Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hospitals officially close at midnight tonight

From NY1:

Two hospitals in Queens are set to stop accepting patients Saturday night at midnight as they prepare to close for good.

St. John's Queens and Mary Immaculate Hospitals will officially shut down Monday after wrapping up last minute business.

Workers are expected to hold a vigil Saturday night outside St. John's.

The hospitals are closing because their operator, Caritas Healthcare, recently filed for bankruptcy.

The move will leave about 2,500 people out of work.

The candlelight vigil will be at midnight tonight in front of St. John's.

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today issued the following statement on the closures of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Queens hospitals:

“Despite numerous calls from the various stakeholders to prevent or delay the hospital closures, the State has failed to keep Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Queens hospitals open. Without putting a plan in place, the State has left many unanswered questions about how Queens residents will be able to get their health care needs met. The New York City Fire Department, which oversees Emergency Medical Services, also has not addressed how the closures will impact the health and safety of area residents including transition plans for ‘911’ emergency medical response and treatment services.”

Over the past several months, Thompson has been advocating to prevent or delay the hospital closures. Additionally, in 2006, Thompson issued a report “Emergency Room Care: Will It Be There?,” detailing how the proposed closure of five hospitals could overwhelm emergency rooms at neighboring hospitals, reduce ambulance availability, and require New Yorkers to travel farther to reach an emergency room. With the closures of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s hospitals, Western and Southwestern Queens have lost three hospitals within two years.

The NY Post has an updated story:

"Someone needs to investigate why this is happening," Beidell said. "We have always been packed with patients who have insurance. How is it we were unable to stay viable? Its all politics and its very shady."

Staff were shocked the closure actually happened, adding that less than a month ago the hospital was at capacity.

EMT Brigitte Smalley said patients have to wait too long for beds under normal circumstances, and was grim about what could happen with two less hospitals in the borough.

"There are no beds. These closings are going to shorten life spans," she said.

Nurse Eddie Drinnkman said the closures will turn a health care crisis "into a health care disaster."

"Governor Patterson is going to try to save money by killing the residents of Queens," he said.

Finance Commissioner lets corrupt judge off the hook

From Fox 5:

Did a New York City parking ticket judge facing potentially serious criminal charges wiggle out of trouble because of his connections? Fox 5's John Deutzman got his hands on some documents that raise serious questions about a city investigation.

Let's pay for everyone else but Americans

From the Queens Courier, by the president of Queensborough Community College:

It is time to speak out for the thousands of undocumented immigrants who are intimidated and abused. As the president of Queensborough Community College, one of the units of the City University of New York (CUNY), and as a New Yorker, I am proud that our state is one of 10 that provides in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants.

Specifically those who have resided in the state for three years, graduated from a state high school, received notification of acceptance to a public college or university and signed an affidavit stating they will file for legal immigration status.

This is a natural extension of the Supreme Court decision Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) that states that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education as U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Why should we subsidize the college educations of people who are here illegally? I thought the whole argument for looking the other way on illegal aliens is because they do jobs that Americans won't. So why would we now encourage them to take the jobs of legal U.S. Citizens who go to college? Oh, and we're giving them free legal advice, too, thanks to $160,000 taxpayer dollars allocated by Councilmen Comrie & Gennaro.

Dissenting opinions on College Point Industrial Park

From the Times Ledger:

Members of Community Board 7 are anxious to get a new special zoning district in place at College Point Corporate Park, but City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said the city’s current plan is not good enough.

The city Economic Development Corp., which administers the corporate park, has proposed a special zoning district designed to preserve many of the developmental restrictions in place under an urban renewal plan, which expires in April.

But while CB 7’s College Point Task Force is eager to move the proposal ahead, Avella said the city plan opens the door for adult establishments and heavy industrial businesses that will drag down the quality of life for the surrounding neighborhoods.

“The quality of life for these neighborhoods is not what it used to be because of the corporate park. How much more can these neighborhoods take?” Avella said.

One-man anti-prostitution army

From the Queens Courier:

Roosevelt Avenue has a problem with prostitution, say local officials who last year announced a campaign against promoting sex for sale. Moreno, now in his 70s, said he went undercover as a "John" as recently as last year. It's a personal battle - police officials say he has no official role in their vice operations.

Instead, Moreno said, he brings cops first-hand information about brothels.

