By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Im trying to wrap things up early for a trip out east to
celebrate the New Year. Lil, Allison and I will bring in the New Year with Ann and George,
Lils sister and brother-in-law, assuming Im finished with my work and get out
to East Hampton for our Sunday dinner reservations.
Monday night, New Years eve, well stay at their place, cook
We will all welcome the hope offered by a New Year, a bit differently
than ever before.
We will ring out (if that is at all appropriate) 2001 with a look back
at the year that impacted our lives and existence more than any year previously.
So, as I sit Saturday writing my 52nd column of the year with the
intention of merely sharing a flow of thoughts and memories of the year gone by, I also
look forward to the year ahead and extend wishes from the Tribune family to our
readers and friends (we hope our friends are readers and our readers, friends) for a year
of health and peace.
And, as we close the year, a variety of images and emotions come to
You can actually ride on the AirTrain its already
operational although not launched.
The Olympics 2012 was a concept introduced and a reality to work
The LaGuardia Community College archives is becoming more impressive
with the acquisition of the papers of the 35 outgoing council members.
Homes sank in Briarwood and we still dont know why.
Queens Boulevard earned the name Boulevard of Death.
Wendys is no longer a fast food burger joint to us, but a
senseless brutal crime.
Sex shops were beaten back.
Power plants proliferated.
Belle Harbor was put on the international map by the post Sept. 11
tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587.
The Gay movement became accepted by the mainstream.
The new Queens Hospital Center opened.
A new Mets Stadium (and one for the Yankees, too) was unveiled in
the last moments of Rudys term.
St. Johns grad Ray Kelly has made it full circle and is back for
a second stint as NYPD Commish after being a high-flyer running U.S. Customs.
Russ Hotzler, the acting President of Queens College, quietly became
everyones favorite and in a previously unheard of move, watch for the CUNY Board of
Trustees to consider making permanent this fine acting Prez.
Bryan Pu-Folkes brought some unity to the immigrant community. His
efforts to unify the voice of the diverse groups of New Americans will elevate this young
man to prominence and give import to our boroughs new population.
Floyd Flake was actually courted by the President of the United States
but chose to remain in Queens.
Dennis Tito, a kid raised in Forest Hills, took a $20 million Russian
Space Shuttle ride into outer space.
The Board of Ed., in spite of the fine performance of Queens superstar
Terri Thomson, continued to be a battleground instead of a forum for educational
I gained a new friend, Nisar Zuri, the publisher of an international
Afghani newspaper, whose quest for freedom brought him to Queens a quarter of a century
". . .with these expectations and
a lot of hope, we welcome
Mayor Mike Bloomberg."
photo: Dee Richard
Term limits a war on the part of
some of the folks forced out of office to find a way to prevent the end of their reign
resulted in a selfish attack on the will of the people of this city. Justice prevailed and
the vote of the people in previous referenda was permitted to stand and reluctantly, the
old guard left.
A new and exciting class of public servant
wanabees came forth spurred on by generous four-to-one public campaign matching funds. And
we interviewed them and they debated the issues and new bright, dedicated faces emerged to
serve our City.
And they shall be tomorrows story. We
relish the opportunity to chronical and challenge them.
Helen Marshall, Morty Povman and Tom White
are the only present council members who we are already gainfully employed. Morty as a
successful attorney continuing in a prosperous practice, Tom as a successful substance
abuse program director and Helen as an under-paid and likely under-appreciated public
Archie Spigner will take it easy. Juanita
Watkins may do some consulting. And Karen Koslowitz is going to Borough Hall.
The rest of the victims of term limits have
not yet found their niches. Although we look for: John Sabini to launch his campaign for a
new Assembly seat or old Senate seat; Walter McCaffrey to seek a place in the consulting
game; and Julia Harrison to stop her anger. We cant imagine Peter Vallone, Sheldon
Leffler or Tom Ognibene without government; nor can we imagine government without them.
However, these three attorneys will prosper. Vallone has lots of thoughts as well as a law
firm with his two sons; Ognibene, a thriving practice and Leffler, a mind that would be an
asset to academia. We havent had a chance to chat with Mike Abel but have a great Tribune
sales territory open if he wants to get into the newspaper game Mike, give us a
Redistricting will be the political focus
of the first half of 2002. Utilizing 2000 census figures, assessing population decline,
growth and shifts, the NYS Legislature will draw new lines for Congress members, State
Senators and Assembly members. Queens will be the beneficiary of a new Assembly seat
likely drawn around the Jackson Heights area.
