Saturday, May 31, 2008

NY Times endorses Charles Ober

There will be a special election on Tuesday in the 30th City Council District in Queens, which includes Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale. The seat became vacant after the resignation of City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who admitted to sexually abusing a woman in his district office. Voters in this election, to fill the seat for the rest of the year, should seize the chance to force some much-needed change.

The ballot, on which the candidates will be listed without party affiliation, is crowded with the old way of doing business. Thomas Ognibene, a conservative Republican and former councilman, wants to retake the seat. He held it until he hit the term limit and stepped aside for Mr. Gallagher, who was Mr. Ognibene’s chief of staff. Mr. Ognibene is too tied to clubhouse politics, as is another Republican, Anthony Como, an aide to State Senator Serphin Maltese and a former assistant district attorney. His command of the issues is unimpressive.

Elizabeth Crowley, one of two Democrats, has the same problem, having built her candidacy not on talent or experience but on party machinery. She is the cousin of Representative Joseph Crowley, the Queens Democratic Party leader, and has raised the most money. Ms. Crowley, whose parents represented the area on the Council, is short on substance on issues like budget reform and education. She also ran afoul of campaign finance laws when she ran against Mr. Gallagher in 2001.

The other Democrat in the race is Charles Ober, a financial executive and community activist. The fact that Mr. Ober is openly gay has drawn attention because of the district’s conservative leanings. But more important are his deep roots in the community and the years he has spent engaging his neighbors on problems like prostitution and graffiti. His energy and civic engagement would be a valuable addition in the City Council.

District 30 deserves a serious-minded, independent legislator who will put the needs of constituents first. That’s why we endorse Charles Ober for City Council.

Charles Ober for City Council

Focus on equipment and not operators

Investigators are focusing on a bad weld as the possible cause of an accident on Friday in which the top of a crane snapped off, crashed into a building across the street and killed two construction workers, the city’s acting buildings commissioner said.

Investigators Look at Crane’s Equipment, Not Operators

Investigators were also trying to determine whether a crucial part of the crane — the rotating plate that connects the cab and boom at the top to the tower — had been removed from a different construction job a year ago after developing a dangerous crack, another city official said.

The thrust of the investigation indicated that city officials believe Friday’s accident had a very different set of causes from the fatal crane collapse that occurred in March: namely, that the condition of the equipment rather than mistakes made in setting it up were behind the crash.

Thompson to U.N.: "Pay Up!"

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mr. Thompson announced the results of an audit processed by his office. According to the final report, the UNDC owes the city $12 million in rent it has not paid in the last four years.

Upon receiving a draft copy of that audit, the UNDC agreed to pay half that amount, roughly $6 million, but denied the city’s request for the remaining balance. It wants to keep the money on hand in case the UN Consolidation Building Project, a 35-story office building proposed for Robert Moses State Park, revives itself.

The project (“dormant for three years,” as Mr. Thompson put it) was never passed by the State Legislature, and work on it ceased in 2005.

“Enough is enough …” Mr. Thompson said. "It is time to collect what is owed to New Yorkers.”

Thompson Demands $6 M. in Back Rent from State UN Corporation

Welcome to the Queens zoo

Why do the descriptions of these gawking tours for those intrigued by Queens ethnic groups (but would die if they had to live next door to them) make it sound like they are trips to the Bronx Zoo to observe exotic animals? Is this what the image of our borough is to those living outside of it these days? I guess the 7 train serves as the monorail...

Changing Ethnicity: Forest Hills to Corona Friday, May 30 6-8pm
Bukharan Jews succeed Russian Jews in Rego Park!
South Americans surround the venerable Little Italy in Corona Heights! (including the Lemon Ice King of Corona!)
Dominicans, Ecuadorians and Mexicans compete for commercial space in Corona Plaza!
>Meets at Ridgewood Savings Bank, 108 St and N side Queens Bl. (E,F,R.V to 71Ave/Continental, Forest Hills)
Ends with dinner suggestions in the Corona Plaza area (103 St #7 train)
Sponsored by Jack Eichenbaum Fee $15

Changing Ethnicity: Astoria Friday, June 13 6-8pm
In this demographically changing neighborhood opposite Manhattan‘s Upper East Side, Central Europeans, Italians and Greeks are being replaced by Arabs, Brazilians and Yuppies. We’ll explore Astoria from its major transportation arteries: Steinway St (a former trolley route), 31st St (under the elevated train) and the Grand Central Parkway which bisected the neighborhood 70 years ago.
>Meets at SE corner Broadway/Steinway St (R train), ends at NYC's only remaining beer garden!
Sponsored by Jack Eichenbaum Fee $15

So while they're coming here, let's take the 7 train in the opposite direction and enjoy the mosaic museum that has appeared at Grand Central. From what I understand, it's easy to get there this weekend.

Get ready for major Con Ed rate hike

Get ready for another shock in your Con Ed bill - city residents could pay as much as 30 percent more for juice this summer.

Experts say higher fuel costs will bring an extra chill during this year's air-conditioning season.
Wholesale prices for electricity to be delivered to the city in July and August are now up a whopping 89 percent over last summer, according to federal regulators, although state regulators say the increase is no more than 66 percent.

Either way, utility experts predict the increases could translate into a potential 30 percent rate hike passed on to residential buyers.

And that's before Con Ed's latest demand for three straight years of 4.9 percent electricity-price increases, which it hopes will kick in next April.

Con Ed already charges the highest prices of any major US electric utility.


Crowley endorsed by 2 machine-friendly newspapers

So Schenkler and Sanchez both endorsed Liz Crowley this week. Why? Because they were told to. No surprise, really. The official reason from both papers is that she will work well with unions (she has lots of experience banging the union boss. I wonder if McLaughlin bought her expensive baubles with the kids' money he stole.)