“My friends on the Community Board ask, 'Ralph, are you crazy?' No, I'm doing good work for the community," he said.

Slumlord keeps Schleicher tenants on ice

From the Times Ledger:

After more than eight months living in temporary housing, the remaining tenants at Schleicher’s Court were allowed to return to their apartments last week only to find a litany of issues remain unresolved.

Tenants Rita Douglas and Kalvis Macs said Tuesday they returned home to discover they have no gas, minimal heat and a faulty water system and have started to wonder if fighting to stay in the 19th century mansion is still worth it.

“I’m back, but being back and being freezing isn’t really being back,” Macs said. “Now the electric’s on, but everything else is worse. I might just give up on this whole thing because I can’t spend my whole life battling this. It takes so much out of your heart, soul and health to keep on doing this.”

Mall heavyweights to manage Atlas Park

From the Times Ledger:

The new company managing the Shops at Atlas Park will be the College Point−based Mattone Group, sources close to the arrangement said Tuesday, which brought a positive response from elected officials and community leaders.

“I look forward to working with the Mattone Group over the coming weeks to improve the Shops at Atlas Park,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village) said. “I trust that they will attract and retain quality businesses that will help serve as a positive economic engine for our community’s small businesses and local residents.”

Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, that was often at odds with the Hemmerdingers over the high−end mall, also hailed the decision.

“I am pleased that they are a Queens−based operation and hopefully have an understanding of what it takes to do successful retail business in our area,” she said. “I look forward to working with them.”

Bloomie living large

From the NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s town house at 17 East 79th Street is the epitome of Upper East Side elegance: five stories of flawless Beaux-Arts limestone with 7,500 square feet of exquisite living space, all within steps of Central Park.

The mayor’s town house, center, has expanded into the house at right.

But for the mayor, it seems, the house has been a bit cramped.

Over the past two decades, in transactions that have gone all but unnoticed, Mr. Bloomberg has been buying up space in the building next door, knocking down walls and combining two entire floors along the way. He now owns four of the six apartments at 19 East 79th Street, a white 1880 neo-Grec co-op town house.

The additions have made his home far roomier, giving him an estimated 12,500 square feet of living space; it would probably fetch more than $30 million, even in the current down market.

That's some bachelor pad. I like how he got the building violation while being mayor...

Another dumb Queens criminal

From the Daily News:

Patrick Murray, 34, is a suspected member of a drug trafficking crew that produces hydroponic marijuana in various "grow houses" in Queens and distributes the pot throughout the New York area, according to a complaint unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Cops received an anonymous tip phoned into the 105th Precinct yesterday that Murray was moving high-powered lights out of a house on 237th St. in Queens Village and loading them onto a U-Haul truck. The special lights are used to grow marijuana indoors, said DEA special agent Diette Ridgeway.

Murray was sitting in the U-Haul truck when cops approached him and asked what he was doing, the complaint states.

The firefighter claimed he was just making a U-turn in the driveway, but cops knocked on the door of the house and a tenant told them Murray had been moving items out of the basement, which reeked of marijuana.

Sad state of Jamaica Estates house

"The only decent-looking building on the whole block of Wexford Terrace off Midland Parkway, and it looks like it's ready to come down.

Two of these photos were taken this past week, and one was taken back in September. It's been empty for several years.
There's a demo permit on file, but none attached to the fence."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new

How cute. Helen is having a job fair. I wonder why since the new stadium is smaller?


$2 to cross the moat

From the NY Post:

Like it or not, drivers will likely soon have to pay anywhere they cross the East and Harlem rivers.

Speaker Sheldon Silver all but guaranteed that the state Assembly would approve $2 tolls on 13 crossings that historically have been popular free alternatives to the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels and the RFK/Triborough Bridge, where E-ZPass tolls are $4.15 and cash tolls $5.

Silver said the option facing lawmakers was simple: Add tolls to the bridges to rescue the MTA from a $1.2 billion budget deficit, or force crippling service cuts and fare hikes on millions of transit riders.

Why don't you just open the other set of books the MTA keeps and find out what they did with all the money?

Avella vs. the City Hall tweeders

From City Hall:

“Nothing is ever decided on the merits. It’s political and personal agendas. It’s ‘where is my next donation coming from.’ It’s money buys the influence and money rules this city instead of the people,” he said, adding, “I hate politics. I hate it. My definition of politics is you have to deal with people that in any other walk of life you’d cross the street just to get away from them. Politics is a disgusting business. I hate it with a passion.”

