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From left to right: celebrating Queens’ political scene

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MARK WEIDLER President & Publisher

From left to right: celebrating Queens’ political scene

SUSAN & STANLEY MERZON Founders Raymond G. Sito General Manager Peter C. Mastrosimone Editor-in-Chief Michael Gannon Editor Ryan Brady Editor Michael Shain Editor David Russell Associate Editor Terry Nusspickel Editorial Production Manager Jan Schulman Art Director Moeen Din Associate Art Director Gregg Cohen Production Assistant Joseph Berni Art Department Associate Richard Weyhausen Proofreader Lisa LiCausi Office Manager Stela Barbu Administration Senior Account Executives: Jim Berkoff, Beverly Espinoza

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CONTENTS • • • • • • • • • • • •

How you can get involved in politics .........................................................6 The rise of the progressives in Queens ......................................................8 The Queens Village Republican Club ......................................................10 Leaving ‘an indelible mark’: the Vallones ...............................................12 Politics and civics in Southeast Queens .................................................. 14 Some surprising stances: the Addabbos ..................................................18 That sense of community: the Weprins ...................................................20 Queens’ oldest Democratic club: Jefferson..............................................22 The stunning success of candidate Trump .............................................24 The most famous of Queens’ politicians .................................................26 Making sure everyone counts: the Census .............................................28 Your guide to Queens’ elected officials ....................................................30

E-mail: Website:

Supplement editor: Peter C. Mastrosimone; Editorial layout: Terry Nusspickel Supp Su pplementt des pp esigner: J an Schul u man; cover illustration byy Jan S chulma man; raw aw wpi p xe el. l co com m / Fr Freepik ee



POWER BROKERS The biggest political upsets of the last two national election cycles had their roots in Queens. Last year it was progressive insurgent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District, straddling his home turf of western Queens and hers of the Bronx. And before that came brash Jamaica Estates native Donald Trump’s demolition of 16 fellow Republican candidates in the 2016 GOP primary for president and his November victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Politics ain’t beanbag” goes the old saying, and whether it’s an electoral shock from a young woman from the Bronx running to the left of her opponent, or one from an older man who left Queens for fame and fortune decades ago, the borough has certainly had its hand in the political shakeups of the last couple years. And naturally it’s had its own brand of politics — many brands in fact — for a very long time. Here, in our 22nd Annual Celebration of Queens special

edition, we look at selected areas of the borough’s politics from left to right. Of course, most of what we report on here is on the left — like most of the city, Queens is dominated by Democrats, with Republicans having been forced back on their heels for years. Trump won, but he didn’t win his hometown, or even come close, and today there is only one GOP elected official from the borough. Among the stories you’ll find here is one about the growing strength of the progressive movement that propelled Ocasio-Cortez into office — along with knocking out moderate Democratic state senators who had allied with Republicans and successfully pressing for the reversal of the Amazon deal in Long Island City. Whatever you think of any of these developments, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that progressivism is ascendant in Queens. That’s not to say conservatives should be counted out, however. Buoyed by Trump, they’re making waves too, largely around the revitalized Queens Village Republican Club. The oldest GOP club in the country, it

had dwindled to a handful of members in the mid-1990s but has seen a resurgence, especially after widening its appeal to new Americans from countries outside of western Europe. Haitians, Koreans, Pakistanis and more have all been drawn to the club. On the Democratic club side, articles here look at three in particular, two in Southeast Queens and another that’s the oldest in the borough. But it’s always back to the future in this edition, and indeed the very first story beyond this page talks about how someone can get involved in politics. We also have a piece on the importance of getting everyone counted in the next Census, and a handy list of all the elected officials representing Queens, at the city, state and federal levels. Politics doesn’t always bring the word “celebration” to mind. There are winners, there are losers, there is division, inherently. And this is a time when our country is sharply divided, seemingly more so than it has been for decades. Yet we hope that whatever your beliefs, you will, like we did, find things to celebrate, and learn, in reading about the Queens political scene from left to right, past, present and future.

Peter C. Mastrosimone Editor-in-Chief

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How to become involved in public affairs How can someone become involved in politics and helping their community? As state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) explains, “It’s not like you wake up one Thursday and go, ‘Oh, what a great Thursday. I think I’ll be a state Senator.’ It doesn’t work that way.” The nice thing, Addabbo said, is there’s no special degree needed to become an elected official. “There are just average people who get elected to City Council, Congress,” he said. “And that’s what’s great about our democracy. But I do tell them it all starts on your block. No matter, president on down, elected official, it all started pretty much with the idea of getting involved in your neighborhood. That’s where the genesis starts. And then it grows up from there.” He said he would like to see younger people attend civic meetings. “It’s the younger residents who have the more vested interest because they may have the longevity of being in a community for a longer time but they feel that their voice doesn’t mean much, or ‘Why should I speak out? I’m not registered to vote. Elected officials don’t hear me,’” Addabbo said. “And meanwhile, I’m really keen on what they tell me because, man, student debt, career opportunities. And then when they do reach out, I try to really act on what they want to work on because you want to show them that [officials] do react to younger residents, not just the older population.” When Addabbo speaks to high school students he asks them if they’re registered to vote and they look at him as if he’s crazy. “I know you can’t raise your hand,” he said. “I know you can’t. Does that mean you can’t speak to me? Does that mean you can’t call me and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem’?” Addabbo believes younger people have become more politically minded since Donald Trump was elected president. “They like the internet. They like Twitter and Instagram and everything else but to still physically go to a meeting to voice your opinion and to use your right as a community member to voice your opposition to something or support for something, I still think that’s very important,” he said. “You get more out of that than just clicking keys on a keyboard.” Addabbo said joining a community board is one way to become involved. “Community boards are made up of civic leaders or community leaders who volunteer their time and they talk about ... approving of a license for a certain bar that may have had issues in the community, other quality of life issues,” he said. “The person can go up to each member, talk to them about the area they represent when they go to the table as a community board member.” Addabbo added people can “really get a feel of what’s going on in their neighborhood and then they say, ‘Wow, the park needs to be fixed.’ Or, ‘Yeah, we’ve been fighting for a

stop sign here.’ They get to hear some of the issues that are going on in their own community.” Precinct community council meetings are another way to become informed. “If you don’t watch out for public safety, people leave,” Addabbo said. “If they don’t feel safe in the community, they leave. At most precinct council meetings, there’s the captain, the commanding officer, inspector, the NCOs, community affairs. They’re all there for the most part.” He said issues range from life and death to the mundane, like when he was a councilman and an elderly woman in Howard Beach was crying and screaming on the phone about “something on her block ruining her life.” “She finally calmed down because she was in hysterics and she told me the Mister Softee ice cream truck was going down the block and the music was just driving her crazy,” Addabbo said. He said he understands people can be scared away from working in politics because of all the negativity they may see. “Democrats and Republicans do conversate, they do have working relationships,” Addabbo said. “It’s not all a cat-and-dog kind of thing.” He also said internships are a great way to become involved. Addabbo’s father was in Congress for a quarter-century and Addabbo Jr. was the youngest of three children. “I only saw my dad as an elected official,” he said. He wasn’t scared off from following his father into politics. “My brother was,” Addabbo said. “My brother was like, ‘I want no part of this.’” He acknowledged that being an elected of f icia l i s n’t fo r everyone and people can think about other careers surrounding politicians. “If you’re really – STATE SEN. keen on the environment, latch onto an elected official who cares most about the environment and say I want to be your environmental policy person,” Addabbo said. He said he always encourages younger residents to become active because they can make a difference in the community. When Addabbo ran for City Council, he asked a number of students what they would like him to do and skateboard park was a popular answer. And he put $500,000 in the city budget for one located at Rockaway Beach. By his own admission, he had no idea what he was looking at when he saw the blueprint of the project so he asked the students what they thought. They criticized it, saying it was


by David Russell


designed wrong and made changes of their own. Addabbo said it was the first skateboard park in the area designed by 10- and 11-year olds. “All because they spoke out, saving the city half a million dollars,” he said. Breeana Mulligan is the president of the Queens County Young Democrats, a group that includes members from ages 16 through 36. Mulligan, who is first deputy press secretary for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), became involved in politics when she was a teenager and worked on Paul Vallone’s campaign for City Council 10 years ago. “I met him, I volunteered on his campaign, I stayed in touch with him,” she said. Vallone lost in 2009 but ran again in 2013 with Mulligan again working on the campaign. That time he was victorious. She began working in the Council office even while she was still attending St. John’s and working toward a journalism degree. “It was a really rewarding experience I had to balance both of those at the same time,” said Mulligan, who has also served as deputy press secretary for former speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Eventually, Mulligan became involved in the Queens County Young Democrats. “I wanted to meet other like-minded folks my age who also work in this field or have an interest in politics and it’s been a great step forward for people who want to get involved in politics,” she said. Mulligan said the Democratic base became energized after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016 but that she can see why the negativity of the job could dissuade people from pu rsui ng work i n politics. “I could see how people might feel discouraged at times,” said. “I know it’s JOE ADDABBO JR. she kind of a scary world we’re living in with politics right now nationwide.” She said the club is inclusive of race, religion and ideology, whether far left or middle, all are invited. “The first step is having a conversation,” Mulligan said. “We are very open. We want to include everybody.” She added, “If they meet other folks who show they’re not the only ones giving the time for this and they find a sense of community, then they might change their minds and just take a chance. “That’s the scary part though, right? Walking in the door and not knowing anyone. That’s definitely, I think, the most difficult part but once you walk in the door to one of our




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“It’s not like you wake up one Thursday and go, ‘Oh, what a great Thursday. I think I’ll be a state Senator.’

