Monday, November 23, 2020

Cuomo keeps LGA air train plan alive while the city trains don't run on time


NY Post

 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

Public housing condos and affordable luxury studios now available for lottery applications



 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.

Here come the transit service cuts and fare hikes



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.


NY Daily News

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

3 is the magic number; schools are closed



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."

Test and mistrace


NY Post

 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.

COVIDIOTS at the Queens Criminal Courthouse 

Queens Eagle

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. 

Queens Patch 

 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.





Long COVID winter is coming (reprise) 

Queens Post


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.


Another homeless shelter in Far Rockaway is met with resistence



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

Flushing Street Fighter


Flushing Post

 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.

NYPD blocks sidewalk egress with personal and patrol vehicles


Impunity City 

 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.


A tale of two Astorias


Queens Patch

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.

"Where 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.

  Queens Patch 

 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

Auto body shops and used car dealers are annexing sidewalk space

 Illegal car dealers taking up space 1 

Queens Chronicle

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.

Long COVID winter is coming

‘It was bad before. Now it’s worse.’ 1 

Queens Chronicle

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.

Queens Chronicle

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

Phew! That was close


 PIX News 

 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

You all have just 72 hours, parents



CBS New York 

Might as well stay home even after the positive cases go down too. Boy are you stupid, Mayor de Blasio...

It’s Friday the 13th and Cuomo has upped his game

Enjoy these memes that began circulating minutes after the latest dictatorial edicts.
Don't forget Mario's son's novel about his response to the pandemic and his "executive leadership" guiding our state's recovery:

Thursday, November 12, 2020


CB2 leader and former leader are running for council seats


LIC Post

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.

LIC Post

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? 

Go on...

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

Governor Cuomo mandates 10 P.M. curfew for bars, restaurants and gyms


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.

Thank you for your service





















Tuesday, November 10, 2020

COVID card sharks

  NY Post

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.

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Van Wyck Expressway's rotten underbelly needs a makeover

The unseasonably warm weather inspired me to take an immersion bike tour to Flushing. On my way to see the prospective development by Flushing Creek, I had to go under the Van Wyck Expressway and I find the current decrepit condition under the elevated road very troubling.
It looks like it can use infrastructure improvements. Fast.