QC fans are scratching their heads:

I'm sure you're going to be all over this but the Queens "Ledger" endorsed Liz Crowley.

All I can say is I've heard her speak in public twice, watched her on television once, and talked with her briefly one-on-one a couple of times and if there are hidden depths there I sure couldn't plumb them. She's so unrelievedly second rate that friends who don't even live in the district and couldn't care less about the election are ready to come hand out fliers for Ober.

The same goes for Como, whom the "Ledger" also fawns over for some reason. If these two massive inadequacies are the best the major parties can come up with then partisan democracy has aborted in Queens.

Keep up the good work!

The reason the Ledge loves those 2 so much is because they went to their round table discussion and not to the debate they promised to go to, hosted by a group that Walter Sanchez hates, as evidenced by the mention he gives them in his editorial.

Thankfully, we also have the Forum West, which isn't drinking the Crowley Kool-Aid...

Forum West editorial:
Why Crowley Can’t Go to the Council

Watching Crowley on the debate front is truly a treat for anyone who is in need of a good laugh. She claims to have a Master’s degree in urban planning, but in fact the only thing she has been able to truly master is answering a question without anything remotely resembling the right answer. She has labeled herself an environmentalist because she drives a hybrid and has named Tony Avella as the “worst NYC Councilman ever,” apparently forgetting about sex abuser Dennis Gallagher. Over the Memorial Day weekend she flooded a parade to honor war dead with her campaign literature and spoke through the entire ceremony.

You might ask yourself, “What could be in her head?” We can answer that one for you. Nothing. In fact the notion that she could even be a consideration for public office is truly frightening. Her election would be enough to cause property value in the community to plummet.

Forum West Op-Ed:
Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

She is being backed by the Democratic machine that pumps Queens County Dems and is coincidentally headed up by Dizzy Lizzy’s cousin, Congressman Joe Crowley. So in this case of the “fish stinks from the head down,” it is plain as day that on both Democratic and Republican sides of the coin, backing was given to Elizabeth Crowley and Anthony Como without any consideration to either of the other candidates or their merits. The arrogance of party leaders made a determination as to who the supported candidate would be without a consideration of others seeking the seat.

Glad that someone in the press not only "gets it" but also prints it!

Bloomie likely to pay staff to keep quiet

Bloomberg, who was CEO of his financial information company before entering public life, has long said he values loyalty above all else among his employees and confidants.

"I've always thought that you, when you work for somebody, you have an obligation to not write a tell-all book afterwards, and that's true whether you're in an administration or whether you're working for a private company," he said.


At his multibillion-dollar financial information company, Bloomberg LP, there is a bit more of an insurance policy keeping mouths shut - employees sign confidentiality agreements upon being hired, according to a spokeswoman.

City Hall staffers do not sign such an oath. But the wealthy mayor, who was known for lavishing his top campaign aides with eye-popping bonuses after his election and re-election, could also similarly reward his city staff after he leaves office.

Bad Campaign

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

On May 25, as president of the United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth, I had the honor of leading off Maspeth’s Memorial Day Parade. Prior to the parade’s kickoff, I spent several frustrating minutes asking the supporters of various candidates to remove themselves and the signs and literature that they were holding during the parade’s assembly. I was extremely angered that these candidates would choose this venerable venue to do their politicking. As the parade began I observed these same supporters walking and running adjacent (on the sidewalk) to their particular candidates handing out pamphlets to the assembled crowd along the parade route. At the midway point I could no longer bring myself to march with these candidates so I removed myself and reunited with the members of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Queens Chapter 32 of which I am also the president.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. Memorial Day is not a day for politicians to hand-out their campaign literature to crowds participating in the day’s solemn ceremonies. I was angered that on Sunday, May 25 at the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade, a pair of the candidates blatantly disrespected the memory of our nation’s war heroes by using Memorial Day for their political gain and expediency. I feel it is my duty to remind those candidates that it is our soldiers who afford them the opportunity to run for elected office. More importantly, they should exhibit some reverence and respect to stop politicking for one day to pay homage to those men and women who have died to preserve our democracy. I believe that the offending parties owe veterans and their families an apology for their blatant disregard for the solemn ceremonies many of us hold sacred to honor our country’s fallen heroes.

Pastor Toro Jr.,
president, Vietnam Veterans of America,
Chapter 32

You'd think Serf, being a Veteran himself, would have been a little more respectful. But I guess he's a political pig first.

Did George Washington sleep here?

Crappy came across this house on Wyckoff Avenue in Ridgewood last year and it struck me as very old. So I asked 2 people whose opinions I trust about these things. Here were their answers:

Opinion #1: "Doorway speaks pre-civil war (could be late 1700 even?) moved there with porch removed. Orginally perhaps as a big farm house - mansard roof always 1870s, with later windows."

Opinion #2: "That building's been totally done over. My take is that it's a Second Empire-style building that's been totally messed up - so, 1855-1870. Typically, they had mansard roofs - that B.S. asphalt shingling was put on after they pulled the slate off. You can also see the cornice peeking through at the top left corner - other details are peeking out as well. The entry portico is throwing me off a little - I don't think it's 18th century, though."

I did a little research and found that in the 1800s the land the house stood on belonged to the Van Nostrand family, and also found some evidence that the house may have been moved to allow for the widening of Wyckoff Avenue.

So what do you all think?

