Monday, August 21, 2017

Details released about Vallone petitions

Forgery - Garden Variety and the Real Deal - Part 1 by Paul Graziano on Scribd



WOW, and this is only part 1!

Good times.

Lobbyists basically run City Hall

From Politico:

As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff first learned to navigate the city’s vast bureaucracy, they sought regular help from an eager lobbying firm that had much to gain in return.

Commissioners and employees across city agencies solicited the advice of the firm Capalino + Company to shape policy, raise funds for events and answer technical questions on myriad aspects of municipal government, according to thousands of pages of emails reviewed by POLITICO New York.

The emails, obtained through a records request, show Capalino's stable of lobbyists was so entrenched in the minutiae of de Blasio's first term, they formed an unofficial, additional layer of government — sometimes instructing staffers how to do their jobs — all while advancing the interests of their paying clients.

Bureaucracy keeps small business in the dark


From CBS:

Anil Argawal, wiping away tears, explains the frustration of sitting in his dark Kew Gardens, Queens, grocery store, with no electricity, empty coolers and freezers, and no business for months.

“I came 30 years ago in this country hoping to make a bright future for my kids and my wife,” he told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer. “Now I feel like I got nothing to provide them.”

CBS2 first reported about Argarwal’s plight six weeks ago after the electricity was turned off as the result of a complicated series of events involving the MTA, which owns the property because the store is on a bridge over the Long Island Rail Road; the landlord, who has a deal with the MTA to sublease the 13 stores on the bridge; and Con Ed, which was called in to help upgrade the power lines, a move necessary to serve the freezers and coolers installed in the grocery.

Putting aside the blame game, an Aug. 4 letter from Con Ed to landlord Kunal Kapoor said he had to install something called a “sleeve” in the foundation before Con Ed could get started.

The landlord’s lawyer said he thought the sleeve came after Con Ed did the work. Now he knows differently. He said he expects the sleeve will be installed next week.

The real question is whether Argawal will ever be able to restock all the empty shelves

“I don’t even have the money to fill it up,” he said.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A crap above, Ridgewood edition

Here we are at 1874 Hart Street, which is on a nice, quiet, rowhouse-lined block in Ridgewood.
What we have here is a horrendous vertical enlargement.
The 4-apartment building will soon be an 8-apartment building.
Some of the complaints are quite interesting.
One resulted in a stop work order.
Looks like they're also moving the entrance over to the left and installing a ramp which no other building on this street has. Sigh.

Seriously stupid

So is there one DOT crew that installs these and another that comes and takes the plastic off? Or did someone just do a half-assed job, which is what I suspect?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Worker dies at Manhattan building project site


From the Daily News:

A 22-year-old construction worker from Yonkers died after falling 20 feet down an elevator shaft while working on a high-profile luxury building, police said.

Jonathan Lupinski fell two stories to the basement at 281 Fifth Ave. at E. 30th St. about 9:40 a.m. He suffered grave head injuries.

“While stripping the elevator shaft, the worker fell to the cellar level,” a Department of Buildings report said.

Medics rushed him to Bellevue Hospital, where he died, officials said.

What killed the Flushing Creek fish?

From the Queens Tribune:

With reports last week of “thousands of dead fish” floating in Flushing Creek, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) placed the blame on predatory TK fish, which the agency said chased the defenseless fish into low-oxygen areas where they ultimately died.

But Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and local environmentalists tell a different story, blaming the deaths of the fish on the polluted conditions in the creek, where the city is currently looking to reduce combined sewage overflows (CSOs). These are instances where, during heavy rainfall, sewage-treatment plants cannot handle the increased load, and a combination of excess rainwater and untreated sewage seeps into local waterways.

On Aug. 11, Koo used the deaths of the fish as evidence that the city should rethink its long-term control plan for Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay—which is the DEP’s plan to reduce CSOs. Alongside environmentalists, Koo argued that the plan’s use of chlorine to disinfect the waters could have a negative impact on the waters’ ecosystems, and that the city should invest in increasing the capacity of the area’s sewage infrastructure.

The DEP also says it sampled the waters the Monday before the fish kill, which occurred on Aug. 9, and found sufficient oxygen to support marine life. Additionally, it says the rain that occurred that Monday was all captured by the $350 million sewer overflow tank. It argues that fish kills like this have happened before, and if the water conditions were at fault, the predatory fish would be dying as well. The DEP is building green infrastructure in the area to capture stormwater before it enters the sewer system.

But marine immunologist James Cervino, who is the chairman of Community Board 7’s environmental committee, said that he analyzed the dead fish and concluded that the fish were killed by polluted waters. He said that had the fish been killed off in a predatory event, there would be “massive lesions and bitemarks.”

“There [are] no bitemarks,” he said. “Some of the fish have been eaten by blue fish and chased, which is a normal process, but a majority of fish that died off were due to a harmful algal bloom.”


What the hell is a TK fish?

Development along coast is questioned

From DNA Info:

Critics of the city's plan to build a school, offices and 1,000 apartments on the Long Island City waterfront called it "irresponsible" to develop the site because it's located in a hurricane evacuation zone that's prone to flooding during storms.

Advocates said they would rather see the two city-owned parcels — located next to the East River at the end of 44th Drive — converted to public parkland, with plantings, oyster beds and other green infrastructure to help make the area more resistant to floods.

"We think continuing to build in a flood plain is irresponsible," said Diane Hendry, a member of the LIC Coalition, an advocacy group that launched a petition last week opposing the city's plans. "The land is a natural wetlands. It should be preserved. We do not want this land used for 1,000 luxury units."

