Friday, August 31, 2012

Sad state of Riis Bathhouse

From the NY Times:

With its octagonal brick towers rising above the beach, the sprawling bathhouse at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways has, since opening in 1932, served as a monument to Art Deco design, grand public works and populist fun. Lately, however, it has become a symbol of something else: public frustration.

Renovation work began in the 1990s on the bathhouse, which is part of the federal Gateway National Recreation Area. Nearly $20 million was spent on asbestos removal, electrical upgrades, window replacements, new elevators and facade work. Politicians predicted that the bathhouse would be a fitting centerpiece of Jacob Riis Park, which is nicknamed the People’s Beach, while beachgoers envisioned cafes and souvenir shops, hot showers and community space.

But the work was never finished, and today the 40,000-square-foot bathhouse appears all but abandoned. Its large oceanfront bays are boarded up with plywood; its giant courtyard houses piles of sand, weeds and several derelict lifeguard stands, two of them toppled over.

Officials of Gateway, which is part of the National Park Service, say that the bathhouse suffered a one-two punch. First, the money meant for the restoration did not go as far as they had planned. The bathhouse complex actually comprises four buildings; while the entry pavilion on the inland side is finished, the beach pavilion still needs major work. Then came Tropical Storm Irene, which smashed a series of large doors protecting the interior — the ones now covered in plywood — and dumped four feet of sand on the ground floor.

More problems dumped on Rockaway

"Just received this email from local friends which was dispersed by a local police officer. I would appreciate your not using names nor my name. But this is just terrible if it’s true. We are a dumping ground here in the Rockaways. There seems to be no way out for us to improve." - Anonymous

My source telling me of 270 troubled youths who will soon be using the Stella Maris School in Rockaway Park is TRUE. My source also states coming in from other boroughs is TRUE. Yes... the Martin De Porres School will be opening when school starts and their staff will be there the day before. I drove by the school this afternoon and just happened to talk to some worker there who gave me the information, but then in the front of the school I ran into the Assistant Principal (Frank) of this new school and he gave me the same information. If you don't know, as a non profit they do not have to go thru the Community Board. Also I contacted our local officials, papers etc. to make them aware of what is going on in our Community.

Now for the next bit of lovely news my source gave me today, the St. John's Boys Home will soon be housing (this Sept) 12 Criminals. I don't have the information on the ages or what their status is but the program will be called "NON SECURE PLACEMENT." Someone else sent me the information below on this program that runs in Richmond Hill, Queens.

St. John's operates one "Non Secure Detention" group home facility, which is funded by the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. This 10 bed facility, located in Richmond Hill, Queens, serves as a short term residence for adolescent males as they await Family Court outcomes.

Why the media covers for Bloomberg

From Salon:

Have you ever wondered why Bloomberg is perpetually portrayed as an uber-popular mayor, despite consistent polls to the contrary, and despite barely winning reelection after grossly outspending his little-known opponent? Have you ever wondered how Bloomberg could be glowingly billed as a moderate liberty-loving hero even as he has trampled civil liberties and freedom in ways that would make a banana republic’s dictator blush? Have you ever wondered why the mayor of New York is a ubiquitous guest on most major news programs, even though he is but the mayor of one city?

All of that has to do with fear and desire. Simply put, there’s a fear among many in the media that Bloomberg may one day buy out their employer, and that if they don’t treat him well, they’ll be out of a job. Likewise, there’s a desire among many to get a high-paying job from Bloomberg when that buyout moment happens, or to get a fat paycheck at one of the outlets he uses to convert has-been pundits and politicos into his loyal ideological spokespeople.

Fueling rumors of Bloomberg’s impending purchases, then, simply stokes that fear and desire — which consequently expands Bloomberg’s overall influence over the media. Hence, a wildly unpopular authoritarian is typically depicted as America’s beloved “Freedom Mayor,” replete with top bookings on major shows to promote his supposed benevolence. Hence, Bloomberg-ism — read: genuflection to Wall Street, deification of the super-rich and rejection of basic civil liberties — becomes the unquestioned ideological position of many major news outlets.

Female pols are pathetic feminists

From the Daily News:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan), who earlier this year received a “Fearless Trailblazer” award from the Feminist Majority Foundation, issued a statement praising Silver for acting “decisively” to punish Assemblyman Vito Lopez after an ethics committee found he’d sexually harassed two staff members.

Maloney’s statement made no mention of the secret $103,080 settlement Silver cut to resolve an earlier harassment case against Lopez — or his decision to initially bypass the Assembly ethics committee — but it did laud his handling of the matter.

“The Speaker’s actions send a clear and unambiguous message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the New York State Assembly,” Maloney said.

The $103,080 was apparently just a part of the secret settlement. An Albany source confirmed a New York Times report Wednesday that two women involved were also paid $32,000 from Lopez personally, plus salary and benefits from the state.