Friday, May 30, 2008

3 big "oops" from City Hall

From Curbed, who got around to looking up the violations on the crane collapse site before I did:

May 29: Stop Work Order fully rescinded.
May 20: A complaint that a crane platform extends over the sidewalk. No problems found.
May 17: Complaint of debris falling on the sidewalk. Inspection four days later finds no problem.
May 16: Stop Work Order on a standpipe is rescinded.
May 13: Complaint that debris was falling on the sidewalk.
May 7: Stop Work Order on part of the site for failing to protect adjacent property.April 23: Stop Work Order Issued on crane for "low boom limit switch & a ceal is leaking."
April 22: An entry that crane "did not pass test load," followed by a notation on April 23 that it did.
December 13, 2007: Complaint about an open gate leading to a 20 drop from the sidewalk. Inspection the next day found the fence was down for surveying.

Also from Curbed:

Hey, remember when the Buildings Department announced that it was easing the safeguards put in place following the deadly crane collapse 10 weeks ago in Turtle Bay? You probably do, because it was only two days ago. Oopsie.

From the Daily News:

City OKed condo construction at collapse site to get free school built

Last year, the city leased the rights of the land to the DeMatteis Organizations and the Mattone Group for $111.9 million.

Under the agreement, the developers were allowed to build a 32-story residential tower in exchange for assuming the $45 million cost of building the new East Side Middle School.

Another crane collapse in Manhattan

A crane snapped apart and toppled onto a high-rise apartment building on East 91st Street on the Upper East Side on Friday morning, killing two construction workers, in a cascade of broken brick and shattered glass that echoed a similar crane collapse in Manhattan just two months ago.

The city did not immediately know the cause of the collapse, which occurred moments after 8 a.m. at a construction site at the corner of 91st Street and First Avenue.

Witnesses said the horizontal arm of the crane began to circle and then snapped off, propelling the cab and the upper portion of the arm onto a white-brick residential building across the street.

The cab smashed into the top floor of the building, demolishing a portion of a 22nd-story penthouse, then plunged down the north facade, knocking off balconies and leaving a trail of pockmarks down to a Duane Reade drug store on the street level.

The operator of the crane, Donald Leo of Staten Island, was sitting in the cab as the structure fell. He was pulled from the wreckage by rescue workers and pronounced dead at the scene.

Two Killed in Manhattan Crane Collapse

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a previously scheduled on-air interview on WOR-AM this morning, said, “We’re not going to tolerate any rate of accidents any higher than it has to be.”
(WTF does that mean?)

More from the NY Times: Latest Updates on Fatal Crane Collapse

Gothamist has comprehensive coverage.

DOI at City Council sessions

The city Department of Investigation has been quietly attending City Council hearings without informing members, The Post has learned.


Council members, already on edge over the ongoing probe into a secret slush fund, were startled by the presence of a prober at a routine Finance Committee hearing this week.

Speaker Christine Quinn, committee Chairman David Weprin (D-Queens) and other members at the hearing told The Post afterward they were unaware an investigator was in attendance.

"I've been involved in [city] government since 1997, and I've never heard of this being the case," one council member who attended the hearing said.

"I just think it's a not-so-subtle intimidation factor to send the message to all members that Big Brother is watching."

A City Hall source who confirmed the investigator's presence said DOI employees typically sit in on council hearings without announcing their presence. A DOI spokeswoman declined comment.

If you didn't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about...

Crowley's gay endorsement a political favor

Party insiders said the endorsement by the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens is part of a web of political favors being exchanged at a time when Queens Democrats are going through an upheaval caused by term limits and a key race for control of the state Senate.

City Council hopeful Elizabeth Crowley in tight spot over gay backing

Crowley has told the editorial board of a Queens weekly newspaper that she does not support gay marriage, sources said. She does support civil unions.

The Crowley camp refused to discuss her position on gay marriage with the Daily News.

Ober accused the club's founder, Democratic district leader Danny Dromm, of gift-wrapping the endorsement for Crowley in hopes of getting party backing for a potential 2009 run in the 25th Council District, where Helen Sears is term-limited.

Party insiders said Dromm faces competition from at least two other district leaders for Democratic Party backing in next year's 25th Council District race.

"Danny is making sure that he does whatever [party leaders] want right now," one insider said, referring to the club's endorsement of Crowley, whose cousin, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens), heads the Queens Democratic Party.

Dizzy Lizzy on St. Saviour's

This video was taken at the HDC candidates forum on May 21st.

The question asked was, "What have you done for St. Saviour's and will you allocate funding toward its restoration?" Dizzy Lizzy managed not to answer either part of the question and the moderator apparently didn't challenge her on it. The other candidates at least partially admitted that they weren't around when the going got tough but would allocate funding toward what hopefully will be a new community center.

Elizabeth Crowley hired the Parkside Group to handle her campaign. Parkside had been hired by the developer of the St. Saviour's property to lobby the city first for the destruction of St. Saviour's and then to rubberstamp a residential rezoning surrounded on all sides by manufacturing zones. Crowley advocated for housing at the site while the community asked the city to turn it into a park. This is a curious stance considering she is chair of the Glendale Civic Association's Green Committee and says she wants more "pocket parks" in the district.

You have to wonder what kind of preservationist and activist against overdevelopment comes out in favor of more housing in place of open space which the community is hoping to preserve. Especially in a mixed use area that flooded heavily last summer and lacks the infrastructure to support 93 additional units of housing. The answer is: One that does the bidding of lobbyists instead of the community she was born and raised in and now wants the privilege of representing.

Oh, and if the Municipal Art Society wanted to put up "millions and millions" of dollars to save St. Saviour's, as Liz mentions as a funding solution, they would have done so back in 2006 when they were first made aware of it. Instead, they wrote a letter to LPC which was ignored as expected. MAS is a Manhattan-centric organization which intends to keep their money in Manhattan. Ms. Crowley obviously does not understand how preservation works in this city and thinks we don't either.

Demolition by neglect (and DOB)

I didn't realize this before, but according to McBrooklyn, 100 Clark Street in Brooklyn, which the city is in the process of demolishing for safety reasons, is landmarked. Or I should say, was landmarked.

