The 2019 Staten Island Power 100; 36 - 65

An aerial view of Staten Island.
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The 2019 Staten Island Power 100; 36 - 65

Recognizing the 100 most powerful on Staten Island.
June 9, 2019
36. Kenneth Corey
Assistant Chief

When Kenneth Corey began his tenure as borough commander in January 2018, he made it his priority to “stop the dying” from violence, traffic accidents and drugs, he told the Staten Island Advance. By the end of last year, murders were down 40%, burglaries 14%, and shootings 50%, according to NYPD statistics. Police made arrests in nine homicides, which Corey attributed to “precision policing and having the greatest cops and detectives in the city.”

37. Tom Cocola
Staten Island Borough Commissioner
New York City Department of Transportation

With congestion pricing, Vision Zero, ferries, gondolas and the Bay Street rezoning dominating the news, Tom Cocola has plenty to do on Staten Island. Last year, he noted that traffic fatalities fell 60% from 2017, and he recently pointed out that streets are safer after the addition of a crosswalk at New Dorp High School. Cocola plans to create a pedestrian and cycling corridor with traffic signals to address traffic issues around the Bay Street rezoning.

38. Amanda Farinacci
Staten Island Reporter

NY1’s effervescent Staten Island reporter can’t make the rain go away, but she does deliver thundering exclusives. Amanda Farinacci owned one of the borough’s biggest political stories last year, reporting that attorney Richard Luthmann impersonated Staten Island politicians on Facebook, which led to Luthmann’s indictment and his pleading guilty to two of 11 charges. She also covered the demise of the Staten Island Wheel and revealed the locations of new homeless shelters in the borough.

39. Desmond Green
Administrative Judge
Richmond County Supreme Court

As Staten Island’s administrative judge, Desmond Green handles both civil and criminal cases, as he has done throughout his career as a jurist. Green has also juggled courthouse drama, welcoming back Judith McMahon, a Staten Island judge who briefly left the borough bench for Manhattan amid accusations she intervened in criminal matters. Green is a frequent attendee at legal industry galas, including a recent Association of Law Secretaries event where he received an award.

40. Jay Duskin
Richmond County Bar Association

Please welcome the incoming president of the Richmond County Bar Association! Jay Duskin, who succeeds outgoing association head Toni Ann Barone, is one half of a leading Staten Island legal power couple – he is married to Family Court Judge Karen Wolff – and he has plenty of experience to draw from. In addition to serving as the association’s secretary, the Duskin & Crowe attorney has been helping everyday Staten Islanders defend themselves in traffic court.

41. Harold & Charlene Wagner
Chairman; District Manager
Staten Island Conservative Party; Staten Island Community Board 3

Both halves of this South Shore power couple have had their share of political upheavals. Harold Wagner’s Staten Island Conservative Party board voted to endorse Republican Assemblyman Ron Castorina for surrogate last year, but its membership instead chose Staten Island Public Administrator Anthony Catalano, a Democrat. Neither candidate won. Meanwhile, Charlene Wagner recently presided over a controversial zoning proposal that could diminish environmental protections for the borough’s forests and wetlands.

42. Luke Nasta

With Staten Island’s opioid crisis growing dramatically in recent years, Luke Nasta has led the effort to provide chemical dependency treatment to those in need. He has railed against the stigma of addition, which he said can take families hostage, and warned about the danger of legalizing recreational marijuana at a time when the region is dealing with an opioid epidemic. He is particularly concerned about teens abusing benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Ativan.

43. Dennis Quirk
New York State Court Officers Association

Dennis Quirk doesn’t shy away from controversy. His union members angered state Chief Judge Janet DiFiore by demonstrating outside the Queens Supreme Courthouse in Kew Gardens, demanding the hiring of more court officers while wearing T-shirts saying the Office of Court Administration stands for “Organized Crime Association.” In April, Quirk infuriated immigration advocates and the OCA by claiming court authorities cannot stop immigration agents from arresting undocumented immigrants inside a courthouse.

44. Edward Josey
Staten Island NAACP

The president of the Staten Island NAACP has brought stability to the borough’s chapter while helping the next generation of civil rights activists make connections and eliminate discrimination in their communities. Edward Josey has supported pioneers like New York City Councilwoman Deborah Rose – a member of the NAACP and active volunteer in community organizations – and is helping connect prospective college students with historically black colleges at the NAACP’s annual college fair.

