Are 20-Year-Old Unpacked Boxes A Political Metaphor?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Welcome to the annual election black hole issue: I write my column, “Not4Publication,” over the weekend; Election Day is Tuesday; we print Wed; and you read it starting Thursday. So the column you are now reading – or the one that I am keystroking (they tell me the word typing will age me) — is being written on Sunday, Oct 31 (Happy Halloween!), before election Day, Tues, Nov. 2; and is to be printed Wed Nov. 3, for you to read on Thurs, Nov. 4 – well after Andrew Cuomo has annihilated Carl Paladino and . . .
So I can’t talk about the upcoming Election because it will have occurred by the time you read this and I can’t talk about the past election because from where I’m sitting, it hasn’t happened yet.
Thus, the black hole, where political pundits merely fill their word count allocation with non-political thought.
And what better time to deviate from deviant politics, then when you’re moving your business after 20 years in the same building — I’ll bet you the experience is worth more than a single column.
So, I inherited the Trib from Gary Ackerman – the same guy that was just re-elected (yes, I’m anticipating the obvious) Congressman from the northeastern part of Queens and bordering Nassau County, in the late 1970’s. The Tribune started in 1970 from a desk in the rear of a real estate office on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills and in its third year moved to a store front on Kissena Boulevard in Flushing. It soon took an adjoining store and the pair served as home to the paper until 1990 when as part of a public company, we moved to the building on the service road of the Long Island Expressway just West of Utopia Parkway, which most of you know as our home. That move occurred 20 years ago – to this very week.
Twenty years: a 10-year lease, a 5-year renewal option, and a 5-year lease brings us to the end of our present home’s natural life. Sure it’s a great location – in demand by the likes of New York Hospital of Queens, which continues to lease two-thirds of the structure and more property down the block – and as such we were unable to negotiate what we felt was a good deal with our old landlord. And in this marketplace, better space was available to us on much better terms.
And so after a bit of a search – thanx Mike and Ria – we located a great building with just about the same amount of usable space and it’s all on one floor. And so after 20 years we’re headed north to Whitestone and will be living just one block north of the Cross Island Pkwy – again, not so very far from Utopia Pkwy. We’ll be at: 150-50 14th Rd, Whitestone, NY, 11357 – between Clintonville Ave and 150th Place. Phone number remains the same.
Our entrance is on the left side as you face the building; but slow down, we’re not there yet. The paper you are now reading is the last one published at the old address and next week’s edition, is scheduled to come from our new address. Right now, Ria is playing with Verizon fiber optics, our telephone and internet provider, painters, movers, carpenters, plumbers, carpet guys, rubbish removal firms, and I hope some divine guidance to ensure all goes well. Moving yourself is not easy. Moving 45 odd people – and they are really odd — is. Thanks to Ria, Maureen and to all who packed and will shortly unpack in a bright new shiny home.
Obviously I’m involved, too. In addition to negotiating the lease and some of the agreements, approving lots and lots of expense items, guiding the packing up and then the unpacking of each department, I’ve gotta get my own stuff together.
I have learned quickly – well it’s taken me lots of adult years – that we are all savers and that desk drawers and cabinets merely accumulate stuff you never need or use again.
Well, 23 postal bins filled with 20 years of accumulated treasures which this week turned to trash were the first thing out of my office. I should have done more. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are serious packing days but I’m down to less than I threw out – and there is more that will be discarded before I’m done.
Then, there is a decision to be made.
Sitting in the closet in my office are three unopened boxes of treasures that I moved from my old office, exactly 20 years ago. I never got around to unpacking them.
As time is running out, and with the knowledge that I survived 20 years without them, do I throw them out or go through them first?
The problem mounts as we ready for the move.
Is it a simple answer or is there something deeper involved here?
Give us a week and please stop by and visit – I’m usually there in the mornings.
See you in Whitestone – for the next 20 years.MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
Monserrate Indicted For Dragooning Employees Of Nonprofit
By HENRY STERN
We participated in a City Hall press conference recently with Ronald Lauder, the term limits advocate, and Michael Long, the state Conservative Party chair.
The purpose of the event was to express support for Question 1, which was on the ballot Tuesday. The Charter Revision Commission was formed, in part, to revisit the issue of term limits after the City Council unilaterally extended the eligibility of city elected officials, primarily themselves, from two to three four-year terms.
This decision by the Council, made after intense lobbying by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, eliminated a section of the Charter that had been added in 1993 as the result of a referendum largely funded by Lauder.
In the Republican mayoral primary in 1989, Mr. Lauder had competed with Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination to succeed Mayor Koch, who had lost his bid for a fourth term in a primary with David Dinkins. Giuliani won by a margin of 67-33. Lauder spent $13 million on the race, the largest amount ever spent on a mayoral contest up until that time. Lauder ran a series of commercials attacking Giuliani which, while they did not benefit him, weakened Giuliani for the November contest against Dinkins, who won the mayoralty by a 52-48 vote margin.
With the 1993 referendum slated to take effect in 2001, the City Council Democrats put the term limits issue on the ballot again in 1996, seeking to extend the limit from two terms to three. This proposal, basically a compromise between a two-term limit and no limit at all, was rejected by the public by a 54-46 margin, a much closer contest than the 59-41 vote by which term limits had been adopted in 1993. At the time, it was suggested to Council Speaker Peter Vallone that the Council had the legal authority to change term limits on its own, but the Speaker decided that since the original limit had been imposed by a referendum, it was more appropriate for any change to be submitted to the people for approval.
Five years later, the original referendum took effect for the 2001 election, and 36 out of the 51 Councilmembers then sitting were ineligible to seek re-election. Among the departing members was Speaker Vallone, who ran for mayor instead. Vallone lost to Mark Green in the Democratic primary and Green lost to Bloomberg in the general election.
Vallone was succeeded in his Council seat by his son, Peter Vallone, Jr. The younger Vallone was re-elected in 2005, but would have been ineligible to seek a third term in 2009 if the Council had not overruled the referenda and extended term limits for all 59 elected city officials: 3 citywide, 5 borough presidents and 51 councilmembers.
Others newly elected in 2001 included Joel Rivera (Bx), who succeeded his father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera; Helen Foster (Bx) followed her father, Rev. Wendell Foster, into the Council; Erik Martin Dilan (B’klyn), followed his father, Martin Malave Dilan; and Yvette Clarke (B’klyn) succeeded her mother, Una Clarke.
Term limits do not override patrilineal or matrilineal descent. It is the voters who choose whether to ratify the accession of the heir. Because of gerrymandering, name recognition, obstacles to ballot access, the role of local political clubs in which the parent is usually influential, and years of mailings paid for by the city, the heir has an enormous advantage. The voters decide the outcome in the Democratic primary. No children of retiring incumbents have been defeated while trying to succeed a parent in the City Council.
At Monday’s news conference, Ronald Lauder announced his support for the charter change submitted by the Charter Revision Commission, under which the limit would revert to two terms in 2021. While many, including Mayor Bloomberg, found the 11-year delay to be ridiculous, it is still the only proposition before the voters that would nullify the Council’s self-serving action in 2008.
If Question 1 is approved Tuesday, by the voters, efforts will likely to be made by good government forces to advance the effective date of the two-term limit to 2013, which means that no incumbents will be able to profit from the extension they gave themselves any more than they already have.
“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” So wrote Voltaire in 1764.StarQuest@NYCivic.org