JFK Democratic Club swears in its 2002 officers

By Kathianne Boniello

Queens Democratic Party Chairman Tom Manton got his own private pep rally in Kew Gardens Hills Sunday morning when Queens Borough President Helen Marshall praised the political leader’s efforts to ensure powerful committee assignments for the borough’s freshman city council delegation.

Marshall, who spoke during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club, praised Manton’s efforts in getting Queens’ freshman city council delegation plum committee assignments earlier this month. Queens council members were given 11 committee chairmanships and two subcommittee leadership posts.

“Queens did very well, and it’s a tribute to our leader, Tom Manton,” Marshall told the more than 130 people who attended the club’s weekend ceremony to install about 50 officers. The Democratic borough president said Queens has the potential to wield enormous power in the city “and now we are in a position to almost ensure it.”

Queens received influential committee assignments in the City Council, which allow the borough’s council delegation to control the activities of some of the most important committees, particularly finance and land use. Choice committee assignments are also accompanied by large stipends.

The council members who turned up at the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills — including David Weprin (D-Hollis), chairman of the Finance Committee; Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills), chairwoman of the Land Use Committee; and Jim Gennaro (D-Jamaica Estates), chairman of the Environmental Protection committee — received high praise.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) made a brief appearance to congratulate the 71-year-old political club that has more than 400 members and called Weprin, Katz and Gennaro “probably three of the most powerful and important people in the city.”

Former City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills), a longtime leader in the JFK Regular Democratic Club, also applauded the three city council members. Before the installation ceremony, Povman said the club, which he joined in 1960, was doing well.

“This club has been in existence for 71 years,” he said. “It’s one of the strongest clubs in the county, and we’re not only a political club, we’re also a community club.”

Member Jeff Gottlieb, an executive assistant to Weprin, said one of the JFK Regular Democratic Club’s goals in 2002 would be to get one of its members elected to public office.

Club president Edward Sellinger, a club member since 1984, said five judges, 10 assistant district attorneys and several lawyers have been drawn through the club’s ranks.

“We are solid,” he said.

Povman said the club will not be shy in pursuing an office for one of its members.

“The first one that opens up that we can get a shot at we’re going to go for it,” he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at [email protected] or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.