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Justice Alito helps cut ribbon on Brooklyn Bar Association’s new boardroom

April 11, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bar Association officially unveiled its renovated boardroom with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony. From left: Hon. Matthew D'Emic, Steven D. Cohn, Arthur Aidala,Justice Samuel Alito, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Avery Eli Okin. Photos by Rob Abruzzese.
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When Arthur Aidala became president of the Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA), he had three priorities in mind: he hoped to plan a group trip to Cuba, he wanted to have U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito visit to give a speech to BBA members, and he hoped to renovate the boardroom. 

Aidala achieved the first goal in February when 31 BBA members took off for a week-long educational tour of Cuba, and he achieved the other two goals last Wednesday night when Justice Alito officially cut the ribbon during a ceremony to unveil the new boardroom. 

“When I told [Executive Director of the BBA Avery Eli Okin] that I wanted to go to Cuba, he looked at me like I said I wanted to do drugs in the courthouse,” Aidala joked. “When I told him I wanted to update the boardroom, he said that it’s not going to happen, and when I told him I wanted Justice Alito to come here, he said maybe.

“We got Cuba out of the way, and tonight, we accomplished the last two goals,” he said. “Getting the idea, raising the money and then actually getting it done is, I feel, a great achievement. It was a difficult task, and I’m so excited right now.” 

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Aidala explained that he’s seen Brooklyn undergo a renaissance in recent years and felt that the BBA needed some sprucing up as well. The BBA holds its most important meetings in the boardroom, and many other organizations use the space for important meetings. Aidala wanted to be sure the room provided the appropriate setting for such functions.

“Brooklyn is getting a facelift and getting fixed up. A lot of landmarks are being polished, and I thought that it was time for the BBA, after 40 years, to catch on to that wave,” Aidala said. 

From conception to completion, the entire project took about 10 months and cost roughly $100,000. Nearly every aspect of the room was updated — the ceiling was ripped out and replaced with new moldings, lighting and electric. The technology of the room has been updated, including the phones and televisions. The furniture is brand new, as is the rug and the hallway.

Even the photos on the wall were restored and rehung, and plants were added to the room. 

Of course, Justice Alito was on hand for the ribbon cutting. He was joined by Aidala, Okin, past President Steve Cohn and Brooklyn Supreme Court administrative judges Hon. Matthew D’Emic and Hon. Lawrence Knipel. Nearly 200 members, past presidents and local judges were on hand for the event, so they had the chance to check out the new boardroom and to meet Justice Alito.

“It was somewhat overwhelming unveiling the boardroom and having Justice Alito there at the same time, because all of our guests wanted to be involved with both,” Aidala said. “From a sensory point of view I was on overload, buton Thursday morning after that incredible evening, I was still pinching myself.”

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