Monday, October 30, 2017

Costa has an opponent

From DNA Info:

A local real estate agent who's been pushing the city to restore the long-shuttered diving pool in Astoria Park has jumped into the race for the neighborhood's City Council seat.

Kathleen Springer is running as an independent candidate for Council District 22 in the Nov. 7 election, challenging incumbent Councilman Costa Constantinides, who's held the post since 2014.

"I am basically running against the machine," said Springer, who grew up in the Marine Terrace apartments near Astoria Park. She also worked for decades in local real estate before selling her Steinway Street firm, Your Neighborhood Realty, in 2009.

"I sold or rented a house, or even commercial properties, on almost every block in Astoria," she said. "I know the neighborhood well, and I know a lot of people."

Video Voter Guide - City Council District 28

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Video Voter Guide - City Council District 27

Peralta vs. prostitution

From the Queens Chronicle:

Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is widely regarded as a hotbed of prostitution and human trafficking. And state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) wants to give law enforcement another tool to crack down on businesses acting as a front for the problem.

The lawmaker has introduced legislation mandating massage parlors to get a license from the New York Department of State that allows them to operate, a practice required for many businesses. According to Peralta, some — but not all, he emphasized — of the parlors are fronts for prostitution. One thing he pointed out about some of the businesses is that people on the street pass out cards for them late at night.

“The legitimate places are open from, like, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” the senator told the Chronicle. “These folks are open late at night. In particular over the weekend; one o’clock in the morning, they’re still operating.”

Many constituents weary of the massage parlors have complained about them to his office, Peralta added.

His bill would make massage parlors get four-year licenses from the state, which they would have to display, showing customers that they are complying with the regulation. The businesses would also have to get a bond or liability insurance.

Massage parlors operating without the license will not be taken lightly: The punishment could be paying $2,500 and spending six months behind bars.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Vallone vs. Graziano on 2% property tax cap

City Council District 19 candidates Paul Vallone and Paul Graziano debated whether or not there should be a 2% tax cap on 1-2 family homes, condos and co-ops.

Everyone in this district should watch this video very carefully and listen intently. You can draw your own conclusions.

Video Voter Guide - City Council District 26

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pay to play spelled out at trial

From the Daily News:

One of Mayor de Blasio's biggest donors took the witness stand Thursday to spell out in crystal clear language how he showered Hizzoner with money and got the results he expected from City Hall.

The embarrassing pay-to-play testimony came from Jona Rechnitz, a Brooklyn businessman who pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is the star witness in the trial of disgraced jail union boss Norman Seabrook.

Describing one element of the criminal offense to which he admitted guilt, Rechnitz, 33, kept it simple, saying he “was giving money to the mayor of New York in exchange for favors.”

The deep-pocket donor for the first time detailed his regular interactions with the mayor, revealing that de Blasio came to his office before the 2013 election, gave him his personal cell number on the back of a business card, and “told me to call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch.”

He also detailed his multiple transactions with de Blasio’s top aide, Ross Offinger, portraying him as a sort of bag man who regularly solicited money for the mayor while carrying Rechnitz’s many demands for favors to City Hall.

Nicole calls for fair property taxes

From AM-NY:

Republican mayoral hopeful Nicole Malliotakis on Thursday outlined her plans to overhaul New York City’s property tax system, saying that if elected, she would establish a bipartisan panel to develop reforms.

Malliotakis, speaking at a news conference on the steps of City Hall, pointed to differences between her property tax bill and that of incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio to illustrate what she described as “inequities” that result from the city’s current property tax code.

Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman who lives on Staten Island, paid $5,521 in city property taxes on her home that has a market value of at $549,000, according to 2017 property tax records. Meanwhile, de Blasio paid $3,581 in taxes for his primary residence in Brooklyn that is valued at $1.97 million, according to property records.

Under the city’s current tax code, the city caps how much a property’s assessment can increase from year to year to 6 percent. Activists who have been calling for a change to the code say the current law benefits property owners in booming communities such as de Blasio’s Park Slope neighborhood, because those property owners end up paying proportionally less in taxes than property owners in other outerborough neighborhoods that are experiencing slower growth.

“Four years ago, Bill de Blasio ran on a platform of closing the gap in the ‘Tale of Two Cities’ but he has done nothing to close it and seems perfectly fine with lower income middle class New Yorkers subsidizing the homes of millionaires, including his own,” Malliotakis said.

Forest Hills Garden mansion & park history

Brick Underground has a listing for a mansion in Forest Hills Gardens that is pretty interesting. The house shares a private park with other mansions and they have historic photos of both.

Video Voter Guide - City Council District 23

Thursday, October 26, 2017

We spend a lot of time waiting for the subway

From Curbed:

The city’s Independent Budget Office has published yet another study that details how commuters are affected by the ailing subway system. Earlier this month, the IBO revealed that subway delays are costing New Yorkers roughly $864,000 a day in lost work time. If that wasn’t depressing enough, the IBO’s latest study illustrates just how many hours passengers are spending waiting on subway platforms.

The average number of passenger hours lost to delays systemwide during the weekday morning rush has increased by 45 percent from 2012 through May 2017, from just over 24,000 hours to nearly 35,000 hours, says the report. Per the New York Post, this breaks down to 1.1 years worth of wait time each morning.

Building inspectors arrested for accepting bribes

From Eyewitness News:

Working in tandem with the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office the Department of Investigation recently uncovered three different construction schemes involving more than a dozen property managers, developers, and inspectors.

"There is an unquestionable, unbreakable link between construction integrity and safety," said DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

According to indictments released Wednesday, two New York City buildings inspectors, 55-year-old Hiram Beza and 53-year-old Dean Mulzac, allegedly overlooked violations approving properties under construction in Brooklyn and Queens in exchange for cash and gifts. Beza also allegedly received a new kitchen and driveway for his write-offs.

AirBnB fine payment is lacking

From Crains:

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late last year to stop Airbnb hosts from turning their apartments into de facto hotels, bigger fines were supposed to deter a practice elected officials argued took much-needed apartments off the rental market.