The city's Economic Development Corporation and developer TF Cornerstone are planning the mixed-use project, which will include a 600-seat school, offices and light manufacturing space, as well as at least 1,000 apartments, a quarter of which will be set aside for affordable housing.

The development will rise on two sites across the street from one another: 5-40 44th Drive, currently a Department of Transportation facility, and 4-99 44th Drive, which includes a Department of Education parking lot and the shuttered Water's Edge restaurant.

The site is located within Hurricane Evacuation Zone 1, what the city has designated as the most likely to flood during a storm. The parcels also sit on the border between two FEMA flood zones with the highest risk of flooding, according to a map from the agency.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Part 1 of Queens Tribune's city council debate

Featuring: Hiram Monseratte, Rory Lancman, Peter Koo, Alison Tan, Paul Vallone, Paul Graziano, Elizabeth Crowley and Robert Holden

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Queens newspaper publisher may do 20 years in prison

From the Daily News:

A Queens newspaper publisher found herself on the wrong side of a headline after authorities said she was messing with the mob.

Patricia Adams, publisher of The Forum, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of witness tampering in a bizarre offshoot of a loansharking case involving the Bonanno crime family, according to Brooklyn federal prosecutors.

Instead of simply signing off on a story about the scheme, Adams became a key player, using her weekly newspaper to bully a woman out of testifying against a Bonanno associate accused of sexually harassing the woman at his Broad Channel deli.

The harassment accusation against Robert Pisani threatened the freedom he enjoyed after posting $500,000 bail in a $26 million loansharking scheme in and around Howard Beach, officials said.

Adams allegedly stepped in, and tried to make the woman’s father talk his daughter out of cooperating with federal law enforcement.

Days ahead of Pisani’s bail revocation hearing, the local newswoman played hardball with the victim’s dad and said she’d dirty up the daughter in her paper, prosecutors said.

Judge Brian Cogan agreed to release Adams late Wednesday on $150,000 bond. Adams also had to put up her house as collateral.

She’ll be under house arrest, so if she wants to go out and interview people for the paper, she’ll have to get the green light from pretrial services, Cogan said.

Adams is looking at up to 20 years if convicted.

Liz Crowley looking kinda desperate

So Liz Crowley's gotta be pretty worried if she is sending mailers out like this.
1) She's had several opponents and never got this down and dirty with any of them.
2) She's using a 10-year old photo from a blog that attacks her and praises her disgraced predecessor, Dennis Gallagher.
3) Holden is running on other lines in the general election (and she has the WFP line although she was bounced from the Independence line) so it's guaranteed that they will meet in November, no matter what happens in the primary. And a good portion of her district is solidly Republican and non-affiliated voters.
4) The whole focus of this piece is that the guy accepted an award from the Queens GOP. Not for upholding Republican values, but for his civic work over the years. I'd like to thank Ms. Crowley for explaining that civic work is a Republican value and not a Democratic value. This whole time I thought political party didn't matter when it came to caring about one's community, but clearly I was wrong.

Sorry, but an incumbent sinking to this level reeks of desperation.

I'll let Holden have the last word:

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you don’t do right by the neighborhood, we’re not going to get along.” - Robert Holden.

What an awful philosophy! All hail the Queens County Machine!

(The funny thing is that if the Queens Dems are so opposed to Trump, why did they endorse a guy who likes him?)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Graziano details allegations against Vallone

From the Queens Chronicle:

“Faced with arguing his absurd case in front of a Judge, Graziano instead chose to withdraw the complaint, tacitly admitting that this was nothing more than a cheap, meritless publicity stunt that wasted everyone’s time and our taxpayers’ hard earned money,” a Vallone campaign press release said.

Graziano has not quite admitted that the suit was “meritless,” though. Although the Democratic challenger dropped the litigation, he said he is still wholly convinced that the Vallone campaign committed forgery and fraud to collect the signatures needed to run.


And here we go...

If you have about 1/2 hour to sit and watch this, I assure you, it's quite interesting!


"Dear Friends:

As many of you know, due to financial issues I was unable to continue my court action against my opponent, Paul Vallone, which focused on massive fraud, forgery and illegal activities in the gathering of petition signatures in order to get on to the Democratic Party ballot line.

On Monday afternoon, I began to release my findings to the press and the public. Above is the full video of the press conference, which was well-attended by the local and city-wide press.

As stated at the press conference, I will be releasing new information twice a week for the foreseeable future; rather than overwhelm the press with an incredibly complex story all at once, each release will be a chapter in the larger story of what I uncovered.

Scans of the original petitions are here: www.scribd.com/lists/21552586/Vallone-petitions

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at any time."

​Best,
Paul Graziano


These videos show what appears to be an underage teenager (high school sophomore) procuring and witnessing signatures on petitions for Paul Vallone. In the background can be seen a number of other underage teenagers doing the same thing.

Flushing has its own "half house"

"The owner of 141-20 Booth Memorial Avenue (which I drive by a lot) McMansionified his attached house, which must be hell for the neighbors at 141-18, judging by the complaints on the DOB website. I can't believe they let the owner do this." - anonymous
Similar to the Elmhurst Half-House, one of the earliest posts on QC!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cuomo ok with congestion pricing (after the election)

From Curbed:

To carry out immediate repairs on NYC’s faltering subway system, $800 million in funds are needed. The state has contributed $400 million so far, and expects the city to provide the rest. While not committing to providing these funds, Mayor Bill de Blasio did propose a millionaires tax to help fund half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.

Now Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to pump more funds into the subway, albeit with a type of proposal that previously failed: congestion pricing. Reporters were speculating about this on Twitter last week, and Cuomo subsequently confirmed to the New York Times that he was looking to develop a congestion pricing proposal, but declined to provide details.