Maloney’s endorsement of Silver stands in contrast to her long record as an advocate for women’s issues. She’s usually one of the first to condemn the mistreatment of women.

But Silver is one of the city’s most powerful figures and it’s hard to run for office without his support.

Even as he issued an apology this week for the coverup, the voices that would typical bash such behavior were notably silent.

The Daily News surveyed nearly two dozen female office holders — including some of New York’s most vocal lawmakers — and most either did not return calls or offered tepid excuses about needing more information.

Other women, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, issued vague statements praising the mea culpa Silver issued Tuesday.

Demo coming soon to 5 Pointz

From the Queens Gazette:

The owner of the 5Pointz building is anxiously awaiting approval of a demolition permit by the city Department of Buildings to proceed with plans to develop two high-rise residential towers at the site.

The graffiti covered 5Pointz building at 45-46 Davis St. is facing a wrecking ball under a plan that calls for two highrises– 41- and 47-stories that would feature a number of amenities, including a gym, media center, swimming pool, shops, restaurants, a supermarket, a park and open air concourse–and open space for work by graffiti artists.

5Pointz owner, developer Jerry Wolkoff presented the proposal to Community Board 2 earlier this year, saying the development would be an asset to ongoing changes in the Long Island City community.

Community board officials expressed concern over the size and scope of the proposed project, but agreed that a mixed-use development at the site would be a fitting “next chapter” to the history of the iconic 5-Pointz building.

(Although the Gazette erroneously reports that fire escape collapse victim Nicole Gagne died, she in reality, has not.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will Vito take Silver down with him?

From CBS:

There are serious questions and a growing demand for answers about a hush-hush payout of tax dollars to settle a sex harassment case.

The New York Times said in June, powerful Assembly Speaker Silver quietly approved a secret payout to at least one Lopez staffer, who accused him of sex harassment.

There was minimal paperwork and the payout was $103,000.

Daniel Feldman, a former assemblyman, said Silver’s OK of a secret payout is troubling.

“I would very much like to know what is the legal justification for this expenditure out of the public view,” Feldman said.

Silver’s spokesman said the case was not sent to the Ethics Committee. It was kept “confidential at the express insistence of the victim.”

But Gloria Allred, the victim’s attorney, begs to differ, saying “We have never insisted that a legislative committee not proceed with an investigation.”

Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to probe the Lopez scandal.

Only 15 more months of this crap

From the Architect's Newspaper:

The Bloomberg Administration is arguably one of the most pro-development governments in city history. Since he took office, the Mayor has used city agencies to unleash the forces of New York real estate while also steering those forces to meet goals for a cleaner, greener, and more equitable city. PlaNYC, the catch-all name for the Mayor’s bundle of 132 sustainability initiatives, creates a framework for over 25 city agencies to collaborate on a vast array of projects, from the new East River Ferry service to a $187 million investment in green infrastructure. While some programs such as MillionTreesNYC, are making streets leafier one tree at a time, many of the Mayor’s initiatives have reshaped the city in profound ways. As the administration counts down its remaining days in office, AN checks in with the individual agencies whose projects have had the most impact on development in the city.

Oh wow, sounds like another puff piece about how great Bloomberg's army has been for NYC. Yawn... Funny how none of the massive failures are mentioned. Olympics, Destination Parks, Million Trees, West Side Stadium, etc.

Sometimes the LPC is just a pain in the ass

From the Daily News:

In 1999, the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association (BCAA) purchased the building for a little more than $200,000 from another community group, the Sunset Park Music Group.

"We hoped we'd be able to raise enough money to restore it," recalled Paul Mack, who founded the BCAA, an expanding network of 18 senior centers and childcare programs.

Mack and the chair of Community Board 7, Fred Xuereb, met with Landmark staff on Aug. 6, where the city officials threatened to file legal action known as a "demolition by neglect" suit, which could result in up to $5,000 daily fines.

"We are prepared to pursue legal action unless the owner takes the necessary steps to repair this historic building," landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said in a statement.

Mack countered that the commission has rejected BCAA's application for a $25,000 grant to finance some of the fixes.

"They want us to fix it but are not giving any financial support," Mack said in his makeshift office, an empty classroom at his center's flagship site on 8th Ave and 50th St.

The cash-strapped nonprofit plans to first fix the outside bricks, then place beams inside to ensure that the walls do not crash down, and eventually finish patching up the attached former stable.

"I'm not a greedy landlord. I'm just a social-service provider," Mack said.

NYC in worse financial trouble?

From the NY Post:

New Yorkers are hurtling toward a very steep fall off the fiscal cliff. Depression-level job losses and record taxes on personal income are on the horizon, according to a bruising new economic report.

With the city’s huge concentration of high earners and major government spending, the drop could devastate the local economy, according to the nonprofit American Action Forum, a DC-based conservative policy institute.

New York region could lead the nation with:
* Up to 1 million-plus direct job losses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — 614,000 alone in New York state.
* Marginal tax rates crossing 50 percent in New York and New Jersey.
* Sharply higher taxes on small business.

