2007-09-28 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Advocating for Our Community
Commentary by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

On Monday, September 24, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Governor Elliot Spitzer. The luncheon was sponsored by and attended by the executive members of the Queens Democratic organization. Congressman Joe Crowley, our Democratic county leader, introduced Governor Spitzer as the building crane on which our state is moving forward. Governor Spitzer pointed out that Queens is a huge melting pot. Spitzer said that he is fighting for what people need - improved education, increased job opportunities and keeping property taxes low. He claims that we can't afford to raise taxes. He stressed that New York State's most important resource is its people. He is focused on fighting for all New Yorkers to improve their lives. Governor Spitzer's role models are: Alexander Hamilton, who laid the foundation for our economy; Teddy Roosevelt, who fought off monopolies in order to protect the rights of the individual; and Al Smith, who recognized that every person benefits from the law. Governor Spitzer is looking forward to working with everyone to build a better future.

The Queens Judicial Convention (to which I am a delegate), took place on Monday, September 24, and elected three outstanding attorneys to be proposed to move to the Supreme Court. The names will appear on the November ballot.

The three judges are:

Judge Dennis Butler, who is now serving as a Civil Court Judge, and as an associate adjunct professor of Law at Fordham University. Judge Butler is a graduate of Fordham Law School with a B.A. degree from Fordham University.

Judge Kenneth Holder is presently sitting as a Judge of the Criminal Court in Kings County. He has had extensive legal experience in the DA's office, including serving as a Chief of the Narcotics Trials Bureau.

Finally, Judge Steven Paynter, who is currently a Judge of the Civil Court, has had extensive experience in the DA's office, having served as the Counsel to the Major Crimes Division and as the Deputy Bureau Chief in the Grand Jury Part. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, each of the three judges is eminently qualified by reason of their character, temperament and professional aptitude.

On Wednesday, September 19, Brown addressed the Regular Democratic Club of the Rockaways. It was a standing room-only crowd. Dr. Geraldine Chapey introduced him by using the letters on his name: D = distinguished, A = attorney, B = brilliant, R = resourceful, O = outstanding, W = winning ways, and N = nationally acclaimed. Brown is doing a remarkable job as the Queens District Attorney. He is now running for a new four-year term, in order to continue his outstanding work for all the citizens and residents in Queens.

Brown thanked everyone for coming out to the club to meet with him and to hear his message. He is the longest-serving District Attorney in Queens. He mentioned that one of his major focuses in the borough is working against drug dealers and gangs in the housing complexes. He noted that the next day, Thursday, September 20, he was going to have a press conference with Police Commissioner Kelly and announce the arrest of a group of violent criminals in the Rockaways who are allegedly heavily involved in gangs and drugs. The day after the press conference, the N. Y. Post ran an article about Queens (outlining the items discussed by Brown) stating "Cops have smashed a violent drug-dealing faction of the Bloods street gang who has wrecked havoc and terrorized residents in Far Rockaway. Police seized 4 ½ kilos of cocaine, 13 guns, 2 bullet proof vests and $120,000 in cash during the yearlong investigation." As a result of the year-long surveillance of these purported drug dealers - 34 gang members were charged with serious criminal offenses, ranging from drug and weapons charges to robbery, assault and attempted murder, according to the Post.

Kudos to Brown and his staff (in cooperation with the NYPD) for identifying these individuals and bringing them to justice. He has assembled a very qualified and hard-working staff, including 300 Assistant DAs, 50 detectives (many retired from the NYPD) and seven state troopers who are housed in his office.

Brown credited the gigantic advances in technology for assisting in helping the DA's office with surveillance. He stated unequivocally that he wants to get criminals off the street. In order to do this, one avenue that he has taken is to implement the "Star Track" program and the "Say No to Violence" program in the schools and in the community. Approximately 1000 children from Queens take part in a tennis program run through the DA's office. In addition, the assistant DAs and many interns work in the schools in order to change the culture of the schools in a positive way.

Brown is to be commended for the many and varied programs that he has put in place in Queens County. He is very experienced and accomplished, and has the highest reputation with his colleagues in the state and nation. They all look to him for guidance and highly respect his counsel.

Rabbi Marjorie Slome, the Rabbi at the West End Temple, invited my mother, my husband and I to join the West End Temple for Rosh Hashanah. At the Jewish New Year, we have a time to look back over the previous year and to plan for a better year and a better life ahead. I would like to thank Rabbi Slome for inviting us. We were privileged to be with our friends. The Rabbi's words are always an inspira- tion. She has the ability to convey a very meaningful message to all. Chaya Kirshen is serving as the Temple President. The music, under the direction of Stuart Rauch, is always outstanding. Happy New Year and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year to all our friends.

The Rockaway Catholic-Jewish Council, headed by Renee Freeman and Dr. Geraldine Chapey, has been having very informative meetings in our office. During the summer meeting, Dr. Fred Frieden and his wife, Thelma, gave an excellent presentation on the history of Israel. The report was well-prepared, interesting and insightful. The Friedens are accomplished individuals who willingly share their wisdom with us. Thank you, Dr. Fred and Thelma, for being such an outstanding resource. On Thursday, September 20, Father Landolfigave a very interesting presentation on the Latin Mass and the changes that have taken place since Vatican II, including the fact that Mass is now said in the vernacular. He spoke at length about the differences in the current Mass from the previous one. Everyone enjoyed his presentation. We all learned a great deal from his thoughtful presentation. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m. at 104-04 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

All are welcome to join. The Rockaway Music and Arts Council holds their monthly meetings in our office. My husband and I are pleased to be members of the board. We wholeheartedly welcome my good friend, Beverly Baxter, to the board. Beverly is such a classy, knowledgeable and talented person, that we look forward to working with her on the board. She always makes a wonderful difference in all her activities. The RMAC is headed by Steve Yaeger and his wife, Judy. Steve and Judy genuinely love the arts. In fact, Steve is a great painter in his own right.

During the summer, Steve Yaeger had called and asked if I would host a Queens Council on the Arts session on how to write and obtain grants. The Queens Council on the Arts held the grant-writing session in our office last week. Many Rockaway residents availed themselves of this fantastic opportunity to learn how to write grants, when they are available and the deadlines to apply for them. Thanks to Vivian Warfield for conducting an excellent and informative session. According to their website, the Queens Community Art Fund "provides support through a competitive process ensuring the highest quality of arts activities in our borough." According to Warfield she was presenting a regranting program of the Queens Council. They administer the distribution of grants because they receive the funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. I am so pleased that we were able to facilitate the Queens Council of the Arts' program by hosting the grantwriting session in our office.

Our next Democratic Club meeting will be on Wednesday, October 17 at 8 p.m. Councilwoman Melinda Katz will be our speaker. All are invited to the Regular Democratic Club of the Rockaways, at 104-04 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, to attend this meeting.

Congratulations to Eric Ulrich and Jane Deacy on the occasion of their winning the position of Republican District Leaders. I look forward to working with them to improve our community.

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