Like any political boss, Elovich made his share of enemies. But he was always respected, friends said, and he was known for his ability to bring the parties together.
DiNapoli recalled meeting Elovich as a teenager more than 40 years ago, when he was volunteering at Nassau County Democratic headquarters. He described Elovich as a “dashing, daring” man who was “feared” as the Democratic leader, yet “as comfortable supporting [former U.S. Rep.] Al Lowenstein as he did Al D’Amato.”
DiNapoli added, “He was respected by the judges he appeared before, especially the judges he had a personal hand in getting elected.”
It was Elovich’s strong political ties to influential politicians like D’Amato — whom he advised during D’Amato’s run for the U.S. Senate — along with his revitalization of the largely inactive Chamber with Fleishman that helped revitalize the city.
In a 2007 interview, Elovich described Long Beach’s economic decline in the 1960s, when the state began emptying its mental institutions and renting summer homes in Long Beach, where it housed drug addicts and mental patients. That led to lower home values, and Eaton and others recalled the days when the mentally ill and homeless wandered the streets.
“Downtown Long Beach looked like Beirut,” said Eaton, referring to the stretch of Park Avenue where the Waldbaum’s plaza now stands. “Half that block was burned out. The city in 1979 was in such dire straits that Republicans and Democrats came together and formed a coalition slate to save the city.”
Eaton recalled the frustration among city officials — including current State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who was a councilman at the time — who were trying to obtain federal Housing and Urban Development funding to develop the shopping center in the early 1980s. “I remember calling Larry one day and explaining to him that we were pulling our hair out with the federal government and not getting anywhere,” Eaton said. “The next day we got a call from Senator Al D’Amato’s office, and they said, ‘Come down to Washington.’ Nine council members had a meeting with HUD and within a half hour, they agreed to everything we had talked about before.”