The latest is that the demo was stopped when the owner went to court against the city over the forced demolition.

Ridgewood Theatre has $14M pricetag

Once one of the longest-running movie houses in Queens, the 91-year-old Ridgewood Theater, has been placed on the auction block for $14 million just two months after lights dimmed permanently at the historic theater, a spokeswoman for Massey Knakal Realty Services said.

Historic Ridgewood Theatre listed for sale at $14 million

The five-screen theater, at 55-27 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood, opened as a vaudeville house in December 1916 and was converted into a movie palace the following year. The Ridgewood survived two world wars, the Great Depression, the golden age of television, video and DVDs, operating as a first-run movie theater continuously since its opening.

But Massey Knakal announced in mid-May that the theater, which closed due to declining business in March, had been placed on the market. The real estate services company is advertising the theater's purchase price at $14 million on its Web site.

According to Massey Knakal's site, the property could be transformed into a hotel or used for residential, retail or commercial purposes.

More info here: Ridgewood Theatre

RKO Keith's of Flushing has $31.5M pricetag

Massey Knakal Realty Services has taken over the exclusive listing of the historic RKO Keith's Theater in Flushing from rival brokerage Eastern Consolidated, offering the site with approved development plans for $31.5 million.

The RKO Keith's Theater at 135-35 Northern Boulevard is owned by Boymelgreen Developers, which purchased the site in 2002 for $15 million.

Flushing City Council Member John Liu, a Democrat, said the owners have been pricing the site too high. He said potential developers have sought him out to determine if additional variances could be applied to make the property more valuable, which he opposes.

Massey Knakal lists RKO site in Flushing for $31 million

The site has approved plans for a 16-story, 390,000-square-foot residential and commercial high-rise with 200 apartments, 229 parking spaces, 10,175 square feet of ground-floor retail and 15,100 square feet of community space for a senior center.

Boymelgreen took out an additional $13.4 million mortgage against the property in April, according to city property records. The company did immediately not return calls for comment.

The building's lobby and the grand foyer were designated as interior landmarks by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1984.

Queens to get 2 public potties

New Yorkers loaded up on coffee and beer and in search of bladder relief may now head to the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge, Marcus Garvey Boulevard and Broadway in Williamsburg, Corona Plaza in Queens, and Lippmann Arcade in -- naturally -- Flushing.

The new loos are called "Automatic Public Toilets" and cost a quarter to operate. Loiterers are limited to a strict 15 minute time limit, after which the doors open and the john begins an automatic cleaning process.

City ready to roll out public toilets

Anthony's ads

Anthony Como, chief counsel to State Senator Serf Maltese, is the choice of the Queens County Republican Club for City Council. This is Anthony Como's banner, hanging on the campaign office of his boss on Myrtle Avenue.
This is Anthony Como's campaign poster.
This is Anthony Como. We think the ad below his campaign poster was just coincidental.

NYS Pavilion may be in emergency status

"The Queens Theatre in the Park is re-opening and they put up a huge fence. Why?

1- So yuppie theater goers wont be offended having to look at the New York State pavilion.
2- Something's falling

The New York State Pavilion's SkyStreak elevator has pulled itself apart and is about to fall off. Its 2-ton counterweight could free-fall, crashing into one of the towers' Pyle caps.

Only the NYC Parks Department would spend millions on a theater just to have the Pavilion fall on it!" - Joe

More discussion here: Peace Through Understanding: New security around the towers

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ridgewood company distributed phony Trojans

Eight charged with selling fake condoms

Federal agents staged raids in the metropolitan area Thursday and arrested at least eight people for heading a ring that authorities say has been smuggling into the country massive quantities of a wide variety of name-brand counterfeit goods manufactured in China -- including millions of counterfeit Trojan condoms -- which they then distributed, according to court papers and officials.

Among the goods the ring smuggled into the U.S. were phony Apple iPods, Louis Vuitton handbags, NFL caps, Barbie dolls and Marvel comic books, officials said.

One of the raids was carried out by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at 18-28 Troutman St. in Ridgewood, Queens -- a building used by the ZX Trading Co.

Those arrested have been taken to federal court in Central Islip, where they are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on a variety of charges, including selling counterfeit goods and the financial crime of structuring transactions.

Todd Greenberg, a Forest Hills lawyer representing two of the owners of the ZX Trading Co. who were arrested -- Lin Hu and her brother, Jian Hu -- said his clients are innocent. Lawyer Glenn Obedin of Central Islip, who represents another of those arrested, Jian Wang, said his client is innocent of the charges, as well.

The assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, Charles Kelly, declined to comment on Thursday.

Thompson & RFK, Jr. say, "Save Ridgewood Reservoir"

The parks commissioner has said the city needs the athletic fields to combat childhood obesity. This is an important objective, but the money that would be used to destroy this extraordinary natural habitat could be better spent improving Highland Park, next to Ridgewood Reservoir. Highland Park has plenty of ball fields to serve its neighborhood, but they are in such deplorable condition that few people use them.

Save New York’s Ridgewood Reservoir by William C. Thompson, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Chronicling the NY1 debate

Haven't seen last Friday's NY1 debate yet? I'll be keeping it in the upper right hand corner of the blog through Election Day on June 3rd so you may view at your leisure.

Keep these highlights from it in mind as you watch:

The 3 candidates were introduced by host Dominic Carter the following ways:
"Former Queens assistant district attorney Anthony Como"
"Former Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene"
"Civic leader Charles Ober"
Elizabeth Crowley is introduced as “Glendale resident” because she hasn’t accomplished anything.

