Sunday, August 18, 2019

21 story tower to be developed on little Rego Park soccer field.

Forest Hills Post

Plans have been filed for a 21-story, 261-unit apartment building in Rego Park on a vacant lot next to the now-shuttered Our Lady of the Angelus Catholic Academy.

The plans, filed Aug. 6, call for a 143 feet tall building at 98-10 63rd Rd. that will include about 177,000 square feet designated for apartments, with the average unit measuring at about 675 square feet. The development will include 19,000 square feet for community facilities and 156 enclosed parking spaces.

The site was the former soccer field used by the academy. It is one block from the Rego Center Mall and a 5-minute walk to the 63 Drive-Rego Park subway station, serviced by the M and R trains.

Kenney Liu, a Flushing-based developer, is listed as the owner. He bought the lot from the Church of
Our Lady of the Angelus for $30 million in January, according to City records.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Asswipe Mayor de Blasio overspends on city toilet paper

NY Daily News

New York City is literally flushing millions down the toilet.

The city has spent at least $8.8 million on cheap toilet paper since June 2013 – and the costs are piling up under Mayor de Blasio.

Around $1.58 million was wasted on toilet paper last fiscal year, a 12% bump since 2014, according to records obtained by The Daily News. Last month alone, the city bought $126,000 worth of toilet paper rolls.

The city uses about four million rolls every year, buying only cheap, single-ply toilet paper, according to the Citywide Administrative Services. An average of $1.45 million was spent on potty paper annually over the last few years.

That’s about 35 cents a roll.

DCAS dumps the rolls in all municipal buildings, including City Hall, police precincts, parks and firehouses.

"It’s a waste of money,” one Democratic councilman, who asked not be name in order to cover his behind, quipped. “Taxpayers are watching their money flushed down the toilet.”
Another councilman tried to perfume the issue slightly.
 “It seems like a lot of money for toilet paper, but at least we now have a solution for all the crap coming out of City Hall,” Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island) said.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing scam presents parasitic building in Jamaica with apartments going for $2,100 a month

Jamaica Patch

 Three new "affordable" apartments are up for grabs in Jamaica, but households need to earn at least $72,000 a year to apply.

The two-bedroom units at 170-19 89th Ave. rent for $2,300 a month, records show.

Households that earn between $72,000 and $138,710 are eligible to apply.

The brand new building has an elevator, recreation area and laundry room.

 It says $2,100 a month on this. But the actual area median income of renters in that area is $42,800. 30,000 less than those who can qualify. Interesting that the window for higher income applicants is about $40,000 to $64,000, this is how the city is redefining affordability. Affordable for the wealthier only.

Gentrification brazenly by design.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

St. Albans residents demand Billie Holiday monument to be placed in Addesleigh Park, Chirlane McCray wants it by Queens Borough Hall

Jamaica Patch

 First Lady Chirlane McCray in March made a much-heralded announcement: The city would build a monument to jazz singer Billie Holiday, one of four new statues honoring trailblazing women.

It was a first step in eliminating the gender disparity in city monuments. Of the 150 statues in New York, just five depict women.

But some residents in Southeast Queens felt slighted.

The Billie Holiday monument, the city announced, would rise by Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens — and that didn't seem right, they thought.

"She's a major part of our neighborhood," Southeast Queens resident Amir Abbady told Patch. "The statue should belong in the neighborhood she's from."
Abbady, who chairs Queens Community Board 12's parks committee, is championing an effort to bring the Billie Holiday monument to the Addisleigh Park Historic District, where the pioneering jazz artist once lived.

"Our Southeast Queens community would benefit from a statue of this successful black woman for cultural heritage purposes," Queens Community Board 12 Chair Rene Hill wrote in an email to Patch.

Jeff Gotlieb, president of the Central Queens Historical Association, suggests that the city instead put the monument in St. Albans Park. The park is just blocks away from Holiday's former home on 
Linden Boulevard.

The city hasn't yet decided on the exact site for Billie Holiday's monument, but a spokesperson for the city's cultural affairs department said they are focusing on the area by Queens Borough Hall, calling it the "most appropriate" location.

Guess what monument used to be at that "most appropriate" location...

The Statue of Civic Virtue.

Like the statue, civic virtue in your city ceases to exist or literally thrown in a graveyard.

There is a demented cult in de Blasio's administration, and it's being led by his co-mayor wife. 

Nothing but nets for Astoria's elevated train tracks

Astoria Patch

  As the MTA moves to install protective netting under stretches of the elevated subway tracks that run through Queens, elected officials are calling for the transit authority to put nets under the entire N/W line in Astoria.

The MTA plans to install netting under the N/W tracks at the Queensboro Plaza and 39th Avenue stations, which City Council Member Costa Constantinides says leaves two miles of track in Astoria still exposed.

The MTA's plan excludes four N/W subway stations along 31st Street in Astoria: 36th Avenue, Broadway, 30th Avenue, Astoria Boulevard and Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard.