Other experts also warn of imminent danger. “If we can’t resolve this, it pushes us into a recession,” said Jim Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS Global Insight. “It’s a massive contraction all at once. And it negatively affects New York and the northeastern states more than others.”

Another Dog-and-Pony hearing on Willets Point

Click photos for larger versions

Ok, so basically the entire Willets Point project has been stripped down to a parking garage/mall on the Citifield parking lot for the Wilpons and a collection of temporary sports facilities, including stickball courts, on condemned land where the convention center and affordable housing was supposed to be built. The whole idea of stickball is that you play it in the street, but in Bloombergland it requires a project that costs billions of dollars...

The City Council didn't vote for this, but they'll look the other way while this gets pushed through.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sanitation policy is trash

From CBS:

Department of Sanitation policy says that residents cannot place garbage on the curb until 5 p.m. the day before collection. Between Oct. 1 and April 1 it can be placed outside after 4 p.m.

Senator Tony Avella called the policy garbage, and that the Sanitation Department never went through the proper avenues to establish the regulation.

“It involves a public comment period. You have to advertise that you’re doing this and allow the public to comment on it. They never did that,” he said.

Avella has demanded that the city eliminate the policy or pass it through the proper channels. He has also asked the city to refund money to anybody who was ticketed under the policy.

CUNY wants to enter hotel business

From Crains:

The City University of New York has retained Cushman & Wakefield Inc. to help the school determine if it should proceed with a plan to build a hotel in Long Island City, Queens in order to expand its hospitality program.

The school said the assessment should be completed some time this fall. In January, CUNY began looking for a consultant to help the school evaluate a 91,000-square-foot lot it owns at 28-02 Skillman Ave. for potential hotel use. The property is part of CUNY's LaGuardia Community College campus. Cushman & Wakefield is working with a number of other CUNY colleges that offer hospitality and tourism programs, including New York City College of Technology and Kingsborough Community College, to evaluate the development project.

The lot under evaluation is bounded by Skillman Avenue to the north, 29th Street to the east, 47th Avenue to the south and 28th Street to the west. It has been owned by CUNY since LaGuardia Community College was founded in 1971 and is ripe for development. The property is currently zoned for up to a 600,000-square-foot development, but the school said it does not plan to build to the maximum size. If built, the hotel will be linked to a new hospitality program at LaGuardia.

Would this work here?

From HousingWire:

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday forcing owners of foreclosed and vacant homes to maintain the property or face up to a $1,000 fine per day of violation.

The bill, A.B. 2314, is part of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a slew of new legislation drafted and introduced through state lawmakers with the assistance of California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The latest enacted bill gives local governments the ability to impose up to a $1,000 fine for code violations. It must give owners, including banks, at least 14 days to start fixing the alleged violation and 30 days to complete the correction before issuing the fine.

One of the violations includes "not failing to take action to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in standing water or other conditions that create a public nuisance." A woman in Studio City, Calif. recently diagnosed with the West Nile virus traced the contraction to mosquitoes breeding in a nearby foreclosure's neglected swimming pool.

The new bill could be costly for careless owners of these homes. Fannie Mae, for example, owned more than 10,000 REO properties in California as of June 30, according to its latest financial filing.

If an investor or homeowner buys a property that was foreclosed on at any point since Jan. 1, 2008, the local government must give at least 60 days to remedy any violations found since taking title. The law does give room to provide less time "if deemed necessary."

Tax-exempt civic turns into political club

From Bragg Blog:

Take a look at this screen shot from the Bayside Hills Civic Association website, a community organization and non-profit in Queens, according to current incorporation records and its own website.

Not only is the group explicitly promoting the electoral prospects of Queens Assembly candidate Jerry Iannence (which is a definite no-no for a nonprofit), but it also offers the following poll question, asking “How should an American decide on a candidate?”

“Pick the candidate with the most experience and a long record of service to the community” or “Pick the candidate whose ethnicity is the same as yours, even if she or he is not qualified to hold office.”

Iannece is Italian-American, while his opponent, former Assembly staffer Nily Rozic is originally from Israel (before moving then to Queens.) Like her predecessor, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who gave up the seat to run for Congress, she is Jewish.

It’s a fairly heavily Jewish district (but also has an even heavier Asian-American population), and clearly that poll question is quite inappropriate.

Where are Queens' PEP officers?

From the Daily News:

The ranks of city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are so thin that only one officer is available to patrol all Queens parks this summer, union officials charged.

Most of the borough’s PEP officers have been assigned to busy pools and beachfront areas, leaving acres of parks without a security presence, according to Joseph Puleo of DC 37 Local 983, which represents the officers.

The situation has caught the attention of City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who recently fired off a letter to the Parks Department, asking officials to explain the staffing levels.

