Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gull strikes plane: What will Bloomberg do now?

From the NY Post:

A "reasonably large bird" struck and damaged the landing gear at the nose of an incoming American Airlines plane landing at LaGuardia this morning, FAA and airline officials said.

Flight 1256 from Miami landed safely on Runway 22 and taxied to Gate 10, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. There were no reported injuries.

It's uncertain what type of birds hit the plane, though sources said it was likely some type of gull. Those birds are statistically most likely to hit planes at this time of year at LaGuardia, federal data shows.

Canada geese are molting at this time of year and are generally grounded. Since 2000, there's been only one Canada goose strike at LaGuardia in June and July.

Appeals Court will hear Atlantic Yards case

From Atlantic Yards Report:

The Atlantic Yards end game just got a whole lot more complicated.

Despite claims May 15 by Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner that the unanimous dismissal of the state eminent domain case in May "is really the last hurdle," the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, has accepted (PDF) an appeal in the case and won't hear oral arguments until the middle of October.

While eminent domain law still tilts significantly to the advantage of the condemnor, in this case the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the court's willingness to hear it indicates that it believes the originating court, the Appellate Division, did not address some aspect of the legal argument.

Also, as Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) noted, last year half of all civil appeals were affirmed, and the other half were either reversed (about 40%) or modified (about 10%).

St. John's, MIH now officially on the market

From NY1:

The buildings of two closed Queens hospitals are now for sale.

The broker interviewed in the piece said that he expected bidders interested in the following -

St. John's: Residential or retail
MIH: Nursing home or residential

Comptroller William Thompson wrote an op-ed in today's Daily News about the effect the closures are having on other hospitals, especially in wake of the swine flu epidemic.

Father and son died in toxic sewer pit

From the Times Ledger:

A father and son were killed Monday afternoon along with another man who was working with them after they all fell into a well containing toxic gas at a Jamaica recycling plant, authorities said.

Harel Dahan, 23, who worked for the South Ozone Park-based S. Dahan Inc. sewer specialists, was cleaning out the 18-foot-deep hole at a Royal Waste Services recycling center on 172-08 Douglas Ave. with his crew around 2:30 p.m. when he fell in, according to police.

Dahan’s 53-year-old father, Shalom, who founded and owned the company, and Rene Francisco Rivas, 53, who worked for Royal, went down the hole on a ladder to try to rescue their fallen co-worker, but were overcome by hydrogen sulfide fumes, the police said.

A firefighter equipped with a breathing apparatus went into the hole and brought the men out half an hour later, but they were all pronounced dead at the scene, according to FDNY Assistant Chief John Sudnick.

Randi not going out quietly

From the NY Post:

The United Federation of Teachers blocked City Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) from receiving an "early endorsement" from the 1.3 million-member Central Labor Council to get even with him for exposing the union's arm-twisting during a City Hall hearing on charter schools, sources said.

Felder disclosed that union reps brazenly distributed cue cards with prepared questions that legislators were supposed to ask at the April hearing. Union witnesses got the softball questions. The tough queries went to administration officials.

So when the labor council last week released a list of 33 council members it was endorsing without screenings, Felder's name wasn't on it.

"It was because of the cheat sheets," said one source.


And from Room Eight:

Under recently announced deal, the United Federation of Teachers and its members will make the selfless sacrifice of reducing the take home pay of future teachers, not themselves, by 5 percent for 27 years, rather than ten. In exchange the existing teachers, who give up nothing, will work two fewer days per year. This is sure to be the first of many similar deals in the inevitable return to a “you will pretend to work and we will pretend to pay you” school system. This time at a vastly greater cost with higher taxes, and all the additional money going to those who retired to Florida at age when most of us will have to work an additional ten to twelve years. "This agreement is a win for everyone," UFT president Randi Weingarten said. She had called the initial deal a “win for children.”

Under the deal teachers, who previously arrived at school a day or two early to set up for the year, will show up for work unprepared on the same day the students do. Including those who were just hired and never set foot in a classroom before. Unless the school year is changed and two days of instruction are cut.

In reality, the days of instruction are going to be cut anyway. How many days will pass before the teachers provide a competent lesson? How many days before they assign, collect, and go over so the children can learn, homework? Or, let’s say a principal were to ignore the rest of the school and sit in one classroom for the first few weeks, collecting the massive documentation required to actually remove a teacher from their job. How many days, weeks or months would have to pass without any teaching, given the excuse by a teacher that they needed time to prepare for the year, before the UFT would say a fired teacher didn’t have a legitimate case for a grievance?


Photo from the Daily News.

WTC hardhats drinking on the job

From the NY Post:

Hard-drinking hard hats at the World Trade Center site have turned their lunch hour into happy hour, pounding beers and shots of hard liquor before returning to work, a Post investigation found.

Dozens of workers belly up to the bar at gin mills on Murray Street -- two blocks from the sacred soil of Ground Zero and America's most scrutinized construction project -- shortly before noon every day.

One group of three workers threw back eight drinks each in less than an hour before returning to the job.

Their power drinking is a violation of the Port Authority's zero-tolerance policy -- and escaped the notice of the agency's safety investigators, who have conducted dozens of sweeps since taking control of Ground Zero construction in 2006.


The Post reports today that two of them were fired.

Oakland Lake geese slaughtered

BEFORE:

"I sent this letter to Mayor Bloomberg:

6/27/09

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

You laud yourself on education issues,when the number one lesson we can teach our children is the conservation of our wildlife, not their destruction,as you have done to the geese population here in NYC. You broke our hearts here in Bayside, Queens and betrayed our trust. Our beloved Oakland Lake now lies silent, since our magnificent geese which our families enjoyed and loved, were swept up and gassed in a cruel and horrific manner with OUR tax dollars, when other humane options were available. All your money will not buy a single vote in this area. What you have done to Oakland Lake and to our community is unforgivable and will not be forgotten come November 2009.

Concerned citizen."

AFTER:

Kim campaign signs torn down

From the Queens Tribune:

A Bayside man was caught on video tearing down campaign signs from a private construction site on Northern Boulevard – and admits to having torn signs down from the same site and others previously.

