Arnold Jack Rosenthal

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Arnold Jack Rosenthal​

Finance and Utilities Commissioner
for Alexandria, Louisiana
In office
June 1973​ – June 1977​
Preceded by Carroll Edwin Lanier
Succeeded by Position abolished​

Born May 9, 1923​
Alexandria, Louisiana​
Died December 22, 2010 (aged 87)
Alexandria, Louisiana​
Resting place Jewish Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Divorced​

No children
Parents:
Bernard F., Sr., and May Violet Kaffie Rosenthal

Alma mater Bolton High School

Tulane University
​ Tulane Law School​

Occupation Attorney; Businessman
Religion Jewish

Arnold Jack Rosenthal (May 9, 1923 – December 22, 2010) was an attorney and businessman from Alexandria, Louisiana, who from 1973 to 1977 was his city's last municipal finance and utilities commissioner, an elected post.[1]

Family and educational background

Rosenthal (addressed by both names as "Arnold Jack") was the older of two sons of a Jewish couple, Bernard F. Rosenthal, Sr. (1889–1970), and the former May Violet Kaffie (1897–1932),[2] a native of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Rosenthal's maternal forebears in 1863 built the oldest surviving general store in Louisiana, Kaffie-Frederick, Inc., General Mercantile, which specializes in hardware and is located in the historic section of downtown Natchitoches.[3] Many of those ancestors are interred at the Jewish Cemetery in Natchitoches.[4]

When he was nine years of age, Rosenthal lost his mother, who died at the age of thirty-four. His younger brother, Bernard F. "Bernie" Rosenthal, Jr. (1929–2004), later an employee of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, was only three at the time of their mother's death.[2]​ Reared thereafter by a single father, Rosenthal attended public schools and graduated in 1940 from Bolton High School in the Alexandria Garden District. The family family home was located on Albert Street. Rosenthal graduated with both bachelor's and law degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans. Rosenthal formerly owned the defunct Joy Theater in Alexandria. From his youth to his later years of semi-retirement, Rosenthal was an avid tennis player.[1] He also owned race horses and, with his brother, was particularly active in the racing industry.[5][6][7]

Political aspirations

In 1960, Rosenthal was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, which met in Los Angeles, California, to nominate the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson ticket,[8] which easily prevailed in Louisiana in the general election against Richard M. Nixon.​

In the spring of 1973, Rosenthal unseated Carroll Edwin Lanier (1926-2012) in the Democratic primary for finance and utilities commissioner. He was one of three officials elected citywide under the former commission government, a plan permitted through the Lawrason Act of 1898. In 1977, the commission government was replaced under a new municipal charter with the current mayor-council arrangement.[1] Rosenthal's fellow commissioners were John K. Snyder, who held the title of mayor and performed the executive duties over public safety and sanitation, and Malcolm Hébert, who directed the departments of streets and parks, with jurisdiction over Alexandria Zoological Park. Often on the three-member council, also exercising legislative duties, Snyder and Hebert formed 2-1 majorities, with Rosenthal in the dissenting role, even though all three were Democrats. Snyder and Hebert joined in 1974 to dismiss Rosenthal's executive assistant, Floyd Smith, a former mayor of Pineville across the Red River from Alexandria.​

Rosenthal retained Miriam Haworth Taylor (1918–2007) as his executive secretary. She had joined the finance and utilities department in 1946 and had served under Commissioner Lanier. After the change in government format, Mrs. Taylor was secretary to several Alexandria mayors.​

In 1975, Rosenthal convinced the council to hire Velda Mae LaBorde Lee (1935–2011) of rural Flatwoods in Rapides Parish as an internal auditor as a check on municipal financial practices of the long-time secretary-treasurer Ray R. Allen. Formerly of Union Parish in north Louisiana, Lee was an honor graduate of Louisiana Tech University and obtained a master's degree in accounting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She was only the second woman in Louisiana to obtain CPA designation. Later she was finance director in the second Snyder administration.[9]

In 1977, Snyder and Rosenthal both ran for mayor but were badly defeated by Lanier, who staged a stunning comeback. Lanier defeated Snyder in a runoff, 68-32 percent.[10] Lanier served a 5.5-year term and was unseated in the fall of 1982 by Snyder, who returned for his second nonconsecutive term in office, one term under each form of government.

After his failed bid for mayor, Rosenthal made two other unsuccessful campaigns in the two succeeding years: for Rapides Parish district attorney in 1978 against incumbent Ed Ware, of Alexandria, and for state representative in 1979 against Jock Scott, also of Alexandria.[1][7] Rosenthal received 2,229 votes (23.1 percent) in the race against Scott, who prevailed with 7,419 ballots (76.9 percent).[11] In 1984, Rosenthal ran again for district attorney when Ware declined to seek a third term.[12]

Even earlier, Rosenthal ran third in a heated 1971 Democratic primary race for the Louisiana state Senate against incumbent Cecil R. Blair [1] of Alexandria and Lecompte in south Rapides Parish. In the runoff election, Rosenthal endorsed Blair's opponent, Floyd Smith, the former mayor of Pineville. When Rosenthal assumed the office of commissioner in Alexandria, Smith became his executive assistant and served in that capacity until Snyder and Hebert joined to dismiss him in a 2-1 vote.[13]

In 1983, Rosenthal, then listed as the junior partner of the law firm Levy, Oubre, Lenz & Rosenthal in Metairie in Jefferson Parish, was listed as a donor to the Democratic presidential campaign of then U.S. Senator John Glenn of Ohio.[14] Glenn lost the nomination in 1984 to Walter Mondale, who in turn was defeated by Republican U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan.​