“We knew it was bad but I don’t think anyone realized it was this bad,” said Vallone (D-Astoria), who heads the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

“There are more rovers on Mars than there are PEP officers in Queens,” he quipped to the Daily News.

Vallone and Puleo said the lack of PEP officers is especially troublesome since the Police Department does not have enough patrol officers to keep an eye on parks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Open tix nixed

From the NY Post:

The US Tennis Association yanked all invitations to elected city officials and city employees last week because the Conflict of Interest Board quietly ruled that they can’t accept the freebies, The Post has learned.

The perk — doled out for decades — usually lands officials in choice seats for whatever match they choose.

This ethics volley came after The Post first reported this month that state lawmakers had to ditch their complimentary tickets.

The state Ethics Commission nixed the perk after state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens) called the practice to light.

USTA officials declined to comment yesterday and refused to release the brief letter they sent city lawmakers and employees on Friday.

But good-government advocates hailed the end of string-pulling for city pols.

“I think that privileges given to elected officials similar to these free tickets are out of line,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.

“If an elected official wants to go, they should pay their way.”

Traffic free-for-all in Sunnyside

Cars and trucks are knowingly riding the wrong way in Blissville...
Here's the news story.

And bicyclists are apparently doing the same in Sunnyside proper. From the Sunnyside Post:

The incident occurred at about 7pm, August 22, and witnesses claim the cyclist was riding the wrong way down 43rd Ave before he hit a moving car broadside.

Be careful out there, folks. Lots of dingbats on wheels.

Parks hiding donation disparities

From the NY Times:

Four years ago, the City Council passed a law to shed light on how much money was flowing into different parks across the city. Advocates were concerned that the parks system was splitting in two: in wealthy areas of the city, gleaming, innovative green spaces, buttressed by private financing sources; elsewhere, ailing parks with far fewer resources at their disposal.

The legislation required the Department of Parks and Recreation of New York City to prepare an annual report that would detail, park by park, the contributions of nonprofits and other private donors.

“We wanted to see just how large the disparity is,” said Geoffrey Croft, the president of NYC Park Advocates, which supported the legislation. The City Council agreed, and after the measure was approved by a vote of 48-0, the new reporting requirements became Local Law 28 of 2008.

Yet the most recent report from the parks department, on the 2010 fiscal year, falls far short of the law’s requirements.

It fails to list the city’s largest parks nonprofit, the Central Park Conservancy, which spent $28 million during that period. Other major parks groups, including the Union Square Partnership, the Madison Square Park Conservancy and the Friends of Washington Square Park, are also missing.

“It doesn’t reflect a real effort to comply with the law,” Alan J. Gerson, a former councilman who sat on the parks committee in 2008, said.

“Whether it’s for schools, or parks or any public place, the public should know where the private money is coming from and what it’s buying. It’s basic good government,” Mr. Gerson, a Manhattan Democrat, said.

Waterfront Whitestone lot still a brownfield

From the Times Ledger:

The development of a prime piece of waterfront property in Whitestone set to house 52 homes has hit a bureaucratic snag preventing construction, while a lawmaker has raised questions about illegal dumping at the site.

A 7-acre piece of real estate, at 151-45 6th Road, has sat vacant for years while toxic soil was being removed from the site.

An environmental company recently finished replacing the dirt as part of a state program designed to clean up contaminated property, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

But the company, Barone Management, remediated a strip of land belonging to the city that was within the boundaries of the property, according to DEC.

The mixup has caused a delay in development, since the owner of the property needs to hammer out an agreement before it can complete the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Klein Farm still in the wrong hands

From the Times Ledger:

Klein Farm, one of the last family-owned, working farms in Queens until 2001, is still owned by a company connected to the notorious developer Tommy Huang despite reports several years ago that the firm was preparing to sell the property.

The story last left off with Huang trying to sell the property and ordering a day-care center that was previously operating there to vacate in 2009.

But it appears that never happened, leaving Audrey Realty’s intentions for the farm a question mark.

“Nothing’s going to happen [there] while I’m the city councilman,” Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) said recently, “unless it’s what the community wants.”

He said the owner has been quiet in recent years and Klein Farm seems to have fallen off the radar, but he remains committed to protecting the property should it come into question in the future.

Phone calls to Henry Huang were not returned.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Abandoned Ozone Park house is trouble

From the Queens Chronicle:

It has been over six years since anyone has lived at 105-44 90 St., next door neighbor Al DiGiacomo said. In that time, the one-family home just south of Liberty Avenue has deteriorated into a prototype of what a typical Ozone Park home may look like in the first decade after the extinction of humans.

The garden in the front of the house is overgrown, with weeds and wildflowers growing in the front yard. DiGiacomo described the backyard as “a forest.” The house itself is beginning to look decripit. In the backyard, a brick stoop is being swallowed by the overgrowth.

“It has been deteriorating and neglected,” said DiGiacomo, who added he has seen mice and rats running around in the yard. “It’s a safety hazard.”

