Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held an in-person fundraiser for his mayoral campaign at a club located inside a COVID “yellow zone” in Queens on Saturday.
“I thank you, brother Ross, for opening this amazing place, this beautiful place ... allowing us to come in and to host this event,” he said inside Ross Code Lounge in the South Richmond Hill neighborhood.
“This is going to be my hangout, a safe, comfortable place where people can come and enjoy themselves,” he added.
The club’s 117-15 101st Ave. address is located inside one of the areas determined by the state to be a COVID “yellow zone,” according to an online map of the zones.
Restrictions in such zones include a 25-person limit on “mass gatherings.” Asked Sunday how many people attended the fundraiser, Adams’s campaign said there were eight people, adding that they were required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Including Adams and his muscle and the photographer in the pic there, there are 3 people over the limit.
Asked why Adams was holding in-person fundraisers during the pandemic, his campaign spokesman Evan Thies said in a phone call, “My question to you is, why not do that? … Who is saying that we should not be doing that besides you?
“It’s been a pandemic now for eight months and people have been doing in-person events all across the city every night,” he added.
In an email statement, Thies said, “Eric strongly agrees with New York State’s science-based approach to the coronavirus, and the campaign will continue to follow the law and best health and safety practices.
“As a former dishwasher, Eric knows how important it is to the families of working people to support our small businesses while the State still deems it safe to do so,” Thies added.
The event was billed online as a “meet & greet fundraiser” with a “maximum contribution” listed as $2,000.
“We’ve out-raised the whole field,” he crowed. “Nobody has more money.”
Yeah, Adams is going to be great mayor of the people. Four more years of defiant entitlement and hypocrisy and surely incompetence as the donor class continues to dominate policy and civic services distribution.
Human-seal encounters in New York City have increased by 45 percent this year, according to the New York Marine Rescue Center. Melting ice up north is driving seals to the coasts of Queens and Staten Island, while a thirst for the outdoors during the pandemic continues to compel New Yorkers to the beach, said New York Marine Rescue Center Program Director Maxine Montello
“A lot of our seals were at normal beaches that would be less populated,” Montello said. “But because of COVID and everybody coming out here earlier in the year, we had patrons that maybe had never crossed with seals and were super interested in these animals.”
The 16 encounters so far reported to the New York Marine Rescue Center in 2020 are the highest total in a decade, she said. Seven of the cases involved people pulling seals into the water, removing them from the beach and offering them food and water, Montello said.
The center has also found that more seals are sticking around for the summer, which may result from trouble up north. According to the International Fund of Animal Welfare, melting ice in the Arctic has increasingly displaced Atlantic seal populations that rely on pack ice to birth and wean pups.
Milder winters caused by climate change can spur unusual seal migration patterns, bringing more herds to New York’s shores. Rescue groups have encountered harp seals, an Arctic species among the first to migrate to New York Harbor each year, hauling themselves further up on the beaches in search of ice.
Harp seals started showing up in the area around the mid-1980s, said Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Bob Schoelkopf. Since then, the harp seal population has been on the rise in the Tristate Area. New Jersey had its first recorded harp seal birth several years ago.
Two Officers Injured in Shootout that Left Suspect Dead in Springfield Gardens @CitizenApp145-86 179th St Yesterday 12:48:52 PM EST
Two Queens cops were shot Tuesday by a CUNY peace officer — who had his guns taken away in a previous domestic dispute, only to have them returned to him weeks ago, police said.
One of the officers was left bleeding heavily from a wound to his right upper thigh, while the other was shot in both hands — both suffering “very serious injuries,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press conference.
The pair were wounded during an exchange of gunfire that erupted as soon as 41-year-old suspect Rondell Goppy walked through the door of his Springfield Gardens home with his gun blazing amid a domestic dispute around 12:45 p.m., Shea said.
Minutes earlier, the officers — identified by law-enforcement sources as Christopher Wells and Joseph Murphy — had escorted Goppy’s 41-year-old wife back to the troubled couple’s apartment at 145-86 179th St.
The wife was getting her things so she could stay somewhere else after a violent incident between the pair in the morning over alleged infidelity, police said.
“The wife walked into the 105th Precinct this morning. She said her husband choked her,’’ a law-enforcement source told The Post. “The domestic-violence officers went back with her to the house to get some stuff.”
It appears that Goppy wasn’t still in the home at the time. The cops and woman were then inside for about 6 minutes when “almost instantly, [Goppy] walks in through the front door and starts shooting at our two officers,” Shea said.
