Neither rain nor hail


| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

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Friday began with a downpour that seemed like it was never ending. The traffic stood still for hours, but our Mayoral Forum was a huge success. To my delight all the candidates, Democrats, Republicans and Independent, made it through the stormy morning to meet at Terrace on the Park to address our audience. It was a coup, since no other group has gotten all the candidates together before.

I was pleased that our attendees had time before we began the program to mingle with those candidates who came early.

For years now, we have had a strategic alliance with NY1. I was delighted that they participated by lending us Rocco Vertuccio to act as our moderator. The handsome, perfectly groomed anchor/reporter took the lectern, beginning the questioning a few minutes late because some of the candidates were delayed by the rainstorm. But the morning went flawlessly.

We had assembled the candidates in alphabetical order and John Catsimatidis squeezed in late because he was being honored in the Bronx at 8 a.m. I was glad to meet his beautiful wife after the forum because he referred to their many philanthropic efforts and her involvement.

My staff had written questions that were Queens-centric and a few candidates actually answered directly. Of course, our hometown mayoral candidate John Liu “gets it” about the inequity of funding to Queens parks and cultural institutions. I only hope that the other candidates not as familiar with our problems heard how Queens gets shortchanged in the city budget.

What for me was powerful that miserably wet morning was to see each candidate, shoulder to shoulder, lined up for us to evaluate and listen to. I’m undecided but I’m reviewing the video that my web and social media editor, Cristabelle Tumola, made of the forum. As a company we are certainly in the 21st century reporting online, on Facebook, on Twitter and of course in print and video. We have become a 24/7 local news reporting organization, and I am proud of our editorial team!

Geraldo does it again!

For the 25th year, I was moved that Geraldo Rivera has upheld his pledge to keep Life’s WORC’s mission of helping the developmentally disabled and children with autism thriving. He continues to bring us the power of his position, now on

ABC Radio with a talk show from 10 a.m. to noon every day, in addition to his TV show.

The Geraldo Rivera Golf Outing was held this year at the Edgemere Country Club in New Jersey and honored Peter Klein, who made a $25,000 donation. The event has become an important source of funds for the organization I founded. We deliver services to people with developmental disabilities in group homes, day programs and family support programs in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

I kidded Geraldo that I’m the longest running woman in his life. I’ve known him for over 40 years!

Finding new supporters in New Jersey is our goal, and apparently we were very successful. I found my way to the hinterlands of northern Jersey thanks to my friend Lynn Koufakis, who showed me a new app on my iPhone, Waze, to get accurate directions and move us away from roads with traffic. We did get lost, but that was our fault since we put in the wrong name of the town we were looking for. But after an hour-and-a-half, we found it. Moral of the story: never give up!

One of the golfers that day was Tony Lo Bianco, the well-known actor. He delightedly told me he will be performing his critically acclaimed show “Little Flower,” based on the life of Fiorello LaGuardia, at Queens Theatre on June 20.

Tony also shared that John Catsimatidis will be hosting a cocktail party before the show. He often helps to make sure the theatre is sold out for Tony’s show since he loves the topic. It will be a not-to-miss occasion. I wish I could be there, but it’s the same night as my Brooklyn newspaper’s Top Women in Business event at the downtown Brooklyn Marriott.

So kudos to John for supporting a great performer who will be on stage at our beloved Queens Theatre.