Monday, August 31, 2009

Katz now in the lead, but still dumb

Dumb, duh, dumb, dumb: Controller wannabes can't count office's money
Daily News Editorial
Monday, August 31st 2009

Each of the Democrats vying to become controller pledges to be the toughest guardian of the public purse. Because each is ready to track every penny of the city budget. Because each has spent years in the City Council intensely focused on the treasury.

Of course, they have.


We posed a very basic question to candidates David Weprin, Melinda Katz, David Yassky and John Liu: What's the budget of the city controller's office?

The answer is $66 million, down a few mil due to budget cuts. Liu and Yassky were on the money or close enough to be counted as such. Weprin and Katz were clueless.

Answered Weprin: "What office? The controller's office? Ummm. Good question. The controller's office budget. Ummm..."

Answered Katz: "And the budget, ah, God, we just got this figure a few week ago. I forgot what the figure was. Yeah, we just actually got it a few weeks ago, and I apologize I don't know the answer to that. It was a rather large budget. I think...

"It's 700 people and if I'm not mistaken it was...

"We figured out that each person averaged about $70,000. Umm, that I remember. That I remember, 'cause I was thinking the average is about 70,000 a person. That seems, you now, anyway, umm, so I feel like, to put like sort of the cards on the table, I'm running for this office and doing it because I think I can be a leader in this office."

Enough said.

Despite being clueless, Katz now has the lead in the race, according to a recent poll.

Further proof that you don't need to know what the hell you're doing to get elected in this town.

Did the 104 go apeshit on horn honker?

A garden grows in Glendale

From the Times Ledger:

Members of the United Talmudic Seminary at 74-10 88th St. joined with members of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, the Glendale Kiwanis and Community Board 5 to break ground on a new community garden in an unused corner of the Jewish school’s property.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Rabbi Berl Katz said of the agreement to let the groups use the land. “So far we don’t have any use for it. If the neighbors want to use it, why not?”

The 2,000-square-foot parcel of land where the garden will grow currently contains mounds of loose gravel, weeds and a sign belonging to the old Monarch Knitting Machinery Corp., which closed down before 2004, when the yeshiva took over the property.

The collaboration marked an improvement in relations between the yeshiva and civic groups in the neighborhood. In 2006, after a fight over whether the yeshiva could open a 100-room motel alongside the seminary, the city awarded a certificate of occupancy for just the school. In turn, the Glendale Civic Association filed a lawsuit against the city Department of Buildings alleging the agency was negligent in performing inspections and enforcing building code at the property.

NYSDOH: Queens short of hospital beds before 3 hospitals closed

"The New York State Department of Health has prepared a report that has the conclusion that all considered obvious: Queens County did not have a sufficient number of beds before Parkway and the Caritas hospitals closed and Queens County is in urgent need of additional beds as soon as possible.

The report notes that Queens currently has 27% of New York City’s population. Its population density is greatest in the area of Elmhurst-Astoria, extending east toward Flushing and southeast toward Jamaica. The population is expected to increase by 4-8% over the next decade.

In 2007, before the closing of the three hospitals in Queens (Parkway, St. John’s and Mary Immaculate), there were 193 licensed beds per 100,000 population, compared to 251 per 100,000 population in Brooklyn. Applying age-specific ’04-’06 admission rates the NYS Department of Health estimates that the number of inpatient admissions by Queens residents will increase by at least 3% to as great as 10% by the year 2015, a mere six years away. One must bear in mind, that if plans were implemented to erect a new hospital today, it would still take a minimum of five years from today to build a single hospital at a cost of more than 1.2 million dollars per bed.

During the period 2006-2008, emergency room visits grew by 6%, admissions by 14%, and the admission rate by 8%.

The report notes that Parkway and the Caritas hospitals that have closed served about 8% of Queens medical-surgical patients in 2007. The Department of Health says that these closings require a “restructuring” of the healthcare system in the borough to “accommodate” the patients who would have used these facilities.

In the end, the Department of Health concludes that there is a need for an additional 535-835 inpatient beds in Queens by 2015, beyond those remaining after the hospital closings. Even if recommendations for reducing average length of stay and reducing preventable hospitalizations were implemented and realized, 210 to 510 new beds would still be needed. There are 160 new beds anticipated in previously planned expansions, which may or may not occur in the current fiscal climate. Thus, under the most optimistic outlook, Queens would remain short of 50-350 beds necessary to meet the 2015 projections. This shortage of beds is remedied by the reopening of Parkway’s 251 beds.

This report only goes only to 2008 and It is clear the patients that are admitted are sicker, there are increasing admissions, but the report fails to take into account that where are the over 18,000 admissions from St. John's, Mary Immaculate and Parkway. Where are they going and where are they now? And, ask what is happening with the doctors in practice; how are they being effected, with sicker patients, more admissions, less access to care.

And, none of this addresses the criminal fraud of disgraced Assemblyman Anthony Seminario, Medisys CEO David Rosen (Jamaica Hospital-who bribed Seminario), members of the DOH who acted with Seminario and Rosen, the Berger Commission numbers; to drive Parkway out of business, close hospitals, put the health and well being of Queens citizens at risk. All of this combined with the statistical analysis is shocking to the conscious of the good people of the State of New York. Where is DOH? One must ask, "How has the DOH done their health care planning models for the last years"? Why does DOH remain absent and in hiding? What guilt do they hold?

Read the DOH's own admission of guilt at their own link." - anonymous

Central Brooklyn condos in the crapper

From Crain's:

Sixty-five residential buildings in central Brooklyn are financially troubled, on the verge of distress or struggling to sell out remaining units, according to a recent survey conducted by Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

These properties are market-rate residential buildings at least four stories high located in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bedford–Stuyvesant. Many are luxury developments in different stages of completion. Some projects are completed and unoccupied, some are stalled and others are occupied but not sold out. Some of the projects’ developers are also defaulting on their construction loans, said Mr. Jeffries.

