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Guide to the Ira M. Millstein Papers
1975-2016 (bulk, 1975-1976)
 MS 3020

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 19, 2021 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Millstein, Ira M.
Title: Ira M. Millstein papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1975-2016 (bulk, 1975-1976)
Abstract: As a partner in the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Ira M. Millstein was a counsel to New York City during its fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s. The collection includes documents related to certain legal aspects of New York City's near-default on its obligations in 1975 and to the subsequent investigation of the city by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as copies of published articles about the matter.
Quantity: 0.63 Linear feet in two document boxes
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact manuscripts@nyhistory.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.
Language: .
Call Phrase: MS 3020

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Biographical/Historical Note

Ira M. Millstein was born in New York City on 8 November 1926. He earned his law degree in 1949 from Columbia Law School. By the 1970s, he was a partner at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The firm, including Millstein, served as counsel on bankruptcy matters to New York City during its fiscal crisis of the mid-late 1970s. At the peak of the crisis, in October 1975, New York was approaching due payments but with insufficient funds to pay them. Millstein wrote the filing that was submitted to the state Supreme Court to start the default process. Though the filing was approved and signed by Judge Irving Seybold, it was returned to the lawyers as unneeded as last minute debt relief came from union pension funds. Millstein and his firm continued to provide counsel, including in connection with an investigation launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission in early 1976. This investigation focused on concerns with New York's bond offerings, specifically with regard to misrepresentations and inadequate risk disclosure. The SEC's critical report was released in 1977, shortly before the Democratic Party primary, which incumbent Mayor Abraham Beame lost.

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Scope and Contents Note

The collection includes documents related primarily to certain legal aspects of New York City's near-default on its obligations in 1975 and to the subsequent investigation of the city by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The collection includes the petition of 17 October 1975 submitted by the city to the state Supreme Court, the resulting court order that positioned New York to declare it was defaulting that day (an action that was narrowly averted), and the text of Mayor Beame's prepared, but never used, announcement of the default. The collection includes legal analyses, memoranda and other documents from 1975-1976 related to the possibility and implications of a default by New York. The collection includes memoranda concerning some aspects of the SEC's investigation, such as jurisdictional matters. The collection also holds copies of proposed legislation from 1975 relating to the state's financial emergency act and of various published articles, primarily from law journals, concerning the crisis from a legal perspective.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged roughly by document type and chronology.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Millstein, Ira M.

Document Type

  • Bills (legislative records)
  • Legal correspondence

Subject Organizations

  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges

Subject Topics

  • Municipal bankruptcy
  • Law firms -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- New York.

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact manuscripts@nyhistory.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.

Use Restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as the Ira M. Millstein papers, MS 3020, New-York Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials Note

New-York Historical Society holds the Elizabeth and Felix G. Rohatyn papers, which include some material, mostly clippings and news articles, concerning New York's fiscal crisis (MS 3015).

N-YHS also holds the Henry Walter papers (MS 3016). Walter was a speechwriter for Comptroller and later Mayor Abraham Beame, including throughout the fiscal crisis. Walter's papers provide insight into the public relations aspects of the mayoralty and the fraught financial situation.

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift from Ira Millstein, 2017.

Processing Information Note

The collection was processed in July 2017 by archivist Larry Weimer.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1 Memo re: City of New York: Enforceability of General Obligation Indebtedness
1975 June 3
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 2 "Municipal Securities and the Doctrine of Disclosure"

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the prepared address of William D. Moran, of the SEC's New York Regional Office, given at a seminar of the ALI/ABA Committee on Professional Education.

1975 September 20
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 3 Petition to the New York State Supreme Court under Title 6-A of the Local Finance Law, & Related Documents

Scope and Contents Note

This folder includes copies of the documents related to the day on which New York City almost defaulted during the fiscal crisis. It includes New York City's petition of 17 October 1975 to the State Supreme Court concerning its inability to pay its debts or obligations, the court order approving the stay as signed by Judge Irving Saypol, and Mayor Beame's prepared (but never used) statement regarding the court order. The folder includes a 1982 newspaper article about the events surrounding these documents. See also Jeff Nussbaum's "The Night New York Saved Itself from Bankruptcy" in  The New Yorker of 16 October 2015 for further context and an image of Beame's statement.