Goppy blasted away in “a combat stance” before he was shot multiple times and killed — and his wife ended up notifying police that two of their own were struck by bullets when she called 911 to report the gunfire, sources said.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Buildings Department blew deadlines or failed to reinspect structures with dangerous conditions that threatened public safety more than 5,400 times, according to a blistering new audit from City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Stringer’s investigation revealed that the DOB failed to conduct 2,986 of the nearly 6,381 required reinspections within the 60-day timeline required under the administrative code — and that it never scheduled another 596 reviews.
Additionally, the Comptroller’s office discovered that the DOB busted its 60-day deadline with another 1,819 subsequent followups.
“No one should have to live or work in fear of debris or unstable scaffolding crashing down on them in a home, place of work, or at any other site in this city,” said Stringer.
“Our audit of DOB’s internal procedures uncovered multiple failures that pose a direct risk to public safety,” he added. “DOB has a responsibility to protect the public – and it absolutely must live up to that promise.”
The probe focused on the violations that have been “identified as posing a threat of imminent danger to public safety or property.”
Stringer’s office also uncovered that the Buildings Department frequently misses its internal goals when it comes to reviewing paperwork to ensure repairs are properly completed, hitting the 21-day self-imposed deadline just 42 percent of the time.
City officials said in a formal reply to Stringer that they agree with the recommendations to redouble their efforts on the 60-day reinspections and to formalize the 21-day goal for processing certifications of repairs. In a statement, they broadly defended the agency’s performance.
“We’re improving our service levels across the agency to meet our other legally required timelines, all while handling a significantly expanded workload,” said DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky. “New York City deserves safe communities, and we’ll do our part by holding our inspection work to the highest standards in the country.”
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation said it would set up sorely needed mobile COVID testing sites this week in Jackson Heights and Corona. Residents there are still waiting.
Despite four-hour lines at COVID testing sites across Queens, HHC did not set up the testing locations as scheduled. A site that was supposed to administer tests Monday through Friday at Travers Park in Jackson Heights never opened due to inclement and severely cold weather, an HHC spokesperson said. HHC said the location will open Friday.
To make matters worse, the testing site location is listed incorrectly on the HHC website, which says Travers Park is in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.
The Eagle learned about the missing test site when a reader reached out to say they had tried to visit three times. Another sent a photo of the place where the test site was supposed to be Thursday.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos was on her way to get a COVID test at Elmhurst Hospital when contacted to see if she knew about the missing site. Minutes later, she said she contacted city officials and learned that the Travers Park testing site was closed “due to weather” despite the sunny skies Thursday.
Another mobile testing site in Corona has also yet to open, said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, who reached out to officials after the Eagle contacted her about the Jackson Heights location. She blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio and city agencies for failing to inform local leaders and communities about the closed test sites.
“The failure to inform the local elected officials and community that these sites would be closed during cold weather is yet one more example of Mayor de Blasio’s complete incompetence,” Cruz said.
“It is incredibly frustrating to hear him announce seemingly great initiatives meant to save lives, that once again fail to deliver,” she said. “These are matters of life and death for my community.”
The 7-day COVID test positivity rate in Corona’s zip code 11368 reached nearly 6 percent Monday, according to the most recent Health Department data. Jackson Heights’ zip code 11372, where Travers Park is located, reached 2.82 percent. Both neighborhoods were among the hardest hit communities in New York City during the pandemic’s peak.
New York City's first Black mayor, David Dinkins, has died at the age of 93.
Police responded to Dinkins' home Monday evening, just after 9 p.m. after a 911 call came in from a home health aide who discovered him.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dinkins was the 106th mayor of the city and the first, and so far, only Black person to hold the office.
Dinkins went from the New York State Assembly to becoming the Manhattan Borough President.
The pinnacle of his career was becoming mayor of New York City, making history in the process.
Monday, November 23, 2020
A gruesome discovery by transit workers last week — an arm inside a subway tunnel — underscored a troubling trend: a growing number of people ending up on the tracks.
MTA statistics obtained by THE CITY show at least 720 instances of a “person on the roadbed” this year — including one Sunday morning in which police said a man survived after being shoved onto the tracks at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
That’s nearly as many as the 781 cases in all of 2019 and almost 200 more than five years ago — despite a steep pandemic-driven decline in ridership and the suspension of overnight passenger service.
Some transit workers and homeless advocates believe the overnight shutdown could be helping driving the roadbed incidents.
“When the system shuts down, [homeless New Yorkers] need someplace to go,” Eddie Muniz, a subway conductor, told THE CITY. “They can’t stay on the platforms, they can’t stay on the trains, so they go into the tunnels.”
In addition, the MTA has recorded more than 180 collisions between trains and people this year — creeping past the 182 incidents in all of 2015.
Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit, said the figures point to problems that extend beyond the subway system.