Mr. Jeffries conducted the survey of new developments in the five Brooklyn neighborhoods he represents as part of his efforts to promote the creation of affordable housing. He is in the early stages of approaching developers and banks behind some of these properties with a proposal to convert the unsold units into affordable housing.

When will the slush puppies go down?

From Crime, Politics and Policy via Bloomberg Watch:

A quick recap: The controversy emerged with the discovery of the practice of allocating funds to a nonprofit group/entity which didn't really exist, in order to preserve the ability to reallocate such funds to a different, actually existing nonprofit entity later on.

Put into plain English: this is fraud. Doing something in order to obtain the money or goods of another, by false pretenses, generally falls under the definition of fraud. Wire fraud, mail fraud, honest services fraud, whatever. Somewhere, there is a federal felony where all the elements of said felony are satisfied by something or someone in connection with this slush fund mess. Even if the ultimate ends are benign, the undeniable implication is that candor, at the beginning, that nonprofit A was the intended destination of the funds would have resulted in the funds being denied to nonprofit A, therefore nonprofit B (for bogus) was "created" in order to procure (aka "steal") the funds for preservation and safekeeping for ultimate destination nonprofit A. Here's another word for the above: deception. There is a crime of "theft by deception" in many states.

Ugly artwork may grace Queens Plaza

From the NY Post:

Oddball art may be coming to your neighborhood.

The Department of Transportation and local artists yesterday revealed the first two of five new "street art" exhibits that will pop up in public spaces across the city.

An abstract sculpture made of plywood and resembling a stack of children's building blocks and star-shaped toys was set up in the East Tremont neighborhood of The Bronx.

And in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 10 outdoor seats made of old wine barrels with 14-foot-high attached birdhouses were placed in an open space near Columbia and Halleck streets.

In the next several months, three more sculptures will go up, on the Upper West Side, near Queens Plaza, and in Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn.

Gothamist has more photos of the eyesores that Janette Sadik-Khan wants to dump in public plazas.

More on why crime is down

From Bushwick BK:

The following days were filled with paperwork, outrageous medical bills and uncooperative police officers. In order to get my crime victim’s reimbursement from Bellevue I need an incident report number from the 83rd precinct but, to this day, they claim they do not have the report. It’s funny to be on the “victim” side of a crime for once — cops treat just as if you were the criminal. I have now learned their lack of respect is applied to all beings.

Crappy condo doubles as bird killer

From NY Shitty:

...the Viridian is much more than a poorly planned and executed six story testament to the folly of the north Brooklyn real estate boom (and bust). I learned this when I checked my email last night; it can now list “bird killer” to its list of dubious achievements as well.

My guess is that the birds were fooled by the reflection in the glass. I’m sure this happens all over the city…

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shulman fiasco has the "rancid smell of corruption"

From Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

Sounds like someone hasn't gotten their lies straight-and it ain't Shulman who is essentially arguing against interests here. And if the activity itself was illegal, where does that put the mayor and EDC? In our view, as co-conspirators in an illegal scheme to defraud the tax payers and corrupt the legislative process.

Where does this fiasco leave us? It seems to us that someone is lying-and the prevaricators are all in the Bloomberg corner. So, if Shulman got $450,000 to do something other than what the city wanted her to do, than where is the DOI on all of this? (Or, perhaps, the AG) And another thing; is Shulman's group still getting funded to do, "outreach?"

But something really doesn't pass the smell test here. Last year, the Queens Gazette had this story right in the cross hairs-and Shulman admitted at the time what her real role was: "Just before the Gazette went to press yesterday, former Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik, a spokesman for Shulman, told the Gazette that the former borough president, indeed, was a lobbyist. "We are updating our city filing and are moving to update our state filing," he said."

So, why didn't EDC pull the plug on the scam then? And by the way, where is the fine for Shulman, who knew all along what her role was, but failed to register for it?

This entire effort to evict legitimate businesses from Willets Point has the rancid smell of corruption. A full and impartial investigation of the matter is needed here-and the brakes need to be put on any move to disturb existing businesses and their workers.

Queens recycler in hot water

Queens Recycler, L.I. Liquor Stores Targeted in Bottle Scam

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP/1010 WINS) -- Authorities say a Queens recycler and five Long Island liquor stores made hundreds of thousands of dollars by redeeming beverage containers more than once.

The recycling company's owner is accused of sending previously redeemed containers back to Long Island in exchange for a cut of the profits.

Prosecutors say a store owner distributed the containers to other retailers. They were redeemed by apparently unwitting beverage wholesalers, which had to pay the nickel deposit and 2-cent handling fee.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo were announcing the crackdown Tuesday. The investigation was expanded following some arrests last month.

Principals refuse to hire experienced teachers

From the NY Times:

Less than two weeks before the start of school, about 1,800 teaching jobs in New York City remain open as principals appear to be resisting orders to fill vacancies with teachers whose previous positions were eliminated.

Facing steep budget cuts, the Education Department enacted a hiring freeze in the spring, requiring principals with openings to hire teachers who are already on the city’s payroll but who have no permanent position, often because their schools were closed for poor performance.

But many principals prefer new teachers. So in an act of quiet defiance, they are allowing jobs to sit vacant, leading to one of the most difficult hiring seasons in recent history despite the large number of vacancies and the thousands of candidates who could fill them.

Teachers who lost their old posts are frustrated about the scarcity of job offers. New teachers who cannot get hired are furious after upending their lives to begin careers they must now delay. And principals are upset that after years of choosing their work force, their options are being drastically limited.

He's a round-the-clock rescuer

From the Daily News:

Saving lives is Bobby Horvath's work and his passion.

A 15-year veteran with the New York City Fire Department, Horvath has a busy job as a firefighter at Engine 264/Ladder 134 in Far Rockaway, Queens.

