This letter appeared in several Queens newspapers in response to a local newspaper article about the RKO Keith's Theater in Flushing:
To The Editor -
We would like to correct some serious misinformation in a recent news article regarding the historic RKO Keith's Flushing Theater.
Wellington Chen stated in the article that, "We tried to landmark the RKO Keith's... but there was no public investment"... the support was not there."
With all due respect, as Mr. Chen was not ever a member of the Committee to Save the RKO Keith's Theatre of Flushing, Inc., he may be unaware of some details:
Overwhelming community support was, indeed, behind landmarking the Keith's. The community was betrayed by some of its elected officials.
In the early 1980's, it was Deputy Beep Claire Shulman, herself, who lobbied at the Board of Estimate hearing on behalf of her boss Donald Manes to reject landmarking the Keith's grand interior spaces. The community was sold out when a compromise deal was struck that abridged the designation to include only the ticket lobby and grand foyer. Manes was said to have convinced Tommy Huang to buy the Keith's in 1986.
Our committee then requested the Landmark's Preservation Commission to reinstate the original entire interior designation.
Over 3,500 petition signatures of support were sent to Shulman, with copies to then-Mayor Koch and the LPC, by certified, return-receipt mail. Shulman denied receiving them. LPC clearly told us they were willing to re-designate all the Keith's interior spaces if then-Borough President Shulman would show her support. She flatly refused by stubbornly stonewalling, thus sealing the theater's fate.
Therefore, Shulman has the role of accomplice to Tommy Huang for the sad status quo. It was her job to protect her constituents from the likes of a convicted criminal like Huang. Instead, like her corrupt boss Manes, she turned her back and looked away.
Of course, the inept Department of Buildings went along with all of it, too.
All we ask is that your readers remember the true, shameful legacy of the "Shul-Manes" administration and over a quarter of a century of the (unpaid) work of our committee on behalf of this wonderful landmark. We tried our best, and so did the active members of our Flushing community. Thank you all.
Committee to Save the RKO Keith's Theatre of Flushing