise was tax law. But, he added, her wide-ranging legal knowledge, administrative ability and extensive institutional memory were “the support behind the men who had the titles.”

Indeed, if Ms. Spivack had been born a man, Mr. Friedlander said, she would not have worked in obscurity for the many decades that she did.

“She was, essentially, the power behind the throne,” he said. “It was clear she was the brains.”

Her most important legal work came in the 1970’s, when she was well into her 60’s. She helped negotiate loans to keep the city out of bankruptcy. In the Penn Central Railroad bankruptcy, she helped collect many millions of dollars in real estate taxes. She successfully argued a major tax case, Walz v. Tax Commission, before the Supreme Court.

Short, small-boned, impeccably dressed, with a courtly manner from another era, she had a tart wit.

At a Christmas party last year at which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg awarded her a public service plaque, the mayor tried to make small talk and asked when she graduated from college. Ms. Spivack replied that she graduated from Barnard College in 1929.

The mayor said his mother had graduated from New York University in the same year. Ms. Spivack looked at the mayor and said, “Well, I guess she couldn’t get into Barnard.”

Ms. Spivack was born on April 19, 1910…

After graduating from Barnard at 19, she went to Columbia Law School. She married a fellow student, Bernard H. Goldstein, who died in 1998. She retained her maiden name as a tribute to her parents.

She is survived by [Amy] Bass of Port Washington; another daughter, Rita Christopher Frank of Madison, Conn.; and four grandchildren.

Ms. Spivack was rejected by law firms, in part because of the Great Depression, but also, she maintained, because she was a woman and Jewish. When Fiorello H. La Guardia took office in 1934, political appointees were removed and replaced through civil service examination.

Told that the city had no money to pay her, Ms. Spivack worked in the Law Department as a volunteer and was finally hired at half salary: $1,700 a year.

In January 1980, the city began to force foreign consulates to pay their municipal water bills, but the consul general of Colombia refused.

After many telephone calls, she left a message: “If a check is not delivered this afternoon to the corporation counsel’s office, I’m coming up personally to shut off the water.” The check arrived.

In the 1980’s, Ms. Spivack took advantage of the elimination of mandatory retirement and continued to work until 1995, when she officially retired. After three weeks she returned to the department in an advisory capacity.

“My mom didn’t knit, never cooked, never drove,” Ms. Bass said. “She never typed. My mom was a professional woman, a professional lawyer.”

After the Penn Central bankruptcy, her efforts recovered $90 million in back taxes. “For some reason, Penn Central made out the $90 million check directly to me,” she recalled later. “But being an honest woman, I handed it over to the city.”

A certain known bar review provider is in trouble with a certain Multistate Bar Exam provider, because said bar exam provider ain’t too happy that the employees of said bar review provider take bar exams for the purpose of prepping hapless bar review students (link to the Yahoo posting of this article, which I originally found on Hmm. Makes me wonder if the SAT people have gotten around to suing either Princeton Review or Kaplan for analyzing the SAT so well such that they’ve had to modify the SAT to trip up college-bound kids over and over. Is it really said bar review provider’s fault that said bar exam provider can’t be creative enough to find ways to prevent law graduates from becoming lawyers? Uh hmm…

More uh hmm – “Just how sexy are lawyers?” – says lawyers rank 10th in their list:

The top three “hot jobs” were firefighter, flight attendant and chief executive officer. Lawyers ranked just below doctors and just above veterinarians.

The folks at seemed to think their survey shows that salary is not a key component in determining a person’s sex appeal. […]

Fort Lauderdale labor lawyer Alex Londono, 29, doesn’t buy it. He passed the Florida bar exam two months ago.

The lawyer at Fisher & Phillips reports steady success on the social circuit. “As long as I slip in how much I make,” he added with a laugh.

Londono offered another bit of evidence that the survey may be flawed. After he passed the bar exam, his mother bought him a shirt that reads, “Trust me, I’m a lawyer.” Contrary to the survey findings, he said, wearing the shirt increases his chances of chatting up women. It doesn’t hurt that he speaks French.

Even if their sex appeal is dipping, lawyers are still better endowed, financially speaking, than professionals who ranked higher in the survey. reports that the median salary for lawyers is more than three times that of news reporters, who ranked third on the sexy jobs list.

That means lawyers can afford to console their lonesome selves with solo trips to exotic vacation destinations, while poor but charismatic journalists must invite their dazzling dates home to dine on Ramen noodles.

But wait.

News reporters ranked third, in a three-way tie with interior designers and event planners. That seems preposterous enough to invalidate the whole survey.

So, don’t be a lawyer, have some money, and speak French, gentlemen. That’ll get you the ladies. 😉 Enjoy Friday!

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