Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is someone looking at the nephew?

Ed Braunstein previously worked in Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's Manhattan district office.

From the Daily News:

In an only-in-Albany moment, Brian Meara, a veteran lobbyist and longtime friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was publicly revealed to be cooperating in Bharara’s case against the speaker a day after his nephew, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein of Queens, attended a news conference of Assembly Democrats supporting Silver.

Braunstein attended a nearly two-hour meeting of Assembly Democratic members hours after Silver's arrest. Afterward, several dozen of Silver's members came out for a press conference to say they support keeping Silver as speaker.

That widespread support began to erode over the weekend, leading to Silver to cut a deal in which he will turn over control for now of the chamber to five veteran Assembly members as he fights the criminal charges against him.

Meanwhile, Meara, who has been close with Silver for four decades, is cooperating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's case against Silver.has been cooperating as a “fact witness” as part of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's investigation, sources told The News.

Cuomo in a heap of trouble

From the Daily News:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s warning to “stay tuned” for more corruption arrests after he bagged Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has sent a big chill through the state Capitol.

“I think everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop,” said one legislative official.

Added former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat: “When a prosecutor says stay tuned, I think he means it.”

The big fish reportedly being looked at is Gov. Cuomo.

Bharara has been probing whether the governor and his top aides improperly interfered with the Moreland anti-corruption commission Cuomo established.

He is also probing the circumstances behind Cuomo’s decision to abruptly end the commission after the Legislature agreed to some ethics reforms.

Bharara took control of the commission’s files and promised to follow up on any unresolved leads.

From the NY Post:

“Andrew’s been working the phones day and night, staying up into the early morning hours, making hundreds of calls in one day trying to find out what the hell is going on,’’ a source close to the governor said.

Cuomo, who has retained a private lawyer, has enlisted several former federal and state-level prosecutors with ties to Bharara’s office including Steve Cohen, his former chief-of-staff, in an effort to find out Bharara’s next move, the sources said.

“He’s freaked-out, furious, and obsessed with fear, it’s like a nightmare for him. The whole narrative he laid out for his second term has been derailed by Bharara,’’ said a source in regular contact with the governor.

“The narrative has been taken over by Bharara and it’s all about Albany’s corruption, not Cuomo and his program for the state,’’ the source said.

State political circles are abuzz with speculation that Bharara is seeking to determine if Cuomo had any knowledge of Silver’s allegedly illegal outside income last spring when he agreed with Silver and Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos to fold the commission.

3 Dems to take over for Silver

From the NY Times:

Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York State Assembly, agreed on Sunday to relinquish his duties on a temporary basis as he fights federal corruption charges.

His decision came amid mounting pressure from his fellow Democrats in the Assembly, who worried that the criminal charges would impair his ability to carry out the duties of one of the most powerful positions in the state’s government.

In an unusual arrangement, Mr. Silver would not quit his post. Instead, he would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to a group of senior Assembly members.

Under the tentative plan developed on Sunday, the Assembly majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle of the Rochester area, and the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Herman D. Farrell Jr., Democrat of Manhattan, would assume responsibility for budget negotiations.

Three other senior Democratic members — Carl E. Heastie of the Bronx, Catherine T. Nolan of Queens and Joseph R. Lentol of Brooklyn — will round out the leadership team.

Cutting costs on yet-to-be-built library

From LIC Post:

Construction of the library, which will be built at Center Blvd/48th Ave (next to Gantry Plaza State Park) was expected to begin in 2013. However, there have been several delays due to the inability of the city to find a contractor willing to build it for the $28.6 million that had been allocated.

The bids came in ranging from $33 million to $42 million and the city had to do some value engineering in order to find a construction company that could build it within budget.

Officials said that they had to get rid of some of the more elaborate features to reduce the cost by about $5 million. They included replacing the aluminum exterior facade with cement and glass; forgoing custom interior fixtures; and going without the geothermal well system.

However, the library will feature a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city skyline, a garden, a gallery, a conference room, a computer center and youth and teen spaces. The 21,500 square-foot facility will be largely a glass and cement structure.

Take a look at the renderings. Why all the wasted space?

Of course, a developer is involved in the Albany scandal

From the NY Times:

Unlike many other New York developers, Leonard Litwin, a shy, soft-spoken, compact billionaire, has never sought the limelight.

Yet Mr. Litwin and his company, Glenwood Management, have always stood out, for the number of luxury residential towers they have added to Manhattan’s skyline and the exceptionally generous donations Glenwood has made to state lawmakers.

