Thursday, April 24, 2014

Community in the dark about proposed Glendale shelter

From the Queens Courier:

Queens leaders said they are frustrated that there has been no date set for a community meeting on a controversial Glendale homeless shelter proposal.

Community board members, along with the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), said Monday they have yet to hear from Samaritan Village about when the homeless advocacy group will be ready with a presentation on the proposal to convert the abandoned manufacturing plant at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a home for 125 families.

Politicians and Glendale residents alike have previously expressed reservations over the sudden population influx, the building’s distance from the subway and possible contamination at the site in question.

Since the DHS announced that it would support the Samaritan Village effort, though, elected officials in Queens have worried about whether the two political groups are on the same page.

“It’s a very difficult process that seems to be all too standard,” said Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5, which includes Glendale. “It’s my impression that the Department of Homeless Services is talking to the applicant long before they’re talking to either the community board or the council person in the community.”

Parking Avenger strikes at Borough Hall

Hi Crapper,

I work near Borough Hall, where the surrounding parking spots are often occupied by vehicles bearing placards. You can imagine how many of them are fake, coming from nonexistent agencies and from unions representing various kinds of officers that have no authority to avoid paying for parking.

As a taxpaying citizen, I get parking tickets all the time, but these entitled space hogs get a free ride. Well today I decided to do something. Upon discovering that the Honda on Queens Boulevard and 78th Avenue has a useless placard from the Federal Police Officers Association but no parking receipt for the spot, I decided to take an old orange envelope and write my own prank ticket.
Perhaps my action will inspire more citizens to write their own tickets as well. As civilians, we cannot levy financial penalties not vandalize other people's vehicles. The best we can do is issue a warning and shame them on Queens Crap. Let's hope my idea catches on.

-Parking Avenger
Ooooh, I'm picturing a cartoon superhero!

Charter schools are where it's at

From the Daily News:

Enrollment at traditional public schools in the city declined over the last 10 years as students flocked to charter schools, new data revealed Tuesday.

Nearly 59,000 students attended publicly funded, privately run charters in the 2012-13 school year, compared with a paltry 2,400 in 2002-03, according to an analysis by the Independent Budget Office.

That’s an increase of 2,328%.

Meanwhile during that same period, enrollment at traditional public schools dropped from more than 1 million students to 980,000.

James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, said 70,000 kids are enrolled in charters in the 2013-14 school year.
That’s a decrease of 6.2%.

The analysis included the roughly 1.3 million students attending kindergarten through the 12th grade in the city.

Can people with modest incomes afford NYC anymore?

From NBC:

The city comptroller's office says median rents across New York City rose 75 percent over a period of 12 years, while New Yorkers' medial real income declined by nearly 5 percent. Rob Schmitt reports from Williamsburg.

Why would someone do this to a street tree?

Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2014 18:56:24 -0400
Subject: Illegal Activity at Forest Hills Tree Pit

To The Parks Department, Councilmember Koslowitz, & Assemblyman Hevesi,

I would like to report a time-sensitive matter. A healthy mature tree's tree pit was illegally filled with cement, as the sidewalk was redesigned on the side of an apartment building in Forest Hills. The site is the west side of 68th Avenue between Queens Boulevard and Yellowstone Boulevard. A nearby address is 103-25 68th Avenue.

Constricting the trunk of the tree from its nutrients will likely cause the tree to die prematurely. Offenders need to pay a violation and be held responsible for restoring the tree pit and rescuing the tree.

I propose harsher penalties for causing damage to trees inclusive of arborcide. The offender should be required to finance at least 2 new trees and their planting either at the site or in close proximity.

Please respond as soon as you can, so we can solve this quality of life issue and formulate more effective solutions for an environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing New York.


(Name withheld)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Someone drank the Hater-ade

Just wanted to bring your attention to this unintentionally hilarious article from Greenpointers that was meant to put me in my place. Choice excerpts are below:

Masbeth? Where the hell is that? Furthermore, Miss Heather never implied embezzlement and I never said that the boat club was paying one of their members to paint a mural. I said a member of the boat club was receiving money to paint a mural. Dear readers, guess where that money is coming from?
Okay. "As per a vote" the boathouse came in 3rd place. The mystery lies in how it pole-vaulted over its competition into first. Many feel that the outcome was predetermined and that the vote was just an exercise in futility. There are members of the Newtown Creek Alliance who were kept in the dark about the new proposed location of the boathouse - until Miss Heather posted it on her blog. Why is that?
The remaining $7? No. Not even the remaining $7M, which is what I assume they were trying to say. There was $7M LEFT after administrative fees were deducted and millions were given to NYSERDA for distribution. The $3M set aside for the boathouse came from THAT. They are basically sitting on half the pot of dough that was to be allocated for parks projects.
Geoggrey Croft? Holy mackerel.