“Sadly, these numbers continue to point to the mental health and housing crises we are experiencing in this city,” Feinberg told THE CITY.
The grim figures follow a week in which an E train fatally struck a 54-year-old man Friday inside a tunnel near the Woodhaven Boulevard station on the Queen Boulevard line. Meanwhile, a 40-year-old woman survived being pushed onto the tracks and passed over by two cars of a No. 5 train at 14th Street-Union Square during the Thursday morning rush.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday refused to back down from his $2 billion plans for an AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport — even while admitting the Big Apple’s transit system is facing an unprecedented financial crisis.
Cuomo insisted that the widely panned scheme was still “essential” for New York City, even as the Port Authority was forced to ax jobs and freeze other investments amid a coronavirus-induced downturn in travelers.
“It’ll be the single greatest economic boost that has been done in generations,” the governor insisted at a press briefing Sunday as he was challenged about sticking with the expensive project despite the cash crunch.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
The affordable housing lottery is now open for 45-57 Davis Street, a nine-story mixed-use development in Long Island City, Queens. Designed by J Frankl/Charles Mallea and developed by Solomon Feder of Velocity Framers USA, the 145,000-square-foot will yield a total 158 units in a mix of studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Available on NYC Housing Connect are 48 apartments for residents at 130 percent of the area median income, ranging in eligible income from $73,920 to $183,300.
At 130 percent of the AMI, there are 12 affordable studios with a $2,156 monthly rent for incomes ranging from $73,920 to $118,300; 23 one-bedrooms with a $2,245 monthly rent for incomes ranging from $76,972 to $133,120; 12 two-bedrooms with a $2,710 monthly rent for incomes ranging from $92,915 to $159,640, and one three-bedrooms with a $3,122 monthly rent for income ranging from $107,040 to $183,300.
The YIMBY stenographer forgot to mention that the lucky gentrifier, I mean tenant is responsible for paying the electric bill to go along with the "affordable" rent.
During the peak of the pandemic last spring, MTA buses became the workhorse of the transit system, shuttling more daily riders than the subway for the first time in decades.
Even after fare collection resumed in late August, the ridership decline on buses never fell nearly as steep as subway use.
But when the MTA unveiled its proposed “Doomsday” cuts Wednesday — potentially slashing service by 40% by next May and eliminating more than 9,000 jobs — bus workers were set to absorb close to two-thirds of the positions lost.
Riders who rely on buses, meanwhile, were left wondering how they’d get around a city still slowed by COVID-19.
“Believe me, it’s going to be ugly,” said Michelle Singleton, 55, a nurse from Harlem who, prior to the pandemic, commuted on the M11. “That’s why I won’t be riding the bus any more.”
At the agency’s monthly board meeting, MTA officials presented worst-case scenarios should the agency be unable to secure $12 billion in emergency federal funding to help close the enormous deficits created by the pandemic.
Without a bailout, the MTA faces a slew of unappetizing prospects — including higher-than-projected fare and toll increases, the elimination of seven-day and 30-day unlimited MetroCards and significant cuts to subway, bus and commuter rail frequency.
“We know that any reduction in service will hurt the city and the region, including customers who need us most,” Patrick Foye, the MTA chairperson said at the meeting. “But without the certainty of substantial federal dollars, there is no recourse.”
For buses, that could mean the elimination of entire lines, a slowdown on long-planned route redesigns in each borough, even the loss of a next-bus texting service and on-board WiFi.
Transit fares in New York will go up next spring — and the MTA is considering eliminating unlimited ride MetroCards as a part of the hike.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted to seek fare hikes that boost passenger revenue by 4%. Over the next two months, transit officials will review a slate of proposals to meet that target.
One idea is to keep the base subway and bus fare at $2.75 while eliminating the seven- and 30-day unlimited ride passes.
Another is to raise the base fare to $2.85. More options on the table include increasing the surcharge for new MetroCards from $1 to $3 and no longer allowing coin payments on buses.
City rezoning proposal for Flushing Creek mega-development gets solidarity rejection from the community and city council candidates
A contentious Flushing waterfront project is upending the usual City Council politics around approvals — and dividing candidates running to replace Councilmember Peter Koo, a fan of the hotel and apartment development.
A consortium of three developers, F&T Group, United Construction & Development Group, and Young Nian Group, is seeking permission to create the Special Flushing Waterfront District, underpinning a 13-tower complex that would transform the east shore of Flushing Creek.
The consortium, operating as FWRA LLC, aims to construct 879 hotel rooms and 1,725 residential apartments on three privately owned sites by 2025. Some 90 of the apartments in the 29-acre development would be earmarked for affordable housing.