The home, which sits in the middle of a block of detached one-family houses separated often by just a walkway a couple of feet wide, has become a quality of life issue for DiGiacomo and many of his neighbors. They do not know who owns the house and DiGiacomo said complaints fall on deaf ears.

Vacant Ozone Park lot kind of cleaned up

From the Queens Chronicle:

The chirping of crickets and clanging of trains are still prominent on the corner of North Conduit Avenue and Cohancy Street, but the plot of land on the northeast corner of the intersection looks somewhat more aesthetically pleasing.

Gone are the overgrown weeds and wildflowers that erupted through unkempt decades-old concrete. No more are the advertisements — one on a makeshift wooden billboard, another hanging from a century-old brick building with boarded-up windows.

It was just a week ago that Howard Kamph, president of the Ozone Park Civic Association, was trying to rally forces to clean the site, which is actually four lots on a triangular plot of land bordered by North Conduit Avenue, Cohancy Street and the A subway line. By Friday evening, the lot closest to the corner had gotten some much needed attention.

“They got to it really fast, I’m really happy about that,” Kamph said.
Cleaning crews hired by the owner cleared out the brush and removed the signs, as well as some overgrown vines on what used to be an auto body shop.

But some issues remain at the site. The rusty cyclone fence is still there though a section of it is missing Kamph would like to see a new fence put up, one that includes some privacy features that would keep the lot out of view from the street.

Glendale flooding cause is no mystery

From the Daily News:

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) is calling for an investigation into what caused what she and residents said was the worst flooding in the area in recent memory.

We really need to investigate this? The answer is a lot of rain and shitty infrastructure, which has been the same story now for several years.


Tennis Stadium to be sold?

From the Queens Tribune:

Club leaders are seriously considering a deal to sell off land at the historic West Side Tennis Club for $17 million, leaving the decaying Forest Hills Tennis Stadium alone.

The potential sale of the land, which includes several of the club's five clay courts, could lead to the development of new apartments, a source close to the deal told the Queens Tribune. Five clay courts lie on the club's property and the deal may not include a sale of all five. The developer, who WSTC General Manager Mauro Piccininni declined to identify, would be able to build low-rise attached houses and small multifamily apartment houses, which City zoning permits.

Two Forest Hills-based developers have been mentioned as potential buyers, though WSTC would not confirm the names of the companies.

Any deal agreed upon by the developer and WSTC's Stadium Committee would be subject to two thirds approval by voting-eligible members. The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation would have to rubberstamp the deal as well.

Broken pipe threatens Jamaica Bay environment

From the Daily News:

A busted drain pipe and valve system is slowly ruining the ecology of Jamaica Bay, driving away birds that usually breed along two freshwater ponds.

The freshwater ponds, located in Broad Channel near the entrance to the Gateway National Recreation Area, are filling up with salt water from Jamaica Bay.

Local environmentalists are calling on the National Park Service to move quickly on a project that would replace the decades-old drainage and valve systems on the ponds.

“It cannot be overstated how critical this is to the ecology of the bay,” said Dan Mundy Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers. “This is such a unique area because it includes wetlands and freshwater ponds.”

Mundy pointed out the ponds were part of a master vision and design by then-Parks Commissioner Robert Moses for the Jamaica Bay area.

The mix of freshwater and wetlands draws a large number of wildlife and the site is a haven for bird watchers.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Huntley the latest disgraced tweeder

From the NY Times:

A day after a powerful assemblyman from Brooklyn was censured over accusations of sexual harassment, a state senator from Queens said on Saturday that she expects to be arrested in an unrelated corruption investigation.

The senator, Shirley L. Huntley, said she would surrender to the authorities on Monday. She said she did not know the charges, but her announcement came months after one of her aides and three others were charged with stealing taxpayer money from a nonprofit group that Ms. Huntley founded.

Ms. Huntley, a Democrat, spoke to reporters on the street in front of her home in Jamaica, Queens, surrounded by several dozen supporters, some of them holding campaign signs. The senator’s spokeswoman had e-mailed reporters late Friday, urging them to attend “an emergency news conference.”

“I want my day in court,” Ms. Huntley said. “I don’t know the charges. I have no idea what this is about.”

Multiple elected officials, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, as well several law enforcement agencies and ethics panels have vowed to reform the capital. The investigation into the nonprofit formed by Ms. Huntley is the product of one such effort — a new partnership between the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, and the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, who have vowed to crack down on public corruption.

UPDATE 8/27/12: Read the details of the indictment here.

Hookers and Hypocrites

Letter to the Editor (Queens Chronicle):

Dear Editor:

Recently I have been discussing with Forest Hills residents the efforts to remove the beautiful statue “Civic Virtue” from Kew Gardens and banish it to a cemetery.

Two pals pointed out letters written in another community newspaper by people in favor of the move. One was a female lawyer, another the founder of the Center for the Women of New York.

