Friday, December 15, 2017

December CB7 meeting scheduled

From the Queens Chronicle:

A post from last Tuesday on the blog Queens Crap pointed to how even though December is not listed as an exception to the charter rule, Community Board 7 did not have its regular meeting with a public hearing during that month last year or the one before.

Although the agenda for November’s CB 7 full board meeting said the next one would be in January, the advisory council has set up a meeting for Dec. 18.

Board Chairman Gene Kelty told the Chronicle that though the board did not have a full meeting last December or the one before, the members weren’t ignoring any major issues in the district.

“If we didn’t have a meeting then it meant that we really didn’t have anything on our agenda,” he told the Chronicle.

“All I know is we’re in compliance this year and we’ll be in compliance in the future,” the chairman added.

Now you can put the RKO on your agenda.

Development of RKO Keith's not happening anytime soon

From the Real Deal:

When Xinyuan Real Estate paid $54 million for a Williamsburg development site in 2012 with plans to build a luxury condominium, the project was heralded as the first go-it-alone venture by a mainland Chinese firm. Two more deals — including last summer’s $66 million acquisition of the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing — gave the publicly-traded firm nearly 1 million square feet of New York condo product in its pipeline.

But in recent weeks, the company has dismantled the team running its U.S. development arm, known as XIN Development, several sources told The Real Deal. And following the departure – some were let go, others moved on – of several key executives, XIN has turned over the management of three New York City projects to Kuafu Properties, a four-year-old development firm backed by Chinese private equity.

Precise terms of the deal with Kuafu weren’t disclosed, but Xinyuan said it would retain ownership of the projects.

Sources said that headwinds in the condo market could impact the developer’s other projects — specifically an ambitious plan to redevelop the long-shuttered RKO Keith’s Theater. “The project is stalled and there are landmark issues,” said a broker who has worked with Xinyuan.

After paying $175 per foot for the site in August 2016, plans called for tearing down most of the theater and building a 16-story condominium with 269 luxury units, priced between $1,150 and $1,300 per foot.

But just a few months after announcing the deal, Liang said he saw “danger” in the U.S. real estate market. “With its seven- to eight-year cycle, you get a sense now that it’s peaking,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Questions about Van Bramer's fundraising

From Progress Queens:

For this report, Councilmember Van Bramer's communications director, Sean Butler, did not answer on the record questions submitted in advance by Progress Queens. A request for an interview was also not answered about the top 40 days when donations were clustered. If Councilmember Van Bramer's committee to reelect did not use more intermediaries to raise the $520,000 that was reported to have been directly raised by committee officials, then the coordination that took place was done by the committee. As noted by the activism group Queens Anti-Gentrification Project on a post on the group's blog, more than $100,000 of the money raised by Councilmember Van Bramer during the recent Municipal election cycle came from the real estate industry. Councilmember Van Bramer has not publicly opposed large real estate industry-backed projects -- such as the proposed rezoning of Long Island City, the proposed trolley service that would run through the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, known as the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, and the proposed development of Sunnyside Yards -- that Queens activists say will spread gentrification into the City's second-most populous borough. Activists have charged that Councilmember Van Bramer was "firmly aligned with a real estate industry that shows no regard for the working class." In an editorial published by the nonprofit news Web site City Limits, a member of the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project also questioned the direction of Queens under Councilmember Van Bramer's leadership.

For this report, neither Councilmember Van Bramer nor Communications Director Butler disclosed whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race or when Councilmember Van Bramer began his Council speaker campaign. A source familiar with the Campaign Finance Board's regulations directed Progress Queens to the list of declared campaign committees when asked whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for the Council speakership. A review of the list showed that Councilmember had not appeared to have formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race that was registered with the Municipal campaign finance regulatory authority. A separate review of State campaign committees registered under Councilmember Van Bramer's last name showed no change from a prior list of registered campaign committees generated online by Progress Queens on or about the time the complaint was filed with the Federal prosecutors' office.

Council member wants to bring back sidewalk clothing bins

From CBS 2:

Sanchez said the Eddie Bauer winter gear was found discarded outside the 5th Avenue store on Sunday night. She wanted to know why the store would ruin the men’s merchandise so it couldn’t be worn when it could have done so much good.

“This is not a singular incident,” councilman Rafael Espinal said.

Espinal is working on a bill to fine companies that deliberately destroy and dump clothing.

“Incentivize the donation of clothing by creating bins to place in front of retail stores,” he said.

Didn't we just spend years trying to get rid of clothing bins on sidewalks?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MetroCard 2nd free transfer coming soon?

From the Daily News:

Transit advocates are urging Gov. Cuomo to sign legislation giving commuters a second free transfer on pay-per-ride MetroCards, the Daily News has learned.

In a letter to Cuomo, advocates argued the measure sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) would provide much needed assistance to New Yorkers who live in the “transit deserts” of the outer boroughs.

“The lowest income New Yorkers, the people at the furthest reaches of New York City are the ones who would benefit the most from this,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Straphangers Campaign and Transportation Alternatives are also among those urging Cuomo to sign the measure.

MTA seeks contractor for subway’s first platform safety barrier
Currently, commuters using a pay-per-ride MetroCard get one automatic free transfer per fare. The bill would allow two free transfers within two hours of the original fare’s purchase.

Cuomo vetoed a similar measure in 2015, arguing it would cost the Metropolitan Transportation Authority millions of dollars.

LIC concerned about L train shutdown

From LIC Post:

L train shutdown woes are spilling over into Long Island City, where local leaders are demanding that the city develop a plan to reduce the impact of the thousands of L train riders expected to take the G up to the Manhattan-connecting Court Square after the L train shuts down in 2019.

The Court Square Civic Association urged MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to protect Long Island City’s already-crowded Court Square station from the extra riders that would travel there once the L train tunnel connecting Williamsburg to Manhattan closes for Sandy-related repairs in 2019.

The G train, one of four train lines that go through Court Square, will be increasing its capacity by doubling in length to carry would-be L train riders to the station, who will then get on Manhattan-bound 7, E, and M trains, according to the MTA.

