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Series 1: Vitaliano Subject Files, 1983 - 2001

 Series — Box: 1-84, 131

Scope and Contents

From the Collection: The Eric N. Vitaliano collection is comprised of material from Vitaliano's career as a New York State Assembly politician (1983-2001). The collection includes: correspondence, reports, newsletters, press clippings, press releases, photographs and videos. There is no material relating to his family or activities outside of his political life. SUBJECT FILES account for almost half of the collection. These files reflect the activities and priorities of Assemblyman Vitaliano during his term of office. They typically include: background material; material from groups for and against assembly bills; brochures; pamphlets, reports,testimony and statements from public hearings, draft bills; bills and transcripts of Assembly debates, and incoming and outgoing correspondence (including samples of form letters). Press clippings,arranged by subject, are a substantive part of the subject files. The strengths of the Vitaliano collection lie in the issues that affected the psyche and daily lives of Staten Islanders - being the "fifth" borough and an island off New York, being a dumping ground for the state's garbage,travel on and off the island and environmentally sensitive areas such as the Freshwater Wetlands and the Greenbelt. The largest collection of papers within the subject files is the one covering the possible secession of Staten Island from the City of New York. Papers under the heading "Secession Movement" dates from around 1985 and continue until 1990. Following this (chronologically) are the papers under the heading "Charter Commission" which range from the creation of the Charter Commission for Staten Island in March 1991 until 2000. There are fewer records after 1997. After the legality of the New York City Board of Estimate was successfully challenged, the movement for secession really began to take form. Vitaliano's papers document the legal challenges, public campaigns and legislative lobbying efforts that led to the creation of the Charter Commission for Staten Island. From 1985, there are records from public hearings, minutes from citizen's groups as well as from the various Charter Commission working groups. There are also reports to the Commission by consulting groups on providing services to a new city in the areas of education, housing, finance and judiciary. Given Vitaliano's political and personal incentives to try and eliminate the odor of rubbish that hovered over the Island, it is no surprise that at the forefront of the collection are the records pertaining to the Fresh Kills landfill. Records such as the minutes of the Citizens Advisory Committee detail the grass roots efforts of dealing with residing close to the landfill and of community activism to lobby for its closure. There are also copies of the various orders of consent that were required to officially secure the closure. There is a considerable amount of correspondence from the City Department of Sanitation and the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Complementing the Fresh Kills records are those related to solid wastes. There is some overlap between these topics, but the latter also focus on the broader topic of the disposal of garbage and the crisis that New York City faced. The records also address the issue of resource recovery i.e. extracting resources from waste. Another of the collection's strong points are the records relating to the Freshwater Wetlands. An emotional issue for those who bought land that was later designated as natural reserve land by the Department of Environmental Conservation, the correspondence and petitions reflect the property owners' desire to be fairly compensated. To this end, Vitaliano shaped legislation that aimed to balance the need to protect the Staten Island freshwater wetlands with equities for property owners affected by state regulation that passed into law. There is also ephemera from various activist groups such as RIPOFF (Richmond Individual Property Owners for Fairness)and Protectors of Pine Oak Woods. There is a wealth of material that elucidates topics at the community level. When Vitaliano could not attend a local meeting he would send a representative who reported in a standard format what had happened at the meeting and attached any relevant material that often included reports, press clippings and other informational type material. This is reflected in the records of the "Community Meeting Reports." Meeting reports are also available for Community Boards 1,2 and 3 as well as "Borough Board Meetings" and reports from the "Area Policy Boards." During his nearly two decades in office Vitaliano received thousands of letters from his constituents on a myriad of subjects. The CORRESPONDENCE series consists mostly of outgoing letters although some of the incoming letters remain attached. The series has been weeded of duplicates, distribution and form letters (a sample of each form letter was retained along with the number of letters sent) as well as routine type letters. There are letter logs of the outgoing correspondence. Entries were made for: date, recipient, subject and how it was filed. The MEDIA FILES are particularly rich both in content and range and reflect a major part of Vitaliano's public relations effort. The comprehensive Press Releases and Statements, document Vitaliano's public policy positions and reactions to issues of the day. There is a run of Newsletters and Mailings generally entitled "From Assemblyman Vitaliano," "Albany Report" and "Vitaliano Reports to the People." The Press Clippings sub-series and indeed the press clippings throughout the whole collection are particularly extensive. The clippings are primarily taken from the Staten Island Advance and the Staten Island Register. Although both of these newspapers are available on microfilm, they are not indexed and the availability of clippings arranged by subject provides a valuable local history resource. There is also a set of clippings labeled "Personal" which focus on Vitaliano and his publicity machine. The collection of videocassettes has been arranged chronologically and the titles documented. Although they have not been viewed, information gleaned from the outer video indicate that the majority of video segments are from Vitaliano's appearances on the local cable television "Assembly Update." Reoccurring topics include secession, Fresh Kills, budget andschool bus safety. There are other interesting titles such as "A Day in the Life of Vitaliano" (undated), "Eric Vitaliano for Congress" (1997) and "RIPOFF Wetlands - Wetlands Dilemma on Staten Island" (undated). The CAMPAIGNS series is worthy of note for its campaign literature and coverage of Vitaliano's (unsuccessful) run for Congress in 1997 against Republican Vito Fossella. There is a set of documents called "Eric Vitaliano Research Appendices" containing seven volumes of press clippings and other publicity related documents (1988-1997), that were collated by a private consulting group. Similar material was also collated on Fossella. The regular Assembly elections from 1984-2000 are documented only by leaflets, mailings and press clippings. Vitaliano was under consideration to be the Democratic Party's candidate in the Congressional Race of 1990 and the Staten Island Borough President's Race of 1997, and there are two files of press clippings related to these races.

Dates

  • 1983 - 2001

Extent

35 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically. These files document the activities and legislative priorities of Assemblyman Vitaliano as well as his leadership roles. The subject files are particularly strong on topics such as Staten Island Secession, Charter Commission for Staten Island, Fresh Kills Landfill,Solid Waste, Governmental Employees Retirement Pensions and School Bus Standees. Record types include: reports, correspondence, press clippings, minutes and transcripts of Assembly sessions.

Repository Details

Part of the CSI Archives & Special Collections Repository

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