But when he's not at the firehouse, Horvath has his hands full as a wildlife rehabilitator, rescuing all kinds of birds and animals in the city and on Long Island.

He's also one of a select group of licensed rehabilitators that the city Parks Department and New York City Animal Care and Control count on when they have a hawk, a coyote or even a bobcat.

Yup, you read that last one right.

Horvath has assisted in some of the most unusual rescues around the city.

Something really stinks at City Hall

From the Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

As the ITT tells us: "These groups are designed to lobby,” Bloomberg continued. “I don’t know if they technically broke the law.” Well, someone should know-and why not the city's chief executive whose acumen in management is desperately needed for an additional four year term?

And, if the lobbying isn't legal, than the city is directly in collusion with the LDC and the potential developers who forked their money over to the "lobbying" group in the hopes of scoring a bonanza in the hereafter.

But remember what the mayor's spokesman originally told the Times: "Andrew Brent, a Bloomberg spokesman, pointed to a letter Mr. Doctoroff sent Ms. Shulman three weeks after their first meeting. It outlined the goals of her group, including conducting and leading “outreach, public relations and marketing efforts” to support the proposed redevelopment in Willets Point, but it never mentioned lobbying elected officials."

Which brings us back to one of the central issues in this controversy-one that symbolizes all that's wrong with Special Interest Bloomberg. What is the city doing creating and funding-with the tax payer's dime-astro turf groups that are working to displace existing small businesses in favor of large real estate developers? Bloomberg may not be technically beholden to these groups-he doesn't have to be-but, instead, embodies their ethos and willing does their bidding at the expense of the less powerful.

The whole affair frankly is redolent with corruption; and the fact that the traffic issues and the Van Wyck off-ramp question may make the entire redevelopment moot, only adds to the smell here. When Mike Bloomberg looks out at Willets Point he undoubtedly sees an eyesore-one that is putrescence in his eyes. As a result of his actions, however, it isn't the Point emitting the odor-what's smelling is a stench wafting straight out of City Hall.

Parking change causes problem in Forest Hills

From the Daily News:

Forest Hills storeowners are slamming the city for flipping lines of angled parking spots along 108th St. and fining drivers who don't back in, claiming the switch has scared away shoppers.

The city Transportation Department cited safety last month when it reversed the angle of the painted lines that define the spaces, encouraging motorists to back in so they won't back out into traffic.

But drivers who don't spot the signs about the back-in rule - posted high above eye level - often go in head-first. Some return to $60 tickets and soured impressions of shopping on 108th St.

Head-first parkers who belatedly notice the signs back out into traffic anyway - defeating the law's purpose - in order to turn their cars around and park properly.

Landlord: Blacks need not apply

From The Real Deal:

Housing advocates said they will seek punitive damages in federal district court against a Queens landlord who allegedly refused to rent to African-Americans.

Vyacheslav Uvaydov, the owner of a house at 71-04 171st Street in Fresh Meadows, allegedly told a tester posing as a potential renter that "he lived in a white neighborhood and there would be complaints if he rented to a black person," according to a charge of discrimination issued by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development August 17.

HUD found "reasonable cause" that Uvaydov had violated the Fair Housing Act by making discriminatory statements, according to documents issued by the department. The charge comes after an investigation of complaints filed by non-profit organizations National Fair Housing Alliance and Long Island Housing Services, which dispatched a "tester" to contact Uvaydov in August of 2007 after receiving a tip from an anonymous caller who had attempted to rent from him.

Court of Crap almost complete

From the Daily News:

The former Queens Family Court building is undergoing a $194 million transformation that community leaders hope will spur new development in downtown Jamaica.

The library-turned-courthouse is slated to get a third incarnation as 346 units of low-income, affordable and market-rate apartments with an underground parking garage. It is also expected to house retail stores and community organizations.

The project at 89-14 Parsons Blvd., dubbed Moda, is to open next spring.

"What's special is that we agreed to keep the historic facade of the old library," said Drew Spitler, vice president of development at the Dermot Co., which is revamping the building.
That's special, all right...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

50 Cent cancels Family Day


Fitty wasn't going to let anyone party without him.

The foul-mouthed gangsta rapper canceled the entire "Family Day" neighborhood fair he planned over fears that his very appearance would spark violence, his manager said yesterday.

"We are postponing it and working it out with police," said Chris Lighty, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's manager.

The event was scheduled for tomorrow at the PS 40 schoolyard in Jamaica, Queens -- just blocks from the spot Fitty was shot in 2000.

The Post reported on Aug. 17 that cops worried that they lacked the manpower to keep the peace at the event.

Originally, Fitty was going to perform but later said he would just make an appearance. Regardless, cops worried that a punk out to make a name for himself or someone with a grudge might try to shoot him.

Vallone, Crowley, Addabbo call for el fixes

From the Times Ledger:

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is calling on the MTA to inspect and repair the elevated train along the N line at Astoria’s Ditmars Boulevard after a piece of wood fell from the tracks onto the street last week.

The councilman said his office has also received numerous complaints from community residents whose parked cars have been damaged by creosote, a wood preserve made from distilled coal tar, dripping from the tracks.

A two-foot piece of wood with pointed edges fell from a station overhang at the Ditmars subway stop onto the sidewalk near 31st Street around 5 p.m. Aug. 19, but no passers-by were injured, Vallone said.

From the Daily News:

The long stretch of overhead tracks that runs through Jamaica, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to the Brooklyn-Queens border is marred by peeling paint, rusted metal and cracked cement.

"This is what happens when you neglect steel for far too long," Crowley said.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said the MTA has done patchwork repairs on the tracks, but can't remember the last time it was painted.

"I'm pretty sure some of this is from when I was a kid," said Addabbo, who is 45. "We're long overdue for a major renovation."