A previous plan on congestion pricing introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg got derailed in the state legislature, particularly on concerns that it unfairly favored Manhattan residents. Cuomo told the Times that his plan is inspired by that proposal, but will move in a different direction. This quote from the Times basically sums it up:

“Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come,” Mr. Cuomo said. He declined to provide specifics about how the plan would work and what it would charge, but said that he had been meeting with “interested parties” for months and that the plan would probably be substantially different from Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal.

The Times piece also revealed that Cuomo had introduced a pilot program a few months ago to reduce the amount of trucks in Manhattan during rush hour: trucks that worked overnight got reduced tolls.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cuomo aide says Albany drama is all because of Gianaris

From the Daily News:

A top aide to Gov. Cuomo says reunifying the fractured state Senate Democrats will be almost impossible as long as Sen. Michael Gianaris remains in a top leadership role for the mainline Dems.

The personal animosity between Gianaris and Bronx Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who heads up a group of eight breakaway Senate Democrats aligned in a leadership coalition with the Republicans, is the single biggest roadblock for Dem control of the chamber, the Cuomo official said.

The aide sought to peg most the problems on Gianaris, who has had his own tensions with the governor, most recently over the mass transit crisis.The Cuomo aide accused Gianaris, of Queens, of trying behind the scenes to torpedo any deal because he’d rather be deputy leader in the minority than lose influence if the Dems are in the majority.

“This is the oldest story in the book — it’s power, who gets it and who loses it,” the aide said. “When Jeff Klein rejoins the Democrats, Mike Gianaris gets displaced, and therefore he is working to further the divide.”

To break the stalemate, the Cuomo official said, the governor has gone “so far as to offer Mike a job in the administration or offer to support him to run for Queens County (district attorney) down the road.”

Queens Gentrifiction Tour points fingers at pols

From Progress Queens:

Members of an activist group, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, conducted a "gentrification tour" of a Queens neighborhood on Saturday, reciting facts and figures at various tour stops to recount in stark terms that Government policy was supporting radical changes to Long Island City that was displacing long-term tenants and changing the landscape of Queens. The tour was joined by approximately 50 people.

The Queens Gentrification Tour began outside the former site of 5Pointz, a building complex that was demolished to make way for two luxury apartment buildings. With the rumble of the 7 subway train overhead, a member of the activist group described how, in the time leading up to the New York City Council approval of the rezoning for the construction project, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) accepted several thousand dollars in campaign donations from the Wolkoff family, owners of the site at the time. In advance of the tour, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project released information in a blog post about real estate industry-related campaign donations received by Councilmember Van Bramer's campaign committee. Some of those figures were recounted during the tour.

For this report, the office of Councilmember Van Bramer did not answer a request to respond to the accusations made by anti-gentrification activists that Councilmember Van Bramer served the interests of his campaign committee's real estate donors.

At various stops of the tour, members of the activist group challenged what they described as the "myth" that real estate development in New York City was driven by the free market. Instead, one activist said at one tour stop that the New York tax policy known as 421-a was responsible for encouraging luxury real estate development speculation by eliminating property taxes to allow real estate developers to construct zone-busting apartment buildings. The annual cost of the 421-a property tax abatement program was reported as $1,4 billion in a report published by The New York Times. At several tour stops, the foregone $1,4 billion in annual property taxes was denounced for the missed opportunities to make strategic investments in infrastructure or public schools.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The truth about cars in Queens

Next time one of those "transportation advocates" tries to tell you that car ownership is a luxury and most households in the city don't own one, you can whip this map out and show them that in Queens, not only is it the norm, but it's practically a necessity.

Tell them when they find a way for you to get from Glendale to Bayside without multiple transfers and about 2 hours wasted, you'll give public transportation a shot.

$2M for a small piece of Ridgewood

This seems like a bit much for a property that only has 2 residential units and an office and isn't right near a subway station (the M is about 5 blocks away and will be out for a while).

St. Nicholas Ave church-to-crap

I missed the unveiling of this rendering back in 2015 when Curbed put it out there. But I had the misfortune of passing the site recently and saw it on their sign. Yikes.
Believe it or not, this is supposedly going to be a 3-family home.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Getting to MS-13 through immigrants


From Fox News:

Critics of the sanctuary city crackdown say it will chill immigrants from helping ICE go after MS-13 gang members, but the feds say they have plenty of tools – including a change in visa status - to win cooperation from the immigrant community.

The options seem to be paying off, with investigators from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations saying immigrant cooperation is making a big difference in the fight against the lethal and ruthless MS-13 gang.

In an atmosphere where cooperating with law enforcement is a death sentence imposed by the gang, most illegal immigrants appear to be more concerned about how to obtain legal resident status than financial reward, said one investigator who declined to be identified.

But at the same time, critics warn that the visa tool should be used only sparingly, since it could lead to fraudulent claims.

Now we have "rogue bikesharing"

From the NY Post:

A California company will dump 300 dockless share bikes across the Big Apple on Monday — and they don’t have permission from the city to do it.

Spin, a San Francisco-based company, will drop 150 rigs throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn and another 150 in the Rockaways, according to City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is in favor of the company moving in even though New York has a contract with Citi Bike.

“Bike sharing represents the future, and I don’t believe we should be protecting Citi Bike as a monopoly,” said Ulrich. “Citi Bike has a contract to have docks on city property and that’s fine, but the city has to let bike riders and New Yorkers decide who they want to pay.”

Unlike Citi Bikes, which must be picked up from and brought back to a station after each use, dockless bikeshare companies use cycles with self-locking technology that customers can access through an app. They can then pick up and leave the bikes anywhere.

Transit advocates fear dockless bikes could be a disaster.