"The MTA can do right by Astoria residents by installing protective netting under the entirety of this line — not just a few stations," Constantinides, who represents Astoria, said in a statement. "Given the aging infrastructure of this line and the years of work still ahead to fix it, this is a no-brainer."

Flushing Meadows playground sprinkler turned into a viral petri dish last July

Flushing Post

Parts of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park have been sanitized following a Shigellosis outbreak that infected 32 people.

In mid-July, during the blistering heat wave, scores of Queens parents took their children to cool down in the water sprinklers across NYC parks.

However, many parents who took their children to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to escape the heat came to regret their decision.

Within a few days many children became feverish, nauseous, and/or had diarrhea.

The Health Department said in a statement that it investigated a Shigellosis outbreak associated with the park after “several individuals reported symptoms after playing in a playground with a splash pad or a large fountain.”

The Health Dept. noted that there have been 32 cases associated with the park and that it worked with the Parks Dept. to sanitize a number of areas to reduce the risk of Shigella transmission. One section that was targeted was the Playground For All Children, located by 111th Street in Corona.

The Parks Dept., in a statement, said that it “cleaned and disinfected Playground For All Children’s spray shower and other water features to [Health Dept.] specifications. As an additional precaution staff also cleaned and disinfected all other spray showers in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.”

Apparently, lead isn't the only thing in the city parks pipes you have to worry about.

75th Street Middle Village - The Ghetto

This has been like this for nearly a year...

Property owners not summoned and have not cleaned this.


Affidavit votes disqualified by the Board of Elections pushed Katz's slim victory

NBC News

 Eighty percent of the approximately 2,800 affidavit ballots cast in the 2019 Democratic primary for Queens DA were disqualified — but it’s not clear how many of the voided voters still don't realize their ballots didn’t count.

 The I-Team obtained a list of more than 2,300 disqualified voters.

Though the list was not confirmed by the Board of Elections, two sources close to the ongoing court challenge between Tiffany Caban and Melinda Katz did confirm the list.

Some voters on the list said the Board of Elections has so far failed to notify them — even as a high stakes court battle proceeds to determine if Katz's narrow victory over Caban should stand.

 “I have not received any such notification (or any mail otherwise) from the Board of Elections,” said Sophie Epstein, a registered Democrat who said her vote for Tiffany Caban disqualified because she failed to check the “Democrat” box on her affidavit ballot.

 Mark Miller, a long-time Astoria resident, told the I-Team his vote for Caban was voided after a poll worker advised him to cast an affidavit ballot at the wrong polling place.

“We should be finding reasons to count the votes, right? Not reasons to not count the votes,” Miller said.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Katz wins primary. The Queens Machine rolls on

NY Daily News

Tiffany Cabán conceded the Democratic race for Queens district attorney on Tuesday, officially cementing Melinda Katz’s razor-thin victory after six weeks of contentious recounts and court battles.
Addressing supporters at the Katch beer garden in Astoria, Cabán said she would keep fighting for progressive criminal justice reform.

“To every woman, to every young person of color, to every queer person, every single human being who was inspired by the movement we built, you are next," Cabán said after supporters had chanted her first name for nearly a minute. "And I promise that I will be the first there knocking on doors for you.”

Cabán, a Manhattan public defender, added, “This campaign may be over, but the movement does not stop ... We are just getting started.”

Katz, the establishment favorite and Queens borough president, now claims victory by a mere 55 votes — 34,913 to Cabán’s 34,858. The borough president is all but certain to win the general election against long-shot Republican candidate Daniel Kogan on Nov. 5.

Monday, August 5, 2019

City screws Astoria homeowners financially from shitty water main repair job
(Photo by Jeff Fox/THE CITY)


 Astoria homeowners are fighting to recoup tens of thousands of dollars they say they were forced to spend after a city water main repair snafu sent raw sewage spewing into their homes.

The Department of Design and Construction acknowledged in letters obtained by THE CITY that a “number” of sewer-to-house connections were “inadvertently damaged” as a result of a water main project that began two summers ago.

 “The contractor when excavating on 38th Street affected a series of private sewer connections that were not indicated on the maps,” DDC spokesperson Shoshana Khantold THE CITY. “As a result, several of those lines were severed.”

 Yet some residents on the quiet stretch of 38th Street between 21st Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard say they can’t get city government to pay back the cash they were forced to spend on cleanup.

Some say they’re getting no clear answer on the holdup, while others say they’re caught in a bureaucratic Catch-22: a 90-day statute of limitations that ended before problems emerged.

“All of us got negatively impacted by this work,” said Jeff Fox, 40, a longtime homeowner. “It strikes me as incredibly unfair they can get away with doing shoddy work.”

Mayor de Blasio got mortgage extensions from bank lender owned by one of the Podolsky brothers

NY Daily News

Mayor de Blasio got mortgages on his Park Slope homes from a bank founded by the brother of men who received $173 million from the city in a controversial real estate deal, The Daily News has learned.

