Residents and local elected officials in South Queens started the year complaining about noise from planes flying into and out of Kennedy Airport, an issue that would be continually reported in the newspaper through the years. In April, airlines were once again given an extension of the waiver that allowed planes to exceed noise levels set by the Port Authority in 1982.
A Valentine’s Day blizzard dumped enough snow on the borough to close city schools. It took days for the Sanitation Department to clear away the mounds of snow.
In Queenswide news, the controversy over what would happen to Fort Totten in Bayside continued. The federal government was still deciding whether or not to sell portions of the large property to non-profit groups or private owners. The city also wanted a portion of the land for recreational use.
Plans to use Flushing Meadows Park for the New York Grand Prix automobile race, which Borough President Donald Manes encouraged, outraged Queens’ environmental and civic groups. Another Manes proposal for the park included a giant domed sports stadium. He had hoped the venture would persuade the Jets to remain in the borough.
However, after months of negotiations and an offer from the city of a multi-million-dollar renovation of Shea Stadium, the Jets left for New Jersey.
In Western Queens, a loss turned into a gain when Silvercup Bakeries became Silvercup Studios, an economic anchor in the part of the borough that would continue to see development and growth through the years.
The new year began with The Paper under new management. News coverage quickly expanded to include the South Queens communities of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.
Front page news concentrated on concerns that remain problems today, such as overcrowding in public schools, increased police protection and flooding of area streets after heavy rains.
The Woodhaven and Richmond Hill neighborhoods rejoiced in the fact that the Police Department’s mounted unit returned to the stables at the 102nd Precinct and Forest Park. The unit had been removed from the area during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.
All of Queens mourned the death of four Franklin K. Lane High School students. They were killed, along with several others, during a raging fire that swept through a
Great Adventure fun house. The teens had been on a class trip to the New Jersey amusement park.
After heavy spring rains, residents of South Ozone Park suffered flooding and sewage back-ups so severe that local politicians soon called for disaster relief aid for homeowners. The flooding problem remained in the headlines for months and was eventually addressed by city plans for a new sewer installation.
In 1984 the paper’s name was changed to the Queens Chronicle and a second edition was born to address the needs of the Queens Boulevard communities of Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills.
Big news for all of Queens was when Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, of Forest Hills Gardens, officially became the first female candidate for national office on
a major party ticket when she was nominated by the Democratic Party as a running mate for presidential-hopeful Walter Mondale.
When the Queens Chronicle began publishing the Boulevard edition, which covered the Queens Boulevard communities of Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills, in late 1984, the paper’s news coverage doubled to include Borough Hall meetings and issues of interest to a much wider readership. One major story that garnered headlines periodically throughout the year was the trucking of nuclear waste through Queens.
In July, then-Borough President Donald Manes testified before a congressional hearing to protest the fact that Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island had been transporting used radioactive rods through populous areas of the borough on the way to disposal areas out of state. He suggested the nuclear waste be carried by barge across Long Island Sound instead.
By November, however, the United States Department of Transportation announced its refusal to ban the trucking of nuclear waste through Queens. The agency said the city failed to prove the practice was unsafe.
Another story that made Queens Chronicle headlines, as well as gaining citywide attention, concerned allegations that police officers in the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park had routinely used stun guns to brutally torture the people they arrested. As a Grand Jury began hearing testimony in the cases in May, many members of the community rallied at the precinct house to show support for New York’s Finest.
The allegations of brutality led to a complete shake up of the entire precinct command. All managerial personnel were transferred and then-Deputy Inspector Ray Kelly, who is now police commissioner, was brought in as the new commanding officer. He is still remembered by members of the community as the man who brought peace and stability to the beleaguered precinct.
The year 1986 was a low point in Queens history, beginning with a major political scandal followed by a tragic suicide. The year ended with an ugly racial incident that resulted in a victim’s death.
Two days after he was sworn in for a fourth term, Borough President Donald Manes attempted to kill himself, allegedly because he was a major player in a wide-spread Parking Violations Bureau scandal. He later succeeded in taking his own life after resigning his post in February.
Claire Shulman, who had been Manes’ Deputy Borough President, was handed the reins of Queens leadership and kept her place at the helm until 2002. She proved to be an active leader and her photos and strong opinions popped up regularly in the pages of the Queens Chronicle.