“They litter the streets everywhere they go,” said a source familiar with the operations. “They have to go somewhere and they end up in the middle of sidewalks and in dumpsters and in the way of everything.”

At least five rogue dockless bike companies have been sniffing around the city and buttering up officials since the spring, officials have said. Spin will be the first to actually set up shop here.


This is funny. If it's Spin or nothing, the Rockaways should have nothing, according to DOT. Also humorous is the unnamed transit advocate who claims these bikes will end up in the middle of sidewalks and in dumpsters. What?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Falling back on fallout shelters


From PIX11:

Decades after the end of the Cold War, old “Fallout Shelter” signs are still all around New York City. But people are beginning to look at them in a whole new light given the nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.

These bomb shelters were built after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller called for a massive shelter program in 1960 (he later had shelters installed in the governor’s mansion and his three homes). Shelters were built in office and apartment buildings and even high-profile places, allegedly including The Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Central Terminal. In 2006, a shelter in the Brooklyn Bridge was also uncovered.

The shelters were stocked with supplies like aspirin, toilet paper and biscuits. By the 1970s however, the shelters had run out of financial support nationally and locally. The remaining supplies were either removed, destroyed or forgotten.

Most of the shelters have been repurposed, with only their faded signs remaining. And until recently, few have given them a second look.

Big hotel coming to downtown Jamaica

From AM-NY:

Downtown Jamaica has worked hard to reclaim its status as a destination for shoppers.

Now officials are hoping to make it a lively tourist hub, with plans for a dozen new hotels as well as residential towers and retail stores.

After decades of plans and proposals to revive the area, progress can be seen in two towers rising near Jamaica Station on Sutphin Boulevard.

One of those sites will hold a Fairfield Inn and Courtyard by Marriott with more than 300 rooms; and the other, a mixed income housing development.

Hope Knight, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, said the group hopes to attract travelers who would otherwise stay in hotels outside John F. Kennedy Airport, where there is little for them to do.

“Being able to stay in downtown Jamaica is a competitive advantage,” said Knight, who pointed out the AirTrain, subway and Long Island Rail Road all stop at Jamaica Station. “And they can get to Downtown Brooklyn or Penn Station in 20 minutes.”

Summer Friday caption contest

From the NY Post:

​Disgraced​ former​ ​Queens city councilman Ruben Wills cried like a baby as he was sentenced to two to six years in prison Thursday for looting public coffers​, pleading for leniency and maintaining his innocence to the end.

Wills, who was stripped of his title at sentencing, was ordered to pay almost $33,000 in res​​titution after a jury found him guilty of pocketing some $30,000 in city funds.

The normally well-heeled politician arrived in court in jogging duds and blue sneakers–and bawled as he begging the judge for leniency, claiming he’d done nothing wrong.

“Do not incarcerate me,” Wills begged. “I maintain my innocence and disagree with the verdict.”

“I did those things to enrich the community,” the typically cocky man said through sobs, at times crying so hard he was unintelligible. “I cannot justify that I did something wrong.”

“In my entire life I’ve never taken anything from anyone,” he blubbered. “My purpose from birth is I am an advocate.”

The still-teary pol then turned to his wife, and apologized for not spending more time with her “because I was out in the streets helping people and praying for people.”

Defense attorney Kevin O’Donnell also asked the judge for mercy, saying “very few people have given more to the community than Ruben Wills.”

“Show him some mercy, some compassion,” the lawyer implored, adding that jail would bankrupt his client and leave him unable to pay restitution. “I’m just asking you, judge, that you do the right thing and let him do community service. Nobody wins by him going to jail.”

“I have no doubt that you have done some good things in the community,” Queens Supreme Court Judge Ira Margulis told the whimpering lawmaker. “However you are convicted for stealing from state and city agencies.”

Margulis then slapped the disgraced pol with a $5,000 fine on top of everything else, and ordered him cuffed.


So there you have it. Now caption that photo!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Classic NYC government at work

From Brooklyn Daily:

Neighbors are outraged that the city tried to fine a Bay Ridge woman $100 for letting other residents’ garbage bags pile up in front of her 94th Street home — after it ordered residents of a nearby private street to leave them there for pick-up.

Earlier this year, the Department of Sanitation ordered residents of four private streets to start hauling their trash to the nearest public street corner to be collected, and the irony that the agency is now penalizing their neighbor for the pileup shows how flawed that new policy is, one resident said.

“Because of the change of policy, [the agency has] created a sanitary condition and is now going to penalize people for a condition created by its policy change,” said Bill Larney, who lives on Barwell Terrace, one of streets affected by the change.

The department has since moved to withdraw the July 26 summons, and claimed the ticket was a mistake. In fact, according to a agency spokeswoman, department staff was warned not to cite certain violations in the are, to avoid just such ironies.

“The Department of Sanitation instructed its enforcement personnel not to issue summonses for certain infractions at these locations,” said Kathy Dawkins. “Unfortunat­ely, a summons for storing plastic trash bags placed out on a public sidewalk on a non-collection day was issued to that address in error.”

The city told residents of Barwell Terrace, Wogan Terrace, Hamilton Walk, and Lafayette Walk back in March they they would have to start bringing their trash out to the curb of a public street for collection, ending the nearly 80-year practice of sanitation workers walking down the private walkways to pick up trash from the homes, according to Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann.

“These four locations are unique in that they’re off a main public street, and the manual collection was designed for that reason,” she said.

On June 5, the Department of Sanitation’s director of community affairs, Harry Ehrhardt, sent a letter to CB10 explaining that sanitation workers would no longer collect trash from the private streets due to safety concerns. And on June 26, residents of the four private streets responded by filing suit against the city and Department of Sanitation seeking restoration of service.