Breeana Mulligan is president of the Queens County Young Democrats and works as first deputy press secretary for City Council SpeakCOURTESY PHOTO er Corey Johnson. meetings ... we welcome them with open arms.” Mulligan also said long hours at the office don’t have to be seen as a bad thing. “If you love something so much and you want to make a difference, I’ll sleep eventually,” she said. When it comes to entering politics, Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) joked about doing what he did: “The best advice I could give is be a civic leader and a community board member for 30 years and then you can run for office. And then you win slightly.” Like Addabbo, Holden spoke of the importance of community participation. “Civic people and community board members, we know,” Holden said. “We’re out there at civic meetings.” Holden, a Democrat who actually won on the Republican line, said more than political ideology and party lines are at play when it comes to becoming involved. “It’s the hard work,” he said. “It’s the cleanups you do in the neighborhood. It’s attending umpteen meetings and offering input. And it’s understanding how government actually works.” Holden said “volunteer” is the key word in the conversation on involvement. “If you volunteer in your community you’ve kind of earned the right, I think, to run for elected office,” he said. Holden said one of the tough parts of being so involved is the time constraints. “I missed a good part of my kids’ childhood,” he said, adding, “I was out a lot and my wife still reminds me of that.” Holden said he was on seven committees at once, civic president, designer and editor of the Juniper Berry civic magazine in addition to his full-time job. “This job is a little easier,” he said, though he acknowledged it’s a seven-day-a-week job. “I’ve got one job now. This job is all that in one now.” He added, “If you have the work ethic and if you show it and you feel that you can lead people, I think you should run for office.” Q

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The rise of the progressive left in Queens by Ryan Brady


Elections last year shattered the myth of the Queens County Democratic machine’s invincibility. June saw now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Queens, Bronx) historic primary upset of then-party boss Rep. Joe Crowley. More insurgent wins came in September. Catalina Cruz (D-Jackson Heights) unseated Aridia Espinal, a western Queens assemblywoman who the party picked in April to fill a vacancy. And in their own primaries, now-state Sens. John Liu (D-Bayside) and Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst) respectively toppled Tony Avella and the late Jose Peralta, two longtime lawmakers with party backing whom liberals targeted for being in the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democrats that allied with Senate Republicans. Challengers running from the left in 2018 also ousted five other Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Syracuse Democratic state senators, four of them IDC members, in primaries. And eight Republicans went down, giving Democrats a state Senate majority and a chance for the progressive freshman class to shape policy. “We know that working people have been bearing the brunt of unaffordable housing, a decrepit public transportation system, schools that have been chronically underfunded and these are things that we really want to reverse,” Ramos told the Chronicle. “So, now that we’re in government, what we’re trying to do is reverse the tide from a system ... that has been rigged against working people for a very long time.” And as reform-minded insurgents battle establishment Democrats on the national level, the left is increasingly ascendant in Queens politics. Grassroots activists in groups like Chhaya CDC, DRUM, Make the Road New York and the borough’s Democratic Socialists of America chapter were instrumental in getting Amazon to drop its controversial HQ2 plan in Long Island City. Their opposition campaign emphasized residents’ concerns about how the proposal would impact housing costs and burden the subway system, along with the e-commerce behemoth’s anti-union history and its relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Supportive elective officials including Cruz, OcasioCortez, Ramos, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) bolstered their activism. “Queens right now is where people should look at in terms of people-powered, community-driven approaches,” said Rapi Castillo of Forest Hills, a tech worker and organizer who helped create the canvassing app Reach to help volunteers working on Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign last year. Castillo is affiliated with the New York Progressive Action Network and Queens United Independent Progressives. He was an activist in the HQ2 fight and is now volunteering for public defender Tiffany Cabán’s campaign for district attorney, which succeeded HQ2 as the latest major political battle for the left in Queens. And more battles are coming.


Although it’s still early in the cycle, nonest ablish ment outsiders have al ready announced Democratic primary campaigns in the borough for June 2020. Seeking a repeat of Ocasio-Cortez’s success, DSA member and Marine veteran Shaniyat Chowdhury is challenging Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), the new chairman of the Democratic Organization of Queens County. Activist and attorney Suraj Patel has reportedly said he may run against Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) from the left again after doing so last year. It’s not just congressional races, either. Progressive activist Mary Jobaida will run for Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan’s (D-Long Island City) seat, one held by the incumbent for more than 30 years. Given that the next primaries for the state Legislature and the House of Representatives are next year, it’s highly probable that more challengers will enter the ring. Especially since outsider candidates last year showed that with dedicated, grassroots activists on their side, they can defeat incumbents. “I think AOC’s primary victory opened people’s eyes up to the possibility that knocking on doors and having a broad, small donor base in fact can really win elections,” said Bright Limm of Kew Gardens Hills, a member of the Queens DSA. “And I think her victory was justly celebrated because it really enlarged people’s imaginations of what’s possible.”



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Now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at her victory party last June, moments after her primary race against former Democratic Organization of Queens County Chairman Rep. Joe FILE PHOTO Crowley was called. created by the shocking election of Donald Trump is considered an important factor in its expansion. Other groups active in the borough, like True Blue New York, One Queens Indivisible and the New Queens Democrats were for med after Nov. 8, 2016. While borough progressives’ main target may have been Trump, it wouldn’t take long for a Democratic legislator to ignite their opposition. Less than three months after the Jamaica Estates native was elected, the western Queens Senator Peralta joined the IDC.

State Sen. Jessica Ramos speaks at a November rally against Amazon’s plan to build a headquarters facility in Long Island City. New York officials were going to give the mega-corporation $3 billion in incentives for the deal, which Amazon pulled out of in February in response to PHOTO BY MICHAEL SHAIN intense public pressure from grassroots activists. Limm, a member of the Working Families Party’s state committee and former president of Korean Americans for Political Advancement, joined the DSA last October. The group’s membership in Queens has seen major increases over the past two and a half years, as it has across the city and country. As with other left-wing organizations, the progressive galvanization

Many of his constituents were outraged. One of them was Jackson Heights resident Susan Kang, a DSA member who co-founded No IDC NY, a group focused on replacing members of the faction with more dyed-in-the-wool progressives. “It was a local response, initially, to Peralta joining the IDC and it wasn’t really clear what that was going to be like,” said the activist, who is a political science professor at the

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In last year’s cycle, Kang and others in No IDC NY worked closely with True Blue New York and Empire State Indivisible, groups that also fervently opposed the group of GOP-allied Democrats. “All these little groups were trying to figure out how to best organize their network to create action around the political context of 2017 and 2018,” she said. Kang’s organization and its allies educated voters about the IDC, built a strong social media presence, held town halls in the districts of the breakaway faction’s members and volunteered for the campaigns of their challengers. “In the meantime, the DSA and other grassroots groups were falling into the Ocasio-Cortez orbit and we eventually endorsed her and helped run her field campaign,” Kang said. In the later months of the now-congresswoman’s race, countless DSA members were out doorknocking for her. In recent months, that group and other grassroots ones in the borough have been fighting to get Cabán elected Queens district attorney. Borough President Melinda Katz is widely seen as the frontrunner in the seven-person contest, which also includes ex-Queens judge and prosecutor Gregory Lasak, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), attorney and former prosecutor Betty Lugo, former Civilian Complaint Review Board chief Mina Malik and ex-state prosecutor Jose Nieves. Katz leads the pack in fundraising and is supported by Meeks, though Cabán is bolstered by a dedicated and sizable network of grassroots activists. “I think Tiffany has a good ground game,” said Morry Galonoy of Woodside, a Queens County Democratic Committee member who is volunteering for Cabán. She has strong social media and canvassing operations, he said. Pointing to a variety of factors, including the media consumption habits of millenials and popular dissatisfaction with the political establishment as the middle class shrinks, Galonoy argues that it’s easier for noninsiders to win elective office in Queens today. “We don’t need Chairman Meeks to back us anymore,” he said. “Non-party-stamped candiQ dates can get in.”

