31 December 2000
Contact: TERRY O'NEILL
New York State Assembly Assistant Speaker Edward Griffith (D., East New York, Brooklyn) is pleased to announce that Terry O'Neill, his Counsel, long-time associate and friend, is the winner of a singular award in the struggle against illegal drugs.
With the vote ended at midnight, December 31, Mr. O'Neill has been named Honorary Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent of the Year with 804 votes.
O'Neill is President and founder of Constantine's Circus, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization that uses arts and media to convey an anti-drug and violence message and to introduce young people to our institutions of justice in a positive way. The corporation was inspired by the character and achievements of former New York State Police superintendent and DEA chief Tom Constantine, one of law enforcement's living legends. The corporation's web address is www.constantinescircus.org.
The winner of the award, which is unofficial and not associated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is chosen by an on-line vote at the DEA Watch web site. Since 1989, DEA Watch has existed as a forum for drug enforcement agents and others to air unofficial views about the conduct of the war on drugs. Votes were also cast for Special Agent and Retired Special Agent of the Year. Candidates for these awards may be nominated exclusively by present and former DEA Special Agents. Anyone with personal or professional knowledge of a candidate's contribution may vote.
Other nominees this year were, in descending order of the number of votes they received, departing federal Drug Czar Barry R. McCaffrey (519), New York Governor George E. Pataki (246), New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (187), Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks (172), Dallas Morning News journalist Tracey Eaton (120) and Knight-Ridder Journalist Mark Bowden (29).
Asked what he had to say about coming in over 600 votes ahead of the Governor of New York, O'Neill said: "I'll gladly visit the Governor at his earliest convenience to discuss how we can improve public perception of New York's performance in the struggle against illegal drugs. We're doing fine, actually, especially with the great new money laundering law we got this year. But we can always do better. New York, home of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, has a special responsibility to show leadership. I have full confidence that the Governor and the Leaders of both Houses of our Legislature will make a priority of doing exactly that in the Legislative Session that begins next week. And they could all do a whole lot worse than to pay attention to Professor Constantine's leading disciple!"
Speaker Griffith said: "My twenty-eight-year career with the New York State Assembly ends at midnight, December 31. This statement is my final official act as a Member of this Honorable Body and as the elected representative of the good people of the 40th Assembly District. Heaven knows illegal drugs and violence have affected their lives tremendously. I want to underscore on their behalf how important it is to face them down and defeat them by every means at our disposal. Mr. O'Neill and Professor Constantine, the man who has inspired him, remind us of the three things we need: determination, imagination and optimism. With them, we shall overcome."
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CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223