The reason I had not come across these letters myself is that I refuse to read this particular publication. Why? A brief glance at the ads in the back of the newspaper is enough to shock and nauseate most women. They are fronts for prostitution in the guise of escort services, party girls and massage parlors. Most advertise Asian women, who might be here illegally and against their will, to perform these services.

It is laughable that these two Queens women are outraged about a statue of mythical beings, yet would allow their letters to be published in an anti-woman newspaper.

Talk about the height of hypocrisy.

Arlene Fava
Forest Hills

Rockaway repairs taking too long

From NY1:

Workers were out on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk Wednesday repairing a portion damaged almost a year ago, and has some residents wondering why it's been taking so long.

"I think that Rockaway Beach for whatever, gets ignored for whatever reason, I don't know," said one Rockaway resident.

The boardwalk and beach area received significant damage when Irene plowed through last August. Some of the damage remains like parts of the boardwalk where surging waters destroyed walls that help keep the sand on the beach.

The city Parks Department says it's starting to make progress. A new ramp to the beach is nearly complete after some fits and starts.

"We needed some permits, we needed obviously to have the money in place, and then hire a contractor, and then they need to procure supplies, some of the supplies took longer to obtain than others," said Parks Department Rockaway Administrator Jill Weber.

In other words, it's typical NYC bureaucracy at work.

Not exactly an urban renewal project

From the Daily News:

The city missed out on a chance to purchase a piece of property in Rockaway that will now be developed into a transient hotel, officials said.

The lot, located at Rockaway Beach Blvd. and Beach 44th St., is part of the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area and was listed in city documents as a site that could be acquired as part of that project.

Instead, the property was snatched up by a private owner who is planning to build a six-story hotel on it.

Local residents are fighting the plan, saying a hotel could ruin their efforts to revive the neighborhood.

“We can’t dwell on what they didn’t do,” said Stephen Cooper of the Frank Avenue Civic Association of Edgemere. “We’re looking forward to political actions and community actions that can be taken.”

Cooper said the group is hoping to put pressure on Sandhu — with the help of local officials — and change his mind about the project.

Opponents are mulling a plan to visit his Long Island neighborhood for a protest.

A new Pier 17 is in the works

From Crain's:

The firm that leases the South Street Seaport announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the New York City Economic Development Corp. for a major, multi-year revamp of Pier 17.

Howard Hughes Corp. said its plan has been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, with the support of Community Board 1, according to a statement released by the company. Construction is expected to start next year and to conclude by 2015.

The real estate company plans a "complete transformation" of Pier 17, including adding a glass-enclosed retail center, new architecture and a rooftop space that could be used for concerts and other live-entertainment events, the statement said. Late last year, representatives from the company and their designer, SHoP Architects, met with members of Manhattan Community Board 1 to show them renderings, as previously reported in Crain's.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Whitestone truck problem continues

As you can see, the problems on 5th avenue continue. Between the onslaught of cars, speeding cars, cars that blow through the stop sign on the corner of 147th street, cars that speed around a slower moving car that is actually following the speed limit, cars that speed around you onto oncoming traffic if you dare stop at the stop sign.

Then you have this, trucks and tractor trailers, all day every day. According to Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy, this is a mere inconvenience. In other words if SHE doesn't consider it a danger than the residents need to love with it? Or it isn't a quality of life issue that negatively affects the residents/taxpayers on the block?

How much longer do we have to wait?

What are they waiting for?

Last year it was a fire hydrant and a diesel spill that requires DEP as well as other agencies to clean it up. Do we have to wait for a tragedy ?

What's the quota commissioner?

Alfredo Centola
Malba Gardens Civic

Keeping our heads above water

From the Daily News:

The City Council voted Wednesday to order a city panel of climate scientists to come up with plans to deal with rising sea levels and extreme heat that could result from climate change.

The idea is to figure out ways to deal with — or ideally prevent — the kind of massive flooding that could leave chunks of a city of islands underwater during storms.

City officials — who say the sea level could rise by about 4 1/2 feet by the end of the century — have already begun to plan development projects with rising sea levels in mind.

The massive Willets Point development in Queens is being built at an elevated level to keep new buildings out of the floodplain, as is the new Sims Recycling Facility in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island were designed with higher shorelines and salt-resistant plants that can withstand occasional flooding, and flood gates were installed at the Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The city has also tweaked its zoning code to allow building owners to store electrical equipment on the roof, instead of in flood-prone basements.

Brown won't bring brutality charges

From the NY Times:

After a three-month investigation, the Queens district attorney has decided not to bring criminal charges against a police officer who was accused of assaulting a State Supreme Court justice on the street in what the judge contended was an unprovoked attack, officials said Wednesday.

The episode, which occurred just after midnight on June 1 as a crowd watching two officers subdue an unruly homeless man became increasingly restive, was the subject of what District Attorney Richard A. Brown called “an extensive and thorough investigation.”

