By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Its Election Day . . . or rather the last column that Im
writing before Election Day 2000.
Although, we share some thoughts on local elections below, the big boys
and girls stole our attention this past week.
Fundraising goes hand-in-hand with elections.
I had the opportunity to sit in the catbird seat (whatever that means)
during a major league fundraiser last week. The guest of honor was Bill Clinton, the
fundraiser for Hillary. Let me explain.
Youve all met Mike Nussbaum, the Tribune associate
publisher who has shared a common office wall with me for more than a decade. Mike is not
only my colleague and friend but the son of the famous dog lady, Edith Nussbaum, who faces
eviction at the hands of an out-of-control Co-op Board of Directors of Clearview Gardens.
You remember her, too.
The Nussbaums go back a long way with the Clintons. Mikes first
cousin Bernie, who served as counsel to the President during Clintons first term,
first met Hillary in 1974 when she worked for him on the Watergate Investigation. Back
then, she introduced Bernie to her boyfriend Bill who declared to Bernie a quarter of a
century ago that one day he would be President. Bernie patted him on the back, gave some
words of encouragement and said, "Keep in touch."
Each time Bill ran for office, Bernie was there helping
financially. Each time Bill won an election, he would call him and invite him to come down
for the inaugural. Bernie always responded by saying "next time." He passed on
Arkansas Attorney General and Governor, but next time finally came.
Bernie, Mike, his wife Dale and the Nussbaum clan were there in DC to
watch Bill Clinton be sworn in as the 40th President of the United States. Bernie stayed.
It was now a couple of weeks before Hillarys election and the
Nussbaum family again offered to help. This time it was Mike and Dale. A rally at
$50 per head was planned for 1,000 people at Local 3s International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building in Electchester to be attended by the
Mike and Dale offered their home for an intimate more expensive
cocktail fundraising reception. But as Mike puts it, "moving a 1,000 lb. gorilla
causes the earth to shake," and the Secret Service nixed a second location for the
So the invitation stood and arrangements had to be made for the
cocktail party in the same building as the rally. The fun had begun for an unknowing
Michael Nussbaum. Mike and Dale are seasoned fundraisers, having played in the political
arena for some two decades. However, they had no idea what it was like to have the White
House and Senate campaign staff descend on their small Queens community.
Raising the money wasnt the hard part. For a photo and a
handshake people were willing to fork over the $1,000 per head and more. The money flow
started as a trickle, then moved to a rapid stream that ended with calls demanding that
more room be found to accommodate more than the intimate 50 person capacity room. Yup, he
can draw them in, POTUS, that is. With him was to be FLOTUS, likely New Yorks next
At the office, Mike stood guard over the
Presidents soda and nuts (actually pictured here) until he met up with the White
House official food watcher.
But before the big 45-minute event,
there were arrangements to be made. Mike met the Secret Service and the good folks from
the caterers, Anthonys restaurant, at the room. Security checked, arrangements
The weekend prior to the event it was a
constant barrage of cell phone calls for the Nussbaums, from White House and campaign
staff, White House travel and advance, and Secret Service. A new wrinkle, food service had
to be provided for White House working press. The Government would pay for that but
arrangements had to be made. Social Security numbers were required to check out each
The day of the event another call in
case hes hungry, the President requires: "hot water, decaf coffee, a can of
diet coke kept in a bowl of ice, mixed nuts unsalted and fruit."
The evening came and the forty-five minute
event went in forty-five minutes. The Nussbaums, in spite of the pressure, had a ball and
a couple of minutes alone with the First Couple. Scott, Mike and Dales oldest son,
and the President compared notes on playing the Alto Sax, Mike and Dale told Hillary they
cant wait to join her in January when she is sworn in as US Senator.
The folks from Anthonys restaurant
were serving Macari wine from their family vineyard on Long Islands North Fork.
Leave it to the Clintons, they knew the wine and the vineyard from hobnobbing with
Hampton Hoohahs. I think I saw a Secret Service guy carrying out a case.
Co-hostess Dale Nussbaum (l.)
got caught on film with a corner
of the First Lady as the secret service
clamped down on photographers.
Photo By Dee Richard
I had the pleasure of being there.
And even though my photographer Dee Richard was there, the Secret Service took over and
only the White House and Campaign lensmen were allowed to shoot. Youll have to wait
to see my pic with Bill and Hill.
It was the second time I met the President.
Seven years earlier he wasnt nearly as gray but he was just as captivating,
charismatic and magical. There are none like him. It was the third time this year I met
Hillary. Shes pretty darn good herself. The two are bright, committed to service and
enchanting. No matter how many people they meet in a day, they seem to talk to each one.
