2009-04-22 / Features

Queens Chamber President Calls 2008 'Banner Year'

BY THOMAS COGAN

This year's installation of officers and board of the Queens Chamber of Commerce took place at a mid-month breakfast meeting at the Crowne Plaza in East Elmhurst, near LaGuardia Airport. Once again, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown officiated at the swearingin. Reelected as QCC president was Albert Pennisi, who provided a report about 2008, which he called "a banner year", even considering the general economic downturn.

One event worth celebrating, he said, was the defeat of congestion pricing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to alleviate the traffic situation in Manhattan by exacting tolls on vehicle drivers, especially those frequenting the main business areas below 86th Street. The Queens Chamber and other opponents called congestion pricing an alleged cure far worse than the ailment it was addressing. Pennisi said that Bloomberg and his connections in the state capital of Albany might have to be confronted again, since, he believes, they have not abandoned their plan for congestion pricing.

Another occasion for celebration, Pennisi said, was the City Council's approval in November of the development plan for Willets Point. Pennisi described it as a 62-acre development site that would be crowned by a 400,000-square-foot convention center, in addition to hotel and residential buildings. He foresees $25 billion in revenue generated there over the next 30 years.

Pennisi hailed the creation of two dozen informational seminars, some of them conducted in Spanish or Mandarin, reflecting the heavy ethnic diversity that now characterizes Queens. He appealed to those in his audience to attend these seminars and keep them lively and informative. He also mentioned the Main Street Committee (Main Street being generic and not necessarily the street that runs from Flushing to Briarwood), which pursues such practical matters as write-offs and tax credits and liaison with city and state officials.

Jack Friedman, QCC executive vice president, spoke about the chamber's membership campaign, which for new members means a first year that lasts 15 months. The breakfast ceremonies concluded with the presentation of a commemorative award to Charles E. Callahan of Plaza College in Jackson Heights, who has been on the QCC board for 25 years.

Officers who are to serve from May 1, 2009 to Apr. 30, 2010 are: President Albert F. Pennisi of Pennisi, Daniels and Norelli; First Vice President Caroline Conslato, Consolidated Edison, and Treasurer Gerald J. Thornton, Runway Tire Service Co.

Directors to serve from May 1, 2009 to Apr. 30, 2012 are: Hank Auffarth, Citibank; Joshua E. Bienstock, Resolve It Inc.; William R. Blake II, Blake Agency Inc.; Thomas L. Bosco, LaGuardia Airport; Kenneth J. Buettner, York Ladder; Thomas Eagar, BBDM Consulting; Joseph Farber, Farber, Rosen and Kaufman; Joseph R. Ficalora, New York Community Bank; Jeffrey E. Levine, Levine Builders; Vincent L. Petraro, Law Office of Vincent L. Petraro, and Caryn Schwab, Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens chief executive officer.

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