Astoria’s Peter Vallone was elected vice chairman and majority leader of the City Council and remained in a leadership position until 2002.
In April, the borough would mourn the loss of another powerful political leader when Congressman Joseph Addabbo Sr., 61, succumbed to cancer after secretly
battling the disease for years. He had held his South Queens congressional seat for 26 years.
Queens rejoiced in October when the borough’s own Mets beat the Houston Astros in the playoffs and went on to conquer the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.
Just one week before Christmas in 1986, a racial incident in the community of Howard Beach reverberated around the country. Three young white men were eventually convicted of manslaughter in the attack on three black men that led to the death of Michael Griffith, 23, who had stopped at a local pizzeria there.
From Stardom To Scandal; The Tragedy Of Donald Manes
by Bryan Joiner
March 13th, 1986, marked the end of the brightest political career in Queens’ history, when the borough’s darkest scandal began to emerge. That was the day Donald Manes, the once-respected borough president, committed suicide amid allegations of wrongdoing during his tenure.
Only months earlier, the people of Queens resoundingly supported his bid for a fourth term. “Manes is best recognized for his achievements in the Queens educational system, in industrial development and for his regard for senior citizens,” the Queens Chronicle wrote at the time of his election.
Manes was a wunderkind of Queens politics since his election to the City Council at the age of 31 in 1965. Six years later, he became the youngest borough president in the history of Queens, replacing Sidney Leviss, who became a State Supreme Court judge. He was the hand-picked replacement, chosen by the powerful Queens Democratic Party.
For more than 10 years, Manes controlled the party and worked to secure funding for many local construction projects. He also tried to complete two projects that would have forever changed the face of Queens. He wanted to put both a Grand Prix race track and a domed football stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, but both were blocked at the last minute.
He enjoyed incredible celebrity in the figurehead position of Borough President, and was credited with getting more work done than many before him. But he will be remembered most for the Parking Violations Bureau scandal that ultimately cost him his life.
Only two days after his fourth inauguration, on January 10th he left Borough Hall and told his chauffeur he would be driving home himself.
He did not go home.
“At approximately 7:30 that night,” the Chronicle wrote, “Manes entered his car parked by Queens Borough Hall, and was spotted driving erratically along the Grand Central Parkway by police over six hours later. When stopped, police discovered the left wrist of the Queens Borough president had been slashed, and he was bleeding profusely.”
Four days later, Manes told police he had been carjacked by two knife-wielding men, who gave him orders about where to drive and slashed him. Police were suspicious of the story and said the wounds looked self-inflicted. Manes changed his story a few days later. “There were no assailants, and no one but me is to blame,” he said.
On Tuesday, February 11th, Manes stepped down, as the allegations of a scandal between the Borough President’s Office and the PVB gained steam in the local and national press, and city prosecutors, including an eager Assistant U.S. Attorney named Rudy Giuliani, were zeroing in on Manes and Bronx Democratic leader Stanley Friedman.
Manes released a statement indicating he was taking a temporary leave of absence from politics, and his assistant, Claire Shulman, was named as his replacement. “The people of Queens deserve a leader who is able to devote his or her full strength to the duties of office. My emotional and physical health is such that it will be a long time before I am able to give that kind of effort,” he said.
But his resignation was followed by a deep depression as the scandal grew. He remained in seclusion at his home until one day he had dinner at his sister’s house. When he returned home, he called his therapist while his wife was also on the line. During the call, he thrust an eight-inch knife into his heart, killing himself.
The funeral was held at Schwartz Brothers Chapel on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, where the line to view the body stretched around the corner and far down the street. Mayor Ed Koch, Governor Mario Cuomo, and other politicians attended, including then-Assemblyman Alan Hevesi, who encouraged people to remember Manes’ good public works in the face of scandal.
“Donald Manes was an outstanding public figure, not only a loving husband, parent and family member, but a great political figure,” he said.
As details of the scandal emerged, Manes was implicated for taking bribes from private towing companies, which he would then offer contracts to through the PVB. The fallout from the scandal was the main impetus for the creation of the Campaign Finance Board in 1989, which monitors and regulates spending by politicians.