The Civic Scene: Beep Helen Marshall has agenda for Act 2

By Bob Harris

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, who now occupies Marshall's original seat in Corona, was the master of ceremonies. The Presentation of Colors was by Eagle Scouts: Troop 18, College Point; Troop 333, Cambria Heights; Girl Scout Gold Award Recipients, Flushing and St. Albans. The National Anthem was sung by Ms. Juanita Faulkner whose mother was once on a local PTA with Borough President Marshall. I met an old friend, Harbachan Singh, and two new gentleman, Jae B. Choi of the Korean American Association of Central Queens and John Y. Park of the Korean American Community Empowerment Council. I attended the event with Tammy Osherov, of Meadowlark Gardens Coop.Several different religious leaders took part in the ceremony. The invocation was given by the Rev. Nicholas Genevieve-Tweed, Macedonia AME Church, Flushing. The blessing of the oath of office was given by Brother Edward Shields of St. Gabriel's Church, East Elmhurst, while the benediction was made by Rabbi Mayer I. Perlmutter, of the Reform Temple of Forest Hills. The oath of office was administered by Leslie G. Leach, Administrative Judge, 11th Judicial District, Queens Supreme Court.As Marshall prepared to take her oath, a score of photographers jumped up to take photos which led to some groans from the audience since they were blocking the view of the ceremony. The photographers shifted to a side and the flashing of bulbs began. I wonder if Marshall saw spots for the next few minutes.Marshall acknowledged the multitude of legislators and other borough and city officials present. Fresh Meadows' Assemblyman Mark Weprin, Councilman Jim Gennaro and Councilman David Weprin and his wife Ronnie were present. Queens Director of City Planning John Young, who is busy working on the rezoning of many areas of Fresh Meadows, was present along with several Police Department and Fire Department officials.A number of the presidents of various CUNY colleges were in the audience, along with Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Deputy Commissioner Estelle Cooper, who work closely with civic association leaders to maintain and improve the quality of our Queens parks.Newly re-elected Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum sat on the stage with newly elected Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer, a former state assemblyman who worked with the Queens civics several years ago. Also present was the newly announced, and soon to be officially chosen as New York City Council President, Councilwoman Christine Quinn from Chelsea.I mention all these city officials as being present at Marshall's Inauguration because it shows they are friends and can be very helpful in providing necessities which Queens may need in the future.In her inaugural address, Helen Marshall said many things. She commented that we have more than 150 languages spoken here, with almost half our population born in a foreign land and having family ties, business connections and cultural histories extending globally. This augurs well for our economic future.She spoke of instituting a needle exchange program which will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and with people who can help the recipients break their dependancy on drugs and the problems which drugs lead to. There is a Queens New York City Housing Authority youth initiative which sponsors scouting and sports. There are economic development districts in Jamaica, Long Island City and Queens West.Marshall's task forces on zoning and illegal conversion -a continuation of what Claire Shulman started – have been applauded by civic associations throughout the borough and have stabilized many neighborhoods. Now we need better enforcement of the zoning laws so we can continue to protect our quality of life. More must be done.The possible closing of two more hospitals is an issue Marshall wants to address. It seems that currently Queens has 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 residents with a population of 2.2 million, while Manhattan has 7.1 beds per 1,000 with a population of only l.5 million. One issue not mentioned was the problem of drug-resistant staph infections which develop in patients who stay in hospitals. It might be better if we had more outpatient procedures so people would not be in hospitals very long. We then would not need so many beds.Medical technology is alive and well in Queens. Elmhurst Hospital has robots which analyze blood samples and fill prescriptions. Marshall wants to bring the biotech industry into Queens. Why can't she work with Hillcrest HS, Edison HS, Jamaica HS, Gateway HS, Aviation HS, John Adams HS, Queens Vocational & Tech HS, Richmond Hill HS and Townsend Harris HS and some of the new small high schools which have a wide variety of health careers, computer technology, robotics, science research and other technology courses which could supplement her ideas?If you don't know about some of the technology education available in our high schools, it is because the schools are not telling about them or because the media just isn't printing the information. Too bad! Queens' loss!

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