The bank de Blasio secured the mortgages from is Wall Street Mortgage Bankers, which operates under the name Power Express Mortgage Bankers, city Finance Department records show.

The bank’s treasurer, secretary, former president and founder is Abraham Podolsky, public records and multiple sources revealed.

 Abraham is the brother of slumlords Jay and Stuart Podolsky, who earlier this year sold 17 buildings to the city for $173 million. Abraham did not respond to several messages.

 The $173 million deal — ostensibly aimed at providing affordable housing for poor New Yorkers — came under intense scrutiny for months from critics who pointed to Jay and Stuart’s criminal past, a federal probe into their real estate empire and wildly divergent appraisals on the land they ultimately sold to the city.

Abraham’s company’s loans to de Blasio as well as his family connections are now renewing concerns about potential conflicts of interest surrounding the deal.

Fordham University political science professor Christina Greer said she wants to see the web of connections investigated.

“Something doesn’t smell right. I’m not willing to say something is wrong just yet,” she said. “...This is worth an inquiry.”
City Comptroller Scott Stringer is probing appraisals of the Podolsky properties — one city appraisal valued the 17 properties as low as $49.67 million. In April, he demanded de Blasio’s administration make them available through a subpoena.

Stringer declined to comment on that investigation, de Blasio’s mortgages and whether those mortgages potentially could have given Jay and Stuart Podolsky any leverage during negotiations.

Mayor de Blasio’s hand-picked Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett refused to comment as well.

The ironic thing about this disgusting bribe (which the mayor is allowed to get away with) is that this hook up with the Podolskys, who use to run dilapidated and rodent infested cluster apartment buildings to house the homeless for decades, technically prevents the mayor from being homeless himself.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Amazon is looking at Maspeth site for next "fullfillment center"


Nothing happens along Newtown Creek without Mitch Waxman knowing about it first, so he was not surprised to see Crain’s report that Amazon was eyeing an industrial property in Maspeth for a new distribution facility.

As the historian for the Newtown Creek Alliance, Waxman walks along the Queens and Brooklyn shores and updates his Newtown Pentacle website with the daily chronicles of western Queens as it transforms under over-development.

He posted photos of his discovery on his website July 24, nearly a week before the Crain’s report.

“I was on my way to a meeting when I came across heavy demolition going on over on Grand Avenue,” Waxman said. “I noticed the old Cascades Containerboard factory was being torn down by crews from Breeze Demolition so I started asking questions.”

Waxman learned that 54-15, 55-15 and 56-19 Grand Ave. were recently acquired by a California-based company called LBA Realty for $72 million. The deal involves a partnership with another realty company, RXR, to build a four-story warehouse large that would be ideal for the “last mile” of logistics of an e-commerce company.

“Yeah it’s only four stories tall but that thing is going to be massive, massive, massive,” Waxman said. “It’s going to be large enough that heavy trucks will be able to drive around inside the facility, so that the first floor would have to be at least 30 feet tall. As an environmentalist with the Newtown Creek Alliance this set off all kinds of alarm bells with me. This will be a gigantic magnification of truck traffic in residential areas that are already very sensitive to heavy truck traffic.”

QNS reached out to Amazon and is awaiting a response. Amazon scuttled its plan to build to build an HQ2 campus in Long Island City, and create more than 25,000 high-paying jobs, in February.
Now the e-commerce giant is reportedly scouting a million square feet of space in Brooklyn’s Industry City for a new storage and shipping facility in Sunset Park. Amazon may be looking to lease the entire Lord & Taylor building in Midtown, according to Crain’s. 

Waxman, an Astoria resident, is concerned about what is happening in Maspeth.

 This sort of footprint tells me we’re looking at well over a hundred heavy trucks a day as well as additional delivery vans,” Waxman said. “It’s like you’re throwing the whole Green New Deal right out the window with that type of truck traffic clogging Maspeth’s residential streets as they make their way from the Long Island Expressway. This part of industrial Maspeth has a rail spur and it runs right along the back of this property with a direct connection to JFK International Airport. Instead, we just keep building more and more infrastructure for trucks.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff steps off

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., right, and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, left, walk back together after joining other members of the freshman class of Congress for a group photo on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Intercept

Saikat Chakrabarti, her chief of staff, and Corbin Trent, her director of communications — who, through their work with Justice Democrats, have been alongside Ocasio-Cortez since her primary run — will leave the lawmaker’s office. Chakrabarti will go to New Consensus, a nonprofit focused on climate issues and promoting the Green New Deal. Trent will direct communications on Ocasio-Cortez’s 2020 campaign, the same role he played during her first congressional run.
“Saikat has decided to leave the office of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to work with New Consensus to further develop plans for a Green New Deal,” Trent said in a statement to The Intercept. “We are extraordinarily grateful for his service to advance a bold agenda and improve the lives of the people in NY-14. From his co-founding of Justice Democrats to his work on the Ocasio-Cortez campaign and in the official office, Saikat’s goal has always been to do whatever he can to help the larger progressive movement, and we look forward to continuing working with him to do just that.”