1st round – questions posed to each candidate by moderator

1:15 - Como uses annoying hand gestures for emphasis which look awkward.
1:30 - Crowley says she is not divisive in any way, yet she and her adviser, Evan Stavisky, reportedly refused to sit in the green room with the other candidates and their guests before the taping. (Apparently they felt uncomfortable being in the presence of the secretary of a local civic association.)
1:55 - Liz' voice trails off and her mumbling is barely audible.
4:13 - Como embarrasses himself by saying you elect someone for their “personal morale”, when he obviously means to say morality.
5:03 - Crowley says she doesn’t come out of a political club, although her cousin, Joe Crowley, is the leader of the Queens Machine, handpicked by Tom Manton. At 5:15 she says her parents served on the city council and she was involved in their campaigns. However, she was 7 years old in 1985 when her parents were appointed, not elected to the council, by Donald Manes. She mentions her civic experience and her educator experience, however, she has been out of the public eye since she last ran in 2001, and her only civic leadership is as chair of a green committee for the Glendale Civic Association, which is a group that Pinky created as a platform for himself. Her educational position is a no-show job that her former paramour, convicted felon Brian McLaughlin, got for her.
6:08 - Charles Ober says he is clearly the most qualified Democrat in the race, noted his resume, experience, passion and commitment and that he needed to stand against the Queens Machine and refused to step aside for Dizzy Lizzy.
7:50 - Tom Ognibene says there is a learning curve to becoming a city council member, noted the tight deadlines for the new budget, and stated that his experience would make him the best candidate.
8:05 - Anthony Como says he feels he is much more experienced than Tom Ognibene (We'll pause while you pick yourself up from the floor and try to stop laughing).
Okay - At 8:45 he says he’s “not going to run for one or two terms and then leave” and that he would “carry the seat into the next 10 years”. (Apparently, no one informed Anthony that 8 years is all you can serve under term limits.)

2nd round – Candidates given the opportunity to ask one other candidate a question

9:34 - Crowley, with a stutter, asks Como a softball question about how he would handle budget cuts as a councilman. For many, this proved that these two are actually working together. Como's stupidity was vastly underestimated by Crowley. He answers with a bunch of gibberish and uses the phrase “you can’t hold their hands tied behind their backs” to describe the police department at 10:25.
11:40 - The tape jumps here, but this is where Como says he is involved with a volunteer ambulance corpse. Not "corps", but corpse. It’s a shame that precious moment was not captured on this recording.
12:00 - Ober asks Crowley how, in light of the fact that she has been found guilty of fraud by the campaign finance board, she can be a leader in the council on the issue of reform. Crowley evades the question. She is asked the question again and says over 250 people from the community contributed to her campaign. (A glance at her filings shows that most of her contributors are unions or people who live outside NYC.) She then says that if council members are steering money toward their relatives then they need to be “investigated to see whether this is right or if there’s a conflict of interest”. Hey Liz - elected officials steering money toward their relatives is actually the definition of conflict of interest…
14:40 - Como asks Ognibene if it’s true that he said he would not run in 2009, and Ognibene says it is true only if he fails to win in June and in November.
16:00 - Ognibene asks Como what he thinks of the size of the capital budget and the allocation of it. Como doesn’t know how much the capital budget is.
17:04 – Ognibene explains how much the capital budget is and how it’s allocated. He then asks Como the question again. Como answers that he doesn’t think the budget is adequate for District 30’s needs, like senior programs and education.
17:40 - Carter asks all the candidates if they feel that knowing the dollar amount of the capital budget is a fair question for someone running for office. All agree. But then at 18:00 after Tom Ognibene is acknowledged and starts explaining further, Elizabeth Crowley interjects by stating that the question was only for Anthony, apparently fearing that she would be asked to answer it herself.
18:07 - Carter asks if there is one thing you can change about the budget process, what would it be?
Crowley – cuts in education
Ober – across the board cuts
Como – “seniors is a major priority we need to look at”
Ognibene – openness with regard to the oversight that the city council has for city agencies
End of debate

Winner - Ognibene
Runner up - Ober
At the bottom - a tie between Crowley and Como

Dressing up the Doorman

In interviews with local political officials, staffers and observers, Mr. Gioia was consistently described as a young man with a bright political future, and as someone who is, as one local activist put it, “there when the camera’s there.”

“Eric’s eagerness has served him as a double-edged sword,” said Morgan Pehme, former managing editor of the Queens Courier who now runs a blog called the Brooklyn Optimist. “It has won him notoriety and the affection of the media, while turning off others who see a facade to conceal naked ambition.”

“He’s at least going to be mayor, if not president of the United States,” said one City Council member, not sarcastically, but not kindly, either.

The council member added, “The image overwhelms the reality.”

The Upwardly Mobile Councilman

By the way, Crappy was asked to provide my opinion on Gioia, apparently for this story. Here's what I contributed:

"Eric Gioia is a typical politician who, the day after the 2001 election, was thinking about the next office he will hold. He was elected as an independent, anti-machine candidate, kind of a hometown hero, but wasted no time selling out to the very people he fought against. Developers and the real estate industry have him in their back pockets. He should take a walk around his district and see what has become of it. But instead, he's holding fundraisers in Manhattan."

Didn't make it in.

Bat-man protects Gotham from developers

When driving by the houses on his way to the gym, Oddo noticed the steep angle of the driveways being built and decided to alert the DOB to send an inspector. The inspection found that the driveways were indeed too steep at two of the houses, as well as improperly constructed drainage features, curb cuts, and the use of the lower levels as basements instead of cellars. The developer will be fined for the violations. Oddo commented, “With that slope, your rearview mirrors are useless…You wouldn’t be able to see if there are any pedestrians as you’re backing out.”

Builders Beware: Jimmy Oddo Is Watching

MTA perks pulled

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo moved swiftly Tuesday to end the E-Z life for MTA board members, warning the authority to revoke the free travel perks.