In a statement, Mr. Brown said his office “has concluded that the facts do not warrant the filing of criminal charges” because “there is insufficient evidence of criminality to support a charge that the police officer acted with the intent to injure or that physical injury (as defined by statute and case law) occurred.”

The judge, Thomas D. Raffaele, 69, who hears matrimonial cases and has been on the bench since 2006, said that he was “very shocked” and “very disappointed” by the decision. He criticized the investigation by the district attorney’s office.

Cutting support beams not a good idea

From NBC:

Two workers were trapped when a Queens house under construction in collapsed Friday afternoon, authorities said.

Three workers were inside the house, at 231st Street in Laurelton, when neighbors heard a loud bang and roof and side walls gave way.

One of the workers was able to escape on his own, but the other two had to be rescued, officials said.

Inspectors from the Buildings Department told NBC 4 New York that it appears workers cut through critical support beams holding up the roof and walls. Workers had been tearing down the back wall of the house as they prepared to enlarge it.

Officials are investigating whether the collapse has threatened the stability of the surrounding buildings.

False advertising in senate race

From the Daily News:

An endorsement controversy has emerged in a contentious Queens primary.

The Daily News has learned that a clergy member and several unions that were touted on campaign material as favoring District 10 incumbent state Sen. Shirley Huntley are actually remaining neutral for the Sept. 13 vote.

Huntley (D-Jamaica) listed the Plumbers Union and Civil Service Employees Association as members of her “heavy union endorsements” roster.

Abraham Benjamin, a local CSEA organizer, was irate that his group was included on Huntley campaign material.

“It’s under-handed and disingenuous,” he said. “I have a problem with that. You never know if that will sway another vote.”

Apostle David Cockfield of the Battalion Pentecostal Assembly Church, who was mentioned on a separate list of faith-based supporters, was troubled by the error.

“It bothers me a lot. That’s false advertisement,” he said.

Huntley is facing competition from her own party with term-limited City Councilman James Sanders Jr. and candidate Gian Jones in a three-way primary.

Officials with Huntley’s campaign said endorsement error was an honest mistake.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Beginning of the end for Vito?

From CBS New York:

Stunning allegations of sexual harassment have been levied against one of the city’s most powerful Democrats. Assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez has been censured, stripped of his committee chairmanship and barred from employing young people.

Lopez has most frequently been seen with a bevy of New York City politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wooed Lopez like nobody’s business for an endorsement, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported.

But now another kind of ‘wooing” — the alleged sexual harassment of two female employees of the State Assembly — has led to the downfall of Lopez.

In a stunning move that has sent shock waves through the city and the capital, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver censured Lopez, stripped him of his Housing Committee chairmanship and seniority and barred him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21.

In a letter to Lopez, Silver said that allegations of verbal and physical misconduct during June and July of this year were “credible.”

“There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant,” Silver wrote. “Wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go.’

Judge's decision may hurt straphangers

From AM-NY:

Transit officials and advocates on Thursday blasted a state judge's ruling that an MTA tax is unconstitutional, saying it could lead to "devastating" service cuts and "radical" fare hikes if it is not reversed.

MTA chief Joe Lhota called Judge R. Bruce Cozzens Jr.'s decision to strike down a payroll tax "flawed," saying he expected it to be overturned on appeal. But he warned that if the state's appeals court upheld the ruling, it could lead to an annual $1.8 billion hole -- a 15% reduction -- in the fiscally challenged agency's budget, requiring service cuts and larger than anticipated hikes.

On Wednesday, Cozzens said the Payroll Mobility Tax, which charges employers 34 cents for every $100 of payroll, was unconstitutional because it "does not serve a substantial state interest." He said state legislators should have gotten the OK of local municipalities to pass the law, or get two-thirds approval, which didn't happen.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "we believe the ruling is wrong and we believe the ruling is going to be reversed."

The decision was received warmly by businesses in counties, towns and villages in suburbs outside of New York City, which had argued that they did not directly benefit from MTA services.

To bee or not to bee

From CBS New York:

Members of the New York City Beekeepers Association sealed up some 3 million bees in 45 hives at a home in Queens Wednesday night.

The bees apparently belong to a restaurant owner, who was a beekeeper in China. They were kept in a 20 by 20 space in his Corona driveway on 111th Street.

One member of the Beekeeper’s Association said the bees would be sealed and moved within the next few days. It’s not clear where they will be transported. If they stay sealed in the hives, they will die.

The city’s Health Department and police were also previously been at the scene, according to neighbors.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene may have also cited and fined the owner — who was not home at the time the bees were sealed up Wednesday night.

People who live nearby said they had grown fed up with all the neighborhood buzz. They said the bees have, at times, attacked by swarms.

While it is legal to keep bees in the city, they are supposed to be registered with the Health Department.

Video here.

