Written by Rich Forestano Saturday, 14 September 2013 00:00
For Anthony Clark, it all started in a political science class in graduate school at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina in 2003. The Mineola native became fixated with presidential libraries after screening a video of President
Bill Clinton’s last rally on Oct. 31, 1996.
“Clinton said ‘Ya know this is my last campaign,’ and I said no its not,” Clark said. “[His] last campaign is when he builds his library.” Clinton’s library opened in 2004.
Clark, 47, is taking his pet project—10 years in the making—to the Internet for help. On Sept. 2, Clark launched a campaign on Kickstarter.com, a popular crowdfunding platform, to raise money to complete the research for his book,
The Last Campaign: How Presidents Rewrite History, Run for Posterity and Enshrine their Legacies.
Kickstarter is a risky venture in that the funding objective must be reached in a specific period of time. Miss the deadline and you get none of the money. Clark, a St. Aidan’s alum, has until Oct. 1 to raise $7,500.
He plans to use the funds to visit five out of the 13 presidential libraries recently renovated in the United States, including the George W. Bush Library that opened this past April in Dallas, TX.
Clark attained 16 percent ($1,276) of the total within 24 hours of launching his campaign. As of press time, he has raised $2,508 from 42 donations.
“Now I’m getting people to donate who I don’t even know, which is great,” he said. “I’m not going to make it to $7,500 with just my friends and family.”
Clark wrote a term paper at Appalachian State, titled “The Last Campaign.” His professor envisioned a book cover.
“My professor said I needed to make this into a book,” said Clark. “I had a little RV at the time so I got into the RV and went around to the presidential libraries.”
Clark became obsessed with how presidents try to reshape their legacies and feels there’s more to their stories, which he plans to research and reveal.
“Few understand the hidden history of the libraries—federal institutions operated by our tax dollars—and the level to which money and politics play a role in everything from exhibits, public and educational programs to the choice of location and even personnel,” he said. “This is because the story of presidential libraries—the documented, historical story—has never been told. Until now.”
From 2003 to 2006, Clark visited every library twice, spending about one month in each one. But what kick-started (no pun intended) his quest further was resistance from the National Archives for presidential library records.
“I went through one year of them stalling and then they said I’d need to send a Freedom of Information Act request,” he said. “The first request, they said was too big or too many records responsive. The second they said was too small.
So I fought them for a couple of years and I went public, doing a series of lectures.” That’s when Lacy Clay called.
Sen. Clay (D-MO) is the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the libraries; he asked Clark to brief his staff on his take of the national landmarks. For eight months Clark worked at a law firm in Washington D.C. during the day, and spent his nights with Clay’s staff. Then, in 2009, Clay hired him as a full-time staffer to manage hearings and investigations into the libraries and the National Archives and Records Administration.
Clark jumped at the opportunity, but it did not come without sacrifice.
“Since I had that authority, I could not do research at the same time,” he explained. “Congress has a lot more access than the average citizen so I had to agree to postpone my in-person research while I was on the Hill.”
His appointment ended this past January.
“Five of the libraries have completely renovated their exhibits and the GWB library just opened,” he said. “So I have to travel back to those libraries and finish my research.”
Clark expects to finish the book by July 2014 if he reaches his Kickstarter goal. The Chaminade High School and NYU alum is in talks with book publishers, but no deals are in place. He said he wants to take advantage of library milestones next year.
“In 2014, there are 15 milestone events (library foundings, presidents birthday’s, etc.) that will be celebrated at the libraries so I want to take advantage of that [attention].”
Clark was pleased to see the man who sparked his interest align with his way of thinking at the newest library.
“At the George W. Bush [library opening], Clinton was there and said ‘This is the greatest attempt by a former president to re-write history,’” he said. “Everyone laughed, but that’s kind of my point. It’s interesting to see a former president agree with me.”
Clark said presidential libraries tend to “renovate completely and throw out their entire exhibits and bring in brand new stuff” every five or 15 years. One particular piece of U.S. history Clark is interested in unearthing is the remaining records pertaining to the JFK assassination, which will be available in 2017. With the 50th anniversary on Nov. 22 this year, Clark hopes the process might be accelerated.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
It’s a family affair for the Winters of Port Washington when they make pilgrimages to Bobb Howard’s General Store in New Hyde Park. “There’s something in that store for everyone,” says Tracy Winters, who has been a customer of this retro candy and toy store for eight years. Tracy goes for the Astro Pops, husband Michael gets Marshmallow Twists and Tracy’s mother, Phyllis Heller of Bellmore, can’t resist the Goldenberg Peanut Chews. Jake, Tracy’s older son, isn’t a candy lover so he gravitates to the old-time toys and nostalgia posters.
Jamie Waller of Queens says it made him feel like a kid again when he saw the wall of candy with treats from the 1990s and 1950s sitting next to each other. “Anything you can possibly want is there,” he says. For Jamie, a big treat is Circus Peanuts, peanut-shaped marshmallows. “My dad used to love them when he was a kid,” he says.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
One fortunate New Hyde Park resident was rescued from the freezing cold on Tuesday, Feb. 25 thanks to Dr. Julia Harmon, DVM, of the New Hyde Park Animal Hospital. That night, at approximately 8 p.m., Harmon was going to her car after work when she saw Spike, a wandering bulldog near Brooklyn Avenue, one block from the vet’s office on Jericho Turnpike.
Harmon immediately brought Spike, who was not wearing a collar and did not have a microchip implanted for identification, back to the vet’s office. The temperature outside was already at 31 degrees, but felt like 20 degrees with the windchill. Luckily Spike was
brought in from the cold early; temperatures dropped down to 25 degrees that night.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
New Hyde Park Michael Castelli recently participated in the 32nd Black Belt Graduation at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park. He graduated to first-degree black belt.
“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others,” says Grandmaster Charles Water, owner and director of the school.
Students tested in October, successfully passed their exam recently and received their black belt certificates. “Who says that the youth of America are not committed? A healthy life style at the karate studio, mentally and physically is alive, well and working,” said Water.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
After missing the playoffs two straight years, the Sewanhaka Indians Boys lacrosse team will face tougher odds if it hopes to advance to postseason play in 2014.
The Indians, who start their season March 24 at Oyster Bay, will be playing out of Section 8, Nassau Conference II (Class B) this year; a bump up from their usual spot in Nassau Conference III (Class C). Typically, the schools are divided by enrollment.
“There are no gimmies in this league,” said nine-year coach Peter Burgess. “We were the last team to make this league in terms of population. They kind of drew the line below us. So we’re the smallest school in the league.”
Burgess said another obstacle for the Indians will be facing teams that they have no experience playing before.