Tag Archive: James Gennaro

Feb 02 2013

The Most Moving Account of the Life of Ed Koch

*Aug 17 - 00:05*

You’re doin pretty good Councilman.

City Councilman James Gennaro penned the most sincere and revealing open letter to New Yorkers describing his bond with former Mayor Ed Koch who died today at the age of 88.

Bravo Councilman.

Dear New Yorkers:

It is with great sadness and a feeling of deep personal loss that I write today about the passing of my friend and mentor, Mayor Ed Koch. And while so much is known about this larger-than-life, towering leader of our city, it is not well known how he mentored, encouraged and befriended “nobodies” like me who approached him for help and advice. We will hear many glowing tributes today from presidents, governors and mayors. That is most appropriate.

But this man, a mayor who became an international icon, whose approval was sought by the last six presidents, was a man who gladly made time for the Jim Gennaros of the world, people who would never be in a position to do anything for him. I don’t think that is well-known. It should be. Few will read or print what I have to say about Mayor Koch today, but it needs to be said.

I came to city government right out of grad school in 1983, and served as a low-level member of his Administration until he left office. I made only one official presentation to him in a meeting during his last year as mayor. He didn’t know who I was, but he knew that presentation was a big moment for me, and he made me feel at ease and commended me for a job well done. I sent him a personal note at the end of his tenure as mayor, indicating that it was an honor to work in his Administration. I received a most gracious personal reply from him a few days later.

Twelve years later, after working for City Council Speaker Peter Vallone for many years, I decided to run for the Council myself. I was running in a Democratic primary for a Council seat as an “insurgent,” meaning that I was running against the candidate that was supported by the Queens County Democratic Organization. Of course, since I was running as an insurgent, no one in the Democratic political establishment in New York City would give me the time of day, let alone any support.

No one except Mayor Koch, that is.

I asked for a meeting with him to discuss my candidacy, and even though he still didn’t know who I was, he agreed to meet with me. I made my case to him for my candidacy, he asked me alot of questions, was very generous with his time, and he asked me to give him some names of people who had worked with me that he knew so that he could ask them about me.

Over the next week or so I received calls from these people indicating that Mayor Koch had called them about me. I was astonished that he was making the effort to do this for me. I was called back to his office to hear the good news that he had agreed to endorse. Mayor Koch endorsed ME, a lowly insurgent expected to have only a slim chance of victory, because he believed I could well serve the city he loved. And that’s all he ever asked of me – to serve the city to the best of my ability.

And he not only endorsed me, Mayor Koch posed for campaign photos with me, made statements, hosted a fundraiser in my district and recorded campaign “robo-calls” for me. And after my election, he agreed to do me the honor of attending my inauguration and administering the oath of office.

And while he didn’t advise me how to campaign, Mayor Koch did tell me how critically important it was for me – win or lose – to be on the street the morning after the election to thank the voters for their support.

“Jim, you MUST be out there the morning after to thank the voters for what they did for you, you understand?”

“Yes, Mr. Mayor.”

In the years since then, I have reached out to him countless times for advice, or just to say, “Hi,” or for little favors like having him send notes of encouragement to lift the spirits of my mother and father when they were going through their respective medical challenges. And on all those occasions, there was never a time when he did not take my call immediately or return the call within a few minutes. The same with email – he always replied promptly.

And mine is not an isolated experience – this is the kind, generous, gracious, accessible man Mayor Koch was to all his friends, his associates, his people, his public service “family,” be they humble or noble. He changed my life, gave me the opportunity to serve in public office, advised me, comforted my parents in their times of great challenge, and always took my call when I needed him.

And although he always knew that I appreciated his friendship very much, I must, as I write on this morning after, thank him for all he did for me, for all he was to me, and many like me in public service, and for all he was to our city. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And on behalf of a grateful city, goodbye. May God bless you always.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/02/the-most-moving-account-of-the-life-of-ed-koch/

Dec 18 2012

Sasson To Enter Council Race?

Isaac Sasson won the lotto which tends to overshadow any of his accomplishments, but at least no one will be able to say he’s running for the paycheck.

While the battle lines for City Council have not yet been finalized, many candidates are already gearing up for will surely be an uncertain and competitive primary season. With the term limiting of Councilman James Gennaro, so far only two candidates have officially expressed interest including Assemblyman Rory Lancman and District Leader Martha Taylor, however the political world will be surprised to hear another familiar candidate is ready and willing for another shot at political office. That candidate is Isaac Sasson, a retired cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Sasson has been eyeing elected office for several years earning him the reputation as an independent and insurgent candidate. He ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2003 against then City Councilman John Lui, and again for Council in 2009 and most recently for Senate in 2010 where he came close to victory each time. Having forgone the chance to rematch Senator Stavisky in 2012, Sassoon endorsed independent Democrat John Messer. But this time in 2013 it could be his year.

