Thursday, September 21, 2017

The U.S. Attorneys and the Queens Machine

This article is lengthy and covers many topics, so we'll be linking to different segments of it over the next few days...

From Progress Queens:

Compounding the unknowns in the face of rapidly-changing circumstances facing the two, new Acting U.S. Attorneys in New York City are lingering questions about why some political corruption scandals are investigated, but not all. As reported in recent years by Progress Queens, questions have largely remained unanswered about funding received by a nonprofit group affiliated with New York State Senator José Peralta ; about reportedly preferential treatment showed to a campaign consulting company by the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee ; and with new allegations that politically-connected lawyers were earning enormous profits from, or wielding considerable influence as a result of, their connections to the Queens Democratic County Committee. The 2017 Municipal election cycle has raised new questions about the role of money in local politics and about public ethics, but there has been no apparent response from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, headed by Acting U.S. Attorney Rohde, who has jurisdiction over Queens.

No agency wants to deal with homeless woman's pile of junk


From NBC 4:

An apparently homeless woman's pile of belongings has residents in Bath Beach concerned about safety. Gus Rosendale reports.

Pols side with Spectrum strikers and not their victims


From CBS 2:

Thousands of union workers rallied in both Downtown Brooklyn and Foley Square in Lower Manhattan in Monday, in support of the striking Spectrum cable workers.

Cuomo and de Blasio are offering fiery rhetoric.

“It’s about respect and fairness,” Cuomo said.

But the residents and businesses on Austin Street in Forest Hills, Queens want fairness and respect too. It is one of many neighborhoods hit by massive outages in their cable, internet and phone services when the workers walked off the job on March 28.

There have been about 100 attacks on the fiber optics system – acts of vandalism that have left thousands and thousands inconvenienced since the strike began.

“I assume there’s some kind of money involved,” said Bareburger manager Adam Bariando. “As a person who campaigned talking about the people; the working class, I would expect him to side with us.”

CB7 wants seat at the Willets Point table

From the Queens Tribune:

The city has been “delinquent” in its discussions with Community Board 7 on the future of the troubled Willets Point development, according to the board’s First Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian. And at Monday night’s quarterly meeting with the project’s stakeholders, Apelian put the city and developers on notice.

“I want to be very clear,” Apelian said. “We expect to be involved.”

The future of Willets Point has been uncertain since a June ruling by the Court of Appeals halted a major part of the proposed development, a mega mall known as Willets West, because it was planned for a parcel of land connected to nearby Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Building the mall on public parkland would require approval from the state legislature, the court said.

And while Willets West was only part of a larger development plan that included hundreds of affordable housing units and environmental remediation, the developers maintained that the mall was the “economic engine” that would make the project possible. Now, the developers and city are deciding whether to pursue a long campaign for state approval or make changes to their plan. But changes to the project could concern Community Board 7, which approved the most recent proposal in 2013.

“If the original concept has been now modified, that’s not what this board voted on,” CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty said on Monday.

Nate Bliss, of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said that, regardless, the city plans on being a partner with the community on the process. Apelian expressed hope that this was true. If the parkland was not alienated by the state legislature and Willets West was abandoned, he expects the project could change “dramatically.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How they do things in Brooklyn

From Crains:

In 2008, Daniel Squadron clawed his way into the state Senate with a hard-fought upset in the Democratic primary, earning 12,688 votes to longtime incumbent Martin Connor's 10,757.

This weekend, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh effectively won Squadron's seat with 32 votes to Paul Newell's 66.

Welcome to democracy—Albany style.

Kavanagh won the Democratic nomination to succeed the resigning Squadron by virtue of an obscure, backroom process. He defeated Newell, a Democratic district leader, despite the latter's capturing a majority of the vote Sunday of the Manhattan county committee—the panel of party insiders charged with handpicking the candidate.

The reason: one of Kavanagh's 32 supporters was Kings County Democratic Committee Chairman Frank Seddio. Party bylaws empowered Seddio to back the candidate of his choosing without a vote of the county committee that represents his borough's portion of the Senate district. Seddio's endorsement carried the weight of the Brooklyn contingent as if it had voted unanimously.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cuomo sort of endorses de Blasio


From PIX11:

"The mayor won the Democratic primary. I am a Democrat," Cuomo said while explaining his endorsement. "I support Democrats and I will support Mayor de Blasio in the general (election)."

Large items pickup can be arranged via 311

From the Queens Chronicle:

The Sanitation Department last Thursday announced the launch of a service that allows city residents to schedule pickups for bulky items such as sofas, mattresses and large wooden furniture.

Those looking to have items picked up can do so by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/bulk.

The service is designed for items larger than 4 by 3 feet that can be lifted by two workers and fit inside a Sanitation truck.

It does not apply to items that require special handling such as air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions or other electronics.

Developers exploit low-income housing loophole

From the Wall Street Journal:

Consider the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, created by the 1986 tax reform. This $9 billion credit masquerades as an antipoverty program, but it mainly subsidizes developers, investors and the financial industry.

To stimulate low-income housing construction, the federal government allots a share of tax credits to the states, which dole them out to selected developers. The credits cover part of the construction costs of multifamily housing projects. The developers must cap rents for a share of the units, so the benefits of the tax credit are meant to flow to tenants in the form of lower rents. Yet the developers usually sell the credits to banks and investors, often using syndication companies as intermediaries. The investors, developers and middlemen—not poor families—end up grabbing most of the benefits.