Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mega mall on parkland being defended by former top judge

From Willets Point United:

The court case, Sen. Tony Avella v. City of New York, is pending before Justice Manuel Mendez in New York State Supreme Court. Oral argument will take place on July 30, 2014 at 2:15PM at 71 Thomas Street, Room 210.

QDG must be so nervous about the prospect of an adverse court decision, that it has resorted to bringing in the ultimate New York judicial juggernaut – former Chief Judge Judith Kaye – to attempt to persuade the court to see things QDG’s way. Frankly, we think this is also a not-so-subtle attempt to intimidate Justice Mendez into siding with QDG, and to make it uncomfortable for him to do otherwise. After all, the legal issues raised by this case are clear-cut, and could be very well presented by any competent attorney who doesn’t happen to be a former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. What, then, does QDG gain by retaining former Chief Judge Judith Kaye for this case?

Well, for Justice Mendez to rule in favor of Plaintiffs/Petitioners (against QDG and Willets West), he would have to disagree with not just any QDG lawyer, but with Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. It is as if the former Chief Judge is telling Justice Mendez on behalf of QDG: “I find that this mega-mall is legal and may proceed. Who are you to disagree with me, the former Chief Judge at this state’s highest court, two levels above yours?”

With all due respect, it should be noted that Justice Mendez is at the Supreme Court – the lowest level of trial court in New York State. Above that is the Appellate Division. And above that is the Court of Appeals, where Judith Kaye was an Associate Judge from 1983 through 1993, and then Chief Judge for 15 years from 1993 through 2008, when she retired because of age restrictions. She is now of counsel, and apparently for hire, at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP.

We also note that Judith Kaye was first appointed to the Court of Appeals, and later designated its Chief Judge, by then-Governor Mario Cuomo – the same Mario Cuomo who, in 2012, brokered settlement talks on behalf of Mets owners including Fred Wilpon who were involved in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard had sued the Wilpons to recover $386 million in swindle profits. Cuomo not only reduced the amount the Wilpons owe to $162 million, but also got Picard to drop his claim that the Wilpons were willfully blind to Madoff’s fraud. Now, Cuomo friend Judith Kaye is assisting the Wilpons’ Sterling Equities to lay claim to 40+ acres of Queens park land, to supplant it with a mega-mall.

We pray that Justice Manuel Mendez sees right through QDG’s attempt to strong-arm his decision in the Willets West matter by inserting former Chief Judge Judith Kaye into the case – and that Justice Mendez will have the fortitude to disregard undue pressure and render a decision that is based, as it should be, on the relevant facts and law.

Another Republican running against Addabbo

From the Times Ledger:

Queens Republicans announced a Rego Park real estate lawyer will assume the candidacy left vacant when former City Councilman Thomas Ognibene opted not to run for state Senate.

Michael Conigliaro filed substitution paperwork to run on the GOP and Conservative lines against state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), the city Board of Elections.

Conigliaro could not be reached for comment, but his campaign released a statement saying Conigliaro was compelled to step off the sidelines and stop complaining about the status quo.

“My campaign will focus on the issues that are important to the forgotten middle class: creating jobs, cutting taxes and making sure that the next generation has an even better shot at life,” Conigliaro said in a press release. “I’m running for state Senate because I want to change things for the better.”

His campaign did not respond to inquiries about which real estate law firm he managed, whether he was involved with any political clubs or who he planned to tap for campaign contributions.

There does not appear to be a campaign committee registered in his name, according to the state Board of Elections website.

Addabbo has $52,719.22 in his campaign coffers, according to BOE filings.

Cuomo rolling in brownfield developer dough

From Crains:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has collected at least $650,000 in campaign contributions from recipients of tax credits to redevelop industrial sites during the past four years, a review of state data show.

Related Cos., its executives and entities controlled by the New York-based developer of Time Warner Center were the biggest donor, giving at least $262,700 to Cuomo, who is running for a second term. Syracuse shopping-mall magnate Robert Congel, members of his family and executives at his Pyramid Cos. contributed $143,250.

Critics of the incentives, which have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion since 2006, say they benefit wealthy developers and have done little to clean up contaminated industrial sites. Unlike other states, New York doesn't limit the program to cleanup costs, and a study found that 94% of its brownfields tax credits have been used for redeveloping properties instead of remediating blighted land.

"It's all too common in Albany for recipients of aid from the state government to be among the biggest campaign contributors," said Bill Mahoney, who studies campaign-finance data for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog. "Even if decisions aren't being directly influenced by checks, there's definitely an idea in Albany that interest groups will be less successful if they don't find a way to funnel money to elected officials."

Skeeter spraying tonight in northeastern Queens

From the Queens Courier:

On Wednesday, July 30, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, July 31 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba and Whitestone (Bordered by the East River, Powell’s Cove, 138th Street and 11th Avenue to the north; Flushing Bay and Flushing River to the west; Northern Boulevard to the south; and 149th Street, 20th Avenue and Whitestone Expressway to the east)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Halloran convicted; faces 20 years in the clink

From Crains:

A jury took only about 90 minutes Tuesday to convict former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran of bribery charges in a scheme to buy a spot on the mayoral ballot for state Sen. Malcolm Smith.

