Sunday, February 14, 2016

Supposedly transparent mayor issued secret shelter order

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio personally banned the opening of new shelters in 2014 because of community backlash — and instead told officials to put homeless families in less secure hotels like the one where a mom and two kids were slaughtered Wednesday on Staten Island, The Post has learned.

De Blasio issued the edict during a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor — both of whom later resigned amid the growing homeless crisis, a DHS official said.

“They started pushing us to put clients in commercial hotels because they didn’t want to notify the people in the communities,” the DHS source said.

“When you open up a shelter, you have to notify the community, City Council members, officials, and people get upset. [De Blasio] had opened a lot of shelters that fall and was afraid of opening more. So he started opening up these hotels.”

De Blasio sent senior policy adviser Lincoln Restler to work with DHS on the hotel program, but Restler ignored senior staffers’ fears that the hotels could endanger homeless residents, the DHS source said.

“These commercial hotels don’t have adequate security, and [city officials] know that,” the source explained. “Regular shelters do. [Many] have full-body metal detectors. A boyfriend can’t just walk in and go to his girlfriend’s room if he doesn’t live there.”

Landlord of explosion site finally arrested

From the NY Post:

Two building owners and three contractors were arrested Thursday morning on charges including manslaughter​, assault and criminally negligent homicide​ over the East Village blast that destroyed three buildings and killed two people nearly a year ago.

Petty corner-cutting and blatant greed caused the blast, officials said.

Sharing the blame, officials ​accused, are a penny​-​pinching building landlord, ​her son, ​her contractor, and the contractor’s unlicensed plumber, who installed a tangle of dangerous and illegal gas connections that they hid from Con Ed behind a locked basement door.

And check out this case from Michigan:

Federal officials charged a suburban Detroit restaurant owner and his wife Friday with harboring immigrants who were in the U.S. without legal permission after a fire at a house he owned killed five employees about two weeks earlier.

Roger Tam, 55, was arrested Thursday and appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit. His wife, Ada Lei, 48, also has been charged, but has not been arrested because she is hospitalized for an undisclosed reason.

Five Mexican nationals lived in the basement of the home owned by Tam in an upper middle-class neighborhood in Novi, northwest of Detroit, while working at Tam's restaurant, Kim's Garden. The Jan. 31 fire has been ruled accidental and possibly caused by smoking; a smoke detector in the basement had been disabled. The basement had stairs to the first floor but windows made of glass block, which would prevent any escape in an emergency.

The charge that Tam and Lei face carries a 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

Illegal conversions and illegal gas hookups kill. It's time to throw the book at these people.

New safety regs for construction sites

From Crains:

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler announced stricter rules for construction sites Friday, including quadrupling fines for serious safety violations.

Despite advances in technology and new laws, working on a New York City construction site has become more dangerous during the past decade. After a string of accidents over the past two years, including a fatal crane collapse last week, the de Blasio administration has come under increasing pressure to address the problems.

"No building is worth a person's life," the mayor said in a statement outlining the new measures, which will be phased in during the next few months.

Penalties for serious safety lapses will quadruple to $10,000 from $2,400. Property owners with projects under 10 stories tall, where 70% of accidents happened in 2015, will be required to hire a construction superintendent for all major work (they already had to have one for new construction). The fine for failing to do so will rise to $25,000 from $5,000.

Unhappy Valentine's Day for Maspeth family

From PIX11:

Imagine what it's like if your apartment inside is as cold as it is outside, just as New York City is experiencing the coldest temperatures and wind chills in 20 years this weekend.

One Maspeth family knows firsthand.

"We keep the heater going nonstop and we keep bundled up at all times," Dawn Stahl told PIX11 News.

Dawn, her husband Michael and 16-year-old daughter Ashley have been living in the second-floor apartment at 54–66 46 Street with no heat and hot water for three months.

Her Con Edison bill is over $2000.

And to make matters worse, her oven and stove don't work because she said National Grid removed the gas meter in the basement because her landlord didn't pay his bills. She's now using a hot plate for cooking.

The family stopped paying rent months ago and took the landlord to court.

