Here's one we came across of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and at front and center is former Queens Borough President Donald Manes. For those of you unfamiliar with the more ignominious side of Queens politics, Manes was a powerful borough president – the youngest in the history of the post, actually – from 1971 to 1986.
Never one to shy from controversial projects, Manes got in over his head in 1985 when he passed over a Queens-based company for the lucrative job of bringing cable television to Queens, resulting in intense backlash. A few months later, shortly after his inauguration for a fifth term, Manes was found in his car with both of his wrists slit. He initially claimed that he was carjacked, but later admitted that he tried to commit suicide.
Manes must have known something was afoot, because shortly after the incident serious allegations started to be made that Manes abused his post for political appointments and favors as part of large kickback schemes. The scandal became national news, and a fictionalized version of the story was the basis for the pilot episode of Law & Order.
Many of Manes political cronies were forced to resign, and he himself stepped down as borough president in February of 1986. In March of that same year, while on hold with his psychiatrist, Manes pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed himself in the heart. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A tragic story indeed, but this photo shows Manes in happier times, attending to the ceremonial duties of a borough president. We recognize the late Queens Democratic Party head and former congressman Thomas Manton (over Manes left shoulder), but beyond that we're not sure about the identities of the other people.
But they must have been important if they're on that side of the ribbon. So what say you readers, can you help us identify the other folks in this photo? Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.
Bonus points (Editor's note: There's no actual points, bonus or otherwise.) if you can also tell us where in Queens this photo was taken. You don't have much to go on, but it looks like there is a wedding shop in the background. Good luck!
On a side note, we showed this photo to some of the folks around the office who actually do work, and they were also unable to identify most of the people in the photo. What they were struck by, however, was that cheap pair of foil-wrapped cardboard scissors that Manes is holding. Apparently, important folks who get to cut ribbons these days actually use a pair of oversized, but very real and very sharp, scissors.
We've come a long way, baby!