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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.

Quinn’s Quest: Suburbia To Gracie Mansion

Lawrence Quinn, a former Glen Cove resident and the father of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is an Irish-American man of a certain age. So I can only imagine the look on his face when playwright Eve Ensler read aloud graphic passages of her best-known work, The Vagina Monologues, at his daughter’s 1999 City Council swearing-in ceremony.

When Ensler was finished, Mr. Quinn, who was sitting onstage during Ensler’s performance, looked at his daughter and said, “You couldn’t just have had the Pledge of Allegiance?”

Nope, that’s not the way Councilwoman Quinn rolls. A person’s sexual preference(s) are the prism through which his youngest daughter sees almost everything, if her just-published memoir, With Patience and Fortitude (William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers), is a representative assessment of her worldview. Exhibit A: the emcee of the aforementioned 1999 event was a person identifying as transgender.

Christine Quinn is one of the top contenders in the Sept. 10 New York City Democratic mayoral primary, so some of her book’s passages have already made headlines, such as Quinn’s admissions that she once combated bulimia and has also needed to curb her intake of alcoholic beverages.  

One of the running themes throughout Quinn’s autobiography, however, is the impact her mother’s death, in 1982, had on the then-16-year-old Quinn. The late Mary Quinn battled breast cancer for years before dying, leaving a husband and two daughters: Christine, and her older sister, Ellen. The family lived at the time on Libby Drive in Glen Cove. The future City Council Speaker graduated from Old Westbury School of the Holy Child, where she was the class president, before moving on to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Quinn’s moxie and political activism came into view during her years at Trinity, from which she graduated in 1988, after majoring in urban studies and education. She even spent one year as the institution’s mascot, dressing up as a Bantam at athletic events, and worked periodically for Connecticut’s Public Interest Research Group.

Her long, slow climb in the New York City political world began in 1991 as campaign manager, and then chief of staff, for City Councilman Tom Duane. His district covered Manhattan’s West Village and Chelsea neighborhoods. After Councilman Duane, an openly gay man who volunteered he was HIV-positive, won a state Senate seat in 1998, Quinn prevailed the next year in a crowded race to succeed him as a City Council Member. She has represented that district for 14-plus years, in part because Quinn, the City Council Speaker since 2006, convinced the City Council to set aside the voter-approved term limits law, which held that city lawmakers should only serve two terms. The maneuver allowed her, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to seek four-year terms in 2009. They won while paying a political price. The mayor spent about $100 million of his own fortune but won re-election by only a few percentage points, and Quinn is being repeatedly asked in 2013 to defend her term-limits decision.

As for her personal life, the state’s marriage equality law allowed Quinn and her longtime partner, attorney Kim Catullo, to marry one another in 2012, and Lawrence Quinn was there to walk his daughter down the aisle. To Mr. Quinn’s relief, I am sure, Eve Ensler was not asked to provide entertainment at the reception.