Since his last run, Sasson, a Sephardic Orthodox rabbi, has grown his base to absorb some moderate and conservative Dems while cornering the Jewish vote. He is often mentioned as one of the most prominent leaders in the Jewish Community – and it just so happens that the neighborhoods of District 24: Kew Garden Hills, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica, Utopia, and Jamaica Estates has a large Jewish population. But Lancman and Taylor are Jewish too, so how will this play out and will it split the vote? Many conservative leaning Jews have been outraged by Lanceman’s liberal positions particularly on marriage rights – and thus feeling alienated – they’ve looked for leadership in Isaac Sasson to uphold their values. He’s also scored major points advocating for tenant’s rights plus his activism on Communty Board 7, which includes sections of District 24, has him firmly planted in the mind’s of voters outside of Flushing where he resides. His appeal also comes from his education, as those pleased with Councilman Gennaro’s scholarly approach to legislation (Gennaro is also a scientist) will appreciate the same characteristic in Sasson as he graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree and earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut.

Even when the lines shift, the Jewish vote is historically consistent and historically Democrat with a high probability of voting in primary elections, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Meanwhile, many have come to know Sasson as a scholar, a volunteer, and an independent voice in the community. His position on hyper local issues is always backed up by facts and figures – a very rare quality in the political world especially in comparison to the long history of servitude Taylor and Lanceman have to the Democratic Party. Given that, it’s not likely he’ll get the coveted endorsement, but the demographics in this race suggest Sasson will have a large enough base (and the name recognition) to potentially pull off a win in a three-way primary. His campaign war chest will surely help. But we don’t know anything for sure as both Taylor and Lancman have the experience, name recognition, and extensive resumes of service which are not to be underestimated. In the end Sassoon will likely run, but not for personal gain or prestige, he’ll run to serve the community.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/12/isaac-sasson-to-enter-council-race/

Nov 29 2011

In The Halls Of Justice, The Only Justice Is In The Halls


How does the Democratic party perpetuate its own power? Through manipulating the court system, according to the NY Times.

The Queens county surrogate court is a bastion of power hungry party loyalists. They are the batteries that makes the machine function.

Operatives and future candidates stay in the loop by towing the party line.

Luckily,  a few brave souls that are not afraid to speak out against a good ol’ boy system where loyalty is measured by submission.

Read the scathing NY Times article for the full scoop.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/in-the-halls-of-justice-the-only-justice-is-in-the-halls/

Nov 16 2011

Queens Mourns Loss of Community Activist

Elected officials and community leaders are mourning the tragic loss of Pat Dolan,  President of Queens Civic Congress,
KGHCA and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy who was killed by a motorist while on her way to a Community Board meeting.

Pat was a valuable civic leader and well respected throughout Queens as a voice of reason.

Council Member James Gennaro released the following statement:





FRESH MEADOWS, NY (November 16, 2011) – “The community of Kew Gardens Hills and the entire Borough of Queens are mourning the sudden and unspeakably tragic loss of the most passionate, committed and effective civic leader in Queens, Patricia Dolan.  It is hard to put into words what her loss means to the Queens civic community – it is simply impossible to conceive of Queens civic affairs without her.  As president of the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association, founder and president of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy, President of the Queens Civic Congress and as a longtime member of Queens Community Board 8, her decades of relentless advocacy in all of these roles resulted in a record of civic accomplishment that in my opinion will never be surpassed. Since anyone can remember, Mayors, Borough Presidents and all Queens elected officials took cues from the fearless Pat Dolan and knew better than to even consider challenging an idea that Pat wished to advance.  Resistance was futile when it came to Pat, and it was always best to work with the irrepressible force that was Pat Dolan and to help Pat realize her always-good vision. That is the paradigm that Queens officials have lived by for decades, and the absence of that guidance will be a very difficult adjustment for me and all Queens officials. On a personal note, Pat was my friend, as she was to all – in her own off-beat, inimitable way – and I will dearly miss her. Queens owes a great debt of gratitude to this unparalleled civic servant – who dedicated her life to this borough without a penny of compensation. I wish her eternal rest and peace, but knowing Pat, she’s probably already at work devising plans to make heaven a better place.  Long live Pat Dolan

Memorial services for Pat Dolan will be held on Tuesday November 29th at 7:00pm at the Schwartz Brothers – Forest Park Chapel

114-03 Queens Blvd. Forest Hills, NY 11375

(Queens Blvd. and 76th Road)
limited parking is available
for more information please call 718-263-7600

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/pat-dolan-queens-congress/

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