State Senator George Onorato is recovering
from bypass surgery. We wish him well. While his strangely shaped district like the
rest of the districts will be redrawn to reflect the 2000 population changes
revealed by the census, speculation has begun as to whether Onorato will want to return
for another term as a minority member of the State Senate.
Former Council member John Sabini; Paul
Vallone, son of the soon-former Speaker and brother of the new Councilman; as well as
Astoria Community Board #1 District Manager George Delis have all been an active part of
the buzz around the perhaps soon-to-be available seat.
On Jan. 13 Danny Dromm, the driving force
behind the Queens Lesbian and Gay Price Committee, is launching his political career.
Although the invitation to the event doesnt name any office that Danny seeks, the
sponsoring names seems to indicate that talented Dromm is backed by a slew of gay
activists. Danny has the ability and sensibility to be much more than a one-issue
candidate. We were surprised that his large organizing committee didnt include many
of the Queens political and civic leaders that Danny has impressed and worked with in the
Whats he running for?
That new Jackson Heights Assembly seat?
How will the lines be drawn?
Can he take on John Sabini?
Or will that seat belong to a Latino?
Hiram Monserrate became the Boroughs
first Latino to win elective office Councilman from the 25th. Its about time.
John Liu, the Citys first Asian
American elected official Councilman from the 20th. He was sworn in at the Flushing
Library Friday evening with both U.S. Senators and a host of whos who in government
in attendance. John a hard working, committed leader has broken a barrier
and has an awful lot to live up to. We wish him well.
And the most diverse place on earth, Queens
County, elected an African American to its highest office and Helen Marshall becomes
Queens Borough President. We wish our old friend the very best.
Staying at Borough Hall from Claires
staff to serve new Beep Helen will be Chief of Staff Alex Rosa; Carol Ricci, Director of
Management and Budget, Special Assistant Barry Grodenchik; Economic Development Director
Seth Bornstein and Press Officer Dan Andrews. Joining the crew will be former Councilwoman
Karen Kozlowitz who will be serving as a Deputy Beep in a restructured Borough Hall
And this borough, and this city chose a
successful, creative business entrepreneur over politics as usual. We look for New York
City in 2002 to experience a new day in politics, city management and the cost and
effectiveness of governemnt. With these expectations and a lot of hope, we welcome Mayor
We saw new Councilwoman Helen Sears at our
holiday party. She was sporting a cast on her right arm. She denied that it was caused by
Giff Miller twisting it over the upcoming Speaker vote.
Claire Shulman stopped by our office last
week I guess to say goodbye. Shes not sure what shell be doing.
Its gotta be tough to let go after a 16-year reign. She provided 30 years of
incredible service to our borough. Shes our Queens woman of the decade. Claire,
remember our offer to write.
And thanx for a great time, Claire.
Rudy Giuliani is the only elected official
I can recall to exit at the peak of his popularity and performance. How quickly we forgot
the brutal, unilateral, dictatorial mayor that gave way to the compassionate unifying
"Man of Year."
Hell be back in four years.
And in the aftermath of Sept. 11,
Allison, my 12-year-old daughter, expressed her patriotism by making this flag and putting
it outside of our house.
Our nation is at war not sure why it
wasnt declared but we are!
And while the Sept. 11 attack became the
focal point of our lives and the recovery from the tragedy and war on terrorism will
dominate our existence for years to comes, no single moment of the year, other than those
of Sept. 11, are etched indelibly on our psyche. The concert, the President, the bodies,
the firefighters, the bombs, the heroes, our sons and daughters in Afghanistan, the
burkas, Islam, Osama bin Laden, each battle, each negotiated surrender, the bodies, Ground
Zero, the caves, the police, the rescue workers, the special op forces, the American
flags, our children sharing in the moments of sadness and pride, the EMS workers, Rudy
Giuliani, the Maspeth firehouse, interviewing an Afghani publisher, visiting a Mosque,
reading the Quran, researching another religion, anthrax, latex gloves, masks, the
mail, terrorism, the shoe bomber, the World Trade Center, yes the Twin Towers, are images
that are lumped together as part of the saddest, most tragic, yet proudest most unifying,
single historical event in my lifetime.
And the year 2001 will never be referred to
historically without reference to the single most powerful event in most of our lifetimes
the terrorist attack on our shores and our courageous efforts to recover from and
And may all your dreams come true.
Happy New Year!