Some of his most fervent battles have been with the Department of Buildings and with what he sees as the runaway development of the Bloomberg years. He is on a self-styled mission to save the fallen city from its own worst instincts, to bring the city back to the way it was, back when the job of government was to serve the people, not keep the city globally competitive. His is the voice of the small and of the local, of the city that existed before the current crop of glittering glass condos began to sprout like mushrooms. He is one of the most ardent preservationists in the city, putting him in line with a group made up more often than not of ladies who lunch from Manhattan.

Avella is not one who sees the city as growing better with time.

“For one thing, it’s much more crowded. Everything is much more expensive. In many neighborhoods a lot of the charm is being lost,” he said. “Queens has suffered greatly. That’s the cry I hear from most residents throughout the entire city, that the charm and character of the neighborhoods is just being destroyed and it’s all becoming one concrete village, and we are all going to be the same.”

Washington crosses the East River

Happy Belated Birthday, George.

All shook up in Rego Park

From the Times Ledger:

For four years, Rego Park resident Kang Yuen and his family have been living in a house that frequently shakes and with noises that sound like a train consistently rolling by in the summertime due to a commercial−sized heating⁄air conditioning unit illegally installed on the roof by Yuen’s neighbors, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) and Yuen said.

“In the summer, the air conditioner is on all day, and the house shakes all day,” Yuen said at a press conference Thursday. “I live here with my wife and two children, and we cannot enjoy life.”

Stavisky accused the city Department of Buildings of failing to enforce two stop−work orders issued in 2007 at 65−33 Alderton St., and she called on the city agency to go to housing court and obtain an order forcing the landlord to admit DOB inspectors into the home. Access to DOB inspectors has been denied several times, according to department records.

In addition to the commercial−sized heating⁄air−conditioning unit on the roof, the neighbor in 2005 built a larger addition to his house than he stated he would in plans filed with the DOB and installed a pool too close to the property line, according to DOB records.

NYC politics like the mafia

From True News from

Just like the mob rigged drugs, gambling and prostitution our elected officials have rigged the election law to protect incumbents from challengers. A good example of an election law hit was the candidate who was knocked off the ballot in a special elections this week because a judge said the name of his party broke the election law (in a special you cannot use established parties). Glenn DiResto was removed from the ballot because the name who choose Families First according to the judge sounded to much like the established Working Families Party. Because of thug tactics like the election law our local elections have become so noncompetitive, that, behind public view, most incumbents, regardless of party or reform beliefs, work together like the organized crime commission organized in 1957 in Appalachian, New York, to keep the outs “out.” Sometimes elections are so fix that candidate receive the both Republican and Democrat endorsements.

Parkside Group representing Hooters

From the Queens Chronicle:

While college students from nearby St. John’s University may welcome it, some residents of Fresh Meadows are concerned about the upcoming opening of a Hooters in their community.

According to James Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, the beach-themed bar and grill is set to open soon at the former site of the Future Diner off the Horace Harding Expressway. “It seems like an odd fit for the neighborhood,” Gallagher said.

The area is filled with well-kept, high-rise apartment buildings with a movie theater on one side of the restaurant and a shopping center featuring Kohl’s department store on the other side. “Hooters seems like it’s more for truckers, not for a residential community,” Gallagher said. “But the owner appears to be community-oriented and that could be helpful.”

A spokesperson from Hooters corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. did not return calls on the opening. Nor did the Parkside Group, a lobbyist firm that represents unions, political candidates and businesses, including the Queens Hooters, which will be the first one in the borough.

Unions, political candidates and Hooters. The jokes almost write themselves.

Grandma now lobbying for Flushing waterfront plan

From Iron Triangle Tracker:

Former Borough President Claire Shulman’s lobbying firm presented plans to rezone a portion of the Flushing River waterfront to Community Board 7, a project it says will provide both a literal and a figurative bridge to the city’s planned redevelopment of Willets Point.

The vision for the area, developed by Jay Valgora’s Studio V architectural firm with guidance from Shulman’s Flushing/Willets Point/Corona LDC, elected officials and the Department of City Planning, would create a special zoning district adjacent to Muss Development’s Skyview Parc and provide waterfront access, a bolstered commercial district and affordable housing if realized.

