Record 250+ Republicans Rock the House at Queens Gala Lincoln Dinner with William Kristol
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” William Kristol, keynote speaker at the 140th Anniversary Lincoln Dinner quoted these lines from Deuteronomy 31:6, speaking about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s recent address before a joint session of Congress, giving renewed hope and courage to all in attendance to stand up for Republican principles in a perilous world.
On Sunday, March 22nd, the Queens Village Republican Club packed the house with over 250 attendees for one of the largest gatherings of Republicans and new friends in New York City for an unsurpassed show of unity, determination and purpose. From their comments after the dinner party, it appeared that everyone’s palate, spirit and intellect was satiated and energized to the maximum.
Festivities began at 3:00 p.m. with a fellowship and a cocktail hour with bountiful varieties of delectable dishes for all. At 4:00 p.m. the crowd reassembled in the main ballroom as Philip Orenstein, Queens Village Republican Club President called the dinner to order followed by the Pledge, Invocation and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Debra Spagnoletti.
In his prepared remarks, Orenstein said “This is the new Republican Party. Look around the room. Look at this great crowd! This is the Party of the 21st Century, the Party of Abraham Lincoln!” Orenstein introduced his own conservative idol, the celebrated radio and Newsmax TV talk show host, Steve Malzberg, who was the Master of Ceremonies. His son Robert Malzberg, who often called in to his Dad’s show and would report on his liberal indoctrination at school that day, was also in attendance.
Malzberg introduced the first presenter, Hemant Shah, Vice President of the Club, who presented the Businessman of the Year award to Harshad Patel, successful businessman and President of Gujarati Samaj of New York. Mr. Patel came to the U.S. from India with $2.00 in his pocket and achieved the American Dream, creating great wealth and prosperity for himself and hundreds of others. He is President and CEO of East End Management Co. LLC, a family owned full-service real estate services company in the hospitality industry. He has built a dozen hotels in Queens and Brooklyn with four more hotels under construction at this time.
Ann Salpeter Shockett, president-to-be of the New York State Federation of Republican Women, presented the Education Advocate of the Year Award to David Lee, who is the Executive Director and Co-founder of CoalitionEdu, an educational advocacy group fighting to preserve high scholastic standards. He stated that education is the great equalizer and the gateway to the American Dream. Nineteen Nobel Laureates have come from New York’s Specialized High Schools. He emphasized the importance of diversity and that greatness can be encouraged without the lowering of standards. He has organized rallies, press conferences and forums, encouraging all to achieve their highest goals, looking beyond color, race or religion. He mentioned that students are getting a poor education in public schools and 70% are not passing their grade levels. He called for gifted and talented programs, after-school programs, charter schools, science programs, engineering programs, and support for the military. We need to heed the advice of Abraham Lincoln: Get some books and get to work!
Gerald Matacotta, founder of the acclaimed History Seminar Series at Queensborough Community College Continuing Education Dept, presented the New York’s Bravest Award, to FDNY Lieutenant William Miccio. Matacotta mentioned that he knew Lt. Miccio from coaching the NYC FDNY Men’s Volleyball team for the World Police and Fire games, but mostly he was a great friend. As Vice President of the 2011 World Police & Fire Games, Lt. Miccio wanted to bring the heartfelt celebration of firefighters and police officers from around the world to New York City, on the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001, in order to remember all who perished on that day. He spoke from the heart without prepared lines, about his reluctance to accept this award but finally agreed to accept it on behalf of all New York firefighters. He commented that firefighters put their own lives second, others first. They go in to burning buildings to save lives. He stated that they always show up—that’s their job. He mentioned the other ways these brave men have helped families of victims of 9/11, wounded warriors, and how they are involved in various ways to benefit those who have suffered.
Next, Former NYPD Captain, Joseph Concannon, Vice President of the Club, staged a couple of real life simulations of police two-way radio communications of the various situations that police officers encounter, where they have mere seconds to react to a crisis. In a dramatic simulation of events Concannon presented the New York’s Finest Award honoring the four officers of the 103rd Precinct for their bravery and courage, who were savagely attacked by a hatchet wielding terrorist, two of whom sustained injuries in the line of duty while serving and protecting fellow New Yorkers. As he introduced the honorees one by one, Concannon gave a real life police radio exchange simulation depicting the unfolding events of the October 23rd, 2014 hatchet attack. Concannon stated that these injured police officers were never alone and they will never be alone! The crowd roared in support. Concannon went on to tell the police officers he hoped that they would never have to experience such an attack ever again, but if they did, they could be assured that the Republican Party has their backs. The crowd stood up and cheered as each officer received his award.
