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I am a free lance journalist and publisher of UP FRONT News, "The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold." I've been published in the Queens Tribune, the Brooklyn Paper, Downtown Magazine (no longer published), Jewish Currents, and in several poetry journals.
I am a true New Yorker inasmuch as I am one of the relatively few people who have lived in all five boroughs of New York City as well as in and around the upstate city of Binghamton (the town in which "Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling was raised).
After graduating from Queens College and obtaining a B.A. in political science, I attended Rutgers School of Social Work where I got an MSW. After two years of teaching grade school in upstate New York, I began what became a career as a social worker that lasted 22 years.
I was first employed at a New York City-operated
hospital during the famous "fiscal crisis" of the mid- 1970's when the City was said to be hovering on the brink of bankruptcy. It was then that the Mayor at the time appealed for federal aid only to be rejected by then President Gerald Ford, a decision that has been memorialized by the by now iconic Daily News headline, "Ford to New York: 'Drop Dead'"! The state
government imposed a policy known as "planned shrinkage" (budget cuts, layoffs) with heaviest impact on the poor, a development that lead me to become a whisteblower at a time when whisteblowers had no protection at all. In my capacity as an elected member of the hospital's Community Advisory Board, I learned from an attending physician that several patients at the hospital had died as a direct result of the budget cuts. Proof that cutbacks cost lives was apparently so politically threatening that the facts were covered up by the entire NYC political establishment. When I submitted the facts to the NYS Department of Health Patient Advocate, she investigated and "substantiated" my report and, all of a sudden, I was on television and the papers. Ultimately the federal government, by that time under Jimmy Carter, provided some emergency money to the beleaguered hospital.
All this also had the effect of forcing me to seek employment elsewhere. And it also got me started in writing what became UP FRONT News.
I subsequently social worked in several settings, e.g.
homeless shelter, senior citizens center, home health care,
low income housing, and refugee resettlement.
Over the course of the decades (I'm 67, single and in good shape) I've been involved in a number of issues and causes, including (as might be expected), health care, human rights (e.g. tenants and Tibetans), environmental protection, Bill of Rights, and economic democracy, among others.
I've always been into sports (tennis, serious softball, skiing) and, although I think major league athletes are grossly overpaid, I remain one of the few New Yorkers who still root for the original New York Giants (who after 56 years finally won the World Series, much to the gratification of San Francisco and me).
My late parents grew up in Vienna and, for a mercifully brief time, lived under Adolf Hitler - who accelerated his move towards world domination by annexing Austria in 1938 - before managing to leave their homeland and taking a ship out of Oslo and arriving in New York City. My father was a physician and my mother, after child-rearing years, worked as a doctor's assistant. I have a younger brother, Jim, who is a retired schoolteacher in a very rural area of upstate New York.
Music has always been an important part of my life, from the classical composers (some of whose creations I played on violin and piano), to true rock 'n' roll from pre-Las Vegas Elvis onward. I am particularly attracted to the blend of rock 'n roll and country such as is played by an
authentic musical prodigy, Johnny Cash's close friend, Marty Stuart.
Favorite quotes: "Governments lie." I.F. Stone
"War is absolete." The Dalai Lama
(1 comments) SHARE Wednesday, January 5, 2011 CHANGE COMES TO THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE: TONY AVELLA COMES TO ALBANY
This article focuses on a true "maverick" in politics, Mr. Tony Avella, an independent-minded Democrat who generated an important upset by defeating a very entrenched conservative Republican to be elected to the New York State Senate, representing a district in Queens, the most ethnically diverse borough in New York City. He brings a very much needed breath of fresh air to
the often polluted politics of NYC
and the U.S.