Given the Flushing River’s history as a heavily polluted waterway abutted primarily by heavy manufacturing and industrial uses, board members were skeptical.

“What makes you think that people will want to go down to the river in the summer?” asked board member Kim O’Hannion. “Have you ever been there in the summer? It stinks.”

Scaling down Forest Hills North

From the Daily News:

CITY PLANNERS are weighing a proposal to rein in the rapid growth of McMansions in the Cord Meyer section of Forest Hills.

A number of the Cape Cod and Tudor-style homes that were a hallmark of the neighborhood have in recent years been replaced by brick mansions.

And many lawns have been paved over to create concrete driveways and grand entranceways.

"People have been waiting for this for years," James Walsh of the Association of Old Forest Hills said of the plan.

"The whole character of the neighborhood is changing."

While similar zoning changes have been approved in other parts of Queens, the Cord Meyer proposal could prove to be especially sticky.

Many of the new homes have been built by members of the Bukharian Jewish community - a growing presence in many Queens neighborhoods, including Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens Hills. They are a Jewish sect with origins in Central Asia.

Photo from the NY Times

Fresh Meadows fighting bus elimination

From the Times Ledger:

Fresh Meadows resident Iris Yiu sent more than 900 signatures from residents irate over the proposed elimination of the Q26 bus to area legislators last week with the hopes that the increased pressure could compel the MTA to drop plans to ax the route that residents said serves many seniors and students.

“There are residents with jobs in Manhattan, elderly residents who need to get to the senior center in Flushing, teenage residents needing to get to school and young adults going to college in Manhattan who will be affected by the elimination of the Q26,” Yiu said.

Yiu, who lives a few hundred feet from St. Francis Preparatory School, created an online petition a couple of weeks ago to protest against the elimination and advocate for the rerouting of the Q27 line to better service area residents.

“Home values are going to decrease because of the lack of public transportation,” said Yiu, an accountant who works in Manhattan and typically takes the Q26 five days a week. “I’m so tired of getting very bad bus service.”

Aren't we all?

Pols: Feds should fix flooding

From the Times Ledger:

Residents in northeast and central Queens have been putting up with flooding on their roads and in their homes for decades and it is time for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson to do something about it, lawmakers said Friday.

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D−Fresh Meadows), U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) and City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) gathered at the Utopia Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows Friday to call on the mayor and the governor to use federal stimulus package funds to mitigate flooding in northeast and central Queens.

“Come to this area in a summer rain — and I don’t mean a rainstorm you’d expect once every 10 or once every 100 years — any heavy summer rain, and you’ll see Utopia Parkway under water,” Lancman said. “It’s a lake. Homes will have their basements flooded with 1, 2, 3, 4 feet of water. Homes will be flooded with raw sewage. Utopia Jewish Center had to repair its ballroom because it was flooded with raw sewage in 2008.”

The federal stimulus plan sets aside approximately $18 billion for flood control projects nationwide, and the city is slated to receive about $265 million for such efforts, Weiner said.

A blight on Whitestone

From the Queens Courier:

If you are driving up Clintonville Street near St. Luke’s church in Whitestone, one house on the block clearly stands out – and not in a good way.

The boarded up house located at 15-46 Clintonville Street, looks from the outside like a fire recently tore through it, but it has been vacant for the past two years. In addition, the property has also been the subject of numerous Department of Building (DOB) complaints, a hideout for kids and homeless persons and a glorified trash can, and some residents are tired of looking at the blight on their block.

The saga began more than two years ago when Everton McIntyre purchased the property with the intention of renovating the house and living there himself, according to McIntyre’s attorney Darmin Bachu. However, as the economy began its downward spiral, McIntyre’s finances ran thin, and the renovation plans were put on hold.

In the meantime, the property continued to deteriorate, and the garbage continued to pile up at the house, according to neighbors.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Opponents down, but not yet out at Atlantic Yards

Community Will Seek Court of Appeals Review of Today's Atlantic Yards Court Ruling

Petitioners—26 community organizations led by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn—will be headed to the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals, after a four judge Appellate Division panel ruled for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) on their challenge to the environmental review and blight designation for developer Forest City Ratner’s floundering Atlantic Yards proposal in Brooklyn. (The court’s ruling is here.)