Mr. Halloran was also found guilty of taking payoffs from what he thought were developers who wanted him to funnel city money their way. The men were actually an FBI agent and an FBI informant.

The 42-year-old Mr. Halloran spent five days on the witness stand in federal court in White Plains, N.Y. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Dec. 12.

Household garbage being dumped on commercial strip

From the Queens Ledger:

So what happens if public trashcans regularly overflow with trash? 
Well, according to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) the wasted baskets will be removed, especially if the department believes they are being used by residents to illegally dispose of household garbage.

“DSNY will remove baskets if they are being misused, or if the location no longer meets the requirements for litter basket placement,” explained a representative of the DSNY.

On Grand Avenue, several residents and business owners have watched the large metal baskets appear and disappear on dozens of corners throughout the business district.

After one can was recently removed because nearby homeowners were regularly dumping large quantities of trash, the location became a dumping ground for trash bags and litter.

The shop owner explained that the same residents are dumping trash where the bin once stood, leaving them and other business owners responsible for the cleanup.

Liu's post-it note ruse

Apparently, Johnny's volunteers have been going door-to-door, and when no one answers, they place these post-it notes to make them think that the candidate himself stopped by, when he actually didn't.

Council legislation introduced to get rid of those bins

From Brooklyn Magazine:

On July 24, Councilman Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, brought Bill Int 0409-2014 before the City Council for consideration, reports the Bay Ridge Journal. The bill calls for not only the immediate removal of the bins from city property, but also adds a $250 fine for first-time offenders of the would-be law and a $500 fine for repeat offenders.

As it stands, the Department of Sanitation can’t take immediate action. First, the DOS must paste a label on the bins warning the owners to remove them and then 30 days after that the DOS can physically remove the bin. Bill Int 0409-2014 would do away with that 30-day waiting period if the bin’s owner fails to include their contact information on the pink monstrosities.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Ridgewood tree tragedy

This one was likely the victim of a truck pulling out of the under-construction school on DeKalb Ave near Seneca.

College Point truck lot problem persists

Dear Editors of the “Queens Crap”,

We would like to update you on the situation regarding the illegal parking lot that was mentioned on your website on May 22nd at 14-29 130th Street College Point. The Company in question which was originally named the TNP Trucking Corp has closed while a new trucking company was opened and is operating in the same lots. The only difference between the old company and the new company, Dana Construction, is the company name and vehicle logos. The same crap continues to plague the local area since the trucks have proceeded to parking in the illegal lot like they used to and operating late at night and disturbing neighbors. The building department court was going to have a hearing to evict the company from the premises but the hearing was postponed constantly and is still being postponed as I write this letter. The most recent hearing that was supposed to occur was July. What still puzzles me is the fact that if a company is violating city and state laws, how are they still receiving city and state contracts from the DOT? The company’s main revenue comes from the city and state contracts so if they were cut off from these contracts, they would have gone under by now.

Also, how is the New York City Comptroller not taking notice to the fact that this company was violating city and state laws and still getting paid? I would also like to mention the fact that the residential lot that the company has been occupying for the past 13 years is heavily contaminated due to the fact that they also used the lot as a maintenance yard and many of the trucks are leaking fluids. When heavy rain occurs, all the contamination from the lot is moved from the lot down to the street and spread around the area.

There have been multiple investigations by the DEP but every single investigation could find nothing while everyone in the area knows the lot is contaminated and being used illegally. I hope the city and state start enforcing the rules and regulations without giving priority to any individual companies since Dana Construction is clearly being assisted and covered by the city. Thank you for your time in helping us clean Queens crap. - Anonymous

Conversion of Cooper Ave site pending; Pan Am expanding?

Permits have been filed to turn 78-16 Cooper Avenue from a warehouse into a homeless shelter.

Meanwhile, in Elmhurst, three properties next to the Pan Am have been purchased by an entity with the same address and attorney as the owner of the hotel, indicating possible expansion plans.

Pan Am 2nd purchase

Setting up shop at Leavitt Park

Hey Crapper,

I am hoping you can help with this situation in Flushing at Leavitt’s Park on the corner of 32nd Ave and Leavitt Street. For the past two weeks or so I have seen a U-Haul truck drive into the park, open the back door and set up shop. The people take out tables, clothing racks, boxes and sell the merchandise to people in the park. I have seen them there for the past two weeks from 11am to 6pm. I called the police last week but little has changed, today I called 311 and they said it is a minimum of 14 days for the parks department to do an investigation of my complaint.

Any suggestion who I should reach out to? It infuriates me that someone would drive a truck into a public park and open a store on public land.

- Anonymous Flushing Resident

Sad sight in Maspeth

An old German lady dies, her heirs sell her meticulously maintained house and grounds. I think you know what's coming...
Yep, the whole yard was destroyed.
This one naturally comes with a Hummer and...
lots of stucco.