On Tuesday afternoon, dueling sides of the fight made their voices heard on 39th Avenue in Flushing.
Opponents yelled, “Peter Koo, shame on you” and waved signs depicting the Democrat’s eyes.
Outside the Queens Crossing shopping center, a project developed by F&T Group, dozens of people backing Koo held signs in Chinese and English, and shouted chants of support.
Many construction workers who are employed at F&T Group’s partially complete Tangram South condominium were in the mix, and walked in lockstep back to the construction site after the rally.
On the other side of the street, a cluster of community members and staff from Minkwon Center, a community organizing group working with low-income Korean and other area Asian residents, protested the development.
Minkwon, Chhaya CDC and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in June pressing for a full environmental impact statement for the project.
The groups maintain the creation and development of the waterfront district will drive up rents further and displace residents in a neighborhood where more than half of people are already rent-burdened.
Development of the former industrial area would be allowed under existing land use rules. But the plan currently under review by the City Council aims to tweak design details that include opening up streets within the area and new waterfront access.
A lot to the north, accounting for about 10% of the property, requires rezoning, a FWRA LLC spokesperson said.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
The city’s public school buildings are slated to temporarily close Thursday, November 19th, and students will be shifted to full remote learning after the seven-day positivity rate reached 3% Wednesday, the threshold Mayor Bill de Blasio has long said would trigger a systemwide closure.
It was not immediately clear how long schools will stay closed.
De Blasio has repeatedly promised schools would close the day the rate got to the 3% seven-day average, calling it part of a “social contract” forged with students, parents and school staff in order to reopen back in September. Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza sent an email Wednesday afternoon to school principals and later families announcing the closure.
In the letter to families, Carranza wrote, "Given recent increases in transmission, we have reached a point in our City’s infection rate that requires all students to transition to remote learning. Beginning Thursday, November 19, all school buildings will be closed, and all learning will proceed remotely for all students, until further notice. You will hear from your principal shortly about next steps for you and your student. Please note that this is a temporary closure, and school buildings will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so."
The Big Apple’s heavily touted coronavirus tracing program is having trouble tracking down sources of at least 80 percent of the COVID-19 infections in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged Tuesday.
“People want firm, specific answers and, understandably, we would like for things to be clear and neat and that’s just not what the coronavirus usually gives us,” Hizzoner said during his daily briefing. “We just don’t have sites or activities that led to anywhere near the number of cases you would think.”
City health experts have said that roughly 10 percent of infections in the city can be traced back to travel outside of the area, while another 5 to 10 percent of cases can be linked back to individual sources and instances of infection.
But that leaves more than 80 percent of COVID-19 infections without a clear source, a startling new development that is complicating the city’s fight to stave off a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that’s already sweeping across most other parts of the country.
“The challenge is how diffuse this is. And when it’s this diffuse it isn’t always as simple as, ‘oh, I went to a restaurant or I went to a gym’,” de Blasio added. “A lot of times there isn’t an obvious place because there’s a substantial amount of community spread.”
Apparently, they haven't been near the Queens County Courthouse in the last 6 months. Or to many speakeasy warehouse raves. Or to any protests/counterprotests. Or dined in any of those new outdoor seating shanties in front of restaurants and bars. Or went to a car rally at a parking lot.
A wave of new COVID-19 cases has hit the Queens District Attorney’s Office, but that hasn’t stopped high-ranking prosecutors from ditching masks inside the Queens Criminal Court building and adjacent offices, according to staff and defense attorneys.
Screenshots of virtual court proceedings obtained by the Eagle show one top official, Criminal Court Unit Chief Kevin Fogarty, appearing maskless last month during virtual court conferences inside his office, while at least one other masked assistant district attorney stood nearby. Fogarty again appeared maskless during virtual conferences while sitting near another staffer on Nov. 17, according to an email shared among public defenders.
Another veteran prosecutor, Felony Trial Bureau Four Unit Chief Neil Gitin, has also appeared without a mask during at least two virtual proceedings, including one where a screenshot shared with the Eagle shows him talking to a person off camera.
Some Queens prosecutors say a few colleagues, particularly supervisors, have created dangerous conditions in the offices since staff returned for in-person work in mid-October.
“There are definitely employees that think masks are taking away their freedom and that COVID is a liberal conspiracy,” said one Queens prosecutor who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely about the office.
Lower-level staffers are worried about the career consequences if they complain about COVID risks in the office, according to another prosecutor who also asked to remain anonymous.
“Some ADAs are concerned about being perceived to be difficult so they just go ahead with working in unsafe conditions,” the prosecutor said.
Several prosecutors in Queens have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, the Eagle has reported. Another four staff members tested positive on Sunday and Monday, Patch reported.