But more than six months after city inspectors’ first round of enforcement, the de Blasio administration has collected only a fraction of the issued fines, which added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a Crain’s analysis. In large part, the trouble is rooted in the city’s long-flawed collection system—where cases and appeals can take months to process and landlords have little reason to pay up—which could ultimately defang efforts to curb illegal home sharing.

Between November and May, the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement targeted 16 properties in its first wave of inspections, issuing violations for operating an apartment as a hotel room. Inspectors also fined owners for building-code violations, like missing sprinklers and improper egress routes, and—beginning in February when the new law went into effect—for advertising units online. Few owners have paid up.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Reform Party candidates unveil affordable housing plan

NYS Reform Party City Council candidates Paul Graziano (District 19) and Robert Holden (District 30) and Comptroller candidate Michel Faulkner unveiled their 3 part plan to reduce homelessness and create affordable housing in NYC yesterday outside the Pan Am Hotel, which has been converted into an 800-person family shelter.

The plan is as follows:

Part 1 – Emergency Homeless Shelter Placement

Instead of heading to a centralized intake center for assignment to a hotel, displaced families and individuals would visit faith-based organizations in their own area for placement locally. Many churches and not-for-profits are interested in providing immediate, short-term housing as part of their missions. Let’s remove the barriers which prevent them from providing services. Congregations tend to come together to foster caring and supportive environments, and provide safe, secure places for people in need in a much better way than the government, which up to this point has left the homeless languishing in dangerous shelters and hotels.

Part 2 – Community Advisory Board

The board would be comprised of local residents who have expertise in fields such as law, social work, financial advisement, human resources and home improvement. They would administer to the currently homeless as well as those threatened with homelessness by offering services like resume writing, job placement, mental health referrals, legal assistance, substance abuse counseling and repairs to homes, with the ability to hire outside help when necessary.
Part 1 and Part 2 could be funded for a lot less money than we are throwing at hotels and not-for-profit providers right now. A strong support system is what is needed in order to break the cycle of homelessness plaguing our communities.

Part 3 – Mandatory Affordability as Part of As-of-Right Zoning

Developers currently get “bonus” height or bulk allowances for offering to include affordable housing in their projects. But this housing often is not permanently affordable and it is only offered to those developers seeking to build out-of-context. In order for affordable housing to work, it needs to be a mandatory part of as-of-right zoning.

• Areas at high risk of gentrification (generally that are zoned R6 or higher)
• At least 15% of units in new construction projects will be reserved for low-income families or individuals. If units targeted middle income families, the requirement would be 25%. If supportive housing is provided instead the requirement would be 10% of units.

• 100% affordable units for households at or below 60% of the local area median income, calculated based on zip code or community district rather than current formula based on the greater NYC region.

• Families, including families with children and intergenerational households
• Tenants on fixed incomes such as seniors and disabled
• Households experiencing or at imminent risk of homelessness

Part 3 would require a zoning text change be adopted by the City Council after community board and City Planning Commission review.

Huge drop in criminal summonses

From the Daily News:

The city is moving in the “right direction” with a dramatic drop in tickets for small-time crimes like public drinking and public urination, Mayor de Blasio said Sunday.

The number of criminal summonses dropped 90% for the period from June to October, compared with the year before, after the City Council passed a law allowing cops to give civil tickets for the minor offenses, which also include unreasonable noise and littering.

But the new civil summonses did not make up the difference in tickets — there were about 26,0000 civil summonses, while criminal summonses dropped more than 50,000, according to the data released Friday.

AirBnB makes rents, home prices increase

From the Wall Street Journal:

Could the use of Airbnb increase home prices and rental rates?

A new, not-yet-published working paper suggests the popular home-sharing service might do just that. The researchers looked at rents and home prices in the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. between 2012 and 2016. They found that a 10% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.39% increase in rents and a 0.64% increase in house prices.

“That may sound minuscule, but between 2012 and 2016, rents rose by about 2.2% annually [on average in the 100 areas], so a 0.39% increase in that context isn’t very small at all,” says Edward Kung, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California Los Angeles and one of the study’s authors. The same is true for home prices, which rose by an average of about 4.8% annually in the 100 areas, he adds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ulrich opponent appeared in racist, misogynistic, anti-cop rap videos

Councilman Eric Ulrich's campaign today released a video denouncing Mike Scala for his racist and sexist rap lyrics. The video follows news that Mike Scala or his supporters circulated a racially charged flyer in the Democratic Primary.

Scala's songs include racist lines such as "Me and rap go together like Spanish chicks and strollers" and lyrics that promote violence against police officers such as "Every time these cops talk, I wanna break their jawbone."

Mike Scala was endorsed by the Queens Machine. This makes somewhat of a trifecta - Elizabeth Crowley, who has a 16 year history of homophobia and is okay with her campaign workers verbally abusing women was also endorsed by the Joe Crowley clan. And let's not forget that an indictment didn't get in the way of them endorsing Ruben Wills. And they love Bill de Blasio as well...

Pilot program in Queens nabes to reduce traffic

From QNS:

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Oct. 22 that the city would undertake a number of initiatives to ease traffic congestion in busy thoroughfares across the five boroughs.

As part of the five-point plan, the city will start a pilot program to test curb access restriction starting in January 2018. The commercial corridor on Roosevelt Avenue from Broadway to 108th Street in Jackson Heights and Corona was chosen as one of three areas to participate.

For six months, curbside loading will be banned on both sides of the street on the pilot corridor during peak hours from 7 a.m. through 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. through 7 p.m.

Passengers will still be able to be picked up and dropped off in the area and deliveries will be allowed in off-street loading docks.

In downtown Flushing, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will reconstruct Main Street and expand sidewalks along the thoroughfare. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will also implement “Flushing in Motion,” a signal system similar to one that was installed in Midtown. Both projects will be completed by the end of 2017.

DOT is currently working on a congestion action plan for downtown Jamaica in addition to a larger Jamaica transportation study, which will be released in 2018. The plan will include recommendations for street redesign, signal timing changes, one-way street conversions and curb regulation changes to reduce congestion.