The CSCA says the neighborhood is dealing with its own capacity issues after an influx of residential development over the years, with a 25 percent increase in ridership recorded at the station from 2011 to 2016. An MTA-sanctioned plan to divert riders to Long Island City, they say, will disproportionately affect Western Queens.

Wow, so no one saw that strain on the subways when they were cheerleading overdevelopment?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Subway bomber waged a personal war on Christmas

From CBS 2:

The subway was attacked during rush hour by an apparent suicide bomber.

The alleged attacker has been identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah.

Six people, including Ullah, were injured in the blast.

Investigators said the bomb was poorly constructed, and failed to properly detonate.

They have the remnants of the device, which includes some type of Christmas light that may have been used as an electrical component.

Governor Cuomo said security has been boosted at high profile locations statewide, and investigators have been sent to Ullah’s Brooklyn home.

The FBI and NYPD bomb squad were on the scene as early as 8:30 a.m. looking for any information as to what may have motivated him.

The home is on East 48th Street in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. A quiet, tight-knit community where neighbors said the only problem they ever had with the suspect’s family was over a parking spot.

Neighbors said Ullah lived in the basement of the brick multi-family home near Avenue N for at least the last 5 years. They said his mother, father, and brother — who has his own wife and child – lived in the unit upstairs.

Another basement dweller, eh?

From the NY Times:

Law enforcement officials said the attacker, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, a motive that recalled strikes in Europe, and he told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.

De Blasio thinks this is "creative & bold"

From the NY Times:

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city’s reliance on the cluster sites has grown along with the rise in homelessness, which has arguably been the biggest failure of his tenure.

Now the mayor is taking a large step toward ending that reliance: On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio is expected to announce a plan to essentially convert many of the homeless apartments into affordable housing, hoping to solve a problem that has worsened over his first term.

Under the plan, the city would use public financing to help nonprofits buy roughly a third of the apartments currently used for the homeless, and then convert the apartments into affordable units, helping the mayor fulfill two goals: lowering homelessness and adding to the city’s affordable housing stock.

If landlords do not cooperate, the city intends to use eminent domain to take the property, officials said.

The planned acquisition involves 800 apartments spread throughout 25 to 30 buildings, mostly in the Bronx, which has the overwhelming majority of cluster apartments in the city. The city targeted buildings where more than 50 percent of the units were occupied by homeless people — a threshold that would guide future acquisitions, the city said.

The planned acquisition could place about 3,000 people into permanent housing; in some cases, homeless families living in the apartments would simply stay put, but would no longer be considered homeless. It was not immediately known how much the program would cost the city.

In other words, we're condemning buildings that already house homeless families in order to turn them over to someone else and then reclassifying the people living in them as "not homeless". This sounds like a plan. A bad one.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Soccer or hockey stadium may be headed to Belmont

From CBS 2:

What does the future hold for the vacant lots at Belmont Park?

More than 200 of its neighbors went to Elmont High School on Sunday to find out what two New York sports teams have in mind. As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, most locals weren’t very happy about what they heard.

“Like it or not, the residents of this area are getting a stadium, and the congestion is going to be mind boggling,” one man said.

“It’s going to be nightmare,” another person added.

The New York City Football Club, partly owned by the New York Yankees, hopes to transform part of the property north of Hempstead Turnpike into a 26,000 seat open-air stadium for its professional soccer team.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders want to turn that property into a world class sports and entertainment facility, including an 18,000 seat arena for the professional hockey team.

$3/4M taxpayer money blown on worthless race

From the Daily News:

City Public Advocate Letitia James burned through nearly all of the more than $750,000 in taxpayer matching funds in a lopsided race against a poorly funded opponent — spending $500,000 on a single Election Day expenditure, public records show.

James, a Democrat who cruised to reelection over Republican political consultant J.C. Polanco, spent about $1.7 million in total on the race, according to filings with the Campaign Finance Board. She crushed Polanco, her nearest competitor — earning 812,234 votes to his 172,601.

James was widely expected to win her reelection bid — but still filed a statement of need requesting the entire amount of matching funds, citing Polanco as a strong opponent. In doing so, she noted media coverage about the would-be pol — including stories about how little money he had raised.

Candidates are required to return matching funds they do not spend on their race — but James has just $39,018 left in her coffers, meaning the taxpayers will get back little, if anything.

James spent a whopping half-million in one day — Nov. 7, the date of the general election, when she reported the $500,000 payment to Global Strategies Group. Her campaign said the payment was for digital ads that appeared on social media sites, community and ethnic newspaper sites and other news sites — including the Daily News website.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Simply having a wonderful Queens Crap time!

Where has the time gone?

Where have the tweeders gone? (A lot went to prison.)

Brinckerhoff Cemetery pol feud

From the Queens Tribune:

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) have strong disagreements over the future of the Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows.

On Dec. 1, Avella held a press conference with the “Friends of Brinckerhoff,” an organization assembled by community leaders who are hoping to purchase and maintain the landmarked property, which belonged to several prominent Dutch families, including the Brinckerhoffs, and dates back to the 18th century.

According to Avella, the state provided the Friends of Brinckerhoff with a $180,000 grant to purchase the property from the current owner, Linda’s Cai Trading, and restore and maintain it. But before any deal to sell the property was finalized, Avella alleges, Lancman allotted a higher sum of money for the city’s Parks Department to purchase and maintain the property in the capital budget—around $300,000. Now, Avella accuses Lancman of “political meddling,” undercutting his grant with an unnecessarily higher portion of taxpayer money that tempted the owner to pull out of negotiations with the Friends of Brinckerhoff.

“I’m furious at the city because, meanwhile, the property is in disrepair, overgrown, it’s a health hazard, it’s a safety hazard,” Avella said.

Requests to city agencies to clean up the property have been rebuffed since the city is in negotiations for the site. Avella added that if Lancman wants to use additional taxpayer money in a political move, then the money “should come out of his own damn wallet.”

Yolanda dela Cruz Gallagher, president of the Friends of Brinckerhoff, said that when the group approached the Parks Department about purchasing the property before Avella’s grant, the department appeared uninterested.

