Arnold Jack Rosenthal

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Arnold Jack Rosenthal
Finance and Utilities Commissioner of Alexandria, Louisiana
In office
June 1973 – June 1977
Preceded by Carroll E. Lanier
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born (1923-05-09)May 9, 1923
Alexandria, Rapides Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died December 22, 2010(2010-12-22) (aged 87)
Alexandria, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Divorced
Parents Bernard F. and May Violet Kaffie Rosenthal
Alma mater

Bolton High School
Tulane University

Tulane University Law School
Occupation Attorney; Businessman
Religion Jewish

Arnold Jack Rosenthal (May 9, 1923 – December 22, 2010) was an attorney and businessman from Alexandria, Louisiana, who from 1973 to 1977 was his city's last elected municipal commissioner of finance and utilities.[1]

Family and educational background[edit]

Rosenthal (addressed by both names as "Arnold Jack") was the older of two sons of a Jewish couple, Bernard F. Rosenthal, Sr. (1889–1970), and the former May Violet Kaffie (1897–1932),[2] a native of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Rosenthal's maternal forebears in 1863 built the oldest surviving general store in Louisiana, Kaffie-Frederick, Inc., General Mercantile, which specializes in hardware and is located in the historic section of downtown Natchitoches.[3] Many of those ancestors are interred at the Jewish Cemetery in Natchitoches.[4] Rosenthal lost his mother, who died at the age of thirty-four, when he was nine years old; his younger brother, Bernard F. "Bernie" Rosenthal, Jr. (1929–2004), later an employee of the Louisiana Department of Revenue, was only three at the time of their mother's death.[2]

Reared thereafter by a single father, Rosenthal attended public schools and graduated in 1940 from Bolton High School in Alexandria, located near his longstanding family home on Albert Street in the city's Garden District. He then attended Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville before transferring to the nonsectarian Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1946, he received his law degree from Tulane University Law School. Rosenthal was the former owner of the defunct Joy Theater in Alexandria. From his youth to his later years of semi-retirement, Rosenthal was an avid tennis player.[1] He also owned race horses and, with his brother, was particularly active in the racing industry.[5][6][7]

Political aspirations[edit]

In 1960, Rosenthal was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, which met in Los Angeles to nominate the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson ticket,[8] which easily prevailed in Louisiana.

In the spring of 1973, Rosenthal unseated Carroll E. Lanier in the Democratic primary for finance and utilities commissioner. He was one of three officials elected citywide under the former commission government, a plan permitted through the Lawrason Act of 1898. In 1977, the commission government was replaced under a new municipal charter with the current mayor-council arrangement.[1] Rosenthal's fellow commissioners were John K. Snyder, who held the title of mayor and performed the executive duties over public safety and sanitation, and Malcolm P. Hebert, who directed the departments of streets and parks, with jurisdiction over Alexandria Zoological Park. Often on the three-member council, also exercising legislative duties, Snyder and Hebert formed 2-1 majorities, with Rosenthal in the dissenting role, even though all three were Democrats. Snyder and Hebert joined in 1974 to dismiss Rosenthal's executive assistant, Floyd W. Smith, Jr., a former mayor of Pineville.

Rosenthal retained Miriam Haworth Taylor (1918–2007) as his executive secretary. She had joined the finance and utilities department in 1946 and had served under Commissioner Lanier. After the change in government format, Mrs. Taylor was secretary to several Alexandria mayors.

In 1975, Rosenthal convinced the council to hire Velda Mae LaBorde Lee (1935–2011) of rural Flatwoods in Rapides Parish as an internal auditor as a check on municipal financial practices of the long-time secretary-treasurer Ray R. Allen. Formerly of Union Parish in north Louisiana, Lee was an honor graduate of Louisiana Tech University and obtained a master's degree in accounting from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She was only the second woman in Louisiana to obtain CPA designation. Later she was finance director in the second Snyder administration.[9]

In 1977, Snyder and Rosenthal both ran for mayor but were badly defeated by Lanier, who staged a stunning comeback. Lanier defeated Snyder in a runoff, 68-32 percent.[10] Lanier served a 5.5-year term and was unseated in the fall of 1982 by Snyder, who returned for his second nonconsecutive term in office, one term under each form of government.

After his failed bid for mayor, Rosenthal made two other unsuccessful campaigns in the two succeeding years: for Rapides Parish district attorney in 1978 against incumbent Ed Ware, of Alexandria, and for state representative in 1979 against Jock Scott, also of Alexandria.[1][7] Rosenthal received 2,229 votes (23.1 percent) in the race against Scott, who prevailed with 7,419 ballots (76.9 percent).[11] In 1984, Rosenthal ran again for district attorney when Ware declined to seek a third term.[12]

Even earlier, Rosenthal ran third in a heated 1971 Democratic primary race for Louisiana state senator against incumbent Cecil R. Blair [1] of Alexandria and Lecompte in south Rapides Parish. In the runoff election, Rosenthal endorsed Blair's opponent, Floyd W. Smith, Jr., the former mayor of Pineville, the sister city of Alexandria. When Rosenthal assumed the office of commissioner in Alexandria, Smith became his executive assistant and served in that capacity until Snyder and Hebert joined to dismiss him in a 2-1 vote.[13]

In 1983, Rosenthal, then listed as the junior partner of the law firm Levy, Oubre, Lenz & Rosenthal in Metairie in Jefferson Parish, was listed as a donor to the Democratic presidential campaign of then U.S. Senator John H. Glenn, Jr., of Ohio.[14] Glenn lost the nomination in 1984 to Walter F. Mondale, who in turn was defeated by Republican U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan.