More frequent flooding for NYC

From PIX11:

Within the next three decades, floods that used to strike the New York City area only once every 500 years could occur every five years, according to a new scientific study released just days before the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

The study, performed by researchers at several universities and published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, primarily blames the predicted change on sea-level rise caused by global warming.

“This is kind of a warning,” said Andra Garner, a Rutgers University scientist and study co-author. “How are we going to protect our coastal infrastructure?”

The researchers based their analysis on multiple models that factored in predictions for sea level rise and possible changes in the path of future hurricanes.

District 19 mystery candidate surfaces

Does anyone know who this is? Is he still planning to run? He apparently attended a GOP breakfast and said he is running but there is scant info about him.
If he's still in, does it hurt Vallone or Graziano more?

Good luck district 19!

Monday, October 23, 2017

A detailed LaGuardia timeline

So here's a source I never expected to link to, but Conde Nast Traveler has an excellent breakdown of the plans for LaGuardia Airport, from Spring 2018 through 2022 and beyond.

Dumped Manhattan homeless shelter contractor is just fine for Queens

From the NY Post:

The city has ousted the contractor providing social services to homeless families housed at more than a dozen Manhattan hotels.

Children’s Community Services was quietly replaced in July with Acacia Network Housing.

The city pays hotels directly for rooms to house the homeless while it contracts with nonprofits to hire case managers who are supposed to help clients find permanent housing, apply for benefits and offer referrals for child care and other services.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services would not explain why the group had been booted.

From DNA Info:

The Best Western location is being run by Childrens Community Services, a social-services provider that's offering things like job placement and financial planning to those staying at the hotel. The site has 24-hour security and a 9 p.m. curfew, a representative for the group told CB2.

Here you can watch Amanda Nasner, DHS representative and representatives from Children's Community Services at a recent CB2 meeting. Good for the community for asking tough questions.

Meanwhile, in other LIC housing news, Jimmy Van Bramer told NYCHA residents that he is actually willing to listen to them on rezonings. Astounding!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Melinda Katz has an opponent - and this is who he is



My name is William K. Kregler and I am running for Queens Borough President on the Republican and Conservative lines. I retired from public service after 23 years as a N.Y.C. Housing Police Officer, Firefighter and Fire Marshal. I am the President of the N.Y.C. Fire Marshals Benevolent Association. I also served on Community Educational Council #24 where we built more schools than any other school board. City Hall has ignored our concerns by imposing their political agendas upon us. Millions on bike lanes, speed cameras, shelters, huge contracts to big donors. The playing of the race card has contributed to the assassinations of Police Officers as well as widening the divide among New Yorkers. I have stepped up to the challenge to reverse this trend and bring back the quality of life we once enjoyed. Please forward this information to everyone you know in Queens and tell them they have a choice this year in making a better future for their families. This is a truly a grassroots effort but recent events have shown that underdogs can win when the issues are so important to all. I’m counting on your support in this endeavor and look forward to celebrating with you on November 7th!

I am running to reform the uncheck over-development happening in Queens and to bring back control of our neighborhoods to our local school and community boards. The current administration has misled the community on issues of shelters and has ignored community board votes and decisions when they conflict with the Mayor’s agenda. Bring back the quality of life we once enjoyed by voting on November 7th for William Kregler.

Vallone mailer is a laugh riot

Independent? Really? Well, let's look into this further.

"Opposed every bill that tried to hand cuff our public safety or police department."
I'm not sure how you hand cuff public safety and I'm pretty sure it's one word - handcuff. Also, the bills were overwhelmingly passed anyway after you asked the Speaker to vote no to cover your ass politically, so this isn't really something to brag about.

Next, Vallone completely made up that there was a threat of a homeless shelter coming to Bayside so he could then take credit for stopping it. DHS said many times that they weren't even looking at Bayside.

You kept Northern Blvd "car friendly", which is why there have been at least 4 accidents there in the last month after you failed to stop the city from installing a barrier and bike lane there.

Voted against ZQA! Yet simultaneously voted in favor of MIH...which is actually worse.

Fighting against a jail in College Point, but happily endorsed the guy who wants to put one there - Mayor de Blasio.
Great dictator pose.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Como resurfaces like turd that won't stay flushed

Former City Councilman Anthony Como, who served a whopping 5 months in office back in 2008, has resurfaced. He is trying to inject himself into the District 30 City Council race. Why? It appears to be sour grapes.

He started back in September, whining to the Queens Tribune:
“I was extremely upset and disenchanted when [Robert Holden] got the Conservative [Party] endorsement. When something like that happens, you know there is something behind the scenes going on,” Como said.
Oh no, Anthony is disenchanted! Well, Holden collected signatures to get on that line after the party agreed to back him - just like as Anthony did when he ran for City Council on the Conservative line. Como is not a registered Conservative but a Republican. Then he stepped it up by authoring this letter with this included:
On this November’s ballot, the Republican candidate will be an erstwhile longstanding Democrat who is little more than a pawn for party bosses.
I think Liz Crowley and every other candidate with Machine backing are the bigger pawns for party bosses, dontcha think? Hilarious. He is so upset that a registered Republican didn't get the party's nod that he endorsed Liz Crowley - who claims her opponent is really a Republican - because that makes perfect sense. Como lives in Merrick, LI now, by the way (Amy Fisher country).

Finally, he's giving quotes like this to the Queens Chronicle:
“It’s embarrassing. I don’t know what it is going to take for our party leaders to stop perpetrating these scams on the voters.”
So let's recall how Mr. Como tried to scam voters when he put out a palm card claiming that the Catholic Church endorsed him.

Let's also remember that Mr. Como had committed to run for City Council to try to reclaim his seat back in 2009, but was more than happy to step aside for a backroom deal patronage job.
A former Queens Republican councilman is in line to be appointed by Mayor Bloomberg as a $172,311 commissioner at the Housing Authority — considered a prime patronage post — just weeks after the county’s GOP endorsed the mayor’s re-election bid, The Post has learned.
His departure from the race cleared the way for Tom Ognibene to not have to run in a primary that year, yet the joke was on Como, because he never got the job.