Good. Now this guy can do his get richer schemes exploiting progressive values and policies on his own time.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Lead is still a persistent problem in Queens public schools

Jackson Heights Post

Classrooms in nearly 50 different elementary schools in Queens tested positive for lead, according to new data released by the Department of Education Wednesday night.

Inspectors hired by the DOE found lead-based paint in 48 borough schools where children below the age of six study, according to the data. Many of the schools have multiple classrooms where peeling lead paint was found.

 In total, the department inspected 797 school buildings across the city built prior to 1985 that house students younger than six years old. More than a third of the pre-K and kindergarten buildings, 302 schools, tested positive for lead, according to Chalkbeat.

Deteriorating lead paint is especially dangerous to young children who may breathe in lead dust or swallow paint chips. According to the CDC, lead poisoning can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavioral problems, slowed growth and development and hearing and/or speech issues.

Van Bramer has gone bike lane batty

NY Post

With cyclist fatalities on the rise, a City Councilman from Queens wants to blanket Long Island City with protected bike lanes — a proposal that could likely cost the neighborhood hundreds of parking spots.

“We have got to understand that this is about saving lives and we have to act now,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told reporters at the foot of the Pulaski Bridge on Wednesday morning.“We have to prioritize people’s lives over parking spaces and over cars, once and for all in this city.”

Under the proposal developed by Van Bramer and cycling advocates from Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York, Long Island City would be a testing zone for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $58.4 million “Green Wave” plan to increase the number of new protected bike lane miles each year by 50%.

The proposed lanes would go on Skillman Avenue, Jackson Avenue, 11th Street, Center Boulevard, 44th Drive, 46th Avenue, 48th Avenue and Borden Avenue — the street where a driver struck and killed Robert Spencer in March.

Vernon Boulevard’s protected bike lane, meanwhile, which currently ends at 46th Avenue, would be extended south to Borden.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hevesi's son is pissing off Mario's son regarding donations from his sister's homeless shelter provider

NY Daily News

  A Queens assemblyman is accusing Gov. Cuomo of turning a blind eye to the state’s growing homeless problem while deep-pocketed donors linked to shelters with state and city contracts fill his campaign coffers with cash.

Cuomo has raked in more than three-quarters of a million dollars in donations over the past decade from contributors with ties to the shelter system, according to Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens).

Board members associated with various homeless shelters have gifted the governor $322,972.50, while donors associated with Help USA, a shelter service provider founded by the governor and chaired by his sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, have ponied up $451,285 in donations.

“Andrew Cuomo is profiting from the growth in homelessness," Hevesi told the Daily News. "He has taken three-quarters of a million dollars from people who have a financial interest in having more people become homeless.”

Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi, pointing out that the sum is less than 1% of the $118 million raised by his boss in recent years, said Hevesi’s criticisms are nothing more than the smoldering remnants of a grudge against the governor for locking up his father, former state comptroller Alan Hevesi, over a pension fund scandal more than a decade ago.

“As the governor always says, anyone who can be influenced by a single dollar has no place in government and that is as true now as it was the day when Attorney General Cuomo busted Hevesi’s father for selling the pension fund to the highest bidder," Azzopardi said. “The assemblyman’s conspiracy theories are sad, his family vendetta is pathetic and he should be doing better by his constituents.”

Hevesi countered that his only concern is the steady increase in the number of people, especially children, struggling with homelessness under Cuomo’s watch.

Each year, about 250,000 New Yorkers find themselves faced with the prospect of spending a night in a shelter at some point. The majority, three out of five, are school-aged children, according to the Assembly Committee on Social Services, which Hevesi helms.Since 2011, the number of school-age kids experiencing homelessness in the Empire State has increased 69% to 152,839 students.

Wall falls on and kills construction manager inside an Averne apartment building still under development

NY Daily News

A construction manager was killed Tuesday when a wall in a partially completed Queens building collapsed on him, officials said.

Jose Martins, 67, of Warren, N.J., was buried in debris when the wall came tumbling down inside the 
building on Beach 67th St. near Ocean Avenue North in Arverne about 2:20 p.m., cops said.

Workers were building a seven-story, 126-unit apartment building at the site

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Another small business bites the dust as Kew Gardens pharmacy shuts down after 40 years

NY Post

A beloved Queens small business fills its last prescriptions Monday.

Many are mourning the demise of Metropolitan Pharmacy, a 40-year-old small business on Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens near the Richmond Hill border, as well as its sister business, Metro Pharmacy II, in Forest Hills.

The closing of Metropolitan Pharmacy will be a great loss, residents say, because owner Ira Lisogorsky has selflessly served the neighborhood.

