We are the movers and shakers in the city and the state. Every democratic candidate running for president comes to see us. We are the kingmakers and the power brokers.
But those who fly the highest also fall the farthest. Take a look at some of those who dared to soar and some who flew too high, only to be sent crashing to the ground.
Longest Serving Politicians
Longevity for career politicians in Queens comes with the territory of being elected to any positions outside of the City Council, which began imposing limits in 2002. This year’s elections, however, proved that this pattern is a breakable one with the ouster of Ada Smith by Shirley Huntley.
1. Frank Padavan – 11th District State Senate – 34 years
2. Ivan Lafayette – 34th District State Assembly– 30 years
3. Anthony Seminerio – 38th District State Assembly – 28 years
4. Nettie Mayersohn – 27th District State Assembly – 24 years
5. Gary Ackerman – 5th District U.S. Congress – 22 years
6. George Onorato – 12th District State Senate – 22 years
7. Catherine Nolan – 37th District State Assembly – 22 years
8. Audrey Pheffer – 23 rd District State Assembly – 19 years
9. Barbara Clark – 33rd District State Assembly – 18 years
10. Serphin Maltese – 15th District State Senate – 18 years
Source: Compiled by the Queens Tribune
Corruption, greed, sex, suicide—all the makings of great political scandals. Queens has had more than its share of such scandals.
A month after resigning as Queens Borough President, Donald Manes was successful in his second suicide attempt, plunging a kitchen knife into his chest in February 2004. In January of the same year, Manes slit his writs in a car on the Grand Central Parkway following a probe into alleged kickbacks he received from the Parking Violations Bureau.
The State Comptroller acknowledged this week that he had used state resources to pay for his wife’s chauffeur, a state employee, and never paid the state back for doing so. Hevesi had apparently pledged to reimburse the state three years ago when he initially asked for security to provide his wife with security after a threat was made against the family. Although the misstep has been acknowledged by Hevesi, it was done so only after being brought to light by his political opponent in the upcoming election.
William C. Brennan
In 1985 Justice William C. Brennan became the first Queens County judge to be convicted of bribery. He served 26 months of a five-year prison term. He resigned, but appealed his conviction. Brennan had accepted bribes to fix at least four cases, and was convicted on 26 counts, though nine were later overturned on appeal.
The Harvard-educated Hollis Councilman conspired with Queens slum lord Rita Stark in 2000 to funnel her contributions to his campaign under bogus contributors. The scheme netted Leffler roughly $40,000 in his bid to be Queens Borough President. Leffler was disbarred in 2003.
In 1977, a federal investigation into alleged misappropriation of clients’ funds from the estates of clients he represented resulted in an indictment of City Councilman Matthew Troy. He was convicted of tax fraud and then disbarred for not reporting as income $37,000 that he had stolen from his law clients. While disbarred from law practice, he was not forced to surrender his Council seat because the state regarded the federal felony conviction as a misdemeanor.
The Jamaica Councilman who professed his love of Asian women in a paid advertisement in a Chinese newspaper in 2003 was charged later that year with sexually harassing two former staff members. Claiming the plaintiffs were too ugly to warrant Jennings’ advances, his lawyer told one newspaper: “Some of these people couldn’t attract a howling wolf in the middle of a wilderness.” The City Council voted 43-2 to censure Jennings following a probe into the matter.
In 1990, Queens State Sen. Andrew Jenkins was convicted of federal charges of participating in a money laundering scheme. He was arrested by the FBI after accepting a briefcase in an agreement with an undercover agent to launder $150,000 through a Zaire bank. Jenkins called the prosecution part of government “harassment of black elected officials.”
In September, Ada Smith was convicted of assault of a staff member by throwing hot coffee in her face and pulling on her hair extensions. In the past, she had threatened a former aide with a meat cleaver, allegedly bit a cop and tried to run down a security guard at an upstate parking facility. According to the Jamaica State Senator, each episode was mischaracterized, exaggerated or completely false. Even still, the Democratic Party endorsed her, but voters chose to take her out of office and replace her with Shirley Huntley.
Judge Laura Blackburne heard police were waiting to arrest a man who appeared before her in State Supreme Court. To help the man avoid arrest, Blackburne had court officers escort the man to an exit normally reserved for judges. Public outcry led to Blackburne’s reassignment to Civil Court before being permanently removed from the bench in 2005.
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
Came to Flushing Meadows in 1962 to break ground for the United States Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair.
George W. Bush
Although the president has never visited Queens in any official capacity, he was greeted at JFK International Airport by Mayor Bloomberg while awaiting his ride to the Merhant Marine Academy in Nassau County.
One of the signatories of the United States Constitution in 1787, King became a Jamaica resident in 1788, where he had a brilliant career in politics, having represented New York in the U.S. Senate for three terms until 1825.
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
The former Pope visited Queens twice, leading close to 100,000 faithful in prayer each time. The last time he was in Queens prior to his passing was in October 1995.
As the former governor of the State of New York, this flamboyant U.S. president visited Queens on numerous occasions, most notably in 1914 when he delivered an address at Forest Hills Gardens Long Island Rail Road Station.
The famous First President of the United States visited Queens before his political days, namely in August 1776 while retreating through the area on his way to losing the Battle of Long Island to the British on Aug. 27 during the Revolutionary War. He returned after becoming president in 1789 with John Adams to visit the Prince Nurseries in Flushing.
Carter spoke at the Colden Auditorium at Queens College during his presidential campaign in 1979. He was joined at the center by Senator Pat Moynihan, Mayor Ed Koch, Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo and Borough President Donald Manes.
England’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
The Royal Family came to Queens in June of 1939 to visit the World’s Fair where, it has been said, they sampled hot dogs for the first time.
Stopped by the Future Diner in Fresh Meadows in 1994 to discuss a new nationwide health plan.
Father & Son
State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who is currently facing questions about his use of a state car and driver to chauffer his wife around for the last three years, is shown here with his son Andrew, the youngest politician from Queens. Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
QUEENS POLITICAL FIRSTS
First Asian-American to be elected to New York City Council, 20 th District
First African-American to be elected as Queens Borough President
First Asian-American to be elected to the New York State Assembly, 22 nd District
First Latino to be elected to public office in Queens in 2001, New York City Council, 21 st District
First woman from Queens to be elected to the New York State Senate, 16th District
First City Councilmember to be forced out of office due to term limits and then be reelected.
Youngest Elected Officials
Queens has an impressive amount of up and coming younger politicians.
Youth doesn’t always translate into effectiveness, but if the following pols can keep their heads above water, a long career might be in the making.
The following politicians are the youngest serving in Queens.
1. Andrew Hevesi – 28 th District Assembly – 32
2. Eric Gioia – 26th District City Council – 33
3. Jose Peralta – 39 th District State Assembly – 34
4. Michele Titus – 31 st District State Assembly – 36
5. Allan Jennings – 28 th District City Council – 39
6. John Liu – 20 th District City Council – 39
7. Ann-Margaret Carrozza– 26 th District State Assembly – 41
8. Melinda Katz – 29 th District City Council – 41
9. Anthony Weiner – 9 th District U.S. Congress – 42
10. Peter Vallone, Jr. – 22 nd District City Council – 45