The flight of the dragonfly

From the NY Times:

It is not clear whether there are more dragonflies in the city than in previous years, though many longtime New Yorkers say they have been startled because they had never seen the dragonflies before in those areas. Scientists also note that late July through September is migration season for some species of dragonflies, including the very large swamp darner. It is not clear whether the long period of cool weather this summer, which has compressed the period that dragonflies emerge, has affected their dispersion patterns.

New York City is home to at least 80 species of dragonflies, with the heaviest concentration of different species, 31, in Staten Island’s Ocean Breeze Park, according to the Parks Department, which tracks the insects. (Three of the species were discovered this year.) They are also famously resident in Central Park’s Belvedere Lake, where their trysting habits stymied Parks Department plans to to expand the park in 1987.

Photo from the City Birder

Johnny's gotten himself into a fine mess

From the NY Post:

Comptroller candidate John Liu is leading in the "poles," which is not a good place to be.

Liu's campaign was slapped with 587 summonses by the Sanitation Department for plastering the city's utility poles with his campaign posters.

Each summons carries a $75 fine, so the Queens councilman owes $44,025.

Voelker-Orth Museum swarming with bees

From the Daily News:

A local beekeeper and a band of volunteers began harvesting homegrown honey at a local history museum on Wednesday.

"We're not into honey production per se," said beekeeper and horticulturist Urte Schaedle at the Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing. "We're a teaching hive."

Schaedle has been raising bees for educational demonstrations and to pollinate the museum's garden for five years.

She estimates there are now roughly 50,000 honeybees living in the almost 6-foot-tall hive on the property.

Connecting the dots...


Mayor's Conflict of Interest
Even campaign spokeperson former public relations group the Glover Park Group received 30,000 from Shulman fake non profit. Wolfson connection was of course left out of the NYT story and so was the connect of Parkside to the council member item investigation. At one point Parkside represented over 40 non profits receiving member item funding.

From True News A Letter to Garcia: (Michael) Garcia U.S. Attorney Room Eight ***
City Council investigated for slush fund ***
Queens Crap: DOI probing slush fund lobbyists

DOI Conflit of Interest
The city's DOI which is investigation the council Slush Fund along with the FBI is appointed and answerable to the same mayor whose administration set up a non profit to lobby on behalf of the mayor's plan to develop Willits Point. How can DOI investigate Parkside and another major council lobbyist Yoswein who received almost 200,000 from another non profit funded by the city to do the mayor's bidding in Coney Island.
True News from ChangeNYC.Org: Inspector Clouseau Investigates
Quinn Porks City Funds Beyond Member Items it is her right she believes, a lady who has never had a private sector job.
Speaker Quinn Pads Campaign Staff with Council Staffers (Village Voice)

Toxic Maspeth high school site to be demolished

From the Forum West:

Members of the local community board are concerned about the imminent demolition of the former Restaurant Depot building due to the presence of toxic materials found on the 74th Street property, where the city plans to build a new 1,100-seat high school.

At last week’s Community Board 5 meeting Chairman Vincent Arcuri noted that the building, located at 74th Street and 57th Avenue in Maspeth, appeared on that month’s list of buildings to be demolished in the near future. Due to the level of toxins, including carcinogens, found on the site, the board sent a letter to city School Construction Authority President Sharon Greenberger to ensure proper precautions will be taken to avoid any risks to the community.

“Considering the contamination found at this planned Maspeth High School site previously, it is critical that maximum protection against contaminants escaping into the environment be employed during demolition, excavation and removal of the existing building, the foundation, the footings and the soil,” wrote Arcuri, who also requested a meeting with the construction company hired by the city and SCA officials “responsible for oversight of this controversial project.”

“As to the concerns raised by CB5 in regards to toxins found at the site, it's important that I express as unequivocally as possible that this site is absolutely safe for the construction of a new school building. Like all urban soil, the soil at the Restaurant Depot site does contain some mild contaminants,” said DOE spokesman Will Havemann.

St. Nick's trick

What do you do when you have a one-story building on a corner in a mixed-use district and want to cash in by building higher than what's around it?

Add a community facility, labeled "AMBULATORY DIAGNOSTIC"!



Friday, August 28, 2009

He's just like one of us! (part 3)

He looks like a totally relaxed, down-to-earth common man that could easily be mistaken for one of his blue-collar constituents...
From NBC Bay Area via Bugs and Cranks, which wrote: ...the leader of America’s largest city committed one of the douchiest acts possible in the stands of a baseball game.

Meet the human ashtray

From the Daily News:

A cigarette-puffing magician is planning to lick his 40-year habit with a stunt that's sure to make his audience gag - by turning himself into a human ashtray.

Richie Magic, 53, plans to set a new record tomorrow by snuffing out 200 lit cigarettes in his mouth and chewing them in front of a Queens magic shop.

He intends to quit smoking after the mouth-charring event at Rogue Magic and Fun Shop in Elmhurst at 8:30 p.m. He wants the stunt to burn a message in the minds of teens.

"I want them to know that if you smoke, your mouth will look, feel and smell like a human ashtray," said Magic, 53.

DOE says poor SAT scores due to kids' race

From the NY Post:

City and state scores on SATs spiraled downward for the fourth straight year, according to new data.

Since hitting a peak in 2005, the city's average score on each 800-point section of the SAT has dropped by 13 points in reading, to 435, and by 18 points in math, to 459.

Scores on the writing section, which was introduced in 2006, have dropped by six points, to 432.

The state and country -- whose averages in each section of the most widely accepted college-entrance exam continued to exceed the city's by as much as 66 points -- have also seen decreases since 2005, although not as hefty as the city's.

City Department of Education officials said the dramatic drop was fueled by the substantial increase in low-performing students taking the test -- particularly black and Hispanic students who may not have considered college in the past.

The percentage of minority students among SAT test-takers climbed from 42 percent in 2005 to 54 percent in 2009.

So they urge black and Hispanic kids to take the SAT then blame them for bringing down the scores? Wow, what a bunch of Archie Bunkers there are over at DOE! Scores can't be down because Bloomklein's high school curriculum is a joke, now can they?

