|QUIPS, Snips and Memory Trips
Of A Queens Columnist
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Inside the Unisphere, Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Photo by Lee Katzman
than a decade ago, I penned a weekly column called "QUIPS: Queens in Politics."
It was fun, timely and in 1987, received a New York Press Association "News
Column" award. Then the Tribune became part of News Communications
which now publishes 23 weeklies in metro New York and
The Hill covering Congress in Washington, DC and my responsibilities
changed. Business obligations filled the time spent researching and writing. QUIPS quietly
Now, as we enter the new millennium with a
stronger corporate business structure and a solid management team at the Trib, I
intend to once again sit at my computer and start pounding on the keys. I will
occasionally offer a Queens publishers comments on the doings and politicking of
Queens and of the world at large and maybe more often than just occasionally.
Ive chosen a new column name:
"Not For Publication.com." It is one of the most frequent things we journalists
are told when talking to insiders and newsmakers: "Its off the record;"
"On background;" or "Not for publication." In other words, dont
quote them; dont attribute it to them; they dont want to get caught in their
own words. Cmon!
I hope you find my writing thought
provoking, interesting, timely and entertaining.
Read, and write back. You can reach me at:
Queens Tribune, 174-15 Horace Harding Expressway, 11365; or online at: email@example.com.
As publisher and writer, I hold the
opinions and ideas of our readers as an invaluable resource. Please share with us.
Now, let me ramble and share with you.
DOT COM: As I spout and
pout about the world and my microcosm of Queens, I will make frequent reference to the
daily business of the Trib. I will also refer occasionally to my family wife
Lil; college student Lee, the photographer whose photo appears at right; and ten-year-old
Allison, a web surfer and my connection to a new generation of challenging thinkers. And,
I cant avoid my other world of cyberspace. A good portion of my business, news,
information, communication and personal commerce now exist online. So, on the trip in this
morning, I added a "dot com" to my columns title. Although some day
Ill spin a yarn about Dorothy Compton my former employee whose nickname
"Dot Com" has been preempted by a fast-paced world taken with the internet
I will just say for now that dot com is here to stay. Get used to it. Dorothy did.
HOLY SMOKES: So Im
watching the Giants football game on Sunday (by the way, they won). On comes this "We
Card" commercial in which Phillip Morris takes credit for sponsoring a program where
retailers "proof" (check age of purchasers) for cigarettes. Phillip Morris is
taking credit for "keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children."
REFORM, NOT! Joe Bruno
the State Senate Republican majority leader who, through the years has shown no
compassion for New York City, ordinary people and good government causes, has introduced a
piece of meaningful reform. Brunos proposal would prohibit legislators from
accepting just about all gifts and meals that are a commonplace part of the Albany
lobbying effort. It would also tighten the reporting procedures of lobbyists.
Problems? You betcha!
The Governor has not signed on to it.
And Shelly Silver, the Assembly speaker who
led the repeal of the commuter tax, is likely not buying it. Its just not going to
work properly, hell likely cry.
From where we sit, I dont believe
Bruno either. Its just another election ploy. The Republicans introduce reform
legislation to avoid campaign attacks and are quite pleased that it goes nowhere.
All of these Albany guys sell their votes
everyday . . . and its legal. Why should they change the system? Theyre the
ones getting fat on the meals and stuff.
Until the entire system of gifts and
campaign finance is changed, the special interest lobbyists will run our government
for their purposes, not ours.
Next time you speak to your elected
official, ask, "How much money did you get in this election cycle from lobbyists,
PACs, special interest groups? How many free meals did you eat? Can you really eat their
food, accept their gifts, and take their money while truly representing the people?"
Who are they fooling?
TERM LIMITS: Im one
of those people who opposed term limits. In principle, I just dont buy it. If the
voters want to term limit a legislator, vote em out. However, it just never worked
that way. Incumbents get reelected time and time again no matter what they do.
