|Tiffany's, Term Limits and
A Proposal For The Future
Of Claire Shulman
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
TIFFANYS: Im not a
I dont judge people on what they
wear, where they shop, or the shiny stuff they have on. I often dont even notice
that sort of thing. If I can buy it online, I usual do. If I need something you
know, like the old one has a hole in it put me in a store, show me my size and
Im done. If, indeed, clothing makes the man, Im easy.
But this past Saturday was my
brother-in-law Gils 60th. We were meeting him and my sister Carole for dinner in the
city and we had to get something special. So Lil, Allison and I went to the Miracle Mile
The Americana on Northern in Manhasset for you newcomers to the area and I
made my first visit to the newest Tiffanys.
Im sure I was once (maybe twice) in
the Fifth Avenue flagship store, but that was many years ago and I was a tourist
looking not buying.
I remember when Allison was born and Steve
Gerard, my old friend and Queens College fraternity brother (AEPi) gave us a silver spoon
in one of those blue Tiffany soft rubbie bags youll hear more about Steve
later on this page. Lil has occasionally gifted one of our moms or someone special with a
silver Tiffany pen in one of those blue status bags expensive but not outrageous
and what else do you get for people that dont need stuff?
Giving Tiffany gifts in blue bags and boxes
is a cool way to say, "I had money to spend on you but had no idea what you
Well, we got uncle Gil a silver Swiss Army
knife key ring.
Later, during dinner, he told us a story
about how he once got a knife as a gift from a friend and it almost broke up the
Its not that easy Gil. Happy
Now, this is not a commercial for Tiffany.
Its a commentary on the economy.
Saturday was beautiful. It was pleasant,
sunny you know as good a summer day as you get in New York. Everyone should have
been away, or at barbeques, or the beach, or park, or outside breathing super pleasant air
for the metro area. The stores should have been emptyish.
We had to stand in line at Tiffanys.
Cmon, gimme a break.
The salesgirl told us there is always a
line it is often longer than the half an hour it took on Saturday for Lil to move
from the end of the line to the front while Allison and I quietly caused mischief in the
I mean, Ive eaten at the most
expensive restaurants, driven the most expensive cars, been exposed to the best life has
to offer but all of that comes without standing on line, I thought.
Not so with Tiffanys. You want to get
help, you stand in line.
I guess the economy is just too good when
the image store of the wealthy has to herd its clientele much like the movie theater does
on weekend nights.
Maybe they just need more Tiffanys.
Looking at the line on Saturday, it seems fairly obvious, Tiffanys is a field of
If you build it, they will come.
How about one in Bay Terrace, and maybe one
on Steinway Street?
TERM LIMITS: This item is really the
background of the next item.
I am not an advocate of term limits. In
principle, I oppose them. The people should be bright enough to exercise term limits at
the ballot box whenever appropriate. But big money, the advantages of incumbency, paid-for
mailings, special interest groups and the lack of real campaign reform has made it near
impossible to beat an incumbent.
And so, although this writer opposes term
limits in principle, I applaud them in practice. Strange, huh?
The flurry of new political activity
brought about by New York City term limits is refreshing to watch. A whole new generation
of people has a chance to serve on the City Council. And there will be three new citywide
officials and changes with most Borough Presidents.
The old guys (and gals) that had too much
time to get too close to the special interest money and too much time to forget who they
represent will make way for a class of new people who will have a limited time to leave
So until campaign reform deprives
incumbents from the gray areas of getting fat at the publics expense, term limits
And those dirty little rumors that we might
see another sneaky little quickie attempt to do away with term limits engineered by the
City Council and Speaker Peter Vallone continue to reveal the true desperation on the part
of people who may have to enter the real world to earn a living. If the rumors are true
and there is another attempt or even a trial balloon to eliminate City Council term
limits, not only will it meet with public outcry and rejection, it will cost Peter Vallone
any possibility of future elective office
Our words of wisdom to Peter Vallone and
Alan Hevesi and Mark Green and all others who aspire to Citywide office: the people, in
their infinite wisdom have spoken not once, but twice. Leave term limits alone.
If our present Council wants to bring about
change, they should address fundraising and campaign abuses. Let another Council and
another City Administration revisit the Charter for a future class of office holders.
The worst thing about changing elected
officials is the sorry look on the face of those who cant accept the fact that the
party is over.
Is there a presidency in
Claire Shulmans future?
