Friday, July 3, 2020
A neighbor’s security camera shows a group of people standing in a driveway on East 51 Street, setting off fireworks when a roman candle gets fired directly into a bedroom window. Those outside didn’t seem to notice, and continued to light more off for more than five minutes while flames grew inside the house, the fire department said.
The fire grew quickly, soon swallowing the whole back of the house and a car in the driveway. After the group finally saw the smoke and flames, one man could be seen on security footage trying fruitlessly to put out some of the flames using a garden hose.
Fire marshals arrested Damien Bend and charged the 36-year-old with arson after allegedly starting the inferno when he accidentally shot the illegal fireworks into his own home. The FDNY said that Bend only discovered the fire after going inside to get more fireworks to shoot off.
Friday, June 26, 2020
REBNY and the City wants to turn your neighborhood hotel into a cheap substitute for "affordable housing"...
|...but probably not this one|
City officials are looking to capitalize on a distressed tourism industry by converting commercial hotels into affordable housing — including creating single room occupancy units known as SROs.
The exploration of cheaper alternatives for affordable housing and supportive housing — offering health care and social services for people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders — comes as the city struggles to overcome a fiscal crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The effort, which also comes as thousands of homeless people are staying in hotels, highlights just how hard a near-halt in business travel and tourism is slamming New York City.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a tremendous hit to our hotels because of the reduction in tourism, because of the lack of travel — and hopefully most of that will come back. But some of it may not,” Vicki Been, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said this week during an online roundtable on economic development hosted by the Real Estate Board of New York and the law firm Greenberg Traurig.
|...and probably (and definitely) not this one either|
“So we’ve been looking hard at — are there hotels that we could acquire to turn into supportive housing rather than having to build from ground up?” she added. “We’re looking both at, are there assets that we own that we can make available to affordable housing or other needs — and are there private market buildings that we could acquire to convert into affordable housing at a cheaper cost.”
Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Louise Carroll, who also participated in the event, said hotels are also under consideration for a shared housing model — which includes SRO-like units that have common areas for residents.
The agency has been testing shared and co-living spaces as affordable housing since 2018.
“Maybe hotels are good for rehab in that way,” Carroll said of SROs.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
During the last two months of the lockdown of the five boroughs and with a sizeable amount of cops stricken by COVID-19, home and commercial property burglaries and vehicle theft shot up in massive numbers in May as murders and robberies show higher incremental ticks. Crime in the subway made significant gains even though service is cut and commuting went down nearly 90%.
Shootings went up by a lot (especially in Brooklyn) which shouldn’t be surprising considering you can be more than six feet to hit your target. Drag racing also went up in the last 3 months as the city was mostly barren from mass isolation.
As May began Governor Cuomo gave the order to kick the homeless off the trains including banning every other commuter from the subway at 1 am until the clock struck 5 so the trains can get thoroughly cleaned..Which had no effect with the homeless who prefer to sleep during the morning and noon hours as the lower paid contractors deftly cleaned around them.
And that's only a sample of NYC's Spring of chaos and disorder...
Bullets are whizzing around New York this month at a rate not seen in nearly a quarter-century, according to the NYPD — and police sources warned that the recent rate of gunplay may be the new normal.
Through the first three weeks of June, which came to a close Sunday, city streets echoed with 125 shooting incidents, Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri told The Post on Monday.
“We have to go back to June of 1996 to get a worse start for June,” said LiPetri. “That is a telling stat.”
Twenty-four years ago, Rudy Giuliani was mayor and, while the city had made strides in tamping down crime, Gotham still saw 2,938 people shot and 984 killed.
Although overall crime citywide remains down 2.5 percent for the year, shootings, already trending up this year, exploded in June.
From Monday, June 15, through Sunday, there were 53 shooting incidents across the city, the highest mark for a single week since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office.
The last time the city recorded that many shootings in a week was around July 4, 2012, according to police sources.
But to find a nonholiday week — which tends to be quieter — with that many shootings, the department had to look all the way back to 2005, according to LiPetri.
“This weekend we also saw real challenges out in our streets in terms of gun violence,” said de Blasio in a press briefing, remarking on the blood-soaked stretch that included 24 people shot citywide Saturday.
“We are not going to allow gun violence to continue to grow in this city,” vowed Hizzoner.