“I needed some medicine, but my insurance card wasn’t going through because of a technical glitch,” recalled Suzanne Hall, a Kew Gardens resident and a longtime customer.

“Ira knew how much I needed the medicine, gave it to me immediately and told me that he’d settle the insurance issue later on,” she said.

So why is Metropolitan Pharmacy shuttering?

Lisogorsky, who fills thousands of prescriptions, said he has problems with drug companies as well as regulatory and city policies.

“The city doesn’t care about us,” he said. “They look at us as a cash cow, and yet it is small businesses that made this city.” He cleans his sidewalk each day, but said “if the wind blows, suddenly I have a fine.”

The nearest pharmacy is a CVS down the hill on 126th street and you can buy candy and beer there too. Good thing we got big retail options.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has to fire her chief of staff


George The Atheist

 Just Who Represents The Queens 14th CD?

Who?  Officially Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

So why is her Chief-of-Staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, mouthing off for her?  Referring to moderate members of Democratic groups in a Tweet last month as "New Southern Democrats" who are "hell bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s."   He sure p.o.'d Pelosi and many of the old school Dems, no?

Who elected this guy Chakrabarti? Seemingly the puppet-master of Ocasio?   AOC's string-puller?  And he doesn't even live in Queens but is a carpetbagger from Greenwich Village in Manhattan!!!

Impunity City

 A few weeks ago on the heels of the congressional hearings of the Senate's border funding bill, a brash man in his 30's  decided to take to social media and rail against the establishment very old guard and "moderate" Democrats for their support of it. And the social media storm came from the chief of staff of the most pop-centric elected official of our time (and arguably maybe all time since the young Kennedys) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Saikat Chakrabarti. Although he made salient points about the congressional hacks constant cave-ins, he made a boneheaded analogy comparing Speaker Pelosi and the other Dems voting for it to the Dixiecrats of nearly a century ago, which he immediately deleted. 

Even though these are atypical reactions from an electorate body of officials that are cognizant of their weakening status in office and of the growing and widening disdain of them by their constituencies to undermine a young and immensely popular upstart like Ocasio-Cortez, their vindictive accusations of her being dependent on her obnoxious chief of staff does have merit.

But in actuality, it's not only because of his tweet conflating the current shitty Congress and the shitty racist enabling one back in the day or even wearing a very stupid t-shirt, it's mostly because he's a dishonest person and a multi-millionaire feigning to be a revolutionary, trying to become a player in D.C.. He also could have underhanded reasons to personally profit from what on the surface are progressive policies that are being pushed.

Chakrabarti, or Chak as he will be referred to here for the sake of brevity and it sounds better, got filthy rich in Silicon Valley developing a web tool called Mockingbird and participated in Bernie Sanders miraculous yet defeated presidential campaign, followed by hooking up with the current representative of New York's fighting fourteenth district in Northeast Queens and the South Bronx with the Justice Democrats PAC he co-formed.

But since that victory, he's been pulling some very shady and non-progressive stunts

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Murray and 17. Again.

To: Vallone Paul

So every year this comes back. Every year we are dealing with the same issue. If I remember correctly, it was determined that there was a water leak beneath the sink hole. This determination was last year if I’m not mistaken. Do we have to wait for an accident? Or worse?  

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Alfredo Centola
Founding Member 
We Love Whitestone

Rally to Preserve 1632-Richmond Terrace Cemetery

Hi Fellow Staten Islanders,

Enclosed are a few videos that we did to assist in letting people know about a rally to halt, for a short time, the destruction of a burial site that goes back beyond the American Revolution and includes some Native American graves at 1632-Richmond Terrace last Saturday, late morning on July 20, 2019.

We have produced these 5 videos with the intention of using the links on FaceBook as our way of distribution. Instead of making one longer video with all the speakers, we decided to show only a few of the presenters by themselves with their own point of view.

You can view them in any order that you like and please pass them on to anyone who you think would be interested and can help.

Charlie Olson

Ask STOP & STOR to do MORE- Preserve Staten Island's Native American & Revolutionary War History at 1632 Richmond Terrace!

Please Contact elected officials, historians, museums or anyone that can help!

We want a full archeological survey with a monitor so historical artifacts are not destroyed at 1632 Richmond Avenue!

Please Contact elected officials, historians, museums or anyone that can help!

We want a full archeological survey with a monitor so historical artifacts are not destroyed at 1632 Richmond Avenue!

Developer denied (finally)


Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2019, 04:17:49 PM EDT

Subject: Update on Kimco Proposal

Hi Everyone,

First, I just want to thank everyone for their advocacy and input over the past several months. As you know, there was a lot of back and forth between the community, the applicant, and our office, and a flurry of activity last night into the early hours of this morning. These latest negotiations arose from last minute modifications to the project that were presented to us in an attempt to reach a consensus that would satisfy both the applicant and the community. By late morning, we were still not convinced that that this project would prove to be a benefit the community, and therefore unworthy of a rezoning.