Lancman responded to the claims by accusing Avella of living in “a fantasy world.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Limits on self storage

From Crains:

A City Council committee provided a key approval for legislation to restrict the development of self-storage facilities in industrial business zones Thursday, despite biting criticism of the bill by one of its members.

The measure, which is likely to be approved by the full council Dec. 19, would require a special permit to build self-storage projects in most of the 21 IBZs, which account for around half of the city's manufacturing space. Obtaining this permission would require going through a nearly yearlong public review process that culminates in a council vote.

The new requirement would not apply in two zones in the Bronx and another pair in Staten Island, along with part of a zone in Jamaica, Queens. But self-storage companies would still need to set aside space for industrial square-footage in any project they build, according to the bill. Existing facilities would be grandfathered. (In the IBZs that opted out, self-storage facilities up to 50,000 square feet will be allowed as-of-right. Only buildings above that size will be required to set aside 25% of the space for industrial use.)

The council and Mayor Bill de Blasio have long wanted to restrict the proliferation of certain uses—such as hotels, offices or strip clubs—in areas that are supposed to be home to manufacturing and industrial jobs. Nonindustrial uses, the argument goes, can pay more for rent or land and thus tend to squeeze out manufacturing companies that provide higher-paying jobs.

So you think you have talent? - Speaker edition

It's Friday. The City Council Speaker candidates didn't have a care in the world (except jockeying for position to kiss the king's ring) when they boogied down at Joe Crowley's holiday party. You might hit the eggnog extra hard yourself when you realize what we're in store for over the next 4 years. Go ahead and caption this photo.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Please support a developer's victims

"Kelly Doyle Amen is a single mom and grandma who has lived in her small single family home in Bay Ridge for over twenty years. Last year the house next to her was purchased by a local businessman in order to develop and 'flip' the property for a quick profit. When the funding ran out - the developer flew the coop and left the construction in disarray. Now Kelly's home is in grave danger of fire, rodents and collapse. Please join us as we demand action from our elected officials and irresponsible developers."

Facebook event

Man hunting for package thief

From CBS 2:

A fed-up homeowner tracked down a thief who stole a package left at his Queens home.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the thief looked right into a surveillance camera before snatching a box off the front stoop of Jason Gratz’s house on Beach 139th Street in Belle Harbor on Tuesday morning.

“That’s the worst thing about it – not what’s in the contents of the package. It could have been $1, it could have been $1 million, it didn’t really matter. Just the feeling of being violated like that, it really just burned me,” he told Sanchez.

Surveillance video shows the ponytailed robber pausing to eye his target before turning his black cap, contemplating his getaway, and then grabbing the package.

Gratz walked all over his neighborhood and found a construction crew at a condominium that recognized the suspect as someone who had been working at the site, which is just two blocks from his home.

He said he tracked down where the suspect works and informed police, hoping they make a quick arrest.

Thruway tolling system also screwing drivers

From Eyewitness News:

A local lawmaker is demanding an overhaul of the way tolls are collected along the New York State Thruway.

State Senator David Carlucci hosted a forum Wednesday in Nanuet where drivers told how they unknowingly racked up thousands of dollars in fines.

Most of the complaints stem from the cashless toll system implemented at the Tappan Zee Bridge. Under the system, drivers without EZ Pass are supposed to be billed by mail. But many motorists say they never received the bills but did get letters only after steep fines were imposed for unpaid tolls.

Drivers who do not pay can have their registration suspended.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Parking cleanup in Jamaica

The Untouchables are on the prowl. That is exactly what is needed to deal with the serial lawbreakers. Those who park their vehicles on our streets illegally. Some of the vehicles have no plates, others have plates belonging to another vehicles and others share plates, one per vehicle.

Well, on Saturday Dec. 2. The Untouchables made a clean sweep on 171 st. Street near 108 Avenue. Armed with tow trucks, the Untouchables carted away a few vehicles.

Well one of the owners showed up with a few followers and they were furious: waving their hands, shouting to the air and just swearing. However, it was toooo late, he just had to watch while the vehicles were: chained, mounted and en-routed to legal grounds.

This morning I witnessed another episode further down on 171 st. Street. The tow truck was on hand to remove another vehicle.

So go ahead law breakers; The Untouchables are very accommodating, and the community is very happy.

8:30 a.m. Today (12/5/17).

Thanks to the 103 precinct: Deputy Fortune, Sergeant Faison, Officer Jones and all others.

P. Hazel: Social Media Journalist for Justice.

Sliwa has plan to reform City Hall

From the Daily News:

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who also heads the state Reform Party, wants to give voters a chance to abolish the city public advocate office.

Sliwa, who also hosts a daily radio talk show, is set to call Wednesday for a public referendum to eliminate the advocate position and have the City Council speaker elected by voters, not the council members.

With no oversight or subpoena power, “it is clear by now that the public advocate position has just become a taxpayer-funded method to run for mayor of the city of New York,” Sliwa said.

Making the council speaker a publicly elected position would take the power away from the party bosses who currently control the process, he said. Sliwa added that the speaker should also have increased oversight functions.

By law, the council could vote to put the measure on the ballot or the mayor could appoint a charter revision commission to do it.

Doubting that will happen, Sliwa said the state Reform Party and its allies are prepared to try to collect the necessary signatures needed to put it up for a citywide election.

BDB's priority is going after the governor

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio’s attack on Gov. Cuomo last week regarding his handling of the fractured state Senate Democrats is considered a first salvo designed to damage the governor as he heads into his own election year, some close to Hizzoner say.

De Blasio has spoken out against Cuomo over the years, most notably accusing the governor in 2015 of governing by “vendetta.”

But safely reelected to a second and final term, de Blasio is said to be ready to speak out more frequently and forcefully against a governor who has tortured him politically.

“The roles are reversed this time,” said a source close to City Hall. “He gets to enact revenge on Cuomo and is a good progressive. He can damage him as governor and kill his presidential chances.”

But by doing so, de Blasio risks his already tenuous dealings with Albany heading into the new legislative session, something some close to City Hall say he recognizes.

