The MTA began to take over the borough’s independent bus companies. Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
When a powerful tsunami crashed onto the shores in Southeast Asia, the effects were felt in the City’s most diverse borough. Massive relief efforts were immediately put in place all throughout Queens and the borough showed its support through monetary donations, manpower, supplies and food that were sent to the affected areas, as part of the worldwide effort.
A pair of Queens high schools were given “armed camp” status, according to Public Advocate Betsy Gottbaum, after the Mayor termed John Bowne HS and Springfield Gardens HS as two of the most dangerous places for learning.
Three separate fires claimed two lives and injured 15 firefighters in just over 24 hours on January 3, in Corona and Astoria, which Borough President Helen Marshall cited as, “a tragic start in this brand new year.”
Rezoning residential Queens neighborhoods continued to be the focus for many residents, city planners and elected officials…The Tribune exclusively broke what later became the largest elementary Catholic school closings in the history of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens…Green Bus Lines went on strike, pressuring the City to reach a deal and purchase the transit company…
The alleged killers of 1964 Queens College student Andrew Goodman, who was murdered for trying to register black voters in Mississippi, were indicted…Plans for ferry service from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan were announced...The War on Terror hit Queens again, as 21-year-old Francis Obaji became the sixth U.S. soldier from the borough to be killed in Iraq.
Former Middle Village Councilman Thomas Ognibene threw his name into the race for Mayor, under the Republican Party ticket…Muss Developers announced a $600 million project that would transform the dormant Con Edison facility in downtown Flushing into an enormous residential and commercial complex…Queens Catholics got news that nine elementary schools would close…
Parents protested the closing of Catholic Schools in Queens. Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
A water main break in Astoria caused more than 100 evacuations and wreaked havoc on many homes and businesses…Wal-Mart officially dropped plans to build a branch in Rego Park…Queens’s second astronaut was selected for NASA’s first manned mission to space since the Colombia disaster…New York Hospital Queens unveiled its expansion plan in Flushing.
The seventh and eighth soldiers from Queens died in the Iraq War, as the Humvee that was driven by Wai Lwin and carried Azhar Ali was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad…Richmond Hill came one step closer to becoming a historic district, as the community and elected officials planned a meeting with the Landmarks Preservation District…Mothers of children recently killed and injured by a DWI driver headed to Albany with elected officials to urge the passage of a law that would impose harsher penalties for DWI accidents that cause injury or death…
Two years after the Iraq War began, families of slain soldiers from Queens reflected on a life they have been trying to piece together without their loved ones…Parkway Hospital employees lost their health benefits when the hospital’s new owner reneged on a payment plan to the union…With Wal-Mart out of the way, Vornado Realty announced plans for a shopping center and apartment towers in Rego Park…
Aaron Rutkoff : Aaron graduated from Wesleyan and came to the Tribune to put his degree to work. He took over the editor role for the PRESS of Southeast Queens and has recently become an online editor for the Wall Street Journal.
In my two-year tenure as a reporter and editor at the Queens Tribune, these are the first dishonest words I’ve had to write.
Not mistaken words, mind you. As the untested, know-nothing reporter I was when I began here, I made more than my share of mistakes. I was the sort of rookie reporter (from suburban Chicago, no less!) whose profound lack of experience and practical knowledge would be hard to top. Before I met Mike Schenkler at his office for a job interview, I had only set foot in Queens to board airplanes.
So why the dishonesty? It’s not because I might slip in a kind word or two about Schenkler and the scrappy, vibrant, hardnosed news operation he has sustained for two and a half decades with a rotating menagerie of weird newsroom creatures and oddball rookies like me.
Of course, there were many days when Schenkler played grand inquisitor or unflappable skeptic – a role he clearly loves – peppering me with pointed questions at high volume to expose the shortcomings of my work. And on those days, if I had the energy to do more than mutter afterwards, I probably didn’t say too many nice things about the man.
But there is a method to the madness at the Queens Tribune, a system that makes the newspaper and those who work for it so strong. To enter the labyrinth of Queens and learn as you go, to deal with Mike Schenkler every day and write a story that survives his scrutiny, to face and eventually meet the high demands of this job – these are the geologic pressures that create a dynamic newspaper and transform know-nothing turds like me into journalistic diamonds.
Well, maybe not diamonds – maybe some sort of semi-precious gem. But you get the idea: rookie reporters here start out as costume jewelry – real fakes, like I was – and end up becoming the genuine article.
Where’s the deception, you ask, in this reflection from the newest Tribune graduate? Where’s the forgery? The truth is that I haven’t left. I am the only contributor to this collection who composed his memoir from a desk in the newsroom. I am, to be honest, not truly an alumnus of this fine newspaper – not yet, anyway.
By the time these pages see daylight, however, I’ll have made my escape to an editing job for the Wall Street Journal Online. I am sure life at the Trib will carry on without me and things will be much the same on the day after I leave.
I know this, though: I’ll never be the same after working here. Thanks for taking a risk on a rookie like me.