The Legacy of “Cadillac Joe”

State Senator Joe Addabbo Jr. is facing a contested election this fall against Anthony Como for the 15th Senatorial District. Addabbo received one of the best hands-on political schoolings from his dad, the late Congressmember Joseph Addabbo Sr. He was affectionately called “Cadillac Joe” by his constituents for cruising around his southern Queens Congressional District in a beautiful big Cadillac with a Rolls Royce style front grill.

It was not unusual to see Addabbo Sr. giving constituents a ride in his dreamboat asking them what’s up or how can I help you. Sons Buddy or Joe Jr. would ride shotgun or get in the back seat so, dad could get the latest “Street News” – that’s what they called street cred’ back then. This reinforced his lock on his congressional district making him bullet-proof from any political foe, even an occasional U.S. President or New York Governor. Son Joe Jr. learned the family business of enthusiastic public service from one of the best, his dad.

I first met “Cadillac Joe” in his Capitol Hill office after spending a day together under the renowned Close Up Program for students interested in a public service career. My Bayside High School American studies teacher, Steven Lind, along with my new “teacher,” Addabbo, had me play Congressmember for the day. It was a fun, eye-opening education that no textbook could ever teach you.

After, I had lunch in the classy House members only Congressional Dining Room along with a who’s who of late 1970s members of Congress from across our great nation. Only Addabbo could pull this off. Plus, I was wearing a custom-made T-shirt that said “Future Congressman” from Korvette’s department store in Flushing, now home to Time-Warner Cable Television and Queens Public Television.

Everyone thought Anthony Como was pursuing the NYC Board of Elections Executive Director position at $172,000 per year instead of running against Joe Addabbo for State Senator. Como has the inside track being a former Elections Commissioner and a respected election attorney. It pays more, he stays home, not in Albany, has great benefits including a nice car always parked in the fire zone in front of 42 or 32 Broadway.

My dad’s Marblecraft Corporation installed that beautiful granite facade and lobby at 32 Broadway in 1965, which still looks stunning today. Dad gave me the whole story once when we dropped off Independence Party designating petitions for our candidates at around the midnight deadline a few years ago.

Michael N. Niebauer is President & CEO of Spindoctor Inc., a media & advocacy company. founder of the Independence Party of Queens Organization. QPTV producer & host of “The Independent” a popular live show on Time-Warner, RCN and Verizon VIOS cable television systems


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