Now, in his 101st year, Mr. Litwin is embroiled in a very public corruption scandal that is rocking the real estate industry and the state’s political establishment.

When Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, was arrested on federal charges on Thursday, the criminal complaint against him included accusations that he used his powerful position to reap millions of dollars in graft by steering real estate developers, among others, to law firms that gave him a slice of their fees.

Glenwood is one of the two developers cited but not named in the complaint, according to people familiar with the matter.

At Mr. Silver’s request, the complaint says, Glenwood, which owns 26 buildings with 8,700 apartments in the city, including three in Mr. Silver’s district, and the second developer hired a small law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, to handle some of its property tax work.

Though not named, Leonard Litwin's company, Glenwood Management, is cited as one of the real estate firms in the case against Sheldon Silver.

In exchange, prosecutors say, Mr. Silver got a portion of the fees that Glenwood and the second developer, whose identity remains unknown, paid the firm — a total of $700,000.

Glenwood was unaware of the arrangement until 2012, the complaint says. And Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, never reported the income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms, even as he continued to deal with legislation of interest to Glenwood and other developers, including rent regulations and real estate tax breaks.

While neither of the developers is accused of wrongdoing, Glenwood’s part in the case has stunned Mr. Litwin’s colleagues in the real estate industry, where he is a revered figure who, friends say, has always sought to avoid controversy. He and the company declined to comment for this article.

From Capital New York:

Leonard Litwin, who appears to be the developer at the center of a criminal complaint against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, gave nearly $3.6 million to candidates and state-level political parties in the last election cycle, more than any other donor, according to a Capital analysis of campaign finance filings.

Litwin was followed on the list of top donors by the health care union 1199 SEIU, hedge fund manager James Simons, New York State United Teachers (which also managed an independent expenditure committee that spent millions of dollars on Senate races) and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.

Litwin and 26 limited liability companies owned by Glenwood Management gave $2.07 million to statewide candidates and parties in the four years preceding December 2014 and $1.52 million to state legislative candidates in the two years preceding that month, the analysis by Capital showed.

These donations included $1 million to Governor Andrew Cuomo, $450,000 to the New York State Democratic Committee and $19,700 to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. This makes Litwin the largest donor to Cuomo. He was also the largest donor to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ($240,000) and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli ($180,000).

He gave to each of Albany’s five legislative conferences: Senate Republicans ($1.01 million), the Independent Democratic Conference ($195,300), Assembly Democrats ($179,500), Senate Democrats ($133,000) and Assembly Republicans ($3,150). Senator Jeff Klein received $80,000 from Litwin’s holdings, more than any other individual legislator. In all, 89 state-level campaign committees received money from an LLC owned by Glenwood.

The total does not include amounts Litwin sent to other groups’ political action committees or independent expenditure committees. Glenwood’s LLCs gave $162,200 to Jobs for New York and $100,000 to the New York League of Conservation Voters, both of which supported Senate Republicans. This also does not include donations to local candidates. Litwin was notably the largest donor to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in the last year of his 2013 re-election campaign.

1199 SEIU gave the second most money to candidates and parties, contributing $2.43 million. The Working Families Party received $801,350 from 1199, the largest share of its donations. Seven Senate Republicans received money from the union, which pledged last June to give no money to Senate Republicans.

Monday, January 26, 2015

NYPD tickets passengers escaping bum stink

A familiar scene, riders wait on the platform at the first Jamaica Center Station anticipating seats. Then bam, in and out; like a dusty blue bell. Riders trying to escape danger to their health from bums; they passed through the train cars in search of clean air.

But as they bolted through the train cars, they encountered police officers. Each rider was extracted from the train by the police; and given a ticket.

The police officers are quite aware of the routine; so they were armed and ready with their ticket booklet. Ironically, passing through the cars is illegal; it is meant to keep riders safe.

However, it is legal for riders to inhale germs. A deliberate effort to make people sick. Anyone has a better logical conclusion?

Train cars # 9230 & 9231 & 9232 were emitting a strong scent, so naturally riders tried to escape. Meanwhile, riders had to stand in packed cars while the bums occupied most of the seats. Not only with their bodies, but with their sickening scent. - Pamela Hazel


Another great job Pamela, local elected officials should turn a percentage of their overblown salaries to you.

Boy, does this city have everything ass backwards, low-life folks and elected officials get away with everything and upstanding citizens get a big F*CK YOU up the ass without lube.