However, a vote was still scheduled for 10:30am this morning in the Council’s Sub-Committee on Zoning and Franchises, which was to be followed by a vote of the full Committee on Land Use. After hearing the strong continued objections from the community – lead by many of the individuals on this email – Council Member Koo was prepared to vote against the proposed Kissena Center Proposal.

After informing KimCo of his intention to vote to disprove the proposal moments before the scheduled vote, KimCo officially withdrew their application, thereby removing the item from the committee’s consideration and agenda. A copy of their withdrawal letter is attached.

Thank you to everyone again for your efforts, and for standing by Council Member as we faced pressure from all sides. We look forward to continuing to work with everyone on behalf of our community.

Elaine C.

Elaine Cheung | Chief of Staff
Office of Council Member Peter A. Koo
District 20

Wolkoffs hold secret meeting with CB2 over 5 Pointz tower developments


Queens community board members met privately last week with a developer seeking their approval on revised plans to build luxury apartment buildings at the old 5Pointz graffiti hotspot, THE CITY has learned.

Three people, including developer David Wolkoff, gathered at Manducatis Rustica, Italian restaurant, on July 16. The session came less than two weeks before the board’s deadline to weigh in on an expanded version of the two towers Wolkoff hopes to build.

The board is under no legal obligation to be transparent. But news of the session rankled good-government watchdogs and opponents of the plan, who are still furious nearly six years after Wolkoff whitewashed the street art that drew visitors from around the world.

Community Board 2 Chairperson Denise Keehan-Smith previously told THE CITY a meeting was scheduled — but did not address subsequent repeated question on what was discussed at the restaurant or who attended the clandestine get-other.

 “We are preparing our recommendation” for the revised plan, Keehan-Smith said on Monday, declining further comment. Lisa Deller, the board’s Land Use Committee chairperson, said at a June meeting that a letter of denial already had been drafted.

Wolkoff, who co-owns the property with his father Jerry, did not respond to a request for comment. Jerry Wolkoff told THE CITY that he didn’t see anything wrong with the covert meeting.

I encourage my son and myself to meet with anybody in a community or anybody in the city… Why shouldn’t we?” Wolkoff said. “I wouldn’t do anything where I would hurt a community or hurt individuals.”

“My son is the same way,” he added. “He will reach out to people to meet because I’ve always done that. We don’t hide. I’m a different developer. We meet, we listen, and if it makes sense we’re going to do it.”


Monday, July 22, 2019

Investigation into luxury tower development that flooded the Court Square Station is on

Crains New York

The state attorney general’s office is scrutinizing the work of two construction firms following a deluge at a Long Island City subway station Wednesday that nearly pulled a passenger onto the tracks. 

Attorney General Letitia James said Friday that her office has launched an inquiry into New Line Structures and Civetta Construction, the companies building a residential tower near the Court Square-23rd Street station. 

 The inquiry comes in response to a viral video filmed at the station Wednesday. In the video, water broke through a temporary construction wall and gushed onto the platform. The brownish fluid erupted so quickly that it knocked a passenger off his feet. He managed to stop his slide just before reaching an incoming train. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the scene was caused by contractors of a residential tower nearby. The construction firms hadn’t been named before James’ announcement. The construction appears related to the 67-story Skyline Tower condo development. 
New York City Transit President Andy Byford addressed the video during an MTA board meeting Monday morning, calling it “quite shocking.”

“That developer, unbeknownst to us, had removed a pump from the big pit that they were building as part of the construction,” Byford said. “Which meant the pit filled up with water and the pressure eventually overwhelmed the hoarding that was there to protect the worksite.” 

Con Edison intentionally shuts off all power in Southeast Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods

PIX 11 News

 Looks like Gothamist thought my headline was good.

Ridgewood residents resist the specter of rising rents and a dubious affordable housing development

Sunday, July 21, 2019

City Council will vote on all four borough jails in one ULURP hearing

Brooklyn Eagle

 The community boards have voted and the borough presidents have weighed in. The city’s plan to close Rikers Island jails by 2026 — by building four new borough-based facilities via an unprecedented land-use measure — now moves to a fall vote in front of the City Council.
The city’s plan calls for building a new 1,150-bed jail in every borough except Staten Island. In order to do this, the proposal must go through a process called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (or ULURP), which determines the size and use of property beyond what’s permitted by existing regulations.
This is far from a traditional land-use situation. For the first time, the city has packaged four different sites into a single ULURP application, rather than expose each plan to individual review. 

Local community boards and borough presidents are the first to weigh in, though their votes are purely advisory. Now that they have, the decision moves to the City Council, whose vote is legally binding.
The stances of the four City Council members who represent the neighborhoods in question are particularly important, because the council traditionally votes in lockstep with the local representatives on ULURP applications.