A resident who also lives on 94th Street between Hamilton and Lafayette Walks said he does not want to pay a price for the new policy because he lives in front of a newly designated trash drop-off area.

Flushing candidates speak at BFHA


Above is footage of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowner's Night. Paul Vallone, Paul Graziano and Alison Tan speak on these videos.

In related news, I received this...

A personal message from Paul Graziano:

As a candidate for City Council, I take the election process very seriously. This is why I began my court action against my opponent, Paul Vallone, as I discovered during the petitioning process that his campaign had conducted a program of massive fraud and forgery.

While I have found clear and disturbing evidence over the past few weeks that supports my claims, it is with great reluctance that I ended my court challenge today, due to lack of campaign funds; although I have received the maximum amount of public matching funds - $100,000 - this funding cannot be spent on legal action, particularly related to challenging the validity of an opponent's petitions.

Therefore, I have decided to release all of my detailed findings to the public, as I believe the residents and voters of the 19th Council District deserve to know how Paul Vallone and his campaign have obtained access to the Democratic Party ballot.

Please join my attorney, Martin E. Connor and me for a press conference to be held at 146-24 32nd Avenue on Monday, August 14th at 1pm where we will present our findings and discuss our next steps.

Who:
Paul Graziano, Democratic candidate for 19th Council District
Martin Connor, Esq., election law attorney

What:
Presentation of our findings and discussion of our next steps re: allegations against Vallone campaign

Where:
146-24 32nd Avenue, Flushing

When:
Monday, August 14, 1pm

Stay tuned! Sounds like it's just about to get really interesting.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trump's first home listed on AirBnB

From the Times Ledger:

The childhood home of President Donald Trump, sold at auction in March to an anonymous individual, is listed on Airbnb for $750 a night and boasts 17 beds.

The Jamaica Estates address cited on the president’s birth certificate appeared on the website in June and uses the property’s history as a selling point for visitors. It also mentions the location’s proximity to the F train.

“POTUS - Donald J. Trump’s childhood home,” the listing said. “Stay in the heart of NYC in the president’s childhood home. Featured in hundreds of news articles, stay in a part of living history.”

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who has led a crusade against the rental website stemming from resident complaints about listings in their neighborhood, laughed Monday about the fact Trump’s home had even fallen victim to what he believes to be an epidemic in suburban Queens neighborhood.

Avella noted that presidential homes are usually made into museums and carry strict historic preservation protections, but that the former home of the controversial leader had been had not drawn this reverential treatment.

The comment came during a news conference on the unveiling of Avella’s bill designed to hinder the unrelenting proliferation of Airbnb in Queens without the requirements designated for hotels.

Koslowitz says she'll stop Key Food's departure

From the Queens Gazette:

The Forest Hills and Rego Park communities near the 112th Precinct have been in an uproar since it was announced that one of the community’s treasured shopping locations would be moving out of the area to be replaced by an 11-story, 170-unit rental apartment building, depriving the area of a supermarket and adding to the traffic and parking problems that already plague the area.

Former Queens County Deputy Borough President and present NYC Councilwoman for the area, Karen Koslowitz, vowed to stop the egress of the long-time food market located at the corner of Yellowstone and Queens Blvds. Her announcement was made during her participation in National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday evening, August 1, as she spoke to a group of about 200 community residents who gathered together to recognize and honor the members of local law enforcement whose mission is to keep the community safe.


This I gotta see.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cuomo to introduce modified congestion pricing

From AM-NY:

Congestion pricing was killed the way many policy proposals die in Albany: behind closed doors.

In 2008, Assembly Democrats revolted against the inititive championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg because it included East River tolls, which critics said would disproptionately affect residents of Brooklyn and Queens.

"It's really, really difficult for people in Brooklyn and Queens at this point to consider something like this. And I think we just need to start from the ground up all over again," Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan of Queens said at the time.

But with the subways in crisis and searching for a dedicated funding source, congestion pricing could be resurrected. Sources say Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering supporting a plan that would charge fees on for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft.

But lawmakers outside of Manhattan are still wary.

"Residents in New York want mass transit options. They don't want a financial burden. And they don't want to keep reaching into their pockets," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of Queens.

Scientist discovers MacNeil Park sewage problem

From QNS:

At first glance, the bubbling puddle shown on video taken at College Point‘s MacNeil Park this weekend doesn’t look that bad. The smell and the contents of the water, however, told a much more dangerous story.

Dr. James Cervino, a local marine scientist, told QNS that the geyser popped in the park in the last few days. He took a sample of the water for testing which revealed that it contained two different types of bacteria — E.coli and enterococcus — typically found in raw sewage.

At first, no one in the neighborhood knew for certain how or why the wretched geyser formed, according to Cervino. The city’s Parks Department, however, was able to provide an answer on Monday afternoon.

“There was a blockage in the sewer line which caused a backup in MacNeil Park,” a Parks Department spokesperson told QNS on Aug. 7. “Parks plumbers have been on site since 8 a.m. this morning to assess the situation. Parks hired a cesspool company to clear the line, and we are working with DDC (the Department of Design and Construction) to repair the issue.”

While the sewage-laden area was roped off, the rest of MacNeil Park remains open, the Parks Department added.

The Parks Department’s response came after state Senator Tony Avella — whom Cervino alerted about the condition over the weekend — reached out to the city’s Parks Department, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Health. He then followed up on Aug. 7 with a letter to the commissioners of all three agencies demanding that the problem be fixed, as well as a joint investigation to figure out what happened.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bishop opposed to safety bill

From the Times Ledger:

A community leader in Astoria is strongly opposing construction safety legislation that is currently enjoying wide support in the City Council.

