After the RKO Keith’s theater was vandalized, it was boarded up and its windows were blocked in to avoid further damage.
An independent study was commissioned by Borough President Claire Shulman and authorized by the Queens Board to evaluate the City’s proposal to build a 40-million-gallon sewage retention tank in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The tank was evaluated to be environmentally sound and would eliminate odors from the park….
The landmarked exterior of the RKO Keith’s movie theater in Flushing was vandalized when two sets of bronze doors and their frames were stolen form the site, which had been closed since 1986…The City moved to repossess Flushing Town Hall after the leaseholder, Metro Club, had been in court since 1985 over allegations of neglect…. In February, the FBI made the largest heroin bust ever in the United States at residences in Flushing, College Point and Corona. The smugglers had the drugs hidden inside hollowed-out rubber wheels and packed together with real tires….
New Mayor David Dinkins was greeted by the borough’s schoolchildren.
Two female students at St. John’s University were threatened with disciplinary action for posing naked for Playboy magazine… In April, the Rev. Al Sharpton led over 100 demonstrators through Howard Beach to publicize that none of the defendants in the controversial trial were serving time in prison. The three defendants were awaiting their appeals to a higher court…. After deliberating for two days, separate juries returned with guilty verdicts for the three defendants in the murder of rookie police officer Edward Byrne, who was killed Feb. 26, 1988, as he sat in a patrol car protecting the home of a drug witness in South Jamaica. Pappy Mason was found guilty of ordering the murder. Mason was reputed to be the head of the multi-million dollar “Bebos” gang, known for their jewelry heists….
The MTA voted to increase fares on trains and buses. In a 10-2 vote, increases were approved to take effect on Jan. 1, 1990. Bus and train fares went from $1 to $1.15…Over 4,000 Ozone Park locals cheered when fireworks lit up the skies over the 101st Street block party on the Fourth of July. The cheering was partly for the display of defiance by reputed mob boss John Gotti toward police orders forbidding pyrotechnics at the annual event….
The MTA restarted service of the Flushing No. 7 subway line after four years of construction work. Excluded from the express was the 61st Street Woodside station, which accommodated 2,600 riders from western Queens….
In September, a Boeing 737 leaving for North Carolina crash-landed at LaGuardia Airport. Two women sitting 10 rows from the back of the plane were killed at the spot where the plane split as it plunged into the East River when the pilot aborted the takeoff. Passenger Eric Trendal told authorities that he had been out bar-hopping with the pilot and co-pilot….
The Tribune exposed racial discrimination in housing policies when a black reporter was told that there was a waiting list for an apartment in Flushing. A white reporter was immediately offered the same apartment…. Ellen Shulman Baker, the Borough President’s daughter, became Queens’ first astronaut on Oct. 18, 1989 as she was aboard a mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. “I’m overwhelmed by the experience,” her mother exclaimed while watching the launch from Cape Canaveral….
Although David Dinkins won a tight contest to become the mayor of New York City, Republican Rudolph Giuliani won the Queens vote 280,592 to 187,212….Borough Prez Shulman won by a decisive margin over challenger John Murname….
Tom was a writer and editor at the West Side Spirit when the Spirit’s parent company, News Communications, purchased the Trib. Tom worked very closely with Mike Schenkler in directing the editorial coverage of News Communications. Tom is now the president and CEO of Manhattan Media, which publishes Our Town, the West Side Spirit and other weekly newspapers.
I never figured out what exit to get off the LIE to get to the Queens Tribune office, but I did learn most of what I know about community journalism and New York politics from Mike Schenkler and his colleagues at the Trib.
It was 1989 when this Upper West Side kid first ventured to a place just 10 miles from midtown Manhattan (but worlds apart), and New York was still a place that seemed ungovernable. I was editing a relatively new community newspaper, The West Side Spirit, and one day I was informed that we were now part of a public company (News Communications) that had just acquired the largest weekly newspaper in Queens.
Thus began a very surreal ride into the rocky waters of New York publishing and the daunting task of growing a newspaper chain in the ultra-competitive metropolitan area. Along the way, I learned more than I ever cared to know about the close connection between politics and publishing; at one point the chairman’s son was a prominent New York City elected official and later the CEO’s then-wife was making a very public (and rather bizarre) bid to be governor.
But through it all, we had a lot of fun and managed to produce some great journalism and journalists. Mike Schenkler and I hatched a citywide political gossip page called New York Confidential that broke numerous stories that were picked up by the dailies and TV news on a regular basis. We were the first to report that an ambitious U.S. Attorney named Rudy was responsible for the extradition of Joe Doherty (which Giuliani denied). And today, one of the alumni of NY Confidential is covering City politics for The New York Times.
Speaking of former Mayors, we also ran a weekly movie review column by Ed Koch, who never missed a week for over a decade doing what he often told people was his favorite post-mayoralty job. Whenever the company was going through what seemed to be interminable rounds of budget-slicing to keep us solvent, the subject of cutting Koch’s column always came up. But no one in upper management wanted to be the one to give the intimidating former mayor a call to tell him he was canned, so he always survived at the expense of the always dispensable sales executive.
For most of the 1990s, Mike Schenkler and I, as President and Vice President of News Communications, a perennially money-losing public company, felt like I imagine the captain and first lieutenant of the Titanic did: we were always too busy bailing water and trying to keep the ship afloat to realize that we were in the middle of the ride of our lives.
And as a testament to Mike’s tenacity and business smarts, the issue you hold in your hand, the Trib’s 35th Anniversary, is a reminder that good guys do sometimes finish first. Here’s to 35 more years educating and entertaining the fine people of Queens County.