45. Diane Arneth
Executive Director, Staten Island Operations
Brightpoint Health

Diane Arneth is known as a beloved humanitarian on Staten Island, having spent decades nurturing residents with chronic illnesses and substance abuse problems, as well as those experiencing domestic violence. She has led Community Health Action of Staten Island, which is a member of Brightpoint Health, for more than 20 years and has expanded its budget and staff from $250,000 and six employees to $10 million and 120 employees. Last year, the Richmond County Medical Society recognized Arneth for her work.

46. Amoy Barnes
Staten Island Borough Director, Transition and College Access Center
New York City Department of Education

After serving as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Staten Island community affairs liaison – connecting the mayor with friendly civic leaders and helping City Hall navigate everything from the contentious Bay Street rezoning plan to the the High Rock Challenge obstacle race – Barnes has moved to the Department of Education. She’s still in the borough, helping students make the leap from high school to college as head of the Transition and College Access Center.

47. John Gulino
Outgoing Chairman
Staten Island Democratic Party

After serving as Staten Island Democratic Party chairman for 12 years, John Gulino is stepping down this summer, saying he plans to devote more time to his law practice. Democrats took the borough’s congressional seat, Surrogate’s Court judgeship and added a new face in the Assembly last year, but Gulino sometimes lost battles with others in his party, like New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson – most recently over a Board of Elections commissioner who was booted in March.

48. Favio Ramirez-Caminatti
Executive Director
El Centro del Inmigrante

Staten Island’s preeminent immigration advocate (Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Immigrant Affairs recently named him Immigrant of the Year) has been on guard lately – and with good reason. Deportations in New York City are up 150% since 2016, prompting Favio Ramirez-Caminatti to call out U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers for “acting without control,” the Staten Island Advance reports. A more festive part of his work involves celebrating the heritage of different communities.

49. Daniel Cassella
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726

Daniel Cassella, head of Staten Island’s union for bus drivers, is pleased the Metropolitan Transportation Authority finally implemented an express bus network for people going into Manhattan’s business districts. Despite lingering traffic concerns – state police regularly hold buses at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel entrance while letting cars go by – the buses have been moving faster in recent months. Good news for Cassella: Lawmakers are working to give Staten Island a seat on the MTA board.

50. James O’Keefe
Vice Provost, Staten Island Campus
St. John’s University

As head of the Staten Island campus of St. John’s since 2014, law enforcement expert James O’Keefe has helped the Vincentian Catholic college establish a beachhead in the borough. The ex-NYPD deputy commissioner shares his criminal justice experience with students through his courses on criminal investigations, counterterrorism and homeland security. He was previously appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve on the state’s Municipal Police Training Council, which oversees law enforcement training in New York.

51. Will Smith
Staten Island Yankees

Are the Pizza Rats coming back for another slice? Will Smith and his team were behind one of the Staten Island Yankees’ most successful promotions in recent meme-ory, temporarily rebranding the team after the lovable but disgusting commuter. Merchandise sales increased eightfold thanks to the promotion, Smith told the Staten Island Advance. Meanwhile, the Staten Island Pride Center excoriated the team for its partnership with Chick-fil-A, which has been criticized for supporting anti-LGBT causes.

52. Debra Derrico
District Manager
Staten Island Community Board 2

Debra Derrico’s dedication to Staten Island Community Board 2 is unparalleled. The district manager is on top of whatever issues arise in mid-island neighborhoods from Arrochar to Travis – including the Community Health Center of Richmond’s diagnostic treatment center at New Dorp Plaza South and a review of the Department of City Planning’s proposal to combine three special districts. The plan faces opposition from homeowners concerned about overdevelopment near wetlands and other vulnerable areas.

53. Lou Tobacco
President and CEO
Monsignor Farrell High School

Lou Tobacco is leaving Staten Island University Hospital, where he’s served as a government affairs executive since 2012, to lead his alma mater. “He is going to be a terrific president,” Monsignor Farrell High School Principal Lawrence Musanti told the Staten Island Advance, recalling Tobacco’s leadership roles in high school. The former South Shore assemblyman – who is known in the borough for his miniature Christmas village – said he is “excited to be back in these hallways.”

54. Leticia Remauro
President and CEO
The Von Agency

The candidate pool for Staten Island borough president is getting deeper. The Republican political strategist and former Staten Island Republican Party chairwoman announced her bid for Jimmy Oddo’s term-limited seat in November. Remauro, who chaired Community Board 1 when it approved Empire Outlets and the North Shore greenway trail, touts her expertise with land use, and she previously managed Nicole Malliotakis’ mayoral campaign – but she’ll have no shortage of opponents for the seat.