And now they're moving out in April, but, in the meantime, they have to deal with this weekend's arctic blast.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Satanists may be responsible for park bones

From the Daily News:

Cops are investigating a possible satanic connection to the human bones found in a Queens park, police sources said Friday.

The black garbage bag containing a skull, a jaw bone and other bones found at Peters Field Park in Hillside on Thursday was next to another bag that contained a machete and a rope.

The rope had been fashioned into a cross, police sources said.

Vibrant! Diverse!

Friday, February 12, 2016

First responders on bikes at FMCP

London EMT bike
From DNA Info:

The EMTs from the Corona Community Ambulance Corps know Flushing Meadows-Corona Park like the back of their hands.

Starting this summer, his group will begin patrolling with the help of "ambulance bikes" — a supercharged vehicle he's dreamed of since taking over the volunteer group in 2014.

Perna said the bikes — which were made possible thanks to $8,000 in funds he received from Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland — will make his staff more mobile and able to reach more people quickly, especially in the busy summer.

Starting this summer his team will have four bikes out in the park. The bikes will be equipped with oxygen, a defibrillator and other medical items to help teams of EMS workers assist patients wherever they are in the park, Perna said.

Two bikes will go out at a time, and will have an ambulance nearby as backup.

Ron Kim notices that Queens gets ignored

From the Queens Chronicle:

Perpetual Foreign Place Syndrome. That’s the term Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) coined in a recent email to his constituents, lamenting that Flushing is not taken seriously by city or state agencies because it is viewed as a foreign place.

“Even despite this unfairness and mistreatment, Flushing continues to stay determined and resilient,“ Kim wrote. “But imagine if we actually overcame the Perpetual Foreign Place Syndrome and realize the return on investment toward Flushing?”

In a later interview, Kim explained the sentiment expands beyond Flushing, to places like Whitestone and Bayside, where middle- and working-class families, regardless of race or ethnicity, feel they’re brushed aside by the city and state governments.

“I think it’s all communities in the outer boroughs feeling like they’re not being heard, like every road leads to Manhattan,” he said.

City wants seniors to live in sardine cans, not have cars

Vicki Been
From AM-NY:

Relaxing requirements to have parking lots at senior and affordable residences within reach of subways would free up space and money to build apartments, city officials testified Wednesday at a second day of hearings on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan.

“Three unnecessary parking spaces are the equivalent of two units of affordable housing,” Housing Commissioner Vicki Been said. Officials said spots in parking structures can cost $50,000 to build, taking into account design, materials and labor.

But City Council members from the outer reaches of Queens and Brooklyn challenged how so-called transit zones — where parking requirements for developers would be waived — were drawn. They said public transportation options and other amenities must be improved before the parking is taken away.

“Senior citizens and other residents are not sardines,” Mark Treyger, a Democrat representing parts of southern Brooklyn that have seen bus line cuts, told Newsday. “They need to be mobile, they need to get to doctors’ appointments, they need to live out the golden years of their lives.”

From DNA Info:

The minimum size for a senior would be 275 square feet, which Queens Councilman Donovan Richards suggested is too small.

"I just know from my own grandmother, she couldn’t fit her hats in an apartment that size," he said.

Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield flagged the issue of allowing senior developments up to 65 feet tall in low-density residential districts that currently have a maximum building height of 35 feet.

The residents of those neighborhoods "want their small little homes with their little driveways," Greenfield said. "They're not looking necessarily for that influx."

City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod indicated he was open to negotiation, but Been balked.

"I completely understand the concern. I also just want to point out that seniors come from every neighborhood," both low rise and high rise, she said. "They want to stay in their neighborhoods but they don't want to be trapped in a building that doesn't have an elevator."

Greenfield suggested the administration require a special Board of Standards and Appeals permit for tall buildings in those low-slung neighborhoods so "there would be more review."

Been objected to adding in a community board review process.

"I feel very passionately about this, because I have to look seniors in the eye and say, 'I'm sorry, but we have a waiting list of seven years. That's probably longer than you'll be alive,'" she said.