Bloomie thinks drinking in parks should be legal

From New York Magazine:

Mayor Bloomberg has "never understood why we don't let you drink in the park," he recently told a group of community newspapers. "I mean, you go to watch the Philharmonic, you can't have a bottle of wine."

Avella hit Bloomberg hard during debate

From the Village Voice:

[Avella] won just by showing up and giving New Yorkers tuned in to the live NY1 debate broadcast a chance to see him and hear him. He did such a good job of stoking the anti-Bloomberg fires that Thompson - whose goal was to look tough but mayoral - often sounded like a faint echo.

Here are some of Avella's withering blasts:

--On Bloomberg's claims of improving education: "I don't care how many millions he spends on his TV ads claiming education improvements. It's a lot of bunk!"

--On schools chancellor Joel Klein: "I'd fire him. I've been saying that for years."

--On Bloomberg's successful push to overturn term limits: "It was an absolute disgrace. A fatal blow to democracy."

--On the mayor's increased personal wealth since taking office: "How is it that he was worth $4 billion when he took office, and then, in a recession, he's now worth $16-$18 billion?"

--On Bloomberg's failed plan for congestion pricing on cars entering midtown: "I was against it. No one drives into Manhattan because he wants to."

--On Bloomberg's increased donations to local nonprofit and cultural groups: "He's not donating that money for charitable purposes."

--On charge that he doesn't mix well with others in the City Council: "You're damn right I don't get along with some of those council members who raised their own pay and take money from real estate developers."

--On police "stop and frisk" encounters, now at an all-time high: "Just end it. Stop the practice. I think it serves a hidden purpose. Get a new police commissioner. Let's get back to the cop on the beat."

--On abuses by council-members in discretionary grants to local groups: "I'd end all discretionary funds."

--On balance of power between council and mayor over budget issues: "I'd be the first mayor to give up budget power. Give more to the council."

--On having raised only $271,000 for his campaign so far: "I'm not dialing for dollars. I'm not taking money from real estate developers."

--On construction delays at ground zero: "It's a disgrace. The city should've Use eminent domain to seize the property and build the project itself."

--On city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan: "She should be fired."

--On improving the economy: "We need to bring back the manufacturing jobs."

Who takes Cindy Adams seriously anyway?

From Gothamist:

A couple of days ago, NY Post columnist Cindy Adams made her opinion of the Times Square chairs be known, saying loud and clear in her headline: "It's Broadway—Not Rockaway!" She went on, saying "the hallway to the Street of Dreams is now Beach 34th Street? What's next? Sand? A boardwalk?" She's worried that the tourists will now only see "Sprawling, bused-in out-of-towners with Coke cans and brown paper bags flat out on camp chairs noshing and burping and snoozing and playing checkers in the center of the capital of the world."

Now the paper has printed some responses, two in approval of the original piece, and one reading: "I take extreme exception to Adams' column comparing the trashing of Times Square to the Rockaways. There is more to New York City than Manhattan—the Rockaways are one of the city's crown jewels. We have clean beaches, clean water, manicured properties and tree-lined streets. I suggest that the next time Adams decides to bash a city neighborhood, she should try visiting the area first." Um, just keep her out of Far Rockaway for now.

Senate staffers get raises

From NY1:

The State Senate has given more than 50 staff members raises totaling nearly $500,000, according to data released by the state comptroller's office.

Some staffers got raises of more than $10,000 a year.

All but 10 of the staff members who got raises work for Republicans.

But Republicans say the changes do not qualify as raises since many of their staff members were laid off or forced to take pay cuts when Democrats took control this year.

Stop the out-of-control mayor!

From Lost City:

Read this from the Times. Really read it. And understand what your mayor is and what he has systematically, purposefully, and in many ways illegally done to this City. How, in his view, he owns the town, and by right can do whatever he wants with it. How he has handed it over to developers. How he has squashed the rights of the little man left and right. How his vision must prevail. How no one must tell him no. And how he will lie and lie and lie about it when he is caught in the act.

Read it. And vote accordingly. Don't elect the Fox mayor of the Chicken Coop.

Mike says you can just tune him out

From PolitickerNY:

Michael Bloomberg said if people don’t like his campaign ads, “don’t watch.”

At a press conference on Broadway, where Bloomberg stuffed boxes to be sent to members of the armed forces stationed overseas, a reporter pressed Bloomberg on his ads--which, a poll said, annoy voters.

The ads are “somewhat unavoidable,” said a reporter from the Associated Press.

“I’ve managed to avoid them,” said Bloomberg.

“You don’t ever see your ads?” the reporter asked.

“I don’t have time to watch television,” he said. “I have a job that sort of requires me to work from sort of early in the morning till the middle of the evening. Then, catching up on all the work that I have to take home, I don’t have a lot of time to watch television. But if I did, and I didn’t like the ads, I guess I could turn it off or not watch.”

How about when your campaign calls my house or knocks on my door to tell me how great you are? How do I avoid that?

Corona's crowded corner

Here's the before photo.

Not sure how they even managed to fit this many buildings on this lot.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bloomberg: "Bill and Tony who?"

From WCBS880:

Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he's not really running against anyone in this year's mayoral election.

The Republican-turned-independent is casting the other candidates as irrelevant and says his campaign is a lone effort to advertise his record since taking office in 2002.

He says the Democratic candidates who debated Wednesday night "wasted an opportunity" by attacking him instead of saying why they want to be mayor.

At least, he heard that's what they said. He didn't watch the debate because he said he wasn't curious to hear what his potential challengers had to say.

So why are you spending so much money on this election?

Waffles may come back to World's Fair grounds

From the Daily News:

It's golden brown, light yet crispy, piled with whipped cream and strawberries - and primed for a comeback after 45 years.

The original Belgian waffle, arguably introduced to Americans at the 1964 World's Fair, could return to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as soon as a vendor who claims to have matched the secret recipe lands a city permit.