A prosecutor in the Queens District Attorney's Office reported testing positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday, an agency spokesperson confirmed to Patch.
News of the positive test largely spread to other staffers through word of mouth rather than formal channels, alarming some who say they believed they may have been exposed to that person but weren't notified by the office, according to two defense lawyers who spoke to multiple staffers about the COVID-19 case.
"Everyone else heard by rumor and were like, 'Were you going to tell us?'" one of the lawyers told Patch.
According to the sources, who asked that their names not be used because they fear retaliation against them and the staffers who confided in them, the Queens District Attorney's Office hasn't been forthcoming when it comes to information about COVID-19 cases among its ranks, leaving some staffers nervous about their health and safety.
Included in their concerns: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, not wearing a mask while among other staffers indoors.
About 80 attendees gathered outside a Long Island City restaurant Friday to bring attention to the hardship facing many small businesses.
Elected officials and a coalition of Queens business owners met outside Little Chef Little Café, located at 5-43 48th Ave., and called on the federal government and local leaders to help them get through the economic crisis and navigate stricter lockdown measures before they are forced to permanently close.The business owners appealed to city, state and federal officials for financial relief and other assistance. Organizers used the hashtag “SAVE OUR SMALL BIZ” to highlight their cause and several supporters carried signs with “rent relief” written across them.
The event was organized by the Western Queens Small Business Council, small business owners and other local business advocates. State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assembly Member Ron Kim and Assembly members-elect Zohran Mamdani and Jessica González-Rojas were also present along with Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens Borough President-elect Donovan Richards.
Organizers took particular aim at Washington and said that the New York Congressional delegation needs to come up with a proper recovery plan that would include a bailout package and rent relief for small businesses.
“Get out of all the federal stuff and come home and help us,” said Roseann McSorley, the owner of Katch Astoria, who led the event.
“This is a crisis…the businesses in this borough and every borough are going to fail, we aren’t going to survive,” McSorley said.
McSorley said that small businesses should be treated like airlines and other major corporations that have been given federal funds.
Several business owners described the struggles they are facing to stay out of the red with restricted indoor capacity and earlier closing times being of particular concern to restaurant and gym operators. They said that they have received little direction from the city and state with regard to the ever-changing regulations.
They appealed for clearer COVID-19 operating guidelines that are translatable and understandable.
That message was echoed by Ramos who said that Governor Andrew Cuomo has failed to help small businesses through the pandemic.
“The governor has been twiddling his thumbs for the past seven months, he’s done nothing,” Ramos said.
Despite pushback from local leaders, the city is moving forward with its plans to build a new shelter for homeless families in Far Rockaway under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” initiative.
The initiative, aimed to end decades-old stop-gap measures such as using cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities, will see the new shelter will be built in place of the Far Rockaway Cathedral church at 1252 Brunswick Ave.
“As we implement our borough-based approach, we are ending the inefficient stop-gap facilities citywide while opening high-quality facilities New Yorkers in need deserve as they stabilize their lives,” NYC DSS-DHS said in a statement. “This high-quality, borough-based facility will be the first of its kind in this Community District, offering 72 adult families experiencing homelessness the opportunity to get back on their feet safely and closer to their anchors of life. Working together with neighbors and not-for-profit provider Black Vets for Social Justice, we’re confident that these new Yorkers will be warmly welcomed and through collaborative support and compassion, we will make this the best experience it can be for all.”
According to the city, there are 489 households comprised of 984 individuals from Queens Community District 14 in shelters across the city, however, there are only 831 sheltered in CD 14.
The new facility at 12-52 Brunswick Ave. will provide 72 homeless adult families the opportunity to be sheltered in their home borough, closer to their support networks including schools, jobs, healthcare, family, social services and communities they call home.
“The Rockaway Peninsula has many needs, but a seventh homeless shelter is not one of them,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “I strongly oppose the proposed shelter at 1252 Brunswick Avenue in Far Rockaway.”
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
A man has been arrested on assault charges after getting into a fight over a parking space in Flushing yesterday.
Joe Zou, 24, allegedly got into an argument over a parking spot on Kissena Boulevard near Barclay Avenue at around 4 p.m. Monday, police said.
Zou, who was driving a white Audi, got out of his vehicle and punched a 35-year-man in the face. The victim was vying for the same spot.
A man came to the defense of the victim only to be struck by Jonathan Zhang, 34, who was also with Zou.
The pair then got into the Audi and tried to ram their vehicle into the two victims. The car jumped the curb and smashed into a bakery at 41-39 Kissena Blvd. The duo were then apprehended by officers from the 109th Precinct.
