Expert Profile

Richard Ravitch
Lieutenant Governor
New York State

Richard Ravitch began his career as an attorney for the Government Operations Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., from 1959-1960. He then entered the construction business as a principal of the HRH Construction Corporation. There he was responsible, among other things, for supervising the development, financing and construction of over 45,000 units of affordable housing in New York, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and other locations. In 1975, he was appointed by Governor Hugh Carey to serve as Chairman of the New York State Urban Development Corporation (“UDC”), a “moral obligation” financing and development agency with 30,000 dwelling units under construction, which had become insolvent and faced the first municipal bankruptcy since the 1930’s. Mr. Ravitch designed the first municipal bailout plan. As part of this plan, Mr. Ravitch created the New York State Project Finance Agency (“PFA”) as a new special purpose financing agency. PFA then issued credit-worthy revenue bonds secured by UDC’s Federal subsidy payments. The proceeds from the sale of these bonds, initially to the New York Clearing House banks, together with state appropriations at levels less than would otherwise have been required to eliminate defaults, were sufficient to meet UDC’s construction financing obligations and restore the State’s fiscal credibility.

Later in 1975 and during the following year Mr. Ravitch assisted New York City and State officials in resolving the City’s defaults. In this connection, Mr. Ravitch negotiated long term Federal guaranty arrangements with President Ford’s administration and acted as an intermediary between the City and the leadership of the municipal unions and their pension funds in negotiating labor’s contribution to the overall resolution. As part of such resolution and bailout of the City’s default, the State created MAC or the Municipal Assistance Corporation as a new special purpose financing agency based on the PFA model.

In 1979, Mr. Ravitch was appointed Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”), New York’s regional urban and suburban transportation system. In that capacity, Mr. Ravitch completely reorganized the MTA and its functions, recruiting operating officials from the private sector with experience in marketing as well as management and operations. He developed a long term capital plan and budget for a system-wide upgrading of operating equipment, roadbed and signal capabilities, and he designed the financing plan for such improvements. In connection with these plans, Mr. Ravitch obtained authorizing legislation from the Congress and the New York State legislature to enable the issuance of tax exempt bonds secured by fare box revenues and the use of safe harbor leasing designed to lower equipment and financing costs to the MTA. Another innovation involved his obtaining changes in State laws to enable more efficient procurement. Mr. Ravitch worked with the leadership of MTA’s several unions on a continuing and mostly harmonious basis to implement the restructuring plans and to obtain labor’s cooperation in contributing to operating efficiencies. For his work at the MTA, Mr. Ravitch was awarded the American Public Transit Association’s Individual of the Year Award in 1982.

Following his MTA service, Mr. Ravitch led an effort to recapitalize The Bowery Savings Bank, once the nation’s largest mutual savings bank, involving his arranging for its acquisition from FDIC by an investor group and his serving as Chairman and CEO. Subsequently, Mr. Ravitch was retained by the owners of the Major League Baseball clubs to serve as President of the Player Relations Committee to advise them on the creation of a revenue sharing plan and proposal to the players. He also serves as principal partner in Ravitch Rice & Company LLC with Donald S. Rice, a lawyer and business partner who has assisted him in prior undertakings including the UDC and Bowery bailouts.

Mr. Ravitch was the first Chairman of the Corporation for Supportive Housing. He helped create the organization and served as Chairman for almost ten years.

In 1999, Congress created the Millennial Housing Commission to examine the federal government’s role in meeting the nation’s growing affordable housing challenges. Mr. Ravitch was appointed to serve as Co-Chair of the Commission which led a diverse group of 22 housing experts in an intensive 17 month process to rethink America’s affordable housing policy. The Commission presented its report to Congress in May, 2002. The report recommended a series of initiatives to create new housing tools, reform several current programs and streamline existing programs.

Richard Ravitch's discussions:

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Randi Weingarten American Federation of Teachers
Jean Johnson Public Agenda
Thea M. Lee AFL-CIO
Nick Taylor American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, When FDR Put the Nation to Work
Sara Horowitz Freelancers Union
E. Donald Elliott Yale Law School

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