Reviewing this guy's history was like a walk down nightmare lane without even getting into the infamous violations on his house.

De Blasio keeps hiding the homeless

From NBC:

The homeless New Yorkers that were cleared out of an NYC park earlier this week for a Mayor de Blasio appearance have returned. Melissa Russo reports.

The beginning of the end for the Dulcken House

George the Atheist has the latest at the goings on at the Dulcken House in Astoria and it doesn't look pretty.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ulrich alleges that Crowley put the squeeze on Broad Channel restaurant owner

From the Queens Chronicle:

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) dropped a bombshell on one of his colleagues this week, an allegation that could shake up her bitter race less than three weeks before Election Day.

In a Monday interview with the Chronicle, Ulrich accused Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) of abusing her power as a lawmaker — claiming she sent a “SWAT team” of city agencies after a popular Broad Channel restaurant last year, not long after one of her sons, then an employee of the eatery, was injured in a fight nearby.

The establishment is in his district.

According to Ulrich and Bayview co-owner Anthony Martelli, Crowley’s two sons Dennis, 20, and Owen O’Hara, 19, were involved in a physical altercation about a block away from the restaurant on July 1, 2016.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation told the Chronicle that a criminal investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

However, Martelli said he believed Dennis O’Hara, who worked at Bayview at the time, to be the aggressor, while Ulrich said those who witnessed the incident “all know who kicked the kid’s ass and thinks he deserved it.”

“The irony here is that the kid and his brother are known for making trouble,” Ulrich said. “I don’t want to attack Crowley’s kids or anything, but her son got smart with his mouth and they followed him outside and kicked his ass down the street from the place.”

In response, the Republican lawmaker said his “idiot” colleague prompted a multiagency task force — including officials from the FDNY, the State Liquor Authority, the MTA, the Board of Standards and Appeals and the departments of Buildings and Health and Mental Hygiene — to be deployed to the restaurant on or around Sept. 2, 2016.

“There was never any underage drinking there,” Ulrich said. “But this is what she did. She did everything she could to shut this guy down. It’s like someone went in there with instructions to bang [Bayview] over the head until it got shut down.”


Well, the one thing we can all agree with Ulrich on is that Crowley is an idiot. How refreshing for a fellow tweeder to come out and say it, though!

In all seriousness, though, this is a lot to digest, and there are several more allegations at the original link, but let's stick with this for now. We already know that one of the Crowley boys likes to be verbally abusive and this fits in with that pattern. There was no press for some reason about this alleged incident at the time it happened. An assault this violent most certainly was a 911 call and the city's NYPD mapping tool confirms 2 felonious assaults at the location on that day. But if what Ulrich said - "all know who kicked the kid’s ass" - is true, then why have there been no arrests? And why would the mother of these 2 launch her own assault against the restaurant instead of the perp?

What's missing from this story is when Dennis O'Hara was let go from the restaurant. Was it that night? Was it because of this incident which was apparently witnessed by many and with an identifiable suspect? Who exactly did he piss off? It seems to be someone untouchable. A mother's natural inclination, one would think, would be to make sure justice was served to the punk that beat up her kid and not go after a business owner. She's hooked up real good with the PBA and other NYPD unions, so why haven't they arrested the perp?

Why were the MTA and BSA called in? What in tarnation do they have to do with any of this?

City suggests LIC to Amazon

From LIC Post:

Long Island City has been selected by the city as a proposed site for Amazon’s second headquarters, officials announced last night.

The bid, submitted by the city to Amazon on Oct. 18 in partnership with New York State, and just a day shy from the tech company’s deadline, includes four districts within the five boroughs that meet the “essential criteria” Amazon listed in its request for proposals announced early September.

In describing Long Island City within the proposal, the Economic Development Corporation noted the neighborhood’s legacy as an industrial innovation center and its proximity to transportation networks, including train lines and airports. The neighborhood’s restaurants, bars, cafes, and arts and culture institutions were also listed as attractive components to lure Amazon to the area.

The proposal also identified over 13 million square feet of real estate that could be used to fulfill Amazon’s RFP.

Other districts included in the proposal were Midtown West, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, and Lower Manhattan. The districts were chosen from more than two dozen proposals submitted to the city. Letters of support for Long Island City as a possible site were also sent to de Blasio by Queens Borough president Melinda Katz and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, with Council member Jimmy Van Bramer also expressing his support. All three signed a letter, along with more than 70 elected officials from the five boroughs, sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, on New York City’s potential as a home for Amazon HQ2.

Queens architectural photography exhibit

From Curbed:

In 2012, architect Rafael Herrin-Ferri began photographing low-rise houses in Queens not just to understand the differences in the borough’s low-rise housing stock, but to examine how Queens’s attached, semi-detached, and detached houses, along with its small apartment buildings, reflected the rich diversity of the borough’s population.

To date, he has documented one third of the borough in over 5,000 photographs, and now his work is the subject of a new exhibition by the Architectural League of New York titled, All the Queens Houses.

The exhibit, which opens October 20 and can be seen by the public at the League’s office gallery on Fridays, is comprised of 273 of Herrin-Ferri photographs. Herrin-Ferri focused on the buildings’ facades, side elevations, and any other distinct features in his photographs.

At the exhibit, the photographs are lined up in alphabetical order by neighborhood, starting with Astoria. In addition, Herrin-Ferri has decided to give his photographs humorous names, which the Architectural League describes as “part academic, part broker listing, part New York magazine caption.”

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mayor suddenly notices dumping in SE Queens

From the Queens Tribune:

At a town hall on Monday in Jamaica, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he will address one of the biggest issues facing Southeast Queens for decades—illegal dumping.

For years, the streets of Southeast Queens have been littered with garbage and waste left behind by drivers. The dumping has long perturbed residents, who often find trash on their private property, reducing the quality of life in the area. While the city has relied on tickets to curb the issue, it has done little to crack down on those committing the crime repeatedly, residents have said.

“We will double the number of sanitation officers here in Southeast Queens,” the mayor said to loud applause. “We need to do a better job and put more personnel on it.”