Richard Lazar ripped a full construction wall’s worth of signs down individually near midnight of June 11, and threw them over the construction wall. The site’s building manager filmed the act, and later Lazar’s erratic reaction on being caught. The footage culminated with Lazar threatening the cameraman with a broom, after he followed Lazar to his home and onto his property during their confrontation.

The entire construction wall was covered with signs for District 19 Democratic candidate Kevin Kim, the result of three hours of canvassing, said Justin Kang, the owner of the building who had previously posted Kim signs on his wall which were also torn down. The footage shows Lazar spending about 10 minutes tearing signs from the wall.

A Vallone campaign sign stood on Lazar’s lawn Friday, though he said the sign was put up by his daughter without his knowledge, and he has no stake in the race one way or another. He said he has since taken it down, and put it in the window.

“This is a community; we try to maintain it, keep the place neat,” Lazar said regarding his motivation to tear down the signs. “It is not a shanty-town. It makes the community look tacky.” He added that he didn’t mind when candidates put posters in store windows.

Should NYC secede from NY State?

From Crain's:

Top 10 reasons for NYC to secede from NY State. Here are the bottom 5:

10: STATE LEGISLATORS from the boroughs would have to survive on the $405 in weekly unemployment benefits that they failed to raise for years.

9: SEN. PEDRO ESPADA wouldn't have to pretend to live in the Bronx anymore.

8:THE CITY COULD reinstate the commuter tax—ending free rides for suburbanites (like Mr. Espada).

7: WITH ALBANY IRRELEVANT, plans for high-speed rail service from here to there could be shelved, saving $15 billion.

6: MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG could stop giving cash to Republican senators, freeing up money for still more of his captivating campaign ads.

Foreigners imported to work on city contracts

From the NY Post:

While the city vows to save and create jobs for recession-ravaged New Yorkers, one of its biggest contractors is importing techies from India, instead of hiring local computer nerds.

IBM won a $1.9 million contract with the Department of Finance to analyze its old main databases so they can be improved, but the company has transported "consultants" from Mumbai and other parts of India to do most of the work.

At least 17 employees hired by an IBM subsidiary in India have worked in New York since October, inspecting the city's computer systems, which hold property and other tax records, insiders said.

"It was a dream come true," said Sunny Amin, 25, who traveled from his Mumbai home to the Big Apple -- his first US visit.

It could not be learned whether IBM pays its Mumbai recruits the same rates, though watchdogs say US firms hire thousands of workers from India because they come cheap. IBM did not return calls.

But Amin's fortune means US citizens get shut out of well-paying jobs, critics charge.

"It's like a slap in the face," said Robert Ajaye, president of Local 2627, a union of city-employed computer specialists. "We have people in house who could do this job."

Instead, he said, some city staffers have had to "translate" for Indian techies lacking English skills.

The Crabhouse is back

Thank you to Miss Heather for informing us that the Waterfront Crabhouse has reopened after February's fire.

Stupid Staten Island bike lanes criticized

From SI Live:

The Advance did report earlier this month on the plan to add 5 miles of bicycle lanes around the island: "... and the cost of painting the markings is covered by federal funds that can't be diverted to other uses". Huh?

Let me get this right. On one hand we build a fence to keep boulevard joggers from harm. At the same time we encourage bicyclists to zigzag through island traffic. Those mystical chevron patterns must be the key. Like protective talismans, these magical symbols would extend a protective shield around the two-wheeled that bravely venture into the land of the four-wheeled. Phooey!

And where did the Feds get this money? Don't we have more pressing matters to throw our tax money at? Like health care, perchance? Highway improvements, perhaps? Education, possibly? Forget fixing potholes, those ain't a Federal problem.

This is "part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030 initiative, which includes getting New Yorkers to exercise." Has this billionaire buffoon lost his mind? Fix our roads, transit, schools, and healthcare first; before pulling this health-nuttiness on us. How healthy is it to be hit by a car, has Hizzoner ever been here on the Island to see our traffic?

Curiously, the bike lane appears to have been painted on the wrong side of the street on the North Railroad side (heading toward Tottenville) - the bike lane is on the LEFT side of the roadway. The bike lane on the outbound South Railroad is on the RIGHT side (which, upon giving due consideration, appears to be the correct side). So, why this sudden directional shift? "The routes are part of the citywide master plan ..." of course, a master plan, that explains it perfectly! Third term, anyone? Anyone? Anyone?


Oh well this has to just be a bike hater saying this. Let's see what the local pols have to say...

"I wish the same time and ingenuity went into securing Staten Island a second paving crew," Oddo said. "We don't see the point in bike lanes when our streets aren't drivable."

"We need to secure the foundation of Staten Island's roads first," Ignizio said, pointing to smoother roads or the addition of left-turn bays, "before going ahead with the luxuries. No one is biking to work from my district to Manhattan."

A hole of a problem at Flushing Meadows

"Hello,

Great blog, I always check it once in a while. Thanks for publishing one of my pictures of an overbuilt building in my neighborhood of Corona last year.

There are bad potholes in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens that have been there for years and no one will fix them.

I have been calling 311, speaking to people in the Dept. of Transportation and Parks Dept. but no one will do anything about them. These are horrible holes, and can do major damage to cars. Hundreds if not thousands of cars use this road every day.

The holes are on Meadow Lake Road West, right before the entrance to the Grand Central Parkway.

I took some pictures of these holes and posted them here, along with a couple of maps of the area.

I am hoping that by bringing attention to these holes, maybe someone will do something about them. I thought about filling them up myself but I don't have a truck or the resources. Please consider posting some of these pictures to your site. Thanks again.

Vin"

Vin - if you try to fill the potholes in yourself, the City will have you arrested. (Just ask the people down at Willets Point.) Don't know if this is a Parks Dept problem or a DOT problem but pretty sure neither agency has the foggiest clue either. So the best you can do for now is live with the third-world conditions and pretend it adds some of that "gritty NYC character" that location scouts are always looking for and hipster photographers salivate over.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Nicole Kidman filming on Bell Blvd

From the Queens Courier:

The trailers arrived before 5 a.m. and as Bell Boulevard came to life a few hours later – with restaurants and nail salons rolling up their security gates for the day – the bustling mid-morning scene looked like something out of a movie.

