Friday, September 22, 2017

2 construction workers die on the job

From NY1:

A deadly fall brought work at the site of the Manhattan West development to a standstill after two men tumbled out of a bucket lift to the ground below.

Video shows the moments after the accident at the 62-story mixed-use building going up at 9th Avenue and 33rd street.

EMS crews rushed one victim to the hospital with head and body trauma. The other was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victims were both 45 years old. Witnesses say both men appeared to be wearing safety harnesses but may not have had them secured.

It happened just hours after another fatal fall in Lower Manhattan Thursday morning. Police say Juan Chonillo fell through an open hole and dropped 27 stories to his death at a construction site on Maiden Lane. According to relatives, the 43-year-old father of six was supporting family in Ecuador.

Great moments in overdevelopment history

From DNA Info:

More than half of the city’s 1.1 million public school students attend overcrowded schools, according to a new report from the watchdog group Class Size Matters.

Despite the Department of Education’s addition of more seats and new buildings, many families feel the situation is getting worse as existing seats are being chipped away due to lost leases, schools being co-located together, or the elimination of annexes, mini-buildings and trailers housing temporary classrooms, according to the report released Thursday.

As trailers housing temporary classrooms — with nearly 8,000 seats — are expected to be phased out entirely, it may further strain school buildings, the report warns.

Roughly 575,000 students attended schools in 2015-2016 that were at or above 100 percent capacity, the report said, citing Department of Education enrollment data.

From the Queens Chronicle:

School Construction Authority officials on Monday said they have the money ready to alleviate overcrowding in overutilized school districts, such as SD 24 in southwest and western Queens, but a lack of available space remains their main obstacle.

“The hardest job of the SCA is to try and find real estate,” Michael Mirisola, director of External Affairs at the SCA, told members of the Borough Board during the annual update of the agency’s five-year capital plan. “We have brokers in every borough, in every district. We are constantly doing tests to see if a site will hold a school. We go through that exercise many times during the week and some of them just don’t pass muster.”

School District 24 has consistently been one of the most overcrowded in the city — as of February of this year, its average school utilization rate was 115 percent.
Mirisola said the SCA is always open to tips on available space to fit a school, yet many suggested sites are ultimately deemed unfit for an educational facility.

“Generally, the No. 1 reason is size,” he said. “If it’s a funded need and we don’t have a project, it’s because we’re looking for a location.”

Lots suitable for a new school site must be 20,000 square feet, the SCA official said, in addition to “other specifications and other requirements.”

They're all connected

More from Progress Queens:

In Queens, faith in Government institutions was revealed to be severely lacking after New York City Council candidate Paul Graziano filed a civil petition in New York State Supreme Court for Queens County, alleging criminality, such as fraud and forgery, in the ballot petitioning process carried out by incumbent Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). On the Queens Crap blog, which attracts some of Queens most formidable civic-minded activists, some of the comments posted by readers to news of the court filing expressed concern that the justices of the Queens County court system would not be able to independently oversee the Court case. To some Government reform activists in Queens, the Graziano Court petition served as a symbolic Rorschach test, providing insight into the public's lack of faith in the Queens County court system. Many comments on the Queens Crap post raised questions about the "allegiance" that justices in the Queens County court system owed to leaders of the Queens Democratic County Committee, expressed concern that Mr. Graziano would not be able to receive a "fair hearing," and invoked the resignation that the "the [Queens] Machine will work to stop this at all costs."

Concerns about possible interference by the Queens Democratic County Committee were rooted in the fact that the County committee supports the reelection of incumbents as a way to earn political allegiance and to create a lockstep on power and authority over local elected officials. The role of money in politics is also a factor, because the County committee can marshal resources to support the reelection of incumbents, leaving primary challengers at a distinct financial disadvantage. Indeed, as reported by Progress Queens, Mr. Graziano ultimately discontinued his Court petition due to the high anticipated costs of having to litigate his case, reaffirming the belief to some Government reform activists that the role of money in politics even extends to being able to successfully petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The allegations made by the Graziano campaign against the Vallone campaign heightened new fears about the integrity of the voting process in Queens. In the 2016 election cycle, it was revealed that the New York City Board of Elections purged large numbers of voters without cause, triggering the filing of a Federal civil rights complaint in Brooklyn Federal Court that was later joined by both the U.S. Attorney's Office, headed at that time then by Mr. Capers, and by the office of the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-New York). To some Government reform activists, it has appeared that Queens voters have been disenfranchised for two years in a row, first, in 2016, when some voters were purged from the rolls, and, second, this year, when Federal prosecutors did nothing to investigate the allegations of criminality in the Graziano petition against the Vallone campaign, thereby allowing voters to cast their ballots for an incumbent, who may later be investigated for wrong-doing, although there is no indication that Federal prosecutors are presently conducting any such investigation. The press office of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn did not answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for this report.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The U.S. Attorneys and the Queens Machine

This article is lengthy and covers many topics, so we'll be linking to different segments of it over the next few days...