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Conservative in Queens? A club for you by Michael Shain


Once upon a time, not that long ago, Republicans wandered the streets of Eastern Queens like wildebeest on the Serengeti. As far as the eye could see, supporters of Dwight Eisenhower, Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller lived, shopped and voted in the neighborhoods along the Nassau County border. Occasionally, they even won an election. “This was a heavily Republican area,” said James Trent, the chairman and unofficial historian of the Queens Village Republican Club. Back when New York City had a two-party political climate, the easter n half of Queens usually sent Republican lawmakers to the City Council and Albany. The explanation was simple, said Kent. Queens Village is a neighborhood of singlefamily homes and, time was, “homeowners were traditionally more Republican than apartment dwellers.” When the Queens Village Republican Club was founded in 1875, the name Queens Village didn’t even exist. The area was called Brushville. The only thing that hasn’t changed since then is the name Republican and the turbulent style of party politics in Queens. Just 20 years ago, the GOP club that claims to be the oldest in America came perilously close to going under altogther. The story of its comeback is a variation on the Horatio Alger tale that Republicans so love to tell. By the early 1990s, t h e Q u e e n s Vi l l a ge Republican Club was down to just four members, said Kent. Bill Clinton was president and there was widespread speculation that Republicans in a few short years would go the way of the Bull Moose Party. “Between 1990 and ’94, it didn’t meet at all,” he said. “It never disbanded. It was just dormant.” It was the Queens Village Catholic War Veterans in Bellerose that seemingly saved the group by hosting a QVGOP meeting at its headquar ters and inviting all its members. “About 70 people showed up and that was the beginning,” Kent said. Shortly after, the Republican group discovered three other nearby clubs from Fresh Meadows, Bellaire and Bellerose that were experiencing the same thing. “There’s nothing worse than going to meeting where six people show up,” said Kent. “It makes you feel like you’re on the fringe.”


The groups elected to merge with the QVGOP. “Now,” he said, “we’re a serious club.” Political clubs date back to the French Revolution. They are informal groups of like-minded people who gather to talk about the issues of the moment, usually with the goal of i n f luenci ng ele ct ion s or officeholders. They are also natural breeding grounds for outsiders who want to seek public office. In that way, they are like the tide pools of American politics, where ideas and political talent is spawned. “We became a political club again when we started running people for office,” said Joe Concannon, a retired NYPD captain who is the club’s first vice president. Concannon was among a handful of club members who have jumped into the election fray as candidates for the City Council and the state Assembly. The club has yet to field a winning candidate but every time it runs someone, said Concannon, “it brings people to the club.” The centerpiece of the QVGOP’s year is the annual Lincoln Dinner in early spring. It not only is the group’s main fundraiser, but a showcase for conservative office seekers. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn) kicked off her campaign for mayor there two years ago w it h a st e mw i nd e r speech outlining Bill d e Bla sio’s l ib e r a l shortcomings. Before Bob Holden (D -M idd le Village) challenged and upset incumbent Elizabeth Crowley in the City Council primary election of 2017, he spoke at the Lincoln Dinner about how his plan for reshaping city government to boost small businesses and middleclass homeowners and accepted an award. Since the 2016 presidential election, the Lincoln Dinner has been a whistle stop for some of the Trump campaign’s most colorful personalities. For figures like political consultant Roger Stone (who brought longtime friend Kristin Davis, the Manhattan Madam, as his date) and Trump’s campaign spokesman Corey Lewandowski, the dinner is a rare chance to appear before a sympathetic crowd inside the city limits of deep-blue New York. Trent traces the origins of the Lincoln Dinner back 144 years, before the city was consolidated into five boroughs and Queens was included in what became Nassau County. What is now eastern Queens was largely farmland.



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Joe Concannon, first vice president of the Queens Village Republican Club, chatted on the dais of the Lincoln Dinner, the group’s biggest event of the year, with Jamie Ulloa, an education activPHOTOS BY MICHAEL SHAIN ist. The dinner, left, is a rare showcase for local conservatives. The dinner was the first thing the revitalized QVGOP club got going again. “Sixty-one people came to the first dinner in 1995,” said Trent. “The last one, we had 350.” While all this was happening, the ethnic makeup of Queens Village itself was changing, seemingly by the week. Once a German, I r i s h a n d It a l i a n neighborhood,it became home to la rge nu mb e r s of South Asian, Chinese, Hispanic and West Indian families. The demographics did not look good for the QVGOP u ntil, near the end of the 1990s a club calling it self t he Hait ia n American Republican Coalition approached the QVGOP looking for a new home, said Trent. “Many of them were doctors who had f led Haiti” and felt no affinity for Bill Clinton and the Democrats, he said. “They wanted to be with the Republicans, and we embraced that,” said Trent. “If you’re an immigrant, there’s this assumption you are on welfare and that you want freebies and handouts. You can’t get farther from the truth,” he said. The QVGOP began seeking out more immigrant groups, one at a time. Koreans were next, then Georgians (the once-Soviet kind) and Pakistani Christians. “We started asking them, ‘We know how

you feel about a lot of issues, so why are you Democrats?’” Trent recalled. “And they said: ‘Because they asked us. You didn’t.’” Recruiting like-minded immigrants, he said, sets the Queens Village club apart from much of the rest of the party. “A lot of people are not used to the way we do things h e r e ,” h e s a i d . “Where they come from, you criticize the government, you disappear. “That’s why we have to reach out. “I k now people think Republicans are just a bunch of old white people. And maybe it’s that way in some parts of the country. But not in our club.” T he Rev. Ta r iq – JAMES KENT Rehmat, president of the United Pakastani-American Christian Community in Queens Village, was drawn to the club in 2016, he said, because it supported Trump, as he and his organization did. “American values are not what is going on in New York right now,” he said. The people he met at his first QVGOP meeting were “totally different” than New Yorkers had known since immigrating here 20 years ago. “I have brought a lot of Democrats to change registration to Republican,” Remat said proudly. Concannon believes the QVGOP is “the most ethnically diverse Republican club in Q the state, maybe the United States.”

“Nothing worse than going to a meeting where six people show up. It makes you feel like you are on the fringe.

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“Many Irish, Italians and Greeks made their way to Western Queens, and the ValThe Hon. Charles Vallone Sr. took to lone family and that shared immigrant expepublic service gradually as a young attor- rience was part of their political identity. ney looking to provide for his family in the Today, Astoria, like the rest of Queens CounGreat Depression and one whose civic ty, is still a destination point for newlyinvolvement — particularly for youth and arrived immigrants and that is reflected in education — eventually led to his being the current politics and elected officials that appointed a judge by Mayor Robert Wag- represent the area.” Browne said what also makes the Vallone ner in 1955. family interesting is not just their lonHis son, former City Council Speakgevity but how they moved their er Peter Vallone Sr., came by it political influence beyond their more naturally. original base in Astoria with “I caught the bug from Paul Vallone establishing himhim,” Vallone said last week, self in northeast Queens. sitting at his desk at the Asto“The Vallones were always ria law firm his father foundhard-working elected officials ed in 1932. who were successful in the art Charles Vallone Sr. would of retail politics. They got things help found the Astoria Civic done.” Browne said voters can be Association in 1933, and what is influenced by a familiar name at a now the Boys and Girls Club in polling place — but only so far. Astoria in 1950. Peter Sr. recently “The individual members of successful attended the annual awarding of the Charles J. Vallone Scholarship awards, which have political family dynasties, like all elected offigiven away an estimated $700,000 for stu- cials, are judged on their outcomes,” he said. But Peter Vallone Sr. doesn’t consider his dents seeking higher education. He died in his chambers in 1967. A school in Astoria and a family a political dynasty, or politics to be a civil courthouse on Sutphin Boulevard in family business. “I think Vallone is a name people came to Jamaica bear his name. Peter Vallone Sr. represented Astoria in the know,” he said. “When I started out I heard City Council from 1974 to 2002, and was its ‘You’re Charlie Vallone’s son.’ Now I get ‘You’re Peter’s father. You’re Paul’s father.’ first speaker, from 1986 through 2001. Peter Jr. followed his father to the Council And Paul made his name on his own — the in 2002 and remained there until being term- first Democrat elected in a Republican dislimited out in 2013. In 2015 he followed his trict.” Paul Vallone concurred, eschewing the dynasty label. He also said he has not seen the grandfather to the Civil Court bench. His brother Paul Vallone has represented name as a burden to live up to. “It’s a badge of honor,” he said. “I think the 19th Council District including Bayside Pete may have had it harder, following Dad in since 2014. Son Perry works with his father in the Astoria. Those were big shoes to fill.” Charles Vallone came with his mother Manhattan consulting firm Constantinople from Sicily in 1905, his own father coming and Vallone. “The smartest one of all of us,” his father the year before to find work and get established. Charles was the first member of the said. “The Vallone family is one of those politi- family to go to college. In 1928 he joined a cal families that have left an indelible mark on law firm that included, among others, future Queens County politics,” Brian Browne, state Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz. The assistant vice president for government rela- firm was in the famous Woolworth Building. “Right across from City Hall,” he said. tions and a political science professor at St. But the Wall Street crash brought about the John’s University, told the Chronicle in an email. Browne said the Vallones benefited firm’s end. Charles worked temporarily in a from the fact that their political home in Asto- bank. He took an interest in politics, forming a ria was a growing enclave for immigrants Democratic club in Manhattan before relocating to Astoria — right at the end of what is looking to escape life in Manhattan. now the N-W elevated subway line, a few doors down from where the Vallone & Vallone sign hangs today. In between the first and third generations, Peter Sr. also found his calling, and enjoyed it “I loved it,” he said. “... Politics is okay. But nothing’s more fun than government. You get to help people, make a difference.” He referred to a recent visit from a woman who years ago came to his office to discuss the fact that there was no place availCharles Vallone Sr. is sworn in as a judge by Mayor Robert able in the area for breast cancer Wagner, second from right, with son Charles Jr., left, wife survivors to meet, talk, socialize PHOTO COURTESY PETER VALLONE SR. and work on health advocacy. Leah and son, Peter.




QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019 Page 12

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“I found a place they could rent for $15,000 a year,” he said. “Every Council member has money they can allocate ...” Today, Shareing & Careing is 25 years old. “That’s something real,” he said. “Any Council member can do that.” T he for mer speaker jokes about his early days in politics when he would attend gatherings with ministers, Former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., right, at the 2013 City Council rabbis and others, victory celebration for his son, Paul, second from right, and sons Perry, FILE PHOTO sometimes to the left, and Judge and former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. disapproval of his Roman Catholic parish’s leaders. Paul Vallone “It makes ever y Council member a remembers, and still doesn’t see the humor. speaker,” he said. “Now any Council mem“His faith is very important to him,” the ber can kill a project in his or her district. councilman said. “Family, faith, love of coun- A member’s opinion is very important, but try. But he always did what was right. He was do you think I would have allowed that if I threatened with excommunication when he thought the project was good for the city?” passed the first LGBT rights laws in the city Vallone ran for governor in 1998, losing ... That was a hard phone call for him to take. to George Pataki, and for mayor in 2001. But he did what was right.” He regrets the partisan atmosphere in Vallone Sr. says he could not have accom- politics today, particularly in Congress. plished what he did under term limits. “I love being a Democrat,” he said. “But “It weakens the legislative branch,” he said. when did we start becoming Democrats “You don’t have that and Republicans and anywhere but the city. stop being Do you want to limit Americans?” the mayor to eight Asked about his years so he doesn’t most important legbecome an emperor acy, he mentions the or dictator? Then former and existing make the Council Pet er Vallone Sr. three terms.” He said Scholarships. in his time, he could During his speakturn to a promising e r s h i p , Va l l o n e new member with a established a fund to promise that hard – PETER VALLONE SR. pay for half the colwork is rewarded. lege tuition to a city “It used to be if school for any resiyou worked hard you could hope to be speak- dent earning a B average. er. You could hope to be the Land Use or “On the last vote of my last day as Finance chair ... [Voters] did it because some speaker, Helen Marshall made a motion to people abused it. But they were always the name the fund after me.” Fast forward to exception. If you don’t work hard, if you don’t 2011, he said Peter Vallone Jr. cast a vote show up at hearings, you ought to be voted unpopular with the speaker’s office. out. That’s a term limit.” “The decision was made that ‘we spend An example of missed opportunity, he too much money in your district.’” The said, is current Speaker Corey Johnson fund was ended. Then Paul Vallone got (D-Manhattan). elected along with a new speaker. Funding “I like him,” Vallone said. “He’s done some was restored. good things like restart the Investigations “Peter and I have enemies,” Vallone Sr. Committee, which I started and which the last said. “We would cast unpopular votes and speaker disbanded ... But he’s going to be make enemies. But Paul has this big smile, gone in two years. What can he do? He’s run- casts unpopular votes and doesn’t have an ning for mayor.” enemy in the world.” He said a weakened Council gives a new And a few days this week, Peter Vallone mayor a tremendous advantage in the begin- Sr. will be at his desk at Constantinople and ning weeks of a new term, and weakens the Vallone — in the Woolworth Building, where Q hand of the speaker. it all started in 1928.

“Politics is okay. But nothing’s more fun than government.

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Page 13 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019

Knowledge is a wonderful gift to give…

Southeast Dems stress politics and civics by Michael Gannon


Demographers and political pollsters will tell you that Southeast Queens is home to perhaps the strongest, most influential block of African-American voters in the country, their support heavily courted by anyone seeking citywide or statewide office. The seeds were planted more than 70 years ago by a real estate broker from Georgia by way of Washington Heights named Guy R. Brewer. Former Councilman Archie Spigner was a member of the United Democratic Club in Southeast Q ueens yea rs before it was named in Brewer’s honor. “He star ted the United Democratic Club and invited me to join more than 60 years go,” said Spigner, who now serves as an executive leader of what is now the influential Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club. “And I’ve been active in it ever since. He was a friend and mentor to me.” The club does now, as it did during Brewer’s lifetime, support candidates for the Democratic Party, and, as Brewer did in the state Assembly from 1969 to 1978, advocate for neighborhoods of Southeast Queens. “We’re involved in politics,” Spigner said.


“We follow issues. But we’re also involved in civic activities as well. To call us just a political club I think doesn’t do justice to it all.” It is not the only high-profile organization in Southeast Queens. Bring up the Elmer H. Blackburne Regular Democratic Club, founded in 1985, and Spigner says the table in Southeast Queens is a large one. “We’re friends and allies,” Spigner said. Blackburne also knew Brewer. “I was always politically active in Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale,” he told the Chronicle. Spig ner, he said, is a friend and was one of his earliest mentors. But he also inspired Blackbur ne, who admittedly was restless, to strike out on his own. Reapportionment one year placed the two in different districts, and Blackburne became a district Democratic leader. Blackburne said the group started to peak in the 1980s when Jesse Jackson put up good showings in two presidential runs. “I was a [Jackson] delegate at his first national convention,” he said. He said Southeast Queens’ influence grew in future years with the mayoral candidacy of David Dinkins in 1989, and showed itself with the nomination of the gubernatorial



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Elmer Blackburne, left, and former Councilman Archie Spigner have had front row seats and behind-the-scenes views of government and politics in Southeast Queens for decades. FILE PHOTOS candidate Carl McCall in 2002 and the mayoral campaign of Bill Thompson in 2013. “We also are active with civic groups, because this area is about 75 to 80 percent homeowners,” Blackburne said. Spigner and Blackburne both admit the outreach to younger members is important for building future community and party leaders. “[The bench] isn’t as deep as I’d like,” Spigner said. “We’d like young people who

want to be involved and have a desire to serve their community whenever we can. But young people come in all sizes and shapes. You have to look among them to find the ones with the most promise.” “You try and involve them,” Blackburne added. He does see some hope in his own family — his daughter, Anna, is a judge in Washington, DC, following her mother, retired Judge Laura Blackburne Q to the bench.

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The steady Addabbos of South Queens by Michael Shain


State Sen. Joe Addabo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) remembers being a teenager, lying on the floor in his den watching TV and overhearing his father talking on the phone, very seriously. “You could hear it in his voice,” Addabbo said. “He was talking to someone — I didn’t know who— about getting money for a health center in the Rockaways.” For 24 years, Addabbo’s father, Joseph Sr., was the c ong r e s s m a n for Sout h Queens, representing half a million people or so from Ridgewood to Jamaica Bay. For most of those years, Joe Jr. admits, he had only a teenager’s vague interest of what his father did for a living. “President Carter would call our house. I mean, wow!” he told the Chronicle. “But I still can’t say I had any idea who my father was.” Young Joe was on the verge of graduating from St. John’s University when the congressman collapsed at a retirement luncheon for a colleague in Washington, D.C., lapsed into a coma and died four weeks later without regaining consciousness. Addabbo Sr. had kept his cancer-related kidney ailment quiet for years, so his death was a shock to all but a few. The congressman was just 61.


