Monday, July 22, 2019

Investigation into luxury tower development that flooded the Court Square Station is on

Crains New York

The state attorney general’s office is scrutinizing the work of two construction firms following a deluge at a Long Island City subway station Wednesday that nearly pulled a passenger onto the tracks. 

Attorney General Letitia James said Friday that her office has launched an inquiry into New Line Structures and Civetta Construction, the companies building a residential tower near the Court Square-23rd Street station. 

 The inquiry comes in response to a viral video filmed at the station Wednesday. In the video, water broke through a temporary construction wall and gushed onto the platform. The brownish fluid erupted so quickly that it knocked a passenger off his feet. He managed to stop his slide just before reaching an incoming train. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the scene was caused by contractors of a residential tower nearby. The construction firms hadn’t been named before James’ announcement. The construction appears related to the 67-story Skyline Tower condo development. 
New York City Transit President Andy Byford addressed the video during an MTA board meeting Monday morning, calling it “quite shocking.”

“That developer, unbeknownst to us, had removed a pump from the big pit that they were building as part of the construction,” Byford said. “Which meant the pit filled up with water and the pressure eventually overwhelmed the hoarding that was there to protect the worksite.” 

Con Edison intentionally shuts off all power in Southeast Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods

PIX 11 News

 Looks like Gothamist thought my headline was good.

Ridgewood residents resist the specter of rising rents and a dubious affordable housing development

Sunday, July 21, 2019

City Council will vote on all four borough jails in one ULURP hearing

Brooklyn Eagle

 The community boards have voted and the borough presidents have weighed in. The city’s plan to close Rikers Island jails by 2026 — by building four new borough-based facilities via an unprecedented land-use measure — now moves to a fall vote in front of the City Council.
The city’s plan calls for building a new 1,150-bed jail in every borough except Staten Island. In order to do this, the proposal must go through a process called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (or ULURP), which determines the size and use of property beyond what’s permitted by existing regulations.
This is far from a traditional land-use situation. For the first time, the city has packaged four different sites into a single ULURP application, rather than expose each plan to individual review. 

Local community boards and borough presidents are the first to weigh in, though their votes are purely advisory. Now that they have, the decision moves to the City Council, whose vote is legally binding.
The stances of the four City Council members who represent the neighborhoods in question are particularly important, because the council traditionally votes in lockstep with the local representatives on ULURP applications.

Kew Gardens, Queens

Capacity: 1,150 beds
Height: 270 feet tall
Total space: 1.258 million square feet, including a 676-space municipal parking lot
Of note: The Queens jail would house all women detained in New York City, as well as several hundred men.
Councilmember: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz supports the city’s plan, but her spokesperson said she is working with the Mayor’s Office to reduce the overall size.
Borough president: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz formally recommended disapproval in June. “A 1,500 person jail anywhere in Queens is unacceptable,” Katz said. She wants more community engagement and thinks the city can reduce its total jail population to 3,000 by 2026, enabling the city to construct a smaller community jail. (The city currently estimates a jail population of 4,000 by 2026).
Community board: Queens Community Board 9 unanimously voted in favor of a resolution rejecting the plan.

 Anyone would like to wager that "affordable housing" will be included in that building?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Modern lament for a tree in Sunnyside

George The Atheist

"Temporary" wall put up by luxury tower developer at Court Square Station collapses from downpour and nearly kills a commuter

In a lengthy statement, MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek blamed the flooding on a "shocking lapse" by contractors working for a nearby private development, which is also building a new entrance and elevator at the Court Square Station. The property is luxury condo Skyline Tower, soon to be the tallest skyscraper in Long Island City, and developed by United Construction & Development Group. 

The building did not have the proper pumping system in place during the storm, Tarek said, leading to the "absolutely unacceptable and avoidable incident."

"Their worksite was inundated with rainwater during severe thunderstorms, causing water to build upat their worksite and breach plywood separating their worksite from the station," according to the MTA's investigation. There were no reported injuries as a result of the breach.