The 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, Queens is egregiously obstructing commuting public space on both sides of the street with police vehicles and their cars, notably on top of a handicap cut curb ramp. by a public park named after a cop who died in the line of duty. The cop the park was memorialized for, Officer Nicholas Demutiis, got killed trying to stop a car thief that ran him over on that same block.
This falls in line with what the NYPD has been doing at their other precincts as they turn the areas around their taxpayer funded buildings into makeshift fortresses, especially with all the frequent protests that has occurred in the last five months along with a majority of citizens calling for defunding and abolishing of the police and the budget cuts that followed in July. A recent incident that got some viral attention involved a reporter from bike advocate news site Streetsblog who got stopped, questioned and also threatened for arrest when she exposed the NYPD using a playground as parking lot for their vehicles (with permission by the NYC Parks dept).
But the 106th truly stands out for their brazen territoriality of public space. And to show that their annexing of sidewalks isn’t a new thing, this precinct has been parking vehicles on this sidewalk and the one across the street for quite a while now.
Now it's clear why auto body shops and car dealers have been getting away with curbstoning all these years.
Volunteers are helping Astoria Houses tenants get cooking as they approach nearly two months without gas in their kitchens.
Queens Together, a local organization dedicated to restaurant advocacy and community service, led a team of volunteers and elected officials distributing crockpots and grocery items Sunday to the dozens of families in the NYCHA complex who have had no cooking gas since Sept. 23.
The outage is affecting 48 apartments, a NYCHA spokesperson told Patch last month. It's unclear when gas service will be restored.
NYCHA has let residents down, the Astoria Houses community has stepped
up," City Council Member Costa Constantinides said in a statement. "A
gas outage should not take away our neighbors' ability to celebrate
Thanksgiving, a holiday rooted in family recipes and celebration."
Since the outage was first reported, NYCHA provided residents with hot plates and is making unspecified "additional contingency measures," the agency said.
Fourteen apartments in a new Astoria building have hit the city's "affordable" housing lottery, but prospective tenants must make at least $70,000 a year to be eligible, records show.
Applications are open through Dec. 4 for a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units in a new residential building rising at the corner of 31st Avenue and 21st Street, according to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The one-bedroom apartments will rent for $2,050 a month, and the two-bedroom apartments will cost $2,500 in monthly rent.
Apartments come with in-unit laundry, and building amenities include an elevator and gym. Parking will be available for an additional fee.
The developer is slated to receive tax breaks in exchange for building the "affordable" units.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) helped crack down on “curbstoning” when he was in the Assembly five years ago, with tougher penalties for unlicensed car dealing.
But curbstoning, when a dealer poses as a private seller to sell a car parked on the street, is still common in Corona.
“In some of these streets the residents were saying it was like a used car lot on a public street,” said Capt. Jonathan Cermeli, commanding officer of the 110th Precinct.
Moya wants it seen as a top priority.
“I’m always disappointed when I see that the quality-of-life issues that happen in my community don’t happen in more of the affluent areas,” he said, adding that the precinct has been extremely responsive.
Parking spots are being taken up on residential blocks by auto body shops, mechanic shops and secondhand used car dealers.
“We noticed a spike in vehicles being put in parking spots all over residential neighborhoods in Corona with ‘for sale’ signs on them,” Cermeli said Monday.
The commander said it’s hard to determine if the business owner or employees are usually responsible for curbstoning. He believes a lot of people trying to sell their vehicles now may have been in an accident or don’t have the money to maintain it.
The owner of an auto body shop on 47th Avenue was given a ticket in late October, according to Moya’s office. Reached Wednesday by the Queens Chronicle, someone who picked up the phone after the owner was requested said he had not gotten a ticket and that the boss was not there, before hanging up.
To sell more than five vehicles per year in New York, a dealer’s license is needed.
“Most of these folks don’t have that,” Moya said.
The rate of positive COVID test results has increased in Queens over the past week as officials have begun to warn that it could mark the beginning of a second wave.
After Gov. Cuomo designated Ozone Park as part of a yellow zone at the end of October, South Queens has continued to have warning signs of higher infection.
When the city Department of Health updated its website to show real-time data on COVID positivity rates by ZIP code, it showed that Richmond Hill had the second-highest seven-day COVID test positivity rates in all of New York City as of Monday, at 4.43 percent.
The increase is not isolated to Richmond Hill. Farther south, Arverne and Broad Channel had the fifth-highest seven-day positivity rate in the city. That data came to light shortly after Cuomo removed Far Rockaway’s yellow zone designation at the end of last week, based on state data.
The seven-day rolling average for the entire Queens yellow zone has increased from 2.68 percent positive Monday Nov. 2 to 3.12 percent Nov. 9, with daily rates of positivity shooting up in the last couple days of this week, according to the state data.
