2006-08-02 / Political Page

Manton's Funeral Draws Who's Who Of Local, National Politics

Scoring a political coup even in death, Thomas Manton, the late Democratic county leader who died 11 days ago at the age of 73, was eulogized at his funeral last Saturday by former President Bill Clinton.

At the services at St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Woodside, which were attended by a Who's Who of politicians, close associates past and present and former constituents, Clinton lauded Manton for the kindness he showed him as a virtual unknown in early 1992 when the then county leader gave him an audience.

"He knew I was a stranger in a strange land, and he was so kind to me, and I will never forget it," Clinton recalled.

Years later, when Manton was serving in Congress while Clinton was president, Clinton returned the courtesy. At one point, when Manton was chairman of the Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, at his urging, Clinton met with Gerry Adams, then a leading political figure in the Irish Republican Army.

It was considered a great coup for the Irish-American lawmaker from Queens, who prided himself on his ethnic heritage.

Among those attending the funeral service were United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the ex-president's wife, and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, New York State's representatives in the upper house of Congress.

Members of the United States Marine Corps carry Manton's flag-draped casket from St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church. Members of the United States Marine Corps carry Manton's flag-draped casket from St. Sebastian Roman Catholic Church. In another eulogy, Manton's law partner, Gerard Sweeney, described Manton as "the most honorable man" he ever met. "He was without guile," Sweeney said.

Manton's wife, Diane, and their children and grandchildren, led the funeral cortege. Manton died after suffering briefly from prostate cancer and Parkinson's Disease, according to his wife Diane.

POLITICAL QUESTIONS: Queens Democrats are now faced with the need to replace Manton as the party's county leader. However, this cannot be done until after the September 12 primary elections.

Among those who will stand for election or re-election are all the district leaders who make up the party's executive committee, which in turn elects the party chairman. Until that time, the incumbent deputy party chairman under Manton, Dora Young of Jamaica, will serve as chairperson.

This being said, Congressmember Joseph Crowley, a district leader in the Maspeth/Elmhurst area, remains a strong favorite to succeed Manton. In the past several years, the 44-year-old lawmaker who was very closely associated with Manton politically and who maintained a constant presence at the party's Forest Hills headquarters, had been seen as Manton's eventual successor.

Among other indications of the tight Manton-Crowley relationship: when Manton resigned from Congress, he orchestrated his departure so that Crowley, then an Assemblymember, became his hand-picked successor, and during Crowley's Assembly career, he led a Manton move to attempt to depose Assemblymember Sheldon Silver as speaker. It failed.

Crowley had to take some heat from Silver after that, but survived, and presently is making his mark in the Democratic minority in Congress, where he was elected the Chief Deputy Whip and is a leading fundraiser for Democratic House candidates. If the Dems succeed in winning control of Congress this November, Crowley's influence in the next Congress will be considerably heightened, which in turn would help bolster his position as Queens County Democratic leader.

Should that come to pass, Crowley will have earned the spot. His political roots go back to his undergraduate days at Queens College. He came from a politically active family which included his uncle, the late Councilmember Walter Crowley. He learned early on the lessons of working in the trenches and heeding party discipline. He would bring all this with him to the county leadership.

POLL: MAYOR'S LUSTER DIMMED BY CON ED FIASCO: ANY 1 survey taken Thursday through Sunday following the recent blackout in Northwest Queens found that 53 percent of respondents felt Mayor Michael Bloomberg did a lousy job in handling Con Edison's botched performance during the power outage.

The mayor, for some reason not apparent, appeared to be bending over backwards to find ways to excuse both the causes of the blackout as well as the giant utility's efforts to correct the problem.

UNION ENDORSES YOUNG: The labor union called UNITE HERE has announced its endorsement of Ellen Young for the 22nd Assembly District seat in Flushing. Mary Chen, vice president of the 120,000-member labor organization said she had worked closely in her union activities with Young over the past 20 years on many issues including immigration and workers' rights.

The union was aware of all this, they know Young "is very familiar with the issues that concern us most," said Chen, which is why they endorsed her.

UNITE HERE describes itself as "a politically active" union representing workers in the airport, apparel, retail, gaming, food service, hotel and laundry industries. More than 1,000 members live in the 22nd AD, Chen said.

Young has served as a top aid to City Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing) during the past five years and has his endorsement as well as county Democrats' support and the backing of many Democratic officials.

Young is vying with Grace Meng, Terrence Park and former Flushing lawmaker Julia Harrison for the Democratic nomination in the September 12 primary election.

MARSHALL LEADS 'DISCOVER QUEENS IN AUGUST': With the aim of attracting visitors to Queens this month to try to assist businesses which suffered from last month's power blackout, Borough President Helen Marshall joined with the New York Mets and other borough institutions last week in announcing the "Discover Queens In August" promotional campaign.

The campaign is a month-long effort to invite visitors to attend a multitude of events, concerts and festivals being held in Queens this month.

Events include: the Latino Cultural Festival at Queens Theater In the Park, through August 6; the Jamaica Art & Music Summer Festival, August 4 and 5; Queens Night at Shea Stadium, August 4; the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, August 12 and 13, and the U.S. Open Tennis championships August 28 to September 10, also in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

While you're here, Marshall suggests, visit Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside and enjoy dinner at one of the top restaurants there.

This will help some of the 750 businesses that suffered serious losses during the Con Edison power blackout in late July.

A host of organizations are participating in the month-long campaign. One of them, NYC and Company, in an ad urges people to visit the above named neighborhoods in Northwest Queens to help energize the restaurants and businesses affected by the recent power outage.

Log on to www.nycvisit.com for a list of restaurants, tours and visitor attractions.

"Please help our retail businesses, restaurants and movies, in addition to visiting our cultural institutions, especially during this month of August. Many of our people and businesses are suffering," Marshall said.

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