1975, 1982
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 4 "Financial Plan for the City of New York and Covered Organizations"
1975 October
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 5 Credit Agreement by and among the USA and New York State, New York City, and the New York State Emergency Financial Control Board

Scope and Contents Note

Printed version of the signed agreement.

1975 December 30
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 6 Memoranda (1 of 6)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes analyses concerning defaults under state legal investment law and a copy of MAC's motion for summary judgment in the matter Flushing National Bank v. Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York, et al.

1975 October-December
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 7 Memoranda (2 of 6)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a copy of the statement of the Securities Industry Association before the Sub-Committee on Securities of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

1976 January-February
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 8 Memoranda (3 of 6)
1976 March
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 9 Memoranda (4 of 6)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes the financial statements and report from certified public accountants Hurdman and Cranstoun for the United Fund of Greater New York, Inc., year ended 29 February 1976.

1976 April
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 10 Memoranda (5 of 6)
1976 May
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 11 Memoranda (6 of 6)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes a copy of the memo from law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to its client, the Municipal Assistance Corporation (MAC), on the subject of the case against default or bankruptcy by New York City. Includes a 2016 email indicating that the papers were reviewed for privileged documents.

1976 June-October, 2016
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 12-14 Legislation (3 folders)
1975
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 15 Recollections

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two documents. One is an unattributed and undated, but possibly from mid-1977, list of steps taken from 1974-April 1977 to address New York's fiscal crisis. Although Mayor Beame is often referred to in the third person, the use of the first person "I" also seems to be referring to Beame, and so the document seems to have been written for and about Beame. The second document is an extract of a 2013 transcript of a conversation among Millstein and two others, with the extract regarding the New York City fiscal crisis.

1977?, 2013
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 1 Published Articles About the Fiscal Crisis (1 of 5)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes various articles compiled by or for Millstein under the heading "Notes on the NYC Financial Crisis." Includes, among others, overviews published by the California Research Bureau (1995) and by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (2012).

1995-2014
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 2 Published Articles About the Fiscal Crisis (2 of 5)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes New York City's Fiscal Problem, a background paper issued by the Congressional Budget Office, and  New York City's Financial Crisis, a staff study prepared for Congress's Joint Economic Committee.

1975
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 3 Published Articles About the Fiscal Crisis (3 of 5)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Alan R. Viani's "New York Revisited: A Year of Crisis" from the Oklahoma City University Law Review; Joel E. Cohen's "The Limits of State Intervention in a Municipal Fiscal Crisis" from the  Fordham Urban Law Journal; "The Constitutionality of the New York Municipal Wage Freeze and Debt Moratorium: Resurrection of the Contract Clause" from the  University of Pennsylvania Law Review; Donna E. Shalala and Carol Bellamy's "A State Saves a City: The New York Case" from the  Duke Law Journal; and the "Report of the Committee on State and Local Government Bargaining" from  1976 Labor Relations Law Committee Reports.

1976
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 4 Published Articles About the Fiscal Crisis (4 of 5)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Gayle Gutekunst-Roth's "New York: A City in Crisis: Fiscal Emergency Legislation and the Constitutional Attacks" from the Fordham Urban Law Journal; and Robert H. Freilich, John H. Bracken, and William A. Denney's "Recent Developments in Local Government Law" from  The Urban Lawyer.

1977
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 5 Published Articles About the Fiscal Crisis (5 of 5)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes Hindy Lauer Schachter's "Fiscal Crisis and Police Union Bargaining: The Case of New York" from the Criminal Justice Review (circa 1981); Omer Kimhi's "A Tale of Four Cities: Models of State Intervention in Distressed Localities Fiscal Affairs" from the  University of Cincinnati Law Review (2012); and various news articles.

2005-2006, 2012-2013

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