What they tried to do with this blog post is really interesting: they tried to make this a matter of nasty bloggers vs. the angelic boat club and not what this is really about - a handful of people within not-for-profits in Brooklyn that seem to be procuring and kicking each other public money. A nauseating daisy chain of sorts.

The funny thing is that after you finish mentally correcting all the mistakes contained in that poorly written article, you quickly come to the conclusion that they did not refute anything that either Miss Heather or I wrote. So you gotta wonder what the point was.

It's entirely possible that the editor of Greenpointers (a Middle Village native that moved to Greenpoint, purchased Greenpointers, turned it into a blog whose content is quite pro-gentrification and then was dismayed when she could no longer afford to live there...she now lives in Ridgewood) was "preoccupied" while editing this sloppy piece. Why do I say that? Because she wrote a post on Valentine's Day letting the world know just how much she loves smoking marijuana.

This is the same person who applied for a ridiculous amount of environmental settlement funds to author a website about living healthy:

You can't make this shit up, folks.

I thought you would enjoy seeing the North Brooklyn Boat Club in action this past weekend:
Not much educating going on, but there's a bonfire, plenty of beverages and Lord knows what's going on in that sink.
I can see why this group should get $3M in environmental funds to build a clubhouse inside a hotel.
Mind you, the plans for the construction of the hotel have been stalled since December 2013.
Looking at this alley and knowing how much public money is being poured into it, doesn't it make you feel like you're living in Bizarro World?

If I'm a "hater" because I am sick of underhanded tweeding attempts that exploit communities and waste our tax dollars and have no problem making my feelings known, then I proudly accept the moniker. It certainly beats making excuses for the lack of transparency of the Commodore and his associates.

Thankfully, Curbed and its commenters see through the B.S.

Will every unit come with a canoe?

From the Daily News:

City Councilman Donovan Richards said he is pushing the city — and prodding developers — to move ahead with plans to build affordable housing and retail on a portion of the dormant 80-acre site in Rockaway.

“We’re at a pinnacle time here,” said Richards (D-Laurelton). “Mayor de Blasio has set a (city-wide) goal of 200,000 affordable units and the developer is in a good place.”

Richards said he is meeting with officials from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development on Tuesday to discuss the project’s future.

He is optimistic that shovels could be in the ground within the year.

Richards is insistent that affordable housing be included in any plan — saying it could be on a sliding scale that would include teachers, firefighters and police officers.

In 2007, the city reached an agreement with L+M Development, Bluestone Organization and Triangle Equities to develop the site, but that plan was waylaid by the economic downturn. And then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the peninsula.

Boardwalk finally being rebuilt

From DNA Info:

Construction on the first phase of the multimillion dollar Rockaway Beach boardwalk project began Monday, more than a year after it was partially destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, city officials said.

The first phase of the $274 million project began on Beach 86th Street with the removal of some concrete pilings that had held up the historic boardwalk for decades, according to a Parks Department spokesman.

Crews will remove the pilings — which officials had determined in December couldn't hold the new boardwalk, further delaying it — and rebuild the thoroughfare on steel beams instead.

Years of exposure to salt water had gotten into the concrete, officials said, and began to corrode the steel inside.

The first phase of the project runs from Beach 86th Street to Beach 97th Street and is expected to be completed by Memorial Day 2015, the Parks Department said.

Speaker calls for increase in police force

From the NY Post:

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is breaking ranks with her BFF and calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to hire an extra 1,000 cops, The Post has learned.

The speaker said the additional beat cops are needed to help the mayor achieve his own goals to reduce traffic deaths — a plan he calls “Vision Zero” — and to improve policing tactics and community relationships.

“We want to give Commissioner (Bill) Bratton and the NYPD the tools they need to ensure that NYPD continues to be the best police force possible. By adding 1,000 cops to the beat, NYPD will have more flexibility and will be better able to keep New Yorkers safe,” Mark-Viverito told The Post.

It’s a far cry from fully replenishing the ranks from their high point in 2001, when there were 40,710 officers. Today that number has fallen to only 35,437.

But it’s an important first step, law enforcement sources said.

Convicted pol listed on fundraiser invite

Invite by ColinCampbell

From the Politicker:

The Brooklyn Democratic Party’s party isn’t going to be as colorful as it once looked.

The invitation for the organization’s big fund-raising dinner, obtained by the Observer, lists the “Hon. William F. Boyland Jr.,” along with the likes of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the headliner honoree.

But Mr. Boyland isn’t especially honorable these days. The scion of a prominent Brownsville political family was expelled from the State Assembly last month following his conviction on a bevy of corruption charges.

Reached for comment, a Brooklyn Democratic spokesman said that Mr. Boyland’s inclusion on the invite was “erroneous” and that Mr. Boyland had lost his position in the county organization after his conviction.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

AirBnB wants to go legit; many just want them to go away

From the NY Post:

Nearly two-thirds of the city apartments recently listed on Airbnb were being offered in violation of the law, an analysis by state authorities has found.