Kew Gardens, Queens

Capacity: 1,150 beds
Height: 270 feet tall
Total space: 1.258 million square feet, including a 676-space municipal parking lot
Of note: The Queens jail would house all women detained in New York City, as well as several hundred men.
Councilmember: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz supports the city’s plan, but her spokesperson said she is working with the Mayor’s Office to reduce the overall size.
Borough president: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz formally recommended disapproval in June. “A 1,500 person jail anywhere in Queens is unacceptable,” Katz said. She wants more community engagement and thinks the city can reduce its total jail population to 3,000 by 2026, enabling the city to construct a smaller community jail. (The city currently estimates a jail population of 4,000 by 2026).
Community board: Queens Community Board 9 unanimously voted in favor of a resolution rejecting the plan.

 Anyone would like to wager that "affordable housing" will be included in that building?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Modern lament for a tree in Sunnyside

George The Atheist

"Temporary" wall put up by luxury tower developer at Court Square Station collapses from downpour and nearly kills a commuter

In a lengthy statement, MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek blamed the flooding on a "shocking lapse" by contractors working for a nearby private development, which is also building a new entrance and elevator at the Court Square Station. The property is luxury condo Skyline Tower, soon to be the tallest skyscraper in Long Island City, and developed by United Construction & Development Group. 

The building did not have the proper pumping system in place during the storm, Tarek said, leading to the "absolutely unacceptable and avoidable incident."

"Their worksite was inundated with rainwater during severe thunderstorms, causing water to build upat their worksite and breach plywood separating their worksite from the station," according to the MTA's investigation. There were no reported injuries as a result of the breach.

This is the thing that commuters have to sacrifice their safety on the subway for:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The funniest parasitic apartment buildings you will ever see (so far)

New York Avenue

NYC Gentrification Watch

 In June 2018, I noticed–much to my crushing dismay–that developers had succeeded in buying out and destroying several old Italianate townhouses on New York Avenue off Church Avenue.

I don’t know the exact date of when these townhouses were built. NYCityMap dates them to 1910; however, it seems to me that the site dates any really old house of unknown origins to that year so as far as we know, they could’ve been built many years–if not decades–before.

Fast forward to July 2019. I was passing through the area and decided to go back to New York Avenue to see how the development was going. This is what I found:

Hey! What happened? Oh, someone refused to be bought out. No biggie. Let’s just build one part of the building on the lot of the first house that sold, skip over the house that didn’t sell, then continue onto the next two houses that did. That won’t look awkward at all!

Federal Elections Commission fundraising report reveals Mayor de Blasio as a recidivist perpetrator of pay-to-play politics

NY Daily News

Mayor de Blasio’s presidential campaign is powered by donations rife with possible conflicts.

At least $370,000 in contributions to de Blasio 2020 are tied to people and entities with business or interests before the city, an analysis by the Daily News found.

The donations represent 34% of nearly $1.1 million that de Blasio’s campaign collected between May 16 and the end of June, according to filings with Federal Election Commission.

They came from individuals, corporations, limited liability companies and firms with vested interests in municipal operations and regulations, as well as donors who work for entities lobbying the de Blasio administration and relatives of those with business before the city.

Many are hotel workers and owners, attorneys, local real estate developers and others who stand to benefit from their generosity to de Blasio — or have already seen the fruits of their chummy relationship with Hizzoner.

The mayor has already faced multiple investigations into his fundraising practices, including whether his administration was favorable to donors and others with business before the city. Federal and state prosecutors eventually decided they wouldn’t charge de Blasio or his aides — but they still said he intervened on behalf of donors seeking favors from City Hall.

"The fact that Mayor de Blasio’s long shot presidential campaign is so heavily funded by individuals who have interests before the city is troubling, particularly because the mayor has a track record of favoring campaign donors,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of good-government group Citizens Union. “New Yorkers should feel confident that policy decisions are made, and contracts are awarded, based on merit and not because and individual or entity has supported a politician’s campaign.”

Update from THE CITY:

Mayor Bill de Blasio spent more on his presidential run than he reported in federal campaign filings this week, an analysis by THE CITY found.

The extra support came out of a state political action committee de Blasio launched in 2018 to help New York Democrats — but which recently doubled as an exploratory committee for his presidential run.

The mayor’s NY Fairness PAC spent $68,000 on pre-campaign polling that wasn’t reported to the Federal Election Commission. The de Blasio campaign promised Thursday to amend its federal disclosures after THE CITY raised questions.

THE CITY identified another $55,000 that de Blasio’s state PAC paid to a firm that does digital fundraising and marketing. The campaign said that a portion of that expense will appear in a future federal filing.

The spending underscored what some experts called an unusual approach that taps a state PAC for presidential expenses amid strictly regulated federal spending and reporting rules for exploratory committees.

De Blasio’s set-up also allows his state PAC to collect donations that don’t get reported in his federal campaign filings — and don’t count toward the $2,800 contribution limit in the presidential primary.