Petitioners will ask the Court of Appeals to review the ruling and are considering all issues in the case for an appeal.

A key issue in the case is the state’s designation of the developer’s handpicked development site as "blighted." The court ruled that the state’s "blight" designation had a "rational basis."

However, Judge Catterson wrote a concurring opinion which raises substantial questions about that basis, suggesting there was no rational basis, but rather a decision to facilitate Forest City Ratner in its effort to control 22 valuable acres in the heart of Brooklyn.

Appreciating Astoria

Forgotten-NY looks at a slice of Astoria. Click photo for story.

Queens tweeders not doing so well in the polls

Results of the latest Marist poll regarding the Public Advocate race:

If you're polling in the single digits, you may want to rethink your campaign...

Airport congestion costing us big time

From NY1:

Congestion at the area's three major airports is costing the local economy about $2.6 billion a year, according to a new report released by the Partnership for New York City today.

The group says if nothing is done to correct the problem, the price tag will amount to about $79 billion by 2025.

LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark currently handle about one-third of the nation's flights and are responsible for nearly three-quarters of the nation's delays. The impact locally is felt with increased emissions, wasted fuel, and the possibility of lost business for companies who ship freight.

Trying to find the fake Mr. Softee

From the Daily News:

The city's most recognized soft ice cream man wants the feds to seize a knockoff Mister Softee truck that served swirly cones on Queens streets last summer.

Mister Softee's lawyers won a $20,000 judgment against Akop Papazian last month when he didn't answer claims he'd violated the New Jersey company's 52-year-old trademark by tooling around in a truck adorned with the signature smiling conehead in a bow tie.

But they haven't been able to collect, and no one seems to know where Papazian's blue-and-white 1986 Chevy van is hiding. Mister Softee is asking a judge to order federal marshals to seize the truck, sell it and give them the proceeds.

Fort Totten rally scheduled

From Bay Terrace Cafe:

New Yorkers take Chuck's side

New Yorkers Say Staten Island Chuck Was Defending His Turf When He Bit Mayor Bloomberg

NEW YORK (AP) -- New Yorkers think groundhog Staten Island Chuck was just defending his turf, and not making a political statement, when he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The tongue-in-cheek topic was polled by Quinnipiac University, which released the results Wednesday.

Sixty-one percent of New Yorkers - including 79 percent of Staten Islanders - felt the incident was turf-related. Fifteen percent thought it was political.

Chuck - full name Charles G. Hogg - nicked Bloomberg's finger on Feb. 2. The mayor was trying to coax Chuck into view with an ear of corn for Groundhog Day.

Quinnipiac polled 984 registered city voters from Feb. 17-22. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Say no to federal stimulus money for Atlantic Yards

To: New York State Governor David Paterson

I oppose the use of federal stimulus money to fund the Atlantic Yards project. The design, schedule and benefits of the project have clearly departed from what were disclosed to the public in 2006. Any allocation of stimulus to Atlantic Yards at this point would not only further reduce the project's already unacceptable standard of accountability, it would deprive the people of New York City investment in urgently needed public works. I therefore urge you to reject any request for stimulus funds to be granted to Atlantic Yards.


The Undersigned

"Kings" fliming in Queens

I read this Daily News article about filming the pilot of a show called "Kings" in the Rockaways and I remembered that I took photos of the location of a shoot for the same show last month at the Glendale Train Yard.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Will Albany stop Bloomberg's third term?

From NY Mag:

Mayor Bloomberg has already hired a team of rivals and launched a website, and he now plans to open dozens of campaign offices and launch TV ads as early as April. But a bill headed for a full vote in the state legislature would undo the controversial law passed by the City Council last fall that revised mayoral term limits and allowed Bloomberg to run again in the first place. If it passes (and, at this point, its prospects are unclear), the city will have to hold a public referendum on the issue before May 1.

Weekend subway service still on chopping block

From the Daily News:

The MTA will cut weekend subway service even if it gets a state bailout, officials said Monday.

And, for the first time in six years, the number of weekday riders dropped 2% in January, suggesting job losses have begun to thin the throngs of straphangers riding the rails.

Real estate tax revenues this year are $75 million below already scaled-back budget expectations, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.

If the pattern continues through December, the MTA faces a $651 million budget gap - even if whopping fare hikes and other severe measures go into effect later this year.