The mayor said that the longstanding issue was brought to his attention by Community Board 12 and its former chairwoman and City Council hopeful, Adrienne Adams.

So as chair of the community board she noticed it and nothing got done, but now that she's the party pick, the mayor is listening? Doesn't say much about the mayor's respect for community boards, does it?

The MTA cost is way too high!

From AM-NY:

Extraordinarily high construction costs are keeping the MTA from meeting the demands of a growing city, elected officials who rallied for spending reforms charged on Monday.

The politicians from the city and the state — all Democrats — called on the MTA to create an independent commission of experts to study why the agency’s capital projects cost nearly three or four times that of projects in similar cities like London, Paris or Los Angeles.

The focus on costs comes in the wake of rising subway delays, as well as high-profile service failures that continue to plague morning commutes. On Monday morning, signal problems at midtown stations caused delays and service changes on eight lines, leading to the suspension of B and M trains.

“The MTA has the highest construction costs compared to any other city on the planet. The MTA regularly spends three to six to ten times more money for a capital project compared to anywhere else,” said Manhattan City Council member Helen Rosenthal. “New York City cannot afford to keep spending more and getting less as service delays and disruptions have been growing from bad to worse.”

Cy stops taking money from de Blasio's lawyers

From the Daily News:

By the time Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. met with the lawyer representing Mayor de Blasio in his year-old campaign finance probe of Hizzoner, the attorney’s firm and its partners had donated $70,000 to the top prosecutor.

But unlike Vance’s decision to return the donation of a lawyer representing Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to avoid a conflict of interest, the DA kept the contributions from Kramer Levin Naftalis, the firm representing the mayor.

These donations by a law firm handling one of the DA’s most high-profile cases are yet another example of potential conflicts of interest that have dogged the DA in the last two weeks — scrutiny that prompted Vance to announce Sunday that he was suspending fund-raising.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brooklyn roof collapse injures 6

From the Daily News:

Six construction workers were hurt, two seriously, when a load of cinderblocks sparked a partial collapse at a Brooklyn building Tuesday morning, officials said.

The half dozen hardhats suffered head, arm and chest injuries when the roof of the Crown Heights building gave out from under them about 9:45 a.m.

One construction worker suffered a compound fracture to his left leg and needed to be carried out of the building, a source said.

“A concentrated load of cinderblocks was placed on the roof level in a concentrated area and it was too much weight,” said FDNY Brooklyn Borough Commander Assistant Chief Dwayne Cartwright. “It collapsed into the basement.”

City to shelter providers: "Name your price"

From the NY Times:

Under pressure to shelter close to 58,000 homeless people on a daily basis, New York City has been paying widely varying rates to shelter providers and, until recently, had no set procedure for determining how much to pay, according to a new audit.

The state comptroller’s office could not determine whether the city is paying reasonable rates for nearly 750 shelters that have cost the city more than $1.1 billion annually, according to the audit, which looked at a sampling of contracts over a four-year period.

Examining 23 new contracts for shelters, auditors concluded that shelter providers named their own prices with little pushback from the Department of Homeless Services. The rates charged by two comparable shelters might differ by as much as $225 per person per day, according to the audit.

Fresh Meadows concerned about oversized day care center

From the Queens Chronicle:

About 75 concerned Fresh Meadows residents, many of whom are senior citizens, on Tuesday vehemently opposed the construction of Great Sunshine Daycare on 67th Avenue and 172nd Street saying, despite the center’s name, the site will cast a dark cloud over the suburban neighborhood’s already busy intersection, just one block from PS 173’s playground, and steps from MS 216.

Resident Cliff Hamburger — who presented at a town hall meeting held to discuss concerns about the proposed development — explained potential traffic congestion.

“You can’t unload a school bus in less than a minute,” Hamburger said at the meeting in PS 173’s auditorium.

The drop-off route for the day care will follow the already congested 67th Avenue, and exit from 72nd Street.

“[Or], the mother will have to drop off a toddler, take the child in, get him/her settled, resulting in idling engines,” Hamburger said, adding that staff will need “street parking, weekly deliveries and garbage collection.

“The DOT has agreed to finally conduct a traffic study,” Hamburger added. “So pending that, there is a stop-work order in place for the facility.”

The facility will be equipped with nine classrooms for approximately 290 students, and 30 staff members. It’s also proposed to have 11 parking spaces on the ground floor, one elevator and two staircases.

Rob Agnello, another presenter, discussed sewer capabilities for the facility, which currently only has one at 36 inches in diameter.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The mysterious and creepy abandoned nursing home

Hi Crappie, I was wondering if anyone knows what's going on with the Nursing Home that's on the beach in Neponsit. I remember that Mayor Giuliani ordered an evacuation in the middle of the night in the winter because of structural problems with the building.There was an outcry that some people died from the move and there was talk that the mayor was doing his developer friends a favor by condemning the property. Recently I was at Riis Park and noticed a police car sitting by the building all day. What's up?

The Nursing Home on the boardwalk at 116 street has a dead tree hanging over it's main entrance.The tree was half dead before Hurricane Katrina pushed the boardwalk against the building. You think someone would have removed the dead tree before it clobbers someone and they will sue the city for millions.


- Rich

State would make more money off filming if it ended subsidies

From the Village Voice:

When the D.C.-based subsidy watch group Good Jobs First released its analysis recently of the $1.2 billion that New York State hands out in tax breaks to private industries each year, one item stood out: $621 million in subsidies for film and TV shoots that take place in the state. That means every man, woman, and child in New York shells out an average of $31 a year in public money into the coffers of studios and production companies.

...though both the city and state film offices provide data showing that the film industry has grown here since Governor George Pataki instituted the state’s tax credit program in 2004, economic experts aren’t so sure, pointing to other numbers that show that film and TV shoots don’t employ many more people in the state than they did fifteen years ago — and that any gain is nowhere near worth the hundreds of millions of dollars a year that the state pours into it.