Here in Jamaica, we cannot get proper enforcement of dangerous illegal truck driving on residential streets, we cannot get a crackdown on illegal conversions, we cannot get enforcement on illegal curb cuts, we cannot get any help on the major garbage problem and the homeless have turned our subway cars and Jamaica Center Station into a roach motel, but NYPD takes the time to give tickets to law abiding citizens, including elderly woman and people going to work who are just trying to escape the deadly fumes and bugs from the bottom barrel cave dwellers, people who made bad career choices in their lives.

Majorly F*CKED UP NYPD and normally I side with you, not this time.

And where the hell are you Katz, Comrie, Miller, Wills and the other assorted do nothing political welfare cases. Oh, wait, Wills is prepping for his eventual trial on corruption charges and Comrie is just being Comrie, which is smiling for a camera while bullshit flies out of the side of his mouth and collecting tax payers money. - Joe Moretti

Can you imagine if we had a whole borough full of Pamelas and Joes? Things would sure be a lot different.

Jamaica is focus of DeBlasio's affordable housing in Queens

From the Queens Courier:

In the de Blasio Administration’s latest effort to make a dent in the city’s housing crisis, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is calling on developers to build housing on about 175 sites across the city.

The agency released a list of vacant, city-owned properties for the construction of affordable housing across the five boroughs last week, including 17 sites in Jamaica, which are the only Queens locations.

The agency is collecting applications from developers until Feb. 19 for the program.

Addabbo suddenly grows a pair

From the Queens Chronicle:

Mayor de Blasio had better keep in mind that cooperation with his fellow elected officials is a two-way street, state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) warned in an interview last week with the Queens Chronicle.

Explicitly saying that he wanted to see his warning in print, Addabbo said the mayor’s insistence on establishing large homeless shelters where they’re not wanted in his district and his decision to stop running a ferry from Rockaway to Manhattan last October could come back to haunt him.

The city recently opened a homeless shelter in Rockaway and is planning to establish another one in Glendale, both in Addabbo’s district and both despite community opposition — though the lawmaker said the city may be starting to consider alternate uses for the latter site.

The mayor’s going to come to Albany at some point and ask for something,” Addabbo said. “It would be hard for me to embrace the mayor or accommodate his requests at this time. It’s very hard for me to try to work with this administration unless things change.”

He made the comments during a wide-ranging talk on topics from here to Albany.

But Addabbo also said he’s getting the first indications from the city that it may reconsider its plans to turn an old factory on Cooper Avenue in Glendale into a shelter for hundreds of homeless people. The senator has proposed using the site, once any toxins there are cleaned up, to house seniors or veterans instead.

Jackson Heights knows what it doesn't want at Bruson Building

From the Queens Chronicle:

Residents eager to help decide the fate of the reconstructed Bruson Building crowded into the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights Thursday evening, causing the town hall’s organizers to add extra chairs and bump out the back wall to make room.

The meeting, spearheaded by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), was organized to gather community input regarding the fate of the Bruson Building, which burned down in a five-alarm fire last April, displacing tenants such as Plaza College, which has a new campus in Forest Hills, Armondo’s Italian Restaurant, which will reopen in February on Northern Boulevard and Frank’s Pharmacy, which reopened three blocks away in October.

Suggestions from residents, many of which were written on pieces of paper and read by Peralta, included a Jewish deli, a bakery, an American-style restaurant, a medical facility, an interfaith center, a bookstore, a Hallmark store, a pediatric urgent care center, health facility, a Housing Works Thrift Shop and a Wells Fargo bank.

Many were averse to the idea of more 99-cent stores, or more ethnic eateries or shops. Many were also against a fast food chain coming into the building.

A popular idea, which was brought up again and again throughout the meeting, was to have a Trader Joe’s. But, some residents were concerned the grocery store would bring more people into the already-congested neighborhood.

Resident Jimmy Wohl brought up another suggestion that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd: A co-working space to attract area entrepreneurs and thought-leaders, similar to what exist throughout Manhattan and other parts of Western Queens.

Eviction notices "for demolition" issued at the LIC clock tower

From WPIX:

The building has been along Queens Plaza North since 1927.

The subway grew around it. Now buildings rise around it, more tall everyday.

Tenants are receiving eviction notices.

No formal plans have been filed with the NYC Department of Buildings. Last year, neighbors requested the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission consider the location.

It is under active review. It needs to be “calendared” before any protection is put in place.