55. Robert Scamardella
Managing Partner
Scamardella, Gervasi, Thomson & Kasegrande

The Scamardella, Gervasi, Thomson & Kasegrande trial attorney and former Staten Island Republican Party chairman still plays a key role in the borough’s Republican circles – and its philanthropic causes. As the the new chairman of the DaVinci Society, Robert Scamardella is helping raise scholarship money for students attending Wagner College. He is also involved with St. Teresa’s Church and St. George’s Theater, and is on the board of the YMCA of Greater New York.

56. Frank Morano
Host, “Morano in the Morning”
AM 970

The Staten Island Reform Party chairman and talk radio host – you can hear him on AM 970 early Sunday morning – boosts candidates both prominent and obscure on the third party’s ballot. Last year, the party endorsed six candidates, including Charles Fall, Ron Castorina and several incumbents. Frank Morano recently testified before the 2019 Charter Revision Commission, criticizing New York City’s 8-to-1 matching funds campaign finance program, which he called “legalized bribery.”

57. Henry Thompson
Community Health Center of Richmond

Henry Thompson has helped turn around the Community Health Center of Richmond since joining the organization in 2009. “It was important to make sure that we had the right direction,” Thompson told Modern Healthcare. He is also expanding the health center’s medical office in Stapleton and using state-funded seed grants to combat childhood obesity. “This is the beginning step” in what has been a long-standing issue, Thompson told the Staten Island Advance.

58. Ken Mitchell
Executive Director
Staten Island Zoo

Ken Mitchell’s previous job as New York City councilman – navigating the disparate personalities of council members and commissioners – likely prepared him for his current role at the Staten Island Zoo. Now he spends his days with rambunctious Geoffroy's marmosets and premonitory rodents who have kept their thoughts about the mayor’s presidential chances mum. Mitchell, who kept a low profile on the City Council, previously worked for then-Rep. Michael McMahon.

59. Joseph Carroll
District Manager
Staten Island Community Board 1

Joseph Carroll had the unenviable job of maintaining order during the contentious Bay Street rezoning hearings. Faith leaders, housing advocates and community activists opposed the plan, arguing it did not meet the community’s needs for affordable housing. The board largely agreed, voting down the plan while demanding more open space, new schools and a ferry stop – but the New York City Planning Commission passed it. Negotiations among the various stakeholders are expected to continue.

60. Denis Hughes
Former President
New York State AFL-CIO

It wasn’t so long ago that Denis Hughes was one of the most powerful union leaders in New York, which is one of the most labor-friendly states. The Staten Island native, who also served as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is now operating in the private sector. He handles government and labor relations as a senior operating partner at Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm.

61. Joseph Ferrara & Winthrop Wharton
Principal; Executive Director of Development and Investment
BFC Partners

Joseph Ferrara and Winthrop Wharton have been waiting seven years to open New York City’s first outlet mall on Staten Island. On May 15, they welcomed 600 VIPs for a ribbon-cutting and a party celebrating the opening of Empire Outlets – which includes food trucks, an artisanal food hall and several dozen retailers. Ferrara focuses on marketing and branding at BFC Partners while Wharton oversees new development projects and business opportunities.

62. Jim Easley
General Manager
Staten Island Mall

Staten Island just celebrated the opening of the long-awaited Empire Outlets retail development, but the borough’s mall is holding its own. Jim Easely is expanding Staten Island Mall’s food and entertainment offerings – adding a new food section with a Shake Shack, a Dave & Busters, and a Taco Bell in October, followed by a new dine-in AMC movie theater in November. The Staten Island Mall Carnival is returning, too, and so is the Greenmarket.

63. Gail Castellano
Regional Executive
Richmond County Savings Bank

When Richmond County Savings Bank merged with New York Community Bank in 2001, its personalized, community-driven focus could have fallen by the wayside, but leaders like Gail Castellano kept the bank involved in borough happenings. Castellano volunteers a bit herself, serving on the board of the Jewish Community Center and raising money for its summer day camp for children with cancer. And she takes the time to honor others who help as well.

64. Frank Naso
Building Industry Association of New York City

As chairman of a leading New York organization advocating for the construction of primarily owner-occupied housing – as well as president of a residential and commercial building company started by his father – Frank Naso must love new Staten Island attractions like Empire Outlets. The retail development is among the reasons the borough’s real estate market is booming, the Staten Island Advance reported last year. In 2017, Naso hosted a fundraiser for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

65. James Prendamano
Casandra Properties

The Casandra Properties CEO’s enthusiasm for economic development hasn’t gone unnoticed. James Prendamano is poised to play a role in city governance after Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed him director of the New York City Industrial Development Agency and as a member of the Build NYC Resource Corp. He’s had a busy spring as the leasing broker for the newly opened Empire Outlets, signing American Eagle Outfitters, Lucky Brand and an indoor golf simulator.

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