The Senate Republicans already despise him, the governor is not far behind, and legislative Democrats have been critical as well.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cigarette, non-functional alarm cause of child's death

From PIX 11:

Smoking caused the Queens apartment fire that killed a 12-year-old boy on Sunday, according to the FDNY.

Fire marshals reported that the cause of the fire was accidental and related to smoking. The building's smoke alarm was also not operational.

CB7 takes lengthy holiday vacation

It’s December, and all Queens community boards will hold regular meetings/hearings – all of them, that is, except for Community Board 7. CB7 is skipping the required December meeting & hearing, for at least the third consecutive year.

CB7’s November 2017 meeting agenda states: “The next Community Board Regular Meeting & Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, 2018.”

New York City Charter § 2800(h) specifies the regular meetings that all community boards are required to hold:
“Except during the months of July and August, each community board shall meet at least once each month within the community district and conduct at least one public hearing each month. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a community board shall be required to meet for purposes of reviewing the scope or design of a capital project located within such community board's district when such scope or design is presented to the community board. Such review shall be completed within thirty days after receipt of such scope or design. Each board shall give adequate public notice of its meetings and hearings and shall make such meetings and hearings available for broadcasting and cablecasting. At each public meeting, the board shall set aside time to hear from the public. The borough president shall provide each board with a meeting place if requested by the board.”
A monthly meeting/hearing is required each month “except during the months of July and August” – and this requirement holds, even if a particular community board has no rezoning or other application to evaluate during December, because among the purposes of meeting are to “set aside time to hear from the public.”

Online information posted by Queens community boards, and telephone calls to boards that haven’t posted online information, confirm that every Queens community board – other than CB7 – will hold meetings/hearings during December 2017, fulfilling their legal obligations under the City Charter:

CB1: December 20
CB2: December 7
CB3: December 21
CB4: December 19
CB5: December 13
CB6: December 13
CB8: December 13
CB9: December 12
CB10: December 7
CB11: December 4
CB12: December 13
CB13: December 11
CB14: December 12

And this has apparently gone on for multiple years, not just this year. Online collections of CB7 meeting agendas and minutes contain none for December 2015 or December 2016, indicating that CB7 held no December meetings/hearings during those years, in addition to 2017. Each community board receives a budget of City taxpayer funds, and in exchange for those funds, each must perform certain services – including meeting during December with time set aside to hear from the public. The City Charter specifies a minimum of 10 regular meetings/hearings annually. By failing to meet each December, CB7 is holding only 9 out of the 10 required meetings/hearings – 90 percent of what the City Charter requires. The City Comptroller should be concerned about a lone community board that accepts its entire share of City taxpayer funds (and even requests more), but purposefully skips December meetings and thus routinely delivers only 90 percent of what the City Charter requires.

How has this been allowed and who authorized it?


Monday, December 4, 2017

City getting away with filing fraudulent deed

From the Daily News:

A man who swiped an elderly woman’s house with phony documents did time for the crime — but an appellate court is letting the city off the hook for processing the paperwork that let the ex-con make himself at home.

A Brooklyn appeals court has ruled that a judge was right to toss a lawsuit brought against the city by Jennifer Merin — whose Queens abode was filched by a criminal who filed a fraudulent deed.

Merin, 74, had sued the city for not catching the forgery when the paperwork was first filed, but lost on appeal when the court backed a judge who said she couldn’t prove the city was negligent.

The feisty homeowner is fuming and has vowed to fight the decision.

“I find it absolutely astonishing and sickening that the city that gave away my property without due process by registering an obviously fraudulent deed, while it was still charging me for taxes on that property and water usage on that property, is now insisting that it has no accountability for those actions,” Merin told the Daily News.

The city said Merin was suing over a missed “needle in a haystack,” according to court papers.

The phony deed that started all the problems was one of almost 1,400 deeds recorded that week, city lawyers noted.

BQX leader replaced by a Schumer

From AM-NY:

The leader of the developer-backed advocacy group for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, the mayor’s streetcar project, is stepping down.

Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of the Friends of the BQX, plans to leave the group on Friday after 18 months in the position, but before significant planning or outreach for the project has been completed. A spokesperson said that Liu felt this was an appropriate time to step down, and Liu did not immediately return calls for comment.

Deputy director Jessica Schumer, the daughter of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will serve as interim executive director until the position is filled. Schumer had served as the policy director for Tim Kaine on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and had worked in the White House during the Obama administration.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

De Blasio speaking to raise dark money

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio will headline a political fundraiser in Iowa without knowing who’s paying up to $2,000 to see him speak or where the cash will go – despite promising to stay away from “dark money.”

“We know there’s a lot that happens in the public process where there’s no disclosure of who the donors are – I don’t go near anything unless there’s full disclosure,” de Blasio said in February 2016.

Yet the mayor will speak at Progress Iowa’s fifth annual holiday fundraiser on Dec. 19 even though the group doesn’t disclose donors or spending. Tickets range from $30 to $2,000 for VIPs and at least 150 are expected.

Progress Iowa won’t have to reveal who’s paying to party with de Blasio or any of its other donors because it’s registered as a shadowy 501-c(4) non-profit.

Pros busted at LIC strip club

From the Daily News:

A raid by the NYPD Vice Squad netted five prostitution arrests at a notorious Queens strip club early Friday, the Daily News has learned.

The Vice cops swept into Show Palace on 21st St. near 43rd Ave. in Long Island City just before 4 a.m., police said.

The officers arrested the women, ranging in age from 20- to 35-years-old, authorities said.

"Five girls arrested in one night? That’s not a strip club. It's a brothel with music," a police source said.

The strip club is owned by the same group that owns the Sin City jiggle joint in the Bronx.

Great history on this place.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Council Member wants more clubs to open

From City & State:

While aimed at illegal speakeasies, the law was often used in discriminating fashion. From targeting largely African American jazz venues at its inception to requiring mid-century musicians to carry a “cabaret card” to Rudy Giuliani’s use of the law as part of his “broken windows” policing, the selective nature of its use has found plenty of opponents, which is why the law’s repeal was widely championed throughout the city.