Its the money, the name recognition, the abuse of government mail you
cant beat an incumbent. So along comes term limits and even though I oppose them in
principle, it turns out that its a good thing.
We have hundreds of candidates revving up
for the big City Council showdown in 2001 when some forty plus Councilmembers will be term
limited into oblivion. Therell be new and some untainted blood. And oh, there will
be blood, all right.
We cant wait.
POLITICS: Now dont
get me wrong, not all elected officials are evil. Many are good and decent folks. Only, on
all levels of government, good and decent folks cant get the job done. The system is
set up for the wheels to be greased by big bucks . . . and so it goes.
The party doesnt really matter. Under
Republicans, man exploited man. Under Democrats, its just the opposite.
Some good folks get corrupted and some are
just ineffective. Politics is a tough game and sadly, the prizes are winning and power,
not improving things.
HUH? Could someone please
explain the "Being John Malkovich" thing?
ARTHUR NITZBURG, the
political pundit of the Courier, is feeling better after a brief stay in the
hospital. We anticipate his speedy recovery and return. We hate to see his replacement
columnist David Oats have to work so hard. We also await our next fix of political
QC & ALLEN SESSOMS:
The biggest Queens story of the moment is the faltering presidency of Queens
Colleges Allen Sessoms. Not long ago I lunched with the charismatic, dynamic QC
Prez. I liked him.
I still do.
Hes done good things for my alma
mater. Hes helped return it to the standards of academic excellence of the sixties
when old folks (I dont mean that) like me attended. The CUNY crown jewel has been
gleaming once again and its sad to think that Sessoms shoot-from-the-hip style will
damage the institutions credibility that he helped to reestablish.
But, it seems the CUNY headquarters has
abandoned him on the Salik aids center and he has put his foot in his mouth before the
Association of the Bar of the City of New York. By way of brief explanation: although
claiming to have secured the required foundation funding prior to an agreed deadline for
the Salik Center a building that would hold the nations premier AIDS research
center Sessoms has been superceded by the City University. This clearly suggests
his claims were less than true. And although he claims he was quoted out of context, it
seems that President Sessoms commenting on the quality of CUNY remedial students before
the ABCNY did use the less than poetic metaphor of "shit in; shit out."
Forgivable? Maybe forgettable with time.
But coupled with the Salik funding disaster, you can soon expect to see ads in the NY
Times announcing a search for a new Queens College President. We, salute Allen Sessoms
for the job hes done. May his Salik Center be saved and his legacy of academic
Good luck, Allen.
TRANSIT STRIKE, NOT!
The citys biggest story the
transit strike almost happened and could have been the first major chink in
Rudys armor. The people would have held him accountable for how the city fared
during the period of time we couldnt pay fares.
During the negotiating endgame, while Rudy
was posturing and being Rudy in dealing with the strike threat and fallout, we wonder if
Hillary and hubby were quietly crossing their fingers and praying for a strike.
Nevertheless, our dynamic mayor, who has
brought you safer streets, cleaner neighborhoods and a better quality of life by attacking
problems like a prosecutor or a general acted no differently during this
period of delicate labor negotiations. Success, this time, does not negate the fact that
sometimes it takes a statesman, not an army, to solve problems.
We wonder if Rudy can fill that role. And,
what is the US Senate all about? No, were not taking sides in that race at
PUNCTUATION COUNTS: An
English professor wrote the words "Woman without her man is a savage" on the
blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: "Woman, without her
man, is a savage."
The women wrote: "Woman! Without her,
man is a savage."
For years the Queens community waded through the pronouncements and political notions of Daily
News political columnist Bernard Rabin. After retirement from the daily life, he
stepped into the Queens weekly arena and his "Rabins Ramblings" column.
Though he left the Courier about seven years ago, his ramblings ended for good this
weekend as our business lost one more old-time voice on the chaotic world of the Queens
insiders. We wish him well in the great pressroom beyond.
FINALLY: Ill be here
regularly or irregularly, giving you my thoughts. Please remember that if you believe
everything you read, you better not read.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org