In Memoriam: Jay Kriegel
Jay L. Kriegel, a former “whiz kid” in Mayor John V. Lindsay’s City Hall, became wide-reaching force in civic affairs, broadcasting, and real estate. Jay, who as a 25-year-old prodigy, helped shape the Lindsay administration’s progressive challenge to New York City’s entrenched power brokers. He played an outsize role as chief of staff and special counsel in the administration, which held power from 1966 to 1973.
Working for Mayor Lindsay, Jay helped initiate civilian oversight of citizens’ complaints against the police. In 1968, when Mayor Lindsay was vice chairman of the Kerner Commission on civil disorders, it was Mr. Kriegel and another Lindsay aide, Peter C. Goldmark Jr., who drafted overnight a more muscular preface to the commission’s final report, a 426-page analysis of urban race riots, before it was to be released the next morning.
Later, as an indefatigable but pragmatic outside process broker, he continued to influence a broad spectrum of policymaking through the same power of persuasion. His behind-the-scenes counsel, on behalf of private clients or the civic groups he volunteered to help, made him everyone’s go-to guy in navigating government bureaucracy. Recognizable in later years by his formidable gray mane, he would argue their cases, with his adenoidal inflection, at a machine-gun pace.
In the late 1970s, Jay and Steven Brill founded The American Lawyer magazine, with Jay as its publisher. In 1986, facing a Reagan administration proposal to repeal state and local tax deductions on federal returns, Jay galvanized the New York opposition that helped scuttle it.
As the senior vice president of CBS Inc. in the late 1980s and early ’90s — working under Laurence A. Tisch, its chief executive and largest stockholder at the time — Jay engineered a major, lucrative legislative victory for broadcasters over the cable television industry.
He was later executive director of NYC2012, a long-shot campaign set up by Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration to woo the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York. While falling short in its efforts — London won the Games — the campaign, organized by Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff, nevertheless helped the city derive some enduring benefits from the bid, including an extension of the Flushing subway, the commercial and residential development of Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side and the building of Citi Field in Queens, home of the Mets, and the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, home of the Nets.
Jay was also counselor to the financial communications firm Abernathy MacGregor Group; counseled the governments of Turkey and Kazakhstan; and most recently served as senior adviser to the Related Companies, the global developer that created Hudson Yards.