WASHINGTON - Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, who has temporarily assumed the thankless task of overseeing the savings and loan bailout, had a few words of warning for Stanley G. Tate, his likely successor as head of the Resolution Trust Corp.
Mr. Altman spoke recently of April 13, 1945, when Eleanor Roosevelt broke the news to Vice President Harry Truman that her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had died. after a long pause, Mr. Truman finally asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Mrs. Roosevelt replied, "Mr. President, the question is, is there anything we can do for you, for you are the one in trouble now."
Mr. Tate would take on the unforgiving job of selling off the assets of the nation's failed thrifts - and that's only if he succeeds in cajoling in Congress into approving funding for the agency. Mr. Clinton nominated the Miami real estate developer for the RTC post on July 13, and the Senate has not yet scheduled confirmation hearings.
Claims Bipartisan Support
"I really feel strongly that I can bring a level of experience that really has not been there," Mr. Tate said. "The administration must have thought enough of my credentials, because I am a Republican," he said.
"They were looking for someone extremely qualified in banking and real estate, and particularly problem real estate."
Mr. Tate, 65, said his nomination has received bipartisan support, and he is confident that his background in the real estate industry will serve him well.
But Mr. Tate's nomination raises paradoxes seldom seen in Washington.
First, it is unusual that a Democratic president would nominate a man who, according to the Federal Election Commission, has given more than $55,000 to Republican candidates since 1991.
Switched to GOP in 1987
Mr. Tate said he used to be a Democrat, but switched parties in 1987 to support his friend Bob Martinez when he ran for governor of Florida.
And most members of the congressional black caucus have lined up in support of Mr. Tate, who is white. One Democrat in that group said the nomination has persuaded him to vote for RTC funding because he appreciates Mr. Tate's support of African-American causes in Miami.
Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings said he was considering voting against continued RTC funding before Mr. Tate surfaced as a candidate for the job.
"Because he has received the nomination, I think I can live with it," Rep. Hastings said. "I intend to vote for the funding."
"If I had my druthers, would I prefer a black Democrat for the job? Damn right," the congressman said. But he has known of Mr. Tate's work for 15 years. "I know him as a public servant and a good one for African-Americans in southern Florida," Rep. Hastings said.
Since 1990, Mr. Tate has served as a member of the RTC's East Coast region advisory board, one of six regional boards that counsels the agency on the disposal of its real estate. For the past six months, Mr. Tate has served as the board's acting chairman.
|He's a Great Choice'
Peter H. Monroe, who until June was president of the Thrift Depositor Protection Oversight Board - which sets policy for the RTC - has known Mr. Tate for years and worked with him when he chaired the regional board.
"He's a great choice," Mr. Monroe said of the nomination. "He knows real estate as well or better than anyone I know - He's done bankruptcy and receivership. He understands liquidation."
The nominee owns Tate Enterprises, a Miami-based company that had gross revenue of about $40 million in 1992. Tate Enterprises is a holding company for Mr. Tate's construction, investments, and real estate development and management businesses as well as his consulting and receivership activities.
He also donates 50% of his time to public service, working for local charities, hospitals, and community projects - activities he says he would severely limit if confirmed.
Agrees with Bentsen Agenda
Mr. Tate said he would not discuss his plans for the RTC until his confirmation.
He would only say he agreed with Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen's March 16 pledge to improve the agency's operations by strengthening internal controls and contractor oversight, expanding opportunities for women and minorities, and setting up a comprehensive business plan for selling the nation's largest cache of real estate.
He added that if he is confirmed his first priority will be to visit each RTC field office to introduce himself to employees.
"I think it is very important that they know who I am, that they have a comfort level," said Mr. Tate, a slim, 6-footer with thinning light brown hair who wears gold-rimmed glasses. "It is important for them to know me so they can be on my team."
"I have my own management style and it has been successful for me," said Mr. Tate. Several sources said he is likely to keep extremely long hours at the agency. "I am as hard a worker as any man who has been working for the RTC," he said. Mr. Tate said he never goes to bed before 2 a.m.
|Very Strong Ideas'
"I intend to bring some very strong ideas," Mr. Tate said. He wants RTC employees "to respect me and to like me, but I'm not looking for anyone to stroke me." Mr. Tate insists that he is a "people person," and that he will "have no problem with people so long as they do what they are supposed to do."
Mr. Tate admits to having a strong ego. "I think people who do not think highly of their own abilities are not successful," he said.
Mr. Tate owns three Florida office buildings, four shopping centers in the Southeast, two apartment buildings, a condominium development, a subdivision, and the Villa del Ray golf club in Delray Beach, Fla.
He manages six Florida properties, and has recently served as a court-appointed receiver for 50 Florida properties - including everything from a gas station to apartment buildings. He was even chosen by a court to review the accounts of the rap group 2 Live Crew.
Proud of Work with HUD
He manages several properties for the RTC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but said he plans to stop doing so should he be approved for the RTC job.
Mr. Tate said he is most proud of his work as chairman of the Dade County regional oversight board for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He helped turn around 12,500 HUD-owned apartments scattered across Dade county. "We put in day care, we put in police substations," Mr. Tate said. "We got rid of the drugs," he said, and made the apartments pleasant places to live again.
The nominee serves as chairman of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, under which parents may buy a policy that will guarantee to pay the cost of tuition to any college in the state when their child grows up. There are 215,000 children currently enrolled, about 9,000 of them attending college.
It is the only outside activity he said he hopes to keep up if the Senate approves his appointment. Mr. Tate said he got involved with the program because, "I wanted to make an education both attainable and affordable."
He is a director of the Intercontinental Bank in Miami, and a former officer and director for several other Florida banks. He also serves as a director of several Florida charities, including the Miami City Ballet, the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged, the Miami Heart Institute, and the Dade County unit of the American Cancer Society.
A Bank Director
He was a mayor of a small Miami suburb for four years, but he insists, "I am not a politician. The Mayor of Bay Harbor does not qualify me as a politician," Mr. Tate said.
Mr. Tate said that Joni, his wife of 44 years, told him the RTC job is his "last hurrah." The Tates have three children, all of whom are married, and six grandchildren with a seventh on the way.
It is a close-knit family. "I talk to my children every day."
Seeking Support on Hill
He has spent the last two weeks visiting Capitol Hill, seeking support for his nomination. He said he has many friends there. And election commission records show he made dozens of donations to the campaigns of Republican congressional candidates - from Alaska and Hawaii to Pennsylvania and Florida.
No date has yet been set for his Senate confirmation hearing, and it is not clear whether it will take place before Congress' fall recess. But Mr. Tate is eager to get started. What can people expect to see from him?
"I am a very strong person. I've been around a long time and I've been successful," said Mr. Tate. "I am what I am."