The End Of A Year;
The End Of An Era;
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
As we sat down to discuss our annual year in review, it became evident that there
were two stories that really mattered and then there was everything else.
Sept. 11, 2001 will be the story of our lifetime. Its impact, its
devastation, the tragedy, the recovery, the war, the changes, our resilience will in all
likelihood be the Number One story of this very young century . . . and remain so perhaps
for one hundred years. When historians American and world review the 21st
century, Sept. 11 will be a focal point. All other stories are dwarfed by its magnitude.
However, we are a local paper and will, as we review the year, focus on
one other story: the change in City government. Term limits caused vacancies in the office
of Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, all Queens City Council seats and Queens Borough
President. Our task, as the weeks unfold, will be to follow the changing faces and
changing policies. We shall chronicle the new New York City government.
But as we review the past, we acknowledge the end of an era in our
lives. The most important Borough President in the history of Queens is stepping down.
Claire Shulmans impact on the face of our borough, its cultural and health
institutions, her knowledge of and passion for the boroughs diverse communities and
people, has been unparalleled in public service in Queens. Her dedication and commitment
to Queens will stand forever as a tribute to the Queen of Borough Presidents. She has set
a standard for all who aspire to public service. She truly has been the Queen of Queens.
We are glad to have had the privilege of chronicling the 16 years that
Claire was Queens Borough President. We were glad to call her our friend. We wish her and
Mel well and hope Claire continues to find the rich and rewarding fulfillment she found at
Queens Borough Hall.
We are certain she wont be far and her works will always be
And as the year draws to a close, we would like to take this
opportunity to thank our readers, advertisers and friends. Your support, thoughts and
comments help keep us going. The Tribune is the product of the energies and
concerns of all the people of this borough.
May you and yours have a happy holiday season and a healthy, rewarding
and peaceful New Year.
On behalf of the Tribune and Press family, we wish you a
happy 2002 in Queens.
What Can We Say About Claire?
A poem by Seth Bornstein, director of Economic Development
Queens Borough Hall read at the Borough President Claire Shulmans retirement party
given by her staff.
Claire Shulman with
Michael, Lillian and
What can we say about Claire
That hasnt already been said?
What can we say about Claire
That wont go to her head?
As a child she was asked what she wanted to be,
The instant reply, "Queens BP."
But her education would come first.
So she quickly matriculated, becoming a nurse.
Of course, this made a great deal of sense;
Because in government triage is a daily event.
Giving birth to projects and finding injections of money;
There are similarities; only a hospital is slightly less bloody.
On her way to Kew Gardens she made a few stops;
As PTA Mom and watering trees on Baysides blocks.
Soon over the Planning Boards she did watch;
Presiding over the Friday morning coffee klatch.
In 86 Claire became Borough President.
This was perfectly fine to most of the residents.
Her numbers made other politicians envious to the nth degree
And those who didnt vote for her were exiled to New Jersey.
When the Board of Estimate bit the dust;
It was assumed the BPs influence would wither and rust.
But thats when Claire put on her boxing gloves;
And the nay sayers felt a mighty shove.
Shed appear so demure, so grandmotherly and sweet.
But if you dared screw with her borough, youd end up dead meat.
She has her opinions, and yes, they are strong.
Shes always right, and theyre always wrong.
Slick developer types would attempt to finesse;
And City commissioners thought they could impress
But if they did not understand, up came her hand
Telling them to come back with a do-able plan.
In the last fifteen years she has done what she could;
In each of our evolving neighborhoods.
She kept the garbage barge at bay
And told the FAA they had to stay.
She saved the co-ops with financial workouts
And never gave our seniors any cause for doubt.
In the dales of Queens they got their sewers;
And insofar as school seats were getting more, not fewer.
In Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,
She kept the Theater from going dark.
And were getting a new pool so our kids are water-reliant;
In addition to re-habed rockets at the Hall of Science.
Our movie industry is turning out just right
Which will insure there is always something to see come Sunday night.
Expanding museums have put us on the cultural map;
And the train to the plane is even on track.
Queens Hospital Center will offer the best;
And towers continue to rise at Queens West.
In the near future an envelope factory will be?
As well as new homes at Arverne-by-the-Sea?
What is the future of our dear Claire?
A movie critic, shoe designer, how would that be for a real change of career.
But with all that experience, heres an idea.
Something that would help the world, those far and those near.
Put her at the head of the conference table, all thirty-five feet
With warring world leaders passing around the sign-in sheet.
Thered be Brits and the Irish, Turks and the Greeks,
Arabs and Israelis, wouldnt that be neat?
Wed bring in Afghanis, with all of their tribes,
And have the Pakistanis, side by side.
She would go around the table and ask of them their names
Then shed inform them she had "no time for games."
Shed give them a look, let them know who is the boss
And then tell them theyre now on a Task Force.
"It is essential that you come up with a plan,
Even you," she would say to a trembling Taliban man.
"It will be an awesome responsibility; and none of you better shirk it,
Or else youll end up back in caves, this time youll be wearing burkas."
Those assembled would be mesmerized with fright.
They all knew theyd better get this one right.
And before they rushed out, she gave them a look
As she opened up the big red book.
"I want you all back here next week so we can get the job done
But be prompt because I have a hairdressers appointment at a quarter to one."
Working for Claire weve all learned a lot.
Stay on top of it, follow through and dont let a thing drop.
Remember to serve our constituents, and find out what they need
And when doing briefings for the newly elected, always take speed.
But seriously weve all been proud to be part of her team
For shes redefined what the words "good government" mean.
And now, as the end of her tenure draws near
Claire will be our inspiration for a city that will always need care.
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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