Because Joe Sr. was viewed as a retail politician from a largely working-class congressional district, it was a shock to his powerful political allies when, in the early 1970s, he came out against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He was exactly the type of lawmaker Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had been able to count on to back ever-widening conflict in Southeast Asia. But as the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Addabbo had heard too much about how the war was being mismanaged and seen too many young men killed for no clear or lasting purpose. In 1973, he sponsored the first antiwar legislation to pass the House, cutting off funding for the bombing of Cambodia. It was a highly principled stance that cost him much of the political capital he’d carefully accumulated over 13 terms in Congress, He got the bill through precisely because he was not an Ivy League liberal or a West Coast waffler. It was the beginning of the end of Capitol Hill’s blind support for the war. “A lot of the foundation of what I do was from watching him,” said the state senator. “Little things — like, you need to look at people’s problems through their eyes, not yours. “‘If you want to see yourself up in lights,’ my father said, ‘change your name to EXIT. Don’t be a politician.’” Joe Sr. did not live long enough to see it, but his name is, in fact, up in lights all over South Queens. The phone conversation young Joe had overheard was his father rounding up the support needed to establish a clinic on the Rockaway peninsula. “The Rockaways back then was a very isolated area with poor healthcare. He was able to argue that putting a federal clinic there would, in effect, keep people out of t he hospit al a nd save money,” said Addabbo. “He’d just arranged for funding for the first clinic when he passed away,” he said. Naming the clinic on Beach Channel Drive in Arverne after him was not a long debate. There are now six Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers in all, including one in Ozone Park, where the congressman was born and lived his entire life. Naming the six-lane bridge that jumps from Howard Beach to Broad Channel after him was actually semicontroversial, it turns out. Walter Ward, the city councilman for Howard Beach at the time, “wanted to rename Cross Bay Boulevard for him after he died,” said Addabbo. The city had done it for Guy Brewer, the powerful assemblyman from Jamaica who had died a decade earlier, and there was plenty of sentiment to do the same for Addabbo.


State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and his wife, Dawn. A couple of weeks after the funeral, at his graduation ceremonies at St. John’s, the college president asked for a moment of silence to honor Joe’s father, a longtime supporter of the school. Joe can still remember the hush that came over the crowd of several thousand. “It felt like an eternity,” he said. Such is the plight of kids who lose a parent when they’re young. At some point, they eventually start looking for the missing one. Addabbo confesses that he had to go back to books and newspaper clipping years later to read about his father’s political career and what he’d done for Queens — and in perhaps a more lasting way, for the country as well.


QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019 Page 18

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But t he bu si nesses along Cross Bay politely protested. A name change would require them to change all their letterheads, business cards and advertising. “My father was not about upset t i ng local business,” Addabbo said. “He’d been that way his whole political career. “So Walter said, ‘OK, let’s look at the bridge.’” When young Joe was sworn in as city councilman on New Year’s Day 2004, his first full elected term, he picked the foot of the bridge as the site for the ceremony. Seemed like a good idea at the time, said Addabbo. But the morning of January 1 that year was bitter cold and everyone who came to see him take the oath “ n e a r l y f r o z e ,” h e recalled. “This job is not for ever ybody,” Add abbo likes to say. “You’re never going to make everybody happy. But you take that risk,” said Dawn Addabbo, his wife of 21 years and the person he describes as his “best friend in politics.” After three terms in A foreshadowing of things to come perhaps, Joe Addabbo Jr. sits the Cit y Cou ncil and with his father in the late congressman’s office chair in Washingnearly as many in the ton, DC, circa 1984. PHOTOS COURTESY ADDABBO FAMILY state Senate, Dawn said his finest moment may have been last Some threatened to find a candidate to January. run against him in 2022, when his term is That’s when Addabbi took his own prin- up. A storm was brewing. cipled stand against “He was ver y Gov. Cuomo’s conupset for days.” she troversial reproducsaid. tive rights law. T hen, Add abbo D es pit e a long did something r e c ord a s a p r o unusual. He posted choice politician, he h i s of f ic e pho n e was the only Demonumber on Twitter crat in the state Senand invited anyone ate to vote against — not just constituthe new law that ents, anyone — who skeptics claim perobjected to his vote mits a doctor and a to call. woman, under cer“ Re a d t h e bi l l tain circumstances, again and you may to end a pregnancy understand my even when the fetus –JOE ADDABBO JR. vote,” he tweeted. is viable. “More than willing “He just kept to explain vote to saying, ‘This is insane. I can’t do it,’” said those who call me.” his wife. He stayed on his phone for several days Pro-choice groups who’d seen him as a fielding, he estimated, about 300 calls and dependable ally were flabbergasted that he’d emails. voted against the bill, which passed “That took character,” said Dawn. “I was Q nonetheless. very proud of him.”

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Page 19 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019

Established In 1973


What the Weprins have given Queens by Ryan Brady


Some families are all about baseball. Others, music. In Saul and Sylvia Weprin’s 188th Street household, government and politics tended to be the focal point. So much so that when a 4-year-old Mark Weprin at his eldest brother Barry’s bar mitzvah heard the rabbi reference Abraham, he thought the man was talking about then-mayoral candidate Abraham Beame. “That’s the kind of family we grew up in,” said Mark, a former cit y cou ncilman and assemblyman. Raised in public life, he remembers as a boy riding on sound trucks in election seasons, telling people to vote for his late father, Saul, and attending political events in Queens. The Weprin boys’ mother, Sylvia, worked as a teacher who was highly engaged in the community. She still lives in Queens today. She has served on the boards of the Queens Botanical Garden and the Queens Symphony Orchestra, Community Board 8 and the Bridge to Medicine Program with CUNY Medical School. Her husband, Saul, climbed to the summits of power in state government and laid the foundation for a Queens political dynasty. An attorney and community activist who was elected district leader in 1962, he won an Assembly seat nine years later and became speaker of the chamber in 1991. He held that position until his death in 1994.


housing. He got it passed in his chamber but Senate Republicans killed it. Saul’s dedication to Queens and New York led officials to co-name a large part of 188th Street in his honor. Kids today go down slides at the Saul Weprin Playground in Bayside. And the Democratic club that he founded decades before his death is now named after him. Acquiring inf luence can get to people’s heads. Albany has plenty of big egos. But politics never changed his personality, David and Mark emphasize. “He was really the same person when he was speaker when he was a regular Assembly member or just a lawyer and not being involved in politics,” David said. He remained the man who, with his wife, made sure his children understood the importance of public service. “My parents instilled in us a sense of community,” he said. “That everyone has a role to play and you treat everyone with respect and you do what you can to give back.” About three years after graduating from Hofstra University School of Law, David in 1983 became Mario Cuomo’s deputy superintendent of banks and secretary of the state Banking Board. He played a key role in regulating financial firms across the state. David stepped down from the role in 1987. He started working on Wall Street and had success there. For three years, he chaired the Securities Industry Association. Weprin today still works as a vice president at investment bank Stern Brothers.



QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019 Page 20

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Mark Weprin, left, and his brother, David, right, followed their father’s footsteps into public service FILE PHOTOS and have represented Queens in both the state Assembly and City Council. As speaker, Saul worked with his longtime ally and personal friend, Gov. Mario Cuomo, and the GOP-controlled Senate to reach agreements on major issues in state government. His second-oldest son, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), remembers: “He had friends on both sides of the aisle and had those relationships. And I think that was helpful in getting things accomplished, especially when you often had gridlock in Albany.” The speaker was an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and a pioneering voice for gay rights in the Assembly. He fought for a bill that sought to prohibit sexual orientationbased discrimination in employment and

In 1994, he won his father’s old district leader position and has held it since. David was elected in 2001 to represent a northeast Queens district in the City Council. He would serve there for eight years, chairing the influential Finance Committee in both terms. In the Council, David secured critical funds for the high-quality schools of District 26, making sure they were getting the resources that they needed. He also fought to get money allocated to Queens Public Library locations for upto-date computers. High-speed internet connections were less common back then. By helping libraries become places where borough residents

