The city’s struggling economy and the birthday of one of the nation’s most revered presidents were the orders of the day as Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to the Queens Village Republican Club last weekend during the group’s Lincoln Bicentennial Dinner.
The group, the longest surviving Republican club in the nation, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln during a Sunday evening dinner at Queens Village’s Antun’s catering hall. The club also honored state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose), who held onto his Albany seat following a three−month recount of the votes from November’s election.
But Bloomberg paid a visit to the club and delivered a sobering assessment of the city’s ongoing economic crisis.
“We are going to go through some very tough times,” the mayor said. “You can drive down the street and see the number of empty stores. I think everyone knows someone who has been laid off or had their stores closed.”
But the mayor said he believed the city would pull through the economic meltdown and that city communities would not suffer major losses in terms of quality−of−life issues.
“We will not go back to the way it was in the 1970s,” said Bloomberg, referring to the bankruptcies, high crime rates and fiscal crises the city faced during that decade. “Crime is way down and our graduation rates are up. We have to help those who are not as fortunate as the rest of us. The people of this city are going to pull together. We have to make sure services are efficient and working for everyone.”
The club honored Padavan’s re−election, which followed a long recount of his race against City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows). The mayor compared Padavan to Lincoln, whose birthday the group gathered last weekend to honor.
“Lincoln was born 200 years ago on Feb. 12, 1809, which I think was the day Frank started serving in the senate,” Bloomberg joked. “He reaches across the aisle and that is what government is all about.”
Club President Philip T. Sica said the dinner also honored the group’s 134th anniversary. He said the club was down to four members and only held a meeting every other year in the 1980s. But the club has since revitalized itself and Sunday’s dinner drew more than 100 people.
The group also honored six borough students who took part in a Lincoln−themed essay contest, including MS 74 seventh grader Daniel Chinta, MS 67 eighth grader Jarenth DeLeon, MS 180 eighth grader Shanique Gray, PS 95 fifth grader Aniyah Smith, PS 203 fourth grader Britney Cheng and PS 203 third grader Alia Codelia.
The club judged 136 essays from grades three through eight. The theme of the essay was “What Abraham Lincoln’s Life and Legacy Mean to Me.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@time
©2009 Community News Group
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