But while proponents were celebrating the move, a look at the legal implications suggests there’s much further to go for the city that never sleeps to dance away its insomnia. Specifically, the zoning for any establishment that wants to host dancing and music still needs to be addressed, which is not lost on City Councilman Rafael Espinal, who was the key sponsor of legislation to establish an office of nightlife and repeal the Cabaret Law.

Espinal added that he is looking forward to working with the office of nightlife and advocates “to explore our city's archaic zoning code to see how we can build on this progress."

Those “archaic” zoning laws have less to do with how long they’ve been on the books and more to do with a lack of clarity. While it’s been widely reported that only 97 out of the roughly 25,000 eating and drinking establishments in New York City had a cabaret license in 2017, unless the zoning changes, many of these establishments are still not permitted to allow dancing, even without any requirement to obtain a cabaret license, Derek Wolman, chairman of the restaurant and hospitality practice group at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, wrote in an email to City & State.

New York City neighborhoods are zoned into three categories: residential, commercial and manufacturing. Within those zones are “use groups” that determine specifically where and how different businesses can operate within a zone. Making things difficult for proprietors who wish to hold music events is that they fall under “Use Group 12,” which spans both commercial and manufacturing.

Wolman broke it down in all of its complexity:

“Use Group 12 (eating or drinking establishment with entertainment and a capacity of more than 200 persons or establishments of any capacity with dancing) are permitted in C2 zoning districts (with Special Permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals), C3 zoning districts (with Special Permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals), C4 zoning districts (with Special Permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals) [permitted as of right or by special permit in C4 districts, depending upon location], C6 zoning districts [permitted as of right in C6 districts with conditions], C7 zoning districts, C8 zoning districts, M1 zoning districts [permitted in M1-5A, M1-5B, M1-5M, and M1-6M districts only as provided by special permit under Zoning Resolution Section 73-244], M2 zoning districts and M3 zoning districts.”

Yes, it means you can't keep sleeping children up at night with thumping music and you can't turn manufacturing space into clubs without jumping through hoops. Oh, the horror!

Waterpointe doesn't allow single-family homes

From the Queens Tribune:

Whitestone resident Robert LoScalzo believes that despite the correction made in the September fact sheet, it’s impossible for the DEC to allow single-family homes on a Track 4 site, per the Department of State’s regulations. In a letter to the DEC, he cites one regulation that “the restricted residential use” denoted by Track 4 “shall at a minimum, include restrictions which prohibit…single family housing.”

“It’s right there in black and white,” LoScalzo said. “It just doesn’t seem to wash with what the regulation says.”

The DEC said that the certificate of completion for the remediation should be issued this year. Additionally, the agency is “establishing an escrow agreement with the developer to fund site management activities at this site for a period of 10 years in the amount of $272,000.” In the meantime, Sweeney said that the board has reached out to Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) seeking the only thing that will guarantee single-family homes at Waterpointe: a rezoning.

Friday, December 1, 2017

3-K operators are not all OK

From the Daily News:

Private preschools hired for Mayor de Blasio’s 3-K for All classes have racked up dozens of health violations for a variety of offenses, city records show.

All but one of the 13 private operators hired by the city to offer preschool lessons under de Blasio’s signature second-term education initiative have been hit with violations over the last three years. They include failing to conduct background checks, putting sick workers on the job with kids and failing to supervise children.

In total, the dozen operators had 72 violations and all have been corrected. But activists and parents said they’re still nervous that kids aren’t safe.

Brooklyn community stops tweeding effort

Interesting mini-scandal involving a Brooklyn Community Board, as reported by Brooklyn Daily:

Locals showed up in droves with nostrils flaring two weeks ago protesting the board’s request urging the city to look at changing the age-old zoning of Marine Park and Mill Island to allow developers to put up larger buildings. Marine Parkers were up in arms over the submission, charging the neighborhood can’t handle an influx of people or construction and is already combatting zone-busting developers on several blocks.

This paper first reported the explosive item in the CB18 budget request earlier this month in a story that Turano denounced with the Trumpian epithet of “fake news,” despite being unable to cite any factual errors. Turano insisted there was no reason for people to get so upset since there was no concrete upzoning plan yet— it was merely a request she had actually been floating for years, she said.

“It’s been in the budget for several years,” said Turano.

Indeed, CB18 slipped the item into the budget — “Study land use and zoning to better match current use or future neighborhood needs,” specifically the areas of Mill Island and Marine Park — for the first time in December 2015, and then every year since, according to city records.

The request also lists three local supporters alongside — Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), who represents the vast majority of the two neighborhoods, Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush), who represents a sliver of the community, and the Marine Park Civic Association.

But both Maisel and the civic group’s president Bob Tracey said they were never consulted about it. In fact, neither of them had any idea the rezoning request even existed, let alone that they were listed as supporters.

Bad contractor in Broad Channel

From PIX11:

...what’s with contractor Dennis Melandro? He STILL hasn’t finished rebuilding Victoria Roehling’s Broad Channel home damaged badly by Hurricane Sandy. She’s paid him $280,000 and he told me back in September that the job could be done within two weeks. Here we are more than two months later and there’s still a lot more to do.

And this week Victoria says she found he’d plugged a long blue extension cord into her home to get electricity for a job he’s doing two houses down. She’s now considering a possible criminal complaint. We’re going to stay on this until Victoria is back home.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Queens unicorns?

Forgotten NY has the story of ramp and step streets in the borough.

Advocates come up with development & transit plan to make NYC less affordable

From the Daily News:

Imagine New York without its 24/7 subway system?

The experts at the Regional Plan Association did, and they believe it's key to building a reliable transit system for a growing metropolitan area.

The radical idea to snuff the pride of New York is one of dozens of recommendations in the research group's latest regional plan — the association's fourth region-wide blueprint since 1929 — being released Thursday.

“We think that the days of the 24/7 subway system in New York are coming to an end,” RPA president Tom Wright told reporters of the “controversial” idea.