Intro 1447 is making its way through the legislative process and is already co-sponsored by 47 of the 51 Council members. Bishop Mitchell Taylor, the co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, is warning the measure could have an averse effect on minority hiring, however, particularly at the Hallets Point construction site at 26-01 1st St., right next door to the Astoria Houses.

The bill is part of a larger package of legislation called the Construction Safety Act, which critics say would result in the exclusion of non-union workers from employment opportunities.

Urban Upbound is a non-profit organization that serves public housing residents and other low-income New Yorkers in order to break the cycle of poverty by providing residents with the tools and resources they need to achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency.

“One way we achieve that is by helping residents gain employment on new construction projects,” Taylor wrote in a letter to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “These jobs are a lifeline that can enable the people we serve to better provide for their families or even avoid becoming homeless.”

Taylor fears Intro 1447, originally called the apprenticeship mandate, would require that all workers on a construction site must complete at least 59 hours of safety training.

Workers currently need just 10 hours of safety training from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

DeBlasio has tax-the-rich scheme to fix subways

From the NY Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday.

The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.

Mr. de Blasio will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades and for reduced fares for more riders, an idea that has been successful in Seattle.

His funding push comes as the subway faces a multitude of problems, and leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, have called on Mr. de Blasio to provide more money for the system.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gentrification trolley on track

From NY1:

A proposed street car line that would link Queens and Brooklyn is still on schedule, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The mayor said Friday that construction will begin in 2019 or 2020.

"There's been a series of community meetings. There's a lot of folks in the community who want it because a lot of these areas don't have transportation options," de Blasio said on "The Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC. "There are a lot of folks who are raising real concerns and critiques that we are trying to address."

BDB helped his corrupt friends

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio repeatedly ordered his aides to intervene on behalf of two deep-pocketed donors who sought favors from City Hall before both were arrested in a sweeping corruption probe, newly released emails obtained by the Daily News reveal.

Brooklyn real estate developers Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg sent several emails to the mayor personally and to his top aides, often demanding City Hall’s help with real estate problems.

Whenever the mayor was contacted by Rechnitz, in particular, he responded immediately, steering the donor’s requests to the top levels of City Hall.

Both men appear to have benefited from their top-level access.

After meeting with a top City Hall aide to contest citations for operating an illegal hotel at a Manhattan building he owned, Rechnitz paid fines but dodged a vacate order — a tactic the city has used against others.

Reichberg got a discount on what he felt were overcharges to a water bill after reaching out to City Hall.

Rechnitz secretly pleaded guilty to corruption charges last year and cooperated with the Manhattan U.S. attorney's probe of de Blasio's fundraising tactics.

Reichberg faces charges of bribing several top NYPD brass to get favors. He has denied wrongdoing and faces trial.

Rechnitz and Reichberg both sponsored fund-raisers for de Blasio's 2013 campaign. Rechnitz also wrote a $50,000 check to de Blasio's now-defunct nonprofit, Campaign for One New York, on Jan. 28, 2014, and steered another $102,300 to an upstate Democratic committee as part of the mayor's failed 2014 bid to swing the state Senate to the Democrats.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

City sold street to unsuspecting woman


From CBS 2:

The map showed a long, skinny piece of property. Sight unseen, Parnell bid $30,000 and won. She figured she’d sell pieces to adjoining homeowners, Aiello reported.

Months later, she learned what the city sold as a “vacant lot” was actually William Court, a 280 foot long street – technically a “privately owned access way.”

Parnell told Aiello she’s willing to sell it back to the city. She said in 2010 the city offered to refund her $30,000, but she declined, because on her tax bill the city lists the property as “vacant land, zoned residential,” valued at $257,000.

“I would like the City of New York to pay me back the value of what the land is worth,” she said. “Not what they sold me for.”

On Friday, a city spokesperson told CBS2 “the city has made numerous attempts to offer her a full refund… she refused.” Even though the city values the property at $257,000, paying Parnell that much “was not an appropriate use of taxpayer money.”

DeBlasio needs matching funds to stay humble

From DNA Info:

Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by his decision to take on more than $2.5 million in matching funds from taxpayers — saying he'd be forced to turn to big donors instead of everyday New Yorkers to fund his reelection, despite having raised millions more than his nearest competitor.

Speaking on WNYC's the Brain Lehrer show Friday morning, de Blasio, who had raised $4.78 million in private funds according to city records, said he didn't take the upcoming 2018 election for granted and said he relied on the city's matching funds program to focus fundraising efforts on small donations.

"You cannot assume the outcome. People who do that are sorely disappointed," he said.

"We focused on house parties and we focused on reaching out to every day New Yorkers," he said. "Now if you had said...you’re not going to have access to a serious amount of matching funds than that would encourage me or any other candidate to go try and find larger donations and that's not the world I think we should be creating."

The city's campaign finance board approved $2,579,427 in public funds to go towards de Blasio's reelection campaign on Thursday.


He'd be forced to turn to big donors? I guess all the developers and unions are small potatoes?

R.I.P. Julia Harrison

From the Queens Chronicle:

Former City Councilwoman Julia Harrison, who served as Flushing's representative in the legislative body from 1986 to 2001, died after battling an undisclosed illness on Thursday.

She was 97.

A self-described outspoken maverick in the legislative body, Harrison proudly told the Chronicle and other media outlets over the years that she refused to simply vote the party line on a number of issues.

For example, she was the only Queens Council member to vote against the AirTrain that runs between Jamaica and Kennedy International Airport, something she called a "disaster."

"Some of my Democratic colleagues would've liked to have gotten rid of me because I did what I thought was right," Harrison said in a 2001 interview with the Chronicle. "They consider me a loose cannon."

