I’ve been called a lot of things.
Never a racist . . . till now.
You see, new City Councilman Allan
Jennings from Southeast Queens didn’t like something in the paper
and declared I was a racist.
What a shame that race should be an
issue in this one.
For Jennings to state his disagreement
with the content of our newspaper by branding as racist those who he
feels offended him, demeans Jennings, but more importantly diminishes
the essential fight against racist elements that certainly still exist
in our society.
Here’s the story.
We publish in the Tribune
and PRESS a page
called QConfidential, which is our “Page 6”
containing a bit of gossip, celebrity, humor, politics and satire. In
one form or another, the page has been part of our publication for
more than five years (it originally ran as NYConfidential in
a group with six other city papers). But we’ve tried to bring it
home — to Queens. Although some of the celebrity is still a bit
Manhattan-centric for our liking (Queens celebrity is often hard to
find), most of the page shares a bit of gossip, sparkle, humor and
pokes fun at our home — Queens.
The page, which I edit and have done so
for more than five years (guilty as charged, Allan), is written by the
staff of the Tribune, Press
and some half a dozen contributing freelancers, each with an
ear to the ground and a tongue in the cheek. We have always done our
best to keep you informed, entertained, chuckling and maybe even
stimulated with our composite of QConfidential briefs
As a matter of fact, we welcome
participation from our readers. If you have a QConf item or
pic or ideas, email it to me at the address at the end of this column.
Back to Allan Jennings.
Several weeks ago, we ran the item
printed at the top of this column – The Naked Truth. It was written by a
Trib reporter and edited by me. No malice was intended. Some
fun was. The facts are true. Read it and judge for yourself.
Now, call us insensitive if you think we
touched on an inappropriate subject. Accuse us of bad taste, if you wish.
Maybe, you might call us humorous or
But Allan, racist?
Black, white, green or yellow, we would
have run the item.
When we first heard of Jennings vicious
attack in reaction to the item, we asked editor Tamara Hartman (who also
edits the page) whether she thought we had gone too far.
“If there was a gay porn star named
Mike Bloomberg would you have gone with it?” she asked.
Tamara put it all into perspective.
Of course we would have gone with it if
it were the Mayor — especially if it was the Mayor.
We didn’t pick on Jennings because
he’s more pickable-on than most. We didn’t pick on him because he was
perhaps a bit different from most of the elected officials — black,
white or green — that we’ve met. We picked on him because one of our
reporters, in doing her research, came upon a gay porn star with his name.
That’s it. That’s all. That simple!
And the reference at the end of the
item, “Hmmm! Does the Councilman have any secrets he’s hiding?”
was a plain and simple reaction to the fact that Councilman Allan Jennings
had recently, on two different occasions, quickly jumped off the phone
during interviews when asked if he was recently married. Again, no malice
was intended. We just found it very strange that community members
reported to us that Jennings was married after the election but before he
took office and Jennings was avoiding any discussion about his marital
Bad taste? Perhaps. But we don’t think
so. Did we mean to offend Jennings? No. Are we upset that he’s off the
wall? His problem.
Other Council members have told us:
“Jennings wants blood.” “He’s going to war with you.” “He’s
going to sue you.” “He’s off the wall.” “Jennings protests too
Jennings hasn’t called us. No one on
his staff has. His office has indicated that they are going to reevaluate
how they deal with us.
With no intent of offending, we
frequently poke fun on the QConfidential page.
One item in particular that ran this
past November comes to mind. It was titled:
“Euro Teen Sluts and Queens Politics.”
It began, “Question — What Does
Flushing Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza do in her spare time? Answer
— She’s a Euro Teen Slut. At least, that’s what District 19 City
Councilman elect Tony Avella thinks. Well sort of.”
The item which contained a graphic of
Avella’s campaign website with his picture as well as Carrozza’s and
others, poked fun at the fact when you clicked on Carrozza’s name or
picture, you were linked to the Euro Teen Slut pornographic website.
The error or sabotage was explained by
the omission of a single letter in the web address link, “turning a
respectable Assemblywoman into a morally challenged European teen,”
And we closed with, “For those who
want to see the error, don’t bother. Avella’s site was taken down,
Too bad Tony, it might have helped party
After the item ran, Tony came to our
office, shook our hand and laughed with us. We didn’t hear a word from
Carrozza. (We’re not going to suggest that she was too busy with her web
pursuits. Ann-Margaret, that’s humor.)
Well we’ve done it before, and we’ll
do it again.
This week, on QConfidential (see
page 8) in an item titled “Toilet Humor,” we poke fun at the irony of
the new Councilman from Flushing, John Liu (loo) having both a first and
last name meaning toilet. It was Liu who gave us this item laughing all
the way to the bathroom.
Elsewhere on the page, we also poked fun
at our old friend, the Congressman, in an item titled, “Gary Who?” Not
only did his constituent, women’s skating phenom Great Neck’s Sarah
Hughes, not know Ackerman’s name after speaking with him on the phone
moments after winning Olympic Gold, but Ackerman’s staff sent out
pictures of the Congressman on a cell phone, presumably talking to Hughes.
We thought it funny.
We haven’t heard from Ackerman . .
There is also a slight, slight about
former Guv Mario Cuomo of Queens being upstaged by Queens boy Donald
Our point is simple. We are a
non-discriminatory fun poker.
Elected officials are merely people with
the same foibles as the rest of us.
They are not perfect. They do funny
things; they say funny things. Sometimes circumstances around them are
interesting or humorous. It’s the job of the QConfidential
page to be there to share them with you.
The job isn’t easy, but we feel it is
Gossip, humor and fun compose the grease
that keeps government from emitting an unbearable, constant, high- pitch
If you can’t laugh at the process and
process makers, you don’t live in a democracy.
If we’ve offended Jennings, I guess
But anyone in politics as tall as Allan,
with skin as thin as Allan’s, is certain to one day have his head crash
into a low-hanging bureaucratically bungled blockade and watch it roll
slowly down the floor, unable to laugh at the scene.
We’re really sorry about that
C’mon! You better glue your head back