SI Vault
Edited by Robert H. Boyle
February 09, 1976
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February 09, 1976


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Governor Hugh Carey of New York sometimes speaks before he thinks, which may be why he is considered by some as a possible presidential candidate. In late December, for example, Carey announced that Maurice Nadjari, a special prosecutor assigned to root out corruption in New York City's criminal justice system, had been dismissed. Nadjari refused to depart as requested and has stayed on the job to the embarrassment of the governor.

Now Carey has bumbled again, this time in a case of national significance. Last week he told the press that he wants Ogden Reid, his Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, to ease up on two General Electric plants which have been polluting the Hudson River with PCBs, chemical compounds that are poisonous to a wide range of life, including humans (SI, Dec. 1).

Governor Carey's timing could not have been more inappropriate. G.E.'s discharge of PCBs into the river has been the subject of a lengthy inquiry ordered under state law by Reid, who is seeking zero discharge by this September. The governor contends zero discharge might cause the plants to move outside New York State. The decision of the hearing officer, Abraham Sofaer of Columbia University Law School, is expected presently, and the governor's pronouncements are injudicious, to say the least. Moreover, statements by a close aide of the governor and by John Dyson, his Commerce Commissioner, indicate that Carey does not have a glimmer of the issues in the case. Indeed, Dyson recently admitted that he himself was "a little vague" about PCBs.

Reid has refused to bend to Carey's wind. In a brief statement Reid said, "The current hearing concerning discharges of PCBs by the General Electric Company before Professor Abraham Sofaer is an essential part of the judicial process and, as such, the integrity of the hearing process must be fully respected and will be totally upheld. If Professor Sofaer finds that G.E. has violated the law, the hearings will continue to determine appropriate relief."


For baseball-card collectors, the choicest item of all is a head-and-shoulders shot of Honus Wagner put out by Sweet Caporal cigarettes circa 1910. Only about a dozen are known to exist and a single card fetches $1,000 or more. The story goes that Wagner, an anti-smoker, threatened to sue Sweet Caporal unless the company withdrew the cards from the market.

Now the Wagner to top all Wagners has been discovered in Winston-Salem, N.C. This card, issued by Piedmont cigarettes, shows Wagner in an action pose. No Piedmont Wagner had previously been known. The three owners of the card are Thomas Wickman and Richard Reuss of Manassas, Va., and Bob Rathgeber, director of publications for the Cincinnati Reds. For some time the three have been in partnership scouring the East for old cards. They discovered the Wagner in a collection of several hundred cards they bought for 40� apiece from an antique dealer.

The three were not immediately excited because Caramel Candy Company had put out a card showing Wagner in the same pose, but they flipped when they turned the card over and saw the name Piedmont. The chance existed that a counterfeiter might have skillfully pasted the Caramel Wagner picture on a Piedmont card, but a test by the Library of Congress showed this was not so. The card is now in a safe-deposit box in Washington, and its estimated value is $3,000.


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