And that’s just what it was.

On Monday, June 29, Papazzio Restaurant and Catering became the eatery of choice for the lead characters played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in “Rabbit Hole,” an independent film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.

Fatal accident at Jamaica waste station

Accident at Garbage-Transfer Facility in Queens
At least 1 dead

MYFOXNY.COM - As many as three people fell down a hole containing water at a garbage transfer facility in Queens, according to preliminary reports.

At least one of those people has died, according to sources.

The apparent accident happened at 172-06 Douglas Avenue in Jamaica. The hole is about 18 feet and contained about 4 feet of water, according to reports.


Eyewitness News says all three are dead.

Supreme Court overturns Sotomayor decision

From ABC 7/AP:

The Supreme Court has ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.

New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.

The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide, potentially limiting the circumstances in which employers can be held liable for decisions when there is no evidence of intentional discrimination against minorities.


One bad decision overturned, I wish this one was next.

At the helm of a sinking ship?

"Hey Queens Crap,

Here's our third Seidel Bloomberg Cartoon. We really like this one and hope you do too.

Thanks,

Mike
Bloomberg Watch"

Massive development projects make tweeders happy

From the Queens Courier:

An application to transform Hallets Point in Astoria from dilapidated industrial district into a vibrant residential and retail mecca has been filed.

The project developer, Lincoln Equities Group (LEG) and capital partner GIM PA Partners, LP, point out it will include 500 units of affordable housing, 2,000 units of Queens market-rate housing, a public waterfront esplanade park, a mid-priced neighborhood supermarket, service-type retail shops and several restaurants.

There is a great deal of public support for the project, which, if approved, would compliment similar recent developments along the Queens and Brooklyn East River waterfront.

“I look forward to the transformation of this underutilized waterfront area into a vibrant community,” said state Senator George Onorato.


The photo caption is: "Renderings of a proposed development project in Hallets Point in Astoria, which would turn the area into a vibrant retail and residential area."

FYI: Jay Valgora is Claire Shulman's favorite architect. He has a rather exciting website...

And over in Hunters Point, per NY1:

A section of Queens that would have been the site of the Olympic Village had the city won its bid to host the games in 2012 will now be converted to affordable housing.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that the city has acquired 30 acres of land in Hunters Point South to build a massive complex with views of the East River.

When its complete, the mayor expects 5,000 units of housing, 3,000 of which will be for families of four earning between $55,000 and $158,000 a year. The remaining units will be for market-rate housing.

"The question is when will it start. [The answer is] this fall, with the infrastructure," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "When will it finish, I think that's a function of the marketplace. What we're trying to do is rezone the big parts of the city that need it and whenever the marketplace is there, the developers can go in. We're trying to acquire the land, like in this case, and get the infrastructure in place."

Also in the plans for this development are a school, park land, and retail.

Bloomberg said the city is still looking for a developer for the project.


Interesting definition of what "affordable" is. But then I guess all housing is affordable to someone. Why didn't anyone ask the Doorman why he had a beaming smile if his sister the teacher and brother-in-law the cop still won't be able to live here (since he brought it up first).

Did anyone at the press conference ask Helen where ambulances will take the people who get sick? Did they ask if those pesky financing issues had been worked out?

Surprise: Bloomberg lied about Ratner deal

From Noticing New York:

Just weeks ago Bloomberg told the press it was time to turn off the spigot and that no additional public funds should be poured into Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards. What did Bloomberg really mean? He meant that he was about to ram through a deal to give his friend Bruce Ratner more than another $180 million out of the public till.

That was May 20th. On May 29th it was revealed that a deal was in the works to give millions more, what turns out to be more than $180 million more, to Ratner. That day at hearings on the Atlantic Yards held by State Senator Bill Perkins it was disclosed that there was a deal proposed for substantial additional giveaways to Ratner. Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (who works for Bloomberg) participated in presenting the parameters of the package of handouts to Ratner and it was announced then that the MTA’s board would be addressing the handouts at its June 24, 2009 meeting. Indeed, that meeting where the MTA, in fact, did approve the handouts occurred this past Wednesday, just as then disclosed.


Photo from NY Magazine

$1B repair for Triboro Bridge

From the NY Times:

Even people who have driven over it countless times would be hard pressed to draw a diagram of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge — formerly and perhaps still better known as the Triborough. The bridge is actually three in one: an eight-lane, 1,380-foot suspension span over the East River; a six-lane, 310-foot lift span over the Harlem River; and a six-lane, 350-foot truss span over the Bronx Kill, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority fact sheet. There are also 14 miles of approach roads and a giant traffic junction that provides access to Randalls Island and tries to sort out the various strands of interborough travel.

The bridge opened on July 11, 1936, and 3.3 billion vehicles have crossed it — roughly 400 times the current population of New York. Building it cost $60.3 million — the equivalent of $927 million in 2008.

The bridge is undergoing a $1 billion rehabilitation of its superstructure and roadway. At the same time, six million square feet of steel on the bridge are being repainted, a task that will take 10 to 15 years.

Mike handing out raises despite tax revenue decline

MIKE 'RAISES' RUMPUS
By DAVID SEIFMAN, NY Post

Mayor Bloomberg is considering awarding thousands of city managers $52 million in raises he withheld last year, The Post has learned.

Sources said the mayor's decision last year to withhold the bumps led to an upside-down salary structure in some agencies, where unionized workers who received hikes now make more than their bosses.

Last year, when the unions received an 8 percent wage hike over two years, the mayor said he couldn't afford the same increase for managers.

And from Crain's:

New York City tax revenues are expected to decline by $2.1 billion in fiscal 2009, to $36.5 billion. A further drop of $1.3 billion is expected in fiscal 2010.

A great day for the FDNY


From the NY Times:

When firefighters arrived at 83-28 Dongan Avenue in Elmhurst about 9:20 a.m., flames were blowing from the second-floor bedroom windows in the back of the wood-frame house, and smoke was billowing upward, fire officials said.