Richmond Country District Attorney, Dan Donovan was introduced by Steve Malzberg. He’s the Republican and Conservative Candidate for the 11th Congressional District in the May 5th Special Election for Congress. Donovan told us why he is a Republican – because people, not government, are what really matter. People budget their own finances; they should choose their own schools, their own doctors, their own healthcare, and would never squander their money, as government does for example, on such outrageous purchases as $9,000 for a toilet seat. Speaking about disability benefits for firefighters, he said it’s disgraceful that new firefighters injured in the line of duty would receive a meager $27 a day. As Staten Island DA, he’s been a proven crime fighter who has helped to make Staten Island the safest borough in the safest large city in America. DA Donovan is campaigning hard to be the next Republican Congressman from NYC and we’re all behind him.
After the main entree was served, special guest of honor Consul General of India, Ambassador Dhyaneshwar Mulay was welcomed up to the podium and presented with a bouquet of flowers. He spoke briefly about building good U.S.-Indian relations, and that in India, a land of many diverse people sharing one land, Jews who have been in India since 200 B.C., Christians since 58 A.D. and Indians all live together peacefully.
A brand new tradition for the Lincoln Dinner award ceremonies was announced. Two beloved members of our board, Harvey Moder and Rabbi Morton Pomerantz passed away last year. To memorialize their names forever, it was declared that we are naming two of our annual awards after them, presented to outstanding members of our community, the “Rabbi Morton Pomerantz Veteran of the Year Award” and the “Harvey E. Moder Lifetime Achievement Award.”
First, the “Harvey E. Moder Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented by Councilman Erich Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) to Katherine James, former NYC Board of Elections Deputy Chief of Queens County, the first recipient of the award. Ms. James presented a bouquet to Mary standing by her side, widow of the late Harvey Moder, former president of the Queens Village Republican Club, as she recollected fond memories of working together for righteous causes, such as housing for veterans in Queens. Katherine James life and legacy of continuous activism has been an inspiration to all.
To commence the ceremonies for the “Rabbi Morton Pomerantz Veteran of the Year Award,” former U.S. Army Captain and Board of Directors member, Phil Plasencia, introduced the artist who painted the portrait of Rabbi Morton Pomerantz, Jerry Slater, and proudly noted that he captured his “sly smile” in this evocative painting. Slater said Pomerantz “loved mankind, even Democrats,” as he listed the variety of activities in the life of the Rabbi including a music band, playing piano, Marine Corp and Navy chaplain, national chaplain of the Jewish War Veterans, working with the mentally challenged and disabled children, chaplain of a Lyon’s Club, and especially his passion for supporting veterans and Republican causes.
The first “Rabbi Morton Pomerantz Veteran of the Year Award” was presented to Congressman Chris Gibson (R – Kinderhook), a decorated war hero. He retired as Colonel after a 24 year U.S. Army career. He commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team during the opening month of a humanitarian relief operation in Haiti. He earned four Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, and many other medals of valor. In an impassioned tone, Gibson stated that we need to rally our Party and register new Republican voters. He said that we can win elections in the coming years, and “we’ve gotta prepare.”
As excitement mounted, Steve Malzberg introduced the keynote speaker, William Kristol, who is regularly interviewed on his Newsmax TV program about once a week. Kristol spent over 30 minutes addressing the major issues peppering them with stories and anecdotes from his youth growing up in New York City, up to today, and ending with a questions and answer session. Kristol exuded great confidence in our future and the election of a Republican president in 2016. He expressed, with certainty that things will turn around as they did after bitter times like the economic turmoil of the 1970’s with 20% interest rates, the Iranian hostage crisis, and when New York City was in bad shape. Ronald Reagan was elected and cut taxes drastically and the economy turned around. Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor and after 20 years of Republican mayors, NYC has been the safest and greatest success story in the nation. He said the next two years of our nation will be rough. Congress needs to address the enormous cut backs on defense. Kristol said that the country is in a mood for change toward 2016, and that we Republicans need to present younger generation candidates. We need a “fresh voice.” The Republican Party has become a younger more optimistic Party. It’s really important that Republicans speak out. Do we want Obama’s America in the future? He repeated his general admonition to the Republican Party several times that evening on and off mic: “GOP candidates who ignore or downplay national security issues … will be making a big mistake.”
Finally, the raffles tickets were drawn and winners announced. After the Viennese Tables arrived with a variety of enticing desserts, the closing benediction was given by Reverend Philip Sica. The gala dinner party concluded at 8:00 pm.