Queens BP honored at LaGuardia Airport – QNS.com

Queens BP honored at LaGuardia Airport

Standing in a vestibule in LaGuardia Airports Central Terminals Building, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, the first African American to assume the post, was honored for her first year in office as Queens highest elected official as part of Black History Month.
Warren Kroeppel, the airports general manager, presented Marshall with an art exhibit profiling her first year in office. Marshall took the moment to praise her hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and to celebrate Queens ethnic diversity as well as address the important role the airport has in the citys economy. Marshall has had a somewhat contentious relationship with LaGuardia Airport in the past.
Echoing some of the themes she mentioned during her inaugural speech last year, Marshall said: "Im here because of my idol, Dr. Martin Luther King, who used love to bring people together. Black youngsters have an opportunity today that we never dreamt of. I was very much a part of the civil rights movement, and I use Dr. Kings philosophy in public service. Im the second woman to have this position. The first was Claire Shulman. For 30 years, Ive been working with Claire to build a foundation here in Queens."
Marshall spoke of Queens rich landscape and of her own multiculturalism. Her father was a merchant seaman from British Guyana who worked on a Scandinavian freighter and learned to speak seven languages. Shulman grew up in New York City alongside Jewish and Italian families.  
"I am African-American," she said. "I am proud of my heritage. My parents are long gone, but theyd be proud of me today. I never thought that one day Id be boarding a small plane to go to Albany [as Queens Borough President]. Queens can show people that you dont need an airplane to move around the world, just go around Queens. Its so diverse. Maybe now instead of dashing for a plane, theyll stay around a little."
With LaGuardias general manager standing to her side, Marshall discussed her relationship with the airport. For years, Marshall has fought to stop the Port Authority from developing into Flushing Bay, citing risks of contamination to wildlife in the bay. She has championed reducing airplane noise and the perils of air-traffic pollution to neighboring communities. But she also praised the airlines, especially the Forest Hills discount carrier, JetBlue Airlines, which recorded forth quarter profits in their earnings last year, and two cargo operations, Air-Riss and Continental, which are extending to JFK airport.
"Weve developed a relationship with LaGuardia Airport," she said. "Sometimes the relationship has been an adversarial one, but were neighbors and we had to let them know that were here. When I took office, we were still reeling from 9/11. A year later, its been a fabulous year because of the spirit of people from Queens. The airport is the economic engine for the city. When it went down we were worried. But now JetBlue is doing well. I just cut two ribbons for two major cargo lines. It will take a lot more than that to bring us down."
LaGuardia Airport plans to continue showcasing different artists at its exhibit. Dominick Totino took the photos of Helen Marshall.

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