And even if a positive impact does exist, New York’s film industry spending may just be a way of treading water: a zero-sum game where states compete to throw increasing amounts of tax money at the same number of jobs. It’s a problem that corporate-subsidy experts in other industries have dubbed “the economic war among the states” — and it serves mostly to funnel money out of public treasuries and into private pockets.

How could one set of numbers show that film tax credits have led to a huge boom in production jobs, while others show little to no effect? One issue is that the state’s audits separately report each job stint, no matter how short, rather than converting to “full-time equivalent” jobs — a tiny footnote in the Camoin study indicates that “if one person is employed part-time for four months, then takes two months off and is hired again for four months that would be counted as two jobs.” As a result, the official state numbers double- or triple-count crew members who work on multiple productions in one year.

Thom says that a study by the California legislature estimated that one-third of production activity in that state would take place in that state with or without subsidies. If the same ratio holds true in New York, then even if the state cut off the subsidy spigot and two-thirds of productions hightailed it to more budget-friendly climes, the state would still collect more than $250 million a year in tax revenues on an expense of zero dollars. With the current program running about a $100 million annual return by the state’s own figures, this implies that New York state would bring in about $150 million a year more in net revenues if it cut off film credits entirely — money it could conceivably then spend on more effective job-creation programs.

Kew Gardens residents upset that their building became a homeless shelter

From the Queens Chronicle:

Tenants living in the apartments above the Kew Gardens Comfort Inn — where the city is renting 42 rooms and housing homeless individuals in 19 of them — only found out about the move through media reports, according to one resident who spoke at Community Board 9’s meeting Tuesday night.

“I myself found out watching the evening news,” said Jonathan, who only wanted his first name used. “And then my mother called me to tell me she saw it on the news as well.”

According to Jonathan, residents at The Kewl — the name for the apartments above the hotel — have been unable to get in contact with their management company about the situation.

“We know nothing,” he said.

He pleaded with board members to provide the tenants with any information they can.

“Help us know what’s going on so we can make decisions for our family,” Jonathan said.

Raj Rampershad, chairman of CB 9, said he, too, was irate at the lack of notice.

“We weren’t consulted on this,” Rampershad said.

A Department of Homeless Services source said the agency plans on using all of the 42 rooms it’s rented at the 123-28 82 Ave. Comfort Inn to house homeless individuals — despite Mayor de Blasio’s promise last year to reduce the city’s reliance on hotels to alleviate the homelessness crisis.

(Despite disrespect like this happening on a regular basis throughout the borough over the past 4 years, Queens will dutifully march to the polls in less 3 weeks and re-elect de Blasio.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Liz Crowley claims her opponent is anti-LGBTQ, but her record is much worse

In our previous post, we cited the Queens Chronicle article about Elizabeth Crowley's candidacy which quoted her as saying her opponent, Robert Holden, has "a record of taking strong anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ stances" because of items published in the Juniper Berry, the newsletter of the Juniper Park Civic Association, of which Holden is president. Let's examine the anti-LGBTQ accusation this time.

We discovered an Op-Ed about gay marriage written by someone else on Juniper's website and also one by the Bishop of Brooklyn, but they are both clearly marked as opinion pieces. Newspapers print various op-eds all the time (like this one from Crowley), it doesn't mean they endorse the positions presented. There also was a letter to the editor printed in support of gay marriage which criticizes one of the original pieces. Basing her "anti-LGBTQ" accusation on this is a bit weak. We found nothing authored by Holden that broached this topic. A Google search came up empty as well.

Now, let's see what Crowley's record reveals.

Crowley denied that she supported gay marriage when asked about it, tried to dodge a question about it and defended taking money from a renowned white supremacist as per her own 2001 interview with the Juniper Berry - the same magazine she cites as proof that her opponent is unqualified for public office.
Q: In the Queens Tribune you said you support gay unions (marriages), can you tell me why?

A: Sigh...That was Frank [Borzellieri]. I never said that, I said equal rights for all people.

Q: Does that mean you do or do not support it?

A: {No comment} I'd rather not discuss this.

Q: Speaking of Frank Borzellieri, knowing his history, do you think you should have accepted his endorsement money?

A: We have only two things in common...same district and same beliefs. 
Q: So you have the same right-wing controversial beliefs as he does?

A: No, but he wants a hard working city council member. We don't agree on all issues.

Q: But that's not what you just said.
(Mr. Borzellieri, as member of the local school board, pushed for the removal of then-teacher Danny Dromm for being openly gay. Crowley's mother, Mary, was president of the District 24 board at the time.)

- In addition, Crowley is the only candidate in this race with a history of OPPOSING gay marriage.

- She lied to get the endorsement of an LGBTQ political club (then hid the fact that they endorsed her by refusing to put their logo on her mailers).

- She completely avoided answering questions from another LGBTQ club.

- Crowley had the most to gain from a mailer put out to disparage a past Democratic opponent for being openly gay which she never denied. She even went so far as to attack then-candidate Tom Ognibene for joining the victim, Charles Ober, in denouncing it and in the same statement called on Ober to drop his bid for office and unite behind her, which is pretty damn arrogant.

- Ober struck back in a press release.

- A strikingly similar flyer was dropped on people's doorsteps the night before the 2001 election that attacked Crowley's only opponent for supporting gay-friendly candidates, among other things, with the last 3 lines thrown in as a lame attempt at a smokescreen:

Voters in the district were not moved by either cowardly smear attempt and she lost both races.

Liz Crowley: Proud supporter of LGBTQ rights!

Since Crowley has spent most of her campaign complaining that her opponent "lacks Democratic values", we're happy to show you what Miss Crowley, a supposed "real Democrat", believes and practices. Bringing up your opponent's alleged anti-LGBTQ history when your own is this shitty is probably not a wise campaign move, Diz.

Why gay groups and self-described "progressives" have lined up to endorse someone who has a documented 16 year history of homophobia is a good question. Why other liberal candidates would seek a female Trump's endorsement is another. It all just proves what a joke Queens politics is.


Monday morning photo caption contest

Embed from Getty Images
Well, this weekend felt a bit dreary and now those of us fortunate to be gainfully employed have to return to work. Don't know about you but the Crapper feels like it's time for a photo caption contest. And what better subjects than a guy who was Anthony Weiner's mentor and another who actually did the things that Horny Tony just fantasized about on social media.