Residents said that people were still inside the house, and that “there were jumpers in the rear,” said Firefighter Hugh Giffords, a department spokesman. Carrying a pry bar with several points, called a Halligan tool, plus a 6-foot hook, and a 24-foot metal ladder, Firefighter Moritz, 31, of Ladder Company 138, raced down an alley beside the house. He was what is known as the outside vent man — responsible for releasing smoke and steam from a burning structure as firefighters inside aim water at the flames. But he was also looking for people inside, the fire officials said.

Wearing more than 100 pounds of equipment, Firefighter Moritz climbed up to a setback — a small roof off the main roof. There, he noticed a household ladder that was perched at a 70-degree angle and led to the attic.

The firefighter went up the second ladder, smashed the attic window with his tools, climbed inside and found a man lying unconscious on the floor.

Using his radio, he called for assistance, said James Long, a department spokesman.

Within moments, firefighters from Ladder Company 154 and other units came racing up interior stairs in the house and took the man safely down to the street, where paramedics with the city’s Emergency Medical Service were waiting.

Firefighter Prior said the victim was revived at the scene.

Barbie's dream home is in Glen Head

From the Daily News:

Queens Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza pulled her Mercedes up to her brick mansion recently after a long day at work.

Her husband and one of her two sons were outside, along with the family's black Lab, Stanley. With the stately manse as a backdrop, the petite, blond lawmaker and her family could have been modeling for an L.L. Bean catalogue.

There was one problem with the pretty picture: Carrozza's $1.8 million home is in tony Glen Head, L.I. - 15 miles from her district in Bayside, Queens.

Carrozza, 42, who has represented the 26th Assembly District since 1997, bought the mansion on Nassau County's Gold Coast in June 2008, taking out a mortgage for $1 million, property records show.

She told the Daily News the lavish digs were supposed to be "an investment or a second residence." But she signed mortgage documents that specifically state the mansion would be her "principal residence."

When confronted outside the posh pad last week, Carrozza admitted she has lived there full-time since February.

You can now get your meat from the Queens County Farm Museum

From the NY Times:

The event was a fancy corporate dinner in a public garden on the Lower East Side, a celebration of locally grown food. The second course listed on the menu was “grilled Queens farm pork loin,” which sounded as if the dish had been created by someone from Queens.

Then a man pulled up a chair and was introduced as Michael Grady Robertson from the Queens farm, provider of the pork.

Meaning what?

“We raise pigs,” Mr. Robertson said.

In Queens?

He smiled. “We’ve got a 47-acre farm,” Mr. Robertson said. “It used to be part of the Creedmoor psychiatric hospital.”

You’re raising livestock in New York City?

“Come visit,” he said.

A few mornings later, Mr. Robertson turned his pickup truck off Little Neck Parkway and drove down the lane of the Queens County Farm Museum. In the truck bed were two 55-gallon barrels of mashed grain that he had just picked up from the Brooklyn Brewery in Greenpoint.

For brewing purposes, the grain was spent. But for the pigs and a single ancient cow on the Queens farm, the hops and wheat and malt make a lip-smacking addition to their troughs.

Ridgewood Reservoir a victim of tweeding

From the Forum West:

The first phase of the project recently began and includes new lighting, steps, benches and perimeter fences to improve safety and accessibility at the reservoir. Mark K. Morrison Associations of Manhattan was awarded the $7.7 million contract for that work, and is also in the process of creating three proposals for the future of the property’s three basins.

That $7.7 million has already been allocated and is not included in the $19.8 million remaining for Ridgewood Reservoir, according to Steve Fiedler, who is chairman of Community Board 5’s Parks Committee and opposes development of ballfields.

[Parks] noted that ballfields have been requested by community groups such as the East Brooklyn Congregations.

However, a study by the group Highland Park-Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance, which is pushing for the three basins to be preserved, showed that permits were issued for the existing ballfields for just a fraction of the available time during the past two years.

Fiedler questioned the motives of the East Brooklyn Congregations and doubts their claims that they cannot secure time at Highland Park’s existing fields. “His organization is pushing for fields at the top of basin three on eight acres, for what reason God only knows,” he said. “I hate to say that someone is lying for political gains, but the proof is in the pudding,” he added regarding the field usage.


From the Daily News:

East Brooklyn Congregations, an umbrella group of more than 30 Brooklyn churches and community groups, wants 8 acres of the 50-acre reservoir to be developed into two regulation-sized fields - one for soccer and football, the other for baseball.

"Everybody that we have talked to has said, 'If you want to give us anything in that reservoir, give us fields for active recreation," said Bishop David Benke, head of the Lutheran Church in the eastern region of the state.


Hmm...that's a very different attitude coming from the Reverend than 2 years ago... From the Times Newsweekly, July 5, 2007:

Recreation and education at the reservoir were the central themes of a renovation plan developed by a team consisting of Bishop David Benke, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Cypress Hills, Roy Sawyer, community liaison for Assemblyman Towns and Sam and Ana Franqui of the Highlanders East New York United Front.

According to Bishop Benke, the team was focused on recreating Ridgewood Reservoir as an educational and passive recreation center for residents in Brooklyn and Queens. One main component of the plan, as he described to participants, would be the formation of an environmental center at the easternmost basin ideal for students who can venture to the park on field trips to study wildlife and plant growth in the chamber.

While reserving the middle basin as a man-made lake with fish, the bishop explained, the westernmost basin would be created into a botanical garden with greenhouses and a picnic area for students and parkgoers to gather. Benke also suggested that a new observation deck could be built in the southern section of the chamber to allow visitors to see sections of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Jamaica Bay from one of the highest points on Long Island.


So what the heck changed in the course of a few months? Here it is in one sentence:

When the city sells you lots o'land for $1 (upon which you construct vast quantities of Brooklyn Crap) and then they call in a favor, you do what they ask, otherwise, you might get cut off...