"We have to do this," said Thomas DeGeest, a Belgian native who parks his Wafels & Dinges truck - "dinges" means "toppings" - throughout Manhattan.

DeGeest's next opportunity to request a cart permit at Flushing Meadows will be in October, said Betsy Smith, the city Parks Department's assistant commissioner for revenue and marketing.

If he applies then, he could be selling the gratifying grids in the park by February, Smith said.

Upstate getting the Blues

From the NY Post:

Records show at least 153 New Yorkers actively registered in both New York City and at their upstate homes voted in the 20th Congressional District's special election in March, 76 percent of whom were enrolled Democrats, according to elections records obtained by The Associated Press. Nearly 250 more in the district are actively registered upstate and down, but didn't vote in that particular election.

It's illegal to be registered in two places at once, but the state Board of Elections said it probably happens because New York City boroughs are behind on eliminating voters from the city database after they switch their registration.

The board said people are legally required to vote from their primary residence, but that's not clearly defined.

Rikers working with the feds to deport illegals


Authorities have begun deportation proceedings against an estimated 13,000 inmates at Rikers, immigrant advocates say.

A coalition of advocacy groups says the data shows how the Department of Correction passes along information to immigration authorities, who then use it to try to deport inmates. The Department of Correction says the information it gives to the feds doesn't include immigration status.

Sometimes lightning strikes twice

From the NY Times:

Sometimes Bharat Patel buys New York Lottery tickets, but never at the store he manages on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens. He does not want his customers to think the fix is in.

They might see fit to wonder. Twice in the last eight weeks, the store, the Shiv Convenience Store, has sold lottery tickets with big payoffs. First there was the $133 million Mega Millions jackpot won by Aubrey Boyce, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority collection agent from Kew Gardens.

Over the weekend, the store sold another winning ticket, for the Take 5 drawing on Sunday. That ticket — the only first-prize ticket sold for that drawing — was worth $66,053.

The evidence was right there



City Knew Shulman was Using EDC Funds to Lobby

Daily News October 5, 2008
Willets Point group claims Claire Shulman is lobbying illegally

From the Daily News Article in 2008:
City law defines lobbying as efforts to influence elected officials or the Planning Commission on issues such as zoning or real estate "subject to city regulation."

At the Planning Commission hearing on Willets Point in August, Shulman said: "I hope you will strongly consider adding your voices to those people supporting this project."

Shulman has vowed to meet every Council member before they vote on the plan next month.

The City's Answer to Willets Point Group Claiming in 2008 that City Funds were being used to lobby the Planning Board and the City Council
"The spokesman noted the city funds dozens of similar groups that "promote local economic growth and job creation." Daily News October 8, 2008

What did the City Clerks Office Find with their Investigation in 2008?

"Acting City Clerk Michael McSweeney declined to comment. But a source said the City Clerk's office is "looking into it." DN October 8, 2008

The Daily News should ask for the files of the City Clerks investigation. Did they write a letter to the mayor's office looking into to the illegal lobbying charge?

Police looking for lunchtime killer

From NY1:

Police are looking for the person who they say shot and killed a 32-year-old-man inside a Chinese restaurant in the Rockaways Monday afternoon.

Investigators say the man was shot several times in the head while getting something to eat at the restaurant in Arverne.

Friends tell NY1 the man has an 11-year-old son and had just moved back to New York from Virginia.

"I lived here. I moved out of here four years ago. It's very dangerous. You cannot sleep. The bullets are always flying through the windows. You cannot let your kids outside," said Sandra Trammell, a family friend. "This is very dangerous here."

What are you talking about, Sandra? Crime is down! Haven't you seen the stats or been listening to the mayor? So just forget that lately we seem to have multiple murders a day and shootings in broad daylight. Okay? There's a mayoral campaign going on.

Liu has long history of bending the truth

From the Daily News:

Queens City Councilman John Liu told yet another version of his childhood in a sweatshop Monday and now says his mother worked at home "most of the time."

It's a vastly different story than he's told in TV ads about how he and his mom toiled long hours in sweatshops to "make ends meet."

Liu casts his parents as struggling immigrants forced to do menial work after arriving from Taiwan in the early 1970s and routinely says his father, Joseph Liu, had to become a "low level" bank clerk after leaving the Bank of Taiwan, which sent him to New York for an education.

But when Joseph Liu later became a top executive in the Great Eastern Bank, the bank issued financial documents in 1990 that described his background differently:

"In November 1972, [Joseph Liu] joined Hokkaido Takushoku Bank as an International Officer, helping to establish a new money center in New York," the bank reported. "He was in charge of most of the departments in that Bank until 1983."

The bank document does not say how much Liu's father earned but records show the family bought a house in Bayside in 1977 with a $58,000 mortgage.

Liu's father and three other Great Eastern Bank execs were convicted of bank fraud in 2001.

On Tuesday, Liu's mother recanted her earlier statements.

Helen way behind opponent in fundraising

From the Queens Campaigner:

Borough President Helen Marshall once again did not qualify for public matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board, despite her campaign’s pledge to accelerate its fund-raising efforts.

Marshall has raised $147,931 thus far for her campaign and more than $28,000 in the last month, but failed to eclipse the $44,588 threshold of matchable contributions required to receive the public funding — something her Democratic opponent Marc Leavitt was quick to point out in a news release.

Earlier this month, Leavitt received $279,939 in matching funds, giving him a far larger war chest than the incumbent Marshall. Leavitt has also spent $225,929 thus far, more than four times Marshall’s spending total of $43,626.

Marshall’s campaign did not immediately return a call for comment.

Photo from Daily News

Welcome to The Hole

From Nathan Kensinger:

Locals call it The Hole. But few agree on where The Hole is located. Some say The Hole is in Howard Beach, others say it is in Spring Creek or Ozone Park, or maybe East New York or Lindenwood. Residents do agree on one thing - The Hole is famous. Mostly because of the bodies. Or maybe the horses.