Just hours after the Daily News revealed how some 60 past and present board members - many of them multimillionaires - get the free tags for life, Cuomo's office issued a stern warning that the practice is illegal.

Get 'em off E-Z Street now, Andy warns MTA

Cuomo also told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to produce records of any other benefits doled out to board members who are supposed to "serve without salary or other compensation."

The letter to the MTA, penned by top Cuomo aide Benjamin Lawsky, was titled "Illegal Compensation of Board Members."

Update: MTA agrees to rescind free E-Z Pass

Bloomie leaving city in debt up to our eyeballs the City Council considers Mayor Bloomberg’s budget submitted earlier this month, with more than $11 billion in proposed capital commitments for the next year, payments on debt service are rising well above inflation at a rate of almost 10 percent a year, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. Taken with a slowing economy and perhaps falling tax revenues, the increased debt costs could leave future office holders with a shrinking pie of uncommitted money in the budget to move around as they please in the post-Bloomberg era.

Bloomberg's Hidden Debt

The bulk of the money for capital projects, which include expansions and repairs on city infrastructure and buildings, comes from loans, as the city pays for the projects over the long term in the form of debt payments.

The high level of city borrowing at the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure—this year and the proposed budget for next year call for over $20 billion in city spending commitments on capital projects—spreads the cost for the capital projects to future administrations. Yearly debt payments are expected to reach about $6 billion by 2012, up from the $4 billion-plus spent in much of the mayor’s first term.

...fiscal monitoring groups have raised concerns over the rising debt. They generally support the increased attention to aging infrastructure, and are careful to say that the problem hasn’t reached crisis proportions yet. But they also warn that the rising cost of debt payments will take up an increased, untouchable portion of the annual budget, especially if tax revenues decline.

Crime reporting in Queens vs. Manhattan

Let's Meet Up In Queens is wondering why the sexual assault of a 19-year old in SoHo at 3:30am got more attention than the sodomization of a 6-year old in a Woodside park in broad daylight last week.

The answer: Woodside is in Queens, not Manhattan, and the child was probably not white.

Perhaps we should get our own news channel? Our own Police Department? Oh, right. Nevermind. Does anyone have the phone number to the 114th Precinct? Do they have a phone number?

Trimming the fat from pork

"City government must restore New Yorkers' faith in the system," said Avella. "It is time to end the slush fund."

In a plan he intends to formally announce later this week, Avella stops short of calling for full abolition of the discretionary funding of nonprofit groups - as has been urged editorially by the Daily News and other news organizations.

Let's butcher the pork, sez City Council member

Saying many such groups provide essential community services, Avella called instead for stripping Council members and the speaker of direct control over funds granted to nonprofit groups.

Grants larger than $50,000 would have to be allocated through the city budget as distinct separate items. The mayor and the Council, as a whole, would have to approve the allocations when they adopt the city budget, Avella said.

Under Avella's plan, grants under $50,000 would be disbursed by setting up a community funding team in each Council district, consisting of the Council member, a community board representative and a city agency representative.

Until you mentioned a council member and a community board member it sounded pretty good...otherwise it's still pork!

Q45 to end at Atlas Park Mall

Dear Crappy,

On May 20th at the CB5 Transportation Committee meeting, the MTA came back with a final Q45 bus proposal. We consider this to be a small victory for the residents of Glendale.

The three new proposals that were introduced by Norman Silverman and his partner Peter Liu, called the "C" proposals, all have bus loops within Atlas Park. However, they still plan to extend this bus to Atlas Park via 80th Street starting at Eliot Ave. This will mean additional bus stops from Eliot Ave to the Furmanville Ave. Once the bus crosses Furmanville, it will use the existing Q29 bus stops. This fight is still not over yet.

There is a public hearing tentatively scheduled for the June CB5 monthly meeting. Surprisingly, the MTA Bus Company does not plan on attending since they have said they are putting this plan through regardless. They also claim that they are doing this for the betterment of the mall, something that Norm Silverman finally put on the record last night.

We will keep you posted for further details. If anyone wishes to see the proposals, please e-mail us at and request them.

The Committee to Stop the Q45


Yes, this is a stretch of a Brooklyn street that resembles a ghetto. We have hanging of the wash on the front gate, and a giant piece of crap next to a bungalow that can't decide whether to wear brick or aluminum. But the cherry on top is the misspelling of the illegally painted word "parking". Apparently a "K" was squeezed in once the mistake was noticed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

JFK felines to be euthanized

In October, the Port Authority announced that they were rounding up the feral cats and sending them to shelters. Animal advocates protested, arguing that shelters couldn't handle the cats and that they would ultimately be put down.

They also claimed that a program to trap, neuter and then return the cats to the airport would be more effective.

Advocates: JFK feral cats will face death

The agency and the Port Authority have for months been negotiating a solution. On the morning of Memorial Day, Kwan said the agency called him to announce that they were ignoring advocates' plans to trap and neuter the animals and would restart a program to trap and remove the cats.

The Port Authority did not return phone calls seeking comment, but in October they explained that the cats can interfere with aircraft operation.

Someone in this article is quoted as saying, "I have never seen a feral kitten pole vault into the engine of a jet airplane." Neither have I. But in this city, we love to come up with lame excuses for killing living creatures - trees, squirrels and now cats.

What Elizabeth Crowley did behind closed doors

With all the problems in this neighborhood, why haven't we ever seen this "dedicated community leader" showing outrage BEFORE she was running for office? Where has she been since 2001? Wait...I think I know. It was only after Brian McLaughlin pled guilty that he let Elizabeth Crowley out of his office.

Check this out from the NY Post: day in 2004 - as McLaughlin explored running for mayor - he skipped out on an interview with a New York Times reporter, after hiding out in his office with Elizabeth Crowley.