Saul Weprin stands over a district map from one of his early campaigns as his son Barry, wife Sylvia and sons Mark and David sit by him at their dining room table. PHOTO COURTESY NYS ASSEMBLY could get reliable internet access, David points out, he enabled immigrants in Queens to easily communicate with relatives in other countries. And in each year that he was on the Council, he worked with the Bloomberg administration to deliver on-time city budgets. New York was still reeling from the Sept. 11 attacks when Weprin took office in 2002. He joined the state’s congressional delegation in Washington to fight for the Zadroga Act, which gives medical coverage to first responders who served at Ground Zero after the tragedy. David is now chairman of the Assembly’s Correction Committee. In that role, he’s worked to reform the Rockefeller drug laws and reduce the state’s prison population. For the past eight years, he had been fighting for the “Religious Garb Bill,” legislation that would ban discrimination based on religious attire and aspects of appearance, like facial hair. The bill finally passed both of the state Legislature’s chambers this year and is expected to become law. His brother, Mark, was elected to the Assembly in 2004. In 2009, he and his thenCouncilman brother David were elected to each other’s seats. Like his brother, Mark as a councilman was highly involved with the top-notch District 26 schools. Aside from securing city funds to meet the institutions’ needs, he also often spoke to students about the importance of civic activity and the role of government. “I still, to this day, get stopped by people who say that I spoke at their school,” he said. Mark introduced a Council bill in 2010 aimed at cutting down on water waste in city parks. Funnily enough, he learned two years later that the Parks Department on its own had turned his proposal into agency policy. He also allocated funds for beautification and garbage cleanup in Eastern Queens. Mark stepped down from the Council in 2015, taking a job as deputy secretary of legislative affairs for Gov. Cuomo, who grew up in Holliswood near the Weprin household. Their two families were friends. In 1977, as Mark

describes it, the Weprin “family vacation” consisted of work on Cuomo’s mayoral campaign. In 2017, Mark left the Governor’s Office and took a job with inf luential lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig. One of his younger partners at the firm actually told him that he remembers hearing him speak at his elementary school graduation. During his days in elective office, one of the leaders Mark worked with in northeast Queens was state Sen. Frank Padavan, who died of a heart attack in October. The late GOP lawmaker had been out of office since 2010 but remained very involved with the Queens County Farm Museum. When he learned last year that its longtime executive director was stepping down, he encouraged Jennifer Walden Weprin — Mark’s wife, who had previously worked as director of external affairs and marketing at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona — to apply. Having started the job in October, she hit the ground running. Visitation to the 47-acre museum has gone up. Year-over-year, attendance at the annual Sheep Shearing Festival, for one, was almost twice as high this year as it was last. “We’re moving the visitation needle,” she said. Under Jennifer’s leadership, the Queens County Farm Museum is partnering with Jamaica Hospital Medical Center to run a farmers market at the health facility this summer with fruits and vegetables grown at the farm. The market, which opened on June 13, allows residents to buy fresh produce in an area where doing that isn’t easy: Southeast Queens is considered by many to be a “food swamp.” Jennifer, who served the public as director of cultural affairs and tourism for Borough President Melinda Katz before taking her post at the Floral Park museum, said she is looking at other roles the 47-acre farm can play in feeding New Yorkers. All in all, she is really enjoying leading the museum. Q “I love it,” she said.

C M CELEB page 21 Y K Page 21 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019

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A club for northeast Queens Democrats by Ryan Brady


It was 1880. U.S. Army Major General Winfield Hancock, a veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg who went on to command the Governors Island-based Division of the Atlantic, was running for president on the Democratic ticket. The Hancock Battery was formed to support him. It was headed by City Magistrate Joseph Fitch. Most of its members were young men who also belonged to the Excelsior Social Club in Flushing. The battery would fire a brass cannon during parades and festivals. The ceremonial weapon went missing sometime in the century-plus since then. But the group would be a major political organization in Flushing, boasting an impressive club house at 35th Avenue and what was then called Linden Street. It was incorporated as the Jefferson Democratic Club in 1910. And though it still has that name today, the group’s sphere of influence is based farther into northeast Queens. The JDC, along with the FDR Democratic Club, is focused on Assembly District 26, which is represented by Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and covers Auburndale,


Bayside, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Little Neck and much of Whitestone. It’s the oldest Democratic club in Queens, according to David Fischer, who has been president of the JDC since 2009. He believes that the Queens Village Republican Club, established in 1875, is the only one older in the borough. “The main crux of what we do is support Democratic candidates,” said the club head, who is Braunstein’s chief of staff. “And we are charitable in that we donate money to local causes.” The JDC sponsors a Bayside Little League team and the 111th Precinct Community Council’s Cop of the Month awards. It also helps out with the assemblyman’s annual Valentines for Vets drive and holiday gift drive for hospitalized children. Politically, the group supports candidates backed by the Democratic Organization of Queens County, which it is a member of, a nd generally does not ma ke d i rect endorsements. The club also invites prominent New York City politicians to talk about the issues of the day with its members. ‘We’ve had so many great speakers and they enjoy coming because they know that



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Jefferson Democratic Club President David Fischer, right, poses with Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and District Leader Carol Gresser at one of his group’s meetings. It is thought to be the oldest COURTESY PHOTO Democratic club in Queens. the people who come to our meetings are very interested, very active and ask great questions,” said Carol Gresser of Bayside, who has been an AD 26 district leader for nine years. Two recent appearances were made by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), the new Queens Democratic Party chair-

man, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., she added. The club meets every month at the Clearview Park Golf Course Clubhouse in Bay Terrace. Fischer says that 40 to 50 people show up to any given meeting. Interest in the club increased in response to President Q Trump’s election, he added.


C M CELEB page 23 Y K Page 23 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019



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Queens boy makes good? It depends ... by Michael Gannon


Martha Taylor doesn’t normally start conversations by mentioning that she grew up in the same neighborhood as President Trump. “It comes up when people find out I’m from Jamaica Estates,” said Taylor, chairwoman of Community Board 8 and both a native and resident of the neighborhood. “I tell them I didn’t know him,” she told the Chronicle. “I knew his brother, Freddie. I knew his sister, Maryanne. My parents were friends with his parents. But he was sent to military school early, so I didn’t really know him.” Taylor, DC beltway political pundits and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those in the nation who were absolutely stunned in November 2016 when Trump won the general election. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. Clinton was the former first lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, a high-powered lawyer and always the smartest girl in class — though she had lost the Democratic nomination to first-term U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) eight years earlier. Trump was the braggart real estate devel-


oper, jet-setting playboy and reality TV star who dabbled in his lifetime in casinos, an airline, a college, professional football ownership and vodka distilling. And it wasn’t even supposed to be close. “I was shocked,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t believe he beat her, not after the bankruptcies, the casinos, the scam at the university, and how it came out — and more came out after he was elected — about how his father got him started in business.” But Joann Ariola, now chairwoman of the Queens Republican Party, was not shocked at all, and said the signs were there for people willing to see them. “I think the times and the terrain were right for him,” Ariola told the Chronicle in a recent interview. “There was a very significant silent majority, people who might not support Trump in polls, but when they went to the voting booth, that’s who they chose,” she said. “What I saw was people who had had it with the status quo. They saw someone who was not a politician, who put America first. ... They wanted someone different.” Trump’s campaigning played well in swing states and, more critically, allowed him to squeak out upsets in traditionally Democratic Michigan and Wisconsin.



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Soon-to-be President Trump, a native of Jamaica Estates, and future first lady Melania Trump FILE PHOTOS moments after his first debate with Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in 2016. Taylor said she is past being surprised by Even Trump’s existing or former critics in the Republican Party appeared to have her former neighbor since his taking office. underestimated him in the 2016 primary She recalled the tale of a friend who once process, in a field packed with 16 other can- rented an apartment from Trump’s father, didates, including popular state governors Fred, one that included a personal parking Jeb Bush of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio, space with the rent. Scott Walker of Wis“One day Trump consin and R ick drove up and parked Perry of Texas. in her space,” Taylor There also were said. “He wouldn’t Sens. Ted Cr uz of move — until she Texa s a nd Ma rco complained to his Rubio of Florida and father. He made him for mer Hewlet tmove.” Packard CEO Carly Revelations about Fiorina in the field. and accusations levSpeaking with the ele d a g a i n s t t h e Chronicle last week, since he – QUEENS GOP CHAIRWOMAN president for mer long ti me took office, she said, N e w Yo r k C i t y JOANN ARIOLA are not as shocking Cou ncil Speaker as she might have Peter Vallone Sr. — once thought. who knows Trump “Nothing he does — said the numbers also were a case of the surprises me,” she said. landscape favoring the insurgent. Ariola believes another surprise or two “He was running against people who might be in order in 2020. were more presidential,” Vallone said of the “I think he’ll prevail because people are Republican primaries. “But he had a solid beginning to view him as someone standing 30 percent of the voters who weren’t going between America as we know it and the Q to leave him. That’s an advantage in a large socialist movement,” she said. field of candidates. Facing someone one-onone, I don’t know that he wins.” Vallone believes the same will hold true next year if former Vice President Joe Biden or anyone else in the 23-person Democratic field can secure a substantial percentage of the Democratic electorate early on. Back in Jamaica Estates, Trump’s former boyhood home at 85-15 Wareham Place had been attracting visitors from the curious to those shelling out money to stay there when it was being listed on Airbnb. Taylor said the novelty appears to have worn off after officials turned up the pressure under what they said was an illegal rental property. “I think the house is for sale,” she told the Chronicle. “And it’s definitely not listed on The little house on Wareham Place. Airbnb.”

“I think the times

and the terrain were right for him.


