Reporters kept watch outside the home of Borough President Donald Manes between his failed suicide attempt and the day he succeeded.
On Jan. 10 at 1:45 a.m., at the 94th St. exit of the Grand Central Parkway, Queens Borough President Donald Manes was found in his car with his wrists slashed. He later told police that two men had jumped out from his back seat and attacked him. It was not until Manes admitted from his hospital bed that the wounds were self-inflicted that the pieces began to fall into place.
The question (and to this day, it has not been answered) is what Manes was doing during the seven hours between the time he left a party at Borough Hall and the time he was found on the Grand Central Parkway. That question would be clouded by the tragic news of the months to come…
Astoria’s Peter Vallone Sr. was elected vice chairman and majority leader of the City Council by one vote, thanks to some political maneuvering by Manes and the defection of Manhattan City Councilman Robert Dryfoos from his borough’s delegation...The Board of Estimate approved a 275-bed facility to house the homeless in Long Island City. A fight would ensue that has yet to be resolved...
In February, Donald Manes decided to step aside temporarily as borough president and Democratic county leader, giving way to Claire Shulman and John Sabini, respectively. One of Sabini’s first orders of business was to fire Richard Rubin, then Executive Secretary of the County Organization. At the time, Rubin was suspected of receiving kickbacks for court-ordered guardianship assignments. He was later indicted…
On Feb. 12, Manes said goodbye to the borough he had served for 12 years. He resigned both his posts, saying “I cannot ask the people I serve to wait for me while I devote whatever energies I have to my problems rather than theirs.”
The following week, the City Council interviewed nearly 30 candidates for borough president in an unprecedented open hearing....
Former State Supreme Court Justice William Brennan was sentenced to five years in federal prison for accepting bribes...Justice Harold Hyman upheld the City’s case-by-case procedure for allowing a child with AIDS into public school classrooms...
Joseph Addabbo Sr. died after a secret six-year fight with cancer.
March proved fateful for Donald Manes. On Thursday evening, March 13, Manes took his own life with a kitchen knife while on the phone with his psychiatrist, Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz, who two months earlier had said the invocation at Manes’ inauguration and would be one of the eulogists at his funeral, which was attended by 500 mourners…
The suicide followed the revelation earlier in the month that Manes’ crony Geoffrey Lindenauer had been indicted on 39 counts of extortion and mail fraud. A former deputy director a the Parking Violations Bureau, Lindenauer’s was the first indictment to come out of several sweeping federal, state and city investigations... Just before Manes’ suicide, Claire Shulman was made the City Council’s choice for Borough President and offered only a “maybe” when asked if she will run for re-election....
In April, almost one month after Donald Manes’ tragic death, Queens lost yet another of its veteran officials. The dean of the New York City congressional delegation, Rep. Joseph Addabbo, Sr. died at the age of 61 after secretly fighting cancer for six years...The City Department of Investigations admitted it was looking into a $180,000 debt owed by the dormant Queens Theatre in the Park to several creditors, including the federal government...
Hired shortly after college, Tom was a reporter for the Tribune during the turbulent mid-’80s in Queens, and his sharp style has altered very little from then to his current position as an investigative reporter for the New York Daily News.
Why Queens ? Mike Schenkler wanted to know why a Brooklyn boy like me would want to work in Queens. I muttered the first thing that came to mind. I already know Brooklyn. I want to learn about a new place.
Truth was, I was a few months out of college, living at home with my parents, and needed a job.
What followed were some wild years.
At the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, detectives had taken to interrogating suspects with stun guns. My first byline was a profile of the new commander of the “Stun Gun” Precinct months after he took over. Then, Queens Borough President Donald Manes plunged a steak knife into his chest, exposing a vein of political corruption in New York City that few knew existed. In Howard Beach, a black man named Michael Griffith was hit by a car and killed while running from a mob of white teens. I covered the protest marches that followed, standing beside Al Sharpton as he bit into a slice at New Park Pizza in one of his early forays as an activist. I recall politely being told I would not be allowed in to Griffith’s funeral in East New York.
I covered the election of Queens’ first black congressman, Alton Waldon, a brief tenure that followed the death of Joseph Addabbo Sr.
I had little experience when I arrived at the Tribune, just a few clips from my college paper. But I learned quickly, writing headlines, assigning stories, taking pictures. We worked on typewriters out of an office on Kissena Boulevard, next to a pet store where every Wednesday they delivered a fresh batch of live mice for the reptiles, a weekly highlight. Tom zambito
I met some special people – Mike, Marty Lipp, Lisa Colangelo – whom I continue to keep up with today.
I tested myself every day, trying to compete against the New York dailies, feeling victory when they lifted details from our stories. I broke a few stories, and soon developed an appetite for the type of work I do today as a member of the New York Daily News’ Investigations team.
I’ve written about criminals working in nursing homes, court-appointed attorneys stealing from the elderly, cargo thieves, the Mafia. I’ve traveled to the Mexican border to document a money-laundering trail that begins in New York and New Jersey.
Very often I hear from college grads that want to break into journalism. Most want to work on a daily newspaper the minute they walk off campus. But I tell them they should call Mike Schenkler, see if he’s got a job for them, learn to do everything. I received a great education at the Queens Tribune, better than any I would have received at a journalism school.