She's his close political pal and a failed City Council candidate. "Brian wouldn't come out of his office - I was banging on the door," said a former staffer at the New York Central Labor Council, which McLaughlin headed.

From the Queens Chronicle:

Elizabeth Crowley, a cousin of Congressman Joseph Crowley and a political ally of McLaughlin, has been reported to be one of three female friends with whom he had "a close personal relationship," according to the indictment.

One of three...How about this from the NY Post?

A second woman with whom he allegedly had a personal relationship received thousands of dollars in union checks and was given a no-show job with a contractor who used union workers, the feds said.


Windy weather makes DOB wary

Check out what went on yesterday:

The department said it will be doing random spot-check inspections around the city on Tuesday. If construction sites are not secured, the department said it will issue violations ``and stop work orders if necessary.''

How about some spot checks at construction sites on non-windy days? The city is sitting on a potential gold mine!

Guilty plea by North Hempstead inspector

Plea in Long Island Corruption Probe

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- A Long Island prosecutor has announced a guilty plea by the man at the center of a 2007 probe into corruption at the Town of North Hempstead's building department.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice says David Wasserman -- formerly North Hempstead's top Building Department official -- has pleaded guilty to five felonies and two misdemeanors. Nassau County Court Judge William Donnino says he will sentence Wasserman on July 1 to a year in jail.

Tuesday's plea is the third in connection with the 16-month probe. Rice says other cases remain active.

The DA says Wasserman, a resident of Roslyn, doctored plans and permit applications to conceal conflicting outside employment while working for the town. He pleaded guilty to grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records and receiving unlawful gratuities.

Building permits cut by half

In yet another sign the city’s building boom is coming to an end, the number of residential permits issued in the five boroughs continued to drop last month, falling by 51% compared with the same period a year earlier.

The decline follows a year in which more permits were issued citywide than in any year since 1972, bucking a national slowdown.

Permitted units in Queens and Brooklyn, which reached record highs in 2007, dropped by 51% and 48%, respectively, in April. Staten Island was the only borough to record a gain in units, jumping to 376 from 236.

Developers say the decline in units stems both from artificially inflated numbers in 2007 and the credit crunch, which has made it difficult for buyers to get mortgages and developers to secure loans.

Residential building permits plunge 50%

JFK mural dismantled and sold

Portions of the mural will go on display on Long Island and Texas. But nostalgic travelers who recall the terminal's past can own a piece of that era. A salvaging company, Olde Good Things, brokered a deal with the airline to deconstruct the mammoth artwork. Workers removed the panes with the agreement to give American as many pieces as it wished; the rest of the window was left to the salvaging company to sell in its Chelsea store, said American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith. The shop received about 750 pieces and is selling them for about $95 a square foot, store employee Diana Harrod said. The pieces are numbered and the store has a map of the original window, so customers can purchase more than one pane and arrange them as they once were.

An icon of 1960s flight, saved pane by pane

Frank Lloyd Crap endorses Como

Anthony Como weathered a spate of criticism after he chickened out of a debate and shamelessly promoted himself on his boss' car at the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade. But he picked up a key endorsement when Frank Lloyd Crap threw his support behind him yesterday. Here they are at the press conference...

Anthony Como: "This is a photo of the house I am building in Middle Village. Anyone who thinks it is ugly is just jealous. It took me 10 years serving as a lackey for the DA and the Senator to be able to afford the Casa de Como."

Frank Lloyd Crap: "It is my pleasure to endorse Anthony Como, a man who is taking Middle Village architecture to the next level. He will make sure the rest of Council District 30 looks as impressive as the corner of 82nd Place and 64th Road. I was proud to design this masterpiece and I look forward to bringing similar homes to a block near you. I have donated heavily to Mr. Como's campaign to make sure that becomes a reality in the near future. Some may call this a conflict of interest, we call it standard operating procedure. Please vote for Como on June 3rd!"

Crap on the hill

This crap is on 45th Avenue in Woodside. Hopefully, those are fast-growing trees.
Unfortunately, it looks even worse from Queens Blvd, below...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Woodside sliver

69-08 38th Avenue in Woodside was a one-family house with a front yard.
Now it's 10 units of crap - 5 1/2 stories - that towers over its neighbors. No need to remind you that Woodside was one of the Queens communities hard hit by flooding last summer. Houses next door, you're SOL if you have side windows. Oh - and who needs parking?

Council, Kalikow get free rides

City Council members are taking cabs, buying MetroCards, hiring photographers and paying pricey consultants on the taxpayers' dime, the Daily News has learned.

Lawmakers spent $7,364 on MetroCards last fiscal year, $11,234 on photographers, $254,480 on consultants and $17,502 on travel, which includes black cars, E-ZPasses and cabs, documents show.

The perks are allowed under funding each member receives for staffing and other office matters. They have wide latitude on how to spend the funds, and it's one of the few areas not being reduced in the upcoming year.

City Council members get $277G for little extras, on top of $112G salary

Nearly 60 past and present MTA board members - many of them millionaires many times over - get free, taxpayer-funded E-ZPass tags for life.

Not only are taxpayers footing the bill for tens of thousands of dollars in free rides, but many of the well-heeled honchos get tags for other cars they own - as many as eight for former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Peter Kalikow.

The multimillionaire developer gets the multiple electronic tags so he doesn't have to switch them from car to car in his private fleet.

Kalikow has so many E-ZPass tags because he has alot of cars - "45 or 48" of them, he said, many vintage or custom-made, and each worth a small fortune.

Kalikow & MTA cronies get passes for life - and YOU pay

Como parades with Gallagher staff

No special election candidate was permitted to have staff march with campaign signs in the Maspeth Memorial Day Parade, but Anthony Como got around that by pasting his name on the car that State Senator Serf Maltese was riding in.
Then he marched with Dennis Gallagher's office staff, Lynda Metzger and Kerri Steinmuller.