As thundering firework displays continue to shoot through New York City's skies, they're trailed by a boom in complaints about the illegal use of pyrotechnics. From Washington Heights to Ditmas Park, weary residents say they've been pushed to the brink by screeching explosions that begin before sundown and last well into the morning.
According to city data, 849 complaints about fireworks were logged with the city's 311 hotline in the last two weeks alone. That's a nearly 4,000 percent increase from the same period in 2019, which saw just 21 recorded complaints. In the first two weeks of June during the previous five years, there were less than 50 complaints related to fireworks in total.
As with other 311 data, it's not clear that the figures reflect an actual spike in activity. In many cases, the growth of nuisance calls is a better barometer of gentrification than any specific change in behavior. But while illicit fireworks have long served as the sonic backdrop to summer nights in NYC, some residents say the intensity and frequency has been noticeably greater in 2020, with many of the late-night displays appearing strangely professional.
"There’s something louder, longer, and crazier about it that’s weird," said Phoebe Streblow, a Flatbush resident. "Just the sheer cost alone of these productions is suspect. They're about the size of fireworks at a minor league ballpark."
City sneakily sent 100 prisoners from Rikers to Fresh Meadows hotel to shelter in place from COVID-19
More than 100 people released from Rikers Island are being housed at a Fresh Meadows hotel as part of a city initiative that local leaders say lacked any community input.
The city is putting up the formerly incarcerated New Yorkers at a Wyndham Garden Hotel on 186th Street to prevent the spread of COVID-19 behind bars and in homeless shelters, officials said. The Office of Emergency Management and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice are overseeing the program.
The city paid for rooms in the hotel because the individuals did not have stable housing and would have otherwise become homeless, said MOCJ spokesperson Colby Hamilton. A handful of other hotels around the city have served the same function.
“This and other hotels have provided an invaluable network of stable, reliable lodging for those in need, keeping people departing the jail system out of congregate housing, while we work with them to find more permanent living solutions going forward,” Hamilton said.
The individuals were released from Rikers Island because they have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at particular risk of COVID-19, he said.
Local Councilmember Barry Grodenchik said he was blindsided by the city’s plan.
“We found out because people started calling the office from the community,” Grodenchik said. “We didn’t get advance notice. At all.”
Grodenchik said he and members of Community Board 8 will tour the facility Wednesday.
The employee who answered the phone at the Wyndham Gardens hotel directed questions to City Hall Tuesday.
“This information is confidential and we cannot give information about who is staying with us and if you want more information you can call the Mayor’s Office,” the official said.
Major election snafus shortchanged democracy in New York City on Tuesday when poll workers failed to distribute the proper ballots — preventing some voters from taking part in both the Democratic presidential primary and local races.
The problem was apparently so widespread that the Board of Elections tweeted out a warning shortly before noon that said, “In the Democratic primary, voters may have a 2 page ballot!”
“Please check http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com to view your sample ballot,” it added.
In Queens, where Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim is being challenged by NYPD Sgt. Steven Lee, a poll worker at Junior High School 189 in Flushing said some voters only got one ballot.
“There were two ballots, we didn’t know that. Early this morning, we just gave one ballot. So some people didn’t get two,” the worker said. “We found an hour into it. We didn’t get training because of the virus.”
The worker’s disturbing revelations were cut short by a BOE supervisor, Stella Lu, who insisted everything was fine. “There was just confusion because we are short people. We have half the staff today,” she said.
“The people who had this issue actually got the ballot. It was only because people had to wait a little bit longer.”
Sunday, June 21, 2020
For NYC kids, this summer will be a bummer.
With the last day of school next Friday, the city has ended outdoor, recreational, and job programs for youths of all ages.
“Hundreds of thousands of NYC kids who have been cooped up for three months may have nothing fun to do,” said education consultant David Rubel. “Kids need outdoor play if they’re going to come back to school in September ready to learn.”
Thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s budget cuts and coronavirus restrictions, the popular Summer Youth
Employment Program, which gave jobs to nearly 75,000 teens and young adults in 2019, has been been eliminated as of now. Officials are scrambling to find funding.
The dire news comes after students have been stuck at home since mid-March amid the Covid-19 shutdown, with laptops and iPads replacing in-person classes.
The Department of Youth and Community Development has wiped out an array of programs that offered arts, sports, games, and field trips enjoyed by 100,000 young people last summer.
|Seagirt in Far Rockaway in Donovan Richards district|
A Real Estate Board of New York-backed political action committee is spending big for Donovan Richards in the final days before the Democratic primary for Queens borough president.