CLAIRE SHULMAN: Now, in no way do
I mean to suggest that when someone is term limited out of office, they should be done
with public service. There are lots of opportunities for hard-working, bright public
servants. There are different elective offices. One Councilman is running for Congress;
many are aspiring Borough Presidents.
Some officials have served long and well
and just dont have an appropriate office for which to run. Such is the case with
Borough President of Queens since 1986,
Claire Shulman has been above politics, above special interests and driven by a commitment
to her borough Queens and its people. Harder working than most people a third of her age,
she has the intellect, energy and vitality to continue to serve the people.
Rumors have had her as a Public Advocate
candidate a less than exciting office with little more than a not-so bully pulpit
a good stepping-stone for someone seeking a future in politics, but an
inappropriate platform to wrap up a distinguished career of service.
Other rumors have Claire running for
Council shed blow away the field in the 19th district. Perhaps she could put
together a coalition and become Speaker or at least merit a significant committee chair.
We think the Speaker scenario unlikely with her present political standing with the Queens
Dem leadership but a committee chair would be hers if merit and experience matter in a new
We would certainly welcome her voice in the
2001 City Council.
However, perhaps Claire is above the level
of one of 50 odd (and many are) Councilmembers.
And we believe that our Borough President
wants to continue in public service.
Other rumors have her as either Deputy
Mayor or Chairperson of the City Planning Commission under Mayor Alan Hevesi. But
theyre just rumors and require Alan to become Mayor and make such an appointment.
We have a better idea.
Queens College is without a President. The
crowning jewel of the CUNY system needs someone who can lead it in this new millennium.
The new President must find the funds to
save and build the Salik Aids research center; continue to maintain and build the
educational standards that set Queens apart from all but the best; develop paths of
opportunity for Queens new immigrant population to receive quality higher education;
establish the College as the cultural and educational catalyst to meet the needs of the
ever-changing, ever-challenging population of the nations most diverse county.
The ability to raise money, maintain
independence, negotiate with the public and private sectors and to give of oneself
tirelessly in the interest of quality education are requisites for the new leader of
Queens leading institution of higher learning.
As a former educator in New York City, I
believe that educational leaders are born and not made as are great leaders in any
field. Claire Shulman is not an educator by training; she is one by birth. She has the
qualities, vision and respect to fill the difficult job as President of Queens College.
And although I havent discussed this with her, I know she has the energy and
enthusiasm and Im sure should the opportunity present itself Claire
has the desire.
So I say to CUNY Chancellor Mathew
Goldstein, CUNY Chair Herman Badillo, Deputy Chancellor and Queens boy Jay Hershenson and
my old friend Steve Gerard (the one with the silver spoon) who is now Chairman of the
Queens College Foundation, and whoever else is involved in the selection process, the
answer to your search is just five minutes away from the College. Take a ride down to
Queens Boulevard; stop in; talk to Claire. I think youll agree that shes the
And, if shes not interested, you can
reach me at the Tribune.
QUEENS STREETS: Damn, that John Rocker.
The bad boy of baseball is never around when you need him.
If the hurler Queens loves to hate had
taken the trains last week, he would have found them awash in dress whites worn by
sailors straight from the tall ships that graced NY Harbor in OpSail 2000.
The sailors descended on Queens by the
dozens, hitting Main Street to take in the Asian culture during the day then
heading west to Long Island City and Astoria. They took-in the best of the west, including
the Astoria Studios, P.S. 1, Athens Square on a "Greek Music Nite," and the
Carrying cameras and sacks of souvenirs,
the sailors ate their way through Astoria dining on Greek, Italian and Pakistani
cuisine in restaurants from Broadway to Ditmars, hitting hot dog and souvlaki stands in
Crew members from the schooners Soren
Larsen (New Zealand), the Oosterschelde (Dutch) and Nova Scotias Rose werent
hard to spot cruising through the neighborhoods, stopping for locals who greeted them with
a handshake or a pat on the back. In an instant, they were members of the Queens
"This is wonderful," said a group
from the Oosterschelde. "We have never been to New York City. People told us to go to
Queens to see the real thing."
The crew men said they understood why.
"Wherever we go, we meet someone who speaks a language we do. And last night we ate
at a Greek restaurant, where we sat next to a family from Brazil.
"You cant do that at home,"
said a crew member from Denmark.
Hey, Rocker, these guys found the real
Queens. You should try it some time.
Liz Goff contributed to this column.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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