Love him or hate him, everybody seems to have an opinion on President Trump, the Queens boy who defied the odds and the political experts to go from a house on Wareham Place in Jamaica Estates to a larger one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

C M CELEB page 25 Y K Page 25 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019


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Queens pols who became household names by David Russell


Mario Cuomo enrolled at St. John’s University in 1949. Cuomo played centerfield on the freshman baseball team coached by Lou Carnesecca, who is better remembered for his Hall of Fame basketball coaching. Nearly 60 years later, Carnesecca was asked by the New York Post if he thought Cuomo would become governor. “If I knew, I woulda batted him fourth,” he said. As it was, Cuomo batted fifth and finished the season with a .286 average. After playing for the varsity team he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates but his career was brief, ended by a beaning. Instead, he got into politics, eventually winning the governorship and becoming one of the best-known politicians ever coming out of Queens. This story looks at a handful of the biggest names. Cuomo’s parents, Andrea and Immaculata, ran a grocery store at 95-40 150 St. in South Jamaica after the father had lost his job and a businessman allowed them to live in the back of the store if they would run it. Cuomo excelled in school, with 20 As and 6 Bs at PS 50 and then went to St. John’s Prep School in Brooklyn. After his baseball career, Cuomo finished college and then law school at St. John’s. As an Italian American, he had trouble finding a job but became a lawyer on Court Street in Brooklyn. He gained notoriety in the early 1970s when Mayor John Lindsay asked him to deal with a controversial housing plan that would put lowincome housing in Forest Hills, a topic that sparked much debate. Cuomo negotiated a compromise with opponents to cut the project in half, turn it into co-op apartments and give preference to the elderly and area residents. He became New York’s secretary of state in 1975 and, after losing to Ed Koch in the 1977 mayoral race, later won his campaign to become lieutenant governor. In 1982, Cuomo was elected governor,


defeating Koch in the primary and Lewis Lehrman in the general election. He served three terms as governor, famously declining to run for president in 1988 and 1992. Running for a fourth term, Cuomo was defeated by George Pataki in 1994. Cuomo died in 2015 but lived long enough to see his son, Andrew, win the 2010 election for governor. Andrew attended St. Gerard Majella Catholic School and Archbishop Molloy High School. He later graduated from Fordham University and Albany Law School. He was campaign manager when his father ran for governor and joined the staff as a policy advisor. Cuomo became a New York assistant district attorney and worked at a law firm before founding Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged. Cuomo left the firm to run HELP full-time. In 1990, Briarwood native Cuomo and thenwife Kerry Kennedy purchased a six-bedroom waterfront mansion in Douglas Manor. Cuomo was chairman of the New York City Homeless Commission from 1990 to 1993 under mayor David Dinkins. He was appointed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development as assistant secretary for community planning and development under President Clinton (the house in Douglas Manor was sold). Cuomo served as secretary of HUD from 1997 until the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001. He won the election for New York attorney general in November 2006. Then in 2010, he won the election for governor, after a failed initial bid eight years earlier. Geraldine Ferraro was not born in Queens — that would be Newburgh, NY — and she was not raised here — that would be the South Bronx — but she became a part of the borough when she moved to Queens in the 1950s. She was an elementary school teacher in Astoria but changed careers and became a lawyer. Ferraro and her husband, John Zaccaro,



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Forest Hills Gardens resident Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s choice for vice president in his 1984 campaign. Briarwood and later Douglas Manor resident Andrew Cuomo followed in his father’s footsteps and became governor. PHOTO BY JOHN MATHEW SMITH / WIKIPEDIA, LEFT; AND U.S. DEPT. OF HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT PHOTO / WIKIPEDIA

Former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, left, and President Donald Trump are two of the politicians who were raised in Queens and became some of the highest-ranking figures on the nationPHOTOS BY KENNETH ZIRKEL / WIKIPEDIA, LEFT; AND SHELAH CRAIGHEAD / WIKIPEDIA al scene. lived on Deepdene Place in Forest Hills Gar- Ferraro’s death. Saul Weprin was born and raised in Brookdens. The couple would attend weekly Mass at lyn but got started in politics after becoming Our Lady of Mercy in Forest Hills. In 1974, she was appointed assistant district president of his cooperative apartment board in attorney for Queens by her cousin, District Hollis. Weprin served as Democratic leader of Attorney Nicholas Ferraro. She was later the 24th Assembly District. In 1971, he won an assigned to the Special Victims Bureau and open Assembly seat. Weprin served as chairman of the Comeventually was named head of the unit. In 1978, she ran for the U.S. House of Repre- merce Committee, the Judiciary Committee sentatives and won both the primary and gener- and the Ways and Means Committee before becoming speaker of the Assembly in 1991. al elections. “Saul Weprin’s only motivation was to do She won re-election in 1980 and again in 1982. Ferraro then was selected by Democratic what was right, and no one had a surer sense of presidential nominee Walter Mondale as his what is right,” then-Gov. Mario Cuomo said running mate in the 1984 election. Ferraro was upon his death in 1994. “His were an enlightthe first woman to run on a major party nation- ened politics, shaped by his love for all people, and his faith in their al ticket in the couninnate goodness and try’s history, as well potential for triumph.” as the first Italian The family legacy American — though lives on as son David the ticket would lose has represented the in a landslide to Ron24th district since ald Reagan. 2010 and son Mark She ran for the was in the City CounDemocratic nominacil from 2010 to 2015 tion for U.S. Senate in [see separate story in 1992 but lost a heated this section]. race to Attorney GenThere’s a sign in a eral Robert Abrams bed room at 85-15 by 1 percent. Wareham Place in President Clinton Jamaica Estates that appointed her as a member of the U.S. – GOV. MARIO CUOMO says, “In this bedroom, President Dondelegation to the Unitald J. Trump was likeed Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993. In October, ly conceived, by his parents, Fred and Mary Clinton named her the United States ambassa- Trump.” Of course Trump lives in the White House dor to the United Nations Commission on these days but it was there that he lived for the Human Rights. After a stint on CNN, she again ran for the first four years of his life [see separate story in Senate in 1998 but lost to Chuck Schumer. She this section]. The home was built in 1940 and and her husband moved to Manhattan in 2002 the family lived in it for about 10 years. Trump was born in 1946 at Jamaica Hospital and she passed away in 2011. Ferraro is buried in St. John’s Cemetery in and attended the Kew-Forest School through the seventh grade. Middle Village. His father, Fred, grew up in Woodhaven and In 2012, part of Austin Street at Ascan Aveattended Richmond Hill High School. nue was co-named Geraldine Ferraro Way. Involved in a number of enterprises over the “She was a sharp, streetwise, classy lady from Queens, who rose to such a high level, we years, Trump has expressed interest in buying were all amazed,” retired defense lawyer Ste- the Mets on several occasions but a deal was Q phen Singer told The New York Times after never struck.

“Saul Weprin’s only

motivation was to do what was right and no one had a surer sense of what is right.

C M CELEB page 27 Y K

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Make yourself count in the 2020 Census by David Russell



“Ever y voice that is heard, everyone who fills out that Census ... is more m o n e y fo r education, for our streets, for our senior centers, for housing, for everything ... it all comes from the United States Census. This transcends politics.” Those were the words of Borough President Melinda Katz last November during a town hall about the 2020 Census. Elected officials are imploring residents to make themselves counted when the tally is taken next year. They’re hoping to avoid a repeat of 2010, when the state lost two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing the total down to 27. Multiple published reports predict that the state is almost certain to lose another seat after 2020 and possibly a second. “Educational funding by the United States government and by the state relies on the Census nu mbers,” Katz said. “Highway money, housing money, elected representation in the House of Representatives and in the State Legislature relies on the Census numbers and if we’re not filling out the Census, we’re not getting our fair share for the children, the seniors and the people who live in our communities.”