Today, the neighborhood has been torn apart by failed development schemes. Besides the empty horse pastures and abandoned houses, the edges of the The Hole are dominated by two large, apparently abandoned real estate projects. At the western edge is a trash strewn, boarded-up row of new homes, and towering above the eastern edge of the neighborhood is a stalled development once named "Cobblestone Estates." According to the NY Times, construction here stopped in 2007, and the remaining mountain of debris has given neighbors below in The Hole "nightmares about avalanches" and a "constant fear of a rockslide."

BloomQuinn's plan to bail out developers apparently doesn't extend into the border towns of Brooklyn and Queens.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tough questions for the tweeders

From Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

A number of interesting follow up questions emerge from the NY Times story-and our own post-on the illegal lobbying operation that was set up by the city to push for the Willets Point development. In our view, some of these questions are of a political nature, and should be addressed by the various local and city wide campaigns; but others are of a legal nature-and these should be carefully scrutinized by law enforcement at all levels of government.

(1) Claire Shulman's continued role: If, as Shulman says, she was hired to do lobbying from the get go, and this is allegation is disputed by EDC and the mayor's office, than why is the city continuing to fund someone with money that she is clearly using for lobbying (as her lobbying registration suggests)?

(2) If Shulman failed to register as the lobbyist for the FWPC LDC, why wasn't she fined $59,000, as was the LDC itself?

(3) Was the groups' failure to note that it would be lobbying in its federal tax filing a criminal violation, and/or does this affect its not-for-profit status?

(4) Who are the members of the board of this LDC, and what were they promised to pony up the matching funds?

(5) Does the fact that these companies stand to benefit from the LDC's lobbying activities, mean that each and every one of them should have been listed-under the requirements of the state's lobbying statute-as "third party beneficiaries?"

(6) Does the fact that the city is funding illegal astroturf groups with tax payer money violate any provisions of municipal law?

(7) Can the Willets Point businesses sue these colluding companies-along with the city-under the provisions of the civil RICO laws?

(8) Does the use of an illegal lobbying group to aid and abet the city's Willets Point land grab invalidate the ULURP application that was passed last year by the city council? And should this challenge be added to the existing Article 78 proceeding that will first be heard today in state court?

All of these issues need to be addressed-and we're hopeful that the AG will act expeditiously here. We're also hopeful that the issues raised in the Article 78 proceeding-covered well by the Crain's Insider yesterday-will bear fruit and give further evidence of just how nefarious this entire land grab scheme has been.

In response, Bloomberg says to stop picking on Claire!

From the Queens Campaigner:

“It’s a cheap shot at Claire Shulman, who has dedicated her life to this city,” Bloomberg said during an interview with reporters and editors from the Community Newspaper Group, TimesLedger Newspapers’ parent company.

“These groups are designed to lobby,” Bloomberg continued. “I don’t know if they technically broke the law.”

Actually, the EDC said they're not and they didn't give her the money to lobby.

So to recap:

State law says local development corporations are prohibited from lobbying.
Claire Shulman admits her LDC lobbied the city with city money and says it was Dan Doctoroff's idea for her to do so.
The Parkside Group backs up her claim and says they helped her lobby.
The mayor's spokesperson and EDC say she was given city money, but not to lobby.
Bloomberg says that the intention of her group was designed to lobby contradicting what his EDC and spokesperson is saying. It also shows his ignorance and arrogance when it comes to following the law.

Let's just bring in the Feds. They'll sort this out.

Constitutional convention popularity growing

From the NY Times:

Those calling for a convention say it would be an opportunity to wipe clean Albany’s greasy political slate. Some conservative backers hope to create a process for citizen-initiated referendums in New York, similar to that of California and other states, that would provide a permanent check on new taxes. Liberal proponents have other priorities, like new constitutional guarantees of health care or abortion rights.

Others would go even further: Rick A. Lazio, the former congressman, has called for using a convention to abolish the State Senate entirely, leaving New York with a unicameral Legislature.

“There are real political reform issues that ought to be decided, and a convention could do that,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat and a longtime advocate of a convention.

Including a convention held in 1777, when delegates gathered in White Plains to write the first draft of the New York Constitution, New York has had nine conventions. Some produced what are now hallowed features of New York’s social contract, from the 40-hour workweek to Article XIV, the so-called forever wild provision that limits development in the Adirondacks.

But voters have been less open to change in recent decades. The last convention, held in 1967, ended with a whimper: When several proposed changes to the constitution were later submitted for voter approval, as required by law, each was defeated.

In 1997, voters rejected having a convention at all, urged on by a strange-bedfellows coalition of environmentalists, labor unions, and conservative activists. Those opponents were joined by the leaders of the Senate and Assembly, who wield enormous clout in Albany under the existing rules.

Are you ready to Whig out?

"If you have become tired of partisan politicians and political parties which are more interested in achieving power then solving America’s problems you might be interested in a new problem solving approach to government.

We are the NY Whig Party and our roots come out of service in the United States Military. A significant number of us are the veterans who have fought for your freedom on battlefields all over the world. Now as civilians, from all walks of life, we keep fighting for you on the political battlefield as well.

The NY Whig Party is here to serve you, and pragmatically solve the problems facing America without pointless political bickering. We can’t do this alone and we truly need your help.

What we’d like you to do is contact us with your ideas and opinions once you have read our party platform. The more ideas that come together the smarter we become.

Everyone has something to contribute no matter how small that contribution is. We are not going to agree on everything, no group ever does, but if you speak out we can get a good consensus of where you stand and together we’ll start moving things along.

Our families, and our country, can’t afford to continue sinking in the quicksand of Washington politics as they are doing now. Please join us and help change the Washington value system to an American value system."