Raise money through new taxes, like charging drivers to enter Manhattan’s business center, tolling major roads and highways, adopting a cap-and-trade program for emissions, and a tax based on vehicle-miles traveled. Build dense housing near transit stops throughout the region.

Extend subway lines around the city and build out overcrowded stations.

Create a regional rail network that allows trains to flow unimpeded through the tristate area, such as building a new facility south of Penn Station that could allow rail to bring travelers between Long Island and New Jersey without switching trains.

RPA is unveiling its full plan Thursday at The New School, with elected and government officials from around the region.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DEC wants your input on contaminated site

From the Queens Tribune:

The state Department of Environment Conservation is seeking the public’s opinion on how a potentially contaminated plot of property in Hollis should be remedied.

The site, which is located at 202-16 Hillside Ave., was considered eligible for the New York Brownfield Cleanup Program, which was set up to mitigate sites with potentially harmful contaminant levels exceeding the threshold set up by the DEC. The program utilizes community feedback and oversight from the DEC and the state Department of Health to clean up spaces around the city efficiently without harming the quality of life. The Brownfield Cleanup Program services properties that are eyed for redevelopment.

To keep residents in the loop regarding the property, the state is asking that Hollis residents provide feedback on how the final plan of will be executed. Additionally, more in-depth dissection of the work being completed at the site can be collected at the Queens Library Hollis Branch, located at 202-05 Hillside Ave., or at Community Board 12’s office, located at 90-28 161st St. in Jamaica.

Low income neighborhood is in the city's crosshairs

From the NY Times:

As the gateway to a half-dozen subway lines, the sprawling Broadway Junction transit hub commands a prime location at the crossroads of six neighborhoods and serves as the unofficial welcome center in a fast-growing part of New York City.

The problem? It is anything but welcoming.

The dingy warren of passageways and platforms linking the A, C, J, Z, M and L are so packed that rush hour turns into a crawl. Outside, bus stops and a Long Island Rail Road station are plopped down in a depressing terrain of trash-strewn streets, chain-link fences rimmed with barbed wire and panhandlers camped out on sidewalks.

“You could do way better than this,” said Roody Fevry, 32, an exterminator who lives nearby. “It’s like nobody cares.”

Now Broadway Junction may finally get the makeover it has long needed. City officials are taking steps to create a destination stop with nearby restaurants, stores, gyms and other commuter-friendly amenities. Their aim is to turn the tired station and the surrounding area into a bustling economic center for a swath of Brooklyn that has long struggled with unemployment, poverty and crime.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation recently began a $200,000 study to identify potential avenues of economic growth in and around the transit hub — including office, retail and educational uses. A group of elected officials and community leaders has also been convened to come up with a vision for the area. The Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams, and City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., a Democrat who represents the area, are the co-chairmen.

Speaker candidate wants term limits extended...again

From the Daily News:

A candidate for City Council speaker has drafted a bill to extend term limits for the Council to three terms.

Councilman Jumaane Williams plans to introduce the legislation by the end of the year to allow Council members to serve three four-year terms instead of the current two, if voters approve the idea in a referendum.

Williams is among eight candidates running for Council speaker — all of whom have said they’d support giving their fellow pols a third term.

“This is only about what’s best for the city and best for good government,” said Williams (D-Brooklyn), who plans to release the bill Monday as part of a broader proposal outlining his plans for the speakership.

The legislation would allow three terms for the Council, while keeping the max at two for the mayor, public advocate, controller and borough presidents.

It would take effect if voters ratified it at the ballot box during the next general election after a vote by the Council for the measure.

Doesn't the process for getting referendum items on the ballot require a large signature gathering operation? If the people vote yes on the measure, then it becomes law. No city council intervention is required. However, no one is collecting signatures to get term limit extensions on the ballot because...the people already voted for 2 terms 3 times.

Sounds like a ploy for votes from colleagues.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wills suing city over Rikers treatment

From the Times Ledger:

During his stay in prison at Rikers Island over the summer on the grand larceny charges, Wills claimed to have been mistreated and denied medical care for a chronic condition due to a botched surgery from a year and a half ago, according to his lawyer, Natraj Bhushan.

Bhushan said that for days Wills did not receive proper treatment, because the staff did not have his medical records on file to meet his medical needs. His lawyer also says that Wills was not in the proper unit for someone with a chronic condition.

“You’d notice that during his trial [for grand larceny], the judge allowed him to sit on a special cushion, because due to a botched surgery the lower half of his body is permanently, partially disabled,” Bhushan said. “He had atrophy and nerve damage, and it really affected his ability to tend to his constituents for a year and a half.”

According to Bhushan, the pain medicine that Wills is on has side effects, which could affect his psyche, and during his stay at Rikers he did not get placed in a unit where he could have psychological treatment that was ordered in a court directive.

“This is someone who had well-documented medical issues,” Bhushan said. “This was taken into account when they were sentencing him.”

He is suing the city for $10 million because of how he was treated and he hopes his claim, which was acknowledged by the comptroller, would force changes at Rikers.

Prostitute plunges to her death during sting

From the Daily News:

A prostitute jumped to her death from a third-floor window atop a Queens building while trying to escape arrest during an NYPD sting operation, cops said Sunday.

The 38-year-old woman was working in an apartment above a massage parlor on 40th Road near Main Street in Flushing Saturday night, when she agreed to perform a sex act for pay on an undercover officer, cop sources said.

She bolted out a window when the cop’s backup tried to enter the apartment and arrest her, cops said.

Other officers posted outside watched as she plummeted to the sidewalk below at about 9:30 p.m., cops said.

DEC too lax with Whitestone brownfield cleanup

Great report by Ryan Brady in the Queens Chronicle:

In September, the Department of Environmental Conservation changed the brownfield cleanup program track for the Waterpointe development planned in Whitestone. A Track 2 residential cleanup was first planned for the site, where a single-family housing development is planned.

But after the agency discovered that material at the site used as fill did not meet the residential use soil cleanup objectives, it changed the project to Track 4 restricted residential use, a less stringent one. And though the DEC initially had said that single-family homes could no longer be built there, it reversed its stance after Community Board 7 protested.