They listen to your words and respond.
I voted for Bill, twice. Would do so again
if it werent for those damn term limits. As far as Senator, Ive met them both
(Hillary and Rick) and for me the choice is clear.
Maybe Hillary will invite me to join her at
her inaugural, too.
The next evening Mikes cell phone
rang again. It was Hillary, calling to say thanx.
LITTLE CHOICE IN QUEENS
Politics is local. But local elections
leave a lot to be desired.
Back when this years process began
as candidates scrambled to prepare for petitioning to get on the ballot I
penned the little ditty that follows to explain why this political junkie spends so little
time and space commenting on races for local elective office.
In Queens this Election Day, we are
choosing seven members of Congress, seven State Senators and 16 members of the Assembly.
Of these 30 local elected offices, 29 incumbents are seeking reelection. Only Denis
Butler, Assemblyman 36th District is not running again. The race to replace him between
Dem Mike Gianaris and Republican Vince Tabone has been more spirited than expected.
Although Gianaris is expected to have an easy time of it, Tabone has made an admirable
presentation in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic.
Of the 29 others, local pundits say that
perhaps one seat could change hands. In a changing State Senate District (11th) with
increasing Democratic registration, 28-year-veteran Republican Frank Padavan is facing an
aggressive challenge from local activist Rory Lancman. The State Senate Dems are pouring
major bucks into this race with the distant hope of gaining enough seats to recapture the
This writer believes neither will happen.
Although Lancman will come closer to Padavan than any candidate before, his power of
incumbency translates into name recognition and major money and thus, in our judgment,
puts this the only real contest in the borough, slightly out of reach.
The rest of the races are just incumbents
against a list of names who will appear on the ballot. Sadly, the two party system
doesnt work in Queens.
|The Ins Are Always In
Incumbents are the guys in office,
Sometimes theyre the gals,
Usually they stick together,
Theyre all political pals.
Here in Queens, New York City,
The incumbents always win,
They work so hard to insure,
That the "ins," are always in.
Now of all the elected officials,
There are some to be respected,
Improving lives of constituents,
And making sure to get reelected.
Its of little import what they do,
Their record is of little matter,
Raise the bucks, work the PACs,
Make campaign warchests fatter.
And so incumbents are convinced,
Name recognition cant be beat,
With the bucks and paid-for-mail,
Its another term repeat.
And so we have it here in Queens,
With very little exception,
If an incumbents on the ballot,
Theyre gonna win election.
This little ditty is to amuse,
And explain to you my writing,
The local elections that I cover,
Just arent too exciting.
So follow all the candidates,
And use some critical thought,
And cast your vote each election,
As if it cant be bought
Hold your breath, pull the lever,
In primary or general election,
And be a part of democracy,
With warts and severe infection.
Things are bad online for the Tribune.
We have been bombarded by unwanted email
from one source. My email box, our editors, and our news departments, both of Queens
Tribune and Press, have been receiving endless emails from the campaign of
Senate candidate Rick Lazio.
The overwhelming portion of those emails is
Hillary bashing to the point of disgust. Tamara Hartman, our editor, appropriately wrote
back to the Lazio campaign giving them one email address for all their correspondence to
the Tribune and PRESS. She requested that the rest of the emails to
queenstribune.com or queenspress.com be discontinued.
Well, the Lazio folks got the email. They
started sending dozens a day to the new address . . .and the old addresses too. So now we
have some eight emailboxes receiving several dozen press releases entitled things like
"Truth #6" from the GOP senator wannabe.
Tamara called and emailed again: "I
have been in touch with you by phone and email (this is my third email) informing you that
you are sending your releases to the wrong addresses.
When I informed you that they were being
blanketly erased at the old addresses, you did add the proper address to your list,
however you left the old addresses on the list and our paper is now receiving more copies
of your mail than ever . . . to a point where some of my staff members feel they are being
harassed by your campaign and your candidate.
Again, I respectfully request . . . in this
my third correspondence of a type I have not had to make to any other political candidate,
ever . . . please remove the following addresses
from your send sheet today. If they are not removed, I will be calling again to make a
formal complaint by phone."
Tamara naturally gave the address that the
offending emails were being sent to and sent to and sent to.
The abuse began long before we endorsed
Hillary Clinton for Senate. Im also somewhat certain that the candidate would not
of the behavior of his campaign staff. The abuse continues. Next Tuesday when its
all over we hope they go away.
"One of the penalties for refusing to
participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
Footnote: POTUS stands for President of
the U.S. You figure out FLOTUS.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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