City ordered to turn over Maspeth shelter's RFP documents

From the Queens Chronicle:

The city is not planning to appeal a court ruling ordering it to turn over documents related to last year’s highly controversial planned conversion of the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter.

The Sept. 27 ruling, made by Justice Allan Weiss of Queens Supreme Court, stems from an Article 78 case brought against the city earlier this year by the civic Citizens for a Better Maspeth.

Under court order, the Department of Homeless Services must provide CBM with the city’s original request for proposals and the response documents from applying companies as it related to the proposed operation the 59-40 55 Road hotel as a shelter.

“It is ordered and adjudged that the petition is granted solely to the extent that respondents are directed to provide petitioner with copies of the Request For Proposals that were received in connection with the proposal to convert the subject Holiday Inn Express to a homeless shelter,” Weiss’ ruling reads, “and any and all plans submitted along with the RFPs which demonstrate that the space would be a conforming use under the zoning resolution.”

Zoning law only permits hotel stays of 30 days or less in manufacturing zones — the Holiday Inn Express is located in an M1-1 zone — and CBM alleges that homeless men have been staying at Patel’s building for months at a time.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Questioning Cy's judgment

From NPR:

"If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015, we would have," said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, chief assistant district attorney.

But criminal attorney Matthew Galluzzo, who once worked in the DA's sex crimes unit, told The Associated Press he believed the audiotape, in which Weinstein acknowledges touching Gutierrez on the breast, could have been used to pursue a case.

"She can testify about what happened, and you've got him acknowledging he did something wrong," Galluzzo said.

Before this week, questions were also being raised about Vance's handling of a fraud investigation involving the Trump SoHo, a condo hotel built by the Bayrock Group. Some early buyers of units at the hotel sued Bayrock, arguing that they had been misled about the hotel's sales records.

The Manhattan DA's office had considered pursuing fraud charges against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., who played a big role in promoting the hotel. An investigation by The New Yorker, WNYC and ProPublica said prosecutors wanted to pursue a criminal case, but Vance said evidence to do so was lacking.

The report also noted that Vance had received a $32,000 campaign contribution from one of Trump's lawyers shortly after dropping the case. Vance had also received an earlier donation, which he had returned.

"It was improper for him to accept it in the first place. He responded by returning those donations and then apparently accepted them again after the fact," noted Jim Cohen, a professor at Fordham University School of Law.

BDB compares Sharpton to MLK

From SI Live:

De Blasio said Sharpton has "stayed very connected" to the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr.

"You've carried on Dr. King's -- not only his message, but his approach to making social change," the mayor said. "You've shown that it's just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago."

The mayor also spoke about Sharpton's defense of young people brought to the country as children and here illegally, known as "DREAMers," after President Donald Trump said he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Sharpton and Cardinal Timothy Dolan joined the mayor in a September rally at City Hall to support the so-called dreamers.

"That is another example, your activism is just as fresh, just as as powerful today as 50 years ago when you started," de Blasio said.

Wasn't this guy James Brown's tour manager 50 years ago?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cosmetic repairs on Calamus Avenue

The Department of Design and Construction is offering to fix sidewalk cracks on Calamus Avenue resulting from a 4-year long sewer installation project.
Meanwhile, people have damaged homes and foundations...

Perhaps Ms. Crowley or Comptroller Stringer can get the City to offer a bigger bone than this. (Sorry I am in a comical mood this morning.)

Queens' DOT disasters

From the Queens Chronicle:

Construction to accommodate Select Bus Service at the confluence of Cross Bay Boulevard, Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue will not be complete until next month.

But residents and civic leaders are already saying things appear to be as bad, if not worse, then they have feared.

“This,” said a grim-voiced Vance Barbour of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, “is our ‘I told you so.’”

When completed, what was three travel lanes and a service road headed northbound will become two; bus stops along the curb will be moved across the service road to a median; the travel lane adjacent to the median will become a 24/7 bus lane; and the left turn from northbound Cross Bay to Rockaway Boulevard will be eliminated, along with the turning lane, forcing cars — and trucks — to take more roundabout routes.

Bus stops already are being installed on islands on the southbound side, with machines selling SBS tickets not far behind.

Residents long have complained that the intersection forms a bottleneck during rush hour, backing traffic up for blocks.

The city’s Department of Transportation has asserted that reducing the number of lanes will improve traffic by helping create a more uniform traffic pattern along the entire corridor.

A more uniform lane configuration, along with the elimination of some left turns such as the one at Rockaway Boulevard, are designed to reduce the amount of lane merging that is said to be responsible for a great deal of congestion.

The construction is nearing completion, even over the constant and strenuous objections of residents and community leaders such as state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).

“Nothing makes sense,” Howard Beach Resident Joseph Cerbone told the Chronicle. “We didn’t OK any of this ... They did just what they wanted to do. It was nightmare and they’re making it worse.”

From the Queens Chronicle:

In his letter, Avella added that there was a dangerous lack of signage for drivers at the location, which is an active construction area because of ongoing work for the bike lane. The senator also urged de Blasio and the DOT to abandon the bike lane plan and take up a different proposal for Northern supported by Community Board 11.

The office of Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said he too has been in touch with city authorities.

“In response to the accidents and the community’s concerns, we reached out to the DOT to ask them to expedite the installation of signage and reflective panels to both inform motorists of the change in the traffic pattern and make the barriers more visible,” Vallone’s office said in an email.

Vallone’s opponent in November, Paul Graziano, said the bike lane has created “an extremely dangerous situation” and that the city shouldn’t install them on “what is essentially a highway.” Graziano, who lost the Democratic primary to Vallone but remains on the Reform Party line, is an urban planner who helped design the alternative bike lane proposal now backed by CB 11.

“You do not create something unless it’s well thought out, well planned and won’t be a negative,” he said.

In a statement, the transportation agency defended the barrier.

“These barriers did their job to protect those in the bike lane from accelerating turning vehicles,” the DOT said in an email last Friday. More signs, the agency said, are coming.