When calling 911 gets you nowhere

From the Queens Gazette:

On Tuesday August 21 at about 3:15 in the afternoon a black Honda Civic driven by a resident of Elmhurst struck a Toyota Highlander driven by Marta Valasquez, a Flushing woman who was carrying her sister, Maria Mora, and her new 8-day old nephew, Juaquin, in the back seat.

The Highlander had minor visible damages but the Honda had major damages with the front end looking like an accordion.

What makes this apparently typical bump and dent collision of interest is the fact that Marta Valasquez, called 911 from her cell phone at 3:22pm, and an hour later when no police or EMS responded to the accident scene she dialed 911 again on her iPhone only to have the call and report to a 911 dispatcher ignored a second time as evidenced by no police or EMS sent to the accident scene.

More than two hours following the accident a Manhattan bound NYPD van from Manhattan North traffic detail was passing the accident site and pulled over to inquire if anyone was injured.

Does anyone really believe this crap?

From the Daily News:

A trio of proposed residential developments could transform the western Astoria waterfront from public housing and gritty warehouses to 30-story towers, shops and manicured parks.

Alma Realty is talks with the city to build 1,800 units of housing and a promenade lined with stores and restaurants along the East River, officials told the Daily News Wednesday.

The Astoria Cove project, which would include four towers, assorted low-rise buildings and a supermarket, is to be located on an eight-and-a-half acre parcel of land along 26th Ave.

The owners of a four-acre site next door, occupied by a lumber company and a movie studio, recently announced they are looking for a development partner.

Hallets Point, a proposed 2,200-unit, waterfront development along 1st St., could break ground as soon as late 2013, officials said.

The development, which has been in the works for about five years, would include seven residential towers, a waterfront promenade and supermarket, said Andrew Moesel, a spokesman for developer Lincoln Equities Group.

“The Hallets Point project will bring many much needed resources to a community that’s been underserved for some time,” he said.

All of the projects require a zoning change which has to go before the City Council, and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he has reservations.

“Development is absolutely necessary for that community,” said Vallone, who lamented the lack of a nearby supermarket or bank. But “it will add thousands of people in area where the infastructure is already strained.”

Pardon me while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing. Vallone is part of a family that made their money from the overdevelopment of Astoria. Why stop now? Especially when the family lobbying firm is representing the developers? Maybe because that shit doesn't fly in the rest of the borough that he aspires to be president of.

When these projects come up for a vote, expect Vallone to be vehemently opposed, yet despite his adamant pleas, somehow the rest of the Council will vote in favor of them.

Because breakfast in the cafeteria is not good enough...

From NY1:

On Wednesday, the City Council took a stand on free school breakfasts. Lawmakers want to make it mandatory in every classroom. It's now available in the cafeteria.

It's something that the Bloomberg administration has no appetite for. They contend the requirement might lead to childhood obesity, as some kids might have the day's most important meal twice.

What the hell is the need for breakfast in the classroom? Is the cafeteria not good enough? Are we going to foot the bill for extra pest control? Will teachers now add garbage collection to their résumés? Doesn't food in the classroom district from learning?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whitestone lot becomes crappy again

These photos show the neglected property directly across the street from the Queens GOP office, Council Member Dan Halloran's office, and the "Halloran for Congress" campaign office.

A few months ago, Council Member Dan Halloran rolled up his sleeves with the owner of the property for a photo op, under the guise of a clean up. He boasted of working with the community as well as the landlord who "didn't realize the property got so run down."

Hey, Dan, what's wrong? Too busy running for congress to keep up with your current job? Or did you think the photo op would fool us for good?

Is this a sign of how you will represent us in Congress?

Time for another photo-op, quick! Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!

On another note, are the three stones a pagan thing or feng shui?


Douglaston fire home had lots of issues

From the Queens Courier:

A Douglaston home under renovation, ravaged last week by a three-alarm fire, had incurred a laundry list of complaints and racked up thousands of dollars in violations, according to city agencies.

The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB).

All complaints were listed as closed, according to the agency, but homeowner David Wei Huang was also pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction.

Huang was issued a $2,500 fine when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.

Illegal aliens getting tax breaks?

From Fox:

Illegal immigrants could receive more than $7 billion this year in federal tax credits, according to one estimate, thanks to a loophole in the law that allows people not authorized to work to reap the government payments with no questions asked.

Sen. Jeff Sessions' office calculated that, based on recent trends, illegal immigrants could receive roughly $7.4 billion through a provision known as the Additional Child Tax Credit. That's more than quadruple what the payout was four years ago, but the payments have been steadily increasing over the past decade.

Though illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving similar tax credits, a quirk in the law allows them to qualify for the child tax credit. And it's a "refundable" credit, meaning recipients can reap the money -- with average checks totaling about $1,800 -- even if they've paid no taxes.

Illegal immigrants can qualify because even people not authorized to work in the U.S. are supposed to file returns with the IRS. If they don't have a Social Security number, they are provided what's known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in order to file returns.

And those filers are not excluded from claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is offered to some families with children under 17 years old.