From Progress Queens:

Compounding the unknowns in the face of rapidly-changing circumstances facing the two, new Acting U.S. Attorneys in New York City are lingering questions about why some political corruption scandals are investigated, but not all. As reported in recent years by Progress Queens, questions have largely remained unanswered about funding received by a nonprofit group affiliated with New York State Senator José Peralta ; about reportedly preferential treatment showed to a campaign consulting company by the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee ; and with new allegations that politically-connected lawyers were earning enormous profits from, or wielding considerable influence as a result of, their connections to the Queens Democratic County Committee. The 2017 Municipal election cycle has raised new questions about the role of money in local politics and about public ethics, but there has been no apparent response from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, headed by Acting U.S. Attorney Rohde, who has jurisdiction over Queens.

No agency wants to deal with homeless woman's pile of junk

From NBC 4:

An apparently homeless woman's pile of belongings has residents in Bath Beach concerned about safety. Gus Rosendale reports.

Pols side with Spectrum strikers and not their victims

From CBS 2:

Thousands of union workers rallied in both Downtown Brooklyn and Foley Square in Lower Manhattan in Monday, in support of the striking Spectrum cable workers.

Cuomo and de Blasio are offering fiery rhetoric.

“It’s about respect and fairness,” Cuomo said.

But the residents and businesses on Austin Street in Forest Hills, Queens want fairness and respect too. It is one of many neighborhoods hit by massive outages in their cable, internet and phone services when the workers walked off the job on March 28.

There have been about 100 attacks on the fiber optics system – acts of vandalism that have left thousands and thousands inconvenienced since the strike began.

“I assume there’s some kind of money involved,” said Bareburger manager Adam Bariando. “As a person who campaigned talking about the people; the working class, I would expect him to side with us.”

CB7 wants seat at the Willets Point table

From the Queens Tribune:

The city has been “delinquent” in its discussions with Community Board 7 on the future of the troubled Willets Point development, according to the board’s First Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian. And at Monday night’s quarterly meeting with the project’s stakeholders, Apelian put the city and developers on notice.

“I want to be very clear,” Apelian said. “We expect to be involved.”

The future of Willets Point has been uncertain since a June ruling by the Court of Appeals halted a major part of the proposed development, a mega mall known as Willets West, because it was planned for a parcel of land connected to nearby Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Building the mall on public parkland would require approval from the state legislature, the court said.

And while Willets West was only part of a larger development plan that included hundreds of affordable housing units and environmental remediation, the developers maintained that the mall was the “economic engine” that would make the project possible. Now, the developers and city are deciding whether to pursue a long campaign for state approval or make changes to their plan. But changes to the project could concern Community Board 7, which approved the most recent proposal in 2013.

“If the original concept has been now modified, that’s not what this board voted on,” CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty said on Monday.

Nate Bliss, of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said that, regardless, the city plans on being a partner with the community on the process. Apelian expressed hope that this was true. If the parkland was not alienated by the state legislature and Willets West was abandoned, he expects the project could change “dramatically.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How they do things in Brooklyn

From Crains:

In 2008, Daniel Squadron clawed his way into the state Senate with a hard-fought upset in the Democratic primary, earning 12,688 votes to longtime incumbent Martin Connor's 10,757.

This weekend, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh effectively won Squadron's seat with 32 votes to Paul Newell's 66.

Welcome to democracy—Albany style.

Kavanagh won the Democratic nomination to succeed the resigning Squadron by virtue of an obscure, backroom process. He defeated Newell, a Democratic district leader, despite the latter's capturing a majority of the vote Sunday of the Manhattan county committee—the panel of party insiders charged with handpicking the candidate.

The reason: one of Kavanagh's 32 supporters was Kings County Democratic Committee Chairman Frank Seddio. Party bylaws empowered Seddio to back the candidate of his choosing without a vote of the county committee that represents his borough's portion of the Senate district. Seddio's endorsement carried the weight of the Brooklyn contingent as if it had voted unanimously.