“In the next few days we will be installing additional safety treatments like reflective tape and flexible delineators that have been part of the design from the beginning of this project, to increase protection and awareness for all street users,” the agency said.

Friday, October 13, 2017

De Blasio: Puerto Ricans who come to NY must have family here

From CBS 2:

Life after Hurricane Maria for thousands of Puerto Ricans could mean a new life in New York City.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there will be health and educational support. But he said finding a place to stay is up to those who arrive.

It was only a few weeks ago that Mayor de Blasio walked to a Brooklyn firehouse to donate diapers to people in Puerto Rico who were devastated by Hurricane Maria. And while the city certainly intends to help the displaced, there is a limit – they will have to stay with family members because the city will not provide housing.

Kramer asked de Blasio what if they are to do if they come to New York and do not have family – and whether they will have to stay in hotels or whether affordable housing might be allotted. She asked if the city has any money available if Puerto Ricans coming to New York need any financial assistance.

“Marcia, we do not have that plan, and I don’t want to encourage people to come here if they don’t have some family to turn to,” de Blasio said. “I think we have to be really clear about that.”

The chronic flooding of Hamilton Beach

Great photo essay at Curbed:

If you’d like to get a good picture of New York City’s struggle against sea level rise, head to Hamilton Beach and stand in the middle of the road.

Every month during the highest tides, the streets of this small Queens community are flooded by the waters of Jamaica Bay. At first, as the saltwater starts to trickle in from Hawtree Creek, the small puddles forming around curbs and storm drains don’t appear to be so bad. But as the tide continues to rise, the roads are quickly submerged.

Soon, tiny fish begin to swim across the concrete, and the water is above your ankles. Then swans start to paddle into empty lots, and the water has reached your calves. Suddenly, the flooding is knee high, and the nearest dry land is much too far away. It is a deeply disconcerting feeling, to be standing in seawater in the middle of a neighborhood.

Yet for those living in Hamilton Beach, and in many other neighborhoods around the city, street floods like this are a regular, everyday occurrence. “This is nothing,” says Ginny Dunker, looking out from her front door at a recent six-and-a-half-foot high tide that had flooded midway up her block. “Come back on a rainy day, and then you will see something.”

Hamilton Beach is just one of several New York City communities that are regularly flooded by high tides. Many of these neighborhoods are clustered around Jamaica Bay, including nearby Broad Channel and Howard Beach, and in each of these areas, saltwater has come up into the streets every month for decades. In recent years, however, residents have reported a dramatic increase in the frequency and volume of these floods.

Woodside Succeeds in Defending Against Megachurch in Larger Fight Against Gentrification and Displacement


In September 2016, the Universal Church, on 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, had proposed to expand itself right in the heart of the Woodside community. The proposed structure of the “megachurch” would stand 70-feet high, taller than any surrounding building in the area. Not only would such a development be out-of-context in Woodside, but it would also break New York City building code that limits the height of building construction. It would set a dangerous precedent for commercialization and future development in the Woodside Community. And as a result would encourage gentrification and the displacement of residents especially working-class immigrant families. Organizations in New York City, such as Queens Anti-Gentrification Project (QAGP), Filipino American Democratic Club of New York, National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), and Anakbayan New York (ABNY) had convened with the Woodside community in response and strong opposition to this proposed development. In turn, these progressive community organizations and allies formed the Coalition to Defend Little Manila, dedicated to fight against the construction and expansion of this “megachurch” and its threats of gentrification of Woodside and displacement of its working-class migrant residents.

On January 5th, Community Board 2 (CB2), representing the Woodside, Sunnyside, and Long Island City neighborhoods, held its regular meeting with the megachurch proposal on its agenda. At that time, ABNY mobilized its members alongside the Woodside community in a speakout and rally against the megachurch construction to emphasize that it is the community who will decide what happens in Woodside, and the megachurch proposal was pushed to February 3rd. On February 3rd, the Coalition alongside Woodside residents mobilized to voice their concerns and dissent against the megachurch, and CB2 unanimously voted against the proposal. The Universal Church had then submitted its application to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), asking for a variance to expand the church beyond the jurisdiction of CB2 and bypassing NYC zoning laws and building code. ABNY had successfully submitted a request to BSA dismissing the application on June 7, 2017, making it even harder for the Universal Church to continue forward in their development.

We are humbled by the support of the community in this fight. It was not CB2 nor the BSA that had defeated the megachurch development. It was the Woodside community, its residents and business owners, that had voiced their concerns by petitioning against it, by attending Community Board meetings, and sharing with members of the Coalition how they opposed such a development in their community. It was the community, and it is only ever the community, who can truly lead in its own defense, protection, and development. We understand that this small victory is but one step in a larger struggle against gentrification and displacement and that only with the support of the people can we achieve real victories in this fight.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

NYC leads the country in traffic hot spots

From Crains:

New York's gridlock issues are getting worse, and a new study details just how widespread the congestion problem is. According to transportation analytics company INRIX, more traffic bottleneck points are scattered throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs than in any other metro area in the country.

On the bright side, New York's hot spots do not lead the way in the magnitude of adversity created by traffic. According to a measure from INRIX called "impact factor" that incorporates the frequency, size and duration of jams, Los Angeles drivers deal with the worst traffic conditions in the nation. The impact factor in the City of Angels is 42% greater than in No. 2 New York. When impact factor is evaluated on a per-capita basis, the metro area comes out looking even better: New York is ranked 17th, below Los Angeles, Atlanta and even Stamford, Conn.

But New York still has some of the country's worst locations for gridlock, including stretches across four local highways that rank among the country's 25 most miserable. That includes two Cross Bronx Expressway spots whose jams force vehicles to spend an average of 155 minutes traversing just 3.5 miles. Between the wasted fuel, lost time and damage incurred by carbon emissions, INRIX estimates that the pair of congested locations will impose a cost of $1.7 billion through 2026 if unaddressed. Overall, New York's thousands of traffic hot spots could lead to $63.9 billion in economic loss over the next 10 years.