Legal troubles[edit]

The "Oubre" in Levy, Oubre, Lenz & Rosenthal was former state Senator George T. Oubre of St. James Parish in South Louisiana. In the 1971 Democratic primary in which Rosenthal ran for the state Senate against Blair and Smith, Oubre sought the office of state attorney general. He lost the party nomination to William J. Guste, of New Orleans. This was also the same election in which Edwin Edwards narrowly defeated J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., for the gubernatorial nomination. Rosenthal and Oubre obtained a $50,000 loan from the Louisiana National Bank in Baton Rouge, and neither made payments accordingly. When the bank sued, Rosenthal purchased the note for the sum of $54,000 and then sued Oubre for repayment. Oubre claimed that he did not owe Rosenthal because Rosenthal was indebted to Oubre for half of the original $50,000 as a result of other expenses encountered from the partnership. The court ruled on appeal in favor of Rosenthal.[15] In 1986, 40th District Court Judge Gerard Walton "Ton" Caire of St. John the Baptist Parish ordered Oubre to represent John Francis Wille pro bono in a murder case because Oubre had been convicted for bank fraud.[16] The Bureau of Prisons website, however, shows that Oubre was never incarcerated in a federal penitentiary.

Rosenthal encountered other legal problems too. He pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud on March 11, 1986, in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. In return, prosecutors dropped the remaining twenty-four counts against him and two business partners from New Orleans, John B. Levy of the Levy law firm and Harry Caire, a Certified Public Accountant. Rosenthal then agreed to cooperate with the government in its case against both Levy and Caire.[5]

Rosenthal was accused of being part of a financial scheme to deplete the assets of the defunct Continental Service Life and Health Insurance Company of Baton Rouge of which Rosenthal was president and the principal stockholder.[15] Rosenthal also headed a holding company in Delaware, which purchased Continental Service. Prosecutors said that Rosenthal, Levy, and Caire sought to substitute disputed mortgages on property belonging to an uncle of Levy in return for Continental Service's low-interest municipal bonds. The bonds were sold to make a 60 percent first payment on the company. Prosecutors said that some $3 million was plundered from the company. The company assets became so depleted that Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Sherman A. Bernard placed the firm in conservatorship.[5]

Judge Peter Hill Beer, a Jimmy Carter appointee to the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans and like Rosenthal an alumnus of Tulane Law School,[17] sentenced Rosenthal to twenty-two months in prison, assessed a $2,000 fine, and three years probation after having completed the incarceration.[5] He was released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons from a facility in Florida on September 4, 1987, after having served a year of the stated sentence.[18]

Death and legacy[edit]

Rosenthal died at the age of eighty-seven at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria. He was a member of the Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria. Graveside services were held on December 23, 2010 at the Jewish Cemetery on Main Street in Pineville, with Rabii Arnold Task officiating.[1] The divorced Rosenthal was survived by four cousins, Jack Kahn of Baton Rouge, Karlyn Greenberg of Houston, Texas, Dorothy Lewy of Fairfax Station, Virginia, and David Hart Rothman of Alexandria, Virginia (not Louisiana).[6]

The Rosenthal Montessori Elementary School in Alexandria is named for Rosenthal's grandfather, Jonas Rosenthal, who served on the Rapides Parish School Board. After the death of his brother, Arnold Jack Rosenthal made a monetary donation to the school to be used for nonspecified educational purposes.[19]

Rosenthal was among a handful of Jews who played roles in Louisiana politics in the 20th century, along with State Senators Leopold Caspari and Sylvan Friedman, both of Natchitoches Parish, where Rosenthal's mother was born.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Former Alexandria Commissioner of Finance and Utilities Arnold Jack Rosenthal dies at age 87", Alexandria Town Talk, December 23, 2010, accessed January 7, 2011
  2. ^ a b "Jane Parker McManus, "Jewish Cemetery (Pineville, Louisiana)"". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile". Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Jewish Cemetery (Natchitoches)". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Arnold Jack Rosenthal". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Former Alexandria commissioner of finance and utilities Arnold Jack Rosenthal dies at age 87". The Monroe News-Star. December 24, 2010. Retrieved May 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Index to Politicians: Rosenthal". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Velda LaBorde Lee, CPA". The Town Talk, March 6, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  9. ^ State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Alexandria municipal election returns, 1977
  10. ^ State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, October 1979 primary election results
  11. ^ State of Louisiana, Office of the Secretary of State, 1984 primary election returns
  12. ^ Bret H. McCormick, "Floyd W. Smith, Jr., former mayor of Pineville, dies at 77", Alexandria Daily Town Talk, February 12, 2010
  13. ^ "Metairie, Louisiana (LA) Political Contributions by Individuals". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ a b Arnold Jack Rosenthal v. George T. Oubre,, March 16, 1987
  15. ^ "G. Walton Caire and George Oubre". May 1, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges: Beer, Peter Hill". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Inmate Locator: Arnold J. Rosenthal". Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Resolution of the Rapides Parish School Board" (PDF). Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Carroll E. Lanier
Commissioner of Finance and Utilities of Alexandria, Louisiana

Arnold Jack Rosenthal

Succeeded by
Position abolished by city charter change