The development company listed as the owner did not respond to questions about plans for the building and the lot.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cathy Nolan, Madame Speaker?

From the NY Observer:

Top officials with the Queens Democratic Party are calling Assembly members in Queens, Manhattan and Nassau County about the possibility of supporting Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a Queens Democrat, for speaker if Mr. Silver resigns or is forced out of office after his arrest on federal corruption charges, sources say.

Ms. Nolan, first elected in 1984, chairs the powerful Committee on Education.

“Queens is calling around, taking the temperature. They’re pushing Nolan,” said an Albany Democratic source. “They are floating her in case Shelly is no longer speaker so there’s a quick transfer of power and the body can move on.”

Sources say the Queens machine’s three top deputies–Michael Reich, Frank Bolz and Gerard Sweeney–are calling legislators to figure out what kind of support exists for a potential Nolan candidacy. Ms. Nolan, who did not immediately return a request for comment, defended Mr. Silver in the Daily News.

“They feel he’s taken a lot of criticisms for reflecting the views of a hundred very disparate people,” Ms. Nolan said. “It’s not an easy thing to do and he has done it very well.”

Strange Katzspeak

From the Queens Tribune:

The BP is also proposing to create specific zoning designations for areas that are primarily defined by single-family row houses. She said she is asking for this because Queens is a Borough defined by neighborhoods and they must work to protect identities that each area has. Maspeth and Ridgewood are specific examples mentioned by Katz that would fall under this proposal.

Actually, much of the single-family rowhouses in question that were to be affected by this legislation are in Middle Village, Rego Park, Flushing, Bayside and elsewhere. Most of the rowhouses in Ridgewood are *at least* 2-family in nature, with the vast majority being 3-family or more.

Plus, a bajillion Ridgewood houses are now landmarked. So what the hell is she talking about?

Watch out for whitefish!

"Hi Crappie I got a real shitty story for you.

Last night I attended a meeting at Flushing Town Hall about Flushing Bay presented by the Empire Dragon Boat Club and Riverkeeper.

We learned that 1.2 billion gallons of untreated sewage enters the bay each year mainly from three discharge pipes and that there are also four pipes that empty into Flushing Creek. We also learned that sewage tank that was built in Flushing Meadow Park that was supposed to cure the problem only reduces about 56% CSO's from just one pipe. Also one of the pipes is from the Bowery Bay Sewage Treatment plant in Astoria.

They said every time it rains more than 1/10 of an inch CSO's go right into the bay. Add this to Willet's Point where there never were any sewers and other contaminates like oil etc got right into the water. Then there's La Guardia Airport that has had a couple fuel spills and all the de-icing fluid that is used has gone into the bay.There is also industrial pollution from cement companies that wash out the trucks and it all goes into the water.

Members of the Dragon boat teams are really concerned because they practice in the bay. One guy said that the joke on the team is that if you get sick once you are good for the rest of the season. Others said they throw their clothes away rather than washing them. They joked about seeing jelly fish but it was condoms floating by.

This is another example of piss poor city planning. With all the building of high density housing the problem will only get worse. NYC is violating the Clean Water Act and Riverkeeper says they sued the city back in 1992 but these things take a long time in the courts.

There was only one Asian guy there from a Dragon boat team and he claimed that fish and crabs from the bay are being sold on Main St.Fish and crabs are not considered safe to eat according to Riverkeeper."

- Anonymous

MTA fails to protect newest cars

"The R188 cars on the 7 are being ruined by scratchiti. This photo is an example. Other, older cars have been protected by a sacrificial protective film. The MTA dropped the ball on this one." - Anonymous

Coalition wants to end 421-a loophole

From Capital New York:

A coalition of tenant advocates plan to call for the end of a major tax abatement program that is both coveted by developers and seen as an important piece of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

The groups do not want the program, known as 421-a, to be renewed after its expiration in June because they believe it is an old and inefficient way to provide affordable housing. It made sense when it was created in the 1970s, the groups said, because New York City’s population was shrinking and needed all the new construction that could be mustered. Today, they claim, it’s just a perk for moguls building apartments for millionaires and billionaires.

“This luxury housing produced through 421-a fuels gentrification and displacement,” the groups say in an attack piece that will be circulated next week. “It inflates real-estate prices and creates market pressure that leads to higher rents and pushes out residents in neighborhoods like downtown Brooklyn, western Queens and Harlem, where many new luxury condos have been built.”