The puppetmaster and his puppet

Sung to the tune “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” by Alan Sherman

































































A Standard spectacle

From the NY Post:

Note to parents strolling the High Line: Don't let your kids look up.

The Meatpacking District's newly opened, much-touted urban park along an elevated, former railroad trestle has unwittingly turned into a peep show near The Standard hotel, as randy hotel guests perform sex acts in front of floor-to-ceiling hotel windows.

Disgusted neighbors say they've seen men masturbating, professional porn films being shot and couples engaging in sex in full view of the stunning High Line park path running alongside.

Business neighbors also are disgusted.

The Standard's Facebook page bluntly encourages the explicit behavior.

"We encourage you to exercise your inner exhibitionist. Please share your intimate, and explicit photos with us -- those floor to ceiling windows aren't just for the views..."

The hotel Web site beckons:

"Whatever you do, just make sure the shots are HOT and that you get them to us in whichever way you can. It's all about sex all the time, and you're our star."

After The Post contacted The Standard for comment, the posting was abruptly changed.

The 18-floor hotel opened at the end of last year -- with raunch-friendly ads.

"We'll put up with your banging if you put up with ours," an ad declared, picturing a woman wearing nothing but a tool belt.

Is Aqueduct bidder "connected"?

From the Daily News:

One of the bidders vying to build and run a Las Vegas-style video slots emporium in Queens has ties to a reputed organized crime figure in China, the Daily News has learned.

MGM Mirage is one of six groups bidding on the Aqueduct project at the same time New Jersey is considering forcing the company to divest its 50% stake in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission is reopening a licensing hearing for the Borgata because of MGM's partnership in a casino resort in Macau with Pansy Ho.

Ho is the daughter of Hong Kong casino magnate Stanley Ho, who has been described by U.S. officials as a "reputed organized crime figure" whose casinos have links to Chinese organized crime.

The billionaire has never been charged and has vehemently denied such ties.

In a recent report, the New Jersey attorney general's Division of Gaming Enforcement recommended MGM's partnership with Pansy Ho be found "unsuitable," according to the company's filing with the Securities Exchange Commission.

Court fight over Brooklyn rezoning

From NY1:

Views of the harbor and Lower Manhattan skyline can be seen from the hills of Sunset Park. But some community groups fear the vistas will be blocked if the city's rezoning plan goes through since developers could create taller buildings along the avenues. And that's just one of many reasons the group is suing to stop the plan.

"We know that this plan is going to destroy or community," said Wendy Cheung of the Chinese Staff and Workers' Association. "This rezoning plan is going to upzone. It's going to encourage luxury developers to come in and push people out."

Similar to other recent neighborhood rezonings, City Planning wants to put height restrictions on the residential blocks to preserve Sunset Park's low-scale character. At the same time, it wants to encourage higher density construction on the avenues, particularly 4th and 7th Avenues.

While the group supports the part of the plan that calls for height limits, it says the plan favors developers more than the mostly Latino and Chinese residents. They say it encourages retail chains over mom and pop stores and provides only limited incentives for affordable housing.

Bloomberg's DOB, BSA jeopardize toddlers

From: Auburndale Improvement Assoc. newsletter 'THE VOICE'
TO:Commissioner Robert LiMandri,N.Y.C. Department of Buildings

Dear Commissioner LiMandri:

Within the boundaries of the A.I.A, Inc, is a construction site located at 196-25 42nd Avenue,Flushing,Queens,11358. The site is also identified as 196-29 42nd Avenue. Other addresses used are 40-54 and 40-56 Francis Lewis Blvd. A daycare center is to be constructed there and the owners received approval from the B.S.A. to build in the bed of a mapped street at this location (B.S.A.#217-06-A).

According to the owners, this community facility will accommodate 175 children,ages 2 through 6. In the plans it appears to me that there will be a subcellar at this facility to be used as a daycare gymnasium as well for accessory uses. However, it is my understanding that as of September 1,2008, daycare students are no longer allowed to be kept in a subcellar in newly built facilities. Can you explain to me why the D.O.B. approved plans allowing for a gym in a subcellar given this new regulation? I also note that the number of children allowed on all four floors of this facility adds to 296. Does that mean that the center could conceivably be allowed to service that many children?

Community residents are very concerned about the size, number of children and impact it will have on the community. As you know C.P.B. 11, also voiced serious reservations about this community facility.

The issue of how the children will be dropped off and picked up is a major concern. Safety is of paramount importance not only for the children,but for the residents and the children who attend P.S.130 directly across the street. This intersection which forms the corner of the center site is a very busy area. Remember these children will require assistance to get out of and into vehicles. They also need to be escorted by an adult into and from the building. How can safety be maintained if people are dropping off and picking up children at such a busy and congested area without the use of a turn-in-lane? B.S.A. gave the owners AS OF RIGHT to build in the bed of this mapped street. The blvd. is only 1 1/2 lanes in front of this site.

While looking on the D.O.B. website, I notice that there are 13 open ECB complaints and 2 open DOB complaints for this site. Apparently,fines totaling to many thousands of dollars have been levied against this owner. These fines appear to not have been paid. At what point will the owner be forced to pay the fines? Why is the owner allowed to start construction when fines have not been paid?

And this was followed up with another e-mail:

The property owner, Swayne Shu, who is councilman John C. Liu's landlord, is listed on the N.Y.C. Campaign Finance Board as a donor to the councilman's 2009 N.Y.C. comptrollers race. Shu is also listed as manager of the Kon Wah dayschool located in Liu's Flushing building at 135-27 38th Avenue, Liu's office.

The other business name listed is Yee Kon, LLC. Shu is listed as partner. The B.S.A. gave approval to build in the bed of a mapped street. As Liu is chairman of the transportation committee, is it not strange that the D.O.T. signed its approval of this unsafe project? C.P.B. 11 and Chairman J. Iannece rejected the project. One more "AS OF RIGHT" POLITICAL/DEVELOPER CRAP BUILDING!!