The agency decided to stick with Track 4 restricted residential use when it reverted back to the single-family housing plan. And while the DEC told the Chronicle that the option is permitted when the homes are controlled by a common entity, as the Waterpointe ones are planned to be, Whitestone resident Robert LoScalzo believes that the agency cannot allow them to be built with that track.

As proof, he points to the sheet that the DEC sent CB 7 when it initially changed the brownfield cleanup and said that single-family homes could not be built. It said, “Restricted residential use provides for common ownership or a single owner/managing entity of the Site, however, single-family housing is prohibited.”

According to LoScalzo, allowing the one-family homes is “a bastardization of what they’re obligated to do under the regulation.”

To further back up his argument, the Whitestone resident pointed to a set of DEC regulations that became effective in 2006, which also says that restricted-residential use does not allow one-family homes.

The agency has also said that the Edgestone Group, the firm that owns the site, was responsible for the fill that led the track to be changed. LoScalzo wonders why the company was not punished at all for using it. “By virtue of dumping material there, they failed to comply with the standards for Track 2 cleanup,” he said. “Why are they so easily off the hook by DEC simply changing the cleanup to Track 4?”

We hear LoScalzo was present at Senator Avella's event yesterday at the Waterpointe site, and addressed the press separately afterward. Stay tuned for more because it looks like he's not done yet.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How we're clearing out Rikers

From NBC:

Two teens accused of cutting off a cab driver's thumb and slashing several other people in the Bronx are out on $200 bail, and that's not sitting well with one of their alleged victims.

Danny Dromm's creative math

Danny's in debt? Better check it out.
Yes, that outstanding $201 that he owes from 2013 (even though he has a positive balance of $2,703) really warrants a fundraiser like this.

The last election hasn't even been certified yet and he's fundraising for the next one. Since he's term limited Lord only knows what he's running for next.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Garaufis house: From classic to crappy

From the Times Ledger:

Work on the historic home formerly belonging to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis is nearly complete with none of the original features of the classic 19th century structure remaining and complaints continuing to mount.

A modern brick structure with multiple entrances has risen in the place of the large, stately home that originally belonged to the Lawrence family, who owned an estate covering most of what is now Bayside and left a legacy which preservationists have attempted to maintain.

A neighborhood feud began in April 2016, led by Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, as the property was purchased and plans for renovation were posted on the city Dept. of Buildings site by the new owner with a permit requiring at least half the original structure be retained. Work on the four-story house, however, quickly took a turn for the extreme. Within days, the home had been reduced to the first floor.

The most recent violation on the property shows people have been living in the home without a certificate of occupancy for which the DOB cited them on Nov. 5.

Would you like a massage with that gift card, too?

From the Daily News:

At Manhattan Criminal Court, judges are being urged to watch their language — avoiding legal jargon, calling people by their name rather than “the defendant,” and greeting people when they enter.

Defendants will be surveyed on their experience at court — and get a $15 Dunkin Donuts gift card for filling out the questionnaire.

The city is picking up the tab for the program, which totals $800,000.

The gift cards are being given out because research ethics boards frown on having people participate in research without compensation, Mansky said.

I could go off on this in the textbook QC way, but Impunity City already did a fine job of it.

The privatization of Frank Golden Park?

From the Queens Chronicle:

Frank Golden Park is the main home of the Queens youth athletic club, which has been using it since 2009. The group has around 600 members, with approximately 300 children.

Recently, work on a $1.6 million new field — completely using private funds raised by the athletic association — was finished there. According to Shannon Gaels Chairman Robert McDonagh, the fence that now surrounds the newly finished field is only closed temporarily to protect the new grass. Although the fence will be open during the day, it’s planned to be closed permanently at night when the park is closed.

Now, the Parks Department is seeking Community Board 7’s approval for the design of a second Gaelic football field to be operated by the club right next to the newly completed one in the park. That field, which McDonagh expects to take around 18 months to finish, is paid for by $4.53 million from the City Council and Borough President Melinda Katz.

The agreement allows Shannon Gaels to operate and maintain the section of the green space between March 1 and Oct. 31 of each year. It was written in 2014 and covers a 15-year-period, after which the Parks Department can renew it for five-year terms.

According to the document, the club is required to allow an average of 10 hours on the park’s fields each weekend for it to be used by “other groups,” which are also entitled to one full weekday evening per week. And the deal mandates that school athletic programs be guaranteed a minimum of one late afternoon session per week. Other groups must get a permit to use the space.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ozone Park strip club loses liquor license

From the Queens Chronicle:

The liquor license for the TrapHouse Gentleman’s Club in Ozone Park, an establishment that has been the source of many complaints from neighboring residents, was revoked by the State Liquor Authority at the body’s Nov. 8 meeting.

“We’re at a stage where the chances have run out,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley at the meeting. “[The owner] had multiple chances to clean up his act ... we now have people in jeopardy of getting hurt.”

The sustained charges against the club, located at 78-16 Atlantic Ave., include having unlicensed security guards, violation of unspecified local regulations, being a “focal point for police attention” and there being a “sustained pattern of noise/disorder” coming from the establishment.

Mark Weinstein, the attorney for the business, asked the SLA to levy a smaller penalty — such as a suspension of the liquor license, rather than it being revoked.
Bradley responded that a suspension, or any other form of punishment, might come with a hefty fine.

“I don’t think you want to write the check I’m going to ask you to write,” the SLA chairman said. “Every other charge that’s nonviolent in nature has been committed one time previously, and sometimes twice ... I have revoked people for way less than this.”

The NY dairy farmer's conundrum

From NBC:

Dairy farms in New York are relying on workers in the country without documentation. Pablo Gutierrez reports on the issue.

This is a very interesting report. On the one hand, the farmers say no Americans are willing to do this work. To some extent that's probably true, but would they offer a wage that would be fair to an American? Probably not. They want to keep the cost of milking down, so they exploit undocumented labor by paying them poorly and forcing them to work extended hours. Yet they claim they want see a change in the Visa program which allows the workers to stay legally. If that happens, the workers will have to at least be paid minimum wage, if not a living wage as courts have ordered in the past. And then the cost of producing milk goes up and farms go under. We've created quite a mess in this country.