The relationship between small business and government during the pandemic has been an uneasy one.
“It was bad before. Now it’s worse,” said Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx), during last Thursday’s tour of businesses on Fresh Pond Road in Glendale. “The city is not listening. They’re hearing the issues. They have not addressed the concern.”
Gjonaj, chairman of the Council’s Committee on Small Business, visited stores with Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District President Ted Renz, Queens Chamber of Commerce President Tom Grech and Small Businesses Commissioner Jonnel Doris.
“For us, we’re here to help small business. That’s our job,” Doris said. “While we’re the government, we’re still their advocates.”
He said about 30 walking tours have been done around the city and though some changes in policy have been implemented because of feedback, Doris acknowledged “we have to rebuild their trust, too.”
Among the problems raised by elected officials and business owners around the city are the fines being imposed, sometimes with contradicting advice from city agencies.
“I don’t like when the government descends on businesses that were closed for so long and then they start fining them instead of warning them,” Holden said.
Grech believes one person needs to oversee everything, “kind of like a COVID czar.”
Gjonaj said store owners can be fined if a customer is not wearing a mask but believes that is unfair to the owner, saying that there have been attacks on people who are demanding masks be worn.
“They’re not policemen. They’re business people,” he said. “They’re working behind the counter. They’re sweating. They’re not supposed to act as enforcement. You can’t hold them reliable. You go tell someone with mental illness that they can’t enter because they don’t have a face mask. Let’s see how far that gets you.”
Sunday, November 15, 2020
New York City's coronavirus test results have not reached the level that would trigger a shutdown of public school buildings, so they will remain open for now, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.
"Thankfully, schools will remain open on Monday, but we have to keep fighting back with everything we’ve got," the mayor said on Twitter.
De Blasio had warned on Friday that schools could close as soon as Monday if the city crossed the threshold set earlier of 3% of positive test results over a rolling seven-day average.
He said the rate stayed short of that on Sunday, at 2.57%.
Friday, November 13, 2020
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Debra Markell, the current Community Board 2 District Manager, announced Wednesday that she is running to be the next city council member for the 23rd District.
Markell, a resident of Glen Oaks, is looking to fill the seat currently occupied by Council Member Barry Grodenchik, who will be stepping down at the end of 2021.
Grodenchik, who is not term limited, announced last month that he is not seeking a second term to represent the district, which covers a large swath of eastern Queens.
There are five other Democratic candidates vying for the seat with the primary scheduled to take place in June 2021. The new council member will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.
Markell said she plans to get the city “back on track” and cited her experience working in government and as a community leader as the cornerstone of her campaign.
“When I look ahead at the daunting challenges facing our city, it is evident that experience is crucial to getting our city back on track,” Markell said in a statement. “While COVID-19 changed our way of life on many levels, I know we can come back stronger.”
Markell’s career in civil service includes an eight-year stint as the Queens director on the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, a job where she worked as a liaison between Queens residents and City Hall. She held that job during both the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations.
Denise Keehan-Smith, the former chairperson of Queens Community Board 2, held a press conference in Woodside Saturday and announced that she is running to be the next council member for the 26th council district.
The life-long Woodsider, who was joined by about 40 people by the Big Six Towers on Queens Boulevard, said that she is “the common sense candidate.”
Keehan-Smith is one of 17 candidates vying for the seat that is currently held by Jimmy Van Bramer, who is unable to run again due to term limits.
“I have decided that we need to take our neighborhood in a new direction,” Keehan-Smith said. “We need to get back to basics.”
Keehan-Smith said that most residents across the council district want the same thing.
“They want decent jobs, a thriving small business community and clean streets. We don’t want to pass rats when we are walking through the neighborhood…and we want to be safe.”
She said senior citizens should be able to walk to church and not get assaulted, referencing an incident where an 84-year-old man was robbed in August on his way to St. Sebastian’s in Woodside.
Keehan-Smith said that she would work to save small businesses, create a plan to address homelessness and would work with the NYPD to make the district safe. She also wants to tackle climate change and advocate for fixing what she says is a decaying transit system.
She said that she has a deep knowledge of Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside that she learned while being on Community Board 2 for eight years, with four of those as chair. She also has deep ties to the community, she said, having attended P.S. 11 on Skillman Avenue and St. Sebastian’s Catholic school.
de Blasio's Citywide Administration Services allowed contractors to swindle the city during the start of the pandemic by sending the wrong face masks
Last spring, frontline medical workers scrambled in vain to find proper surgical masks as the coronavirus swept through hospitals across the city.