Legal troubles

The "Oubre" in Levy, Oubre, Lenz & Rosenthal was former state Senator George T. Oubre of St. James Parish near New Orleans. In the 1971 Democratic primary in which Rosenthal ran for the state Senate against Blair and Smith, Oubre sought the office of state attorney general. He lost the party nomination to William J. Guste, of New Orleans. This was also the same election in which Edwin Edwards narrowly defeated J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., for the gubernatorial nomination. Rosenthal and Oubre obtained a $50,000 loan from the Louisiana National Bank in Baton Rouge, and neither made payments accordingly. When the bank sued, Rosenthal purchased the note for the sum of $54,000 and then sued Oubre for repayment. Oubre claimed that he did not owe Rosenthal because Rosenthal was indebted to Oubre for half of the original $50,000 as a result of other expenses encountered from the partnership. The court ruled on appeal in favor of Rosenthal.[15] In 1986, 40th District Court Judge Gerard Walton "Ton" Caire of :St. John the Baptist Parish ordered Oubre to represent John Francis Wille pro bono in a murder case because Oubre had been convicted of bank fraud.[16] The Bureau of Prisons website, however, does not indicate that Oubre was ever incarcerated in a federal penitentiary.

Rosenthal encountered other legal problems too. He pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud on March 11, 1986, in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. In return, prosecutors dropped the remaining twenty-four counts against him and two business partners from New Orleans, John B. Levy of the Levy law firm and Harry Caire, a CPA. Rosenthal then agreed to cooperate with the government in its case against both Levy and Caire.[5]

Rosenthal was accused of being part of a financial scheme to deplete the assets of the defunct Continental Service Life and Health Insurance Company of Baton Rouge of which Rosenthal was president and the principal stockholder.[15] Rosenthal also headed a holding company in Delaware, which purchased Continental Service. Prosecutors said that Rosenthal, Levy, and Caire sought to substitute disputed mortgages on property belonging to an uncle of Levy in return for Continental Service's low-interest municipal bonds. The bonds were sold to make a 60 percent first payment on the company. Prosecutors said that some $3 million was plundered from the company. The company assets became so depleted that Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Sherman Albert Bernard, Sr. (1925-2012) placed the firm in conservatorship.[5]

Judge Peter Hill Beer, a Jimmy Carter appointee to the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans and like Rosenthal an alumnus of Tulane Law School,[17] sentenced Rosenthal to twenty-two months in prison, assessed a $2,000 fine, and three years probation after having completed the incarceration.[5] He was released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons from a facility in Florida on September 4, 1987, after having served a year of the stated sentence.[18]

Death and legacy

Rosenthal died at the age of eighty-seven at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria. He was a member of the Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria. Graveside services were held on December 23, 2010 at the Jewish Cemetery on Main Street in Pineville, with Rabii Arnold Task officiating.[1] The divorced Rosenthal was survived by four cousins, Jack Kahn of Baton Rouge, Karlyn Greenberg of Houston, Texas, Dorothy Lewy of Fairfax Station, Virginia, and David Hart Rothman of Alexandria, Virginia.[6]

The Rosenthal Montessori Elementary School in Alexandria is named for Rosenthal's grandfather, Jonas Rosenthal, who served on the Rapides Parish School Board. After the death of his brother, Arnold Jack Rosenthal made a monetary donation to the school to be used for non-specified educational purposes.[19]

Rosenthal was among a handful of Jews who played roles in Louisiana politics in the 20th century, along with State Senators Leopold Caspari and Sylvan Friedman, both of Natchitoches Parish, where Rosenthal's mother was born.​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Former Alexandria Commissioner of Finance and Utilities Arnold Jack Rosenthal dies at age 87", The Alexandria Town Talk, December 23, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jane Parker McManus, "Jewish Cemetery (Pineville, Louisiana)". files.usgwarchives.net. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  3. Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile. Oldhardwarestore.com. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  4. Jewish Cemetery (Natchitoches). rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  5. 6.0 6.1 Arnold Jack Rosenthal. Tributes.com. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  6. 7.0 7.1 Former Alexandria commissioner of finance and utilities Arnold Jack Rosenthal dies at age 87. The Monroe News-Star (December 24, 2010). Retrieved on May 25, 2015.
  7. Index to Politicians: Rosenthal. politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  8. Velda LaBorde Lee, CPA. The Alexandria Town Talk (March 6, 2011). Retrieved on March 6, 2011.
  9. State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Alexandria municipal election returns, June 1977.
  10. State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, October 1979 primary election results
  11. State of Louisiana, Office of the Secretary of State, 1984 primary election returns.
  12. Bret H. McCormick, "Floyd W. Smith, Jr., former mayor of Pineville, dies at 77," Alexandria Daily Town Talk, February 12, 2010.
  13. Metairie, Louisiana (LA) Political Contributions by Individuals. city-data.com. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  14. 15.0 15.1 Arnold Jack Rosenthal v. George T. Oubre, Findacase.com, March 16, 1987.
  15. G. Walton Caire and George Oubre. Topics.nola.com (May 1, 2014). Retrieved on January 7, 2015.
  16. Biographical Directory of Federal Judges: Beer, Peter Hill. fjc.gov. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  17. Inmate Locator: Arnold J. Rosenthal. Bop.gov. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.
  18. Resolution of the Rapides Parish School Board. rapides.k12.la.us. Retrieved on January 7, 2011.


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