Jobs for New York, a PAC founded by REBNY officials and funded by the city’s largest development firms, spent $66,411.68 on mailers and live phone calls promoting Richards, a Southeast Queens councilmember.
“Donovan Richards has devoted his life to serving Queens County and creating economic opportunities for our families,” the mailers read. “Donovan Richards is a leader who stands on principles and convictions. Not politics.”
The literature and phone calls, independent expenditures unaffiliated with Richards’ campaign, were purchased June 17.
In addition to promoting Richards, some of the literature goes negative. The reverse side of one mailer specifically targets Richards’ opponent Costa Constantinides, listing how the Astoria councilmember has “failed” condo and co-op owners.
“This year, we are facing the most important election of our lifetimes,” the mailer states. “Some of our leaders seem tone-deaf.”
Jobs for New York also funded live phone calls and provided scripts for operators to read to homeowners and REBNY members. A third script is labeled “Low Efficacy Absentee Chase.”
“It is clear from Council Member Richards’ lengthy track record of working to improve NYCHA, creating affordable housing and good jobs and serving as a consensus builder that he is ready to be the next Queens Borough President,” Jobs For New York said in a statement.
The Queens borough president is tasked with making advisory recommendations on land use proposals, including projects backed by major developers. In Queens, large-scale projects at Sunnyside Yards, Willets Point and the Flushing Creek Waterfront are in the works, as development continues to surge in Western Queens, Flushing and Jamaica.
Democrats in southeastern Queens will get to cast a ballot this month in a collection of local, state and federal primary races — including the 5th Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks will have to defend his seat against challenger Shaniyat Chowdhury.
The primary election, slated for June 23, is open to registered Democratic voters. All New York voters may request a mail-in ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ballots must be postmarked by the date of the election for the vote to get counted.
Why are you seeking elective office?
I want to continue serve my community as their representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is a tremendous honor, and a position I take extremely seriously. Over my tenure, my district has seen tremendous change, and working with my colleagues in government and leaders in the community, we have been able to work together to improve the quality of life for the residents and increase opportunities for their children. Our work is far from done. I want to continue to fight for what the 5th District needs. What have come so far, yet we have some ways to go.
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
New York is one of several large states in America that is still not counting probable deaths, even though federal public health officials have been recommending states do so since April.
A review by the Washington Post found that New York was among 24 states, including California, Florida and North Carolina, that have not complied with the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The lack of probable deaths is "one reason government officials and public health experts say the virus’s true toll is above the U.S. tally as of Sunday of about 1.9 million coronavirus cases and 109,000 deaths — benchmarks that shape policymaking and public opinion on the pandemic," the Post story says.
According to the CDC, a probable death or case is defined as a person who meets certain clinical or laboratory criteria for the virus but does not have confirmed testing for COVID-19.
At news conferences, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been repeatedly asked why the state is not following CDC guidance in counting probable deaths. When it comes to nursing home fatalities, both New York and New Jersey have included probable deaths at nursing homes, but have not included them in their states’ overall death totals.
“Probable is different than confirmed,” Cuomo said on May 22nd. “Probable is ‘probable, but I have to check, I don’t know, I have to do further testing.’ We’ve had many cases that were probable coronavirus and turned out not to be coronavirus and that’s why they call them probable.”
Monday, June 8, 2020
Judge of the Civil Court: Queens
Jessica Earle-Gargan: A St. John’s Law School grad like her opponent, Jessica Earle-Gargan is a former Assistant District Attorney who specialized in prosecuting domestic violence crimes, according to her campaign site. A Bayside resident, Earle-Gargan’s other law experience includes serving as court attorney for two Supreme Court justices, where she worked on divorce and child custody cases.
John J. Ciafone: A trial attorney and lifelong Queens resident, John Ciafone studied at St. John’s Law School and has worked as an hearing officer for the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and as a small claims court arbitrator. In a campaign ad posted to YouTube, Ciafone described himself as “independent” and criticized the current judicial establishment as beholden to special interests. He made headlines last year when he was fined for advertising his legal services on buildings he owns without a city permit.
Everybody knows about The Canopy as Crapper came back to remind you. But Jessica has, um, quite a machine backing her up.
Queens County Democratic Organization