This is the thing that commuters have to sacrifice their safety on the subway for:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The funniest parasitic apartment buildings you will ever see (so far)

New York Avenue

NYC Gentrification Watch

 In June 2018, I noticed–much to my crushing dismay–that developers had succeeded in buying out and destroying several old Italianate townhouses on New York Avenue off Church Avenue.

I don’t know the exact date of when these townhouses were built. NYCityMap dates them to 1910; however, it seems to me that the site dates any really old house of unknown origins to that year so as far as we know, they could’ve been built many years–if not decades–before.

Fast forward to July 2019. I was passing through the area and decided to go back to New York Avenue to see how the development was going. This is what I found:

Hey! What happened? Oh, someone refused to be bought out. No biggie. Let’s just build one part of the building on the lot of the first house that sold, skip over the house that didn’t sell, then continue onto the next two houses that did. That won’t look awkward at all!

Federal Elections Commission fundraising report reveals Mayor de Blasio as a recidivist perpetrator of pay-to-play politics

NY Daily News

Mayor de Blasio’s presidential campaign is powered by donations rife with possible conflicts.

At least $370,000 in contributions to de Blasio 2020 are tied to people and entities with business or interests before the city, an analysis by the Daily News found.

The donations represent 34% of nearly $1.1 million that de Blasio’s campaign collected between May 16 and the end of June, according to filings with Federal Election Commission.

They came from individuals, corporations, limited liability companies and firms with vested interests in municipal operations and regulations, as well as donors who work for entities lobbying the de Blasio administration and relatives of those with business before the city.

Many are hotel workers and owners, attorneys, local real estate developers and others who stand to benefit from their generosity to de Blasio — or have already seen the fruits of their chummy relationship with Hizzoner.

The mayor has already faced multiple investigations into his fundraising practices, including whether his administration was favorable to donors and others with business before the city. Federal and state prosecutors eventually decided they wouldn’t charge de Blasio or his aides — but they still said he intervened on behalf of donors seeking favors from City Hall.

"The fact that Mayor de Blasio’s long shot presidential campaign is so heavily funded by individuals who have interests before the city is troubling, particularly because the mayor has a track record of favoring campaign donors,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of good-government group Citizens Union. “New Yorkers should feel confident that policy decisions are made, and contracts are awarded, based on merit and not because and individual or entity has supported a politician’s campaign.”

Update from THE CITY:

Mayor Bill de Blasio spent more on his presidential run than he reported in federal campaign filings this week, an analysis by THE CITY found.

The extra support came out of a state political action committee de Blasio launched in 2018 to help New York Democrats — but which recently doubled as an exploratory committee for his presidential run.

The mayor’s NY Fairness PAC spent $68,000 on pre-campaign polling that wasn’t reported to the Federal Election Commission. The de Blasio campaign promised Thursday to amend its federal disclosures after THE CITY raised questions.

THE CITY identified another $55,000 that de Blasio’s state PAC paid to a firm that does digital fundraising and marketing. The campaign said that a portion of that expense will appear in a future federal filing.

The spending underscored what some experts called an unusual approach that taps a state PAC for presidential expenses amid strictly regulated federal spending and reporting rules for exploratory committees.

De Blasio’s set-up also allows his state PAC to collect donations that don’t get reported in his federal campaign filings — and don’t count toward the $2,800 contribution limit in the presidential primary.

That’s because de Blasio campaign officials categorized all the contributions to the state PAC as donations meant to help elect Democrats in New York State — not as support for his presidential run.

THE CITY identified 17 contributors who gave the max to de Blasio’s presidential run in the first half of 2019 while donating $2,500 each to his NY Fairness PAC. Meanwhile, the next public filings for de Blasio’s third fundraising arm — his federal Fairness PAC — aren’t due until July 31.

The mayor has benefited from donors like Queens real estate developer Michael Cheng, who gave $2,500 to the NY Fairness PAC on March 31. He told THE CITY he believed he was supporting de Blasio’s potential presidential run.

Around the same time, he hosted a fundraiser at his Flushing home to raise money for the mayor’s federal PAC. In June, he donated $2,800 to de Blasio’s 2020 presidential committee, FEC records show.

“He’s doing great things for the city,” Cheng said of de Blasio.