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T here a re 70 people on the Queens Complete Count Committee, which is meant to get an accurate enumeration. A second round of appointments will be conducted later in 2019. Many on the committee are members of the borough president’s Queens General Assembly and Immigration Task Force. Mayor de Blasio included $22 million for 2020 Census outreach in the executive budget released in late April. While many people might have the image of the Census taker going door to door and asking how many people live inside, 80 percent of participants are expected to submit their answers online in 2020. The gover nment will not send out Census forms but rather mail with ID numbers that people will use to log into the system. There is also the matter of a citizenship question possibly being included on the Census, which cr itics say would discr iminate against immigrants and minorities. John Park, executive director of John Park, left, executive director of MinKwon Center for Community Action, Joseph Salvo, director of the MinKwon Center for Commu- the Population Division at the city Department of Planning, Borough President Melinda Katz and Jeff nity Action and a board member of Behler, regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau, at Borough Hall. FILE PHOTO NY Counts 2020, said the question would have a “larger impact on our com- talk about this by next year,” Ocasio-Cor- said, “We’re going to provide service to tez said at a town hall in Corona in April. people whether they are counted or not. munity than in most places.” R e p. A l e x a n d r i a O c a s i o - C o r t e z “It’s the single most important thing that We might as well get the funding for it.” (D-Bronx, Queens) believes many people we’re going to do that will affect all of our The main issue, though, might turn out in her district are in danger of being issues over the next 10 years.” to be people not wanting to be counted as She added, “When we don’t [count opposed to simply being missed. undercounted because of the question. “You’re going to be sick of hearing me everyone], we don’t get the resources nec“We don’t share personal information essary to accommodate the population of with any other agency,” Jamal Baksh of the United States.” the Census Bu reau told Com mu nit y Joseph Salvo, director of the Population Board 13 at a monthly meeting in March. Division of the Department of City Planning, “We don’t ask for your Social Security said during the November meeting at Bor- number or banking information. As an ough Hall, “We have to do everything we employee of the Census Bureau, I am can to get people to respond” to the Census. sworn to confidentiality for life.” The penalty for breaking that is up to “The population of Queens is very dynamic. five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or Capturing it in a Census is difficult.” During a congressional subcommittee both. He said the bureau will mount an hearing at LaGuardia Community College intensive outreach campaign in part to in late May, Rep. Caroly n Maloney reassure those who might be doubtful Q (D-Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn) that the process is secure.

“It’s the single most important thing that we’re

going to do that will affect all of our issues over the next 10 years.

I am deeply honored to have been elected to represent the residents of the 29th Council District for my third term. I look forward to continuing to work both in the District and at City Hall to provide the best possible quality of life to each and every one of my constituents. Congratulations to the Queens Chronicle for their “Celebration of Queens.”

NYC Council Member


Andrew Hevesi 28th A.D. 70-50 Austin Street, Suite 118, Forest Hills, NY 11375 Phone: (718) 263-5595 E-mail: ANDH-076088

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C M CELEB page 29 Y K

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks

Page 29 QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019

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Your guide to our elected officials The United States of America President Donald J. Trump Vice President Mike Pence The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington DC 20500 (202) 456-1111 United States Senate Chuck Schumer 780 Third Ave., suite 2301 New York NY 10017 (212) 486-4430 Kirsten Gillibrand 780 Third Ave., suite 2601 New York NY 10017 (212) 688-6262 U.S. House of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 74-09 37 Ave. suite 305 Jackson Heights NY 11372 (718) 662-5970 Grace Meng 40-13 159 St., suite A Flushing NY 11358 (718) 358-MENG (6364) Tom Suozzi 250-02 Northern Blvd. Little Neck NY 11362 (718) 631-0400 Carolyn Maloney 31-19 Newtown Ave. Astoria NY 11102 (718) 932-1804


Hakeem Jeffries 55 Hanson Place, suite 603 Brooklyn NY 11217 (718) 237-2211 Gregory Meeks 153-01 Jamaica Ave., 2nd floor Jamaica, NY 11432 (718) 725-6000 New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul The Capitol Albany, NY 12224 (518) 474-8390

Queens Politics

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli 110 State St., Albany NY 12236 (518) 474-4044 Attorney General Letitia James The Capitol Albany NY 12224 1 (800) 771-7755

Andrew Hevesi 70-50 Austin St., #110 Forest Hills NY 11375 (718) 263-5595 Alicia Hyndman 232-06A Merrick Blvd. Springfield Gardens NY 11413 (718) 723-5412

New York State Senate James Sanders Jr. 142-01 Rockaway Blvd. South Ozone Park NY 11436 (718) 523-3069 Leroy Comrie 113-43 Farmers Blvd. St. Albans NY 11412 (718) 765-6359 Mike Gianaris 31-19 Newtown Ave., suite 402 Astoria NY 11102 (718) 728-0960 John Liu 38-50 Bell Blvd., suite C Bayside NY 11361 (718) 765-6675 Jessica Ramos 32-37 Junction Blvd. East Elmhurst NY 11369 (718) 205-3881 Toby Ann Stavisky 142-29 37 Ave., suite 1 Flushing NY 11354 (718) 445-0004 Joe Addabbo Jr. 159-53 102 St. Howard Beach NY 11414 (718) 738-1111 New York State Assembly Stacey Pheffer Amato 162-38 Crossbay Blvd. Howard Beach NY 11414 (718) 641-8755 David Weprin 185-06 Union Turnpike Fresh Meadows NY 11366 (718) 454-3027 Nily Rozic 159-16 Union Turnpike, suite 210 Hillcrest NY 11366 (718) 820-0241 Edward C. Braunstein 213-33 39 Ave., suite 238 Bayside NY 11361 (718) 357-3588 Daniel Rosenthal 159-06 71 Ave. Flushing NY 11365 (718) 969-1508

Brian Barnwell 55-19 69 St. Maspeth NY 11378 (718) 651-3185 Michele R. Titus 131-17 Rockaway Blvd. South Ozone Park NY 11420 (718) 322-4958

Queens is represented in the U.S. Capitol by six members of the House of FILE PHOTO Representatives as well as New York State’s two U.S. senators.

Vivian Cook 142-15 Rockaway Blvd. Jamaica NY 11436 (718) 322-3975

City Comptroller Scott Stringer 1 Centre St., room 517 New York NY 10007 (212) 669-3916

Daneek Miller 172-12 Linden Blvd. St. Albans NY 11434 (718) 776-3700

Clyde Vanel 97-01 Springfield Blvd. Queens Village NY 11429 (718) 479-2333

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams 1 Centre St., 15th floor north New York NY 10007 (212) 669-7250

Adrienne Adams 165-90 Baisley Blvd. Jamaica NY 11434 (718) 206-2068

Michael G. DenDekker 75-35 31 Ave., suite 206B East Elmhurst NY 11370 (718) 457-0384 Jeffrion Aubry 98-09 Northern Blvd. Corona NY 11368 (718) 457-3615 Aravella Simotas 21-77 31 St., suite 107 Astoria NY 11105 (718) 545-3889 Catherine T. Nolan 47-40 21 St., room 810 Long Island City NY 11101 (718) 456-9492 Michael Miller 83-91 Woodhaven Blvd. Woodhaven NY 11421 (718) 805-0953 Catalina Cruz 82-11 37 Ave., suite 709A Jackson Heights NY 11372 (718) 458-5367 Ron Kim 136-20 38 Ave., suite 10A Flushing NY 11354 (718) 939-0195

New York City Council Paul Vallone 42-40 Bell Blvd., suite 507 Bayside NY 11361 (718) 619-8611 Peter Koo 135-27 38 Ave., suite 388 Flushing NY 11354 (718) 888-8747 Francisco Moya 106-01 Corona Ave. Corona NY 11368 (718) 651-1917 Costa Constantinides 31-09 Newtown Ave., suite 209 Astoria NY 11102 (718) 274-4500 Barry Grodenchik 73-03 Bell Blvd. Oakland Gardens NY 11364 (718) 468-0137 Rory Lancman 78-40 164 St. Hillcrest NY 11366 (718) 217-4969

New York City

Danny Dromm 37-32 75 St., 1st floor Jackson Heights NY 11372 (718) 803-6373

Mayor Bill de Blasio City Hall New York NY 10007 (212) NEW-YORK (639-9675)

Jimmy Van Bramer 47-01 Queens Blvd., suite 205 Sunnyside NY 11104 (718) 383-9566

Karen Koslowitz 118-35 Queens Blvd., 17th floor Forest Hills NY 11375 (718) 544-8800 Robert Holden 64-69 Dry Harbor Road Middle Village NY 11379 (718) 366-3900 Donovan Richards 234-26A Merrick Blvd. Laurelton NY 11413 (718) 527-4356 Eric Ulrich 93-06 101 Ave. Ozone Park NY 11416 (718) 738-1083 Antonio Reynoso 244 Union Ave. Brooklyn NY 11211 (718) 963-3141 Borough of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz Queens Borough Hall 120-55 Queens Blvd. Kew Gardens, NY 11424 (718) 286-3000 Acting District Attorney John Ryan (718) 286-6000 125-01 Queens Blvd. Kew Gardens, New York 11415


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Established 1852 St. Mary’s Community Mausoleum



500 Off

This is a Pre-Construction Certificate of Savings of $500.00 per space in the soon to be completed St. Mary’s Mausoleum. Discount may be discontinued without prior notice. St. Mary’s Community Mausoleum



QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, June 13, 2019 Page 32

C M CELEB page 32 Y K




C E L E B R AT I N G OV E R 7 0 Y E A R S I N L . I . C .

Profile for Queens Chronicle

Celebration of Queens June 2019  

Celebration of Queens June 2019

Celebration of Queens June 2019  

Celebration of Queens June 2019