Her strong interest in issues such as women's health, the elderly and cleanliness in Flushing made her popular with many in the community, but her 15-year tenure in the Council was not without controversy.

Speaking to a New York Times reporter in 1996 about Flushing's changing demographics, Harrison was quoted as saying the increase in Asian immigrants amounted to "an invasion, not an assimilation" — in addition to a few other questionable remarks.

Friday, August 4, 2017

School violence may not be down as reported

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio claims city schools are the safest they’ve been in two decades — but not everyone believes the miracle.

Along with Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, de Blasio said Tuesday that ­major school crimes last year hit their lowest point since 1998 and have tumbled 18 percent since 2015.

Officials said there were a ­total of 503 serious crimes — ­including felony assault and robbery — in city schools last year. That’s down from 532 the previous year and 613 in 2015, according to the NYPD.

But Families for Excellent Schools, a charter-school advocacy group, issued a report Tuesday claiming city officials lowballed serious misconduct in 2015-2016 — and that the latest figures should be viewed skeptically.

That school year, the state recorded roughly 10,000 more school incidents than the NYPD, according to FES. The state’s 2016-2017 figures aren’t yet available for a comparison with the latest NYPD data.

According to FES, the state counted 16,851 overall incidents that year while the NYPD tallied only 6,843. The group said the discrepancy suggests that City Hall is cooking the books.

Rory has an opponent

From the Times Ledger:

Bangladesh-born City Council candidate Mohammed T. Rahman is hoping to make history as the first South Asian Muslim official in the City Council.

Rahman, who worked as a supervisor in the city Department Of Social Services for 21 years before retiring in March, said he was inspired to run amid growing concerns about how the Trump administration’s policies toward Muslims will affect New Yorkers.

Rahman, of Jamaica, is running against Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) in the Sept. 12 Democratic Primary to represent Council District 24, which covers Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood and Jamaica.

“New York has one of the largest Muslim communities in the nation, yet there are no elected Muslim officials in the City Council,” Rahman said. “As a result, we see not only a growing distrust of ordinary Muslim citizens, but also a huge disparity in how Council discretionary funds are distributed.”

Rahman said his campaign is part of a growing trend of South Asian-American candidates running for city office, a reflection of the community’s increasing population and influence. The city’s Bengali population has doubled to 100,000 since the 2010 census, Rahman said, and it’s time for new voices to be heard.

“Muslims are slowly being squeezed out of the mainstream by discriminatory practices and attitudes,” he said. “The best way to combat this is to normalize relationships between all of our communities, and integrate Muslims into our system of representative democracy.”

Rahman said he has spent most of his life helping the community as a social worker and he believes he will provide better representation for the community if elected. He said he will be able to better distribute city funding and services and will make certain every community in District 24 gets its fair share.

Northeast Queens set to get cease and desist zone

From the Queens Chronicle:

When, if ever, will northeast Queens receive the two cease-and-desist zones that New York State has proposed to combat aggressive real estate solicitation? It depends on whom you ask.

The office of state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) — a lawmaker who spearheaded the effort to protect homeowners with cease-and-desist zones — has asked homeowners to submit comments to the state Department of State “supporting the proposed regulations that are slated to go into effect” on the first of September. Comments, however, will be accepted until Sept. 8, the end of the 45-day period for them.

According to maps released by Avella, the DOS has proposed two sections of northeast Queens — Bay Terrace along with portions of Bayside, Whitestone, Flushing and College Point — as cease-and-desist zones. Homeowners who live in the zones could, if they wish, be placed on a registry that prevents real estate agents from soliciting them once the rules take effect.

But according to the DOS, the regulations could not go into effect on Sept. 1.

“Rules cannot be adopted until at least the end of the public comment period (ending Sept. 8), and September 1 falls within that comment period,” an agency spokesperson told the Chronicle in an emailed statement.

How about the timing for implementation of the rule, after the comment period? “We would not know at this time,” the spokesperson said.

Regardless of if or when the cease-and-desist zones will be implemented, the Long Island Board of Realtors, whose region includes Queens, plans to use the public comment period to urge the state not to go through with them.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Legionnaire's disease found at Flushing buildings


From NBC:

Two residents of an apartment building in Flushing were hospitalized after they contracted Legionnaires' disease, and one of them is still being treated as the city tests the building’s water supply, health officials said.

The residents with Legionnaires’ disease were diagnosed 10 months apart over the past year, according to officials, who said one of them has been discharged and the other is recovering at a hospital.

“The Health Department is currently investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at Latimer Gardens that occurred within the same building over a year period,” the New York City Health Department said in a statement Tuesday.

Until results of the building's water tests are available, and out of an abundance of caution, NYCHA is installing a copper silver ionization system to disinfect the water, officials said.

Queens Machine wants to have its cake and eat it too


Great article from Progress Queens:

The reelection campaigns of two incumbent members of the New York City Council from the Queens delegation have been beset with questions about their ballot petition signatures. Candidates wishing to appear on the ballots for political parties are required to collect ballot petition signatures from voters registered for those political parties, and the petition signatures must be verified, according to regulations.

Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) has been taken to Court by his Democratic Party primary challenger, Paul Graziano. Mr. Graziano has alleged in a legal filing that the reëlection campaign of Councilmember Vallone collected invalid petition signatures. The civil proceeding, before New York State Supreme Court for Queens County, seeks a determination that would restrain the New York City Board of Elections from printing Councilmember Vallone's name on the Democratic Party primary ballot, amongst other relief being sought. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, 8 August at Queens County Civil Courthouse in Jamaica, Queens.