De Blasio campaign officials said they know of no donations to the state PAC that were intended to 
support the mayor’s consideration of a White House run. They added the mayor had been clear in his fundraising pitches at the time.

“The mayor was consistent in his public and private comments: He wanted to ensure the issues affecting working families were in the national dialogue, and had not ruled out a run — but it would ultimately be a family decision,“ said campaign spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

His "private comments"? Is that suppose to be a defensive take on Hillary Clinton's notorious philosophical trope on having public and private positions exposed in the Podesta emails by Wikileaks?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Three towns in Staten Island got blacked out from Con Ed substation fire
NY Post

Power outages hit Staten Island Tuesday evening when a fire erupted at a Con Edison substation — just days after mass outages hit tens of thousands of customers on the West Side of Manhattan, officials said.

About 2,000 Con Edison customers in New Dorp, Grant City and Oakwood lost power after the fire at the facility on Railroad Avenue soon after 6 p.m., a Con Ed spokesperson said.

The outages are scattered across about a five-mile radius of the substation and are expected to last until about 2 a.m., the spokesperson said, adding that two generators were working to reinforce the system.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is not believed to be related to the heat, he said.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Affordable housing study reveals Mayor de Blasio as a segregationist

New York Times

For more than two years, lawyers for New York City have fought to keep secret a report on the city’s affordable housing lotteries, arguing that its release would insert an unfavorable and “potentially incorrect analysis into the public conversation.”

The report was finally released on Monday, following a federal court ruling, and its findings were stark: The city’s policy of giving preference to local residents for new affordable housing helps perpetuate racial segregation.

White neighborhoods stay white, black neighborhoods black, the report found.

The findings by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College, presented a far different picture than the one offered by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has touted his record on housing as he runs for president.

Indeed, they suggested that Mr. de Blasio’s vast expansion of affordable housing might well come with an asterisk: It is deepening entrenched racial housing patterns.

Professor Beveridge analyzed data from 7.2 million affordable housing applications for 10,245 city-subsidized apartments from 2012 to 2017. He did so on behalf of plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by three black women from Brooklyn and Queens who said they were not given a fair chance to win affordable apartments in city-managed lotteries.

The report looked at 168 city-administered lotteries along with demographic and other information about applicants, comparing that to census data for the areas surrounding the affordable housing apartments being offered.

In each case, Professor Beveridge found that the majority group — whether white, black Hispanic or Asian — enjoyed a strong advantage over the other racial groups because of the city’s policy.

Moreover, because it is a first-come-first-served system, by the time applicants from other areas of the city might want to move into an area, the apartments that they would qualify for have sometimes already been taken by local residents, he found in the 31-page report, a preliminary version of which was first filed in 2017.

After being opaque about the cause of Saturday's blackout, Con Ed is being glib about potential blackouts

NY Post

Con Edison warned Monday that New Yorkers may have to endure another blackout this weekend, when the temperature is expected to reach a sweltering 97 degrees — and feel like 106.

“We expect that there could be service outages — those things happen during heat waves,” company spokesman Mike Clendenin said.

Later in the day, Con Ed further fueled fears of a potential power outage when it completely backtracked and blamed a fault in a 13,000-volt power cable that caught fire for triggering Saturday’s blackout.

On Sunday, company President Timothy Cawley had called the idea of tying the incident to the failed cable “sort of a non-starter.”

AccuWeather predicted four straight days of 90-plus degree temperatures beginning Friday, with a 97-degree peak on Saturday, when humidity and other factors will make it feel even worse.

Surely, these things happen and will continue to happen when you have energy devouring billboards like the new ones in Times Square that are about 3, 5 and 20 stories and are a block wide. And also deriving from massive tower development by the Hudson, particularly the brand new Hudson Yards.

How is Con Ed going to handle Google's expansion and Disney's new studios on Soho's west side?

Maybe this is why they are being glib. Con Ed's VP for "government relations" used to work for the city's Economic Development Coporation. (Thanks to Kristin Theodos)

Monday, July 15, 2019

House in Howard Beach is teetering into the drink

News 4 New York

You know what is also horrible about this story, when the anchorman says "Look at this". Well what do you think we are doing you moron?