The real story goes like this: Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Highland Park Administrator Debbie Kuha called Bishop Benke to the Overlook, gave him a debriefing and a presentation on a disc which contained the now-infamous "Secret Slide" and then told him to bring it back to his congregation and present it to them. (The preservation-minded had to settle for a leaked copy.) Then he was asked to follow up on this by showing up with kids in tow to demand sports fields at the city council oversight hearing held about the reservoir issue. Parks is notorious for orchestrating these dog-and-pony shows of false support for their unpopular initiatives in public forums. EBC has been at every public meeting since. This group has never even applied for a field permit at Highland Park.

When you bring up things like this, the argument then becomes that there are no "regulation-sized" fields at Highland (which seems to come as a surprise to the teams that do use them and say that they are). So if that is the case, then take the unused ballfields that are there currently and turn them into regulation-sized fields. Problem solved. Oh...hold on, Parks will tell you that the fields are used for many hours of pickup ball play and team practices which don't require permits. Which they might be able to get away with if there were actually people observed using the fields during "prime time" for ball play. Too bad there aren't.

After they run out of excuses, Parks then states that the money is only to be used inside the basins, even though their own press release states that the money is to be used to fix the infrastructure in Highland Park in order to make it a "destination park." So the fields must be built inside and the ones on the outside must remain in their present condition. Do you better understand this ridiculous waste of taxpayer money?

The "affordable housing" tweeders love the bishop and despite separation of church and state, they took it upon themselves to pass a resolution to support him after the leadership of his church sanctioned him. Now he is being used by Council Member Erik Martin Dilan to push for construction inside the basins.

Someone has been promised gigantic construction contracts out of this and the tweeders never anticipated that the opposition would be so overwhelming to what they want to do here. So they manufactured their own resistance movement.

As many have commented here, it's time to BRING IN THE FEDS!

More to come.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Part of St. John's to become homeless shelter

"COMET will be cosponsoring a meeting with CB 4 to discuss The Queens Alliance's as-of-right interim housing for 29 homeless people at the former convent for the nuns at St. John's Hospital on 58th Avenue. The meeting will be held at the Bethzatha Church, 85-20 57th Avenue, tomorrow Monday, June 29th at 7:00 pm. Representatives from the Queens Alliance will attend."

Maybe someone can ask why the homeless seem to be directed out of Manhattan and into the other boroughs?

What a way to go...

From the Daily News:

An elderly landlord died Saturday after he slipped down a sewage drain on his Queens property and suffocated, police said.

Luigi Cerrone, 83, was cleaning the sewage drain of Cafe People on Northern Blvd. in Flushing when he slipped down the drain, police said.

He became stuck, his face grounded in the sewer sludge.

Emergency responders arrived at the scene about 4:45 p.m., but Cerrone had already suffocated.


And from the NY Post:

MAN, 83, DIES IN SEWAGE DRAIN
By MATTHEW NESTEL and CHRISTINA CARREGA

An 83-year-old Queens bar owner and great-grandfather suffocated to death yesterday after slipping into a sewage drain in his pub's parking lot, officials said.

Luigi Cerrone was found at around 4:45 p.m. by a horrified female employee at Prince II on Northern Boulevard, near 160th Street, in Flushing, cops said.

It wasn't immediately clear how long Cerrone was submerged in the sludge, but sources said it was less than a day.

Cerrone, who was married for 60 years and still shoveled snow, was "a great man," said a relative at his Bayside home. "Everybody liked him."


Looks like there's some confusion as to which establishment it was, not that it matters.

Yet another Ridgewood Reservoir meeting...

From the Forum West:

The future of Ridgewood Reservoir and Highland Park will be discussed on Tuesday, when the city Parks Department releases the results of input residents provided at three prior listening sessions.

Over the past year, the Parks Department has held three listening sessions to gain public feedback on the future of the 50-acre property. During those meetings, many Queens residents pushed to have the reservoir preserved and argued that a portion of the funding should instead be used to fix up the existing ballfields in Highland Park, which are in poor condition. In April, Community Board 5 approved a resolution requesting that between $10 million and $15 million of the funding be used to accomplish that.

In a statement, Parks announced it is holding Tuesday’s session “to discuss community ideas and concerns for the Ridgewood Reservoir redevelopment. The meeting will summarize what we have learned at previous meetings from community input and discussion, and to relay the results of the paper surveys that have been distributed over the past weeks.”

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Park’s Oak Ridge office at Forest Park. Attendees can enter at Park Lane South and Forest Parkway or at Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive. For details call 311 and ask for the Forest Park Administrator’s Office.


Map courtesy of Project Woodhaven

Swine flu still a killer

From the Daily News:

The number of swine flu deaths in the city climbed to 32, it was reported [Tuesday], as German scientists warned that the virus may be mutating into a more aggressive form.

The city's Health Department announced two more fatalities from the H1N1 virus, identifying the latest victims only as persons between the ages 25 and 65.

But the spread of the disease is declining, the department said, with fewer people coming to emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms.


And the tally of infected New Yorkers is expected to be in the ballpark of 500,000.

Throgs Neck Bridge work to commence soon

From the Queens Gazette:

Bronx-bound motorists should be aware that the Cross Island Parkway (CIP) ramp leading vehicles onto the Throgs Neck Bridge from Queens and Long Island will close for approximately five weeks starting Thursday, July 16.

The closure is necessary to accommodate ongoing rehabilitation work on the 48-year-old bridge's Queens approach.

The Clearview Expressway, or the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, is the alternate route for traffic to and from the bridge.

There will be more than 40 signs regarding the CIP ramp closure on various roads in the region. In addition, notice of the closure will be posted on the Bridges and Tunnels Special Traffic Advisories link at mta.info.

To minimize impact to motorists, the work zones are arranged to allow for three lanes open in each direction during peak traffic periods.

The Throgs Neck Bridge Queens-side work has been coordinated with construction on the neighboring Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which is currently undergoing work on its Bronx approach. The Throgs Neck Bridge work will not affect access to the Little Neck Park playing fields, and construction lighting will be positioned to avoid residential disruption.

So many schools and not enough time

From NY1:

As part of a $13 billion capital plan just completed, DOE officials say school seats are being created faster than any time since the 1930s and the demand keeps evolving.