The study of data from the subletting service’s own Web site showed 64 percent of its 19,500-plus offerings for Jan. 31 covered an “entire apartment,” says an affidavit from the state Attorney General’s Office.

By law, a “permanent resident” must be present to sublet an apartment for fewer than 30 days.

In addition, more than 200 of the offerings came from just five “hosts,” suggesting third parties were renting out pads on behalf of their owners.

“The top five hosts by number of listings had the following number of listings: 80, 35, 31, 29 and 28,” Sumanta Ray, director of research and analysis for the AG’s Investor Protection Bureau, wrote in the affidavit, obtained by The Post.

From the Daily News:

The popular home-sharing website Airbnb wants to go legal and pay its share of local taxes, but a group of affordable housing advocates are saying: Thanks for the offer, but we don’t want you here anyway.

The Real Affordability for All Coalition — made up of 50 tenant advocate and labor union groups — is accusing Airbnb of “throwing gasoline on a fire” by contributing to a growing affordable housing crisis.

“After years of operating an illegal enterprise in New York, your company is now apparently interested in paying your fair share of taxes and announcing that development as though you are some kind of charitable organization bestowing your riches on our city,” the Real Affordability for All Coalition writes in a letter to Airbnb founders, obtained by the Daily News.

Airbnb currently operates illegally in New York City because of a 2010 law that prohibits New Yorkers from renting out entire apartments for less than 29 consecutive days.

Last week, Airbnb asked state lawmakers to change the law and classify the service as a legal hotel. The company dangled in front of lawmakers an estimated $21 million in annual taxes it says it would contribute to the city and state.

Airbnb has asked state lawmakers to change the law and classify the service as a legal hotel, requiring it to pay taxes. The company told lawmakers the city and state would collect an estimated $21 million in annual taxes.

Affordable housing advocates, however, accused the San Francisco-based company of trying to lure lawmakers with a promise of tax dollars when all it’s doing is jacking up rents.

The group said it plans to put pressure on city enforcement authorities to crack down on existing laws “so that companies like yours can’t turn scarce affordable housing into illegal hotels.”

Children die in preventable Far Rockaway fire

From NY1:

Investigators say a child playing with a lighter sparked a deadly fire in Queens over the weekend that killed two small children.

Authorities say Jai'Launi and Aniya Tinglin, both 4 years old, suffered smoke inhalation as flames quickly spread late Saturday night inside their grandfathers' home on Bay 30th Street in Far Rockaway.

They were both pronounced dead at the hospital.

Officials say the lighter ignited their grandfather's mattress.

A third sibling, 4-year-old Laylani Tinglin, and the childrens' 63-year-old grandfather are recovering at the hospital, along with a 55-year-old woman who is a tenant.

Officials say there were no working smoke detectors inside the home.

The fire is also calling ambulance response times into question.

Within minutes of the first 911 call at 11:51 p.m., firefighters were on the scene. However, EMS was not assigned to respond until 12:05 a.m., and ultimately did not arrive until more than 20 minutes after the initial call.

From the Daily News:

Estelle Jackson, 80, the kids’ great grandmother, said the children had been visiting their grandfather at the home and were in the basement when the blaze began.

It's also been brought to my attention that the scene of a tragic New Year's fire that took the life of another child has been cited for illegal conversion of the basement and illegal electrical wiring.

It's so sad when kids die due to the transgressions of adults.

Eyesore cleaned up by volunteers in Jamaica

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:

A beautiful Easter weekend, sunny skies and warm temperatures, but here in Jamaica garbage prevails as always, while our local leaders as usual drag their feet and asses on this horrendous garbage problem that plagues our community, posses a health risk, devalues property values and affects quality of life in such a negative way.
Well, some ladies of Jamaica, including friend, comrade-in-arms and community activist, Pamela Hazel, have taken matters in their own hands to clean up a notorious dumping ground that has been a major eyesore for years, while local politicians and leaders twiddle their thumbs. At the corner of 108th and 164th St, sits a vacant house owned by James Fobb, that has been not only a big dumping ground for garbage, but a place for homeless and criminals to go inside according to residents.
Since their calls to leaders about cleaning this up have fallen on deaf and dumb ears (not too mention all the lame excuses they have to hear, like “private property”), they decided to roll up their sleeves, put their masks and gloves on and clean this eyesore up. As Pamela puts it, they did not want to see the eyesore this Easter weekend.

The below 10 minute video shows their efforts and some strong words about our lazy ass elected leaders, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

The World's Fair 75 years ago

Here's Johnny...yet again

Here we are at 23-06 Jackson Avenue in LIC. Oh, look, there's another John Ciafone banner.

I must say, the past violations here are quite eclectic. We've got gas lines about to blow, illegal occupancy in cellar and a weird staircase infraction. The more recent complaints are entertaining as well.
But nothing quite hits you in the face like the signs protruding out of the fa├žade of the building.