That’s because de Blasio campaign officials categorized all the contributions to the state PAC as donations meant to help elect Democrats in New York State — not as support for his presidential run.

THE CITY identified 17 contributors who gave the max to de Blasio’s presidential run in the first half of 2019 while donating $2,500 each to his NY Fairness PAC. Meanwhile, the next public filings for de Blasio’s third fundraising arm — his federal Fairness PAC — aren’t due until July 31.

The mayor has benefited from donors like Queens real estate developer Michael Cheng, who gave $2,500 to the NY Fairness PAC on March 31. He told THE CITY he believed he was supporting de Blasio’s potential presidential run.

Around the same time, he hosted a fundraiser at his Flushing home to raise money for the mayor’s federal PAC. In June, he donated $2,800 to de Blasio’s 2020 presidential committee, FEC records show.

“He’s doing great things for the city,” Cheng said of de Blasio.

De Blasio campaign officials said they know of no donations to the state PAC that were intended to 
support the mayor’s consideration of a White House run. They added the mayor had been clear in his fundraising pitches at the time.

“The mayor was consistent in his public and private comments: He wanted to ensure the issues affecting working families were in the national dialogue, and had not ruled out a run — but it would ultimately be a family decision,“ said campaign spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

His "private comments"? Is that suppose to be a defensive take on Hillary Clinton's notorious philosophical trope on having public and private positions exposed in the Podesta emails by Wikileaks?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Three towns in Staten Island got blacked out from Con Ed substation fire
NY Post

Power outages hit Staten Island Tuesday evening when a fire erupted at a Con Edison substation — just days after mass outages hit tens of thousands of customers on the West Side of Manhattan, officials said.

About 2,000 Con Edison customers in New Dorp, Grant City and Oakwood lost power after the fire at the facility on Railroad Avenue soon after 6 p.m., a Con Ed spokesperson said.

The outages are scattered across about a five-mile radius of the substation and are expected to last until about 2 a.m., the spokesperson said, adding that two generators were working to reinforce the system.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is not believed to be related to the heat, he said.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Affordable housing study reveals Mayor de Blasio as a segregationist

New York Times

For more than two years, lawyers for New York City have fought to keep secret a report on the city’s affordable housing lotteries, arguing that its release would insert an unfavorable and “potentially incorrect analysis into the public conversation.”

The report was finally released on Monday, following a federal court ruling, and its findings were stark: The city’s policy of giving preference to local residents for new affordable housing helps perpetuate racial segregation.

White neighborhoods stay white, black neighborhoods black, the report found.

The findings by Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College, presented a far different picture than the one offered by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has touted his record on housing as he runs for president.

Indeed, they suggested that Mr. de Blasio’s vast expansion of affordable housing might well come with an asterisk: It is deepening entrenched racial housing patterns.

Professor Beveridge analyzed data from 7.2 million affordable housing applications for 10,245 city-subsidized apartments from 2012 to 2017. He did so on behalf of plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by three black women from Brooklyn and Queens who said they were not given a fair chance to win affordable apartments in city-managed lotteries.

The report looked at 168 city-administered lotteries along with demographic and other information about applicants, comparing that to census data for the areas surrounding the affordable housing apartments being offered.

In each case, Professor Beveridge found that the majority group — whether white, black Hispanic or Asian — enjoyed a strong advantage over the other racial groups because of the city’s policy.

Moreover, because it is a first-come-first-served system, by the time applicants from other areas of the city might want to move into an area, the apartments that they would qualify for have sometimes already been taken by local residents, he found in the 31-page report, a preliminary version of which was first filed in 2017.

After being opaque about the cause of Saturday's blackout, Con Ed is being glib about potential blackouts

NY Post

Con Edison warned Monday that New Yorkers may have to endure another blackout this weekend, when the temperature is expected to reach a sweltering 97 degrees — and feel like 106.

“We expect that there could be service outages — those things happen during heat waves,” company spokesman Mike Clendenin said.

Later in the day, Con Ed further fueled fears of a potential power outage when it completely backtracked and blamed a fault in a 13,000-volt power cable that caught fire for triggering Saturday’s blackout.

On Sunday, company President Timothy Cawley had called the idea of tying the incident to the failed cable “sort of a non-starter.”

AccuWeather predicted four straight days of 90-plus degree temperatures beginning Friday, with a 97-degree peak on Saturday, when humidity and other factors will make it feel even worse.

Surely, these things happen and will continue to happen when you have energy devouring billboards like the new ones in Times Square that are about 3, 5 and 20 stories and are a block wide. And also deriving from massive tower development by the Hudson, particularly the brand new Hudson Yards.

How is Con Ed going to handle Google's expansion and Disney's new studios on Soho's west side?

Maybe this is why they are being glib. Con Ed's VP for "government relations" used to work for the city's Economic Development Coporation. (Thanks to Kristin Theodos)