"We will still need 25,000 new seats in addition to the 63,000 new seats to continue to relieve overcrowding," says [the SCA's Sharon] Greenberger.

The SCA admits in the past population shifts were not foreseen and developers were not required to include schools in their plans, but that is going to change.

"We are working with developers throughout the city right now who have big plans, and are insisting that we begin talking with them about school mitigation, to make sure that we anticipate school needs before the students are there," says Greenberger.

It is a new tactic in a shifting educational landscape.


And then there was a follow up report, where this gem was dropped:

"We try to identify sites that are large enough to accommodate a school, that pass environmental due diligence, that are accessible and are clearly in an area where there's need," says Greenberger.

Which is exactly the opposite of what they did in Maspeth.

Toby not a Pedro fan

From State Senator Toby Stavisky's op-ed printed in the Queens Courier:

...during their power grab, they have the nerve to talk about reform. Even more outrageous is their attempt to make Pedro Espada the President of the Senate, next in line of succession to be governor.

This is a man who:

- lives in Mamaroneck in Westchester County, not his east Bronx district;

- who continually refuses to disclose who financed his campaign;

- who in 2002 tried to direct $745,000 in pork grants to his clinics, and

- who is under investigation by both the Bronx District Attorney and the Attorney General.

This is the man every single Republican – including Queens’ own Senator Frank Padavan – voted to place a heartbeat away from the governor’s mansion.


Yes, a man your party protected, supported and kept in the fold all these years! Why didn't you do something about him when you had the chance? You losers have no one to blame for this but yourselves. When you live by the tweeding, you die by the tweeding. Enjoy!

More new units could mean bad news

From The Real Deal:

The inventory of new apartments in Williamsburg could double next year, which industry experts say puts more building foreclosures on the horizon.

An estimated 2,818 new apartments will have entered the Williamsburg market by the end of this year, according to data compiled by residential brokerage firm Aptsandlofts.com. Next year, 2,766 apartments are expected to come to market, the company data says.

...the biggest hurdle to selling a new project is obtaining mortgages, particularly since Fannie Mae started requiring in March that a building be 70 percent sold before it will guarantee mortgages in a building. Next month Freddie Mac is expected to implement the policy, which is intended to reduce the amount of risk the government-controlled finance companies take on.

Already this year, banks have moved to foreclose on several buildings in Williamsburg.

Immigrant family swindled by con artist

From the Times Ledger:

A family of Korean immigrants who live in Bayside fear they may be split apart after a broker whom they paid to handle their green card applications failed to follow the proper procedures.

Joanne Lee, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Flushing’s Townsend Harris High School, said her family is concerned that she; her sister, Hayoung, 15,and their mother, Yoojung Choi Lee, could be deported after U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied their applications for green cards.

A broker whom the family paid $16,000 to handle the filings did not include all of the necessary documents, Joanne Lee said.

“She assured us all the proceedings were legal,” said Lee, who is an honor roll student. “But she was a fraud. She filed the wrong papers.”

Lee’s father, Bong Chang Lee, and brother, Jason, 5, would be allowed to stay in the United States. The mother and daughters first moved from South Korea to Queens in 2000 to find treatment for Hayoung Lee, who suffers from a form of epilepsy, but the father, who is a manager at a food plant in Rockland County, arrived shortly thereafter and applied for a green card separately. The couple’s son was born in the United States.

Construction nightmare never ends

From the Riverdale Press:

Is there hope on the far horizon for the half-finished tower on Tulfan Terrace?

A new plan is being floated that could, perhaps, lead to the completion of the derelict tower, or its total destruction.

Community Board 8 land use committee chairman Charles Moerdler hopes to bring the city on board with an eventual agreement to back the completion of the building. The city Housing Development Corporation has agreed to consider getting involved in the project, and could help with low-interest loans and bond financing, or, working with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, take the structure over and finish building it.

An HDC spokeswoman cautioned that the corporation is still developing its response to stalled development around the city. And while Board 8 considers what to do with the property, the group holding its mortgage — and which may walk away with ownership at the end of ongoing foreclosure proceedings — has plans of its own. One partner says the building would already be complete were it not for the current owners.


See previously: Tough Luck on Tulfan Terrace

And here's what it looked like before the developer bulldozed it.

Inside the Bailey House

From NY Magazine:

The stone mansion at 10 St. Nicholas place in Upper Harlem, near 150th Street, was built in 1886 by circus legend James Bailey. Original, animal-themed stained glass windows decorate the fa├žade, and inside the crumbling interior (it was once a funeral home and has fallen into decay), there is a warren of bright rooms and narrow corridors. The back garden is spacious but overgrown, and some people call it a "modern Grey Gardens." The mansion is full of features from the original construction, but needs several million in repairs. But for a gorgeous historic stand-alone mansion that includes about 8,250 square feet of interior space, the price tag is a lot lower than you'd ever guess.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tony Bennett still prefers Astoria

From the NY Times:

Tony Bennett sings about leaving his heart in San Francisco. But when he talks, it seems to have remained in Astoria, the western Queens neighborhood where he grew up.

“The finest place to live,” Mr. Bennett, 82, said as he showed a reporter his favorite haunts. “I’ve been all over the world — Paris and Florence and Capri — and yet I come back here and I like this better than any place I’ve ever lived.”

Mr. Bennett lives on West 57th Street in Manhattan now, but visits his old neighborhood regularly, and it seems to transport him back in time to when he’d stare longingly at the shimmering skyline of Manhattan across the East River. It is only a 15-minute subway ride away, but to a young Anthony Dominick Benedetto, the son of an Italian immigrant grocer, it loomed large and distant like Oz.


At the end of the video, he says he likes the fact that there are no skyscrapers where he grew up. He didn't say anything about the Queens Crap.

The Daily News editorial board smokes crack

Build, Bruce, build: Developer Ratner presses ahead on Atlantic Yards
Saturday, June 27th 2009, 4:00 AM

Bully to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for making a deal that keeps the Atlantic Yards development alive in Brooklyn. And bully to builder Bruce Ratner for hanging in there to get the project done.