Julissa takes 21st Council District seat

According to the Daily News, Julissa Ferraras has declared victory in the 21st Council District race. Congratulations!

How Bloomberg lost his mojo

From the NY Post:

A little more than a year ago, Mayor Bloomberg starred on the covers of Time and Newsweek, poised to lead an independent movement to the White House. Now, he's fighting off comparisons to Venezuelan strongman Hugo "El Loco" Chavez and finds himself groveling to a fellow some call a cult leader.

What the heck happened?

Bloomberg's independent crusade, now seen as a marketing tool rather than a historical force, has vanished from the national scene. On the big debates over guns, immigration and education, the mayor has lost his voice. The "practical solutions" he said Americans were rallying around turned out to be his solutions - not those of any wider movement.

Wetlands initiative headscratcher

From Save Ridgewood Reservoir:

The following quote is from Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030:

"Many New Yorkers don't realize there are thousands of acres of wetlands in the five boroughs," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Wetlands are robust ecosystems that perform crucial environmental functions like trapping pollutants, capturing stormwater runoff, sequestering carbon dioxide, and moderating storm surges. In PlaNYC, we promised to study wetlands and build on wetland successes like the impressive Staten Island Bluebelt stormwater project managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the thousands of acres of wetlands managed by the Parks Department." The mapping efforts and policy evaluation called for in the report complement ongoing City efforts that protect wetlands, including: - Acquiring additional wetlands as part of the Bluebelt network, Parks system, and upstate watershed land; - Implementing the comprehensive Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan for the restoration of tidal marshes and other aspects of the Jamaica Bay ecosystem; - Implementing the Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan to reduce point and non-point source water pollution; and - Revising the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual that guides the process that City agencies use to identify the effect their actions may have on the environment.

If the mayor thinks that New Yorkers will take his "green" mandate seriously, perhaps he should start by reversing his plans to develop the Ridgewood Reservoir's important natural habitats.

Congressman Nyuk, Nyuk!

From Newsday:

Ackerman has become the go-to congressman for network and cable news shows looking for someone who can be angry and funny about high-flying executives and inept regulators as the economy collapses.

Over the years, Ackerman has cultivated a flamboyant image, with the fresh carnation in his lapel and a quirky, but often direct, sense of humor.

He asked for a urine sample from an official who argued at a hearing in favor of worker drug testing. He also held up red- white-and-blue socks in a debate on a flag-protection amendment.

"I've been doing it all my life," he said. As a kid in his family, "I was the funny guy."

"It's just me," he said. "Sometimes, I say the funniest things when no one is around. I think something funny, and I start laughing."

Wow, Gary the funny man! Newspaper stories about Queens pols are usually about what great people they are and not about their accomplishments or legislation they've authored.

Schleicher tenants home at last

From NY1:

Seven College Point families who have been fighting to be allowed back into their historic building for nearly eight months are finally home.

State plans revamping of Belmont

From Newsday:

The complex at Belmont Park horse racing track in Elmont could be home someday to a hotel, video-lottery parlor, sports complex and senior housing, according to plans released Monday.

The 54-page report, from Empire State Development and the state Racing and Wagering Board, envisions new building projects adjacent to the famed track. Some would be contingent on legislative approval of the installation of slot-like gambling machines at Belmont, which so far has met with resistance in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Nearby Aqueduct race course already has gained such approval.

At Belmont, an eight-acre parcel near the grandstand could accommodate a hotel and gambling parlor. A 20-acre parcel could be used for a hotel, senior apartments, big-box retail stores and a recreational facility, or a combination of these ideas.

The plans also call for revamping the racing facilities, including employee housing and the grandstand.

Ulrich victorious in 32nd Council District special election

The unofficial winner of the 32nd Council District special election, with 46% of the total vote, is Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). Congratulations!

And a special note to Serf, Pinky & company: HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Preserving a slave burial ground

From Fox 5:

A humble burial ground on Long Island that pre-dates the Civil War is at the center of one family's efforts to keep history alive. The land is the final resting place for slaves -- and their descendants are determined that developers not disturb the land.

