It was gloriously sunny and warm for a December day and I was off to Gracie Mansion for a meeting.
The mayor’s residence is under the care of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, which protects the property inside and out. The organization is in the capable hands of Executive Director Rhonda Binda, an old friend.
My daughter Elizabeth and I met with her to talk about collaborating to celebrate women and the 30th anniversary of Schneps Media’s Power Women.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is the first to employ so many women in leading roles and so Gracie Mansion is the perfect spot to shine the spotlight on powerful women.
The last time I was in the historic house was for an intimate breakfast hosted by Mayor Bloomberg and attended by former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. The stunning, small dining room with antique wallpaper was the perfect setting for the meeting with community newspaper publishers.
It was a unique time to talk with these leaders. My seat was directly across from Klein and he asked me how I got into the media business. I shared with him the story of my journey with my daughter Lara at Willowbrook and how the power of the press was impactful with Geraldo Rivera’s expose detailing, in endless interviews, my struggle to fight for Lara’s rights and needs and then finally filing a federal class action lawsuit.
Klein stopped me and said with a smile, “I was your lawyer!”
It was during his years with the American Civil Liberties Union, who were the lead counsel in the successful class action lawsuit that ultimately closed down Willowbrook, replacing it with a network of group homes and day programs.
It was a landmark victory and now I was sitting across from the man who made history, with my daughter named a main plaintiff in the successful Willowbrook class action lawsuit. Willowbrook is now the College of Staten Island.
Here I was decades later, now owner of 91 media outlets with my son, Josh, walking through the historic halls. It made me feel how perfect it would be to bring the Power Women to this great house nestled on the East River and East End Avenue.
Keep you posted!
From the meeting, I took a fast trip to say hello to my stepdaughter Mimi Broner, who lives a few blocks away from Gracie Mansion.
It was a sweet hour before I was off to meet broadcaster Ernie Anastos and appear on his “Positively Ernie Daily” podcast at the WABC studios owned by friend John Catsimatidis.
I enjoyed my hour with Ernie talking about our lives’ journeys. It will be shown next week. Stay tuned!
After we finished recording, Ernie led me to John’s studio where he was going on at 5 p.m. Remarkably, at 4:56, the group was still gathering, including New York Republican State Committee Chair Ed Cox and former Congressman Peter King, whose daughter Erin Sweeney is a successful lobbyist and dear friend!
At 4:59, John came down the hallway to take his seat with his guests. Remarkably, his announcer began the show at precisely 5 p.m.
It was a delight to see them all!
From there, I was on my way to my final stop: the Field of Light art installation created by artist Bruce Munro at First Avenue between 38th and 41st Streets in a lot where the Soloviev Group is hoping to build a casino on the East River.
It was a wild journey to find the location, which is not yet on the map, but I was determined to see my friend Stacey Soloviev and share her joy at the opening of the exhibit on their 6-acre lot, just a block before the United Nations.
It was a chilly night on the East River, even inside the tent they had set up for the celebration, but seeing many old friends like Jerry and Suzan Kremer, Bo Dietl and State Senator Joseph Addabbo warmed my heart!
It was a jam-packed day and I loved every minute of it!