Bully? More like bullshit. The guy came in with a lower bid that for some strange reason was accepted by the MTA and is now scaling back every aspect of what he promised while the MTA is currently up shit's creek and forcing riders to pony up more money at the turnstile.

After five years, the defeat of 23 lawsuits and an economic meltdown, he is pushing to start the $4 billion development's first component: an 18,000-seat arena, home to the Nets and a major entertainment venue.

The lawsuits aren't over yet. And the city needs this like we need a hole in our heads.

The plan then envisions construction of 6,400 apartments (35% of them deemed affordable), a school and a health care center, amid 8 acres of open space. This good stuff would be located primarily on land that has been vacant for decades, including a Long Island Rail Road yard.

Huh? They do realize that much of that 8 acres of open space was bulldozed and that there are still several buildings in the footprint of the planned development, right? Here's a map of a walking tour of the area. And the rest of the space is and always has been an active railyard... Vacant?

But financing is not as available as it was a few years ago. The MTA board wisely voted to let Ratner pay $100 million over time for the rights to build above the yards, rather than demand a lump sum. With interest, the agency comes out whole.

Does anyone not smoking crack seriously believe that? Especially when Bruce asks for more money every time you turn around and this very paper reported that the arena would be a big money loser?

Ratner will now seek private financing for the arena. His bankers hope to raise the money by the end of the year. Wouldn't that be nice for Brooklyn?

No, it wouldn't. The plan calls for eminent domain abuse, would put some parts of Brooklyn in 24-hour darkness, create a clusterfuck of traffic, and build an entire new neighborhood full of "superblocks" in the middle of low-rise areas. And those are just the things I can think of at 6am off the top of my head.

When will the press in this city stop acting like Bloomberg's mistress and start questioning what he's doing to kill the place we love?

Lumi from No Land Grab wrote to yours truly:

"Liar, liar:
* There haven't been 23 lawsuits filed;
* 35% of the housing has certainly been "deemed affordable," whether or not it really might be depends on the definition of "affordable";
* Ratner never promised a school, only offered the possibility that the city pay him to build one; and
* the railyard is only eight acres of a 22-acre project, the DN's fantasy list of purported benefits would be "located primarily" on private property and permanently-closed city streets."

And Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report weighs in too.

What would we do without citizen journalists, especially now that the press has been bought by a megalomaniacal billionaire and his developer friends?

Graphic from No Land Grab

Bloomberg's ego killing the city

From Room Eight:

Mayor Bloomberg, who has no consideration for other specie much less his own (unless the person is wealthy or a developer or the entity a corporation), just wants to bury his stealing of a third term so it looks like he's doing something.

Anything this man does is to benefit himself in some way. Schools are failing, buildings collapsing,World Trade Centers not built, whatever they are doing around swine flu isn't working, senior centers are closing and there are more and more homeless, and, under his watch, the economy, job market and Wall streets stumbled, he has to look proactive in "some way"- even if it's the entirely wrong way. Just as Bloomberg outzones us peasants he now kills geese for no reason. Bloomberg is a vile little man. His ego is killing this city.

Some guys just can't handle rejection

From the NY Post:

A spurned Romeo hungry for revenge allegedly stalked and threatened his former lover -- a married teenager -- and plastered nude photos of her around her Queens neighborhood, authorities said yesterday.

The shocking posters of the 19-year-old Richmond Hill HS grad -- who hails from Guyana and is of Indian descent -- were tacked to the family house, street poles, trees, car windshields and neighbors' front doors.

It listed her full name, address and phone number and said to call "if you wanted a b---job," according to a Criminal Court complaint.

The lovelorn suspect, Suresh Persaud, 28, also of Indian descent, pursued her from April to June with phone calls and e-mails threatening to kill her or "mess up her life," the complaint says.

He vowed to "have his friends beat her up" and "put her in the hospital, and "hack into her AOL account," according to the court papers.

Persaud, who has three DWI arrests and arrests for criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, was busted Saturday and charged with aggravated harassment, said a spokeswoman for Queens DA Richard Brown.

He was released on $1,000 bail, and an order of protection was filed against him.

Reached at her home yesterday, the aspiring model -- who asked that her name be withheld by The Post -- admitted she cheated on her husband, who lives in Guyana.

Group urges free MetroCard swipes

From the Indypendent:

It’s not often that anyone gets a free ride during a recession, but throughout the city, a growing program is giving out more than 600 subway MetroCard swipes each month.

In response to the economic recession and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) fare hikes, community activists across the city are organizing the People’s Transportation Program (PTP), days where the goal is to swipe as many people through the turnstiles as possible with several daily unlimited MetroCards. Every third Saturday of the month, train riders in the Bronx, East Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn may walk into subway stations to find someone willing to pay their way.

Perhaps, surprisingly, the People’s Transportation System is not breaking the law. Individuals are free to share unlimited MetroCards, although they must wait 18 minutes between swipes for the card to reactivate.

“As long as they’re not charging people [for swipes], we can’t stop them from buying the cards and providing the service free to the people,” MTA spokesperson Paul Fleuranges told The Indypendent.

Gene Russianoff, director of the New York Public Interest Research Group’s Straphangers Campaign, said that roughly half of the revenue for the $6 billion annual budget for the city’s transit system comes from user fares alone. Russianoff, however, said it would take a lot of MetroCard sharing to make a dent in the revenue.


And by the way...the fare goes up tomorrow and the MTA will be broke for awhile.

Sick puppy breeder put out of business


From Fox 5:

A dog breeder from Queens who is accused of selling very sick puppies has finally been put out of business, thanks in part to a series of Fox 5 reports.

And while we're on the subject of pets, pit bulls are attacking other dogs in Astoria.

This is considered to be a preservation "victory"

From No Land Grab:

Note how the newly approved historic district wraps the southeast section of the Atlantic Yards footprint like a fork. That section until last year contained the preservation-worthy Ward Bakery Building —- which was perhaps Prospect Heights' most distinguished building - demolished courtesy of Bruce C. Ratner.