Actors hired to attend rally

From the Daily News:

At a rally outside City Hall, an activist calling for the city to move forward with a developer’s plan to turn a long-vacant landmarked school in the East Village into college dorms poured his heart out about how the group was just comprised of concerned community folks.

“We have jobs here. We don’t get paid for this, and literally we spent hours uncovering information,” Jose de Yarza said.

But while de Yarza doesn’t get paid for his advocacy, that doesn’t appear to be true for some of the 30 people standing quietly behind him, holding signs bashing Mayor de Blasio and local elected officials.

The Daily News obtained a casting email seeking people to “beef up attendance” for the rally, held by the newly formed group East Village Cares, in exchange for a rate of “$50 CASH / 2.5 hour booking.”

One person holding a sign at the event confirmed attending as a result of the casting call. Another declined to answer, saying it wouldn’t be right to discuss whether he’d been paid. Two others approached by The News denied being paid or getting the casting call email.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Never-ending traffic nightmare created on Queens Blvd

Take a good look at the above photo, credited to Thomas Phillips on the Chronicle's website, and understand that this is the reality that has seemed to escape the DOT. Trucks double park to make deliveries, forcing regular traffic to enter the bike lanes to pass. And now the articles.

From the Queens Chronicle:

With the advent of food-based television networks and social media, the 72-year-old deli has become something of a tourist attraction, with guests coming from all across the globe to munch on the authentic kosher cuisine.

So why at 6 p.m. on a recent, rain-free Friday night was the eatery almost entirely empty, save for one couple?

According to Parker, the answer is painted green just a few feet outside.

“The bike lanes aren’t hurting us, they’re murdering us,” Parker told the Chronicle. “This is our busy season. If things don’t turn around, you could expect layoffs in January or February. I can promise you that.”

From the Queens Chronicle:

At the famous Ben’s Best Deli, business is down 17 percent, and in the middle of dinner time last Friday, there were two people in the place when it’s usually packed. Up the street at Topix Bar and Lounge, business is down 10 percent. At Domino’s Pizza, seven of 22 drivers have quit since August. Many other stores are suffering too.

They all have the misfortune of being located on the 1.3-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard where the city eliminated 198 parking spaces so it could install bike lanes. And the result is that they’re being crushed.

The situation is reflected on a stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard where new curbside bus lanes have eliminated parking at key times of the day. A manager at the C-Town Supermarket there says business is down 20 percent.

All this damage to our society so that a vocal minority of residents can ride bikes safely on the one hand — and there’s no arguing against safety, but it didn’t require this — and bus riders can shave a few minutes off their trip on the other.

Whitestone wants stalled site dealt with

From the Times Ledger:

Whitestone residents are calling on officials to deal with an abandoned home they say has plagued the neighborhood for over a decade.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone) and neighbors gathered in front of 168-08 14th Ave., asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city Department of Buildings to investigate the status of the abandoned corner home that has been listed as “under construction” for years.

According to residents, construction on the home began years ago but then stopped suddenly. Neighbors described the house as being in an “unhealthy and unsanitary state, creating a breeding ground for rodents.”

Avella said the home first received a DOB permit for construction in 2004 which was renewed in 2008 and 2013. He said the repeated permit renewals led community members to wonder why the city continued to reissue permits for a home that had badly deteriorated. Avella also pointed out that the home had received 10 DOB Environmental Control Board violations and has had 16 complaints from the community.

The DOB said inspectors had been sent to the property to investigate the site as recently as three weeks ago and found that the scene was secure. The agency has issued two violations to the property owner, one for an unpermitted construction fence that was in poor condition and the other for failing to comply with the previously issued violations.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017 from Queens Crap!

Dromm plans to fight Holden

From the Queens Chronicle:
While Koslowitz was optimistic Holden will become a valued member of the delegation, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said in a Monday interview he will “fight against” the incoming lawmaker’s possibly caucusing with the Democrats.

According to Dromm, Holden ruined any chance of fostering a relationship with him on Election Night, when the civic leader pledged in his victory speech to “battle some of the lunatics in the City Council that are trying to destroy the city.”

“Calling your future colleagues lunatics is not a good way to start,” Dromm said. “I do wish him well. I hope his constituents benefit from him being in office, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”

The openly gay lawmaker also said he’s taken issues over the years with Holden and his views that “border on racist and homophobic,” adding that the councilman-elect is a “total Republican” no matter what party he’s affiliated with.

“In my opinion, Bob represents the Trump side of the Republican Party, and he’s just as explosive as the president,” he said. “He’s always been a Republican. He has no Democratic credentials and he doesn’t represent anything the Democratic Party stands for.”

When asked what advice he had for the incoming rookie lawmaker, Dromm said Holden needs to eliminate name-calling and insulting from his arsenal.

But as of right now, the councilman said he couldn’t think of a single issue on which he even agrees with Holden, nevermind wants to work with him on.

“I don’t know what those issues would be. Look at the type of stuff you read on Queens Crap,” he said, referring to the pro-Holden blog that features mercilous attacks on lawmakers and a comment section often full of offensive remarks. “If this is what’s coming into the Council, he’s in for a rude awakening.”
The writer likely meant "merciless". The Crowley-de Blasio strategy of namecalling & insulting has now been employed by Mr. Dromm, which is pretty funny, since the progressives today scream about tolerance and inclusiveness all the time yet practice their own brand of namecalling & insulting. Pretty sure the homophobic claim was debunked - by this blog - which also highlighted that in the past Dromm chose to back Crowley over a more qualified gay candidate to score his own political points with the Machine.

This blog has always been anti-Machine which means anti-Crowley, but not really "pro"-anyone, because we've learned that all too often, today's reformer is tomorrow's hack. (Just ask Danny.) You can look back at the coverage of this election and make your own determination as to whether or not we were cheering Holden on or pointing out how awful the incumbent was.

But hell, it's Thanksgiving, so why not have some fun?