Doctors, nurses and medical technicians were forced to reuse the same mask over and over — a dangerously ineffective method to stem infection from a virus that’s now taken the lives of more than 24,000 New Yorkers.
City officials jumped into action, signing more than $1 billion in emergency no-bid contracts with seemingly anybody who claimed they could produce high-quality masks and other crucial COVID gear — including ventilators.
Among them: Genuine Parts Company, an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in auto parts. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), which handles most of City Hall’s purchases, had bought parts for city vehicles from Genuine in the past.
An auto parts company from Atlanta?? Why?
According to internal records obtained by THE CITY, DCAS paid $348,000 for what was described by Genuine as 300,000 “non-Latex surgical masks” that were marked as “received” by the city on April 7. That was at the peak of the virus’ spread in New York City, when the seven-day average for daily hospitalizations hit 1,642, compared to this week’s 52.
But records show that when DCAS’ Bureau of Quality Assurance inspected the delivered goods, workers discovered not surgical masks but “disposable single-use non-surgical mask/dust mask/Not FDA approved.”
The items were nevertheless deemed “accepted due to public necessity.” DCAS paid full price and placed subsequent orders for more masks from the car parts dealer, records show. DCAS then “redirected” the masks — useless in emergency rooms — elsewhere for non-medical use.
The Genuine mask purchase is part of a disturbing pattern uncovered during an investigation by THE CITY of DCAS’ pandemic-spurred emergency buying spree.
During some of the most dire weeks of the crisis, THE CITY found, the agency lost track of key equipment from masks to ventilators — driving an exasperated DCAS official to declare in one early May meeting: “Stop this s—t! Stop this s—t! Fix the problem!”
And guess who also was involved in this honest incompetence graft? The Blaz's art dealer buddy Contractor Gadget
A similar scenario unfolded with another vendor, Digital Gadgets, an electronics firm whose CEO, Charlie Tebele, along with family members, has been a frequent donor to de Blasio’s various political campaigns.
In late March, DCAS awarded $19 million in no-bid contracts to Digital for high quality N95 masks and lower quality KN95 masks. That included an $8 million contract for what the firm promised would be two million “surgical grade N95s,” according to internal DCAS documents.
The company also won a $91 million contract to provide DCAS with ventilators that was later cancelled because, Benson told THE CITY, the agency “decided to order a different ventilator model.”
Digital Gadgets — which previously supplied hoverboards to QVC — did deliver masks. But DCAS records reveal that the agency’s Bureau of Quality Assurance discovered the masks Digital delivered were not “surgical grade N95s” as promised and had not been approved by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Bars and restaurants with liquor licenses will be required to close at 10 p.m., along with gyms, and all indoor gatherings at private residences will be capped at ten people, under new statewide coronavirus restrictions announced on Wednesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Staten Island will also face additional lockdown measures, the governor said.
"Bars, restaurants, gyms, house parties — that's where it's coming from, primarily," Cuomo told reporters. "If these measures aren't sufficient to slow the spread, we will turn the valve more," he added, referring to additional restrictions.
The new orders come as COVID cases and hospitalizations across the country have skyrocketed to levels not seen since spring. Earlier on Wednesday, New York City reported its highest number of daily infections since May.
The statewide positive test rate was 2.9 percent, and 1,628 people were in the hospital with the virus as of Wednesday. "What were are seeing is what they predicted for months," the governor said.
NYS is taking action to stop the spread in response to rising COVID numbers.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 11, 2020
Any establishment with a state liquor license, including bars and restaurants, must close at 10pm.
Gyms must also close at 10pm.
These new statewide rules will take effect Friday, 10pm.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
With these cards, you could be playing a real dead man’s hand.
A group scammers tried to make big bucks by selling useless cards that they falsely claimed would ward off COVID-19 and free users from having to wear a mask, prosecutors said.
The so-called “Virus Shut Out Cards” were meant to be worn around the neck on a cord and act as “air sanitizers” that killed the coronavirus — but they were really bogus snake-oil protection.
“The brazenly false claims allegedly promoted by the defendants about their product potentially endangered the public not only by claiming to protect against the COVID-19 virus, but also by exposing users to the health hazard posed by a misbranded pesticide,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme in a statement.
Po Shan Wong, the general manager of JCD Distribution Inc., and Zhen Wu, the company’s sales manager, allegedly sold the cards in minimum quantities of 50, charging $9.50 each, over the phone and online from April to July, the complaint states.
JCD allegedly claimed on their Facebook page in Mandarin that the cards were “portable space disinfection and sterilization” devices that emit chlorine dioxide, which they touted as having a “sterilization rate at 99%.” Chlorine dioxide — a gas at room temperature — is actually a bleaching agent and a pesticide, officials said.