Como has promised to keep them on his team should he be elected.

Electrical jolt kills dog in LIC

Out for his nighttime walk, Sebastian made contact with the base of the lamppost and died instantly.

"As soon as he got to the lamppost, he jumped and he dropped," she said. "And he starting shaking wildly, and I'm like, 'Go on. Get up, Sebastian, get up,' And he wouldn't move. And he just shook. And then, all of the sudden, he stopped shaking and he was dead. My dog was dead."

The horrific incident left Sing shaken and devastated. She and neighbors frantically called ConEd's emergency hotline, but so far, no one has explained what went wrong.

Dog electrocuted during walk

Crowley the crusader

Some really disturbing mail came last week.
This is so weird that I don't know what to say. The city council generally doesn't fund health research...

Death at Bklyn construction site

The payroll manager for a construction site was found dead inside the site in Brooklyn Monday.

Authorities say they received a call for an unconscious male in the rear of 1676 Park Place around 5:30 p.m. Upon their arrival, police reportedly found the 68-year-old man unconscious and unresponsive with trauma to the head.

EMS responded and pronounced the male dead on arrival. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

The investigation is ongoing. Officials say the man showed up at the work site Monday, even though no construction was being done due to the Memorial Day holiday. Police say a co-worker the arrived and found the body. It is not clear why the co-worker showed up, either.

Police say nothing appeared to be stolen from the scene, and the medical examiner will determine if foul play was involved.

Update 5/28/08:

Payroll manager death ruled murder

Eyewitness News

Brooklyn - The payroll manager for a construction site was found dead inside the site in Brooklyn Monday. On Tuesday, the medical examiner declared it a murder.

Authorities say they received a call for an unconscious male in the rear of 1676 Park Place around 5:30 p.m. Upon their arrival, police reportedly found the 68-year-old man unconscious and unresponsive with trauma to the head.
EMS responded and pronounced the male dead on arrival.

The investigation is ongoing. Officials say the man showed up at the work site Monday, even though no construction was being done due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Police say a co-worker the arrived and found the body. It is not clear why the co-worker showed up, either.

Police say nothing appeared to be stolen from the scene. The medical examiner determined that foul play was involved, and now, a killer is on the loose.
The victim reportedly had a fractured skull and severe brain injuries. So far, there are no suspects and is no motive.

Bloomberg loves protests

Mayor Bloomberg:

“People gave their lives so that they could protest," he said. "And I think it is wonderful they protest. It would be a shame to have this freedom to express yourself and to try and influence government and be too lazy to use it."

"So I always put a smile on my face when I see the protesters. Some I agree with, some I don’t. In this case, I don’t.”

Protests Make Bloomberg Smile

Bloomberg loves protests, but only when they aren't directed at him. When they are, he sics Nazli on you.

P.S. They booed Mr. Met in Whitestone...It's going to be a long summer.

The last resident of Willets Point

When Ardizzone was a child, Willets Point was still mostly farmland, and his family kept chickens and goats on their property. The World's Fair in 1939-40 gradually started to change all of that, and by the 1960s and '70s, the chops shops and warehouses had taken over.

The rest of the families that made up the neighborhood eventually moved out, but Ardizzone stayed, living in the rooms that he grew up in, above a coffee shop.

"Where would I go?" he asks. "My sister is always trying to get me to move out, but I like it here. It's quiet in the evenings, and there is always somebody to talk to."

Mayor of Willets Point: The last man standing

Preservationists want more money for LPC

Preservationists are lobbying the City Council this week to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the budget of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, one of five city agencies whose 2009 budget has not been cut by Mayor Bloomberg.

In Time of Cuts, Extra Funds Sought by Preservationists

The Municipal Art Society, the Historic Districts Council, and several council members are scheduled to rally on the steps of City Hall tomorrow, calling on the council to approve $300,000 in additional funding.

Landmarks has a budget of $4.3 million for fiscal year 2008, and proponents say the addition of $300,000 in any other financial environment would receive scant notice. Given Mr. Bloomberg's call for more than $1.3 billion in budget cuts and his pledge that spending in the city would remain almost completely flat, any additional funding, regardless of its size, receives added scrutiny.

Yes, please allocate more tax money toward boosting the LPC, because they are doing such a great job of preserving our neighborhood landmarks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wave goodbye to special leaf collection

At the same time that Mayor Bloomberg is stepping up his campaign to plant 1 million trees, the Sanitation Department plans to eliminate a special leaf-collection program due to budget cuts.

The agency pruned $2.2 million from its $1.3 billion budget for fiscal 2009 as part of a larger reduction Bloomberg imposed throughout city government to deal with the economic downturn.

Actually, Sanitation Department spokesman Vito Turso said leaves would continue to be collected with regular trash.

What's being eliminated are four special Sunday leaf collections, each falling within 37 of the city's 59 tree-laden community boards, covering all of Queens and Staten Island and sections of Brooklyn and The Bronx.

Those leaves were brought - on overtime - to collection centers and turned into compost.


Forced demolition for Bklyn building

A Brooklyn Heights building on the verge of collapse was evacuated so an emergency crew could remove the top two floors before they toppled, witnesses said yesterday.


Workers were rushed to 100 Clark St. - which was built in the 1850s - after an anonymous tipster called 311 on Saturday and said the top floors were buckling.

When they arrived, the top of the five-story, red-brick building was protruding 13 inches over Clark Street, prompting an immediate evacuation of the structure's three occupied apartments.

The Penson brothers - who have fought tenants at other properties over maintenance and rent issues - have been slapped with a violation for failure to maintain the building, authorities said.