The office of Councilmember Vallone did not answer a request for an interview for this report.

A reporter making an attempt on Wednesday afternoon to inspect at the Queens Borough Office of the Board of Elections the ballot petition signatures collected by Councilmember Vallone's relection committee was turned away and was, instead, referred to an Agency spokesperson. Valerie Vazquez, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, said that the Agency was reviewing Councilmember Vallone's signatures and would, upon the making of advance request for an appointment, arrange for a reporter to be able to inspect Councilmember's ballot petition signatures. When asked if the Board of Elections could await the outcome of Mr. Graziano's Court proceeding with about six weeks before the date of the Democratic Party primary election, Ms. Vazquez postulated that the Board of Elections could accommodate a Court decision rendered with just one week left before the Democratic Party primary election.

Other advance questions submitted in writing by Progress Queens to the general e-mail account of the Board of Elections were not answered for this report.

Mr. Graziano, who initiated the legal proceedings against the Councilmember Vallone, said that it was important that the public have confidence in campaign committees complying with election system regulations. "We have to make sure that justice is served," Mr. Graziano said.

Mr. Graziano's legal challenge of Councilmember Vallone's ballot petition signatures follows word that the majority of the ballot petition signatures collected for the Independence Party by the reelection committee of another incumbent, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D-Ridgewood), have been invalidated by the Board of Elections, meaning that Councilmember Crowley will not appear on the Independence Party line in the November general election. News of the Board of Elections' determination against Councilmember Crowley was revealed on a Facebook post by Councilmember Crowley's Democratic Party primary challenger, Robert Holden. The office of Councilmember Crowley did not answer a press inquiry for an interview for this report.

Speaking generally of the allegations of misconduct in the ballot petition signature collections of various reëlection campaign committees, Mr. Graziano said, "I see this as a systemic issue. It's not just this candidate," he said, referring to Councilember Vallone.

According to information obtained by Progress Queens, there have been allegations that various campaign committees, including that of Councilmember Vallone, may have engaged in violations of regulations governing ballot petition signature collection four years ago. The allegations of violations have extended to the current election cycle, according to a source.


__________________________________________________

This stupid process of collecting signatures could be changed by the powers that be, but it was set up to discourage non-Machine candidates from running. Therefore, it is the people's duty to hold the Machine's feet to the fire when they fail to abide by the system they set up.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Looking to adopt the Ridgewood cats?


From CBS:

On Tuesday, Animal Control replaced the usual construction crews. CBS2’s cameras were rolling as five cats were rescued.

But when Bauman tried asking the building’s owner why construction went on for so long with so many furry tenants inside, there was no response.

“There was no way they started tearing down this whole building and never saw these close to 40 cats,” O’Neill said.

“At some point, you see them somewhere,” Aguirre said.

Animal Control told CBS2 they will continue to leave traps and safety remove animals until it is clear all the cats are out of the building. And until then, construction is on hold.

The volunteers are still trying to find home for many of the cats. To find out how you can adopt, click here.

Downtown Flushing is more chaotic than ever


From NBC:

Downtown Flushing — already teeming with people and vehicles on sidewalks and streets — has become all the more chaotic amid simultaneous work on sidewalks and a sinkhole.

Two major construction projects are happening in the vicinity of Main Street and Kissena Boulevard. Nearly two dozen bus lines roll through the bustling area.

The city is making emergency sewer repairs to fix the sinkhole. The DEP showed up last week, and with no notice, brought a backhoe and jackhammer to fix the mess. The result: absolute gridlock.

Flushing Councilman Peter Koo said he called the commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. That call, and others, convinced the DEP to switch gears within 24 hours. Now the repair work is being done overnight when streets are less busy.

Amid the effort to fix the sinkhole, crews are working on widening the area’s sidewalks. The result has been a dizzying mishmash of bodies, vehicles, signs, detours and construction cones.

Now you can rent a "luxury tent" at Fort Tilden

Just when you thought you'd seen everything, "glamping" at a national park happens.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Construction workers seek drug testing

From NY1:

Dozens of construction workers want the city council to enforce drug and alcohol testing for employees.

The Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Chapter rallied Monday at the steps of City Hall, calling on the city to enforce the testing.

"Construction is hazardous enough already, without having to worry about if the person next to you is under the influence of something," said an advocate at the rally. "So I think testing that's done by a third party would be beneficial to help give workers the confidence to know that their job site is as safely run as possible."

A performance report that the group released says drug and alcohol use account for nearly one-third of construction accidents nationwide.

Sunnyside tenants file class action lawsuit against landlord

From Sunnyside Post:

Nearly 70 tenants—many of whom live in Sunnyside and Woodside buildings–are part of a class action law suit that alleges that their management company has been illegally jacking up their rent by falsely inflating the cost of apartment improvements across its entire portfolio of properties.

The lawsuit, which has 67 plaintiffs, was filed Tuesday against Forest Hills-based Bronstein Properties, one of the largest residential landlords in New York City. The suit was filed in the New York Supreme Court on behalf of the named plaintiffs as well as all of Bronstein’s tenants who paid inflated rent between July 25, 2013 and today.

Many of the named plaintiffs are tenants from as many as seven Sunnyside and Woodside buildings.

The suit claims that Bronstein and its owner Barry Rudofsky have been in violation of New York City’s Rent Stabilization laws, which has led to unfair rent hikes.

Under the law, landlords are able to increase rent on rent stabilized apartments based on annual increases set by the Rent Guidelines Board, as well if there are major capital improvements to the buildings, such as elevators, new roofs or new windows, or if there is a vacancy or renovations to individual apartments.

The plaintiffs claim that many of the renovations to individual apartments were not done and the rents were increased illegally.