|A Gunfight in Western Queens &
A Missing Newspaper Column
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
THE LATEST: So, as you read in this
column first, Walter McCaffrey is challenging incumbent frosh Congressman Joe Crowley.
While McCaffrey made his announcement on Monday, John Sabini, his compatriot in
insurgency, readies a potential challenge of his own.
Sabini, the buzz has it, will challenge
Astoria State Senator George Onorato. Onorato, the weak link of the organization regulars,
is considered to be a loyal Dem with a curiously unimpressive record. Not known as a hard
worker or creative legislator, Onorato could be vulnerable to an aggressive attack. Sabini
has little to lose. Term-limited out of the Council at the end of 2001, he might as well
start his job hunt now. Along with McCaffrey and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (the three were
dissed by County Leader Tom Manton who gifted his Congressional seat to Joe Crowley), he
has declared war on the Dem organization, so he will receive no help there. So, Sabini
picks the weakest link in western Queens and challenges Onorato.
As McCaffrey and Sabini maneuver, the first
organized Democratic County insurrection against Tom Manton begins. Manton, somewhat
weakened by the current courthouse scandal, is more vulnerable now than hes ever
been. However, the western Queens troika of McCaffrey, Sabini and Nolan has been unable to
attract any other followers of note yet.
Perhaps theyll seek to hook up with
omni-candidate Kimon Thermos who has challenged Astoria Assemblyman Dennis Butler a number
of times previously. Expect Thermos, who came close to Butler last time out, to be in the
race against the Queens Assembly dean again. Thermos will likely look upon Sabini and
McCaffrey as allies.
With Sabini and Onorato in a primary for
Senate in a multiethnic, diverse district, strange things could happen. A fight
between two white Italian males could pave the way for an ethnic candidate to steal the
race. Community Board 1 District Leader George Delis has previously challenged Onorato but
lost due to the efforts of a united Dem Organization not the case this time. Delis
says no go for now. Or, on the Eastern end of the District a strong voter turnout
from Jewish Bay Terrace could produce a number of challengers. A mixture of Hispanic,
Asian and several other ethnic groups hold the balance in this mosaic.
To add to the west Queens mix, comes word
that Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is exploring a primary
run against organization regular frosh Assemblywoman Marge Markey. Markey who was handed
the seat by the organization when Crowley moved to D.C., has yet to make her mark or
estabish a potent powerbase and therefore could be vulnerable if the powerful civic
association is mobilized.
Add in a couple of district leader
primaries there could be a good gunfight out west as McCaffrey and Sabini look to build
Then, there is the rumor that either
Onorato or Butler may retire and wed see a son of Council Speaker and Mayoral-
wannabe Peter Vallone seek to fill the vacancy.
The time is getting short to put together
an effective well-funded effort for this year. But political pros, whove done this
before, or their heirs, have a leg up on mere mortals.
Isnt the system wonderful? And
somehow, the guys in office can never come up with the votes for meaningful election
reform. Wonder why?
September primary, November election,
February prediction: Every incumbent that seeks reelection this year will win!
FLUG FLACK: Its career number
three for Jamaica Estates Arthur Flug. After retiring from the Bd of Ed., Arthur
spent a decade as Chief HooHah to Congressman Gary Ackerman. Then, he packed up his
goodies, headed to Israel and after a three month extended visit, returned to
parttime retirement, parttime grant writing and consulting and fulltime
hubby to Supreme Court Judge Phyllis Flug.
Not so fast. Before Arthur could get the
hang of the semi-leisure thing, he was snatched up into the do-goody world of the American
Jewish Congress. The liberal organization, which pursues social justice causes, has hired
Arthur as their executive director.
We had the pleasure of dining with our
(much) older friend recently who had several observations about life. "I discovered I
was old last week, even though I dont feel it," Arthur told us over fried
calamari. "I was on the subway and a young girl got up and gave me her seat.
Thats when you know," he sighed.
As the second course was served, Arthur
reminisced, "As a kid, I used to eat spaghetti. When did it become pasta?" he
Flugs ready for the AJC gig, which
begins this week.
Are they ready for him?
We wish him and them well.
And Arthur, the true indication that
were aging: Paul McCartney is on this months cover of the AARP "Modern
COLUMN MISSING: Weekly political
columnist Arthur Nitzburgs column was not published by the Courier last week. No
explanation was given. We emailed Nitzberg:
Subject: My second favorite column.