Surreal times in LIC

According to A Fine Blog, the Pepsi sign in LIC is making a slow comeback. (More from the NY Times.) Curbed has info about a weird gas station-to-bakery project.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bloomberg to get down on his knees tomorrow

From NY Mag:

It's do-or-die for Mayor Bloomberg and New York City Republicans. Tomorrow morning at the Metropolitan Club, the mayor will make a personal appeal for forgiveness before the five GOP county leaders in a last-resort effort to win back their favor and secure their ballot line. The summit is billed as a "candidate screening," but it promises to be more like a tribunal. Republicans say they intend to air a lengthy list of grievances against the mayor, starting with his abandonment of the party a year and a half ago.

Bloomberg isn't one to genuflect before party honchos, but he has little other choice. On the surface, the billionaire mayor would seem to be in a strong position; he has a commanding lead in the polls over his Democratic rivals and a bottomless war chest. But the mayor's struggle for a major-party ballot line is threatening to become a fatal obstacle. Political insiders doubt that the mayor, even with his resources, could win a third term if he's stranded in ballot Siberia.

Happy Birthday, LIRR!

Long Island Rail Road Marks 175th Anniversary

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Long Island Rail Road is marking its 175th birthday by giving riders Broadway tickets and other prizes.

The railroad has announced monthly customer appreciation days with free prize drawings, starting Tuesday at Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. Railroad officials say free tickets to several Broadway shows are this month's prize.

The LIRR was chartered on April 24, 1834. It has become North America's busiest commuter railroad, carrying more than 87 million riders last year.

The LIRR says it is also the oldest railroad still operating under its original name.

Non-English speakers not graduating

From the Daily News:

High school graduation rates have increased under Mayor Bloomberg - except for students not fluent in English.

While the general graduation rate climbed to 52.2% in 2007 from 46.5% in 2005, the rate for students learning English (called English language learners, or ELLs) dropped from 28.5% to 23.5% over the same period.

Advocates say some city efforts that have improved achievement in general missed the mark when it comes to English language learners.

Mets disassociate themselves from Corona

Dear NY Mets, as hard as you wish to be located in "West Flushing", if you are on the west side of the Flushing River and have a 11368 zip code, you're in Corona. Just ask the folks across 126th Street (or the US Postal Service).

Maybe your newsletter, The Flushing Flash, should be changed to something more geographically correct and also reflect the team's style of play. (Like The Corona Crapsheet.)

3 elections today, but who knew?

From Room Eight:

There will be three Special Elections for City Council on Tuesday and I’m willing to guess that very few voters who are not active in politics are even aware of them.

And one major reason is the failure of the three major New York City daily newspapers to report on the elections or to editorialize in support of any of the candidates.

It’s not like these elections are not newsworthy. The results of the elections could increase the number of African-Americans on the City Council by two and/or boost the number of Republicans from two to three. In two of the districts, candidates endorsed by the outgoing Councilman are running and in the third, the similarly endorsed candidate was thrown off the ballot.

People are always wondering why voter turnout in New York is so low. One reason I believe is the failure of the NY media, particularly the three dailies to report on local elections.

Voters don’t vote if they don’t know there is an election!

They won't let the kids have fun anymore...

From the NY Post:

The owners of a Lower East Side hookah bar turned their lounge into an oasis for underage drinkers, serving liquor without a license and providing a private VIP room for hidden trysts, police sources told The Post.

The staff at Hade Bade brazenly violated state laws, posting a $35 selection on the menu called the "Hot Date," which was a hookah filled with "straight alcohol."

"Get her drunk and pay extra to go upstairs," their menu read, presumably referring to a loft bed used as the "VIP area," where patrons could pay a fee and do what they pleased in privacy.

The club, on East Second Street near First Avenue, was busted last Monday by cops, who allegedly found 20 underage teens guzzling bottles of beer in plain sight.

Jamaica foreclosure's starting bid: $500

From The Real Deal:

Get out your auction paddles. At the Jacob Javits Convention Center next Sunday, California-based real estate auction marketing company Real Estate Disposition Corporation is auctioning more than 375 foreclosure properties from northern New Jersey, northeastern Pennsylvania, and the New York City metropolitan region.

Opening bids are quite low. On REDC's Web site, the starting bid for a two-bedroom house at 118-41 153rd Street in Jamaica, Queens, that was previously valued at $220,000, is $500. And the starting bid for another Jamaica home at 145-22 106th Avenue is $69,000. The property was previously valued at $555,000. All properties are available for inspection before the auction. According to REDC, about 65 or 70 percent of the properties are in turnkey condition whereas the other 30 percent need some degree of work.