While Municipal Art Society and Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council are to be commended for their efforts, had the two groups been more vociferous in their opposition to Atlantic Yards -— both are members of the "mend-it-don't-end-it" BrooklynSpeaks coalition —- one has to wonder if the Ward Bakery, too, could have been saved from Bruce Ratner's wrecking ball.


From Atlantic Yards Report:

Note how two fingers of row houses would bookend the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, slated to be a staging area for arena construction, and also a massive parking lot for workers and visitors, ultimately with 2070 spaces.

The Atlantic Yards site, according to the Empire State Development Corporation, is blighted. I wonder how many blighted areas are abutted by historic districts.


This map perfectly illustrates what a laughingstock preservation in this city has become. But there is a silver lining - lots more Manhattan buildings will be designated soon, too. Hooray!

Photo: Tracy Collins via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool, Atlantic Yards v. Prospect Heights Historic District

Kestrels take up residence in LIC

From LiQCity:

“It was a good week for falcons in LIC. Two fledgling Kestrels (one male, one female) showed up on stoops on 45 Ave., resting between learning-stages of flight, cautiously accepting raw hamburger and posing for photos by polite humans, as their parents swooped and screamed from overhead. As of Saturday, it seems they’ve found their wings as they haven’t returned. But they’re clearly welcome new local residents, as we hope they will prey on local vermin…”

Well how about that...even birds prefer to live in historic districts!

R train is filthy (but we already knew that)

From the NY Post:

That's rancid with a capital R.

The R subway line is the dirtiest in the entire system, with only 25 percent of its cars in clean condition at any given time, according to the Straphanger's Campaign newest Subway Shmutz study released today.

The line -- which hits four of the top ten busiest stations in the system -- managed to fall from already-abysmal 2007 rating of 45 percent, the study found.

The 7 is the spiffiest subway line, with researchers finding 84 percent of its cars in Spic-and-Span condition.

Cleanliness in the entire subway system was at 57 percent in 2008, an improvement of seven percent from 2007.


Photo from BVE Station

David Weprin does stand-up comedy

From the Times Ledger:

The Yippie Museum in Manhattan played host Monday night to what was easily the most bizarre, uncomfortable, yet endearing fund-raising event of the political season.

In a bid to spice up his personal image, the typically strait-laced City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) tried his hand at stand-up comedy, yukking it up for a brief five minutes as the marquee event at the Bleecker Street club.

“A few years ago I told my twins, who were 14 at the time, that I was running for comptroller,” Weprin said to open his set. “They said, ‘Daddy, are you running for controller of the house?’ I told them, ‘No, I’m running for an office I can actually win.’”


:::::::::rimshot:::::::::::

Routine park maintenance now newsworthy

From NY1:

A memorial in Flushing, Queens to local soldiers who died in the Korean War received some maintenance from the Parks Department this week.

Yes, folks, it's such a rare event that parks in our borough are maintained that TV stations come down to cover it.

Construction causes Astoria building evacuation


Dear crapper,

I just found out at my job today that a building at 27-59 Crescent St. had to be evacuated due to structural damage caused by construction next door. Here is a link to the DOB complaint filed earlier this year.

If next door is this address, then it looks like excavation may have undermined the evacuated building.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh no, anything but that!

From the NY Post:

Gov. David Paterson says he's withholding the pork-barrel grants senators give out individually, citing their failure to go to work as he ordered for the fourth straight day.

No wonder Kevin Parker cursed him out. How can they successfully tweed without their ice cream money?

Bloomie misses Jacko and can swim!

From the NY Post:

"I will always be listening to his music," the mayor declared today before jumping into a Harlem pool, an annual ritual that opens the Parks Department's swim season.

From WCBS880:

9-year-old Celia Rodriguez was surprised the mayor was such a good swimmer.

Rodriguez said, "Yes. He can float on top."


Wait, I found more...

From WNYC:

Peace Trunks, Check. Loafers, Check.

DOB just a "disaster"


From the Daily News:

Buildings Department inspectors are poorly trained, inspections are frequently slipshod and fines are routinely laughed off as "the cost of doing business."

Those are the findings of a $4 million study released yesterday by the troubled city agency at the end of a five-year building boom that led to record numbers of construction deaths.

"Inspectors are currently not uniformly equipped to judge the acceptability of common unsafe conditions," the study concluded. "They rely primarily on their own varying level of training, experience and degree of tolerance on nonconforming issues."

The report faulted the department for having "no standard training procedure" for critical field inspections and said procedures are so lax it's often impossible to to determine whether architects' plans conform to city code.

The study noted that "nonuniform enforcement is the most common industry criticism" of the Buildings Department. Violation fees "are considered a 'cost of doing business.'"

The high-priced study team, led by CTL Engineers and Construction Technology Consultants, made more than 600 visits to some 400 sites in the five boroughs.

It found glaring problems in three basic construction operations - cranes, excavation and concrete - and made 66 recommendations for changes in procedures, some of which the Buildings Department has already implemented.

Kissena Park Golf Clubhouse torched

From Eyewitness News:

The club house and a number of golf carts caught fire at the Kissena Park Golf Course in Queens.

The golf carts apparently caught fire sometime after 1:30 a.m. this morning, and the fire spread to a clubhouse.

The second-alarm fire was quickly placed under control and the cause is under investigation.

Sources tell Eyewitness News that there is video of the fires being set.

Schumer brokers deal to get us more cops

NYPD GET FED FUNDS TO HIRE 128 COPS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The New York Police Department will be allowed to hire at least 128 new police officers using federal funding under a deal brokered by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

The department will then promote more experienced officers to beef up the department's elite anti-terror units.

The previous federal rules restricted NYPD to hiring new officers only for anti-terrorism. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly argued it made more sense to hire rookies for regular duty and promote experienced officers to elite units.

Schumer says the department will get millions in federal economic recovery funding. The exact figure hasn't been decided.

Photo from the Daily News.

Parents question safety of school trailers

From NY1:

Parents are raising questions about the safety of portable classrooms at a school in Woodside, Queens.

Unisphere hawks released

From City Birder:

Bobby Horvath released the two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks in Flushing Meadow Park where they were reunited with their family. He sent a few photos of the event.