Missed you this week. Whahappened?
Via email, Arthur Nitzburg responds:
"Well, I was a naughty boy. I wrote a
column that you would definitely have censored. The Courier did too.
Im proud. At least I will have a
clear conscience the next time the entire Democratic Party goes down in flames. Come to
think of it, we should make a rule: No Democratic candidate for office should live in
Queens. Then, at least, wed be consistent with the Dem Party Organization. And I
think Ill write a segment of congratulations: Im calculating the exact date on
which Tom Mantons law firm will hit $1 million in court appointments. I think it
could be in April or May. I hear theyre going public; their symbol on the NASDAQ
will be FUKU."
"I am rewriting it and expanding
it. I'm talking to the dailies, trying to get an op-ed piece on the subject. That, at
least so far as I can see, is where it will wind up. You got any interesting info you'd
like to pass my way on court patronage? Or any kind of Manton-world patronage that would
make a good story?"
"Something for your column: Ive
joined my hero, Mike Schenkler. Ive grown a beard. It looks good on me, too."
Arthur, we try not to censor divergent
opinion. Please dont pre-judge us at the Trib. However, we believe you
can criticize without being offensive. As for Manton and company, we dont approve of
the entire system that permeates court appointments and patronage in every county in the
state. It is not illegal. However, the whole thing is vile and distasteful.
Legislative reform is called for. But, you
know those guys in Albany lots of attorneys waiting in line for their share. It
aint gonna get fixed so easily.
Dont get mad, write.
If we have anything worth printing,
youll read it here.
And, Arthur, youll never look that
Dr. Berkman, more than just a
OPEN WIDE: Two weeks ago in a column
entitled "Ive Got Two Words For You: Dentistry and Politics," I wrote:
"Now, I have a wonderful dentist. Charlene Berkman in Forest Hills. Shes
great, inspires confidence, and is pleasant to be with. As a matter of fact, weve
become friends with Charlene and her husband Richard. Anyway, shes a wonderful
dentist, but Id rather meet her at a restaurant than her office."
In a totally unconnected development, which
puts teeth into the credibility of this column, a press release arrived Tuesday from the
international headquarters of Alpha Omega, one of the worlds largest dental
associations. It announced the election of Charlene as Chairwoman of the Alpha Omega Board
REPORTING: A reporter from
Philadelphia, was visiting an old colleague who now edited a newspaper in a small town in
"I dont see how you do it,"
the reporter said. "How can you drum up interest in the news when everybody in town
knows what everybody else is doing?"
"Sure they know," the editor
said, "but they read the newspaper to see who got caught at it."
GAG LINE: Monica Lewinsky (being
interviewed on CNNs Larry King Live regarding her Jenny Craig weight-loss) said:
"Ive learned not to put things in my mouth that are bad for me."
|Political pic of the week
Just before Sundays surprise endorsement from the pulpit of the
Allen AME Church, Veep Al Gore with Queens powerhouse Reverend Floyd Flake.
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: I have two close
friends intimately involved in Nassau County politics.
Former Democratic County Chair John
Mathews, we were informed by an email release from Bill Bradley for President Campaign,
was named Nassau County Coordinator of the Bradley campaign. John, along with Dollar
Bills former Knick teammate Dave De Busschere was on hand for the opening of the
Bradley Nassau Office on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck.
Not to be outdone, Gore 2000 has named my
good friend Robert Zimmerman (Zimmerman & Edelson Public Relations in Great Neck) as
Managing Chair of the Gore NYS Steering Committee.
Hmmm! John is with Bradley. Bob is with
Me, Im with all my friends.
REPRINTED FROM THE TRIB: The
photo at the left, from The Equinox the student newspaper of Keene State
College in New Hampshire was taken by my son, Lee Katzman. It did, as described in
the Equinox first appear on the Tribune holiday card. A different version of
the photo also appeared as a graphic for the first Not For Publication column
printed in the Trib last millennium 10 weeks ago.
Wonder if the Equinox will reprint this reprint of
their reprint of our photo?
Photo by Lee Katzman, photo editor,
The Equinox, Keene State College.
Michael Schenkler can be
reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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